Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!



US Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises $44.9 Billion

Paul Fernhout US$560 for a family of four is significant (89 comments)

There is another way to look at it. Using your figures, the total amount per US person is about US$142. That is for a ten year lease of the spectrum if I recall correctly, so we can expect a similar amount again in another decade. So, that is about US$14 per person per year during that time (well, a little more, with interest as the money if the money is received up front). For a family of four, that is about US$56 per family per year ignoring interest. That could be a month or two of cell phone service on a cheap plan -- or even half a year for one phone on a very cheap plan (like Ting's cheapest). Or, with the entire amount up front (US$560 per family), that could be the cost of an unlocked current smartphone or, say, two current Chromebooks, or, say, a Chromebook and a "FreedomBox" or such as a home server, or, say, a new Raspberry Pi educational kit every three years. Or it might just cover an otherwise-missed mortgage payment during the next decade. US$560 in various ways could make a *big* difference to a lot of lower middle class people living paycheck to paycheck on the edge in the USA.

Given that whoever got the spectrum will undoubtedly charge more for it given these up front costs, it seems only fair for families to get some money to offset those extra costs.

It's true though that some US states already have a free-to-the-user limited cell phone plan for very poorest people on Welfare, an one might argue in theory this money should also go to something like that -- but probably less fairly IMHO compared to a needs-blind cost, otherwise it becomes a hidden "tax" on everyone. I would argue that the current approach, to put the money to deficit reduction, is similarly just a hidden tax of US$560 on every US family -- where the tax for deficit reduction is paid by higher cell phone fees. Since the poorest people probably spend the greatest percentage of their income on cell phone service (which is becoming a necessity of mainstream US life), the plan to use the money to pay back the deficit is a terribly *regressive* tax as a way to pay back the deficit. This also ignores both that the deficit creates the US money supply and also that much of it can be considered to be underwriting problematical optional war spending like the Iraq war. So, rather than get US$560 in the family pocketbook, each US family instead sees a tighter money supply (so, higher credit card interest) and also probably yet more war spending since there was no real accounting for the previous spending (other than this new hidden cell phone tax).

"The increased military spending following 9/11 was financed almost entirely by borrowing."

As an aside, the theory of auctioning off (or "privatizing") the spectrum is probably based on some notion of "highest economic use", in the theory that whoever would pay the most for the spectrum would make the most use of it for the most benefit to the most people. But in reality, such auctions may just be putting resources in the hands of people (and their organizations) that may have the most capital (including trademarks and good will) and think they are best at "rent seeking" to extract the most money from the most people regardless of what they can deliver. Again, distributing the funds raised at least partially protects people from that -- however, it is still not enough in many cases. Ideas like the open WiFi spectrum are alternatives, and are helping a lot of people in a lot of ways. Other ideas include "ham" like regulations on the use of some frequencies.

Right now, almost everyone 65 or older (roughly) gets a basic income in the USA of about US$1000 - US$2000 per month via "Social Security" as well as health care via Medicare. Is that not significant? That makes a big difference to a lot of people and even their children. So, I feel it is hard to generalize that "Disbursement of government money to the masses doesn't really do much". Granted, that basic income is funded in a regressive way with fixed percentage payroll taxes capped at some limit that prevents them from affecting the very affluent.

As automation spreads (including wireless stuff), it is likely most human labor will have less and less economic value in the marketplace, because robots, AIs, and other automation will be cheaper and more reliable for most tasks most of the time -- even "creative" tasks. Thus we need more financial experiments in this direction IMHO, and this broadcast spectrum auction would provide a perfect opportunity to explore these alternatives. Instead, it looks like the result is another hidden war tax making it harder on the middle class to get by...

Other similar ways to fund such a basic income could include carbon taxes, fishery licenses, logging permits, mining permits, copyright fees, patent fees, import or export tariffs, fees for regulated stock transactions or similar big financial movements, fees for the first use of money in banks as it is created by the Federal Reserve, and so on... Even if each one is small, together they might add up to a lot.

about an hour ago

Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Paul Fernhout Re:If you can't add without a calculator... (128 comments)

Battery powered calculators? Slide rules? Backup generator? Cell phone apps? Calling a back office who has a calculator?

But see also my other comment on order of magnitude stuff, especially to quickly double-check the answer from a machine. It is probably more important that someone notice that a $99.99 dress and $48.33 pair of pants should not add up to $1048.32 (high by x10) or $58.32 (low by x3) from adding or missing a nine somewhere than that they can do an exact calculation in their head.

