Do Not Burn Our Flag

I do not care what the context is or was. I do not care if you were manipulated and weak minded enough to be influenced by “fake Facebook” or “the Manchurian candidate” or some conspiracy theory or anything else. This is tragically disappointing and a pathetic attempt at free speech.

IF that is what happened. First the image:

(Questionable photo origin, but AP ran it.)

Emotionally, and patriotically, I gotta say this image is horrific to view for me no matter how it came to be.

Just don’t. Do NOT burn our flag on American soil. Any cause you might think you are representing is immediately debased. And delegitimized. It’s so egregious, at least to me, I can’t possibly fathom someone thinking this would advance their cause.

I can’t help but notice the person holding the fire is carefully cropped out of the frame. So perhaps, like the media, I have been tricked by people seeking to divide our country.

But, just WOW, this is a real hot-button for a lot of us. It is painful to view.

As I’ve said before, the Presidency is an “office” – not a “person.” Disagree with the current office holder, as the majority of Americans do, does not justify this.

If it’s Russian propaganda by their new Emperor-for-Life seeking to further divide us – you got me. If it’s homegrown idiots, even if behind a cause you believe in, you have cemented your place in history as traitors.

Do NOT burn the flag my Father, my Uncles, my Mother, my Brother, my Greats, my friends, fought to defend. the flag is a representation of an ideal. That we are all equal. That together we are one. E

e pluribus unum

out of many, one

(the motto of the United States)

In closing, I am highly suspicious of the origin and veracity of the photo. The photographer at a protest can’t tell what is “theatre” and what is “spontaneous.”

I just know in my heart, despite everything going on in 2020, that we must stick together. Out of many, one.

#peace

A third of Coronavirus patients admitted to ICU – Lancet Medical Journal – Jan 2020

A familiar cluster of pneumonia associated with coronavirus
progression of the Coronavirus in a patient over time
This is the progression of the Coronavirus in a patient over time. This is why we quarantine.
https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0140-6736%2820%2930183-5

I’m stunned by this: “Lancet, the British medical journal, published an article in January, based on studying a small group of patients, which found that a third of people (infected with the coronavirus) had to be admitted to intensive care units.”

The reason that stuns me is it is from January and it is now March. We lost significant time in responding to an obvious issue of a lack of Ventilators and ICU beds are vastly insignificant for that level of infection.

That quote on Covid-19 is from today’s NEW York Times article March 20, 2020 titled “Behind the Virus Report That Jarred the U.S. and the U.K. to Action”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/world/europe/coronavirus-imperial-college-johnson.html

Statistics from the Imperial College of London predicts what an uncontrolled spread would mean. This data is from the WSJ article (this will NOT happen, this shows what COULD have happened without non-medical intervention.)

  • 510,000 deaths in Britain
  • 2.2 million deaths in the United States

I repeat – the ABOVE predictions will NOT happen because of non-medical intervention. It does represent what could have happened. And the final numbers, while less than the above, will be greater than they needed to be.

Back to the WSJ article:

The (now debunked) theory (ignoring coronavirus) is that this would build up so-called “herd immunity,” so that the public would be more resistant in the face of a second wave of infections next winter.

Dr. Ferguson has been candid that the report reached new conclusions because of the latest data from Italy, which has seen a spiraling rate of infections, swamping hospitals and forcing doctors to make agonizing decisions about who to treat.

My opinion: Let me translate the phrase “build up ‘herd immunity’” – because I went to Texas A&M with a BS in POLS and my wife is an Agricultural Science major as well. “Herd Immunity” basically means building up immunity, in the absence of a vaccine, “culling of the herd” or “survival of the fittest” or “the weak or those predisposed to the virus will die.” – Ed

And….

“Based on our estimates and other teams’, there’s really no option but follow in China’s footsteps and suppress.”

My opinion: Let me interject here again. If the public had known that up to 1/3 of all patients with the coronavirus needed treatment in an ICU with ventilators, I’m going to guess we wouldn’t be where we are now. Back to the article. – Ed

…the burden on hospitals was clear as far back as the original outbreak in Wuhan, China. Lancet, the British medical journal, published an article in January, based on studying a small group of patients, which found that a third of people had to be admitted to intensive care units.

I can’t help but feel angry that it has taken almost two months for politicians and even ‘experts’ to understand the scale of the danger from SARS-CoV-2,” said Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of Lancet, on Twitter. “Those dangers were clear from the very beginning.”

(PDF on Coronavirus from Lancet, search for more.)

My Opinion: My understanding from reading the above article, is that the Lancet feels their advice was ignored for two months and our leadership didn’t take it seriously, causing greater pain. I get that.

