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Posts Tagged ‘progress’

 

What progress is it  if it gags on its own bottlenecks? It has not delivered its promises.

Progress sounds good on paper. Fame and Fortune await whoever has a genuine idea, drive and innovate. Recently Dr. Craig Wright came forward to claim he is the founder of bitcoin. Later he had to defend himself and said that proof would be forthcoming. Later we are told it is not so. What a pother!

We are children of a cashless society. In the Internet Age where we all have learned to reduce our reliance on paper, we became computer savvy. Instead of snail mail we send electronic messages that are quicker. Rather than waste our time shopping around we do online shopping and pay with credit cards. If such innovations keep working their way through it must create subtle shifts in us. It is natural to expect our lives as a result would qualitatively improve. Is it not? The job statistics in April 2012 indicate one in two of graduates fresh out of colleges are underemployed or unemployed. Our youth have come off worse. What of the old? Here is a news headline of Feb, 21-2012 For boomers, it’s a new era of ‘work till you drop’ (AP-Los Angeles)

According to US College Graduate Employment Study by Accenture Strategy in 2015 found that Forty-nine percent of 2013-14 graduates consider themselves unemployed.

Technology let us fall in with the latest trends and if we thought we have become progressive we are right. Progress made us connect with any part of the world. Connectivity is wonderful. Suppose we are looking for a career change. Under normal circumstances we only need our work experience connect with the openings most suited to our talent. But now? Is it not terrible to be told all those positions are gone?

Post-war generation or the baby boomers did not account for the economic downturn of 2008. Naturally we expected as the older generation before us to retire when we reached the age of sixty-five. Oh no progress has got in a downward spiral! The post-war boom helped us to go up in financial security and along with it in our expectations also rose. We have been riding the slipstream of many forces unknown to us expanding and contracting while we thought progress was letting us off easy thanks to the Internet. Now we find technology cannot put jobs back. Our progress has hit a blank wall.

Progress of man did not account for its hidden costs. If we look closely we shall see we have come worse off in great many areas.

Let us look at life expectancy of ordinary folks.

Between 1990 and 2010, life expectancy of low-educated white women declined by 1.2 years. That 1.2 years is about 13 years of progress washed away, so what seems to be minor changes in life expectancy signal really big problems going on underneath the surface.

“If we look at the trends in the US in an international context, it becomes even more stark. US women are at the bottom in terms of other high-income countries on these measures. So we’ve really fallen off; the trends have really diverged in an international context which tell us there’s something unique going on in the US, especially for US women.

“Raj Chetty and colleagues came out with a very big study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April looking at the association between income and life expectancy in the US between 2001 and 2014.

“They showed rich women outlive poor women by ten years. They also showed that these gaps between the rich and poor in terms of survival have been growing over time. So over the period that they looked at, the richest Americans gained about three years of life expectancy, while the poorest had no increase.

If the nation cannot fix the American dream at least in terms of wellbeing of women there must be something insidious in the way progress is sold to the man on the street.

benny

 

 

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Man for whom abstract thinking is natural can always latch onto an idea, however impractical it may turn out in the end. Like the hero of Cervantes ideas turn always, blades one blowing this way and another in that way. History is such ideas creating a blur that only a fool would want to claim his idea is the best.

There is nothing heroic about taking on impossible if it is going to end in wholesale bloodshed. See the savage butchery recently perpetrated by the so called Daesh. They imagine they would thereby revive a Caliphate. Earlier  Joseph Stalin sent some millions to gulags and to death for creating a Worker’s paradise. How did it fare?

We only need consider Lenin’s idea of a Worker’s paradise when the Bolsheviks violently over threw the Tsarist regime. It was similar to a theocratic state John Calvin ushered in Geneva several centuries before. It did not work in Europe then; neither did it in Soviet Russia. Ideas are fine but man cannot stick to it all the way through. Did not the Allies set about ridding the post-war world of Totalitarian ideology? Nuremberg, the German city associated with the pageantry which the Nazi regime staged as they climbed to power was a potent symbol for the German nation. The Allies was sending a message loud and clear to the world. Nuremburg Trials was to be a show trial but as the legal process went about its rounds there was a perception among the Western powers that Soviet Union was the Threat that they needed to thwart. After all did not they dismantle the Nazi apparatus root and all? The US saw to that scientists who had helped Hitler’s war efforts were smuggled out to their country under Operation Paperclip*. V2 rocket program soon would provide the nucleus for the space war that came in play in the 60s. It was not surprising that the Trial of the century evaporated in the hustle and bustle of meeting the Cold War in offing.

