It wasn’t supposed to be this way
Globalization's New Underclass
Globalization has long been portrayed as the rising tide that lifts all boats. The surprise is in the tide -- a rapid surge of IT-enabled connectivity that has pushed the global labor arbitrage quickly up the value chain. The rich are, indeed, getting richer but the rest of the workforce is not. This spells mounting disparities in the income distribution...
Emphasis mine, as usual.
I wondered, "Who wrote this?" Surprise, again! It didn't run in The Nation, nor The World Socialist Worker. Instead, the author is Stephen S. Roach, a Managing Director and Chief Economist of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. He wrote this in March 2006.
None are spared
The Internet has forever changed the competitive climate for most white-collar knowledge workers: software programmers, engineers, designers, professionals toiling in legal, accounting, medical, actuarial, consulting, and financial-analyst positions -- sparing an increasingly small portion of those at the very top of the occupational hierarchy. Washington’s penchant for cutting taxes of the wealthy probably hasn’t helped matters either.
These observations about China are readily extensible to the United States.
With per capita income of $38,000 and $1,700, respectively, the United States and China are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet both countries have extreme disparities... the poor [in China] now have real-time access to the “outside world.” This gives them a very vivid picture of the prosperity they are missing... the Internet has the potential to spark resentment and social instability...
At the time, the author's greatest concern was increased protectionism. Ultimately, he may be correct, I don't know. It is now November 2013, nearly eight years later. What will resolve this incipient instability?
Inequalities of the income distribution have long been the Achilles’ heel of economic growth and development...that seems more the case than ever. History tells us that the pressures of widening income disparities are often vented in the political arena.
I found a video on YouTube while browsing, randomly. Maybe. YouTube is a Google digital property. I don't try to hide from Google. Their personalized advertising knows me too well.
Let me tell you about it.
2006 point of view
The title is Zeitgeist-and-angsty. Try not to be put off by it. 2015 GoogleZon begins with the premise that by 2010, Google is the Internet's dominant entity. It influences all information flow, though it does not actually create content, as algorithmic journalism applications claim to do.
Time passes. The world changes. The New York Times goes off-line in 2014, publishing a weekly print edition. The only customers are wealthy, Upper West side residents, and the elderly. A former New York Times journalist initiates a crowd-sourced relay network of GPS-tagged audio updates. Her name is Pinky. I'm not sure if that refers to feminine identity or Communism! Her communications network is primitive, but well received.
In 2006, I would have thought that demise of mainstream news media in less than ten years was ridiculous. It is a frightening prospect. The only bright spot is Pinky, and her emergent phenomena that might be hinting at crowd-sourced news and citizen journalism.
Citizen journalism has generated excitement as a modern alternative to traditional news media. I first came across the idea in 2009, after reading about SXSW in Austin, Texas. My online acquaintance, @znmeb, develops open-source computational journalism software. It is designed to facilitate credible reporting, with robust data analysis methods. Intended users are professional and citizen journalists.
Bloggers and non-traditional media are a content source, offering current events analysis, opinion, movie reviews, historical retrospectives, educational materials (for children AND adults) and photographs. Forbes Online and The Huffington Post are non-traditional media publishers. I prefer Forbes, as their contributors are better. Arianna Huffington has a reputation for paying writers poorly, or nothing at all. That probably accounts for Huffington Post quality issues. The decent reporters leave, in order to earn a living wage.
There are smaller, very active specialty websites, such as StockTwits, reddit, Seeking Alpha and Slash Dot. Other platforms, e.g. Twitter and Identi.ca, enable terse real-time reporting by the public.
Citizen content creators and traditional news media have an uneasy relationship. The first YouTube comment, in 2009, captures that conflict:
Nothing but a collection of trivia, much of it untrue, all of it narrow, shallow and sensational - That's what The New York Times thinks of blogger journalists, according to this!
2010There were more comments. This reminded me of Eli Pariser's "filter bubble", about confirmation bias and its consequences:
The whole issue of providers feeding you things "you like" is sort of like inbreeding. We only see stuff we've already seen before, and soon everyone is pigeon-holed into a deficient world view of their own making. There is no new DNA in your thought patterns and soon the genetic mutations rise to the top and we're left with a world full of retarded ideas.
