A Child Has to Grow Up.

Children start life by being supported by their family, and generally at some point certain elements of their family life will frustrate them. They either learn to cope with the elements of life that they don’t enjoy, or they decide to build a different life, leave home, get a job, make their own experiences and the cycle repeats.

Families are just the micro version of nations, a very similar series of stages effects every group of people at almost all scales. Countries each have their own idiosyncrasies, built on the complex interaction between all the forces needed to create and maintain a society. Over time most societies accept that the common good is actually the best outcome for each individual as well as the group as a whole. But the road this this realization is never simple. Every countries history and every empires history are a mix of power plays, strident goals, mistakes and compromises.

It is still unclear to many what forms of government works best. The concept of democracy seems to create the best outcomes over the longest timescales, but there are no pure democracies anywhere in the world, and even those that prescribe that freedom is the most important aspect of a society, and enshrine it in the language of democracy, don’t deliver a full democratic system. The oldest democracies (Europe and the US) all offer different weighted variants of democracy, and none of them offer systems where the most votes elect their politicians, as they use all warped models that mean some peoples votes count more than others, and complex systems are created to make it very difficult for specific groups to vote, and these systems are then used to ensure that “the other” is stopped from voting.

I’ve lived in several countries and have seen these processes at work. There is only so much “power” to go around, and everyone is looking to get as much as they can for themselves. Those who already have a lot are always reluctant to give it up, instead wanting even more, and those who have less are always eager to get more. Money doesn’t really exist, it’s just a proxy for power. Money is a promise, “if you do what I want/need, then I’ll give you pieces of paper or lumps of metal that you can use to negotiate with others for what you want/need”.

Through the idea of money, you can make people do many things that are against their personal needs, you can make them do dangerous work, make them hurt others in any number of ways, make them enforce rules that if looked at dispassionately they would never agree to. The complexity of society is immense, to feed, clothe, protect, teach, care for and run society, takes everyone. There was a time when each village would run independently, then later a time when each kingdom or country would run independently, but we have now moved to a time where the level of interconnectedness is so great, that every person on earth is working within the same system. Food, clothes, technology don’t happen at the village or country level, they happen at the global level. We rely on poorly paid people doing high risk work with little social support in countries we can’t even name to make our food, our clothes and our technology, for us to have what we have. We are rich because others are poor, if they were less poor then we would be less rich.

We know this, but we really don’t want to change it, we like being rich, and actually we all desire to be richer, and we intrinsically know that that requires others to continue to be poor.

Even within our own countries, we have to have some who are poor to allow some to be rich, it’s the differential that creates the desire to work for money, for power.

The problem is when you explain to someone the reason, they are poor is to allow others to be rich, they generally are not happy to find this out. And when they realize that they are in a defined underclass they tend to get angry. Educating poor people can be risky, so rich people often place limits on the education of the poor to limit this risk. Caste systems, hereditary and bestowed titles, elite school’s vs non-elite schools and religious hierarchies have all been used to provide the powerful with mechanisms to maintain this relationship.  Some countries have actively stated that they don’t have these hierarchies, but slowly and surely, they create their own variants, because they are needed to maintain a desire to achieve more.  

The world is on a path to try and prove this simple statement is wrong “Life isn’t fair, and it takes a lot of poor to maintain a small number of rich.”

I don’t know the answer, but maybe, just maybe it involves colonizing other planets, changing behavior to counter climate change, automating the most dangerous of jobs and spending more time in virtual reality. It’s going to be interesting to find out.

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We’re all Americans

The issue in the US is not a Republican vs Democrat. Most people agree on most things, but are easily swayed by specific sub-issues/wedge issues that they cannot get beyond.

Are we a racist society? of course we are, all societies are racist, it’s a function of the human mind’s ability to identify differences and to fear them. The question is do we want to change from being a racist society that exploits difference to be a racist society that rewards inclusion? In other words, do we want to learn from our racism and maybe become less racist over time?

Americans are generally fiscally conservative; we believe in paying our bills and worry about debt. Having spending that is greater than income worries everyone. We are just not used to holding those who lie to us to account, and our politicians have continually exploited this weakness. Those who proclaim fiscal responsibility are those who have been most irresponsible with the budget when they get in power, and only become responsible when they are in opposition.

Americans are generally socially liberal; we like our religions (pretty much all of them. Maybe with the exception of ones that have bigger beards and more squiggly letters in their alphabet, but that’s another story) and generally approve of strangeness in others as long as they do it quietly. We really don’t care if people take drugs, as long as they are not violent about it, and don’t end up dying in a pool of vomit in our local parks. But our political parties have tried (and succeeded) in turning liberalism into a series of wedge issues.

