What you think is irrelevant

Here’s an idea, everything you think about anyone is entirely irrelevant.

I really don’t care what someone’s reasons are to be who or how they want to be.

I don’t care if it’s genetic or choice.

I don’t care if someone wants to be he, she or zhe.

And I don’t care because all that matters is that that’s the way they are, either by design or choice.

At the end of the day, it’s who they/we are or who we/they want to be.

We’re all software encoded in DNA being run through meat and bone computers.

I don’t care which elements of the code came pre-installed or via a runtime upgrade, and it doesn’t matter.

I don’t care if you believe the software was written by an intelligence or as the result of random mutations combined with the elimination of the least viable by natural selection.

What we end up with is people who are what we all are, and some are fantastic, some are total assholes and most of us sit somewhere in between these two extremes.

I find the variance amazing and worthy of respect.

(4)

The story of the evil witch and the naïve children. Europe with a Brothers Grimm Twist.

There once was an evil witch who wanted to rule the world. She knew that the people wouldn’t let her unless she was a little devious. She’d tried many different approaches, and eventually came up with a brilliant plan.

She built a house made of all the things that she know the people would want, and she offered it them for free, as long as they came and lived with her.

All the people had to do was come inside her house, and bring with them everything they owned. Then she would take all they owned in an exchange give them all they needed.

Many people moved to her house and happily gave the witch everything they owned and were given food, housing, education, healthcare, and a supply of little gold colored coins called euros which they could use to buy whatever else they needed from the witch.

The people were quite happy for a while, but over time they used up their supplies of euros and needed some more. So they asked the witch for some more. She looked at the people and frowned and said “I can’t just give you more euros, you will have to earn them. Give me something and I’ll give you more euros”. But the people had already given the witch all their gold and money, so they didn’t have any more to give. But the witch said “I’ll take your mines, your banks, your railways, your industry, your forests, and your children”. The people were shocked, but what choice did they have, they needed food, and services, so they gave more and more of their wealth to the witch, until eventually she owned absolutely everything and everyone.

There was a few groups of people who didn’t totally fall into the witches clutches. One of these groups lived on a little island just to the left of the witches house. These people really wanted all the free stuff that the witch had to offer but were worried about giving her all their money and gold, they visited the witch often (she really did have a lovely house), but decided not to take her money. Over time it became clearer what the witch was trying to do, and they had a choice – do we go for it and give her everything or run away?

They tried to run away, but the witch wasn’t going to allow that to happen. She chased them and tried every trick she could to convince them to join her.

Today they are still running, and she is still chasing. But this story is definitely getting closer to the end, at least of this chapter.

Will the people of the little island be able to stay out of the clutches of the evil witch?

If they do, will they be able to survive?

Some of the people are still wondering – Is the witch really evil?

What will the witch do, when the people living in her house, see that there are other choices?

What will happen next?

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The War On Plastic Bags Is Just Obfuscation

war on bags

There seems to be a war on plastic bags, every city around the world seems to think that charging a small fraction of a penny to every shopper will cure the world of garbage. Let’s be clear, it will not.

Plastic bags have become the target of some sort of green war, but I suggest that these bags are not the issue at all, but have become the target of people who really do not want to solve the true issue.

Everything we buy is over-packaged. Fruit and vegetables come on polystyrene (Styrofoam) trays covered in plastic wrap, with a label on the outside. ALL of this packaging ends up in the garbage.

Every packaged product comes with an inner bag, outer packaging, all wrapped in plastic and with a label on the front. All of this packaging is garbage.

What you buy at the supermarket is often over 90% packaging, which is the waste that ends up directly in the garbage.

The plastic bag you use to transport your goods from the supermarket to home, will then become the garbage bag that you use to transport the garbage to the next step on its lifecycle (the trash can). If anything, this plastic bag is actually the least of the issue. The other choice you have of course is to buy additional plastic bags to line your bins, and this is just revenue for bag manufacturers.

