Monthly Archives: August 2017

On Monuments

[wikipedia]: A monument is a type of structure that was explicitly created to commemorate a person or event, or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or as an example of historic architecture. The origin of the word “monument” comes from the Latin moneomonere, which means ‘to remind’, ‘to advise’ or ‘to warn’.


Perhaps, monuments, as we know them, should be elevated above the concept of commemorating people or events that are political or state oriented.

This means all war memorials, fight or battle memorials, democracy or communism memorials, religious, race or gender memorials — should be downplayed in our human consciousness. After all, every one of those types of monuments represents a divisive line between people.

Instead why not raise monuments to scientific and technological discovery and progress?

  • Where’s the monument to DNA?
  • I’d like to see a monument to Penicillin, the Polio vaccine, the eradication of smallpox.
  • How about a monument to the microscope, the telescope, the radio, the microwave, the x-ray, the rocket?
  • Ohm, Volt, Ampere, and all the other measurement names we get from the discoverers.

There are hundreds of discoveries and inventions — and the discoverers and inventors — who should be commemorated above and beyond those we currently hold in high esteem; those we currently have built monuments for.

Put Science on display as a monument.


The Age of distraction

We now live in the Age of distraction.

How long can you go without reading email, listening for or checking your phone, checking facebook or twitter or the news or paying attention to your pets, or your kids or your partner, your co-workers, or your boss or the idiot driving the Hummer behind you?

Let’s realize that we WILL be distracted. So, let’s prepare for it. Plan for it. Or even better, intentionally include it in our calendar, in our day-planner, in our personal rhythm of work or play.

It’s not going away you know. In fact, I’d wager it’s going to get worse.

We Will Be Distracted.

However, by WHAT will we be distracted? That’s the question now isn’t it?


Know that distraction is a political tool.

While I’m nefariously negotiating with drug companies, tobacco companies, investment banks… Or if I’ve got collusion with such corrupt entities to hide, or, (hold your breath), I’ve got interests with foreign antagonistic country’s agents or leaders… Then I had better give the people something to get riled up about, over there — while I go about my business, over here, out of the limelight.

While we all get twisted up regarding the latest media promulgated HOT TOPICS of the day, remember, the insidious agents of our current government are secretly planning further subterfuge, erosion and destruction of our country’s ideology.

Yeah, we’ll be distracted by these. But don’t let it become a permanent distraction.

Plan to get back to the work at hand, plan to get back to what matters.

 


Self-regulating Systems

Nature knows how to self-regulate. The cycles of feast or famine are simple examples of such systems. Too much browse for caribou produces too many caribou calves, which then feeds too many wolves which then produce too many pups which then grow up and eat too many caribou… Leading to too few caribou, starving too many wolves, which end up producing too few new pups, which then let too many new caribou to prosper. Yeah, The Lion King was right, it’s a circle, sometimes it’s a big circle and sometimes it’s a little one. But around and around it goes.

Other self regulating system examples are the human body: when we get hot, we sweat, which cools us down. If we get too cool then we shiver which produces excess heat which warms us up.

The climate is generally a homeostatic system – a system that reaches an equilibrium (or oscillates between extremes, the average of which is steady over time). Ignoring humans impact for now, too much CO2, produces too much plant growth, which then extracts much more CO2 (a greenhouse gas) which then allows the planet to cool, which kills or retards plant growth allowing the decay of plant material to return the CO2 to the atmosphere which then heats up and allows plants to thrive again.

Over the years I’ve tried to figure out how to apply such self-regulating behaviors to social systems. For instance, I dreamed up a number of Constitutional Amendments, one of which addressed campaign contribution limits. I figured that if we used median wage as the basis for contributions — this would self regulate: every citizen could contribute one days gross wage, per candidate, per year. If politicians wanted greater contributions — they should work to elevate wages.

Another one is: what should be the minimum wage for any one location? I figured that the cost of living should determine the minimum wage; it would cost more to live in New York, NY than in Lincoln, NB. To create an algorithm for this: if we use the median monthly cost of an apartment as the basis for minimum wage: $1000 / mo. rent multiplied by 2 and divided by 100 would give us $20/hr. At 20 dollars an hour, a $1000 a month rent seems reasonable. If you want to raise rent, you have to raise wages too. If you want to lower wages, you have to lower the cost of rent.

All sort of systems can be redesigned with self-regulation in mind. Taxes for instance. Or how to handle income inequality. I’ve posted on these topics here if you’re curious. But what about other applications? Healthcare? Are there self-regulatory aspects we could apply there? I’ve posted my thoughts on the “win/win” vs the “win/lose” aspect of capitalism. That seems like a candidate for determine when free-markets should be used. In fact when the “win/win” impact of capitalism is applied, supply and demand also finds its own equilibrium.

Tragedy of the commons algorithms? Water rights algorithms? Gun laws? Energy production and consumption? Land use? The elimination of biases in the hiring process for employers? I’m sure there are many facets of life that would benefit from an intelligent analysis and design of algorithms which would produce a self-regulating system.


New FED Mandate – Equality

The Federal Reserve is “governed” by a Congressional mandate:

  • Maximize employment.
  • Keep prices stable.
  • Retain moderate long-term interest rates.

I propose another:

  • Minimize income inequality.

Now, there’s a problem with all of these mandates. The FED has but three primitive tools with which to accomplish their goals.

