Technology and the balance of power

February 25, 2006 § Leave a comment

between goernment, corporations and people.

February 25, 2006Taking Spying to Higher Level, Agencies Look for More Ways to Mine Data By JOHN MARKOFF PALO ALTO, Calif., Feb. 23 A small group of National Security Agency officials slipped into Silicon Valley on one of the agency’s periodic technology shopping expeditions this month. On the wish list, according to several venture capitalists who met with the officials, were an array of technologies that underlie the fierce debate over the Bush administration’s anti-terrorist eavesdropping program: computerized systems that reveal connections between seemingly innocuous and unrelated pieces of information.Technologists work for the government in this sense and enhacne its power. Looked at across many such instances, the government – and the participating corporations and corporate presence – is enhanced in proportion to power moving into the hands of ordinary people. Of course the great danger is that this power will be use internally, not against “enemies” of the nation, but against “enemies” of the party. Likley? Well, Nixon did it with IRS.

The tension inhernet here is deep and technologists are willing to go along. tehre is no equivalent to the medical code of ethics.



from homelessness plus environment to garden world

February 24, 2006 § Leave a comment


Homelessness is the result of a too narrow definition of he productive side of society, leaving out potential consumers and producers. The same economy leaves out too much of the environment, laying waste and forgetting renewal. Both a too narrow sense of society and a too narrow sense of the environment is driven by the anxiety of a too narrow group of leader – owners who want to keep the p small based on fear of losing control and wealth.


The obvious answer is to put the excess people and the excess or underdeveloped land together in a project of creating a garden world. Everything should be beautiful. Japan, with large natural forests, and beautiful cityscapes and villages, parks and walkways, is a starting point.


Such a project would relive the elites of their anxiety about quality of life but they would need to be included in the expanded leadership, not made to feel shame and guilt. This project is highly inclusive of land and people and would enhance the world.

The Port problem

February 23, 2006 § Leave a comment

The press buys into the idea that the conflict is over security. But the real issue is the selling of American assets and the general feeling that market issues are more important, the flow of money for folks with money – than security, hence blowing the cover on the bush security stance. At the same time Iraq and Iran make clear that the Bush policy was less than coherent, and badly implemented.

On the Internet and the struggle between big media and big telecom vs both against the consumer.

February 20, 2006 § Leave a comment

We have yes of course entered an age when news clips and editorials are loaded with bias and have taken our understanding into account so they can appear to be doing what we want while – not. 

Net Neutrality – Tragedy of the Commons

Net neutrality is about big media against big telecom, not big telecom against the consumer, though that is not what the NYT and digital elitists would like you to believe. The reality is that different types of internet consumers exist, and they should pay different amounts for different types of service. Just as the Tragedy of the Commons parable shows:Benefits of exploitation accrue to individuals, while the costs of exploitation are distributed between all those exploiting the resource.

The telcos have done an awful job of arguing for net neutrality, and have caused such an uproar that Congress cannot back away without extracting a pound of flesh. One of the more sensible things Verizon

Weblog at: warpspeed

Investigative reporting at its best : Marshal on Reid-Abramoff

February 11, 2006 § Leave a comment

And the failure of AP and worse.

 I am, I confess, a little surprised by this. But the Associated Press just doesn’t seem able to come clean on this Reid-Abramoff-Marianas matter.

Let’s jump down into the details.

As you remember, on Thursday John Solomon of the AP wrote a lengthy piece detailing alleged contacts between Jack Abramoff’s team at Greenberg Traurig and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

I followed up with a post explaining what seemed like a key problem with the article. The better part of the article is taken up with detailing Team Abramoff lobbying Reid on behalf of the sweatshop owners of the Marianas Islands, key and notorious. The whole thrust of the narrative suggests an illicit or suspect quid pro quo. But if you look closely what’s never mentioned in the article is what Reid did on the Marianas sweatshop owners behalf — which is of course a rather key detail.

I got on the phone with Reid’s office and the lobbyist in question, Ron Platt, and they both said that Reid was and remained on the side of the debate — he supported the minimum wage bill the Marianas folks opposed. That claim was confirmed by other supporters of the legislation.

In other words, whatever Abramoff and his crew might have tried to persuade Abramoff to do, he didn’t do it.

That has to be a key part of the story, if you’re discussing contacts between Marianas lobbyists on this issue. Only it’s a part of the story the AP just neglected to mention.

Okay, so jump forward. After he spoke to me, Platt released a statement restating the gist of what he told me. « Read the rest of this entry »

Juan Cole and illustrated news – brilliant.

