OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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values equal profits

TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY

“The Devil went down to Georgia,
He was looking for a soul to steal
He was in a bind, ’cause he was way behind,
He was willing to make a deal”

Apple, whose coterie of skinned knee sycophant cheerleader bloggers have insisted pays every penny of tax it owes is about to pay $38,000,000,000 to the US Treasury.

It’s a start.

Do not back down. Keep this pressure on. Values equal profits. Let’s make this so for the biggest most profitable corporation in the world. We value companies that pay their fair share of taxes, who keep jobs in America — and who absolutely do not outsource manufacturing of the world’s most profitable product to an anti-democratic country that outlaws anonymity and freedom on the web.

Apple is bringing billions from its cash horde back into the US and this is good, but not nearly enough. America — American consumers — must stop subsidizing the rest of the world with our money and innovation.

As part of its first step toward making good to the country that birthed it, Apple says it will also build a second headquarters here, likely in Austin, Texas. Apple says it will also boost funding to advanced manufacturing in the US — a meager $5 billion.

Not enough.

Stop handing over precious IP to China.

Stop using American consumers as product beta testers — who pay full price.

Build American manufacturing.

We must demand better from Apple — just as we should all corporations.

Also: we must demand of ourselves to be better than only consumers.

EVIL APPLE

“Fame will not change him much he won’t be out of touch.”

I was using Apple back when the company was nearly dead.

I was promoting Apple before your child had their first iPod.

That was a long time ago.

I can’t shake the thought that one of the great companies made in America, that makes possibly the best smartphone in the world, is evil.

And so must be stopped.

Think of Apple’s business model: to put a screen always in front of you.

Out for a run? Apple Watch!

Seated at your desk? Mac!

Standing in a line? iPhone!

Seated in your favorite chair? iPad!

Ready for some much-needed downtime? Apple TV!

Placing a screen in front of our eyes at all times in all places has helped make Apple the world’s richest corporation.

But is what’s enriching Apple diminishing our children?

I am beginning to believe the answer is — an emphatic yes.

It gets worse.

Apple appears to be aggressively promoting a core value of consumption.

And this is wrong.

New year? New iPhone!

Buy a new iPhone!

Buy a new Mac! With TouchBar!

Buy a newer bigger thinner larger smaller iPad! This year! And next! And next!

Look! A new Apple Watch! Buy!

With new bands! BUY!

BUY BUY NEVER STOP BUYING!

Our life must be more than consumption.

APP STORE BUY!

MUSIC STORE BUY!

BUY BUY BUY!

We need to teach our children better.

It gets worse.

Apple is the richest corporation in the world. I believe it has more cash than any corporation in the world.

Yet it outsources manufacturing of the world’s most profitable product, iPhone, to China.

China requires America’s great companies hand over their technology and braintrust.

It gets worse.

China actively surveils its own citizens, polices online behavior, and has outlawed anonymity on the web, along with sites and services that do not comply with its rules.

Even if we escape the harms of this, we have to assume it will limit our children’s future.

Oh, and does anyone believe Apple Inc is paying its fair share of taxes? Money that could go to improving our schools, our roads, our healthcare?

Am I wrong about any of this?

What do you do when the corporation you most believe in, most want to believe in, believed in most of your life, utterly betrays you?

Leave them behind.

GOOD GOD I DON’T NEED A REASON

“I never thought too hard on dying before.
I never sucked on the dying.
I never licked the side of dying before.
And now I’m feeling the dying.”

They pointed the way but nobody heard.

They uncovered truths and nobody cared.

They followed their own path. The end.

Future no longer remembers Gen X. Preceded by Boomers, proceeded by Millennials, runt of the demographic litter, which is fine, really.

What if they could be more?

I think of alternate realities.

Not those steampunk novels.

Steampunk is boring.

A novel I would read, though, would explore how Earth could be today had us Earthlings back in the late 1980s embraced and sustained grunge-punk, not rap.

But that’s just too hard to believe. More believable, an alt-history where Earth embraced and sustained techno, not rap.

Think of it.

Back when he mattered, Eminem wrote:

“And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie
you 36-year-old baldheaded fag, blow me!
You don’t know me, you’re too old, let go.
It’s over, nobody listens to techno.”

Strong.

But what if he was wrong? What if there never was an Eminem because rap fizzled out and techno spread around the world, becoming the dominant form of popular music?

I think the world would be a nicer place, honestly.

It strikes me as odd that the number of births and the wrong choices of a group born around the same time would have such a long-lasting ripple effect on the next culture and the next.

Is there a better way?

Numbers?