Man has capacity to develop an idea like a Nuclear bomb to bring the WWII quickly to a halt. Neither his foresight and hindsight do match evenly. Of this we see even now. The Allies are at presented seized of the fact the Jihadi elements may lay hands on a dirty nuclear bomb. It has been thus progress that man cobbled up in the many innovations, has fared. Progress without exception has proved false.

Man is loath to turn 180 degrees from an idea, to which he has sold himself as well in which his experience also gives him certain pointers. Though failed in practice he trusts in his own power to pull it off. After the demise of the Imperial Rome, under Constantine the Great and Charlemagne (the Holy Roman Empire) the idea has been tried; Under Mussolini it was revived to no avail. Each idea and those who stake their legitimacy on its basis must cope with changed circumstances. In France the Second Empire under Napoleon III was a fiasco. He did not anticipate the revolutionary spirit of Europe and emergence of Germany under Bismarck. The events across the globe never stand still but like group waves negotiate with new ones where energy is passed around. Who shall cash in on these transactions by means of war, religion and cultural trade off remains to be seen. Pagan Rome under Constantine underwent a sea-change. Christianity became the state religion. The split between Rome and Constantinople as a result of political upheavals, became further weakened: The Church of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church of the East would no longer come as one due to the  doctrinal differences. At present the idea of Caliphate like the idea of Imperial idea of Rome is doomed if lessons of history are of any guide. Cashing in on the demise of an old order of Byzantine Empire the hordes of Saracens, Moors and Arabs created a Caliphate that died its natural death. Those who are beating the dead donkey shall soon know what it is to stop the tide engulfing them from all across the globe.

benny

* Operation Paperclip (1949–1990) was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. It was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and in the context of the burgeoning Cold War. One purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, as well as to inhibit post-war Germany from redeveloping its military research capabilities. The Soviet Union had competing extraction programs known as “trophy brigades” and Operation Osoaviakhim. (ack:wikipedia)

 

 

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In the following posts I want to look at progress that modern man has implicitly believed in and has accepted his circumstance for him to do something about. Progress keeps him going with hope and trust in fulfilling his dream to some extent. There is no denying to the inescapable truth that we could not have arrived here without it. Progress has pitchforked our ape-man ancestor from Savannah to the moden world of conveniences and miracle drugs. If he is curious to what goes on he might have news of the world at a click of a button.

We are assailed oh with what a variety of news!

Progress brings news to you. Only what it does not disclose is what good is to be told of a billionaire born with a greasy silver spoon in his mouth has become presumptive nominee to the White House while the GOP on whose shirttails he had joined the fray do not want him. What do I care what goes on in that part of a world which according to Mental Health reports* one in eight is in need of psychiatric care? I am also aware that many of them cannot avail of services even if they would be served. Cost of care throws some to the street and even a pauper’s grave. What a pother to be told that there are two alien tribes there and one party that stood for conservative America has perpetuated myth of Union of the State while systematically whittling away the soul of its basic principles. It is not Bill of Rights but of one percent such a party was all concened about. So they have a problem, which does not mean a dime to one who is in Kerala, India.

Progress is in making the world a global village. The idea is vitiated if one nation has cornered most of the natural resources of the world and wants to impose a one sided TTIP on another Bloc across the Atlantic. Progress as indicated by the ability of one nation to impose its terms arbitrarily on others  is like pot calling the kettle black. The most advanced nation relies on untested business practices of which the world is yet to recover fully from 2008 economic meltdown. It also shows what lessons they  ought to have learned from the Depression of ’29 was unlearned in order ‘the Banks that are too big to fail’ can hold the world to ransom once again. Under the terms of TTIP the multi-nationals are given more clout over  countries on this side of EU bloc.The biggest culprit in making the world vulnerable to economic insecurity gives unlimited powers to some Czars a blank check. It is a case of pot calling the kettle black.

