whyisaduck

Musings on technology, philosophy, consciousness, the future, the present, and the past.

Beware the Ides of March

Those of you who know a bit about history know the “Ides of March” (March 15th) is the day Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was killed by members of the senate.

Caesar came to power in a whirlwind during the Roman Civil War, which was a war between the conservative order, the Optimates or Boni, and the Populares, or the common people.

From the moment Caesar took power, the Roman Republic was dead and in its place a dictatorship.

For years the Senate was corrupt and had ignored the needs of the people, many of whom were living in squalor. Many farmers had their land stolen by the Senate and felt the Roman system was giving them a raw deal.

So along comes Caesar who promises he is the only one who can fix this, because he knows the system. He promises he will root out the barbarians, and restore order. He promises that the true Romans will be heard.

Of course minutes after taking power, he turns out to be worse than the Senate he defeated. After this, he is followed by a number of supreme dictators, viewed as god-men by the Roman people, and dissent is all but dead.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it should. Many parallels can be made to our current President: elected in a whirlwind of false populism, promising only he knows the system and can restore order.

Of course the Senate made a last attempt to regain power, killing Caesar in a hail of stabbings. It is believed this is where the expression “Sic Semper Tyrannis (death always to tyrants)” came from.

But the damage had been done, and shortly after the conspirators were killed and Caesar Augustus took power and ruled the people like slaves.

Karl Marx said of Napoleon “History repeats, first as tragedy then as farce.”

Truer statements have never been said.

 

If You See Your Hero Walking Down the Road, Kill Them

Kill your heroes.
Has there ever been a more apropos call to action than this?
Kill. Your. Heroes.
Heroes don’t exist. They are characters we have created, in our heads, to fulfill father and mother fantasies we think we need. They have existed since we could put chisel to stone tablet. And they have always led us into trouble.
Humankind seems predisposed to this idea of some savior, whether god, demigod, spirit or extraordinary mortal that comes in, delivers us from evil and saves the day.
It is something we want so badly we are willing to kill anyone who disagrees with this. We are willing to die ourselves for that hero. We are willing to live with massive cognitive dissonance just to believe in the hero.
And all of that makes us weak, so very weak. So pathetic and powerless.
This is such a tragedy because humankind is not naturally predisposed to this weakness. This weakness is artificial and learned behavior.
When we put all of our faith, and by faith I mean ‘belief without evidence,’ in these heroes we give up our reason, our energy, our spirit and our empathy to this figure to do those things for us.
And where does that get us? Where did it get the millions of Soviet citizens who placed their faith in “Uncle Joe” Stalin? Where did it get the millions of Germans who placed their faith in Adolf Hitler? Where will it get the millions of Americans who place their faith in Donald Trump?
Besides getting you, and your family and friends killed, it also poisons the very fabric of society. Facts are changed to meet the belief. Critical thinking is jettisoned for authoritarian groupthink.
So it seems the root of this hero-worship is within us: a constant desire for a savior. And that weakness will destroy us, always.
Besides leading us like the Charge of the Light Brigade to our untimely deaths, and besides making us weak shells of what we could be – it also ignores the fact that leaders and heroes fail because they aren’t gods, they are mortals.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Give anyone that kind of unquestioned following and they will take advantage of it. They will abuse it. Power is a drug like any other, and not only is critical thinking removed from the follower, but critical thinking is also removed from the hero or leader.
They will eventually surround themselves with flatterers and eventually get rid of the necessary “Cassandras” that are needed to function.
Cassandra was a character in Greek mythology. She was cursed with the ability to predict the future, but no one would believe her.
In modern usage, her name is employed as a rhetorical device to indicate someone whose accurate prophecies are not believed by those around them. These are necessary to anyone, and they are the first people a hero, unchecked in their quest for power, gets rid of.
Thus, this weakness spreads like a virus among the group, so corrupting it that it either cannot function, or the only thing it can bring is death and destruction. See “The Battle of Berlin” if you want a modern example.
So eliminate heroes. If you respect someone, respect their work. Respect what they have done. Who they are should be of no consequence.
Worship no one and nothing.
Give authority to no one without it being earned.
And never, ever suffer a hero to live.

