Don't mistake the whistle for the train!

 Covid is merely the whistle.  The economy is the train.

Logically speaking, we are assisting at: 
  1. The decoupling of the world economies 
  2. The formation of blocs
  3. The lowering of reserve price for western labor
  4. Price inflation, income stagnation/deflation for the western labor
  5. A China-US negotiated restetlement of the world
  6. Lots of misdirected noise from another lost generation.
  7. An opportunistic jump into the action by the Davos mini-crowd.   

The Human-Resource Problem of the American Capitalism

Unemployment figures are low, vacancies pile up, yet most people remain unemployed.  What gives?

The system discounts experience, the young and fool keep it running, for they never question WHY, they just aim to figure out somebody else's HOW.  And to minimize the potential for surprise, the young must also be indebted.

Image result for young indebted stupid  

Whether or not you like Trump, he is too little, too late

If you like him, Trump cannot turn on a dime the giant machinery set on its course in the aftermath of WW2.  I think we wasted our LAST chance sometime between Clinton and Bush II; the former by cozying up to China and the banks, the latter by squandering whatever was left in that futile desert-remodeling crony-Keynesianism.

Internally, Trump cannot re-industrialize the USA with a work-force that spent more than two decades on the bench.  Again, Bush II lost that last train. 

If you dislike him, bear in mind that Hillary appeared as if her saving card would have been war with Russia.  I think we've seen enough proof in war indicating that Russia is no longer McCain/Yeltsin's giant gas station with nukes...

Image result for trump

All in all, I think Trump will end up captured; unless he brings to life the neocon dream of going to war with Iran...  at which point his presidency becomes one and the same with Mrs. Clinton's.

On Time

Time is Money

I remember when I was a corporate cog waiting for the time to pass and call it a day.  Until I realized it was my own time I was in effect wishing away, as if I had been living on someone else's time.

Time is this artifact, meant to approximate something more valuable than the other one everyone keeps talking about, money.  Modern time has been reduced to its one-dimensional and linear form, an evolutionary process to make us efficient.  And so much poorer unless we regain access to time's other dimensions and non-linear duration(s).

Spiral Timepiece Concurrence

Now I realize why money has been so successful an object of desire, for its enlightened handlers know that it is through it they take away others' time.  This is so much so that man always looks for time multipliers, which come as a mix of people and technology.  Oil is a mega-multiplier, and it was arguably its discovery and industrial applications that ended slavery in the West.

How sad is it then to see no revolutionary demand for time?!  How ironic is it to see each recent technology wave promising more time for ourselves!?

Dollar bill sand-glass aka Time is Money!

Thank you for your time(s)

On Syria

That Obama has overtaken Bush II is a  fact that comes to show who's not in charge at the White House. So, as if doubling up in Afghanistan were not enough of a Bushism, and Obama wanted his own mark on the Axis of Evil, the talk now is about Syria.

In a way, Syria is a proxy for Iran, but not without its own risk: Russia. The discussion here goes beyond the traditional relation between the two countries and reaches, for example, strategic levels. In short, it's about GAS.

Background Facts:
1) Russia's prominence in the world follows the prices of natural resources, especially energy;
2) UPI reports that
The U.S. Geological Survey reported in 2010 the Levant Basin, covering all these territories, contains at least 122 tcf of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil.
See the image below for a map of the area:

So, what's the big deal? I will not go into the details of how the US is yet again invoking reasons that fail to win support for an intervention even at home, that is, an enterprise whose risk-reward profile/opportunity cost keeps even the British away. The big deal here is in calculating the reaction of a revanchist Russia, which may well feel like interwar Germany.

As a side show, the reaction of the Syrian elites surrounding Assad will be interesting. I think, after the lessons in Iraq, Libya, Egypt..., local elites would think twice before turning against their strong man, lest they are left to their own devices to earn a living under market conditions.

So, strategically, the US would probably welcome another failed state.  Tactically, the whole question is how remotely from the reactive Syrian capabilities can the US strike?  Distance being inversely proportional to effectiveness and efficiency.  One can only hope that the Syrian communication capabilities have been deciphered for good and their control  capabilities will be scrambled.  Shortly, we'll get to infer the Russian state of the art. 

The Money Postulate

In capitalism, money that is left to its own devices deluges towards the biggest market.

"Empathy Leak" Andy Waumann

All else follows.

Then, the larger question for all of us becomes: To what end?

A little less than 3 years ago, I commented about the unfolding episode of WikLeaks.
[...] a smart young man, driven by patriotism, enlists with the Army, yet his self-control breaks when he gets deployed and sees our relations with the world out there being so different from what we espouse at home?
Now, Edward Snowden, another young American man driven by patriotism, has done it again.  To outsiders, this may be another symptom of the two-dimensional American hero that overfills American cultural productions: self-appointed at defending some Constitutional article or even the planet from the dark force.  On second analysis, Snowden is no dummy.  Just consider the choice of Hong Kong, a place outside western reach where China rules, even more so than N. Korea.  Also the timing of his coming out is interesting as the US and PRC presidents are meeting in California to build rapport and tackle the cyber-security threats, among other topics.  If he's got as much data in his hands as he alludes to in the following interview, the US will have to cut a deal, or else this guy will go to the highest bidder.

