Monthly Archives: May 2017

Null 2

A hectic week in peakfuture world.  Nothing drastically new or compelling to comment on.

The world of Washington DC may need to commentary soon, however.  Things seem to be heating up.

 

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The latest snafu

(Wannacry)

This just in:

NHS left reeling by cyber-attack: ‘We are literally unable to do any x-rays’

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/13/nhs-cyber-attack-patients-ransomware

Ah, the magic of computers and technology rears its ugly head once again.   This time, it isn’t just business documents and pictures of your vacation.  This time, entire systems that can mean life or death for people are being compromised.   While this may have been another technological tour-de-force, at one point, someone who is responsible for these tools, or those who use them, might be faced with a Twilight Zone/karmic retribution of some sort.  Imagine those who built these tools for ‘good’ having their family members not be able to get an X-ray (see above), because the very computers their tool infected were disabled.

There’s a great Buddhist story (the details are forgotten) about someone watching a cruel person do nasty things to another.  In the story, the Buddhist weeps, not for the person receiving the blows, but the one who is giving them, since they know the karmic effects on the person who is committing those acts.

Things have a way of biting back.  It is very hard to put the ‘genie back in the bottle’, as we discovered with other weapons of mass destruction.

Questions:

  • Anybody taking more action to backup their data/update their machines because of this?
  • When do you think this stuff will really start to kill people in larger numbers?
  • The Internet of Things is going to magnify this than we might possibly ever imagine.  Anyone having second thoughts?

 

 

The unknown price

$?

While having a discussion with a younger colleague, they asked me about investing.   As mentioned by a few others, my take on the financial markets is the same – they are essentially broken, in a fundamental way.   We can’t determine what anything is worth, so “investing” isn’t investing, it is gambling – the worst kind.   Not that gambling is inherently bad; people do it all the time, but they know it is gambling – taking a measured risk for a measured reward.   What is so bad about the way the system is constructed now is that people think they are investing, but they actually are gambling without knowing they are gambling.

We can blame the Fed for the mechanics of this, of course – they artificially set the actual interest rate, which is the most critical factor in determining whether an investment of any kind is financially viable.  Since this is artificially set (and has been set close to zero for a long time), things are so out of whack, it’s difficult to tell where to even know where a price for anything might be.

Questions:

  • How do we get back to reality, in any human endeavour, even one as “simple” as finance?
  • Will only a crash bring us back?

It’s been about two years now, since this blog was started on a weekly basis.  No particularly grand ideas or overarching themes; just a variety of observations on a few interesting topics.  A few times, a muse has struck and a longer essay has been written, maps are drawn, or flags sketched, but commentary has been relatively light. The basic tenets haven’t changed much, for sure.

Much needs to be done, and perhaps writing here isn’t the best use our resources.  Yes, something strikes, a note will be written, but perhaps the well has run dry.  Time to muse on future directions, and what should be done with our time.

 

Don’t push the pink skins to the thin ice

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Prelude_to_Axanar_poster.jpg

There’s an amazing Star Trek fan film, Prelude To Axanar, that was squashed by Paramount not too long ago.

The film brings up two points; one in the real-world sense, and one taken from the fictional realm.

The first, is that a dedicated group of people who care about what they are doing can make some very impressive art.   When you watch the film, you feel like you’ve been transported to a real-life documentary about a war that happened “not too long ago”, perhaps like a documentary on the Vietnam War.   For the amount of money they spent, they created something real, lifelike, and certainly true to what Gene Roddenberry intended, and perhaps even more.   When one recalls all the horrible science fiction films that have been created with huge budgets, you can see that it is a lack of caring that probably sinks these films, not the budget.  When you care, you can create masterpieces out of (practically) thin air.

The second, from the fictional realm of the film, was a great line made by a Vulcan ambassador (around 7:24), in reference to an “Andorian acquaintance” who made the comment “Don’t push the pink skins to the thin ice.”  The essence of this was that when “on the ropes” humans will fight back with an incredible tenacity.   Mish Shedlock, recently wrote something that echoes along these lines on his blog.   When pushed to the edge, who knows what will happen?   Let’s hope calmer and wiser heads prevail.   As Jenny Holzer once wrote in an art piece, “People won’t behave if they have nothing to lose.”

Questions:

  • What are some examples of amazing art made a on shoestring budget?  Amazing pieces of engineering?
  • Backing people into a corner, in many (but not all) endeavors, is generaly not a prudent move.  But it always seems to happen, and the people who push too hard can sometimes find out the hard way that this wasn’t a brilliant plan.   How can this be avoided?  What are some of the hallmarks of getting what you want, without having an opponent “go berserker“?