This was the other comment:
And in this new world, who will dig out the facts on which stories might be based? Or will we all be relying on machine generated gossip? Will Pinky even be able to pay her rent?
Newspapers have not done well during the past two decades. This chart seems to be saying that recent advertising revenue has declined to 1950's levels, although I do not know if there is any adjustment for inflation.
Concern about Google was valid, but not directly relevant. Instead, Jeff Bezos, majority shareholder and CEO of Amazon, bought The Washington Post for $250,000,000, as an all-cash transaction. His purchase is a surprise, particularly given his vision for newspapers:
About one thing I am certain: In 20 years there will be no more printed newspapers. If they do exist, they will be considered a luxury item for certain hotels to offer as an extravagant service for their guests. Printed newspapers will no longer be normal in 20 years.
Emphasis mine. Recall that dystopian future envisioned for newspapers, in 2006, that the only customers of the New York Times printed edition would be the wealthy and the elderly. Mr. Bezos's stated intent for The Washington Post is to use it as an experiment.
News of the World
Rupert Murdoch comes to mind. Murdoch is 81 years old. He continues to have a strong interest in publishing. The newspaper business was possibly his first, maybe only love. In contrast, Jeff Bezos is 50 years old. According to Mr. Bezos's spokesman, his only prior interest in publishing or news media is his fondness for reading books.
Ownership of a major newspaper offers comprehensive access to the public, for purposes of commerce and political influence. Rupert Murdoch was limited by 20th century technology. Now, with the Internet, satellite communications and ubiquitous GPS, Jeff Bezos will not be as constrained:
During Murdoch’s heyday, it was impossible for one company to consolidate production, distribution, editorial and advertising functions across all forms of media and across national borders. The internet makes that, if not easy, for the first time, possible.
- We all know what kind of newspaper owner Jeff Bezos will be, Corey Pein, 6 August 2013
The following anecdote about Amazon cost control methods at its Allentown facility in 2009, verified by Morning Call of Pittsburgh as well as The New York Times, is disturbing:
Instead of paying for air-conditioning at some Pennsylvania warehouses, Amazon had just stationed paramedics outside to take the inevitably heat-stressed workers to the hospital.
Since Amazon's IPO (NASDAQ: AMZN) in 1997, Jeff Bezos has led a publicly-traded retail company that is the chimera of profitless growth. After 16 years, Amazon has never paid any dividend (of consequence) to investors.
- Amazon and Walmart exacerbated our new, low-wage economy
- Jeff Bezos used Amazon's market share and dominance to devastate the publishing industry; and
- more successfully than any other e-commerce entity, Amazon cultivated the "faster-cheaper-further" mindset that is eroding communities in the U.S.A., and everywhere else.
Further developmentsI overlooked this week's other major newspaper-relevant event. Jeff Bezos (formerly of hedge fund D.E. Shaw), was not the only billionaire to purchase a prominent media company. On 5 August 2013, John Henry purchased the Boston Globe for $70 million. John Henry is a prominent financier, especially well-known for his pioneering work in high frequency trading.
On 7 Aug 2013: New York Times "not for sale" Say Owners. However, the Koch Brothers declined to purchase The Tribune newspapers, a few weeks later.
* Photograph via Seeker 401
I believe that we are better for the Enlightenment than if it never happened.
The Enlightenment is also known as "The Age of Reason" because of the remarkable advances in science and rational thought that are associated with the 200 years between 1650 and 1850.
I just learned of an alternative point of view. There are some portions of this post about the Enlightenment (SimpleToRemember website) with which I am uncomfortable. Also, the publisher, the Aish organization is unfamiliar** to me. Be that as it may, it is still worthwhile to note the quoted sections, and learn from the history cited.
N.B. In my post below, every indented and block quoted item that is designated by an * is excerpted from the SimpleToRemember website post written by Aish-affiliated Rabbi Ken Spiro.One of the casualties of The Enlightenment was organized religion. Religion was perceived as an intellectual short-coming and belief in superstition, rather than science. Secular culture is the Rationalist alternative to religion. Given that, I thought this conclusion was peculiar:
* As odd as it may sound, the less religious the Western world became, the better it treated the Jews.
