Archive for the ‘ Political comment ’ Category

A Quick Introduction to Terrorism

Coursera

I just signed up for this MOOC – and this is the introductory lecture. The camera moves to the top of the building in Leiden, and the instructor points out all the interesting buildings, and organizations – surrounding it – all in Europe, of course.

I was impressed – the Europeans seem to have a better handle on this problem, than the Americans do.

Why is America in the Middle East?

Foreign Affairs

The answer originally was “Because that is where all the oil was – in Saudi Arabia!” America allowed a handful of radical Islamic sheiks to dictate its foreign policy for the whole region.

It did not come up with a foreign policy of its own – especially towards radical Islam – whose policy is simple “Get rid of America!”

America could have said, in response “You have to chose between a tribal past or a global future. We will not force this decision on you – you have to decide for yourself.”

The average person would not have to understand this – they would just listen to what their preachers said. America would have to convince them – that joining America was in their best interest.

That’s all.

1954 Guatemalan coup d’état

Wikipedia

This article was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, when I went there looking for something else.

This article would have a shocker when it happened, back in the Fifties – but this information was successfully covered up then. And Americans went on believing in their Righteousness. As far as they were concerned – none of this ever happened.

Note the side bar on the right – Covert United States Involvement in Regime Change.

This would eventually kill millions of people closer to home – in San Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Britain: The End of a Fantasy

NY Review

Sometimes, running a blog is ridiculously easy. Find a good article somewhere else – and link to it.

I know next to nothing about British politics – but this brought me up to speed fast. Like everyone else, I was baffled by Brexit – but this sets the record straight.

Once the smoke and mirrors are gone, reality shines through.

Stupidity can be Overcome by Power

This is a common belief, when any organization (an empire, for example) has passed its peak, and is in decline. The decline is always caused by a collection of stupidities – but the organization thinks it can overcome these by brute force – often military force.

Or it can use political force – forming coalitions that unite against a common threat. Or it can use both together – a very effective strategy – but one that always fails, eventually. The classic case was the rise and fall of the Roman Empire – that tried everything, but eventually failed completely.

Or let us take as an example, the late British Empire that made the British the most powerful, and the richest people in the world – for about one hundred years. I traveled in England in the Seventies, and noted how the Brits had not gotten over their fall to the poorest country in Europe – in less than twenty years.

The same could be said of the American Empire – that controlled much of the world in the Fifties and Sixties. Through a series of stupidities, it has gone into a steep decline. It still exists, but has to share power with other empires in decline – such as Russia.

I saw this in California, in the Eighties and Nineties – when I worked for a series of computer companies – all of whom failed. I began to wonder if a black cloud was following me around.

Computer companies (and software companies) are now beginning to see their stupidity – to see what they had been doing wrong – and figure out how to do it better. This progress is spotty – some parts of some companies have got the message – and other parts have not.

Whether this trend will continue in other industries remains to be seen.

How He Used Facebook to Win

NY Review

I do not use Facebook myself – because I do not need it. I use WordPress instead, to expand on my ideas.

Probably, people who want to consider my writing, to see if it is valuable, look at my number of readers – an average of 40 or so – and don’t bother. No one thinks I am important – not even me.

But this review is about Trump – whose followers number in the millions. And what it says IS important.

It is not an easy read. I used LibreOffice to copy important parts of it – to help me understand it. But I copied so much I realized I was dealing a whole new way of manipulating people (including voters) – typical Americans, who are not very bright – and actually want to be deceived.

The social media are well-suited for this – and allow ample opportunities for new forms of social control. New kinds of dictatorships – that have sprung up everywhere.

The Trump world was more like, “Let’s say a lot of different things, they don’t even necessarily need to be coherent, and observe, through the wonderful new platforms that allow you to observe how people respond and observe what works, and whatever squirrel everyone chases, that’s going to become our narrative, our agenda, our message.” I’m being very simplistic, but that was the very different approach that truly was creative, different, imaginative, revolutionary — whatever you want to say.

The Company is a Machine

The biggest event in the last two hundred years, has been the rise of the Machine – and the Companies that arrived with it – that have become machines themselves. This is a shocking situation, because it has forced people to become machines also. A role they are not well-suited to.

I am not saying anything new here – this has been said, many times, by people more intelligent and talented than me. But since the advent of the Computer (the latest machine) – this problem needs to be reexamined.

I grew up in the Industrial Midwest, that right after WWII – manufactured most of the world’s products. It is now the Rust Belt that manufactures almost nothing. This should have taught us to be cautious in the large-scale adoption of the Machine. But we learned nothing.

We had no understanding of what we were like – animals with a highly developed (but unstable) brain – or mind. We were not machines, and we can never be like them.

Allow me to repeat that – we are not machines, and we can never be like them. And trying to be like them has been an unmitigated disaster.

This also applies to the Computer – we should note that we are nothing like it – and should be careful in how we use it. But we have not.

Computer software has developed a clever interface that makes it seem human. Just this morning, for example, I ordered a bicycle inner tube from Amazon. It will be shipped to Miami, and flown to Costa Rica – all under the direction of some computers on the Internet. Very handy!

But at the same time, I am learning computer programming – and learning this has forced me to see how strange it is. The analogy with the automobile is apt – some clever stuff is going on under the hood – but then a person gets behind the wheel, and takes control of it (if it has some gas in the tank).

Doing this with the Computer is not so easy – because it is distributed everywhere! This should not be a problem – because our minds, in the form of Software, are distributed also. But our political minds are firmly stuck in the past.

We have the strange situation where part of us is advanced – and part of us is retarded. And we are determined to not notice this.