This is what your lungs look like with the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

COVID-19 Lung Scans Through the Treatment Process
https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0140-6736%2820%2930183-5

Like all Global Citizens, I believe we are in an unprecedented time. I hope and pray the miracle of humanity can solve this pandemic as soon as possible.

I’ll do my part as best I can. – Ed

Devon Spier – un-Praying post

Words from a wise poet, Devon Spier, that resonated with me today. From the post:

By ‘un-Praying’ – letting our bodies, minds and souls exist just as they are, we free all the stories we have long buried deep, dropping all pretense to make our entire existence the instrument of greatest hopes and our desires.

And when we move from unearthing what is communally unacknowledged to acting in ways that are spiritually life-giving, just and necessary, the progression of our spirituality will lead to the repair of humankind.

And so, our task is to become human piyyutim (liturgical prayers); to make our lives the liturgy that answers the call of a moral universe. For as much as the Torah reflects our ancestors, the Torah is bittersweetly and substantively, us.

– Devon Spier https://devon-spier.com/the-spiritual-practice-of-un-praying/

Why I stumbled onto her writings today, I don’t know. But this phrase from her post really resonates

“…. to make our lives the liturgy that answers the call of a moral universe.”

It is a powerful statement. It assumes a “moral universe.” Most of us assume moral means something akin to “kind, fair and just.” Yet our actions betray this definition.

Moral means to do what is “right.” If you are the CEO of Disney then “right” means increasing shareholder value. But “moral” and “right” stops when it comes to requiring fact checking its subsidiary Fox News.

These questions are beyond me, but I remain a student of life and they force me to think. I believe it is “right” to question. I believe it is “right” for poets to make us question what that means.

You can follow Devon at

https://devon-spier.com/

https://twitter.com/devon_spier

Cryptocurrency – What it Means for Central Banks, Companies and Associations – Presentation for LACCNYC

Cryptocurrency Global Impact

We all know what cyrpto currency assets are at this point, but to correlate current events with the role of International Central Banks and International Trade is indeed complex. This presentation was for the Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce in New York City. It does assume a baseline understanding of international finance and the role of Central Banks, Securities and International Trade.

Some highlight slides followed by the embedded presentation from slideshare. Note: these are NOT all of the slides from the presentation, so be sure to view the embedded presentation on cryptocurrency on linkedin.

Title slide on Cryptocurrency for companies, associations and the impact on central banks and international finance
How to finance wars 101 – the conspiracy of paper and Ron Paul’s take on the correlations

An excellent read on this topic is the conspiracy of paper.

The following slide is CRITICAL to understand the differences between how Central Banks functions versus how Cryptocurrency functions. Although people are working on options that reduce the all-or-nothing nature of the change. (see slidedeck for more)

Central Banks versus Cryptocurrency – a line by line comparison. Focus on the “Monetary Policy” part.

OK, WHAT IS CRYPTOCURRENCY?! Speak English Please!? This is the way I try to explain cryptocurrency in plain language so that normal people can understand it. This is the simplified explanation of cryptocurrency:

Think of crypto in 3 parts, just like a library book you check it out (object), sign the slip (ledger) and agree to return it by Friday (the smart contract).

Where does cryptocurrency come from and why should I care anyway? Let’s start with the “who makes this stuff?” question. Because that is the important part. It’s all about CONTROL.

Crypto – “Proof of Work” (I did stuff that was hard) or “Proof of Stake” (I’m Mr. Big so I give you paper money, like the Federal Reserve bank.)

The above slides highlight some of the critical slides in the presentation on slideshare on cryptocurrency as presented to LACC-NYC by Ed Schipul. The presentation, with some sensitive slides redacted, is embedded below.

You can access the CryptoCurrency Presentation directly on slideshare at https://www.slideshare.net/eschipul/cryptocurrency-lacceschipul

Note: This was sponsored by Tendenci – The Open Source AMS (Association Management Software) and the Luxembourg American Chamber of Commerce of New York City is a Tendenci client. The presentation was done at no cost for LACCNYC and I did not, and the company did not receive any compensation. I just like economics, associations, and crypto in addition to my various other interests. (Although to be fair, I have made some $$ from crypto trading from studying patterns in publicly available data sets. I mean, why learn ML/AI if you can’t use it a bit….)

Ed Schipul on linkedin.

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality because … WHY?

The FCC has repealed Net Neutrality as pressured by Congress and the President. Just … wtf?

HOWEVER: Note: Congress just passed a tax law nobody really understands. And economists have no idea if the projections are in any way realistic. They literally do NOT know what will happen, just that they lowered corporate taxes and eliminated the health care mandate. I’ll get back to that topic.

