Category Archives: Philosophy

Chinese Millennials

Will Chinese Millennials diverge from their elder’s and ancestor’s infatuation with consuming the worlds endangered species?

“Worth thousands of dollars on the Chinese black market.”

That statement alone should make you shudder with regards to what the Chinese economy is set to do to the world’s endangered wildlife. With nearly 1.4 billion people, 70% of which are up and coming middle class — many of whom will be subscribing to the traditions of their ancestors — China will soon be eating, drinking and buying and owning the world’s critically threatened species.

Elephant ivory. Rhino horn. Exotic bear, tiger, simian, marsupial and fish organs. The consumption of all of these and hundreds, if not thousands, of other medicinal and collectible parts of animals, are all on the rise in China.

Yes, the Western world had, as its toy, for centuries, the undeveloped world. The United States extracted one of the greatest tolls on the planet as it sucked at the planet’s resources during its golden years. And then the rest of the industrialized world caught on and replicated America’s rapacious exploits. Colonialism started it, but transnational corporations are finishing it. And yet, through it all, the West seems to have found religion. They’ve realized the detrimental impact they have on the species of the world (or so they would have us think).

But China and India (and the other countries of Asia?) they’re just getting started in their consumption cycles. If just a third of China’s middle class all want to own an ivory trinket of some sort (to honor their ancestors) that alone will have 300 million Chinese buying carved ivory — mostly through illegal sources — effectively wiping out the entire African elephant population.

And that’s just the elephants. A million apothecaries all trying to get black bear pancreases, or tiger penises, or pangolin fetuses, or totoaba bladders (a fish), will utterly destroy the populations of such species.

So, I ask, will the Chinese Millennials alter the future of their people and reject such ancient superstitious traditions and help save, rather than consume, the world’s endangered species?

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Comment Obscura

I have a confession to make. I delete all my real-name comments and likes from many of my social accounts.

I create posts. I like things. I comment on other’s posts. But within 24 hours — I delete them.

There’s something about gifting my personal IP, my thoughts and opinions and such to the likes of google or facebook or twitter.

And here’s why I mention this: People hate that I do this.

People, apparently, feel entitled to some sort of persistence model regarding everything I might say or approve of. They think me deleting my comments from their posts violates their sense of continuity regarding their social personas. BAH! I say.

If we have a conversation on the phone, or face to face, or yelling across the canyon will either of us have recorded for posterity that conversation? Of course not. We talked, we exchanged views, and now those words are lost to the ether. Should we mourn those words? Those unpersisted trackings of our repartee? Of course not. And that’s the way I view my communications on my real-name social presence.

And of course they get even more pissed off when I post something and they comment on it and then a day later the entire conversation and post are vanished into the never-never.

“Why did you delete that article?” they ask. Hey, I’m modeling the entropy of the universe. Get used to it.

My netdonym social presence? Like here? Ah, who cares, it’s fun to gather a following of anonymous people’s likes and dislikes. I don’t know if you use your real name or not. I wouldn’t. I mean, I do, but only for VERY SPECIFIC content that I want associated with me personally.

The nonsense I post here? Me, my radicalized self and all the left-leaning libertarian loony-toons fodder I spew out? Well, it’s just a gathering ground for poisonous mushrooms. Hmm, anyone for some toadstool stew?


Taxes? Payment for privileges.

Who doesn’t like socialism? Well, if you consider all that society provides for itself already, nobody shouldn’t like socialism. That is, rejoice in Socialism — cuz’ we’re already in it.

Who likes paying taxes? Well, if you consider calling them payment for privileges then maybe they wouldn’t feel like taxes. Let’s say we DON’T tax anybody’s income anymore. But then everyone would be forced to independently purchase things like the following:

Protection from:
• Foreign nation states,
• Criminal activity,
• Medical catastrophe
• Fire,
• you know, all those things a national, state and local government setup of systems does for our protection.

And then there are the perks we would each have to pay for:

• A maintained and well marked road system,
• A system of education,
• A system of justice,
• A system of water delivery and sewage handling,
• An electricity system,
• Systems for managing air traffic, boat traffic, compliance for building, food safety…

If you examine that list you’ll come to the conclusion that, hell!, we already are living in a socialistic society. Without all that money (taxes) to pay for all those common good services, we’d be a helluva lot worse off.

Now how about upping the tax on the wealth? “Booooo,” all the wealthy will say, but wait a minute Mr. & Mrs. Oligarch, do you like having a trustworthy banking and investment system? You like being able to buy and own vast swaths of land, buildings, planes and boats? You like living in a safe, well protected and just system? Well, it’s gonna cost ya… Because, you know, you wouldn’t be wealthy if We The People weren’t here to provide all of that protection.

One would think that a natural algorithm would be that the more wealth you possess the more you owe it to society as the protector and provider of that wealth. The fallacious theory of “I’m a self-made man!” ignores the fact that all of one’s success is based on living in and working with a society that provides all of the protections and benefits previously mentioned. No one stands alone. The wealthy tend to think it’s they who have succeeded when in reality it is society that enable all of that success. No society, no success.

If the wealthy don’t like this theory well maybe they should consider that in the coming apocalypse, when society has collapsed, dissolved even, and they’re standing there, alone, having to protect themselves, feed themselves, clothe themselves, shelter themselves and they wonder, “how can we rebuild our wealth?”, and the answer comes that you, they, can’t because they’re spending all their time surviving. Then they might realize that only a society can support wealth. And that the more wealth one owns the more one owes society for the opportunity to have acquired it.