Although, if I as a customer had to choose between a clerk who was pleasant and helpful but needed a calculator to ring up a sale and one who was not pleasant or helpful but could do sums in their head without a battery-powered calculator or cell phone, I know which one I'd pick. :-)

11 hours ago

Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Paul Fernhout Order of magnitude vs. precise (128 comments)

IMHO, an important skill is order-of-magnitude calculations. If you subtract US$79.99 from your bank balance in a checking account, you should realize something is wrong if your balance drops by $1000 instead of near to $100. Same for political-type calculations relating to roughly how many people are in a country and how much some policy might cost if it costs $X per person and so on (by rounding, to get a ballpark figure). Without that basic skill, people are completely at the mercy of the machines or their own fat finger typing or unscrupulous other people.

Order-of-magnitude calculation is the sort of skill people picked up quickly using slide rules. :-)
"Simulated Pickett N909-ES Slide Rule"

"Slip-stick" engineering pretty much got us to the Moon and back. :-) Even if no doubt more precise calculations were made along the way at some point.

But precise calculations are indeed perhaps better turned over to calculators, so people can focus on other things. There are only so many things we can pay attention to or remember at one time.

Yes, I did learn to do a square root on paper at some point, not that I recall it much now. But I don't feel especially weaker for not being able to do that at the moment. And even if I did recall the procedure, what would be the point in using it to determine the square root of 99 if I could punch use a calculator? Again though, being able to check the result roughly would be important though, to know the correct result must be somewhere around 10 and not 5 and not 20.

Just out of curiosity:
"How to calculate a square root without a calculator"

One example comment there (from an "Instructor of Mathematics"):
"I vaguely recall learning the square root algorithm in K-12, but frankly, I see no value in this algorithm except as a curiosity. And I am not of the "reform" crowd. I fully believe students not be given a calculator to use until advanced algebra or pre-calculus, and then only a scientific calculator (not graphing). Do you really believe student at the K-7 level will understand how/why this algorithm works? I was happy to see that you recommended the "estimate and check" method. This is what I also recommended to my daughter, who is now studying square roots in her home school curriculum. The "estimate and check" method is a good exercise in estimating, multiplying, and also memorizing perfect squares. ..."

11 hours ago

Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Paul Fernhout Keep kids from computers as long as possible (128 comments)

Kids need so much -- nature; human interactions; emotion coaching; music; manipulating blocks, sand, and water; physical exercise; and so on. Computers (or other screens) crowd that all out so quickly as a "supernormal stimuli". Sure kids can learn computers young, but the human mind is adapted to grow a certain way within a natural environment and an extended family/tribe. Best to avoid computers/screens as long as possible IMHO, as it will happen soon enough anyway. We did not let our kid have much screen time until around age four, and I still feel that was too soon, and rapidly became a losing battle after age six to eight or so. Sure, like you I'm proud of my own kid's accomplishments with computers, but I also realize they come at a cost of other missed opportunities.

BTW, John Taylor Gatto essentially says "gifted" programs are a scam, carving off those who might otherwise be natural leaders and making them a cog (if that) in a bigger system of social control.

The Albany (NY) Free School and its high school equivalent are examples of places that gets a lot of things right, IMHO.
"Harriet Tubman Democratic High School is the only democratic educational institution for teens in the Capital District. We offer a supportive and personal learning environment for young adults from diverse backgrounds. Our staff strives to teach young adults how to think for themselves by encouraging critical discussions and respecting student input into their educational process. Our students learn self-motivation and, in the process, discover independence and self-reliance."

