Finished reading: Journey to the Common Good by Walter Brueggemann 📚

“I believe it is impossible to overstate the defining nature of the empire of force among us, if empire is understood as a political, economic, military, ideological practice of self-security and control. It is not clear that life can be construed beyond empire; but the poets have to try. The poets, because they are poets, never arrive there, for their poetry would then become program. That, however, does not render the poetry as a failure or as an irrelevance. It only affirms that alternatives to the lethal reductionism of empire require imagination and courage and staying power. In that ancient world, it was required that old Jerusalem be relinquished and new Jerusalem be undertaken. It is no less required now that there be relinquishing and undertaking.”

“It is all good news … but you have to go! Israel has always been departing empire. That is how it began back in Egypt and that is how Nebuchadnezzar became the dominant metaphor for imperial power vis-à-vis the peculiar destiny of Israel. That has been the summons of Jesus to his people since his first “follow me.” He summoned away from all old regimes into the new regime that he inaugurated. To make a large, imaginative move, I suggest that it is the task of followers of this gospel in our society—who live in the totalitarian regime of military consumerism with all of its hopes and violences and anxieties—to depart.”

Journey to the Common Good: Updated Edition by Walter Brueggemann

United States Empire

Dave is pointing out the relationship between the United States paying its bills, the value of the U.S. dollar as the the world’s reserve currency, and how that all translates to life as we know it in the United States. What Dave does not point out is that the the U.S. dollar being the world’s reserve currency is a fundamental part of the United States Empire. It’s how we can punish other nations like Russia and Iran with “economic” sanctions or why cutting Russia off from SWIFT (which is the network that all banks, including national banks use to move money around) is in fact punishing.

While (like the Roman empire) we have built U.S. Armed forces bases all around the world, U.S. citizens, let alone the world, will not accept frequent military intervention, so the bases are mostly for show of power and rapid deployment capability. Consequently, the economic tools, like the reserve currency, are the tools of choice that we use to flex U.S. might.

I think most nations know exactly how the U.S. uses the reserve currency status to imposes its will upon them and that is why some of them are considering using something other than the dollar. The U.S. missing payment on its bills will provide good reason for the nations to pull the trigger and that could start the fall of the U.S. empire. If this happens we will find out quickly just how much our way of life has grown to depend on empire.

P.S. The United States is the only country in the world to have dropped nuclear weapons on another country. The fact that we were willing then to do such a thing and the fact that we use our economic muscle to enforce our empire makes us the bad guys for most of the world. The good life we enjoy keeps us from seeing our shadow self.

It's All By Design

Much that is wrong in the United States can be traced back to Milton Friedman, because he created and taught the doctrine in place in corporate America that everything, absolutely everything, is about making the wealthy class wealthier. Corporations exist to make wealth, and labor is simply the disposable batteries needed to fuel their wealth.

And, of course, the wealthy class fears the labor class, which is why they own those bunkers and houses on islands as far away from civilization as possible. For some, Mars or the moon may not be far enough. (And definitely do not allow labor to organize against us!)

The United States was founded upon and institutionalized class structure. White men ruled and controled Europe in the seventeenth century, how could anyone think that was not how America was structured? Madison, Jefferson, Washington, and Hamilton knew no different, it was and has been the “norm of society.” (By the way, this structure goes back well before the time of Jesus and he was killed by the state and the religious ruling class for preaching an alternative to the structure. Consequently, the U.S. might be called a christian nation by the defintion of institutionalzied christianity, but would not be called so by Jesus.)

Ours in the United States has been a more than 200 year struggle over the question of liberty for whom? Explicity at the founding liberty was only for white male property owners. Over the years laws and Constitutional ammendments have been passed to try and expand liberty to more people, but really, the class structure remains. The people at the top benefit so much from the way things are there is no real incentive to change. How else can the right hand of the U.S. institution, the Supreme Court, think that structural racism is no longer an issue, thus voting rights are not longer needed, or that anti-abortion laws are not a infringment on the liberty of nearly half the country, or that corporations (which is THE insitution of the wealthy class) have the same rights as citizens and should thus be allowed so spend as much money to buy politicians as they wish?

Mass layoffs are the dopamine of the wealthy class. No CEO is ever going to be fired for announcing such a layoff because it is exactly what the wealthy class demands. Any CEO and board of a U.S. corporation knows that the quickest way to boost their stock price is by announcing a round of layoffs or buy announcing stock buy backs. Few CEOs know how to build anything, they only know the financial engineering they were taught in business school and what they see done all around them.