Americans use a crap load of contraceptives, and also have a lot of unprotected sex that leads to a ridiculous number of unwanted pregnancies, But we’ve decided that sex education is bad, and women’s health is bad, so instead of working to reduce the volume of unwanted pregnancies, we’ve decided that abortions is a wedge issue that you are either for or against.

Seriously, when the rest of the world is teaching their kids that gay is okay, and women can be whatever they want, we’re scaring people with the idea of millions of partial birth abortions, as a way of creating an “us versus them” political climate.

We have the biggest military in the world, with the most expensive everything. Not by a little amount, but by a factor that make the next 20 countries combined about the same size. We have so much extra military equipment laying around we donate it to police departments, who now look like armies in their own right, because we need armored vehicles loaded with machine guns to give out parking tickets, obviously.

I have lots of friends who are left and right of center, and frankly they all say the same things.

“The other guys are evil”,

“it’s them, not us that created the problem”,

“only we can fix this”,

“I have to keep voting for my guy, because of what I read online, heard or saw on my fav news station or read in my fav news paper”

We keep saying we are a young country, but there really is no excuse for being a stupid country.

In a rational world the choice would not come down to a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic failed business man who ended up playing a role on reality TV against a close-to-octogenarian lifetime politician known for verbal gaffs, weird hugs and riding the train every day.

But that’s the choice the system provided, and while it looks likely Biden will win both the popular and electoral college votes, the fact that it’s even close speaks volumes about the process and the peoples lack of trust in the available choices.

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When is a story so outlandish as to not be publishable?

If a famous author has written a story about the most incompetent way to run the most powerful country in the world into the ground, they would not have been published if they had created a story as outlandish as our current reality.

At every turn our President has chosen to put himself ahead of the needs of the people he represents. He’s chosen to cut funding to anything that prevents risk, and instead funnel everything towards the ultrarich who in turn buy and rent his buildings and signup for his clubs. Every thought is framed at the point of utterance and is based on nothing more than the last conversations he has had. Sycophancy, brown envelopes, and weak praise are the routes to power today. And while the growth challenges of an immature and mainly migrant population were framed in founding documents that have served well for a few hundred years and are now totally ignored, an always present undercurrent of xenophobia, racism and sexism is melding into fascism before our very eyes.

There may be nothing more dangerous that an incompetent leader. And today we have potentially the most incompetent leader any civilization has ever seen. I’m sure George W. Bush must have worried that history would have reported him as the most incompetent President ever, but he can rest easy, that accolade will be the headline of President Trumps for many years to come.

President Biden will need to build a team of competency to solve the mess he will inherit. His legacy will be not in the simple but difficult decisions he will be asked to make, but indirectly, through the professionals he must nominate who must follow absolutely the rule of law while promoting the values established in the constitution.

Mr. Trump, his family and the groups that control them through payments and dirt must be removed through the election process, and then investigated to ensure that no one else can ever corrupt the process using the same tricks.

America may never fully recover from this stain on its reputation. The power that has been given to countries such as Russia and China, may never be fully restored. The damage to the international community including NATO, and the financial and political established balance may never fully be recovered. America chose to give up global leadership of green energy, for no better reason than to protect the dying embers of the fossil fuel industries.

And yet America is still the most free country in the world, and maybe after a taste of how easy it is to fall into demagoguery and how easy it is to collapse democracy, maybe we will have a renewed understanding of the power of people to own their own destiny.

(6)

There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Love him or hate him, you have to recognize that Donald Trump’s use of the “media” is incredible.

He doesn’t seem to care what people say about him, so long as they are talking about him. He has tapped into the “keep people watching,listening, reading across the ad gaps” requirement like no one has ever done before.

Every form of media used to make money from subscriptions and advertising, but with the demise of users subscribing and buying newspapers and magazines and the movement towards online viewing reducing the subscription revenue from cable companies, we saw the elimination of the firewall between editorial and advertising.

When I studied at college, we we’re taught that journalists never let commercial decisions impact a story. This was a cornerstone of their ethical code. But this is clearly not the case anymore. Now we have a 24-hour news cycle that must be filled with an every decreasing budget, which means opinion and reality shows replacing detailed analysis by professional journalists.

News must be timely, controversial and relevant, and that opens the door for anyone to present any point of view, and the more outlandish and crude then the more it will encourage viewers to watch more.

Reality TV shows containing almost naked people doing embarrassing things, saying the most obnoxious racist, sexist things top the ratings. When a plane crashes, that used to be a story on a news show, now it becomes a month-long continuous flow of opinions 24-hours a day. Ask the relatives of the dead what they think, ask retired pilots what they think, then ask the relatives about what other relatives think and see if you can get them to fight each other. News and reality TV have become conflated.

