Difference between you and our leaders is that they would kill you

A large segment of our noble leaders whether religious, political or business are not like most of us.  That’s why there are relatively few of them compared to the teeming masses.  How does one rise to the highest levels of so-called success in an ultra-competitive, dog eat dog world?  Join me, Former Dundee Man, as I post my first seething but ultimately true rant of 2015.  I was not feeling quite right during the last week.  A blood test revealed that I was becoming toxic and the good Doctor quickly prescribed the writing of a blog post.  “Better out than in,” she said.

mooreSome years ago I chanced upon a video featuring the documentary film maker Michael Moore.  He was being interviewed at a college, I believe, and they had all the time in the world to explore various subjects.  I wish I could locate this video again, because there was one comment in there that has stayed with me ever since.  Over the years a number of right wing politicians and TV personalities have openly said they wished Moore would be executed (reports that he died this month are bollocks).  Now we’re all used to neo-conservative arseholes saying indefensible crap but Moore’s point was that liberals would never say such things.  And that is exactly the point.  The right-wingers that have ultimately taken control of the western world will kill to keep their control and preserve the status quo (is there any significant difference between UK Labour and Conservative, or US Democrat and Republican?).  The balance that democracy supposedly provides by having a left-wing is not really a balance at all because I don’t know many true liberal politicians proposing to murder neo-cons or illegally flatten foreign countries for their oil.

NSAWhen someone has broken into your house naked and carrying a hunting knife, delivering them a rousing speech on the merits of all being nice to each other and sharing the burden is not really going to help.  That’s what the remnants of the left wing are essentially up against.  The neo-conservatives see no issue in implementing a surveillance system to record and monitor the correspondence of every citizen.  If you in the future are deemed a political threat to the right wing ideals then they’ll search back through the decades to locate or plant that one time you  accidentally got a virus on your PC that took you to “Barely Legal Getting Big and Bouncy.com” and hint to you that you would not like this info to be leaked.

thumb-hunter-s-thompson-quotes-crime-society-20731Now the idea of using this kind of dirt on opponents is repulsive to a great many of us normal, average folk.  But to the maniacs that stalk our corridors of power it is no big deal. You need to ask yourself what does it take to employ the services of a call girl, let alone molest a child, but apparently such activities occur regularly among those with wealth and control.  What does it take to do such things on a regular basis?  What kind of a person does that make you become?  Would you still flinch if you needed to bring down the career of an opponent, or turn great swathes of the population against minorities?

How the hell will normal folk who apparently still want some level of equality, sustainability, public ownership and accountability overcome a system that is riddled with the kinds of characters that would not lose sleep if Michael Moore got a bullet through the head?

Happy New Year, readers.

No, wait, I’m not going to sign off like that.  I’m also an engineer and my work involves solving problems.  Where you strip back the vague, pseudosciences of psychology, sociology and economics you are still left with physics.  In the end there is a physical order to the universe even if we have not yet captured it in one large glorious scrawl on a blackboard.  This year I will set myself the task of using science to explore such issues as the effect of economic growth and morality on the world.  Of course the universe does not care what we do, that is what is so great about the universe, but ultimately if we as a species destroy our planet before we manage to vacate it then that has a profound effect.  So I ask what are the final, logical conclusions of unbalanced, extreme human behaviour?  Can I write a computer program (or heaven forbid, an “app”) that demonstrates clearly google-play-app-storethe repercussions of variables such as “steady” growth, surveillance or lowering inheritance tax?  Do I think such an app/computer program will have any discernible effect on world politics?  No.  Do I think it may get me through the days marginally better?  Yes.


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Our Society is Run by Junkies (and don’t kid yourself)

society-addictIs society increasingly dominated by people who are for all intents and purposes junkies?  Look at the evidence.  How do our business leaders and our politicians behave?  From a review of the 1992 book When Society Becomes an Addict by Anne Wilson Schaef:

Many politicians behave like addicts,as they are hooked on control, promising things will get better(but they do not), denying problems and denying alternative ways of doing things.

Let’s break this down:

  1. Hooked on control: how often do politicians, bankers, business men resign or take full responsibility for anything when something goes wrong?
  2. Promising things will get better: we’re all in it together.  It will be tough for a time but all hard working people will benefit in the future. Just give us another 5 years and we’ll master the deficit and bring economic growth.
  3. Denying problems: Climate change is not really that big a problem.  Loss of manufacturing is not an issue; service sector jobs can take its place.  All problems are down to Muslims, global changes (that will be for the best long run), work shy immigrants, handicapped and unemployed.
  4. thatcher-tinaDenying alternative ways of doing things: only economic growth, nuclear weapons, nuclear power, oil, austerity, invading other countries, privatisation, class division, and an old boys network can lead to a better future. Thatcher famously said: There Is No Alternative (TINA).