Here’s how we fix the issue. Charge people for every bag of garbage they ask to be taken away by the refuse collectors. It’s simple, ask the consumer to place a tag on each bag, and charge them for the tags. The more you dispose of, the more you therefore pay.

At the same time make the supermarkets take back their packaging and have them send this back to the distributors and manufacturers on the trucks that are already delivering to their shops.

Sounds like a lot of extra work doesn’t it, and guess what the shops and the manufacturers will quickly find ways to reduce their packaging to reduce their costs.

Now you have less garbage.

It’s not the plastic bags that’s the issue, it’s the process that demands you bring all this packaging into your house in the first place.

Instead of campaigning to make people use reusable bags to shop, start to campaign to have wasted packaging reduced on every product.

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There are no simple fixes for complex issues.

You start by understanding the multitude of dynamics at play that create an outcome, and you look at what can be influenced to change the underlying conditions that lead to a situation.

For example mandating car insurance, driving licenses and annual inspections leads to safer cars, better drivers and the ability for accidents to be handled more simply. It doesn’t stop idiots from driving badly or drunks from killing people entirely, but it does reduce these things over time. As a drunk or crazy driver will have their license revoked and may even be imprisoned, others are then less likely to act the same way.

Countries that have regulated guns see less guns killing people – there are still murders, but less, and specifically less mass murders, and a lot less with guns. The total impact on controlling guns is less weapons available for theft, resale, lunatic fringe hoarding and general craziness. 

The simple and obvious flaws in having different gun laws across a country with open borders between states, doesn’t need to be restated.

You don’t have to solve every potential problem to solve the majority of scenarios. 

If your reason for wanting a gun I because you are scared of the government or are worried about people who look different to you, the issues are deep and demand a lot of long term work.

Just because there are no simple solutions to complex issues, is not a reason to take no action at all.

(5)

Brexmaggedon

History will not be kind to this decade.

Let’s be clear global warming is not a binary issue, but one that has been impacting the world for a very long time. Over hundreds of years governments have co-opted farming to generate revenue as opposed to food. Farmers in poor countries have been cutting down forests to grow cows, corn, oil baring seeds, tobacco and poppies. They have sold these products in exchange for money, which helped economies. But as weather patterns have changed and these mass crops failed to produce the volumes of previous years, along with the need to use ever increasing levels of pesticides and fertilizers or use expensive copyrighted genetically modified crops, these farmers have not been able to sustain their lives, and so are migrating.

The same has happened to desert countries which have become reliant on oil. Oil will not last forever, and so they need to invest their short-term wealth in new industries, some have chosen to become knowledge-based economies while others have reverted to using religious driven hate to grow a power base.

All of this movement of people and ideas has allowed right-wing focused sentiments such as xenophobia and racism to become mainstream. With neo-fascists appearing in the leadership of much of the world.

At the same time Europe was created as a Union, with possibly the most impressive social programs anywhere in the world. With free trade and free movement of people and laws allowing people to live their lives with greater levels of personal freedom than anywhere else in the world. But there was a price for these freedoms, which wasn’t that obvious initially, but is still there. Much of Europe was running these freedoms without a way of paying for them, and the way they were able to do so was by buying into the European Central Bank and the Euro. Quite simply every country joining the euro, had to ship all their money and gold to the European central bank, and in exchange were given huge piles of euros. Sounded fine, until it became clear that the costs of all the incredible social programs was greater than the about of Euros they had. So they needed more, and unlike when you run your own currency it isn’t as simple as just printing a bunch more, creating some inflation but being able to pay the bills. Instead to get more euros each country has to give more of itself to the European central bank, literally given them banks, mines, railways etc. It’s a simple idea, over time it will increase the power of the European union and reduce the power of individual countries. But some countries were not willing to give up control and didn’t want to join the Euro. This created a problem, because if a country isn’t being fully absorbed into Europe, then the big plan would fail. And so came the next issue of Brexit. The UK population wasn’t happy to become a full state of Europe, and wanted to trade and have the social benefits without the political cost.