You see the hollowness of the premise that can tout the World as a single entity albeit the title of Global Village. If any one peers closer there is so much inequality ingrained in the premise as the water that you get to drink on closer inspection is awash with industrial effluents, deadly cocktail of poison. #Flint, Mchigan is merely a case in point.

Why talk about Flint or America for that matter. A nation is made up of people and the fatal flaw is not in a body of men but in the least reducible factor that makes up institutions, tribes nations whatever.Man is the fatal flaw , the Achilles heel and it shall remain so. Till man can progress beyond his narrow circumscribed line of vision to include the whole mankind he is mere prattling and the politicians aggrandize themselves while throwing wool over the electorate.

It is a truism in parental care that a child made to grow up in an atmosphere of domestic violence the child will continue perpetuating the same cycle of violence. Experience of the child is violence as a norm and unless early correction is applied to the child the society is letting another number to join enemy forces and it becomes embedded in the very fabric of the particular society. Violence against women greed, unruliness etc ., eventually shall lead to a societal collapse can be expected in not so distant future. Nations similarly can create a breakdown. Take the case of South Africa under a brutal apartheid regime. One only need fill up the dotted lines between it and the massacre of Marikana mines on April 16,2012. The oppressed becomes the oppressed notwithstanding all the humbug we attach to the nationalism and principles of ANC as embodied in late Madiba. He himself could not save his family front let alone the nation. Now Joseph Zuma faces corruption charges that ought not come as a surprise to anyone. In an individual given his attention span for any specific problem being so short, a character flaw halves it even from the problem on hand.

benny

(*MentalAmerica.net

Mental Health America released its annual State of Mental Health Report, with startling numbers of how many Americans are not receiving the necessary treatments for mental health and substance use issues. Of particular concern is that even among our most severely depressed youth, 6 in 10 are not receiving any treatment for their mental health problems. )

#

The Flint water crisis did not begin on April 25th, 2014, when the city switched its water supply from Detroit’s system, tapping Lake Huron to its own on the Flint River. That tragic mistake was the culmination of a much longer ongoing disaster, one caused by greed, politics, incompetence, and selective amnesia. The known consequences include lead poisoning, skin rashes, and carcinogens in the water. Flint’s water crisis begins with the pollution of the Flint River, which has been going on for well over a century.

(Ack:Tim Cormady Feb.26-16/The Verge.com)

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A woodcutter went to cut wood and he lost his axe in the forest. He didn’t know where to look for. So he sat there cursing his luck. Hearing him swear high and low in an awful mood Hermes approached him and asked him why he was upset. ‘I lost my axe.’ Hermes said,’That happens to more people. Always losing things.’

Yes the woodcutter lost the means of livelihood. ‘But it is not some trifle that I lost. How will I ever cut again?’

The messenger god promised him a way out.’Look I will make your hands into axes. So you shall never lose it’. The wood cutter thought for a while and said,’Oh no!’ I have a wife and children back home’. The woodcutter didn’t want accidents at home with an axe as flying hands of some parents. Hermes said,’ I can make an axe with free will. Only you need tell it ‘Cut woods for me.’ It’ll cut trees and make you some money while you stay home and enjoy the comfort of a family. Will be alright?’

The wood cutter said, no. ‘If the axe can think for itself it may go out one morning and may be it will never come back.’ Hermes understood the man was right.

‘Ok what will you have then?’

‘Oh a big machine that I can operate myself and cutdown acres of trees by a couple of days. It should have few replaceable parts, low in maintenance and bring maximum profits.’