And then on the personal level we have people addicted to speed.  No not the drug, but the lifestyle.  Be on-line, contactable 24/7.  Post shite on Twitter and Facebook incessantly and check on other peoples’ shite.  It’s 09:18 and I am here.  It’s 09:19 and I am there.  It’s 09:20 and…  Look at me.  I exist.  I make noise.  I consume.  Race for some target somewhere.  Oh damn the local supermarket actually closes on Christmas Day.  What are we going to do?  We’ll starve.  Let’s go at 3am the day before.  How did people survive before mobile phones, internet and 24 hour a day open stores?

Dotonbori_19Exams are hard.  Universities are funded according to results.  Make the exams easier.  Society of people who know very little, can do very little, but with pumped up egos and attitude fueled by Red Bull and a complicit, rampant self-improvement industry.  Want to be a champion, a leader?  Or do you just want to be some hopeless also ran?  Seek out some motivation hip hop video on YouTube and drag your sorry carcass to the gym at 5am (do any gyms open at 5am or is that only in the self-improvement books?).  Go to the gym and workout even if you do not feel like it.  Feel?  Don’t waste time feeling.  Down another Red Bull, pop another Ritalin and charge on.  Make decisions quickly.  Don’t look back.  Don’t apologize.  Don’t expose any weakness.  You are the alpha male even if you’re female.  Be the man.

Environment and alternative energy is all very well for tree huggers, spiritual types, but the realistic among us need to stay focused on economic growth, jobs and the next election, next quarterly results.  Ayn Rand said people acting in their own self-interests is the best for the whole, and everyone who is anyone reads Ayn Rand.  The world is so full of complex nuances and infinite shades of grey, get lost in that and you’ll never appear strong.  Tough decisions call for tough leaders.

Depressed_(4649749639)Let’s keep running, chase the end of the rainbow for that pot of gold that awaits us.  Climb the ladder of success, salvation awaits.  Salvation takes the form of wealth, power, control, fame, a feeling of invulnerability and success.  You know like that hit, that rush, that dimming out of reality that most less socially acceptable forms of addition offer.

And when you ultimately fail to live up to these insane demands society places upon you, turn further into your addiction, or to another one.  Block out.  Deny.  Ignore.  Go back to the start.  Put your head down.  Charge on again. There Is No Alternative.


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How did Overhead become more Important than Work?

labour-party-uk_454As a modern society we decide that there is a minimum standard of living and facilities that we are prepared to tolerate.  If we had not desired this then we’d all still be living in caves and chasing our food and gathering berries.  In more recent times we’ve refined the definition of an advanced society.  If we explore the basis of this then we could conclude that people have the right to safety, food, water, sanitation, warmth, medical assistance, shelter, comfort, companionship, children, purpose.  How do we supply these?  Via a system of law and law enforcement, farming, sewers, pipes, power generation, housing, hospitals, ability to live with family.  How do we arrange this?  Education, research, cooperative endeavors (government?), infrastructure design and maintenance, etc.  If we want medicine and clean water we need to research and learn how to achieve these goals.  En route we need to learn how to build hospitals and reservoirs and pipes, and this requires engineering.

We are free to earn more on the side by making viral YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets, programming useless Apps, supplying phone-sex and a whole hoard of enriching endeavors with lottery scale odds of ever offering a return

too-big-to-failOf course to make engineering and these other things happen a system to facilitate the exchange of services and product must be devised and this is where money comes in.  A solid financial system will enable enough money to be present in the system when required and minimize corruption.  Furthermore we may also want to maintain some modicum of administration to ensure we keep track of what is going on and for future reference. Computers are good for such purposes, assisting those tasked with handling administration.  And some elected officials that will oversee the whole thing, like politicians.  I define this layer as being “overhead”.

What can conclusion can we rapidly draw from the above?  Finance and administration come at the bottom the list of priorities and are purely of service to the education, engineering, maintenance, training and all the other tasks that are at the front line of providing the safety, food, warmth, shelter, medicine, family that we’ve decided are of primary importance.  The world of commercial finance should ultimately be about efficiently connecting investors and those needing investment.

moodysSo why have the financiers and administrators (e.g. accountants, economists, bankers, politicians, computing specialists) – the Overhead – become the masters of the universe?  Those not part of this merry gang are being increasingly marginalized in many countries.  With the financial crash of 2007 (caused by reckless financiers and politicians) and the rise of austerity (advised by the same imbeciles) we see the victimization of immigrants, disabled, unemployed and now the growing swathes of employed who find themselves earning less than a living wage.  Even front line workers like nurses, cleaners, teachers, and security guards cannot earn enough to keep them above the poverty line – the line we as a society said we all deserve to live above.  If we are stupid enough to become a nurse, cleaner or teacher then it’s apparently our fault – caring professions are reward unto themselves and to manage we are free to earn more on the side by making viral YouTube videos of cats flushing toilets, programming useless Apps, supplying phone-sex and a whole hoard of enriching endeavors with lottery scale odds of ever offering a return.  But the servants of the servants – the financiers, the computer specialists, the politicians, the directors – are living ever more decadent, rarefied lives.  We’ve turned the whole pyramid of what defines a modern society upside down.  Everyone serves this select elite who in turn serve no one other than themselves.