Civil rights for Jews
Jews were specifically granted some basic, though still not equal rights by the French National Assembly in 1791, ibid:
the conditions requisite to be a French Citizen... are fixed by the constitution... every man who... takes the civic oath... has a right to all the advantages it insures; all adjournments, restrictions, and exceptions... affecting individuals of the Jewish persuasion [are] annulled [for those Jews] who shall take the civic oath...
Emphasis mine. It sounds very fine! I could not conceive how it could be objectionable. This was Aish's take on that:
* Judaism believes that for an ideal world there must be a focus on both God and man. Because without a focus on God, all moral values become relative.
I don't know what causes moral values to become relative. I do know, with certainty, that moral relativism is bad. I agree with this, have seen evidence of it in the present and the past:
* ...for a while, it might be nice to have respect for civil rights, but when it becomes convenient or necessary (for various social or political reasons) to change that focus, then respect for human life becomes just another idea that goes out of style.
It shouldn't be like this! Usually, it is.
Napoleon and the Jews
I did not realize that Napoleon Bonaparte marched through Europe, liberating Jews from their ghettos, wherever he could.
I will never accept any proposals that will obligate the Jewish people to leave France, because to me the Jews are the same as any other citizen in our country. It takes weakness to chase them out of the country, but it takes strength to assimilate them.
Napoleon's edicts, initiated during the late 18th century, were successful, wonderfully so.
* ...by the late 19th century, Jews - who had been economically and physically marginalized, who had been locked out of any trades and professions - now were allowed (if not exactly welcomed) into all phases of European society.
I think he meant well, and was suffused with the good spirit of the French Revolution, of liberte rather than with the awful part, The Terror. I also realize that Napoleon Bonaparte was on the very endpoint of the interval described by mainstream sources as The Enlightenment. Yet the following is astute in its observance of human nature:
* He wanted them to be accepted by the rest of European society... So, he set about to help the Jews rid themselves of the things that set them apart. Napoleon was asking the Jews to answer the great question that came out of emancipation: What is your primary identity? Are you first and foremost Jews or Frenchmen?
The distinction was unresolved, and became critical, though not in France, and not for awhile.
Jews and the Industrial Revolution
This rings true:
* Once the gates of the ghettos were thrown open, the Jews rose to the top quickly, gaining prominence and wealth.
It is consistent with what I recall that my grandparents, Russian-Jewish immigrants to the U.S.A., told me. This does too:
* In theory Jews had equal rights but in practice, the story was very different. Many Jews saw conversion as the best way to advancement in enlightened Europe.
Jews were nominally accepted into society as long as they were not too Jewish.
Around this time, the late 19th century, the term "anti-Semitism" came into use. It is attributed to Wilhelm Marr in 1879. It was intended to differentiate between antipathy for Judaism as a religion versus antipathy for Jews as a so-called race or nation. Antipathy? "Fear and loathing" is probably more accurate.
In Germany, where Jews prospered the most visibly, contributing tremendously to German industry and scientific discovery, the "writing was on the wall". It should have been, when The Question of the Jew is a Question of Race, by Karl Eugen Duehring (1881), was well-received throughout Germany. Many copies were sold, over the next two decades, equivalent to what we consider to be a "best seller" today. The book's conclusion was that the distinction between Jewish religion and Jewish race is false. Instead, they are one and the same, inextricably linked. That concept remains relevant in the 21st century. Whether Jews consider themselves to be Jewish is of no consequence.According to Duehring, and the more formalized anti-Semitism that followed, it doesn't matter if Jews convert to Christianity, are secular nor if they strive to blend in. Anti-Semitism as a social and cultural ideology did not care what the Jews of Germany believed about their status as former Jews, nor how non-Jewish they behaved. All that mattered was that they were Jews.