As Americans, young and old, progressive and libertarian, have been disappointed by Obama, the changer in chief, one should expect that this episode is only another data-point in a tug of war pitting a government clueless at the challenges it faces and people who take each and every constitutional article seriously.

From the interview with Snowden, included below, we get once again the idea that the US Government records everything, which has most probably become current procedure in every country with the means at its disposal.  Then, the larger question for all of us becomes:  To what end?  Is it only because they can, or because a watched people tends to remain quiet for longer?    

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: 'I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things'

Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."
Q: But isn't there a need for surveillance to try to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks such as Boston?
A: "We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do."
Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?
A: "Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good."
Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?
A: "We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence."
Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?
A: "Nothing good."
Q: Why Hong Kong?
A: "I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech."
Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?
A: "That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."

Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA

Q: What about the Obama administration's protests about hacking by China?
A: "We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries."
Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?
A: "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place."
Q: Does your family know you are planning this?
A: "No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with …
I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night."
Q: When did you decide to leak the documents?
A: "You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.
"A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor."
Q: What is your reaction to Obama denouncing the leaks on Friday while welcoming a debate on the balance between security and openness?
A: "My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it."
Q: What about the response in general to the disclosures?
A: "I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security. It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive."
Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital's Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be "disappeared". How do you feel about that?
A: "Someone responding to the story said 'real spies do not speak like that'. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general."
Q: Do you have a plan in place?
A: "The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.
"They could put out an Interpol note. But I don't think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature."
Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?
A: "I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will."
Q: How to you feel now, almost a week after the first leak?
A: "I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want."


RLS, VirginiaWhile the President said he welcomes having a debate on the surveillance program, he really doesn’t. In 2008, candidate Obama said he would “strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse.” Instead, he has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than previous presidents combined, including NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake. He was prosecuted for exposing the ineffective Trailblazer program that was chosen over another program which had “built-in privacy protections” and cost a fraction of what was spent on Trailblazer.

Drake received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2011. From his acceptance speech:

“Truth tellers, such as myself, are those who are simply doing their jobs and honoring their oaths to serve their nation under the law of the land. We are dedicated to the proposition that government service is of, for, by the people. We emphatically do not serve in order to manipulate on behalf of the powerful, nor to conceal unlawful, illegal or embarrassing secrets from the public, because truth does matter. Truth may be inconvenient. It may cause embarrassment. It may threaten the powers that be and their unlawful activities, but it is still the truth.”

Howie Lisnoff, Massachusetts
Edward Snowden, the Founders would have liked you! Snowden is an American hero: all power to the free flow of information and no power for sweeping government surveillance!

robert bloom, berkeley ca
Thank you, Mr. Snowden, for your wisdom, your principles, and your courage.
Thank you, Guardian, for telling us the truth.
And thank you, George Orwell, for warning us what was coming. Too bad we didn't pay attention.

Brett Wharton, Boise, ID
I believe Mr. Snowden is a national hero and our Founders would have supported his actions. Whether or not you agree that the government should be collecting our data, I believe we had a right to know, and engage in a debate. I personally support the surveillance, since it is averting deadly terrorist attacks, but I am disgusted our government unnecessarily tried to conceal it from us, given it's controversial infringement on our 4th Amendment rights.

I hope Mr. Snowden is pardoned. Mr. Obama should thank him for providing the transparency he himself promised but failed to give us, and that we our entitled to as a country that supports its citizens' freedom and privacy.
DonD, Wake Forest NC
Let's see. This guy joins the Army, then is upset that the Army teaches one to kill, rather than perform humanitarian acts.

He joins the CIA, and gets upset again, this time because the CIA may want him to collect intelligence information. He later discloses his version of what the CIA expected of him which, if true, is a violation of a non-disclosure agreement he would have had to sign.

Next, he works for NSA as a contractor, where he must sign a non-disclosure agreement, but again gets upset, this time with an intelligence organization that collects communications information.

He says he has heroes, Daniel Ellsberg and PFC Bradley Manning, both of whom gained notoriety by disclosing classified information. For the latter, that series of disclosures has put several individual lives at peril. I'm surprised he didn't claim Jonathan Pollard as a hero as well.

For those who think this is heroic behavior, this individual was custom made to be recruited by a foreign intelligence service, and the old KGB would have had him working for them in a heartbeat. The hook, in Snowden's case would have been a psychological weakness for personal recognition, while assuring him that his actions in no way would be damaging to the US.

I do agree with those who want a more fulsome public dialogue as to the limits of NSA's work, but having gotten there with public disclosure of sensitive methods of collection to a foreign entity cannot be supported.


It's obvious, as the Crisis goes on, the US is approaching the condition of old countries, where complexity has long been accepted and managed, not just legislated away as in the land of once-free. As the late Michel Crozier put it
America is beginning to experience what some recent historians of the Middle Ages, Pierre Chaunu in particular, have called the "time of saturation" (temps du monde plein).  

If you don't understand the French, it means you have not gotten there

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