To distract all of us, in obvious post-dystopian style, they repealed NetNeutrality. Hence everyone who cares about equality and has a voice is now distracting everyone from the tax bill which reduces equality further. #awesome

From the NYT on the repeal of Net Neutrality by Ajit Pai of the FCC

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/technology/net-neutrality-repeal-vote.html

Here are …. well at least as many as they can figure out, the congressmen who voted for it and just how much money they were paid to do it.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7xwknx/republican-members-of-congress-fcc-letter

Net Neutrality works like this.

You go to the gym. You pay for a gym membership. The gym is a business and it’s gotta pay the bills. I’m cool with that. When you lift, there is etiquette..  but basically we all share the same machines or weights. Sometimes we have to wait in the same line if the gym is busy. That’s life.

Now…. imagine going to the gym in an alternate universe without Net Neutrality. It works like this:

Or…. if you are poor. Or small. Or different. You can only use the first three machines and you have to wait to do it.

If you are middle class, you get to use the first 6 machines but you also have to wait,just not as long.

BONUS ROUND! – If you are in Government or RICH you get to use all 500 machines at the gym with no wait.

The site https://www.battleforthenet.com/ describes it like this;

Cable companies are famous for high prices and poor service. Several rank as the most hated companies in America. Now, they’re lobbying the FCC and Congress to end net neutrality. Why? It’s simple: if they win the power to slow sites down, they can bully any site into paying millions to escape the “slow lane.” This would amount to a tax on every sector of the American economy. Every site would cost more, since they’d all have to pay big cable. Worse, it would extinguish the startups and independent voices who can’t afford to pay. If we lose net neutrality, the Internet will never be the same.

They literally just broke the Internet. #WTF

I’m speechless. Excuse the pun. But feel free to google a few terms.

And the tech sector should realize it’s own values: if Apple doesn’t think it’s worth a few Billion Dollars of repatriated earnings to defend Net Neutrality and support the EFF, if Zuckerberg doesn’t buy his own congressmen, if Microsoft doesn’t use it’s leverage to defend free speech, then Silicon Valley needs to accept that WE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

boyhood fantasies (not) fulfilled

“This summer, at the age of 51″”not even old””I watched on a flatscreen as the last Space Shuttle lifted off the pad. I have followed the dwindling of the space program with sadness, even bitterness. Where’s my donut-shaped space station? Where’s my ticket to Mars? Until recently, though, I have kept my feelings to myself. Space exploration has always had its detractors. To complain about its demise is to expose oneself to attack from those who have no sympathy that an affluent, middle-aged white American has not lived to see his boyhood fantasies fulfilled.”

–  Neal Stephenson  on  Innovation Starvation

no genuine attempt to address the issues

The West went to Vienna accusing Asia of trying to undermine the ideal of universality and determined to blame Asia if the conference failed. Inevitably Asia resisted. The result after weeks of wrangling was a predictable diplomatic compromise ambiguous enough so that all could live with it, but settled very few things. There was no real dialogue between Asia and the West, no genuine attempt to address the issues or forge a meeting of minds.

–   Ambassador Kausikan, World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, June 1993

 

perceived american narrative on islam

Wow, I think I’m guilty of this. And I’m not sure I can change either.

The Capital at NightI read “Why Muslims are still mad at America” by Steven Kull on CNN and I can’t say that I think the Muslim perception of the American narrative is incorrect. Speaking for myself, I do view freedom and civil rights for women as an evolution past Sharia law. I believe our Democratic-Republic is a more evolved form of government than a theocracy. Of course the non-sequitur in my thought pattern is that Sharia is opposed to rights for women, which I realize does not follow. Non-sequitur or not, that is how my brain processed it. And that is how governments like the Taliban implemented it.

So why are Muslims still mad at America? From Dr. Kull’s article on CNN:

“…there is one thing that is the most fundamental: their (Muslim) perception that America seeks to undermine Islam – a perception held by overwhelming majorities.”

and

“According to this American narrative – which Muslims perceive as arrogant and dismissive – human society naturally and inevitable evolves through the stages that the West has gone through.   As in the Renaissance, religion is largely banished from the public sphere, thus allowing pluralism and diversity of beliefs in the private sphere while maintaining a secular public sphere.   This leads naturally to the elevation of individual freedoms and the emergence of democratic principles that make the will of the people the basis of the authority of law rather than revealed religious principles.

From this assumed American perspective, Muslim society is seen as simply behind the West in this evolutionary process.   Retrogressive forces in Muslim society are seen as clinging to Islamic traditions that make Sharia the basis of law, not the will of the people, and inevitably keep women in their traditional oppressed roles and minority religions discriminated against.”