And now we have a reality TV personality as President, and the media can’t believe their good fortune. He cannot stop saying terrible, irrational and hurtful things. And that means there will be an army of hurt people to interview. If only he had a good-looking wife who used to be an almost nude model? And wouldn’t it be good if he had paid off porn stars and insulted war heroes. The ad revenue can only grow. It’s just a shame we had to give up democracy, civility, ethics and the constitution in exchange for media revenue.

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The Police are not the issue.

Society as a whole requires rules, and rules require people to maintain these rules.

But when society becomes warped it can become very hard to maintain these rules in a professional manner. The police are caught between a rock and a hard place.

We demand freedom. Freedom to carry weapons without regulation, freedom to drink alcoholin quantities that impair judgement, freedom to drive cars fast. Guns do get into the hands of people who may choose to use them in bad ways. We clearly have too many guns and not enough regulation, and this makes being police even harder.

And the police can be very worried about the potential for weapons to be used against them.

We are all racist, we all see people unlike ourselves as dangerous, until we get to know them. This demands that the police become better, with more training and more oversight (which takes more funding). If we expect the police to not be racist, this takes MORE funding, not less.

Policing is not a highly paid job, and most police do this job because they see it as an important honorable living, one with a built in fraternity and one which after a lifetime of work will pay a solid dependable pension. It’s a hard job, a true profession that demands a deep understanding of the law, of people skills and of physical skills.

There are clearly some people who do the job for the machismo, and it takes immense effort to weed out these inappropriate elements (which takes funding).

A professional police force is expensive, and some may say we cannot afford it. But the cost of an unprofessional police force or an underfunded police force is far greater.

(18)

I can’t fathom how anyone can support the policies of Trump.

I get the importance of conservatism in a Capitalist Federated Republic, I really do. I can understand why freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom to take risks is a fundamental of America. But that is not what is being delivered; at every turn we’re seeing the disillusionment of the American dream, the sucking of resources from the people to a small cadre of oligarchs. The rules that have been carefully crafted over hundreds of years to ensure that risky endeavors cannot destroy the fabric of the country are being removed, from banking, from healthcare, from the environment, from society. The ideas that everyone is equal, and that immigrants are the biggest resource a country can grow are being decimated.

Trillions are being sucked out of the economy in ways that are not improving America, and will leave a gaping wound that many generations will be trying to triage.

I can see why the white majority is scared of change, and I can see why men are concerned about women becoming truly equal, and I can see why people born as one sex but living as the other (or another) scare some people. I can see why minorities are upset by the persistent bias they have suffered and continue to suffer.

I always thought conservatives wanted to balance the budget. I thought this because for my whole life, this is what they have been saying. And all of a sudden that’s not important anymore.

We have a president who has a problem forming a complete and consistent thought and turning it into a sentence. He has said so many things that would have destroyed any previous president, from inferring that there are good people marching with neo-nazis to being caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, to being indicted in his first term to having most of his political organization imprisoned, he’s failed at everything from having Mexico pay for a wall to leading NATO to foreign policy. There are no excuses for any of these, and then we have the pandemic, where the USA has by far the highest levels of infection and death globally, and no plan to make it any better.

I can understand racism, sexism even xenophobia, everyone has some of these traits, but very few have all of them, and those that do tend to be competent evil geniuses. I can’t think of anyone else except trump that has been so incompetent and evil at the same time, and that should be enough for even those who agree with his ideas to not want this mother fucker to get another term.

(13)

There is nothing more critical in a politician than ethics.

We can debate how to improve society, but when someone believes their own wealth is more important than the people they represent, they are, by definition unfit to lead.

Until such time as Donald Trump is removed from office, my pure focus is on voting to remove Donald Trump from office. And simply because the republican party has chosen to blindly follow the lead of Donald Trump, I will vote entirely against every republican candidate, and for every democratic party candidate.

Let’s elect a democratic President, House and Senate in 2020, and then get each department of government to be led by people with experience in those areas of government. You know someone who understands education to run the department of education, someone who understands the environment to run the department responsible for the environment, someone who understands the postal service to run the postal service etc. Doesn’t seem that hard.

We need infrastructure, fiscal stability, healthcare, security, a passion for the future (not just the past), xenophilia, inclusion and equality in all things, belief in science and knowledge, global partnerships, and a political leadership overseen by a constitution, free press and governance.

And just a side note, separating religion from politics does not preclude religion, it just means people can ask their spiritual leaders for guidance, but are not forced to follow religious view by legal fiat. Don’t want to eat bacon, don’t. Don’t want to wear a head covering, don’t. Don’t want to use contraception, don’t. Don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. Don’t want sex outside of marriage, don’t have it. Want to shop on Sunday, okay. Want to pray, okay. It’s just simply that each person gets to choose if they wish to listen to their religious leaders or not. The power of persuasion is enough.