P.S. If you are invested in a 401k, you are being told that your interests align with the wealthy class. Assimilation is a very powerful tool of those in power.

There are a couple of inches of snow on the ground, and if it can continues at this rate I can see us getting four or more inches in total.

The Yooper in me gets amused by the reaction to snow storms in southeast Michigan. Yes, it’s snowing, but if you look outside and you can see buildings and trees and the snow is falling, that’s just a snow storm it’s not a catastrophe. I know that most people here don’t know how to drive in snow and therefore it’s best folks stay off the road, but most times the reaction feels extreme.

Snowfall

“It is our propensity, in society and in church, to trust the narrative of scarcity. That is what makes us greedy, and exclusive, and selfish, and coercive. Even the Eucharist can be made into an occasion of scarcity, as though there were not enough for all. Such scarcity leads to exclusion at the table, even as scarcity leads to exclusion from economic life.”

Journey to the Common Good: Updated Edition by Walter Brueggemann

Love Michigan. Nothing like a gentle snow fall.

Hidden in there is a woodpecker checking out this cedar tree. Can you see it?

When I read articles about AI, more and more I am thinking to myself, just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should do it. Corporate America needs to be mindful that if everyone is layed off in the United States there will be nobody buying your products and making you rich. We need to start learning to curb greed or it is going to lead to our demise.

I have a dream for an integrated web reading and writing application. Some will say the web browser is the application that I describe, but for some reason I prefer an application that integrates the two.

I must be the only person in the world who doesn’t care about his follower count. Or maybe I am just a narcissist because I mostly write and publish for myself.

Building Versus Buying

I’ve finished reading a fantastic three part series about the history of ARM written by Jeremy Reimer for Ars Technica. Here is a quote from the end of the series:

But the key to Saxby’s management approach was simple yet uncommon in the business world: ARM grew because it helped others grow. It treated its employees more like people and less like human resources, giving them chances to learn and succeed along with the company. “I’m a great believer that in any team,” he told me, “any member is better at something than somebody else, so to get the team to perform you want everyone to perform on their best axis. Teams that work well together work better.” He emphasized the importance of being honest with employees and not overpromising what the company had to offer.

The above resonates with me because the company I hired in to out of college, Electronic Data Systems, had the same business model, treat employees in a similar manner, and had success. Unlike ARM, EDS went through several different owners (GM, HP, HPE, CSC/DXC) and CEOs and each change moved further from the founding vision to the point at which it no-longer really exists.

The story also calls to mind The Infinite Game by Steve Sinek. Using Reimer’s comparison of ARM and Commodore, ARM was playing the infinite game, Commodore the finite game. In the book Sinek describes the reletively few businesses playing the “infinite game” versus the vast majority playing the “finite” game. He writes:

Infinite games have infinite time horizons. And because there is no finish line, no practical end to the game, there is no such thing as “winning” an infinite game. In an infinite game, the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game.

Having been hired by EDS and surviving through the multitude of transitions that has occurred, I have seen first hand the differences a building a company, which usually has a founder, and buying a company, which usually has a manager. In most cases bought companies are separated from their founding, has no leadership and thus no culture.

It amazes me that given all the evidence of how to achieve long term success, such as ARM’s, that so few U.S. companies are interested in the infinite game. The finite game rules business, thus it rules capitalism, and given relationship of capitalism to the United States, the finite game rules the U.S. I don’t think prospects will change in the United States until we find leaders who are builders, right now our political, economic, and religions cultures appear to all be playing the finite game.

Checked in on the COVID status for my county. We are having a much better January this year than last, although the infection rate remains at 1.02 and it best be below 1. Noticed that COVID Act Now has changed the vaccination reporting to indicate the percentage of the population that has taken the latest, bivalent, booster.

It’s a very different winter than the one we had two years ago, with no snow on the ground right now. In fact, so far we are on pace for a record low amouint of snow for a winter. Temperatures this week remain well above freezing.

I’ve updated the outline of books that I have read (16) in 2022, which is now an index of three years of reading.

Finished reading: One Coin Found by Emmy Kegler 📚 “‘Love’ has been wielded by Christians who cloak their unkindness as ‘hate the sin, love the sinner,’ who claim to ‘speak the truth in love’ no matter what damage it does. But when one person says it’s love and the other person walks away wounded, we don’t call that love or truth or grace. We call it abuse.”

