Thursday, February 23, 2012

Google Minus

A year ago, maybe a bit more, I thought google was the best thing since sliced bread in the tech world.

Then Google Plus happened.

Gundotra and Horowitz destroyed what I loved about Google. The nym policy was the start of a year-long PLUS decline. Their integration strategy (gutting Reader, "your world" search, unified platform across products, demanding a DRM standard in HTML5 and working w/Adobe and essentially limiting adobe flash plugins to chrome only on Linux OS, their local African business directory scam/ripoff. Add it all up and I hate Google now. Granted, not as much as I hated MS back in the day. Not hate, am disappointed in?

So I'm moving my email to lavabit; going to end up using bloglines for newsreader; shutting this shithole of a blog down; use duckduckgo or ixquick for a more private search experience.

I'll miss the integration, but you know. Fuck em.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thermoeconomics

This is ripped from a little lunchtime babbling I just posted on Livejournal.
90% of it is probably bullshit, but I think it has some merit and it seems others have thought along similar veins (if not in the direct way I'm pondering this).
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The reason I linked that thermoeconomics link earlier is because I read something on boingboing about the discussion of unintended consequences in making things more "energy efficient". Paved with Good Intentions.

Basically the idea is that if energy is more efficient, that means people end up spending less on things like heating/gas, which then gives them more money to spend on things like consumer products, which also have a carbon footprint, and there's discussion on what that means in overall use of energy.

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But that's only the stimulus to my query... Do you recall my theory of "Money=Mass"? That came about with thinking of the "Trickle Down" doesn't make sense because it obviously doesn't trickle down, it goes up to the top, unless of course you invert what we conventionally think of as up and down (as above, so below)...

I inverted the idea of up and down. And instead of thinking of people, I thought of money. And if you take a cluster of money it has mass, which causes gravity (in a literal sense). So what if you had a big enough ball of money, it would cause more money to gravitate towards itself.

Money=Mass=DOWN. Trickle down works in this sense, because conceptually money is like mass.
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Mass = Energy.
We burn mass and get a release of the stored energy in the process. There's an equivalence process. You can store energy. That is what money is - stored energy from the labor (well in pure labor-theory-of-value, at least, though I know that's not really true and a bit outdated, sorry Marx).

So I wondered what about "entropy and economics" and i came upon thermoeconomics.

Some of the work around that is more environmental and trying to quantify thermodynamics of a physical system in money, but I want to do the inverse (which if my skimming is correct is what some people are proposing and thinking about). That is - come up with general rules (I hesitate to call anything in economics a "Law", despite what economists would want one to believe) that govern the transfer of energy (labor) into mass (money) -- and how does this mass accumulate? What are the rules behind the flow? To quantify it in a way that correlates with the concepts of thermodynamics, entropy, and everything else that goes along with it.

One issue is what it means to be an "open" system, and I think in some sense, in the economics field, obviously you need the open system of the earth to the sun, but in terms of what role humans play in economics like this, the open system is future human existence.

Without the continuous labor supply, if population drops, so does the energy, so does the ability to create things, and produce more "order" (in contrast to entropy)... Scale, from what I read, also comes into play of how we determine what is entropic and what isn't... I may be reading it wrong, but if you zoom out of a system that looks fairly ordered and having low entropy, you may find that it is indeed only a part of a system that overall has higher entropy than it first appeared.

So I think understanding what the scales we're dealing with would also be an important part of this.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Decline of American Empire (decline of production)

I posted this over on a metafilter thread about Chris Hedges interview on CSPAN/BookTV(?):
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OK, so some people in this thread is like "we dealt with shit before" and I'm not saying that we are truly fucked. But there are factors this time that we didn't have before (and yes, there were factors before that we don't have this time).

I'm hesitant to say that the decline is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, we're an empire who loved to extract wealth from natural resources in distant lands (kind of the sine qua non of an imperial commerce system, no?) Then it was the process of taking domestic labor applied to those resources to build something new and sell to other people (both domestically and internationally).

Then we got the opening with all these lovely free trade agreements that tore down barriers to trade (no judgement on that on my end - I feel uneasy about NAFTA and FTAA and GATT and all that kind of thing, but I don't know if I believe that full on old-school protectionism is really the answer)... Then we had technology like giant massive container ships that made shipping internationally much more efficient, cheap and easy like never before. Add in the low wages in countries with weaker economies and you pit the workers in one nation against each other, driving out the production from the US economy into other countries.

That is not to say that there is absolutely no manufacturing base, but it seems there's been a steady decline since at least the 80s (if not the 70s). How much of our economy for the past half-century was based on a "Cold War Economy"? That "bubble" burst with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.

Anyways, the main point is that things are different in the sense that we've lost a good chunk of producer type jobs and have become, as Hedges noted quite rightly, IMO, a consumer oriented economy. But where does the money come from?

Debt is not necessarily a bad thing (strictly economically speaking - not morally speaking here) if it is used to invest in productive capacity that gives more output. In this sense, of course, I'm not talking of an overall totality of wealth generation, but productive capacity at the national level.

Here's the deal. Finance and Capital are global. Labor is local. Finance and Capital are free with open borders to go where and when they want. Labor, not so much, except in so far as it serves the need of capital.

So while total wealth rises, the share of those on the low end get fucked over because the extraction of value comes from other sources of productive capacity. The consumers, in order to consume, require debt, if they have no job or to continue purchasing beyond the rate of production, yes? (I'm not an economist, so feel free to burst my bubble there).

Hence we have the bubbles that are based upon overvalued houses, overpriced stocks, financial innovations and other such things. The market gets altered due to distortionary effects of herd psychology, and the sheep give up their gold to the butchers who sold them the dream in the hope that they'll get more gold (because lord know they ain't got no jobs).

So we have the modern economic system built upon a rentier foundation, where the only way to make money is rent extraction. Which is why we have such a strong corporate push (for the most part) for things like SOPA. Hollywood and the Music Industry has no way to extract more wealth out of things and instead of finding ways to create new things does what it deems necessary to protect its turf. But this is just one more form of extracting rent from a captive population.

Add in the fact that SOPA goes beyond mere rent extraction into questions of access to information and the right to fair trial and free speech, and you have a dangerous mix. The police state itself is a bubble, the drug war is a bubble. The whole *-industrial complex is one giant massive fucking bubble, and the only way they know how to sustain it without it all collapsing is to keep pushing for more and more things to imprison and make a crime.

It can only end badly. Whether it happens, as some have said, during our lifetime or much later is a question to be seen.

I don't see a solution. I think we're in a "race to the bottom" (again, I hate to think that this is necessarily a bad thing, if it means that other people around the world have a better way of life in the process -- but it IS a bad thing if it's just one more way to make everybody fight for the same scraps, and in that sense, I feel that we are going that route).