Because, if numbers, that can be coded and computers can assess trillions of numbers every second.

Which are probably far more than necessary.

Think of how easy it is to judge someone based on only a single number.

What’s your GPA? What’s your ACT score?

High school football players eager to play for the top college football teams are assigned a number, typically between 2 and 5. Recruit X is a 4 ‘star’ and Recruit Y is a 5 ‘star’ but Recruit Z is only a ‘3’ star.

What is your hs-CRP score? It helps determine the amount of inflammation in your body and is a good predictor of your likelihood of stroke or heart attack. You want a hs-CRP score of less than 1 and certainly no more than 3.

What is your HDL? Your LDL?

What are the number of hours per day you sit? That offers a clue into your lifespan.

China, which made your iPhone, has not stopped at simply illegalizing the open, anonymous web. They have begun rolling out a numbers system which helps them determine how great a threat you are to their existing power structure. Points are assigned based on a range of personal variables.

In the US, algorithms are used to take money from us, make money off us, loan us money or, possibly, land us in jail. Numbers that feed these algorithms are based on race, gender, marital status, credit score, income, age.

Tell me your age.

Tell me your income.

What is the cost of your debt?

We dislike it but numbers are used to represent us and they typically do a very good job.

The President sleeps very little, a curiosity among many. While most of America slept last night, the President went on Twitter, which served him various tweets, links and videos, all based on an algorithm, not chronological order. One such tweet struck his fancy, which he then retweeted.

This act brought swift and protracted gnattering from the heretofore established media.

Algorithms impact our economy and productivity, our creativity, our mental health, our knowledge and our awareness, even our nation’s security. Algorithms are everywhere. Stock funds are using algorithms with the hopes of generating outsized returns. The algorithm can assess and intuit more and probably better financial trends, government filings, visual patterns, social changes, purchase data, customer tweets and the like. Facebook’s algorithms may know — before anyone else, before even friends and family — if someone is nearing suicide:

Algorithms are also helping with dying, telling healthcare professionals who most (and most soon) requires palliative care.

Algorithms are also used — which means they are also gamed — to determine what your child sees next on YouTube, far too much of which punctures their senses and pollutes their spirit.

New rule: We must not ever allow algorithms to be unleashed if they harm children and/or diminish life and living — ever.

If our algorithm non-use limits our economy, if shutting off algorithms borks our entertainment, that is small sacrifice. The spread of algorithms into every device and across every human interaction changes everything and everyone forever. They must do no harm.

This is particularly true with respect to children.

Deuteronomy, 12:31: “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”

We have always known that sacrificing children is an abomination.

“You’ve got your hands over your ears.
You’ve got your mouth running on.
You’ve got your eyes looking for something
that can never be found.
Like a reason.
Good god, I don’t need a reason.”

Fugazi was once a thing. They were fun to see. Trust me.

BITCOIN BLUDGEON

The price of one Bitcoin snuck past $15,000 today.

Had you bought (many) Bitcoin (3-5) years ago, you would now be (theoretically) rich.

Assuming, of course, in addition to going back in time, you could divine some means of actually turning that $1 million or $150 million in Bitcoin (value) to cash, or land, or stocks. But, sure, tell yourself you could have been a (multi-) millionaire. Tell yourself you can simply open up that digital wallet and ask one of the many Bitcoin exchanges to deposit the millions in cash into your bank account. Go on, try.

Everyone wants to be rich.

Never before have there been as many theoretical paths to riches.

So why is just about everyone struggling?

And why are those in the richest rich club doing all they can to lock everyone else out?

Americans — most Americans — still — still — want to work hard, make a good deal of money and then exchange that money for the freedom and security and products and services and experiences and niceties it affords.

This is why so many — which is inexplicable to the media, which is inexplicable to me — admire President Donald Trump. He has worked hard, damn hard, and very obviously enjoys all that his money affords him, including boasting about all that his money affords him.

Yes, he was born into money, unlike most, but he then — unlike most born into money — worked all day, all night, every day, every night, to be far more rich than when he started.

Is he gauche?

When you have like-Trump money, you get the choice to be discreet with it.

Americans want money.

Americans want to earn their money.

This is why so many react so bitterly to government healthcare, though they know how vital it is, because it negates their own power, their own freedom, the likelihood of them ever getting a great job with great earned pay and benefits, including healthcare. Earn your wealth, that wealth can be used in part to ensure your good health. Similarly, there’s a reason the only people who are promoting a “universal basic income” — a monthly check sent to everyone, forever — are either already rich or those who hate to get their hands dirty.

Money is power.

Work, build, make, create, extend, increase — and you earn money.