Finished reading: The Wounding and Healing of Desire by Wendy Farley 📚

Profits Above All

Nobody should be surprised that big oil has long known the impact of carbon on the the climate, just as big tobacco long knew about the relationship of nicotine on cancer. Likewise, I am certain Facebook, Twitter, and Google all know the impact of social networks on mental health.

In my opinion the root cause to this behavior is the acceptance in the United States that it’s ok for one to profit from the misery of another. Any means toward the ends of more and more profits to the oligarchs is accepted by everyone, even for whom are the most affected.

If you truly read the history of the United States you will learn that from the discovery of the content through to present time the United States has existed to make one class of people rich at the expense of anyone and anything that would be in the way of that class becoming more rich. This fact has made the United States, and many other countries in the Western Hempisphere very different from other countries in the world.

The history of the United States is very much a fight, back and forth, between the oligarchs and everyone else. Everyone else won over the oligarchs in the U.S. Civil War, but the oligarchs clawed their way back up until FDR and the New Deal. Ever since the end of WW II the oligarchs have been fighting back and gained great ground during the Reagan years, and their accendancy has continued ever since no matter which poliitcal party has been in power.

Today it appears that everything is in place for the oligarchs to completely assume control over nearly everything in the United States. Trump pretty much sealed the deal by placing the oligarch’s choice of justices to the Supreme Court, under the disguise of overturning Roe v. Wade. More consequential rulings are coming to remove the New Deal, Civil Rights, and election laws that were put in place as guardrails against the oligarchs.

On the eve of the Civl War everyone else rose up against the oligarchs by forming a new political party (Republicans), and electing Abraham Lincoln, which lead to the Civl War and the oligarch’s defeat. Unfortunately, the oligarchs appear to have closed that risk to them by changing election laws and the amont of money it takes to be elected President to insure no party that they don’t control can possibly be a threat. At the moment it seems to me the only real possible equally dramatic act would be for enough states to open a Constitutional Convention that would fundamentally re-form the United States for good or ill.

Ken Smith writes about what he calls Essential Fluency that I think relates to my reaction to Seth Godin’s call for the end of high school essays. Also related to these topics is another article that was sent via email, the gist of it calling for universities to be replaced by corporate-sponsored trade schools.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that education in the United States is a mess. At the root of the problem is a belief that in order for one to obtain a good paying job in the United States one must have a college degree. I think this approach is a contributor to the huge wealth gap in the United States because not everyone has the aptitude, not to mention the financial resources, to get a college degree.

I think part of the answer to the problem is a increased emphasis on experience and skills, which I relate to Ken Smith’s post about fluency, and a decreased empahsis on degrees and certifications. Most corporate funded education looks more like certifications.

Using experience as a scale, you could put people in two categories of jobs: entry level and non-entry level. A person hired in to an entry level position would be expected to have the rudimentary skills (reading, writing, math) but the company hiring them would provide the full suite of training need ot fill the roles of the company. No-entry level would be direct hire in to the roles. In neither of these cases is a college degree needed.

Seth Godin says good riddance to high school essays. Apparently he doesn’t see the value in learning how to write, in how to construct a clear and compelling message that one reads. Apparently the fact that still more than the majority of what is on the Internet is in written form doesn’t matter. Ask any college professor about the quality of writing seen from students. Although, given that it’s so bad today, perhaps just not even bothering to teach kids how to write is the way. I mean, it’s not like we really care about education in the United States because that would lead to more equality, and equality impedes the liberty of those at the top of the pyramid.

ESPN CFP theme song: John Williams composes new song - Sports Illustrated

ESPN pulling out all the stops. Notice the part in the sheet music at the end?

It seems to happen every time there is a migration of people from one application to another. When the new people start using the new application they seem to expect that the features and functions of the previous application to exist in the new one. When they can’t find the function, they ask where it is, and if they are told that it doesn’t exist it seems they then start to complain or at least doubt the reasons for why the function doesn’t exist with the alternate application.

In my opinion, the idea that every application should work exactly the same is problematic. Micro.blog was created specifically to not be Twitter and Mastodon was created specifically to not be Twitter, and the value of these applications are that they are not Twitter!

And you know what, it’s ok! Life can exist without a “like” button and it can exist without a quote “tweet.” We don’t need to change the minds of those who disagree, we just need to figure out how to co-exist.

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