In opening the woodcutter’s mind to many options available to him God Hermes set him to think of profits, time and motion. The god shook his head sadly realizing the state of the earth in a couple of years. ‘OK go down the road. You’ll find the machine and it is yours.’ The god disappeared.

benny

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Prometheus found the gods on top of Olympus night after night sitting around the campfire and entertain each other with stories. Ganymede would go around them filling their cups and the godly jollity went on day after day. Prometheus on climbing down one night asked other clan members,’why not we also sit around and entertain each other?’ Some clapped their hands with joy and thought it was an excellent idea. One elder by name Calchas said it was a foolish notion. ‘Foolish notion?’ Prometheus could not understand,’ They are like us.’
Calchas looked at the whippersnapper sadly,’ Prommmy, they are immortals. They are of a different league.’
‘But they steal, seduce innocent girls and take no responsibility to take care of the waifs or their mothers and they tittle-tattle..’
‘Enough said,’ Calchas was getting irritated, ‘These gods owe none any explanation so they may establish, each his moral code and is a law unto himself.’
Prometheus went that night to his straw bed and next morning he saw the glorious sun rise sending its golden beams all across the land. Prometheus said,’Gods live indeed in splendor!I will steal a little of their fire if it is the last thing I do on earth.’ He went and begged an audience with the king. He said the gods had fire for the day as well as for the night. I shall steal a little fire.’ The king was astounded but was convinced the motives of Prometheus were above-board.
Did he not say the fire would serve them well in cold nights? He permitted him to try his chance. He cautioned him however,’Prometheus, if you are found out I will plead no knowledge of our interview. You are on your own.’Young Prometheus understood the risk. He said, ‘as much as I love my king and my clan I shall risk dangers so it benefits us for ever.’
Thus he climbed Mount Olympus by stealth and stole their fire. He brought it to the people below and they all acclaimed him as a hero. The gods discovered the theft soon enough and the punishment was swift. As demanded Prometheus was bound by the king and delivered to them. The gods had him chained to a rock. Hephaestus The lame god while creating the fire noticed a fire-bird fly out of the sparks. It was out of his control. ‘He said,’You can eat his liver. Better than dogs eat hm alive.’
He went back to the abode of gods.
This raven would daily visit him to eat his liver. Mankind pitied him and said,’the sin of daring gods was punishable by death. At least he escaped death.’ They went off as quickly as they came up. Prometheus had become too hot for their comfort, Months later they hardly went that way to give him company or share his misery. The fire-bird went on feeding his liver that somehow gave him healing powers. Nobody could explain why. He became cheerful and could withstand pain and endure inclement weather. Gods wondered whether the god of fire helped him. They questioned him. He put to rest their doubts by saying that in the punishment gods had a safety clause that they could not have avoided. ‘As gods we are dealing with Either or situation’.
Now it so happened gradually mankind took to bed often from illness that they had never known. Many of them died young or would die a lingering death. What the gods did not know was that mankind in learning to cook their meat and making it rich they had irreparably damaged their constitution. From overcooked meat and too much fat their liver became exposed to various maladies ever since.
Gods could not escape Either or situation; neither would mankind escape it. In their indifference and giving cold shoulder to Prometheus despite of his selfless service had invited something of the curse of impiety laid on him.
Moral: progress has its kill/cure condition. People in accepting fire from Prometheus was destined to suffer in some other manner. Look at the way the gun culture the Constitution of America has helped to be part of their way of life, decimate the young and vulnerable! Their very ‘manliness'( of which gun has symbolic value) has robbed them a way forward, a sane law that shall be in their best interests.
benny

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(Reuters) – The father of the man suspected of killing 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school said on Saturday he was in a “state of disbelief” and was fully cooperating with law enforcement officials investigating the massacre.
Peter Lanza, father of 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who law enforcement officials have said burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday and killed 20 children and six adults, said: “We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can. We too are asking why.”
“We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so,” Peter Lanza said in a statement. “Like so many of you, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired.”

It is a pity progress has overtaken us so well that we parents are the last to know how deep in trouble are our children. Remember progress gave us a buzz word like ‘greed is good’ in the 80s. I remember another that said,’quality time.’ When I read it I said to myself,’If I am bound to my workplace by my boss I will take the advice of sociologists who are in fashion. I will take them at their word. It was quality time for me and also for the poor tax guy.
Now Peter Lanza must be wondering how did that quality time turn out to mean so little?