Which earns you power.

Earned power is the wisest of all the powers.

Someone sends you a check, not only did you not earn it, and this informs you you are lesser than they, but you are now dependent upon people you don’t know and who don’t know you and may not understand you and probably couldn’t care less and so could stop your monthly check or make you bark for it.

That’s no way to live.

This is why those working so hard — for just $15 an hour — are driving up the price of a Bitcoin, or throwing their money away on obviously doomed Initial Coin Offerings. They don’t need to be taught the foolishness of investing what they don’t have on a ICO con, they already know this, just as they already know they probably aren’t going to win the Lotto, but when all the other ways are shut off to them, the almost certainly impossible odds are still better than not at all.

We hear tales of a handful of fortunates who were early investors in Silicon Valley Big Next and who are now worth many millions, even billions.

Yet, late into the second decade of the 21st century, with everyone on the Internet, with crowdsourcing a provable business model, with instant access to information everywhere, it remains nearly impossible for any actual hardworking American to become an early stage investor — in anything.

Go on, try it.

Note all the legal barriers and financial regulations placed before you.

Okay, fine, but you are smart, insightful, resourceful, and so you know to be first in line to buy shares of Silicon Valley Big Next the very moment it goes public.

Nope.

Insiders have now created a “secondary market” that essentially allows the fortunate few to buy and sell their shares only to other insiders, shutting off outside access and preventing you from ever taking part in the financial bounty.

You are being systematically denied the opportunity to participate in the future’s bounty. It’s a rigged economy, despite all the apotheosized potential.

Bitcoin is a gamble. It’s also a sledgehammer. Both of these are needed right now.

“Now, when I talked to God, I knew He’d understand.
He said, ‘Stick by my side and I’ll be your guiding hand.
But don’t ask me what I think of you,
I might not give the answer that you want me to’.”

No one could have imagined Fleetwood Mac would become what it became.

THE WORLD AGREE

“Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom.”

When I think of Apple today, I think of The Beatles, at their end.

The greatness will not ever return.

That giddy whirlwind time of joy and youth and discovery and creative burst after creative burst after revolutionary creative burst will never ever again return.

“Let It Be” is so close to right, so near great — but falters. The Beatles were breaking apart, the mission no longer pure, the fun no longer there, the togetherness no longer wanted, the very elements that led them to create the greatest body of work in pop music history now stifled them individually.

The skill remains, the talent is evident, but they are no longer moving forward, they are the past, it’s over. But, oh, such a glorious time, so many memories, so much to remember them with.

“Let it be.”

I have been testing Apple Maps and Siri and iOS and that Mac Touchbar and two things have become abundantly clear: Apple users have no taste and too much money.

It gets worse.

Apple products appear to be regressing.

Mac, Maps, Siri, iOS, even the in-store experience. Perhaps, ironically, only Apple Watch seems to be getting better.

Is that why Steve Jobs, unlike Tim Cook, focused the company almost entirely upon one product at a time? Today’s Apple seems not at all focused on any product, rather on tax laws, deals with Hollywood, and pressing open door policies regarding bathroom usage.

But this isn’t about Apple, not really.

Rather, about those who thrived during this brief blip in time when great piles of cash could be made by promoting Big Brand online.

The Apple cheerleader bloggers are a wretched lot. The sycophancy, the corporate cheerleading, the deception and denials.

It gets worse.

Because they quickly learned that the bulk of their money came not just from cheerleading but from dividing.

Apple is special! Use Apple! That makes you special! Those people over there. They don’t use Apple. They’re not special! Let’s all hang out over here in our special place and be special together! And make fun of those not here, not special!

Sinful waste.

We are bearing down on the third decade of the 21st century and there are people so small.

And with all our powers.

It gets worse.

These sycophant, well-reimbursed cheerleaders insisted that Apple was not slowing down our old devices.

But we knew.

And now everyone knows.

Which these sycophant, well-reimbursed small souls now insist isn’t a problem. Not really.

Because you should instead get a shiny new device!

Buy a new iPhone! New iPhone is awesome!

I mean, darling, honestly, nobody’s going to replace their old battery in their old iPhone while these awesome new iPhones are beckoning! Discard, re-buy, repeat. That’s the iPhone way!

Apple is slowing down our old iPhones.

BUT FOR YOUR BENEFIT! (We are told)

Fair enough. But here’s what we also know. We know the cheerleader bloggers aren’t about the “user” or the “experience” or “the details” or “Steve” but instead about using us to make money. Money from our clicks, money from suckering us into high-priced, high-margin sponsorship buys.