Foxygen’s “Hang”

 

Foxygen’s Hang is not the album America deserves, but it’s the album it needs.

In these dark days of Trumpie fascism, where simply being the wrong color or religion can get your life destroyed, you can break out your baklavas and start singing for revolution, you can ignore it and sing about puppy dogs and kitty cats, or you can respond with the only tried and true method to counter pure, unmitigated evil: silliness.

In the last days of the Weimar Republic, Germans escaping the Hitlerian nightmare around them turned to the Kabaret, which offered social and political satire, music, but most of all, silliness. Very un-Prussian silliness. There was a movie about it once. You might have heard about it.

 “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.” – John Lennon.

So goes it with Jonathan Rado and Sam France’s Hang, who had no idea this album would the salve it would be in these violent times.

The album starts off with Follow the Leader, a Jagger-esque romp over a Fender Rhodes piano, met with cascading strings that just seem to work. Midway a horn section accentuates the bridge with a very late 70s visualization of 20s Hollywood.

Avalon continues this vibe, but ratchets it up to “eleven” by inserting an Abba-esque chorus and, yes, a tap dance solo. It is as if France showed up on the Muppet Show, slipped Kermit a hit of acid, strapped some taps to his feet and whispered in his ear “Come on Kermie…they’re all here to see yoooou! See you TAAAAAP DAAAANCE!!!”

In fact, this whole album, backed with a full orchestra, seems as if it’s not the LA Philharmonic but the Muppet Show Orchestra, complete with Electric Mayhem playing.

I could go on over each track. On Lankershim  is the greatest song Elton John and The Eagles never wrote. Upon a Hill is pure France silliness, with him bellowing the lyrics as if he were in a Junior High musical. Yet, it’s still beautiful work. Every note.

We need this. We don’t deserve it, having thrown away the republic for a poor man’s Hitler, but we need it.

An Open Letter to Democrats

Dear Democrats,
 
Please realize that after November, all of the inbreds and deplorables that Trump has raised up will not simply go quietly into the night.
 
The fantasy you have that they will respect the system is just that — a fantasy.
 
They are already armed to the teeth, they’re mad and they will want blood.
 
“Oh but they’re just a bunch of disorganized dumbshits! They’ll have no where to go after November!”
 
First, let me say only the ones who are caught are disorganized. Old saying: every rat you see means ten you didn’t.
 
They are already organized on social media, in mailing groups, and even in the old school Klans and Aryan Nations. Both groups have had huge surges in membership as of late.
 
They have infiltrated the police departments. Not a week goes by where a cop isn’t brought up on disciplinary measures because of some “off color” comment on social media.
 
And by “off color” I mean straight up racist “kill the minority and/or liberal” comment.
 
These are the rats you are seeing.
 
Infiltrating the police departments has been a white supremacist goal since the 70s.
 
 
Is it any wonder why we are seeing so much blue-on-black murders today?
 
Some white supremacists were just caught trying to bomb a mosque on the day after the election. The FBI has come out and said white supremacists are far more likely to kill you than an Islamic jihadist.
 
And now, Trump’s supporters are letting their flags fly high. They’re coming right out and saying they are white supremacists, advocate murder of all minorities, etc.
 
 
So dearest Democrats…get your fucking heads out of the sand and start seeing what is going all around you. Or, try asking a POC what is going on rather than telling them it’s all in their heads.
 
They’ll let you know. They have been trying to tell you for years.

Silence Like a Cancer Grows

Nobody out there, not Bernie, not Stein, not HRC, not Warren, nobody…has addressed the big question, the elephant in the room:

What are we going to do about our toxic racism problem?