Contrast with, at the other extreme, a place like Choate Rosemary Hall,in the words of one of its students, Alfredo Brillembourg '16 News Staff Writer:
"In his essay about elite education, writer William Deresiewicz asserts, "Elite education forgot that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers." This idea of higher education refers to a stage of formal learning that further cultivates young minds. Indeed, Choate is an establishment of higher education and it excels in its academic teaching. In light of this, Choate has very high expectations for its students and acts upon them by assigning heavy homework loads, frequent assessments, and rigorous course work. Although this method does promote good habits and a high level of learning, it does not encourage students to think for themselves because there is simply no time for us to do so.
    In response to this stress-inducing environment, students are forced to figure out the system of boarding school, rather than actually taking in what they are being taught. Choate scholars need more time to be able to relax and embrace their studies. Choate must steer away from teaching kids to cheat the system of higher education by supporting a more innovative learning environment that will allow kids to appreciate what they are learning, rather than simply learning it for the grade. Choate's methods for education must work toward teaching kids how to think for themselves because it will allow for more success in life as a whole, rather than simply teaching how to succeed through the system of higher education.
    The pressure and demands imposed upon students at Choate force kids to resort to techniques such as last-minute studying and memorizing, which are not conducive toward actual learning and will harm students in the long run. The large workloads are a huge source of stress for students, and they cause students to lose interest in pursuing other subjects because they have too much to understand at once. Likewise, the long hours of school and sports combined wear students down, and rather than appreciating intellectual topics outside of school, kids are too caught up in getting through their work quickly to acquire as much sleep as possible. Choate needs to give students more time to think about things other than their lives at the school by allowing for more leisure time, which will ultimately serve to relieve the substantial stress that gets students caught up in their academic lives. ..."

Sadly, the Choate student news site administrators did not publish my comment there from early last week suggesting comparing and contrasting Choate with the Albany Free School, and looking at the writings of people like John Holt, John Talor Gatto, Alfie Kohn, and so on, which all support the student's brave point...

That said, not all schools are the same, however they label themselves. Hope you found a good one if other options like homeschooling/unschooling are not workable or desired.

12 hours ago

Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Paul Fernhout Why Educational Technology Has Failed Schools (128 comments)

"Stay on task" like a workhouse or factory? Whose task? To what end?

The new (yet old) paradigm is learner-directed education. A healthy kid's own natural curiosity and desire to succeed then helps him or he power through challenges (if it has not been wiped out before then through boredom/confusion or rewards/punishments). However, most software and even internet content is not that educational and so is a rough fit. We need more good stuff, especially FOSS educational simulations. If kids are not choosing to learn important things with at least some of their time, we need to ask why? What sort of messages are we sending kids about what we value as a society (like what is on TV)?

See also my essay:
"Why Educational Technology Has Failed Schools"
"Ultimately, educational technology's greatest value is in supporting "learning on demand" based on interest or need which is at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to "learning just in case"
based on someone else's demand.Compulsory schools don't usually traffic in "learning on demand", for the most part leaving that kind of activity to libraries or museums or the home or business or the "real world". In order for compulsory schools to make use of the best of educational technology and what is has to offer, schools themselves must change. ...
    So, there is more to the story of technology than it failing in schools. Modern information and manufacturing technology itself is giving compulsory schools a failing grade. Compulsory schools do not pass in the information age. They are no longer needed. What remains is just to watch this all play out, and hopefully guide the collapse of compulsory schooling so that the fewest people get hurt in the process."

That said, I strongly believe that there needs to be a way to ensure families have the resources they need to raise healthy educated kids (including paying for tutors and classes as desired). I feel a "basic income" from birth could be part of the answer to that (John Holt suggests that in "Escape from Childhood"), and would provide families with plenty of money to pay for their children's education as desired or time to teach their own. Until then, consider:
"New York State current spends roughly 20,000 US dollars per schooled child per year to support the public school system. This essay suggests that the same amount of money be given directly to the family of each homeschooled child. Further, it suggests that eventually all parents would get this amount, as more and more families decide to homeschool because it is suddenly easier financially. It suggests why ultimately this will be a win/win situation for everyone involved (including parents, children, teachers, school staff, other people in the community, and even school administrators :-) because ultimately local schools will grow into larger vibrant community learning centers open to anyone in the community and looking more like college campuses. New York State could try this plan incrementally in a few different school districts across the state as pilot programs to see how it works out."

Also, there are so many addicting aspects to modern society, parents need better support in managing that for their children (rather than even more kid-targeted commercials and so on). The problem and some partial solutions:
"Popular culture and technology inundate our children with an onslaught of mixed messages at earlier ages than ever before. Corporations capitalize on this disturbing trend, and without the emotional sophistication to understand what they are doing and seeing, kids are getting into increasing trouble emotionally and socially; some may even to engage in precocious sexual behavior. Parents are left shaking their heads, wondering: How did this happen? What can we do? So Sexy So Soon is an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are fed up, confused, and even scared by what their kids-or their kids' friends-do and say. Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., internationally recognized experts in early childhood development and the impact of the media on children and teens, understand that saying no to commercial culture-TV, movies, toys, Internet access, and video games-isn't a realistic or viable option for most families. Instead, they offer parents essential, age-appropriate strategies to counter the assault."