But the UK is only one of a small handful of countries in Europe that actually pay more than they take, and if you take the UK out of the mix, it’s unclear that the other net-investors will have enough to cover the shortfall. So Europe needed the UK to either not leave, or pay a massive divorce bill to help cover the gap. And the UK was not willing to do either of these.

If the UK does leave Europe (and it really doesn’t matter to history if it’s hard or soft), then Europe is screwed in the medium term.  And if Europe can’t change their spending and funding model to balance the books, it will not end well. If they do change their spending to solve the problem, it also will probably not end well.

So between global warming, oil rich countries looking for their next phase and a broken Europe things are not well.

Now add to that the desires of other major world players, Russia (who is still sore from losing the USSR) and China who desires to become the leader of the world in terms of economics by breaking any and all treaties and laws they need to (copyrights, trademarks, patents, currency pricing etc). Add to ths the usual distribution of crazy (The Koreas, a bunch of countries no-one remembers but all end in -stan, and more)

And all the elements are set for a really messy period of instability.

History has a way of making events look ridiculous in the rear-view mirror, and frankly it seems that the people alive today are going to be remembered are possibly the biggest idiots of all time. The choices we are making don’t show any signs of being either sane or ending in any way well.

(13)

No Problem Ever Gets Solved By Using The Same Logic That Created The Problem In The First Place.

Hearing politicians espouse about their new plans to solve student debt, healthcare, immigration or even war leaves me with a sense that they are all either frauds or simpletons.

Student debt has several causes, including the high prices of education, predatory lending, and the legal framework that has been placed on education, driven by lobbyists promoting the cases of those who sell education services. Strained vocal cords with impassioned pleas change nothing.

Healthcare is driven by profit, and as such is always going to find new ways to charge more. It doesn’t matter if it’s private, public or a mix, if you pay a healthcare provider more for delivering more healthcare then that is what they will do. The only healthcare systems that buck this trend and those that are focused on key outcomes such as the length and quality of human life. And those systems are “socialist” and it’s easy to scare people away from, and no one running for the office of president is willing to go that far.

Immigration has been the evil of empires for all time, and the USA is no exception. Our track record of care of migrants is among the worst in the world. From classifying people as white and non-white to signs stating Irish, Italians and Jews not welcome, to the sending back to Germany of ships full of fleeing immigrants during world war II who were subsequently murdered to the inhuman care of babies separated from their parents happening right now, we have never been a Bastian of care for those who most need it, and tears on stages changes nothing.

And the USA has been at war continually, with more wars happening right now than most people could even name. We have the largest military in the world, and it’s very busy, and yet we hardly notice. Wars only ever end when worn out warriors decide it’s time to put away the swords and talk peace, and politicians just get in the way.

I listened to 10 people on a stage yesterday, and the difference between them was tiny. And the difference between them and the guy that currently holds the job they are all after isn’t big enough.

Frankly I’d take any of these 10 over the Crook in chief we have today. But not one of them is going to solve the endemic problems we suffer from today. They probably will just make them slightly worse at a slightly slower rate, and maybe the world will survive a little longer.

(0)

Augmenting Reality – For Real!

In the 70’s kids carried their steroes on their shoulder.

In the 80’s we used walkman’s (I guess it’s not walkmen)

In the 90’s we wore earphones with a splitter cable so we could share the music with our buddies.

In the 00’s we had to turn on the speakers in our phones to share music, and it sucked. And it still sucks today! I still don’t want to hear your music through a Bluetooth speaker.

I dream of being able to share music with Bluetooth headsets with my partner, while walking around the city or sitting on a plane. But Bluetooth technology is not designed for multiple people to listen at the same time. A couple of companies have tried to make Bluetooth headsets that can connect together to allow music to be shared. And it nearly works.

What I really want is to be able to share music with one or maybe two other people, but still have it be private, and this tech is just out of reach today, until now!

It’s not easy buy we have made it work, and at the same time taken it to an entirely new (and better) level.

There were several problems that needed to be solve.