Jewishness was defined by anti-Semites in Nazi Germany, and in the half-century prior as patrilinear OR matrilinear Jewish descent. There may have been additional criteria Thus, it is not so surprising that the Holocaust could follow, given the combination of adverse circumstances following the Treaty of Versailles,
Rousseau versus LockeThe central premise of the Aish essay was that it would have been better for the Jews if Napolean and France had not been a dominant influence in European and later, U.S. Jewry, because it reinforced the belief that mostly secular life could be a legitimate and fulfilling choice for Jews. Aish's view is that a life without a place for God would lead to moral relativism, and ultimately, not matter, given the events in Germany. Instead, Aish thought that John Locke's belief in the need for God in public and private life, was superior. I am summarizing, not critiquing, as there are many assumptions and negating aspects of this stance, for which the Aish post did not provide answers.
My fear is that the Jews are no different than the Puritans of Max Weber's The Protestant Work Ethic. It is more difficult to survive and prosper in times of freedom and wealth than persecution and poverty; First world problems, as we say on Reddit.
What is my point?So, why bring this up now?( Read more...Collapse )No, I do not believe that Germany will do it again! For reasons that are not clear to me, I find German men to be more respectful, receptive and friendly, in their formal way. They will praise me for logical thinking, and in economic or financial discussions, unlike the American, Australian, Israeli and UK Jews with whom I interact.
Even though there is much in the substance of the Aish post that is not consistent with my view, it describe the underlying sensibilities of non-Jews and Jews in fin de siecle Western Europe, I have been troubled by the prevalence of anger and hostility toward Jews recently. I am saddened by anything that is against Israel and Zionism, but I fully understand the rationale. It is certainly based on actual events and conflicts of the past half century.
Resurgence of interest in the Elders of Zion, or revisionist history espoused by well-educated citizens of developing nations is different and troubling, especially the latter.
Global distrust of super wealthy financiers, high-level corporate leaders and investment bankers has taken hold. That is a logical reaction. It is unlikely to dissipate until the underlying cause, namely, vast concentration of power and wealth with a tiny group of aloof elites, lessens. Many of these individuals with the most visible public profiles are Jewish, or formerly Jewish. THAT is also deeply troubling. I am acquainted, very slightly, with one of these individuals. I tried to mention my concerns to him. He was offended, and dismissive of me, my simple-minded understanding the world.
IsraelEveryone worries about Iran, Syria, the Palestinians. Unless there are significant changes, Israel's enemies don't need to act. There are so many inconsistencies, thus irrationality. I worry that there will be civil war in Israel.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews are sheltered ans indulged, much as my great-grandmother did with my great-grandfather. They had seven children, but my great-grandfather never worked. He spent all day in the synagogue praying, while my great-grandmother used her own dowry money to start a dry-goods store. She did the cooking, cleaning and much of the child-rearing, while supporting the family financially. When the children were old enough, ten or twelve years of age, they worked in the store after school, while my great-grandfather continued to pray all day. Yet he was considered a good husband, and never a word of complaint was heard.
Similarly, the schism between the presumably feminist inclined women who want to pray every day at the Western Wall, versus those who don't want them to do so, is terribly polarizing. Judaism, like many religions, is patriarchal. The devoutness of the women who insist on prayer at the Wall, in public, is new. My perception is that Jewish women are NOT a repressed underclass. Many cultures have a superficial appearance of meek or submissive women. However, in the household, and other situations that are not part of public life, the reality is very different!
I worry that the controversy over women praying at the Wall, which is extreme on both sides, including Haredi hurling epithets and eggs, might escalate into a flash point, it could endanger Israel and Judaism. This becomes a more plausible outcome when combined with the non-working ultra-Orthodox Jewish settler problem (while the working, non-ultra-Orthodox Jews are actually disinclined to marry and have children).
Now, in the Land of the FreeI cringe every time I read about some new example of corruption, vice or financial excess, as there are so many Jewish names associated. I would prefer that NONE be Jewish. Instead, there is
- Robert Filner, who served 10 terms in Congress. He is the first Democratic mayor of San Diego in 20 years. Rather, he was the mayor. Yesterday, on 23 Aug 2013,
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner stepped down... after the City Council voted to accept his resignation as part of a settlement deal. Eighteen women have so far accused the Democratic mayor of sexual harassment.
