hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘greed’

Thoughts on the book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 4, 2021

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After WarmingThe Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not new in terms of primary predictions but just a hell of a lot closer than 20-25 years ago. And it’s scary as shit. Naturally the US is just one of a handful of countries that not only doesn’t give a shit (our conservative owners) but stunningly STILL argues fantasy vs reality. Of course those with brains know what is going on. The uber-rich, banks, massive corporations, the boards, top execs, etc., naturally know all of this is true and they have the whole time. But they fight bitterly to refute reality and the rest of the world — why? There’s an excellent book out there (Bruce Cannon Gibney’s A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America) with a premise that baby boomers are literally a generation of sociopaths so selfish and greedy, they’re willing to sell out their kids and grandkids and, hell, the whole damn world, content to let the earth and all on it get destroyed — in large part due to THEM and actions and inactions. Why? What will this accomplish? They’re so unbelievably blinded by narcissism, greed and power that they somehow can’t see, even as they massively fund new institutes to research extending the (their) human life span and much more, yet these big, rich mini-Kings are so fucking stupid that they seem not have realized what every powerful peoples throughout history (the Egyptians? Aztecs?) found out — you can’t take it with you! Yet they act like you can. If they’re not amassing wealth to pass down their family line/corporate descendants—and they’re not because in their continuing denial that the earth is not flat, that the galaxy spins, that humanity has set in motion, already underway, the virtual complete destruction of the earth so there will be NO descendants to speak of to pass on billion dollar inheritances. And they’ve more than proven they’re just fine with that. So the net result is what exactly? Something as basic and juvenile as the race to reach the finish line and “win” because you’re the richest? That’s brain dead stupid. But leave it to the Me Generation to not think rationally or for the good of others when considering the future.

As far as I can figure, when you die, you *might* leave one or two things to prove you existed. First, a legacy of some sort. It doesn’t have to involve fame, wealth, anything. Families can pass on heirlooms, admiration for certain religious leaders and a variety of notable people (NOT as defined by Wikipedia’s criteria) might leave a famous legacy for a period of time. Writers, artists and musicians can leave various legacies, as can certain inventors, generals, scientists, etc. You get the picture. Do you want your legacy to resemble Donald Trump’s? Cause that’s basically what we’re talking about. People who are often quickly forgotten because they leave no legacy of any real value. Except in some cases, my second example of what people can leave. Wealth, property, investments, inheritances, etc. But we’ve already established those responsible for this crisis or in denial don’t care about that. They’re willingly sentencing their grandchildren to death along with everyone else so the second example is moot. Yet surely some of them must know this. But apparently not care or we would be joining the rest of the world to try to save the planet.

So the only answer is none. Pure selfish greed to amass as much money and power as possible despite the fact that A) they really don’t want to pass it on and B) they’ve already ensured that ultimately they won’t since 2-3 generations later, their destruction of the world will have been complete. (The US DNI annual threat assessment of the US Intelligence Community for 2021, given to Congress in April labels climate change as, after dealing with COVID-19 and its aftereffects, the second greatest transnational threat to America’s greatest security and humanitarian threat there is and it provides plenty of recent examples and near-term concerns. And this is not new. I recall one of the leaders on the Joint Staff as early as about 2005 stating that global warming/climate change posed one of America’s greatest national security threats — source forgotten, insufficient time to look it up, sorry. If you don’t believe me and want to see the report or if you DO believe or are on the fence or whatever, you can find it available through the ODNI here.) So anyway this makes Reason A moot too, because what good is it if you leave a legacy of art, music, architecture, writing when it will encounter the same fate as Reason B thanks to the same cause for the same reason. Which again is what exactly? They’re the new Egyptians, Aztecs, whatever, but they’ll be the first successful ones? That’s the only possible reason, it seems, which proves their brilliance and superiority are bullshit. The Me Generation, despite a glut of educated, successful faux geniuses have never given a shit about anyone but itself, proven over the decades by all they’ve done and continue to do. Maybe they should be called The Worst Generation instead, cause Baby Boomers is too generic a term for what they’ve been and done. And honestly that’s hard for me to say considering my spouse, friends, cousins and I are all either Baby Boomers or on the back end cusp, so I’m indicting us as well (though I think a good argument could be made that it was the large percentage of Boomers prior to the last two years who are mostly responsible, but that’s both biased and a subject for a different piece).

This book? Well written, important book. The subject is more of a horror story to me than simple nonfiction, but we can’t hide our heads in the sand. This is necessary. Recommended.

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Governors reopening their states are endangering American lives

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 23, 2020

I ran across this excellent article I wish I had written by Jill Filipovic on CNN. For those of you who feel the few Republican governors who are doing this are doing so prematurely and stupidly and thus unnecessarily risking the lives of their respective states’s citizens, this article will more than confirm that belief. For those of you who think this is a GREAT idea and long overdue, I beg you to read this, as well as my previous post, to gain a better understanding of the risks you’ll take with yourself, your families and the lives of others who come into contact with you. Strongly recommended.