  1. How can you share the sound from a single device (phone or pad) to multiple Bluetooth headsets.
  2. Is it possible to have the sound without the need to wear on ear or in ear headphones, so that it’s immersive and yet you can still be present, enjoying the world around you and be part of conversations, and not annoy everyone else with your music.

And here’s how we did it.

Firstly, after quite some hunting, I found this device on amazon.

This plugs into an iphone and allows 2 bluetooth headsets to be connected at the same time. It’s a little fiddley to configure, as you have to turn-off the Bluetooth in your phone to ensure that the connection is made through the device and not the phones own Bluetooth. But once the two headsets are synchronized it works.

It’s not the longest range of Bluetooth transmitter I’ve ever seen, so you have to stay reasonable close together (a few feet), but it works, where nothing else I’ve found does.

The next thing we did is invest in Bose’s new Bluetooth connected glasses. These use focused speakers built into the arms of the glasses to project the sound directly into the ear canal. And they work better than I would have ever expected. When two pair were synced to the Bluetooth splitter, we were able to walk around the city listening to excellent music, while still being able to talk together and hear the world around.

I require prescription lenses, which Bose do not offer, But are offered for sales on glassesusa.com, which took 2 weeks to arrive, but work perfectly.

It is incredible!

In summary :

Adaptor to allow multiple bluetooth headsets to be connected to a single iphone – a little techie, but work’s!

Bose Bluetooth glasses – incredible sound, without sweaty ears on a hot day, and when combined with the above mentioned adaptor, totally incredible.

Prescription Lenses for bose glasses – While not officially supported by Bose, it was easy to pop-out the lenses and replace them with new prescription ones. I went for transitions, but basic tinted ones would make awesome sunglasses.

(14)

Why are so many billionaires investing in space travel?

Here’s a thought experiment:

Money is not power, debt is power.

In days of olde, you acquired metal of value (gold or silver for example) and you’d store this in a bank and allow people to see it, and when you wanted something from them, you would write them a note that said if they did this thing for you, you’d pay them in gold. 

These notes become promissory notes and that become money. And so long as you had gold and silver in the bank you could write notes to the value of the metal you had.

Then banks wanted to start to offer more money than they had gold, so the rules were changed to say that if you had gold, you could offer money to the value of several times the gold you had. Because no one actually wanted the gold, they wanted the power of the money.

And then people started borrowing money from the banks, and the banks started to literally create money at a rate of several times the amount they were lending. Most money is not paper and coins, it’s a reference in a ledger that someone was loaned a specific value, and based on this entry in a ledger they can buy other stuff.

And then the rules changed again, and the banks were allowed to create money at many many times the amount that they lent. 

And so, for banks to create more money, all they have to do was lend out even more money.

And somewhere along the way the actual relationship with metal was pushed aside.

Today the more you lend, then the more money you can create. And so long as people can pay back the monthly payments everything’s good.

But when you lend more and more, people have to borrow more and more, and so to make the monthly payments achievable the term lengths for loans are getting longer.

You can now borrow more, over longer periods, and in exchange the banks can print even more money, which they must be able to loan out to be able to grow. Lending and borrowing is the source of the money. Debt is therefore the ultimate power.

If things stop growing, that would be a huge issue, because then the whole house of cards would collapse.

WE MUST CONTINUALLY LEND AND BORROW MORE AND MORE!!!

But the resources of the earth are quickly being consumed, oil and coal are being burnt at unpresented rates, causing global warming that is effectively shrinking the useable land mass. We need people to continually borrow more and more.

We must find new ways to get people to spend, loan and borrow. 

So space!

If we can build cities on the moon and mars, mine asteroids, and built starships the gravy train of civilization can roll along. There is a whole universe of stuff out there to create reasons to create money.

If people’s ability to borrow money was to stop, then literally the basis of western civilization collapses.

It’s funny to think that the future of humanity as a space faring species is being driven by the desires of scared, egotistical, savants to keep their wealth, but hey whatever works!

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