February 11, 2006 § Leave a comment

This is a must see – make sure to scroll through the whole and see the way photos are used to make real what is being said. I think we will see more of this.

Cole’s use of graphics


Thoughts on social change

February 11, 2006 § Leave a comment

A recent dialog gives me the opportunity to raise some questions. Questions that I’ve been struggling with anyway. So this note is to raise dobts that I think need consdieration by all of us.

“Humanity has had this wisdom accessible for millennia, but it has not transmitted, because the social element of transformation has been absent. ” This language suggests that the missing element is will and idea. An alternative is that the progressing from tribes through agricultural empires is a reflection of animal nature amplified by increased human intelligence and imagination. It was what it was, and we are still in it. It makes sense that it happened, and is not eveil per se. Transformation now is possible because the conditions of empire – large numbers off needy people cognizable for war and consumption – is being broken apart by – more people and the Internet. These undermine the authority of states and corporations. But we d not yet know how t manage such a world.

“…holistic economics.” Implies that the current economics is not holistic and that a holistic economics is possible. Since life has been is and always will be short of meeting all our needs all the time (needs that include love, recognition, total security) no economics can be trully holistic except the universe itself. One person’s holistic is another’s partiality.

“Economic growth at all costs is actually a cancer or a tumor and not only is cancer now the number one killer of humans in western society.” We have never had economic growth “at all costs(pun intended?).”  It may be better to think that what was a reasonable (historically understandable phase)  economics in the past became cancerous when it became, amplified by technology and the use of the nation state as a container and restraint, more destructive. But all societies, existing and possible,  are destructive in some ways.  That is, they provide for some things, and not for others. Do we want a future society where hard rock is ok but Bach is not? The idea, that economics is cancerous when growth oriented, is too fulsome a condemnation of all change, past and future. Perhaps more detailed inquiry of potential future differences is needed rather than a wholesale (pun) condemnation of the past and full speed ahead affirmation of an unanalyzed proposed future.  seems to be (on first look) rather against government but not against capital accumulation or corporations. Its recipe of no constraint on an individual’s rights fails to take into consideration the potential impact of such individuals on each other. Again this position seems to be short of an open analysis of its core concepts. It also seems to contradict this next,

“I believe that placing power generation and water supply into the hands of some individuals but not others, or in the control of a corporation rather than as a utility operated by a democratically directed agency is a recipe for inequity.” Yes, but, we in fact don’t know how to do this. Running a water supply requires very complex interactions and   complex technical skills. Blending that with democracy when there also is a bureaucracy, is a real puzzle for the future. We just don’t know how to do it, and the easy language, let democracy do it, doesn’t serve to make concrete any real possibility.

This gets to Dynamic Facilitation, which often works, but not always. The underlying assumption is that an existential core of concern can be found around which a new consensus can be built, avoiding open conflict. Does this really meet our experience and imagination, or is it a hope, a good hope, that fails to acknowledge how much history, even towards better ends, moves not because people agree but because they fail to notice, or give up, or are bypassed?

Enough of this rough reflections/reactions. My great desire is to look at possible future alternatives, and not assume that

  1. The will arrive because history fore ordains them
  2. They will arrive because good will defeat evil
  3. They will arrive because we will all agree

I think the future is harder, open ended, and requires thoughtfulness and a critical look at alternatives, while freely creating alternatives to try.

On the matrix, which Escaping from the Matrix  I love having shared it with many friends, it implies that there is a real and the matrix. But what we know from anthropology, ethology, history, and philosophy, is that the minds of people meet the symbolic world they are born into, and weave a web that, hopefully can be criticized and experimented with. But there is no getting outside of cultural creations of woven minds. None. To believe so is t a new kind of fundamentalist, grasping for a “real” outside human nature and experience. So the question always is, hw can we do better, which requires that we try, and are free to try.

PS: I need to respond to the references to Erhardt, EST, Landmark. Many of us have had bad experience with these and derivative organizations. The core idea, you can be yourself – providing you submit to us and by the way, get a letter from your therapist giving you permission to be here. We have the floor and your point of view is not permitted here beyond a single question ( like a Bush press conference). (I of course can be seen as providing a straw man, a caricature, but then no description is ever completely correct. Hopefully I am not also totally missing the point)

This is subtle and irrational. It feels to me to require a very difficult analysis of why people are attracted to this approach (or repelled by it). In some ways what is going on here runs through all my reflections on modes of thought that have the need to polarize (us good guys and them bad ones), and be right. In my view, these get in the way of the openness, listening and experimentalism we need to create a better future.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for February, 2006 at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.