- via Politico, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Resigns
- Anthony Weiner, mayoral candidate for New York City (I think that was very wrong, as it was dealt with once already; now it should be a matter of concern between husband and wife)
- the hedge fund industry, most recently Stephen Cohen of SAC, although nearly every one of the most ostentatious of nouveaux riche hedge fund managers are likely of the "Jewish persuasion", as the French General Assembly of 1791, see above, would have said;
- the Wikipedia category, American Jews. There is an Atheist Jews category too. Both read like a rogue's gallery, which breaks my heart.
I am worried that they have already forgotten the events of a mere century ago.
** Regarding unfamiliar Jewish-themed websites and initial doubt of AishMore often than not, I run across "Messianach Jews", once known as "Jews for Jesus" on the Internet. Some do not state that they are not associated with reform, conservative or orthodox Judaism. which confuses and irritates me, once I figure it out.
If I am reading a religion-oriented website post, I want to know the affiliation. I don't care if the objective is prosyletizing, or if the site (and religion) is hostile to non-believers. As long as I am told, which most every legitimate faith does, whether Christian (Protestant or not), Moslem, B'Hai, Hindu, varieties of Buddism, Judaism, Wiccan/ pantheist/ pagan or anti-religion, I am satisfied. The Jews for Jesus are not easy for me to spot; I feel annoyed with myself, and them!
The weirdest, coolest tank in history.
"... I present you the Chrysler TV-8, a 1950's concept tank that not only looked really weird thanks to everything being in it’s turret, but [was weird! For example,] it had a CCTV system to allow it to operate in nuclear fallout.
The best part? It was amphibious! The better part? [The Chrysler TV-8] was straight up nuclear powered."
Apparently, I am not alone in my fondness for Curate.us, a unique and (still) gratis way of taking screen shots without web scraping. There's even an option to highlight significant prose passages, which are then auto-attributed to the source.
The company name is cute too: Free Range Content.
I was trying to be helpful, comforting and supportive. The young lady had a very unfortunate social experience with an insensitive and rude young man.
" containspeanuts Regarding Asperger's (NOT autism that affects cognitive ability; autism is a profound, congenital and incurable condition, a form of severe mental retardation, that is a different situation!): If I were to be honest with myself, I'd describe two of my closest partners as Asperger's types. Both lacked emotional expressiveness, awareness of physical boundaries. For example, one was quite tall/ bulky, and would bump into people (gently) at crowded shops, without ever noticing. Despite that, both were loving. They rarely reciprocated when I said that I loved them, but demonstrated love through actions, and in written notes.
With sex, there was no spontaneity. I had to tell them EXACTLY how I wanted to have sex. Both were just fine with that! I adapted. No more situations where you've had enough, want to stop, but feel, well, like it would be impolite to say, "No".
Regarding the need to say, "No" thereallyle I HAVE had that happen... it is difficult to explain why you go through with it. I did then, wouldn't now.
Regarding insensitivity, seemingly callous disregard: Once, something very heavy accidentally fell on me, and I screamed to "get it off!" but he thought I was laughing, didn't understand my reaction. That was scary. He took what seemed like forever to understand that I was hurt, then act appropriately.
I want you to know that I feel bad, reading how you bled afterwards. That shouldn't happen! Also, despite having Asperger's, he should know not to stick his thing in your butt and then in your hey nanny nanny. That might be the worst. It wasn't violence, but just as bad, in a different way, of not caring."
The New York State Comptroller recently announced that 2012 aggregate Wall Street bonuses are $20 billion, an 8% increase over last year. Oddly, the average salary for a Wall Street worker is more than it was prior to the 2008 financial collapse. It is also five times greater* than what most workers in New York City earn.
Consolidation of wealth and income doesn't spare the financial services sector. I've said that for awhile. Finally, here's a shred of proof. Employment has dropped 10%, a loss of approximately 20,000 jobs, in the Wall Street job market due to company downsizing. Yes, there was more money made last year, but for fewer people. For further depressing details, see Wall Street Bonuses Are Up 8%! Happy Hump Day! via Village Voice (27 Feb 2013) and ABC News.
* The comparative earnings data is from 2011, so I'd expect 2012 to show even greater disparities. After all, we are in the midst of an economic recovery. Correct?
