What we are seeing played out between Israel and Iran and between Israel and Hammas is retribution. Violence begetting more violence. Empire convinces us this is the norm of civilization and there is no hope for change. Empire is also an idol.

    Today I start lap 59 around the sun. Unlike the last two years, there is no snow. Morning sunshine gave way to clouds in the afternoon. My bride and I had a late lunch at Ford Garage.

    Duck in a creek with branches in the fore ground.

    I agree with everything that Om Malik wrote in this post about how AI IS Changing Writing, in particular the following:

    My approach to AI has been to embrace and extend my capabilities. I use quite a few tools with AI inside. Many of them have boosted my productivity. I am on the lookout for more to add to my arsenal, so I can become more effective when it comes to my creative output. I don’t need it to write for me. I need AI to make sure I don’t make spelling mistakes, point out some overused phrases, repetitive usage of phrases, and what my editors used to call “Om” things.

    I don’t understand why an individual will want AI to write for them because I own (and want to own) my words because they reflect me. My writing is never about producing content and I don’t make a dime from any of my web sites. I may be biased, but I think what makes it blogging is whether or not one is making money.

    Today I am enjoying my first vacation day, or what I like to call retirement practice, of the year. My company provides the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, so thus I have a four day weekend. Now that the Super Bowl is in February, I wonder why the NFL hasn’t decided to make Super Bowl Sunday be the day before Presidents Day every year, enabling many to have a day off on the Monday after the Super Bowl.

    If you think you are not religious then you don’t know what is religion. I think Americans are more religious today than ever before, but don’t recognize it because we equate religion with a specific association to specific organizations or specific beliefs in deities.

    Religion is much more fundamental to who we are as humans. For example, if you identify yourself with an NFL team, like I say I am a Packers fan, you are religious. The religion, which is that to which you connect or bind yourself (re-ligio) is professional U.S. football. Republicans? Democrat? Conservative? Liberal? Progressive? All religions. Yes, even atheism is a religion. Religion is an aspect of our ego.

    The problem in all of this is we have no understanding of our true selves, and the decisions we make are to maintain all these false selves that don’t really add value to who we are and what we truly need. It is the stranglehold of our religions that is driving decisions that we make against our own best interests.

    I use Readwise Reader to read articles that I select from my RSS subscriptions, and I think it has information that would like to extract. For example, from which domains do I most frequently read from? This is the type of question that if Readwise provided an API I might dabble with some programming.

    With AI, Focus On The People

    When I read something about the dangers of AI I can’t help but fear the writers are missing an important point. Saying that AI is bad is like saying the Internet is bad or guns are bad. In truth none of these items are bad. What is bad, and what we need to focus on, is that there are bad people who can and will use these items to amplify what they can do and thus inflict harm on others.

    Back before the Internet was known by most of the world those who supported it advocated for all of the good it can do, but we failed to take in to account how it can be used for harm. What is common among AI, the Internet, and guns, particularly automatic guns, is the scale and speed at which harm can be done.

    So, my advice is, focus a bit less on the technology and more on the ways in which people want and might use that technology for harm and then craft policies aimed at constraining the the people who may do that harm. It might be making a nuanced argument, but I think it is an important one when encountering those who see themselves as needing to defend/protect the items.

    If I were in charge of marketing a foldable phone, I think I would call it a mobile 2-in-1 rather than foldable because that puts emphasis on the functionality. From using the original Surface Duo learned that you have to think of these devices as a small tablet first and a smartphone second.

    I could be a target consumer for these devices because I am a heavy tablet user and a lite phone user, and I use both devices every day. The problem is, no foldable is ever going to be as thin as a standard smartphone and feel comfortable in front pants pockets.

    Price is a real constraint right now. When the price drops to a comparable to smartphone + tablet then it will be more compelling. So I wonder, how long will it take for a new foldable to cost $800 or less?

    Rule one of being a United States citizen, and really a citizen of any country, ought to be, ignore all political advertising. It’s shocking to that this fundamental advice is not taken seriously by enough people. Frankly, I would prefer all political advertising, to which the vast majority of campaign funds is spent, were outlawed so that our tools to evaluate candidates were primarily their record and debates.

    The advent of Large Language Models appearing as artificial intelligence makes this advice more important then ever. We will see video clips of people who appear to be saying things they did not say. Money is not a constraint (thanks SCOTUS) and technology is no constraint (thanks capitalism).

    The U.S. Constitution puts in place a structure of “checks and balances” between the three branches of government to prevent tyranny, and it is that concept that limits the degree of oversight of SCOTUS by Congress. However, this structure also enables tyranny when the same wealthy parties buy SCOTUS justices and members of Congress.

    If members of Congress, no matter party, are unwilling to actually impeach those who support their ideology to maintain freedom for all citizens and not just a select few, you have in place opportunity for corruption and defacto dictatorship.