  • The Discount Rate, that is, the oft stated “interest rate”.
  • Banking reserve requirements, what percentage of deposits banks are required to retain to substantiate their loans.
  • Open market activity, buying and selling of treasuries like the Quantitative Easing they did during the 2008 Financial Crisis.

So, what new (or existing) tool can Congress give the FED to help it with this new “Min- Inequality” mandate? How can the FED do its work with only a throttle/brake (interest rate), a bottle of NOX (QE),  and seat belts (banking reserve)?

If we postulate that the three main drivers of income inequality are corporations that:

  • Pay their executives and officers far more than they are worth, and pay their employees far less than they are worth.
  • That they distribute the income of the company’s business to shareholders rather than a larger portion going to employees (as wage, salary or shares).
  • And that they use net income to buy-back shares of the company from the stock market (which boosts stock prices).

Then those are the behaviors we want to change.

These are therefore the leverage points we can use:
1) Corporations borrow money from banks to fund growth.
2) They borrow money from investors as bonds to fund growth.
3) And corporations issue additional common or preferred stock to fund growth.

We would need to give the FED the power to throttle each of these corporate growth behaviors. With me so far? For each of these corporate expansion tactics we’ll add an inequality tax. This tax will be a calculation of the highest paid employee divided by the lowest paid employee — and that then divided by 100.

   CEO    ÷ low wage ÷ (adj)
5,000,000 ÷  50,000  ÷  100  = 1.00

The FED will now be given additional power, a number the “Inequality Quotient” IEQQ, by which they can lower the inequality penalty or raise it.

With the FED IEQQ number set to 1.00, a corporation with the above inequality metric would have to pay 1% higher interest rate to borrow money from any bank. Would have to pay 1% more in bond interest for any bonds they issue. And they would have to pay 1% gratuity tax on any new shares they offered.

   CEO    ÷ low wage ÷ (adj)
5,000,000 ÷ 50,000   ÷ 100 * (1.00 FED IEQQ) = 1.00%

All funds collected would go into — Social Security!

Simple right? Now, how do we convince Congress that this is important and that this (or a version of it) will work?


Reasons to read and keep reading

Reasons to begin reading a book

  1. Recommended — by a friend, or associate, or another author (not a relative).
  2. Author has established credentials.
  3. Referenced in the bibliography of another book.
  4. Fits your preferred genres.
  5. Other, that is, random selection, serendipity, cover, tag line, subject matter.

Reasons to keep reading a book

  1. Recommended.
  2. Author’s credentials.
  3. First page lured me in.
  4. First 1000 words engaged me.
  5. First 3000 words gave me a feeling of the story arc.

Of these reasons to keep reading, the first two are IN SPITE of the last three. By that I mean, even if the first page sucks, or the first 1000 words were flat and dull, if the book was recommended, or is by an establish name, you would feel compelled to keep reading beyond your tolerance for schlock.

In my mind, no one is going to recommend my books. I won’t have an established name. So, I’d better damn well make sure I kick the reader’s ass in the first 300, 1000, 3000 words.

Thoughts?


Writer’s Log: progress hour 852

It’s been a year since I began my writing <quote>career</quote>. (tags intentional)

What have I learned?

Well, writing is hard. No, that’s not right. Writing WELL is hard. Writing is pretty easy. You just sit and pour your thoughts out and there they are, a scrambled mess. Writing well is a whole other recipe.

So how have I learned to, if not write well, write better?

I’ve learned that one can become two-brained while you write. Half of your mind is focusing on what you want to say, your story, your character’s dialog, your allusion to conflict, or intrigue or an unknown darkness. And the other half you can tune to be paying attention to the way you write. Your grammar can become more accurate. Your awareness to style becomes more refined. And the triggers which you slowly add to your writerly-mind will increase in number.

Triggers? Yes. Over time I’ve added triggers to my writer’s awareness, which alert me when my wording strays into novice territory.

Like what triggers? Passive voice triggers. Point of view (POV) swapping triggers. Lofty word triggers. Dialog tag use triggers. Verbosity triggers.

~~~
Benny contemplated the swarm of gears and parts on his bench. He was overwhelmed by the complexity and intricacy of the clock. “I can’t fix this!” he griped, vehemently.

Doris tsked in her mind. “Will he never learn patience?”
~~~

You read that and it doesn’t read poorly. You can get the picture and the emotions right?

But it’s full of problems. And a whole chapter of this style of writing, a whole story? Eventually, you’d be put-off, and maybe not know why.

Passive voice: “He was overwhelmed…”  Better to have the clock’s complexity do the overwhelming.

Redundancy: “complexity and intricacy” Just skip the second word.

Dialog tag: “…griped,” We’re to avoid dialog tags that are not “said, told, asked.” Show how Benny was overwhelmed, don’t explain how he said something.

Superfluous adverb: “…vehemently” Again, this is explaining Benny’s frustration not showing us.

POV swap: “Doris tsked in her mind” We were in Benny’s head, then we jumped to Doris’?

~~~

Benny contemplated the swarm of gears and parts on his bench. The complexity of the clock, its tiny exact wheels and jewels, overwhelmed him. Violently shoving the array of brass and gold pieces across his desktop, he said, “I can’t fix this!”

Doris trundled over and rest her hand on his shoulder. “Patience, dear. You’ve fixed works like this that were much more detailed.”

~~~

Seeing this in its altered form, we get a better picture of what’s happening with Benny, the clock and Doris.

These are some of the highlights I’ve learned so far. It’s been a massive slog, but, hopefully worth it.