As Gatto says, "Schooling is a form of adoption" but the surrogate parents have little time to be good parents by the nature of the school institution.
"Schooling is a form of adoption. You give your kid up in his or her most plastic years to a group of strangers. You accept a promise, sometimes stated and more often implied that the state through its agents knows better how to raise your children and educate them than you, your neighbors, your grandparents, your local traditions do. And that your kid will be better off so adopted. But by the time the child returns to the family, or has the option of doing that, very few want to. Their parents are some form of friendly stranger too and why not? In the key hours of growing up, strangers have reared the kid. Now let's look at the strangers of which you (interviewer) was one and I was one. Regardless of our good feeling toward children. Regardless of our individual talents or intelligence, we have so little time each day with each of these kids, we can't possibly know enough vital information about that particular kid to tailor a set of exercises for that kid. Oh, you know, some of us will try more than others, but there simply isn't any time to do it to a significant degree. ..."

Anyway, good luck doing what good you can in a difficult social situation where there is little one person can change much by themselves. Until the day compulsory schooling is ended, we need good people in schools to help make them less bad.

13 hours ago

How Blind Programmers Write Code

Paul Fernhout That is why we chose the Dojo Javascript framework (72 comments)

From: http://dojotoolkit.org/referen...
"Dojo has made a serious commitment to creating a toolkit that allows the development of accessible Web applications for all users, regardless of physical abilities. The core widget set of Dojo, dijit, is fully accessible since the 1.0 release, making Dojo the only fully accessible open source toolkit for Web 2.0 development. This means that users who require keyboard only navigation, need accommodations for low vision or who use an assistive technology, can interact with the dijit widgets. If you are new to accessibility, please refer to the Web Accessibility Issues page for more general information about accessibility"


Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

Paul Fernhout Past US history has problematical parts & prog (103 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This one shows a Pittsburgh building being cleaned, and you can see how dirty they were:

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

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

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

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

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

2 days ago

Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily

Paul Fernhout Thanks for the first-hand perspective on old China (103 comments)

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

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

3 days ago

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister

Paul Fernhout Re:Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (327 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 days ago

Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet

Paul Fernhout And it got started with the Flexner Report in 1910 (140 comments)

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

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

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

And some specific specialties like oncology and cardiology are being called scams...
"Scientific Studies Show Angioplasty and Stent Placement are Essentially Worthless"
"Exposing the fraud and mythology of conventional cancer treatments"

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

4 days ago

Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy

Paul Fernhout Great link to a 1912 test for 8th graders! (211 comments)

Much of what kids learned in those one room schoolhouses would be considered college-level material now.

Good points on changes in education sadly... See also John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, Pat Farenga, Alfie Kohn, Grace Lewelly, Chris Mercogliano, and so on...

4 days ago

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister

Paul Fernhout Jane Jacobs suggested you want more currencies (327 comments)


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

4 days ago

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister

Paul Fernhout Getting Greece to be 99% self-sufficient (327 comments)

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

4 days ago

Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Paul Fernhout Obesity is a sign of malnutrition and stress (339 comments)

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

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

4 days ago

Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Paul Fernhout Re:what a charade (339 comments)

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

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

5 days ago

Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Paul Fernhout Overpopulation is a myth (339 comments)


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

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

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

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

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

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

5 days ago

Plan C: The Cold War Plan Which Would Have Brought the US Under Martial Law

Paul Fernhout Re:USA invading Canada? (308 comments)

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

5 days ago

Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Paul Fernhout Personal lifeboats vs. better ships for all (339 comments)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also a video parable I co-created a few years ago:
"The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income "

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

5 days ago



What Happens to Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "An article in the Harvard Business Review by William H. Davidow and Michael S. Malone suggests: "The "Second Economy" (the term used by economist Brian Arthur to describe the portion of the economy where computers transact business only with other computers) is upon us. It is, quite simply, the virtual economy, and one of its main byproducts is the replacement of workers with intelligent machines powered by sophisticated code. ... This is why we will soon be looking at hordes of citizens of zero economic value. Figuring out how to deal with the impacts of this development will be the greatest challenge facing free market economies in this century. ... Ultimately, we need a new, individualized, cultural, approach to the meaning of work and the purpose of life. Otherwise, people will find a solution — human beings always do — but it may not be the one for which we began this technological revolution."