    The founders imagined that the threat of impeachment would be sufficient to keep people in line, but we now know that is not true. Impeachment itself is useless without conviction. If Senators are unwilling to convict a sitting President for inciting an insurrection, then for what will it ever convict a President for?

    I think the reason why some are concerned about chatGPT is that they know the tendencies of most towards laziness. For most, if they read something that is not obviously wrong they will accept it as fact. Laziness might not be the right word, I know that I don’t want to live in a world in which I have to question everything. Constant skepticism is not healthy, we need to be able to trust some people. Such skepticism taken to the extreme leads to a person fearful of everything and everyone, and that leads to them to shooting a kid who unexpectedly rings their doorbell.

    Straight Jacket Voting

    We frequently fall in to the trap of thinking that how things work today is how they have always worked. Take for example voting in the United States. The whole concept of an “independent voter” is driven by the fact that today one can vote for people of different parties rather than all representatives from a single party. For example, you might vote for a Democrat for President and a Republican as your Senator.

    What I learned while reading The Age of Acrimony is that in the 19th century there was only straight party ballots. The ballots may have been nothing more than a card of one of two different colors. Voting was not in private, one put their colored ballot in the ballot box while everyone else was watching. Elections could and often did become violent affairs. The invention of the ballot booth, with it’s privacy curtain and the ability vote for people running for different offices rather than a party’s representatives cooled the temperature of politics. It also created the idea of the “independent” voter.

    You might have noticed that the temperature of politics has definitely risen to higher temperatures over the years, highlighted by the insurrection on January 6, 2021. My theory is that the idea of voting for one’s party, no matter who is running, has become more in vogue ever since Ronald Reagan, when I think the Republican party learned during Reagan’s second term that what letter was next to the name of the candidate was more important than the actual person. The thinking is that what is most important is the party elected to office and not the person because the party’s ideology is what is most important for leading toward the desired outcome. It doesn’t matter whether the President has dementia if the decisions are really made by his handlers.

    I think we will see this played out most vividly during the 2024 election. Neither Biden nor Trump are popular among Democrats or Republicans, but they will vote for either the Democrat or Republican candidate. The question will be how the so-called “independents” will vote, and that becomes more difficult when the campaigns become nothing more than don’t vote for the other crazy old person.

    Politics is broken because the system is gamed towards the status quo for the benefit of those people who gain from the status quo. Today this is not only the military industrial complex, but nearly every corporation in the United States. How else can you explain why all the candidate we can seem to elect are always of the same generation? Both parties rig it so that the anointed ones are the only options, hence incumbents never are challenged from within, and the non-incumbent pool of candidates are tightly controlled.

    With all the banning of books and now social media, it really feels as though we are living in 1984.

    This YouTube video of A History of Rock in Guitar Riffs from 1965 to now is really cool.

    I think Dave misunderstands what manton is doing in regards to the character limit. The character limit does not apply to blog posts, the character limit applies to what appears in the timeline. As has always been, posts that are longer than X character are linked to the associated blog post that contains all of the content. From my perspective, how handles long posts in it’s timeline is the same as how Feedland handles long posts in the feeds list.

    Manton could change how the timeline works to expand/collapse long posts like Dave does in the Feedland “news” display, but that is his prerogative as the hosting/platform provider. As a writer, I am willing to work within the constraints that he is providing. I don’t see the constraint as limiting me as a writer in any way because the full content is provided on my blog, which frankly is where I prefer people to actual go and read what I write.

    Look In The Mirror, There Is a Gun In Your Hands

    If one is a child, a teenager, a college student in the United States, aware of the realities of the society that they currently live in, how can you possibily conclude anything other than the fact that the generations older, now Millenials through Baby Boomers, don’t care about them at all? It’s seems we have all forgotten the desire for providing our children a better life than our own. Better should be safer. Instead we do absolutely nothing.

    I am Gen-X, and to my recollection the last time enough people in power were shocked enough by a shooting was in 1993 when the Brady Bill was passed. Looking back from today, it seems that only the attempted murder of an old white man who happens to be President lead to action. Not murders of elementary, high school, and college students.

    I see people of my generation ripping on younger generations as “entitled” and “lazy” and don’t seem to really care why. Might it be that in the United States the probability of a kindergartener experiencing an in-school shooting before graduating high school is greater than zero? I don’t know this is a fact, but I know it’s true, but the fact is that truth does not piss off enough people to take action.

    Parents and grandparents need to stop convincing themselves their child will never face a shooting. It’s time to stop numbing ourselves hoping that it will never happen. It’s time to face the reality that it will happen, to your child, someone you love, maybe tomorrow.

    The sooner everyone lets go of Twitter, the better. Musk is not a benevolent dictator and you can see that Twitter is going to end up with a Private Equity firm that will be less benevolent.

    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.

    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.

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