Category Archives: Technology

You Will Not Find Me On Facebook

I have no Facebook account.

I will never have a Facebook account.

For years I’ve inveighed against what I sincerely believe to be the blatant immorality of Facebook’s business practices, which, true to capitalism’s two primary goals, seem to be:


Make as much money as you can, any way you can.

Grow as big as you can, any way you can.

Custom, tradition, ethics, law, morality, authority of government, common decency, the health of local or of global environment, or any other considerations are, as far as possible, to be disregarded or neutralized as restraints on the monomaniacal pursuit of maximum profit and of maximum growth for growth’s sake.


Facebook thrives on attention.

In general, the larger the audience the more effective the advertisement, which justifies charging high advertising fees.

So…how to generate a large audience?

So simple…let anybody post damn near anything, especially negative things, because negativity has been proven to draw larger attention than positivity.

This practice damages political processes, social cohesion, and the psychological health of large swaths of the human community.

These consequences are, I believe, acceptable to Facebook so long as it profits.

I sincerely believe Facebook to be a poisonous presence on planet Earth.

There are others who have concerns about Facebook’s impact on our quality of life.

Please see below.


First, a link to a recent Vox article.

https://www.vox.com/recode/22677911/facebook-scandal-research-teen-mental-health

Next, an article recently published by politico.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/21/facebook-paid-billions-extra-to-the-ftc-to-spare-zuckerberg-in-data-suit-shareholders-allege-513456

Finally, a document published in 2019 by MIT Technology Review, and republished recently by Pocket.


Click to access oct-2019-facebook-troll-farms-report.pdf

 

Weather and Politics (1st)

On this blog posts normally go live at the moment Tuesday miraculously becomes Wednesday, a.k.a. midnight.

The recent weather crisis mandated other activity, such as exerting oneself mightily to avoid being transformed into a human Popsicle—hence no post last week.

Being once more in grateful possession of electricity, warmth, and potable water, I find my thoughts turning to consideration of just how this crisis unfolded.

Similar considerations are no doubt running riot through the minds of other citizens, particularly relatives of anyone who froze to death.

Before we go into that, respectful acknowledgement is due to linemen who worked sixteen-hour shifts, day after day, in brutally punishing cold.

That job is so everlastingly dangerous that one can never get comfortable with it.

One absent-minded false move and someone, maybe several someones, are literally fried.

No matter how tired and cold linemen may be, they must be fully aware of what is to be done, and how safely to do it, step by careful step.

If that’s not enough of a burden, linemen must deal tactfully with public reaction.

It’s not all bad.

Some folks politely offer them cookies and hot coffee.

Some offer beer.  <−−− ???  Of all things not to offer a lineman… 

Some cheer them on yelling “Thank you!”

Others abuse them.  “What the hell took you so long to get here, you m*therf*ckers!?”

Linemen are good guys in this crisis.

Who might be the bad guys?

Maybe nobody.  There’s a difference between being truly malicious and being dangerously naive.

More later.

Praise For Hemp

Praise?  ¹

Yes, indeed.

Consider the following. . .

From its stalk we can produce cloth and plastic, and four times as much paper per acre of hemp as from an acre of trees.

Hemp is more efficient than cotton, requiring just 110 days to reach a height of two to three meters, enabling harvest of several crops in a single season.

Hemp converts carbon dioxide to oxygen at a rate more rapid than almost any other plant, being weight for weight three to four times more efficient than deciduous leaves.

The fruit of the hemp plant is easily digestible, provides as much protein as soy beans, together with essential amino and fatty acids.

Huo Ma Ren is the Chinese name for a healthy oil made from hemp seeds, widely used in herbal remedies.

Bio-diesel fuel, methanol and ethanol can be produced from hemp seed and stalk  without the sulfur bi-products that cause air pollution and acid rain.

Fast-growing, carbon dioxide-capturing, nourishing, natural, renewable, many uses, and when converted into fuel, much less polluting.

And obviously profitable to grow.

That’s a lot to like.

So let’s mass-plant hemp?


¹ Information in this post found in:  Masaru Emoto, The Secret Life of Water,  ISBN 978-1-4165-2218-8

Ref: Covid19, Flu, And Similar Annoyances

Concerning The Effectiveness Of Masks

This sign, displayed in a local food store, seems worthy of consideration:

” A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysis of the flu indicates

that if 50% of the population uses a mask, virus transmission would be cut in half.

If 80% of the population uses a mask, the virus would essentially be eliminated. ¹

¹ (Yang, Jin, et al. Modeling the Effectiveness of Respiratory Protective Devices in Reducing Influenza Outbreak.

Wiley Online Library, Risk Analysis, 19 September, 2018, onlinelibrary wiley.com/do/full/10 1111/nsa13181.)

For a  thorough discussion of masks, with no hype, see the following:

https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2020/08/16/face-masks-what-makes-some-better-than-others-against-covid-19/5535737002/

Ancestors (3rd)

Our Ancestors—Safe When They Walk The Streets Of Our Minds?

Most of us believe we’re much more “advanced” than our “crude” ancient ancestors.