Wait. You don’t really buy products from those sponsors, do you?

Damn, son.

This latest Apple fail, slowing down our battery, not promoting the option of replacing our old battery — though $79 for a new battery is way less than $799 for a new iPhone — was not met with outrage by the bloggers who insist they are all about the details and the experience and their readers yada yada. Rather, they insisted that you didn’t want to go the battery replacement route and — heavens, no! — you can’t fault Apple for this, because Apple were doing right by the user — in ways which remain inexplicable — and if somehow you can fault Apple, though how could you, it’s only for the meager minor failing of not fully “communicating” the “trade-offs” of this issue to Apple’s billion or so users.

Sheep and coddled sheep.

I think of Peter.

A disciple of Christ, Peter assured the Lord he would not ever disavow him. Jesus, however, rightly informed Peter that he would do exactly that, and at least three time in under 24 hours.

Jesus answered, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

When forced to choose between what’s right by you or what’s right by serving Apple, you know exactly what choice the cheerleader Apple bloggers will make.

Now we arrive at what this post is actually about: you.

Why do you still read them?

Why do you still follow them?

Why do you believe they know what’s best — or, rather, are willing to tell you what’s best — when you know they make money by promoting Big Corporate?

What makes you afraid of speaking out?

Living on Island Team Apple will not save you, nor better you.

That is the truth.

Apple is a corporation which makes profit by selling products and services around the world. Nothing more.

Nothing more.

But more must matter to you — else your life has lesser meaning.

It’s the start of a new year. Liberate your self. Then we build.

Brian  

My best to you

BABY YOU’RE A RICH MAN

The rich young man informed Jesus that he faithfully obeyed each of the commandments. The rich young man was certain Jesus would smile, nod, bless him, then send him on.

Jesus did not.

Instead, Jesus told the man to sell his possessions, give all his wealth to the poor.

We are led to believe the man did not.

We spend too much time admiring the rich, discussing the rich, attempting to copy the rich, I think, rather than seeking to understand the poor, and poverty, and living without.

Chamath Palihapitiya is a very rich man.

Facebook money.

Mr. Palihapitiya, who also owns the Golden State Warriors and interests in various tech companies, is, I doubt you are surprised to learn, quick to tell others what they are doing wrong.

Recently, however, he told us what he did wrong: help build Facebook.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”

Do not expect Mr. Palihapitiya to give any of his Facebook money back.

Do not expect him to live like the poor, nor the middle, nor even the well-to-do professional class. He belongs to that tiny thriving cabal of aggressively globalist, virulently tech-centric, fabulously wealthy men and women who have prospered these past 30 years, even as millions of Others lose their work, their livelihood, witness the destruction of their community.

One of the apex beneficiaries of a political + financial + educational + economic structure which we can only question now because of the very clear and present backlash to it. It’s sort of like how those winning the culture wars never say culture wars, just culture. Only the losers say culture war. For the winners, it’s the culture.

For the economic winners, globalization is The Economy.

Until it’s not, of course.

To deride the men and women who find hope in electing men and women who just might represent their needs, their wants, their communities, at long last, is to deny the very real suffering your preferred economic system has created for millions.

Don’t do that.

Maybe the poor will always be with us, but the poor have a vote, and they also deserve a listen.

Tupac wondered if there is a ghetto in heaven.

“I’d rather be dead than a po’ nigga
Let the Lord judge the criminals
If I die, I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

I suspect not.

I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is a lyrical call to worship and a brutal call to arms. A five-minute homily that drops more wisdom, more real, than a college student might learn in a year — or a journalist in a lifetime.

Sadly, the music is wretched. Strip away the words and I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is almost painful to listen to, a throwaway 1990s drum kit vomit of a song, saccharine R&B blended with “urban adult contemporary” preening.

I think our current economic and cultural and political structures, particularly those being built up, less so those crumbling, those fading into the past, and the ones being set fire to, are like this Tupac song. There is brilliance inside, and goodness, and truth, and a reaching out, and a looking toward, but there’s also so much crap and hate and anger and violence overlaid, and we need to come to terms with this, if we are to right it.

Maybe, and I can’t promise this will be validated, but maybe if we listen to all those who the current cultural winners are brandishing as angry or racist or on the wrong side of history, maybe we can make the system they so admire actually work for all.

And without anybody having to give up everything they got.

“Now the tables have turned around
You didn’t listen, until the niggas burned it down
And now Bush can’t stop the hit
I predicted the shit, in 2Pacalypse
And for once I was down with niggas, felt good
In the hood bein’ around the niggas, yeah
And for the first time everybody let go
And the streets was death row
I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

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