Zombie Economy

First there was the insane decision to cancel a loan to Sheffield Forgemasters (deferring it may have been justified, cancelling was not), then another to favour Siemens over a British consortium for the Thameslink trains contract; now comes news of 3,000 job cuts in aerospace engineering at BAE Systems, the defence contractor.

The UK economy is supposed to be moving away from debt-fuelled consumption to export led growth, a formula for recovery virtually all economists and politicians agree is the only way to rebuild. Most of the news however seems to be a grim mix of retrenchment and continued deindustrialisation, a process which has been going on sinceMargaret Thatcher’s destruction of the traditional industries in the 1980s

True enough, immediately after the Great Contraction of 2008 industrial production appeared to recover quite swiftly. With the pound once more trading at levels low enough to give British factories a competitive edge, there was even talk of …

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The Facebook Reich

Once again Facebook, the webs most determined violators of personal privacy, have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after inituially denying charges that they were violating civil rights with one of their data mining schemes.

People who follow Boggart Blog, Little Nicky Machiavelli or The Daily Stirrer will know I am no fan of the companies that are vying to control the internet. Microsoft might be “the sick man of technology” a spent power desperately trying to cling to its former glories as The Ottoman Empire was in 1914, Google are The Evil Empire, consistently evading regulators attempts to curb their ambition to control all the information in the world and quite prepared to trample on our individualism, privacy and civil rights in order to do so. Where does that put Facebook then?

After what we have learned this week of Facebook’s latest wild adventuresin alienating their userbase by announcing …

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Germany Tells America What It Needed To Be Told

Two of our recent posts from The Daily Stirrer:

Germany and America were squaring up for a head banging contest like two rutting stags on Tuesday night after Berlin savaged plans put forward tby Timoth Geithner, arcitecht of the Obama admisitrations loonytoons spend, borow and spend economic policy, which demanded the EU boost the rescue fund set up to bail out failing Euro zone nations as a “stupid idea” and told the White House to sort out its own mess before offering unrequested advice to others.

Germany Slams American Plans For Euro Rescue

Europe, the G20, and the global authorities are drinking in the last chance saloon to deploy a cliche, as they try to come up with a plan to contain the EMU debt crisis. The must come up with a workable solution or abdicate responsibility and watch as the world slides into depression, endangering the benign but fragile order that has taken shape over the last three decades. Failure to do so will result in collapse of the system as a Greek default on it’s debt.

Obama’s Sidekick Makes Europe Responsible For Saving The Global Economy.

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A friend of mine from Triond, syine1, posted an impassioned plea for an end to bigotry titled “I’m sick of bigoted generalistations“.

The web does of course bring out he worst in us. I have been told I am a bigot simply for questioning somebody’s firmly held convictions. When I pointed out what bigot meant he told me if he said I’m a bigot then I’m a bigot.

When I told him he was a solipsists he was very pissed off, even more so when he found out what it meant.

One of the problems stine referred to is in the US a lot of people at both ends of the spectrum do not understand democracy. At one site we both post on quite recently
there was a yelling match going on about same sex marriage. A state had voted to make same sex marriage illegal once more after gay activists tried to extend the law to force Christian churces to perform weddings for same sex couple.

The ‘liberals’ were quite happy for Muslims to be exempted but not Roman Catholics.
The nastiest argument in the thread centred on a notion that in a democracy the will of the majority is not paramount and when a popular vote makes the ‘wrong decision’ the government must step in and ‘do what is right’.
I have seen many examples of similar warped logic from the religious right too.
In a democracy the majority is always right as there are no absolutes of right or wrong. We in Europe, and among most people in the USA too, agree to abide by the will of the majority even if we as individuals do not agree. That is the price of personal liberty.

(My personal view on that is civil partnerships are in the domain of state. As for religious ceremonies, the decision should be left to the church involved with the understanding that if a church says no, it is within it’s rights and there can be no legal action. It is both intolerat and undemoctatic to place more importance on the feelings of the gay community than on those of churchgoers. Some churces are of cousrse happy to formalise same sex relationships)

Bigotry breeds bigotry. As British Prime Minister William Gladstone said in the 19th century when parliament was calling for a genocidal war on Afghan tribes that resisted British rule, “Gentlemen, I can assure you that in the eyes of God the life of an Afghan herdsman is as important as any of yours.”
I’m not in any way religious but I could not put the case any better than that.