I would be interested to know how many Americans, right or wrong, actually do view Islamic governments as earlier than Western governments in the course of natural evolution. I had never thought about it in exactly that way, but it makes sense. I’m guilty of thinking that. And I don’t think it was Islam where the west first threw off the shackles. I suspect we can credit  Henry VIII, Martin Luther and Ann Boleyn for ending the rule-by-fiat from Rome for that part of the West’s evolution in political thought.

There was an article a while back I read that opined that Muslims view Judaism as “Religion 1.0”, Christianity as “Religion 2.0” and Islam as “Religion 3.0.” Thus the later releases should be “superior” to those prior. And if Islam is indeed superior to Christianity or Judaism in the eyes of Muslims, then why do the people who subscribe to these 1.0 or 2.0 religions prosper more than the new-fangled 3.0 release?  (I tried to find the article but instead found message-boards full of  crazy  posts, so I won’t link them.)

I can see how the Muslim perception of the American narrative could be particularly galling from that world view. Although the irony of a perception of American arrogance based on an arrogant assumption of religious superiority means both narratives aren’t fact based. Narratives are stories. In this case it’s a perception of a story you think the other person thinks without actually asking them. This thought pattern is best expressed by a quote from Vizzini  in the Princess Bride:

“But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.” (and he goes on and on…)

You think that I think that you think that I think that you…etc… You can’t resolve that or even have a reasonable conversation about something that amorphous. After Vizzini drops dead from switching and then drinking from the Goblet that was in front of our hero, the  Man in Black  explains to Buttercup  how he did it:

“They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”

In closing, why can’t we all just get along man? And it seems to me keeping religion out of politics is the first step and was a wise decision. If any of the religions are more or less “evolved” is not really the point. It is that this quote from James Madison:

“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”

Which became the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

To me at least, separation of church and state is a more evolved political structure. And that, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the superiority or inferiority of any particular religion. It simply speaks of a political system designed to  reduce people killing each other in the name of God.

(This is a cross post. if you wish to comment please comment on the chron post here.)

radiation + north pacific gyre = bad

I don’t think we are even close to fully understanding the Nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan. Just read this on CNN:

Radiation in water rushing into sea tests millions of times over limit
Tokyo (CNN) — Another attempt by Japanese officials to stop the leaking of highly radioactive water from a nuclear reactor into the ocean failed Tuesday, the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Both the utility and Japan’s nuclear safety agency say they don’t know how much water is leaking into the sea from reactor No. 2. But engineers have had to pour nearly 200 tons of water a day into the No. 2 reactor vessel to keep it cool, and regulators say they believe the leak originates there

Earlier Tuesday, Edano apologized for the decision to intentionally dump 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea — all part of the effort to curb the flow of the more toxic liquid spotted days ago rushing from outside the No. 2 unit.

Yup, they don’t know how much water is going into the ocean. Although I’d guess it is about the same amount as has been dumped into the reactor from helicopters and fire hoses.

Here is the problem for those of us in the states. The North Pacific Gyre is the largest ecosystem in the world and it circles between Asia and the West Coast of the US of A. So when you hear “don’t know how much water is leaking into the sea” and “had to pour nearly 200 tons of water a day into the No. 2 reactor vessel” and “intentionally dump 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea” it starts to become our problem very quickly.

We have some experience recently on trying to take the pee out of the pool. The use of chemical  dispersant apparently helped. As did microbes that eat oil (who knew?). The problem with Radiation in the water is a bit different for a number of reasons.

  1. Currents. The  Deepwater Horizon was in the Gulf of Mexico which has a loop current, but for the most part the oil didn’t make it even to Florida. The Pacific also has a loop current but the loop goes between Asia and the United States quite efficiently.
  2. You can’t see radiation in the water. You can’t fly a plane over the ocean and see a sheen like you can with oil. You can detect radiation, but only people with the right equipment. Thus citizen journalism and distributed responses aren’t possible from civilians.
  3. You can’t control fish. They swim where they want to swim. And many swim all over the world. So beyond the currents dispersing the radiation, you have radioactive fish. Does Pike’s Place Market put in a  Geiger  counter? How long till Amazon is sold out?
  4. Japan makes a lot of stuff. We like to buy stuff. But we prefer if it is radiation free. Not sure how the economics on this play out.
  5. Japan makes a lot of pharmaceuticals. Will consumers continue to trust these products? From wikipedia:
    1. In 2006, the Japanese pharmaceutical market was the second largest individual market in the world. With sales of $60 billion it constitutes approximately 11% of the world market.[2]
  6. China makes a lot of steel. We buy it. They unfortunately share an ocean with Japan. And even more unfortunately a tremendous amount of water is used in the steel manufacturing process. Is the source freshwater or ocean water? And if ocean water then how does this play out in the steel market.
  7. Culture. In Japan shame is handled quietly according to everything I have read. As Gladwell explains, a culture of deference can be deadly in a crisis. So what little we know coming out of the crisis right now is suspect. It is not that the facts they are telling the world aren’t true. It is the “what are they not telling us” that scares me.