Poor Lanza did not ask his wife: ‘How can parental control and bonding with children be buit up in a healthy manner if we parents are not around?’ Progress was so stressful that their marriage split up.( Quality time is defined by development experts as meaningful time parents spend nurturing and teaching their children.)
Naturally pursuit of pleasure guaranteed by the Independence declaration document was so strident for the mind to register its consequences. Consequently this question lay unasked: How can Time-crunched working parents give quality time?
ii

The human brain continues to grow rapidly for the first five years after birth. Because of our inefficient brains it takes 20 years before all the circuits are laid out and connected up. Are we not setting our children in harms way by neglecting their emotional growth? Symptom of our inability to afford progress can be explained in the buzzword ‘quality time’I mentioned above.

Progress has come to mean so much to the irresponsible that they may believe anything. Like the fool of an Emperor who put on his new clothes and made it to the catwalk of his empire. He knew style when two jackasses fitted him out with the latests trends in haute couteure. Emperor’s stlye was ‘retro’ but what does it matter? He was still the emperor. Similarly we fit out with progress without exercising our grey cells. If we are in terrible mess at least we can dismiss it of no consequence,’It is progress.’
benny

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It would seem people are so desperate to connect that they would rather risk unknown hazards of being ‘groomed’ or ‘lured’ to act against their own better judgment. Besides you will find that on-line friend who pledged to follow you is also counting how much you are worth. In the consumer market you are a product to be sold to a third party.
First here is one news item from Time:
Woman Discovers Her Husband’s Other Wife on Facebook-Time March 13, 2012
“Facebook is now a place where people discover things about each other they end up reporting to law enforcement.”
According to the charges filed in Pierce County Court, Alan L. O’Neill married Wife 1 in 2001, moved out in 2009, and allegedly changed his name and remarried a year later, skipping the step of getting divorced from Wife# 1. Now he is charged with bigamy and facing up to a year in jail if convicted.
Social networking is still evolving and it is at present a media swamp. Once sensitive information has been placed there is no way to get it out. Security of social networking sites is as great a risk as passing business cards around in a busy bar. No matter how many times the site owner/operator promises your information will be protected, secure, etc., the lure of money will make this less secure. Selling of private information by a third party is possible if the line between one’s computer and the so-called “easy to use” interfaces of social networking sites is breached. Well for those who were lulled into thinking of social networking here is one fact,and also indisputable. Those who seek friends unseen to share their personal lives have already lost their social capital. Progress only provides you instead an instant platform. Only think how shall you build your friendship with some 800 plus instant friends? You stand the risk of being stripped of every private detail that you only would have in former times shared with your bosom buddies.
Facebook has the look of Aladdin’s wonderlamp. You do not rub it but log in and if your personal info or sold to third parties without even a ‘by-your-leave-buddy you relied on the magic lamp without using your judgment.
No one has a clue as to the future of a technology driven innovation where being “connected” (electronically, that is) would really mean? These purveyors of progress are no more enlightened that you are.
(http://www.openforum.com/articles/the-explosion-of-social-media-blessing-or-curse/American Express-John Mariotti–small business trends)
Remember how you have been sold by banking sector? Those who made a brisk business were no more clued to the risks involved. They believed in progress. So did you.
Deregulation of the banks in the 80s led to innovation and it gave investment banks undue power. What is power without being wise?
How to Stop Companies From Collecting and Selling Your Facebook Info
(Money Talks news- Nov 24,2012)

If you want to keep a secret, don’t put any trace of it online. That’s something ex-CIA director David Petraeus just learned the hard way. But our lives are increasingly digital, and the government recognizes it.
In July, Congress asked nine data brokerage firms – including credit reporting agencies – what consumer information they collect, how they do it, and whether they sell it to third parties. On Nov. 8, it released those companies’ responses.
You can read the lengthy original letters and the responses here, but investigative journalism site ProPublica sums things up nicely in their article Yes, Companies Are Harvesting – and Selling – Your Facebook Profile:
Data companies of course, do not stop with the information on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Intelius, which offers everything from a reverse phone number look up to an employee screening service, said it also collects information from Blogspot, WordPress, MySpace, and YouTube.(Money Talks News -Nov 24, 2012)
Believe in progress only show the rest you use you common sense and no let others decide for you.
benny

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