This follows the recent Slashdot discussion of "Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates" citing a NY Times article and other previous discussions like Humans Need Not Apply. What is most interesting to me about this HBR article is not the article itself so much as the fact that concerns about the economic implications of robotics, AI, and automation are now making it into the Harvard Business Review. These issues have been otherwise discussed by alternative economists for decades, such as in the Triple Revolution Memorandum from 1964 — even as those projections have been slow to play out, with automation's initial effect being more to hold down wages and concentrate wealth rather than to displace most workers. However, they may be reaching the point where these effects have become hard to deny despite going against mainstream theory which assumes infinite demand and broad distribution of purchasing power via wages.

As to possible solutions, there is a mention in the HBR article of using government planning by creating public works like infrastructure investments to help address the issue. There is no mention in the article of expanding the "basic income" of Social Security currently only received by older people in the USA, expanding the gift economy as represented by GNU/Linux, or improving local subsistence production using, say, 3D printing and gardening robots like Dewey of "Silent Running". So, it seems like the mainstream economics profession is starting to accept the emerging reality of this increasingly urgent issue, but is still struggling to think outside an exchange-oriented box for socioeconomic solutions. A few years ago, I collected dozens of possible good and bad solutions related to this issue. Like Davidow and Malone, I'd agree that the particular mix we end up will be a reflection of our culture. Personally, I feel that if we are heading for a technological "singularity" of some sort, we would be better off improving various aspects of our society first, since our trajectory going out of any singularity may have a lot to do with our trajectory going into it."

Link to Original Source

Should IT professionals be exempt from overtime?

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 2 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Nick Hanauer's a billionaire who made his fortune as one of the original investors in Amazon. He suggests President Obama should restore US overtime regulations to the 1970s to boost the economy (quoted by PBS NewsHour):
"In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. Not because capitalists back then were more generous, but because it was the law. It still is the law, except that the value of the threshold for overtime pay--the salary level at which employers are required to pay overtime--has been allowed to erode to less than the poverty line for a family of four today. Only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 qualify for mandatory overtime. You know many people like that? Probably not. By 2013, just 11 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay, according to a report published by the Economic Policy Institute. And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all.
    The Obama administration could, on its own, go even further. Many millions of Americans are currently exempt from the overtime rules--teachers, federal employees, doctors, computer professionals, etc.--and corporate leaders are lobbying hard to expand "computer professional" to mean just about anybody who uses a computer. Which is almost everybody. But were the Labor Department instead to narrow these exemptions, millions more Americans would receive the overtime pay they deserve. Why, you might ask, are so many workers exempted from overtime? That's a fair question. To be truthful, I have no earthly idea why. What I can tell you is that these exemptions work out very well for your employers. ...
    In the information economy of the 21st century, it is not capital accumulation that creates growth and prosperity, but, rather, the virtuous cycle of innovation and demand. The more innovators and entrepreneurs we have converting ideas into products and services, the higher our standard of living, and the more people who can afford to consume these products and services, the greater the incentive to innovate. Thus, the key to growth and prosperity is to fully include as many Americans as possible in our economy, both as innovators and consumers.
    In plain English, the real economy is you: Raise wages, and one increases demand. Increase demand and one increases jobs, wages and innovation. The real economy is simply the interplay between consumers and businesses. On the other hand, as we've learned from the past 40 years of slow growth and record stock buybacks, not even an infinite supply of capital can persuade a CEO to hire more workers absent demand for the products and services they produce.
    The twisted irony is, when you work more hours for less pay, you hurt not only yourself, you hurt the real economy by depressing wages, increasing unemployment and reducing demand and innovation. Ironically, when you earn less, and unemployment is high, it even hurts capitalists like me. ..."

If overtime pay is generally good for the economy, should most IT professionals really be exempt from overtime regulations?"