It's almost impossible to keep a web server secret by not publishing links to it. As soon as someone follows a link from your "secret" server to another web server, your "secret" URL may appear in the referrer tag and can be stored and published by the other web server in its referrer log. Similarly, the web has many outdated and broken links. Whenever someone publishes an incorrect link to your site or fails to update links to reflect changes in your server, Googlebot will try to download an incorrect link from your site.
How to block search spiders from crawling your websiteIf you have pages or other content that you don't want to appear in Google's search results, consider these two options.
- Most straightforward: If you need to keep confidential content on your server, save it in a password-protected directory. Googlebot and other spiders won't be able to access the content.
- Use robots.txt to control access. Fine tune by file type and directories if you want. The robots.txt file tells Googlebot and other crawlers what parts of your website not to crawl for indexing.
Most morally upstanding robots will respect the directives in a robots.txt file. Others may not. The directives of a robots.txt file are NOT legally enforceable! Don't forget spammers either! They won't be stopped by a robots.txt file.
Robots meta tagsThe way to prevent Google from including a webpage anywhere in search results is to use a noindex meta tag. Once Google crawls the page, it will completely drop it from search results. It will not be included, even if other pages link to it. Other search engines might behave the same, or differently than Googlebot.
According to Webmasters — Google Developers, via archive.is: Robots meta tag and X-Robots-Tag HTTP header, specifications:
When robots.txt is unnecessaryYou need a robots.txt file only if you do not want search engines to index part of the content of your website.. If you do want search engines to index everything in your site, you don't need a robots.txt file, not even an empty one.
The Google /robots.txt checker and analysis tool (accessed via Google Analytics) will be retired soon. There are alternatives for creating a robots.txt file though I don't understand why Google is discontinuing theirs, along with so many other services, recently.
For reference, and maybe mere curiosity about the range and variety of major but mostly minor crawlers, the Web Robots site maintains a user and/ or owner submitted Robots Database of robot software implementations and operators.
I am thrilled to announce the publication of Mi Yodeya's haggadah supplement! At the Pesach seder we are supposed to ask questions (about the exodus from Egypt and about the rituals of the seder...). Mi Yodeya, a top-notch Jewish Q&A site (if I do say so myself :-) ), is all about questions. So we compiled some of ours that are on-topic for the seder into a book, a supplement to the haggadah. I hope you'll download a copy for possible use at your own seder (or just to read)...
Go to http://s.tk/miyodeya for more info and a download link.
I'm happy they pulled it off. I am an occasional visitor to Mi Yodeya, a member of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A websites. I spend a lot of time at all the sites collectively, but am not nearly as eclectic, yet knowledgeable as M. Cellio.
Originally posted by angelweed
When the dragon leaves the sky,
When the well is running dry,
When the earth is parched and sere:
Who is that, who whispers here?
Whose the bones beneath the ground?
Whose the shackles, now unbound?
Whose the dying, whose the birth,
Who brings harvest from the earth?
When the dragon leaves the sky,
When the well is running dry,
When the earth is parched and sere,
Remember who has whispered here.
-25 July 1999
It reminds me of THE TYGER, a poem by William Blake, in Songs Of Experience:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
Blake's poem is more grim and dreary than the Dragon poem is. Dragon poem isn't exactly cheery! It IS nicely composed though, by angelweed.
May I digress?
I'm quite critical of poetry, and rarely like any that I find on line. I mostly compare with poems that are literary classics, as I like them so much. Somehow, most endure the span of years, mine as well as centuries of humanity. So that is why I find it so pleasing that I enjoy angelweed's poems. It is a pleasure that I rarely experience.
Returning to the topic at hand, the Dragon poem. I am reminded of a W.H. Auden poem, about sand in the bed, that evokes thoughts of being barren, no longer fertile, in a reproductive sense. That is grim too. Yet here, in the Dragon poem, I feel hope.
- Mood: contemplative
Curate.us is a useful, legal web tool. I wasn't so certain of that initially. I wrote about it in 2010, and again, later that year. The second post received a pleasant reply via the comments, which put my mind at ease. Later, the company founder even stopped by, and clarified further.
Will curate.us remain online?
I am uncertain about the future of Curate.us due to a notice I saw posted on the site recently, saying that "it would be going away", with more information to be provided soon.
I hope all is well for Free Range Content, the parent company of Curate.us.