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Michael S. Hart, Internet pioneer and good guy dies.

Long before The Evil Empire Google began to scrape up out of copyright and non – copyright material from wherever they could find it and then assert copyright over stuff that rightly belonged in the public domain, before the med scientist Tim Berners Lee created the travesty that is the World Wide Web, before Microsoft destroyed your right to privacy and Facebook stole your personal data, internetworking technology was in the hands of good guys.

Before even I was involved in networking computers, and bear in mind, in internet timescales I am almost as old as any Enochian demon, there was Project Gutenberg.

I was saddened to hear that Michael Stern Hart the founder of Project Gutenberg had died at the reatively early age of 64.

Hart, commonly considered the founder of the ebook, died last week at his Illinois home, according to a representative of Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory.

Though Michael Hart’s brainchild did not make him a rich man as other internet pioneers became rich by peddling computer solutions that were to put it bluntly, “not fit for purpose”, he does not appear to have ever been motivated by wealth. People who knew him said Project Gutenberg was his life and his love.

The non profit project, run using a network of volunteers, was dedicated to providing free online access to as many books as could be converted to an electronic format, in particular classical and ancient works as well as scholarly writings on a wide range of topics. Project Gutenberg was the first organisation to make works as diverse as the plays of Shakespeare, Homer’s epics, the books of Brauch Spinoza and the writings of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein available online.

Project Gutenberg will live on, the mantle will be picked up by Hart’s many followers who like him are motivated by a genuine love of learning and enlightenment to share knowledge freely, unlke commercial organisations that claim altruistic motives but really are motivated by profit and control.

A friend of mine on a US site, who posts as Joe Schitte, says there is no such thing as altruism and he has a point. Michael Hart was motivated by self interest in that what he did was driven by his great love of doing it. Project Gutenberg was not a path to riches, fame or power for him, it was a joy, the thing that gave meaning to his life. To that extent it was self interest.

But Mother Teresa was, was she not, primarily motivated by earning herself a place in heaven?

Martin Luther King was, was he not, set on a course of making for himself a place in history?

And heart transplant pioneer Christian Barnard was motivated by competitiveness with others to be fisrt to achieve something.

All those other “altruistic” people too, people credited with putting the common good before self interest were, were they not, driven by an emotional need to be seen by their peers as good?

Only history will judge whether Michael Stearn Hart’s work freed our cultural heritage from it’s bondage between the covers of books or paved the way for some really evil bastards to grab control of information that was never theirs in order to profit from it (you may think the web is “free” but how many sites do you visit that are not serving you “targeted ads”, a practice I find fascistic ans repugnant?)

For now the death of Michael Hart is sad but the world is a better place for his having lived.

Michael Hart – The Guardian
Obituary on Project Gutenberg website
Michael Hart – an appreciation from The Independent

Prince Charles And His Lead Balloon

Prince Charles says humankind faces extinction if we do not reduce our lifestyles and save resources.

(So he’ll be giving up the classic Aston Martin and driving a G – Wiz will he – yeah right.)

Well old jug ears has a point. In a world of finite resources consumption cannot grow infinitely to fuel economic growth.

We can see Charlie’s opinion, as usual, going down like a lead balloon with those in power however, especially as when they don’t have their little green hats on to impress the other jug eared Berkshire Hunt across the pond, they want us to start consuming like crazy to get the economy growing again.

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Goodbye to the Mad Dog? Maybe Not.

Colonel Muammar “Mad Dog” Gadaffi was last seen heading out of Libya with his arse on fire, leaving no coherent government and a bunch of loyalist crazies vowing to fight to the death.

Is that end of story for Libya, the latest chapter in The Arab Spring which so far has seen an inconclusive war in Libya, abrutal campaign in Syria which threatens to escalate into reional war according to Israeli intelligence, low level war in Yemen, a steeping up of the Saudi regime’s suppression of dissidents the replacement of a military dictator by another military dictatorship in Egypt.

The only success the uprisings, sponsored by the people who brought you World War 1 and World War 2 can claim so far is that the guy in Tunisia also disappeared over the border with his arse on fire. But his government carried on in power without him.

It’s not really what I’d call a result for all the cash we spent supporting these revolutions.

Still nobody died. Unless of course you count the one in a fifty Libyans estimated to have been killed, a few thousand Syrians and casualties elsewhere numbered in the low hundreds rather than thousands.

I think my case for not interfereing in other people’s domestics is proved.

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