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Book Review: Dot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2020

Dot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet EraDot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era by John Cassidy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a relatively interesting book and not poorly written. Indeed, for those who don’t remember or didn’t live through this period, I would likely be recommending it and giving it a higher rating. So my rating might be viewed as both subjective and somewhat unfair. However I feel I have a different take on the subject that gives me a different and possibly more comprehensive understanding with greater overall context that I have neither the time or energy to delve deeply into, which makes this content a little…basic and lacking a more complete historical insider perspective that I feel I posses.

I don’t want to write my own book here, but a little personal background info. I acquired my first computer in 1982, took my first programming class in 1984 and “got on the (pre-Web) Internet” in 1985 when beginning to send and receive personal email. I quickly migrated to BBS’s and used other Internet protocols (email is one, actually) such as ftp, telnet (especially), the primary search tool, Gopher, and what kind of served as a pre-Web before the Web was invented by TBL — Usenet. I also got on the legendary and influential WELL, where I resided and interacted with many movers and shakers for close to 15 years. (One of my biggest regrets is giving up my longtime WELL email address.) With the introduction of the Web, I quickly learned HTML, opened my own consulting company in Beverly Hills and created small basic websites for companies using HTML 1.0 (and VRML, as well as other forgotten markup languages and scripts) with the text-only Lynx browser, charging $350 per web PAGE because with 100 international web servers then, back then there was no one to provide such services and you could just name your price. When the GUI Mosaic browser soon came out, things just exploded. I was already doing work with many ISPs and other Internet companies and got involved with the IETF to help create Internet protocols. I turned down awesome offers from companies like Oracle, Sun, Nike, Adobe, Apple and more to take much less to join a growing ISP I was betting would go big time, which turned out to be a good bet. During my time there, I helped grow the company into the 2nd largest ISP in the world, built my own Engineering department, worked in the largest data center on the west coast, traveled the country as the company’s sole rep for RFP bidder meetings and much more, as well as collaborating with NASA, Cal Tech and various national research labs (LBL was one) on several major projects and again, much more. Early on, we were idealistically (and naively) scaling the Internet, investing in massive redundancy, educating consumers and businesses, and trying to theoretically even the playing field by providing free access to education, information, technology, and social improvement efforts and opportunities for everyone in the world. I also spent a lot of time researching new technologies, such as the then-unnamed cloud technology that a decade later would become all the rage, as well as researching competitors and potentially interesting new tech/Internet companies to (personally) invest in.

Yet before the end of the century, many of we “old timers” were starting to feel nervous about the future and where things could lead, especially as the Web became more commercial with tons of new companies having IPOs, creating tons of overnight millionaires with companies that Wall Street had decided were somehow valued at many millions while virtually none were making ANY revenue, let alone profits, and while “experts” assumed there would somehow be ways to make big money, only the porn industry (and offshore gambling) were successful in doing so while people in the industry had no concrete ideas of their own on what to sell (everything had been free) and how to make real money. As the government gave up domain management (to begin with) and commercial entities moved in, I started to develop a queasy feeling in my stomach over what *could* happen in the future.

Soon many of we “veterans” starting worrying the public valuations were insane, it would take awhile as well as major changes for anyone to actually succeed, and concerns about things possibly getting “darker” as our ideals faded. Of course there had always been hackers, but old school hackers did it to 1) learn (and “free” information) and 2) for bragging rights. Even though the government threw the book at infamous hackers like Poulson and Mitnick, none were *truly* criminals in the sense that “hackers/crackers” would later become. Security became a major headache since TCP/IP packet switching had not been invented to support major financial transactions securely. As the number of viruses being created and released daily started to beat Moore’s Law exponentially, as more commercial companies got online, as more tech companies started up with nothing to sell, financial analysts, shareholders, and certain geeks in the tech/Internet industry started saying “No” and “I told you so” while VC money started drying up – the bust became predictably inevitable. Many of us in the industry unloaded our stock options while they still had value and started bailing on companies (I left less than a year before the Bust started demolishing the industry) and then it happened and everyone who had invested heavily in Internet stocks (like my parents years before on my advice) lost entire fortunes while company after company became forgotten historical footnotes.

A final observation. None of the original inventors of the ARPANET (like at Xerox PARC) and my 2nd generation who made this happen ever imagined in their/our worst nightmares what would become of their idealistically great inventions and efforts. Back in early Web days, spam was the outrage of the tech world and considered by some to act as viruses. Today, identity theft, kiddie porn, human trafficking, cyber warfare??? No. For several years I’ve become more and more concerned and regretful of what became of my efforts and when talking with other old friends and colleagues around the world, many share the same disappointment, disillusionment and regrets as me and I’ve spent much of the past three years trying to get myself and my digital footprints offline as much as possible. I’ve closed hundreds of online accounts and closed virtually all of my social network accounts and I hope to soon be almost entirely off the Net, aside from an email address and a couple of other things – and now here I went and wrote way too much, so I apologize. I could actually write infinitely more. But as for this Dot.Con book, like I said, it’s not bad and addresses a short but major part of our recent history. I should give it a higher rating. It’s just that I know this stuff, predicted this stuff, could go far further in depth if I had the time and energy, and feel like this offered me, personally, little. However, as I previously implied, if you didn’t live through this or don’t know the history, it’s probably a valuable book and worth 4 stars. Thus recommended for people who don’t know this (but if you do, I wouldn’t recommend it)…

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