Link to Original Source

Safety first, privacy second in use of cameras in schools

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 3 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Caroline Murray reports for the Sacandaga Express: "Just this year, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District completed Phase 1 of a plan to install high-tech security cameras in every school across the district. For the first time, high school and middle school students started off the school year with security cameras pointed at them from every direction, including hallways, staircases, and public rooms, such as the cafeteria and gymnasium. For some veteran students, the cameras feel a bit invasive. "It is like '1984' with big brother," senior Hunter Horne said while walking down the hallway. ... Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said safety is the driving force behind the technology, however, admitted student behavior also plays a role in utilizing the equipment. Tomlinson said students have rights, and he wants to respect their privacy, but their rights change when students step foot on school grounds. ... Tomlinson said he already notices the culture has changed in the high school. He believes the amount of bullying and vandalism in the hallway is greatly reduced already. Gennett said faculty and teachers have peace of mind now, knowing the entire school is under surveillance. "It would be very difficult to find a location in our buildings where you can hide, or you can go, and intentionally do something that is not acceptable in our buildings," Tomlinson said. Some of the administrators view the security cameras as entertaining. Seniors Smith and Horne said certain staff members will call-out students over the loud speaker, and tell them to take off their hats."

One question not addressed in the article is whether forcing a child to submit to total one-way surveillance is a form of bullying or in some other way a vandalism of privacy or democracy? See also David Brin's "The Transparent Society" for another take on surveillance, where all the watchers are also watched."

Link to Original Source

US Millennials: The Cheapest Generation

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 3 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Just noticed this two-year old Atlantic article on how US Millennials (aka Generation Y) are not buying houses or cars as much as previous generations, but are buying smartphones instead and using those phones to get on-demand access to things like Zipcars or other "sharing economy" services. It says: "In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008. ... Just as car sales have plummeted among their age cohort, the share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 is half what it was just 10 years ago, according to a Federal Reserve study. ... Smartphones compete against cars for young people's big-ticket dollars, since the cost of a good phone and data plan can exceed $1,000 a year. But they also provide some of the same psychic benefits — opening new vistas and carrying us far from the physical space in which we reside. ... If the Millennials are not quite a post-driving and post-owning generation, they'll almost certainly be a less-driving and less-owning generation. That could mean some tough adjustments for the economy over the next several years. ... Education is the "obvious outlet for the money Millennials can spend," Perry Wong, the director of research at the Milken Institute, told us, noting that if young people invest less in physical things like houses, they'll have more to invest in themselves. "In the past, housing was the main vehicle for investment, but education is also a vehicle." In an ideas economy, up-to-date knowledge could be a more nimble and valuable asset than a house."

Of course, education via the internet or through FOSS educational simulations may not cost that much either. Also, we are also seeing the bubble on student loan borrowing nearing the bursting point, where more and more young people are deciding to bow out of the entire academic credentialing arms race given the uncertainty of a financial return on such an investment (as much as education via schools or other venues may have other non-financial benefits)."

Link to Original Source

10 things that scare the bejeezus out of IT pros

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 3 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "ITWorld has a slideshow that begins with: "As Halloween approaches, some may be creeped out by vampires and zombies and other minor evils. But IT workers know that just a few words can carry more horror than most ordinary souls can imagine — with nightmarish results ranging from wasted IT resources to botched rollouts to failed projects. Presented for your approval: 10 short sentences that will truly make your blood run cold this Halloween.""
Link to Original Source

Cold fusion reactor verified by third-party researchers

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 4 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "ExtremeTech reports that "Andrea Rossi's E-Cat — the device that purports to use cold fusion to generate massive amounts of cheap, green energy — has been verified by third-party researchers, according to a new 54-page report. The researchers observed a small E-Cat over 32 days, where it produced net energy of 1.5 megawatt-hours, or "far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume." The researchers were also allowed to analyze the fuel before and after the 32-day run, noting that the isotopes in the spent fuel could only have been obtained by "nuclear reactions"...""

Hidden Obstacles for Google's Self-Driving Cars

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 5 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Lee Gomes at Technology Review wrote an article on the current limits of Google self-driving car technology: "Would you buy a self-driving car that couldn't drive itself in 99 percent of the country? Or that knew nearly nothing about parking, couldn't be taken out in snow or heavy rain, and would drive straight over a gaping pothole? If your answer is yes, then check out the Google Self-Driving Car, model year 2014. Google often leaves the impression that, as a Google executive once wrote, the cars can "drive anywhere a car can legally drive." However, that's true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car's exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. It's vastly more effort than what's needed for Google Maps. ... Maps have so far been prepared for only a few thousand miles of roadway, but achieving Google's vision will require maintaining a constantly updating map of the nation's millions of miles of roads and driveways. Urmson says Google's researchers "don't see any particular roadblocks" to accomplishing that. When a Google car sees a new permanent structure such as a light pole or sign that it wasn't expecting it sends an alert and some data to a team at Google in charge of maintaining the map. ... Among other unsolved problems, Google has yet to drive in snow, and Urmson says safety concerns preclude testing during heavy rains. Nor has it tackled big, open parking lots or multilevel garages. ... Pedestrians are detected simply as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels — meaning, Urmson agrees, that the car wouldn't be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop. ..."