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UBER and the Insanity of Neocon Tech Solutionism

The disease of Neo-conservative extreme capitalism, right wing policies, and massive inequality and corruption is on an unstoppable rampage around the globe.  Their endorsers include the solutionists (can solve any problem with an app or gadget) and the self-improvement cultists (can solve any problem with the right attitude and if not then it’s your fault).


Yesterday it was announced that UBER – the controversial tech ride sharing internet web company kind of thing – is valued at $41 billion.  What the hell does that mean other than it being the flavour of the month financial bubble that your pension fund will be funneling your cash into in order not to miss out?  UBER have a computer program that coordinates taxi rides.  Their actual earnings are tiny in comparison to the few real $40 billion companies in the world.  It’s not the Apollo moon missions.  It’s not splitting the atom.  It’s not discovering a cure for Aids.  It’s not allowing 12 nanometre scale computer chips.  It’s not bringing fresh water and sanitation to the billions of people who still go without these basic needs.

No it’s a way of allowing any fucktwit to act as a part time, underpaid, freelance, pensionless, healthcare less taxi driver and then for UBER to take a slice of whatever they make.

nhs logoWhenever someone comes a long saying they revolutionize this or that “problem” then we need to ask questions.  Underneath every thing being “solved” there is a real piece of work that needs performing.  Privatizing healthcare and bringing in dozens of insurance companies is meant to save money?  How?  What is the real work?  The real work is surgeries, nursing, cleaning, consulting.  Each of these things take a set amount of time for which people need to receive a fair salary.  How can adding layers of technology and further profit making private operators ever do this more optimally?  Only by cutting salaries of the people doing the real work, cutting the time permitted for said work and in general cutting corners.

We can look at economic systems as also behaving according to physical laws.  In other words, work needs to be performed if we are to live in a desired manner.  If we cut corners and don’t compensate people fairly (salary, conditions, security) this will ultimately influence the total, i.e. the society, the world, in which all parts operate.

TEDThe Neo-con, tech obsessed mindset is always thinking we can find a better way to do things.  If they could make all the food, services and products a country needs using just robots they’d do it.  They’d appear on a TED talk taking in that trademarked smart ass tone that most TED talks are given in and say how they managed to fire 99% of a country’s workforce and replace them with robots built in China.  And damn it we’re not going to pay all these slackers’ welfare payments either.  99% of their countrymen can’t afford their products, never mind, there’s the global marketplace to think of.

slumNo in the end we’re in a closed system and the numbers need to add up.  On planet Earth if we decide we want a certain standard of living and this should be sustainable for so many thousands of years then there are specific steps that are required to be made to achieve this goal.  This is the real work in the world: healthcare, teaching, engineering, farming, research, building, making, cleaning, maintenance.  Money, politics and information technology simply serve the first order tasks.  They are a means to an end.  These secondary order tasks are unfortunately also the best paid and consistently pull at the strings of the first order tasks, whether that is a private equity group buying up products and services they have no understanding of, or a bunch of ass hole Silicon Valley solutionist techies trying to take over the world of taxi cab rides.

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Did you vote No? Actions Have Consequences

Actions have consequences. Decisions have consequences. There is no you and them. You cannot divide yourself from the world. In the Scottish referendum of September 2014 the majority of people made the decision to register to vote and do so in greater numbers than ever before. The failure to achieve independence was not a question of apathy. People registered, got off their backsides, tore themselves away from their X-Factor and turned up to vote.

Maybe the No Voters were comfortable enough off.  Maybe they did not want to rock the boat, risk what they had.  Austerity is tough on many people, but the No voter’s have still got their pension (Gordon said so) and they have their jobs and if they live off savings and borrowings then their lifestyle stays relatively unaffected.  And they don’t personally use much of the services that are being dismantled.  They’re not sick or disabled or unemployed.  And they don’t intend to be.  They’re all right.

A sheer lack of imagination – too much brain dead television and internet activity likely saw to that – and we have an inability to comprehend the scale of change in the United Kingdom.  A country lurching towards the right and horrendous inequality and injustice.

If the country goes to the dogs, no amount of head in sand, I’m all right Jack, borrowing and cheating is going to shield you from that.  Seeing your neighbourhood turn into a ghetto, seeing your kids’ future disintegrate, seeing foreign colleagues deported, seeing your every waking moment being monitored and recorded for your protection, please tell me how that has nothing to do with you and that you were just looking after yourself?