Is this wealth hatred? Bah! A certain dynamic of wealth in a society is necessary. Achievable betterment, the lifting of station through education, ideation, creation and hard work should always be possible and acknowledged. But even then, such betterment is a function of society and must be recognized. Taxation is one of the tools for that recognition.

Without a taxation system, throughout its history, to build all of the protection and privilege systems I mentioned above, no society would exist. Without taxes (historic and present) I couldn’t ever have written this blog — nor could you been able to read it. Which, by the way, thanks.


My Five Stars

Are we the same?

Of course not. So, why would my preferences have any influence over your choices in life? They shouldn’t. Unless of course, we’ve established some sort of commonality between us.

When we see this somewhere on the web:

FiveStars

We think to ourselves, “hey, it must be good!” right? But, who are those people who liked that thing, whatever it might be (book, movie, electronic device, candy bar, restaurant, car, etc.) Are they like you or like me? Doubtful. What if everybody who really liked “X” were all penthouse-owing, world-tripping, elitist oligarchs, a bunch of self-declared aristocrats? Or what if they were all children in an Icelandic grade school? How much do you have in common with either of these? (You might, I don’t know, but that’s not the point. Or rather, that IS the point.)

Or what if you see some sad item for review with no stars. Some poor, dejected thing which nobody liked, everybody hated:

NoFiveStars

Again, who were these people to have rejected, outright, the efforts of whomever created or offered this item for review? Maybe it was wicked great, but reviewed by a whole slew of folks who had NOTHING in common with the creator. Nor did they have ANYTHING in common with you. Maybe YOU would love whatever that thing is.

And maybe you’d HATE that thing the kids in the Iceland school loved.

My point here is that reviews are treated as omniscient, but in reality they should be treated, organized in such a way that when you examine a reviewed item you see the reviews of ONLY those people who are as similar to you as contextually possible.

Who are these people? See, that’s the problem. That’s the golden prize at the end of all of this sociality. If you had a tribe of cultivated, curated people around you, people who held similar tastes in a high percentage of topics and ideals, you could trust those people’s reviews, their opinions would come much closer to yours.

This is what’s missing from facebook, twitter, google, linkedin, instagram, snapchat, et al. These “friends” or associates you have gathered in your time online, they do NOT represent a reflection of you. They’re a hodgepodge of people you’ve collected over time with vastly disparate views and morals, likes and dislikes.

Five stars? Zero stars? They mean nothing without knowing WHO rated them; without knowing if those people were anything like you.

Solve this problem, and you create a truly successful social experience.


Success teaches nothing

Success teaches nothing. Only failure provides for learnable lessons.

You are a stock market neophyte. You pick five stocks from the NASDAQ. Each one doubles in a month. You sell them, doubling your money.

Did you learn anything?

You’ve never skied. You ride to the top of the lift, get off, strap on your skies and push off making it to the bottom in a single go.

Did you learn anything?

Your father is a Mob boss. He has lieutenants over for dinner. You bake a cake. You’ve never baked a cake before. You forget the flavoring. Nobody complains.

Did you learn anything?

You’re hired to sell steel for an iron mfg company. A hurricane takes out the only competition. You sell more steel than the company has ever sold.

Did you learn anything?

Enough already! Sheesh, we get the point. Success through luck teaches nothing. Only failure, adjustment, and retry serves to teach. The 1001 ways how NOT to make a lightbulb. The School of HarkKnocks. The quitters never win and winners never quit.

Of course, eventually, when you are successful, and you succeed, the fact that you failed often and spectacularly may have been forgotten or ignored or even suppressed. And that’s sad. Perhaps we should cheer the losers, the failures, those resolute folk who fail, learn from their failure, and still strive to succeed. Can you imagine booing the easy winners?

Would you rather be lucky or tenacious?

 


You’re writing for me

As a fiction writer, you are not writing for yourself. You can write for yourself, but don’t expect anyone else to read it. Just twiddle away, write your hundreds of words a day, living in that artificial world you’ve constructed and enjoy it. But don’t expect ME to enjoy it.

You see, if you’re writing for an audience, then you have to realize you’re writing for an audience — right-up-front.

Sure you’ll go on your own private journey while you pen your story. The climbing of the icy mountain, the scuba diving off the coast of Ecuador, the rickshaw trip through the back roads of Cambodia, or Fantastica or wherever.

But while you journey and write, remember that it’s me you’re trying to engage. By “me” I mean us, we, your potential readers. Every word you write, phrase you turn, paragraph you ponder, must be done so imagining someone else reading it.

Not you reading it.

Someone, anyone, everyone else reading it. That has to be your constant, back of your mind Buddha, the little fellow who sits there and reminds you, “Hey, I don’t know what that ‘eponymous’ word means! Maybe there’s a simpler, clearer word…”

And it’s not just phasing or your lexicon that matters. It’s the big stuff. Like how fast is your story going? Do you really need all that extra description? Don’t you think that having him fail four times in a row is a bit much? Wouldn’t just twice be enough, with a clever word slipped into infer additional efforts?

Writing’s hard. Writing well is nearly impossible. But if you try it, remember, it’s not you you’re writing for. You’re expressing these wonderful visions so that WE can experience them.

 


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.