A deeper issue I wrote about in 2001 is whether such software and data will be FOSS or proprietary? As I wrote there: "We are about to see the emergence of companies licensing that publicly funded software and selling modified versions of such software as proprietary products. There will eventually be hundreds or thousands of paid automotive software engineers working on such software no matter how it is funded, because there will be great value in having such self-driving vehicles given the result of America's horrendous urban planning policies leaving the car as generally the most efficient means of transport in the suburb. The question is, will the results of the work be open for inspection and contribution by the public? Essentially, will those engineers and their employers be "owners" of the software, or will they instead be "stewards" of a larger free and open community development process?""

Link to Original Source

Humans Need Not Apply: A video about the robot revolution and jobs

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 6 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "This explanatory compilation video by CGP Grey called "Humans Need Not Apply" on structural unemployment caused by robotics and AI (and other automation) is like the imagery playing in my mind when I think about the topic based on previous videos and charts I've seen.

I saw it first on the econfuture site by Martin Ford, author of "The Lights in the Tunnel". It is being discussed on Reddit, and people there have started mentioning a "basic income" as one possible response.

While I like the basic income idea, I also collect other approaches in an essay called Beyond A Jobless Recovery: A heterodox perspective on 21st century economics. Beyond a basic income for the exchange economy, those possible approaches include gift economy, subsistence production, planned economy, and more — including many unpleasant alternatives like expanding prisons or fighting wars as we are currently doing. Marshall Brain's writings like Robotic Nation and Manna have inspired my own work.

I made my own video version of the concept around 2010, as a parable called "The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income". At 1:02 in the video I made, there is a picture of a robot near a sign "Humans Need Not Apply". The text there is: "Soon everyone was out of work. The politicians and their supporters said the solution was to lower takes and cut social benefits to promote business investment. They tried that, but the robots still got all the jobs."

Here is a p2presearch post I made in 2009 pulling together a lot of links to robot videos: "[p2p-research] Robot videos and P2P implications (was Re: A thirty year future...)". It's great to see more informative videos on this topic. CGP Grey's video is awesome in the way he puts it all together. Makes we wish I had done one like that with all those snippets of stuff I've seen over the years."

On MetaFilter Being Penalized By Google

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 8 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "MetaFIlter recently announce layoffs due to a decline in ad revenue that started with a mysterious 40% drop in traffic from Google on November 17, 2012, and which never recovered. Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand explores in detail how MetaFilter "serves as a poster child of problems with Google’s penalty process, despite all the advances Google has made over the years." Caitlin Dewey at the Washington Post puts it more bluntly: "That may be the most striking, prescient takeaway from the whole MetaFilter episode: the extent to which the modern Web does not incentivize quality.""
Link to Original Source

To Wash It All Away by James Mickens

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about 8 months ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "James Mickens of Microsoft Research writes his last column for USENIX's ;login: magazine humorously about everything that is wrong with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and the modern Web page and why we should "wash it all away". An example from his column: "Describing why the Web is horrible is like describing why it's horrible to drown in an ocean composed of pufferfish that are pregnant with tiny Freddy Kruegers--each detail is horrendous in isolation, but the aggregate sum is delightfully arranged into a hate flower that blooms all year." He makes many excellent points about problems with all these technologies, but do these points matter much given the Web's momentum? And could we expect anything better in the near future (like a Social Semantic Desktop or other new standards for exchanging information)? In my opinion, the Web wins because we are reaching the point where if something does not have a URI, it is broken. And JavaScript is, all things considered, better than we deserved."
Link to Original Source

LATimes to discard all previous user comments

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "I just received an email from the LATimes they will apparently be discarding all previous user comments tomorrow as they transition to a new commenting system. They are giving about one day to "save your work". What does this example mean about trusting our content to third-parties, even ones that one might otherwise presume to be a "Newspaper of Public Record"?