We have cops executing black people and then salting the scene

We have white racists taking their side, despite the videos, the evidence and the overwhelming proof it was an execution

We have Trump and his monkeys openly parading their racist and anti-Semitic hatred all over the place. At rallies, online, openly in conversations with friends and co-workers

We have a SCOTUS that declared racism is over, and the Civil Rights Act is null and void

A little history lesson: South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) didn’t always have apartheid policies.

Like in many countries, World War II created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the cities to build the war effort. Before the war, cities like Salisbury (now Harare,) Johannesburg and Cape Town had white majorities. With the war effort in full swing, many rural blacks moved to the cities to build better lives.

After the war, 1948 to be exact, whites were in the minority and the Apartheid system was born. Out of fear.

The policies behind apartheid existed before the war, that’s for sure. But they weren’t codified into law until after WWII.

Fast forward to today and whites are becoming a minority in the US, and white racists are shitting themselves.

So what you are seeing is a last gasp from the dying white majority. Slogans like “diversity is white genocide” and the like.

The biggest question today is not about Russia, China or TPP but what are we going to do about the racist cancer that is metastasizing in the USA today?

Yes, it was there before, but it is now growing, unchecked.

The tumor must be removed, stat, unless we want to go the route of post-war South Africa.

Old Conservatives, bubbles and the “reality based community”

You know, dammit, sometimes I actually miss the “old conservatives.”

Not old in age, but more like the conservatives of yesteryear, before the GOP became the home of the “AltRight” and neo-nazis.

The conservatives who didn’t care much for church, and would tell you flat out “I’m voting this way because I’m stingy, so fuck you.”

These would be the William F Buckleys, the Al Capps, the Richard Nixons.

Oh fuck, did I actually say I missed Tricky Dick? The world really has gone topsy turvy.

These guys grudgingly supported civil rights, but that was as far left as they went.

Their concerns were their money, their client’s money and their other money.

They didn’t want to burn the whole place down or privatize everything because, well, money. They made good money with the way things were, dammit, and they weren’t going to fuck with success.

If you asked these guys what “America” they loved, they’d flat out tell you the government. Unlike today’s conservatives who think America and the Government are two separate things (hint: they’re not.)

I don’t miss them because I secretly thought they were right — far from that.

They were wrong and they knew they were wrong, but they didn’t care and would say so. They wanted money, and status quo was how they got it.

No I miss them because today we have two bubbles, the Democratic bubble, which seems to be anyone who doesn’t want to start a war with Mexico and the GOP bubble, which is kevlar-reinforced and is impervious to any amount of reason.

I think the turning point for this was Karl Rove with his discussion of “the reality based community.”

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities.” — Karl Rove, October 17, 2004, NYT.

Once they stopped living in reality and started making their own, any chance of a meaningful discussion died with it.

And that is how you get the bubble.

Bubbles make for mistakes. Bubbles are dangers and need to be broken.

Think about what a criminal trial is supposed to be. The whole point of one is for the prosecution to lay down their case, and the defense tries to poke holes in it. Without the prosecution, there is no trial, and without the defense, there is no attempt to establish the truth.

Right now, neither side is talking to each other. The Democratic bubble tried for eight years to talk to the GOP bubble, and they stuck their fingers in their ears and shouted “YOU LIE BOAH! YOU LIE!”

So I miss when both sides at least listened to each other, trying to find holes in the others’ arguments.

Bernie Sanders

Whatever your impression of Bernie is, whether you support him or not…

Fighting until the end of the primary, even though you’ve lost, is admirable.

It’s something you never see in politics — integrity.

Integrity is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”

What Bernie is doing is exactly that.

He said he was going to fight for this until the bitter end, come hell or high water, and he did it.

It is that marathon runner, long since the top runners finished and the crowds cleared, crossing that finish line, knowing he or she did EVERYTHING they possibly could to run, and finish that race.

This is dignity, ladies and gentlemen. This is the very definition of “statesman,” a word you wouldn’t use on any of the remaining candidates. At least not in this sense.

Certainly not the former rivals of Trump, who later endorsed him for some lump sum of cash or cabinet. Their faces were ashen with shame as they mournfully offered their support of the man they once vilified.