And now I guess we should all check the WSJ to see when Berkshire Hathaway buys the leading non-Japanese manufacturer of  Geiger  counters. Because sadly the ones from Japan might be detecting themselves.

What do I think will happen?

I don’t really know. What I hope is that given the majority of the planet is ocean, that the amazing creature that is our living ocean will be able to absorb the radiation and disperse it to safe levels. What I hope is despite the folly of man, nature will once again protect us. That is what I hope. And I continue to pray for Japan. Both for the victims of the  Tsunami  and now as victims of a nuclear disaster.

 

neoliberalism

Worth a read. A revolution against Neoliberalism

Guaranteeing the sanctity of markets is supposed to be the limit of legitimate state functions, and state interventions should always be subordinate to markets. All human behavior, and not just the production of goods and services, can be reduced to market transactions.

And the application of utopian neoliberalism in the real world leads to deformed societies as surely as the application of utopian communism did.

and

Social media may have helped organise the kernel of a movement that eventually overthrew Mubarak, but a large element of what got enough people into the streets to finally overwhelm the state security forces was economic grievances that are intrinsic to neoliberalism.

V for Vendetta

Interesting to me that the movie V for Vendetta was the motivation for this and this hero both. Synopsis:

Tells the story of Evey Hammond and her unlikely but instrumental part in bringing down the fascist government that has taken control of a futuristic Great Britain. Saved from a life-and-death situation by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask who calls himself V, she learns a general summary of V’s past and, after a time, decides to help him bring down those who committed the atrocities that led to Britain being in the shape that it is in. Written by ameelmore

New to me anyway.

work smarter and harder

The false axiom “work harder not smarter” came up in conversation today. Which reminded me of this paragraph I did on the book Rework called When to Apply Business Advice:

Sometimes advice is populist, but there is a logical flaw. A company who follows the infamous “work smarter not harder“ quickly falls to a company that believes “work smarter AND harder.“ Working smarter-not-harder would only work if hard workers were dumb. But we get smarter through experience! So unfortunately, hard workers are typically also smarter than you. Oooops. But we don’t like to admit that. What we want to hear is that the  4 hour work week is a winner.  I certainly wish the global economy worked that way. (But it doesn’t)

You can read the full post at When to Apply Business Advice.

Their concern is not with themselves but with the group and how the group is faring

“I once watched a highly intelligent Pueblo Indian engaged in intercultural education programs struggle and sweat to put into words a problem he and his people were having to cope with. vulturesWhenever a white man is put down in the middle of a pueblo, the Indians must cope with his narcissism as expressed by his almost total preoccupation with how HE is doing (providing he is well motivated) or how HE is being treated (if he is less idealistic).

Regardless of motives, behavior of this sort is threatening and disruptive to Pueblo life, because the Indians are just the opposite. Their concern is not with themselves but with the group and how the group is faring.

The Indians see what we call narcissism in all whites ““ a trait that goes far beyond and is much more inclusive than self-love and individual differences. Since the Pueblo Indians themselves are not this way, how can they describe what they themselves do not include in their experience?

And what does the well-motivated concerned white man do when he has devoted much of his life to “helping“ the Indians only to discover that cultural insight reveals him as a disruptive force in Pueblo life, even though he considers himself an ally?

Why hadn’t any of his Pueblo friends told him this?”

Beyond Culture, Edward T. Hall, pg 153, Copyright 1976

Yali’s Question: why we had so little cargo of our own?

Yali’s famous question from the book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

“All of those things must have been on Yali’s mind when, with yet another penetrating glance of his flashing eyes, he asked me, “Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?“ ““ pg 14

and

“The, questions about inequality (Yali’s question) in the modern world can be reformulated as follows. Why did wealth and power become distributed as they are now, rather than in some other way? For instance, why weren’t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and Asians?“ ““ pg 16

and the conclusion

“Yali’s question went to the heart of the current condition, and of post-Pleistocene human history”¦ how shall we answer Yali? I would say to Yali: the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environments.“ ““ pg 405

Ecosystems matter. Our environment matters. And in fact it becomes a matter of human rights in the long term. Yali was a wise man.