The main text of the email: "Thank you for being a part of the latimes.com community. We're committed to providing a forum for meaningful discussion about the topics we cover and have upgraded our commenting system. As of Thursday, February 27, we are giving our readers better ways to connect and communicate, using improved tools to help keep debates spirited, but not mean-spirited. More details will be available at launch on latimes.com/readers. As we bid goodbye to our old system, past comments will not be carried over. If you'd like to save your work, we encourage you to do so before February 27. We look forward to hearing from you at latimes.com. Jimmy Orr, Managing Editor, Digital""

Gates Spends Entire First Day Back in Office Trying to Install Windows 8.1

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "According to Andy Borowitz: "Bill Gates's first day at work in the newly created role of technology adviser got off to a rocky start yesterday as the Microsoft founder struggled for hours to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade. ... After failing to install the upgrade by lunchtime, Mr. Gates summoned the new Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella, who attempted to help him with the installation, but with no success."

I've read before on Slashdot that Vista took the hate for buggy drivers after big changes from XP. After that all got sorted out, lots of people praised Windows 7. Might we see the same thing here with a more stable Windows 9?"

Link to Original Source

Kickstarter hacked, user data stolen

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "CNet wrote: "Hackers hit crowd-funding site Kickstarter and made off with user information, the site said Saturday. Though no credit card info was taken, the site said, attackers made off with usernames, e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords.""
Link to Original Source

MIT Scientists Report Cold Fusion Success with "NANOR" Device

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "E-Cat World reports: "[A video] has been posted on Youtube by someone called ‘AlienScientist’ who attended (and filmed) the recent MIT Cold Fusion seminar and reports about what he has learned. He does a very nice job of summarizing the key points from the seminar, pointing out that Peter Hagelstein and Mitchell Swartz mention such things as how the cold fusion reactions can be enhanced by subjecting the cold fusion cell to an external magnetic heat and shining a laser on the cathodes. He also mentions that they say cracking in the metal and rapid gas loading can cause the deuterium to leak out, thus negatively affecting the amount of excess heat produced. The video also includes pointed criticism of the way the scientific community dealt with Pons and Fleischmann 25 years ago, and laments the lost opportunities that could have been realized if more care had been taken in trying to replicate the effect back then. The takeaway quote from the video (I think) is: “This is quite possibly the beginning of the largest technological breakthrough that our generation will witness.” ""
Link to Original Source

Start-up purchases controversial cold fusion E-cat technology

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  1 year,4 days

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "A North Carolina based company called Industrial Heat LLC has come out and admitted that it now owns Andrea Rossi’s ecat low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) technology (also sometimes called "cold fusion"). Industrial Heat has put out a press release in which seems to confirm rumors that it had spent $11 million to purchase Rossi’s device. The press release also confirmed speculation that Tom Darden of Cherokee Investment Partners a North Carolina equity fund is a principal investor in Industrial heat."
Link to Original Source

Willis Ware, 93, Engineer at Dawn of Computer Age, Dies

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "The NYTimes reports: "Willis H. Ware, an electrical engineer who in the late 1940s helped build a machine that would become a blueprint for computer design in the 20th century, and who later played an important role in defining the importance of personal privacy in the information age, died on Nov. 22 at his home in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 93.""
Link to Original Source

New surveillance tool to track posts about vaccines

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Michael Smith at MedPage Today writes: "A new surveillance tool might help immunize communities against vaccine scares, researchers reported. An international pilot project has demonstrated that it's possible to trawl through the Internet and quickly identify places where public fear about vaccines is on the rise, according to Heidi Larson, PhD, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England, and colleagues. ... The researchers cautioned that the system has not been running long enough to demonstrate "long-term predictive value," but added it will let observers characterize, in real time, vaccine opinions by "topic, negative or positive content, location, time, and risk level.""

The work is funded in part by the Gates Foundation. It is discussed in positive terms at the Daily Telegraph as "Monitoring system to globally track false social media claims on dangers of vaccines" and in negative terms at at Natural News as "Internet monitoring system to stalk social media users who question safety of vaccines"."

European Commission to criminalize unregistered seeds and plants?

Paul Fernhout Paul Fernhout writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "Mike Adams at Natural News writes: "A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to "grow, reproduce or trade" any vegetable seeds that have not been "tested, approved and accepted" by a new EU bureaucracy named the "EU Plant Variety Agency." It's called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.""
Link to Original Source


Paul Fernhout has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?