We missed our chance with a man who had integrity and dignity in every sense of the word.

Years later, after this election, people will still talk about Bernie, the same way we speak of Eugene Debs, Henry Wallace and Robert Kennedy.

Men who, despite their faults and despite being up against a seemingly insurmountable enemy — fought for what was right no matter what.

Time for Uncle “Taverner’s” reading list for young persons

 

Each of these books affected me in a way that still shows up in my thought patterns, my concerns and my little empathies.

All of them deal with the human condition in some way or another.

My hope is that all people, not just young, enjoy these as did I.

 

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72 by Hunter S Thompson
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
The Kingdom of God is Within You (seriously) by Leo Tolstoy
Backlash by Susan Faludi
Stiffed by Susan Faludi
Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

and so it goes…

The Hypervisor of Consciousness

In computing, there is something called a “hypervisor.” It is the core behind host virtualization.

Stay with me.

What a hypervisor does, is allow you run more than one operating system on a computer — but concurrently. That means you can have a computer that runs, say, Android and iOS both at the same time, and neither one has to know the other exists.

The hypervisor manages the different operating systems, and keeps them from bumping into each other by convincing them they are the only machine running.

They can acknowledge each other if sharing the same network, but they think they are separate machines.

Using this, you can even have one operating system running background tasks that inform another operating system that a user deals with.

Our consciousness is like that hypervisor. We have different “brains” if you will, each running different “operating systems” — sometimes in conflict with each other. And they communicate with themselves as well as other operating systems using chemical and electrical signals.

Your executive functioning is one of these, and it’s one that deals with how the others act.

Your subconscious is another, and much like an operating system running “background tasks” — informing your other brains.

Studies have shown that this subconscious even controls things you think you are doing yourself.

When you take on an ethos or religion, it is like adding a new “brain” to the hypervisor that is your consciousness.

Freewill assumes there is someone sitting in a control room, directing these on a high level.

But here’s the catch — there is no guy sitting in the control room.

There are times your executive functioning can be shut down (fight or flight) and there is no guy in the control room.

Even the executive functioning is dependent on those background processes done in the subconscious.

So essentially you have all of these operating systems floating around, each one having control of parts, or the entire system, at different points.

In short: there is no freewill — simply a collection of operating systems or different “brains” each rolling across the hypervisor of your consciousness.

Information Technology is Dead. Long live Information Technology!

Pretty sure the IT industry is in for a huge shake up.

This goes beyond the current tech bubble and it’s bursting.

I am talking about the end of the IT data center.

Think about what a loss leader a data center is. Even if you offload it to the cloud, you still have to pay a lot of money, which in turns pays for cooling/heating, lighting, power, connectivity, the connection to the backbone, not to mention the hardware, software, services and support.

And then you have to hire someone to run it. Usually at least with 24 x 7 response.

Now what if you took the data center, shrunk it, and took it out of those big air conditioned rooms that boom with white noise.

Virtualization and hyperconvergence technologies have shrunk servers to such small sizes, you can have a 100+ server data center in something the size of four pizza boxes.

These servers aren’t going to get any larger, and they will continuously get denser and denser, while becoming more and more powerful.

Now let’s look at the slowest part of any IT infrastructure: the network.

No matter how fast they go, it will always be a bottleneck.

And people are really sick of wires.

So what if you could collapse the entire data center into really small, modular, plug and play wifi stations?

With redundancy and replication you could have your fault tolerance, high availability and the ability to scale by just screwing in one of these super wifi stations and turning it on.

Now imagine everything from databases, to email, to app servers, to security systems, to even the virtual desktops at everyone’s console — imagine that as floating virtual machines that do not live on big iron servers and independent hard disks.

No hard drives, no memory, no storage arrays, no network switches, no processors….

Just little wifi appliances that can be added or removed without interruption.

The technology is all there. Someone just has to put it together.

And when that happens, the IT industry will collapse.

Sure it will still exist, but it will be kind of like how inter office mail has been replaced by email.