In my opinion we’re quite unnecessarily self-congratulatory—consider this simple chart:

Ancient Classical Elements

Fire                          Air                      Water                 Earth


Modern Physics—States of Matter

Plasma                     Gas                    Liquid                  Solid


Modern Earth Science

Magnetosphere      Atmosphere      Hydrosphere      Geosphere


We’re quick to point out what we know that our ancient ancestors didn’t know.

Nevertheless, the above chart suggests that, while none of them would qualify for a job at NASA, they were far from ignorant and could be brought up to speed faster than we might think.

After they added our store of knowledge to theirs, (some of which we have lost, forgotten, disregarded, or mocked), would teaching then be strictly one-sided?

When considering the abilities and achievements of our forefathers and mothers, is it fitting to approach the subject predisposed to arrogance and smug self-assurance, or with respect and humility?

 

Capitalism (4th)

As a general principle of American law, people own their personal facts the same way they own their personal shirtsno one may make unauthorized use of either.

Enter surveillance capitalism—making money by selling our personal facts to advertisers, thus destroying our privacy.

One definition of privacy—the ability to control who knows what about us.

This must always be a qualified, not an absolute, right.

Public welfare sometimes demands intrusions, which, in my opinion, should always be strictly regulated by search warrant.

Another definition of privacy—self-selected aloneness—is essential for psychological health, and for cultivating a spiritual life.

Even regarding marriage an Arab poet once wrote, “…let there be a little apartness in your togetherness…”

Off by ourselves we can rest, refresh, become aware of inner guidance helping to solve our problems.

At such times, “heaven speaks.”

Heaven, (however you understand that term), never intended us to live lives devoid of privacy, locked into a technological fishbowl, constantly spied upon by plutocrat capitalists greedy to accumulate ever more money by selling our every discoverable personal fact to interested parties.

Add to this the government’s snooping and it’s plain we need to rethink our understanding of fourth amendment protection from “unreasonable search and seizure.”

It’s would seem that, to many in business and government, our precious the Bill of Rights has become rather inconvenient.

Regarding business, the profit motive does not justify literally anything.

Regarding government, The Constitution is not to be sidelined.

 

“I am a non-participant in social media. I’m not much attracted to anything that involves the willing forfeiture of privacy and the foregrounding of insignificance.”

—Billy Collins

“Facebook says ‘Privacy is theft’ because they’re selling your lack of privacy to the advertisers who might show up one day.”

—Jaron Lanier

“Saying you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

—Jean-Michel Jarre

“Once you’ve lost your privacy you realize you’ve lost an extremely valuable thing.”

—Billy Graham

Ancestors (2nd)

Ancient Technology—Useful or Useless?

To the extent that we ignore ancient technology, we rob ourselves.  Our ancestors’ motivation to avoid pain, sickness, poverty, old age, and death was at least as intense as ours.

There having been no structural change in the human brain in the last 100,000 years, its a statistical certainty that ancient human populations contained a number of outright geniuses.

Granted, their science database wasn’t as lush as that presently available to, say, a recent MIT graduate.  On the other hand they generally possessed comprehensive awareness, acute and subtle ¹, of the natural world.

Add to that creativity and desire to survive and thrive and its likely they achieved much that’s lost to us without digging, (often literally), for it.

Researching ancient ways has already revealed that our ancestors were sometimes better than us moderns at solving certain problems, performing certain tasks.  We should keep digging, and put to good use as much as possible.


¹ That we moderns have been divorced for quite a while from an “acute and subtle” awareness of the natural world is well illustrated by the following:

North American white hunters were after wolves.  They were assisted by an Eskimo tracker, who at one point casually informed the hunters that one of the wolves was rabid.

The white hunters asked how he knew this.

His answer: Rabies caused tension in the wolf’s body, which caused change in the way it placed its feet, which the tracker detected by noticing subtle differences between the rabid wolf’s paw prints and those of its healthy pack members.

Not bad for a supposedly “ignorant native.”

Technology (2nd)

Have you ever been told that technology per se is politically neutral?

Lets think about that.

If a huge commercial solar power generation plant burned up completely, the total damage to the environment, and to public health and safety would relate to the damage done by a meltdown at a nuclear reactor as a loud lit fart relates to a volcanic eruption.

The difference between solar power generation and nuclear power generation is more than the danger to public safety in the event of malfunction.

Solar power plants, being far less dangerous to operate than nuclear power plants, make possible smaller government presence in the economy.  Nuclear power plants mandate larger government presence. (More bureaucracy and regulation.)

The former is consistent with the “small state” position of some present day politicians. The latter with the “big state” position favored by others.

But “small state” politicians seem beholden to the coal and oil industries and so won’t advocate for solar power.  “Big state” politicians won’t advocate for anything so “un-green” as nuclear power plants.

Technology is politically neutral?

Permit me to be skeptical.

Technology (1st)

The potential offered to young students by libraries of printed books is the ability to select a bookshelf at random, to open any book found thereon to any page, and to be astounded by the life-changing discovery of a totally new branch of knowledge, a new teacher, or a new world.

Neither web nor hyperlinks can offer such an experience.

With such potential being lost with the electrification of libraries, its obvious that technology is no unalloyed blessing.