Actions have consequences.

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BBP: The British Bastard Party

Yes sir, it looks like it’s a race to the bottom as UKIP, Labour and Conservatives all try to out-UKIP each other.  Think you’re tough on immigration?  Wait until you see what we have in store.  Think you’re tough on benefit scroungers?  Wait until we open salt mines and gulags.

Welcome to the latest UK right wing nut job party: the BBP.  The British Bastard Party.  Britain for the British.  Among our policies:

  • No foreigners allowed in – unless they are rich.  All foreigners to wear a star visible on clothing at all times.
  • No dark skinned folk – unless they are rich.  All darkies to wear a star – though this may be a moot point.
  • No poncy renewable energy program – can’t maintain our tough image as a world power with solar panels and windmills all over the place
  • No human rights nonsense – let the free market dictate how people are treated.
  • No bank regulations – let the free market do its job, let everyone get rich from currency trading
  • No farming – takes up valuable land and they’re all subsidy junkies anyway
  • No peace envoys – let’s get the World War II spirit back and gear for permanent war
  • No disabled folk eating up benefits – make them contribute, through medical experiments or something
  • No welfare – survival of the fittest got the human race this far, who are we to try undoing millions of years of evolution by caring for the weak?
  • No nuclear disarmament – who would we be with nuclear weapons?  We’d be like some useless country like Germany
  • No child protection agency – little bastards can look after themselves.  Spending an afternoon with Uncle Leon never did me any harm.
  • No privacy – unless you are rich.  What’s your problem if you have nothing to hide?
  • No equality – rich need special privileges being the proverbial teat of trickle down economics.
  • No foreign companies – unless they deliver nice backhanders in fat brown envelopes
  • No free schools  – since when did school help the average pleb?  You need attitude, not aptitude.
  • No free health care – no one’s grateful for something free. Survival of the fittest.
  • No Europe – we will negotiate our way out of not just the EU but the continent of Europe and have the British Isles recognized as a continent in its own right
  • No excuses – being born British or preferably just born rich anywhere will be the only factor of importance

We want to build a strong Britain, based on British values.   We are the British Bastard Party.  Show us what you’re made of, Johnny Foreigner!

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Holistic Politics vs That’s what you are, what am I?

Increasingly I despair when looking at politics. The average politician these days is a simpleton bully, the kind of moron you had at school who would keep yelling the same line over and over again until everyone else was battered down: “That’s what you are; what am I?”  A twerp?  “That’s what you are; what am I?”  A stuck record?  “That’s what you are; what am I?”  Oh, forget it.  “That’s what you are; what am I?”

IDS Yesteday

IDS Yesterday

Apparently Scottish Labour have better policies on women than SNP.  Apparently SNP have the weakest strategies in place on gender equality of the major Scottish parties when it comes to policies supporting women.  Of course what does this actually mean?  How is this evaluated?  Is it not a case of comparing some statements written on a manifesto somewhere?  Could it not be that SNP got side tracked and forgot to elaborate such points clearly enough?  Could it not be that the SNP were busy with other stuff like trying to save the whole country of Scotland and turning out a 700 page plan balancing everything from currency to war to economy to nuclear weapons to renewables to healthcare to education to oil to Europe?


United Kingdom in the year 2020 – Scotland voted No!

The complete idiocy of comparing policies as if they were on a giant check list is that it’s fundamentally impossible to address any significant policy individually without considering the whole ecosystem?  So Scottish Labour scoring cheap points over SNP on women’s issues is insane because when the whole United Kingdom – that Labour ensured we remain part of – goes down the toilet and begins to resemble the Victorian era again, we’ll not be very concerned about what some irrelevant party has on a bullet list.

Free Dental Clinic in Los Angeles.  Welcome to the UK's future

Free Dental Clinic in Los Angeles. Welcome to the UK’s future

When the economy has gone to the dogs, when you are up to your ears in debt, when you’re homeless and on the street with your family, when you’re without human and worker rights, when education quality is dropping, when you need to go to a charity for healthcare, when you’re queuing at a charity backed food bank, when fracking pollutes the water and makes you sick, when radiation leaks from rusty submarines and cost optimized private nuclear power stations, when you exchange your right to vote for food and shelter, when you’ve lost every last scrap of human decency – then some bloody Labour policy on women’s rights is not going to make much of a damn difference.

I do not stop at the politicians.  The academics and journalists that evaluate and report on policies are also severely lacking in ability.  That supposedly intelligent people cannot think in a holistic way is frightening.  But then again is it surprising?  Weighing up countless factors and drawing conclusions on how they all influence each other is hard work and, in a world with little patience for more than a quick sound bite, is liable to leave you sounding wishy-washy and uncertain.  Ultimately it’s much easier to just shout: “That’s what you are; what am I?”  Over and over again.

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