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What can Machine Learning discover about the Election?

There’s an old saying “If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it! Don’t you know opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and most of them stink.”

But while opinions are always personal, in aggregate, they have a massive impact on society, this can be seen currently by the weightings that social media has today.

Everyone agrees that social media is almost entirely wrong, and yet it has a massive impact.

What can we learn from the volume and content of social media messages?

It doesn’t matter what your politics are, you could be the rightest of right wingers or the more extreme leftist of lefties, you may be religious or not, you may be a scientist or a hippy or some combination of all of these, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you believe or consider important, we all add our own “butterfly effect” ,to the interconnectedness of the online world.

We decided to collect data from a number of key social media sites and perform some basic analytics on it. Just to see what we can discover, and the results are both equal parts disconcerting and very addictive.

We’re using a number of machine learning algorithms to categorize the contents of social media messages, to weigh them and add them into a number of different categories and to aggregate the results into a number of different “pools”.

We have no idea who will win the next election, and while we all have our own teams, it’s fascinating to measure and analyze the world through this lens.

We’re turning politics into science (maybe even humor and maybe a little bit of sport).

How will your team fare in the cold, hard, analytical light of the internet?

https://www.gocypher.com/usa-elections/

#biden #trump #pence #harris #election #us election #gocypher #dnc

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The Basics

Wear a mask to slow the spread

Wash your hands often

Keep you distance

A vaccine will not stop 100% of infections, It may lower the intensity of symptoms, and it may reduce the likelihood of spreading the infection. Less is good, but today there is no vaccine, and if we are lucky this will be available sometime next year.

Testing is critical, for the economy to resume. We need everyone to be tested every couple of days, and the results must be available almost instantly. Then anyone who tests positive must be quarantined and anyone they have met recently must also be tested and quarantined (this takes tracking and trackers). This takes a must larger number of tests than are currently available and these must be rapid tests. This needs a mandate from the federal government to force companies to build tests. And there must be funding, managed centrally to make this possible.

And we need these tests to be delivered, so we need federally mandated healthcare in place to do this.

Right now, millions of people are out of work because of the slow-down in the economy caused in large part by the impacts of badly managing a pandemic. These people need support from the government, and there are models that clearly work, just look at what every other government in the western world is doing.

This is not that hard.

Masks and social distancing are not democratic party support, they are practical measures to reduce sickness.

Paying unemployed people unemployment is not socialism, it’s a practical method of avoiding creating destitution, and ensuring that the workforce is healthy and available to work.

We have proved that social distancing, masks and general hygiene work, and we have also proved that not doing these things makes people more likely to become sick, and spread the disease.

This isn’t that hard.

(8)

Electric Bikes

A few months ago, before the COVID-19 shutdown took hold, I ordered a couple of electric bikes on Amazon. I decided to go for 26 inch wheels on a folding frame, and a 250Watt motor with a handlebar mounted battery.

This was by no means the highest spec available, but the price was low enough that I felt it would be a good entry into the field of augmented bike.

It may have been the best purchase I’ve ever made, and I tend to buy a lot of tech.

Since the purchase I have ridden almost every day. We go for a lap of central park, or a loop of Manhattan, or a trip to one of the outer boroughs or over the GW bridge into New Jersey. These are all trips I never took on my previous standard bike. And it hasn’t hurt that the traffic volume is significantly down due to the pandemic, and the number of bike lanes seems to increase on a daily basis.

We did make a few mods to the standard bike. Comfy seats, rear bags on racks and maybe most importantly we bought Sena R1 helmets with built in intercoms, so we can chat while riding, which makes the whole thing much more social.

I also added a tow hook to the car and got an incredible bike rack, meaning we can take the bikes away for weekends easily. We spent a few weeks in Virginia and rode every day on the lovely country lanes to little towns.

Our bikes are not powerful but hills no longer exist. Cycling up an incline is as easy as being on the flat, and it is quite nice to pass a full body condom wearing pro on a racing bike, struggling, while I’m on a fat wheeled low-end mountain bike and not even taking deep breaths. The range has also been more impressive than expected, we can easily cover 30 miles without worrying about battery life. And while the bike does offer a throttle (so you can ride without pedaling), I’ve only used this to aid starting from a dead stop on hills, most of the time only using the first and second power levels, and no the highest level (three dots), so getting some workout.

I know these kinds of bikes are now harder to find with longer delivery times and slightly higher prices. But my experience has been so positive, that I have to recommend them to anyone who would like to ride and finds the idea of sweating to be a turn-off.

Here’s the stuff we bought, and love:

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