What is the Place of Man in the World?

The usual reply to this question is “I don’t want to think about it!” The person making this reply, is stating that the proper response to this question, is to deny his responsibility to respond to it.

This is a strange situation for the descendents of the Reformation – who considered this question essential, and responded to it, in great detail.

Something happened to them, that changed them fundamentally – what was it?

Whatever it was, it happened in the 19th Century. And the likely culprit was Industrialization. A huge event so comprehensive it, almost defies our understanding of it.

But its results were easy to see – the American Civil War, WWI, the Depression, and WWII (with its Holocaust). A series of huge disasters.

Instead of analyzing this (as many people have done) I will point to my hometown of Ft. Madison, Iowa, in the Fifties. It was an Industrial town, with the Santa Fe Railroad on the West End of town – and the Sheaffer Pen Company on the East End.

It was typical of the Industrial Midwest – the huge area that produced most of the world’s products. Which is now part of the Rust Belt – where nothing is produced, and from which – ambitious young people, such as myself, fled.

The people still there, have no idea what happened to them. They only know, whatever it was – it was bad, and was somehow the result of mistakes they made – that they don’t want to know about.

Their solution (their reaction to this) was simple – destroy everything!

And they have elected Trump, to do this for them.


Human Rights are Now a Strange Idea

Tenants Under Siege: Inside New York City’s Housing Crisis

Human Rights were invented as part of the Enlightenment – and were part of the American Declaration of Independence – written by Thomas Jefferson himself, using a quill pen. Quoting directly from John Locke.

It was self-evident, it declared, that people were endowed with certain unalienable rights. This overlooked slaves – which Jefferson had and even had sexual relationships with one of them. Which was not considered unusual for its time and place.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century – where it is clear, from the link at the top of the page – that these have been forgotten, and not even mentioned, in the confrontations it describes.

This was a problem immigrants always faced – and still face. One of the huge problems of our time – how to provide for immigrants?

My hometown of Nauvoo, Illinois, was settled by German immigrants in the 1860s – who build successful fruit farms here – mostly vineyards, that grew table grapes that were shipped to Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City, on the Railroads.

By the Fifties, when my family arrived, there were still many small businessmen, and family farms. But by the Sixties, these were gone.

The loss of respectable, independent jobs was enormous. I went to college, and became an Electronic Engineer – but there were not many engineering jobs – compared to the agricultural jobs previously.

This trend continues – there are not many Computer jobs compared to the Manufacturing jobs of the 20th Century.

This leaves the many, many Homeless – as we now call them. They are not all technologically obsolescent – some of them are just poor, for many other reasons.

But in any case – they have no rights.

Childhood Rage

My brother and I suffered intensely from this. His was even worse than mine – he ran away from home, and the the folks had to call the police to find him – walking resolutely, down the road to the next town. He was maybe 4 at the time.

He knew a bad situation, and was walking away from it – the only sensible thing to do. Sixty years later, I did the same thing – I left Silicon Valley – and moved to Costa Rica – where I remain.

I didn’t have the nerve to write about this, until I got Mating in Captivity. And the section in the book where she says There Is No Love Without Hate:

Childhood is our basic training for power tactics. We have our will; our parents have theirs. We demand; they object. We bargain for what we want; they tell us what we can have. We learn to resist, and we learn to surrender. At best we learn to balance, to mediate, to understand.

I have not done a good job of this – and I have worked at it. And I see many other people who have not worked at – and have no intention of doing so.

And it has poisoned their lives.

Theresa May’s Losing Gamble

NY Review

I’m not interested in politics – but the latest developments in the US and the UK have caught my attention,

This article contrasts the Tory Theresa May and her Labor counterpart, Jeremy Corbyn.

Here are some quotes:

May decided that she was her party’s chief asset and set about traveling around the country in a “battlebus”—a quaint function of Britain’s geographic compactness, there being limited need for planes—emblazoned with her own name rather than that of the Conservatives. She sidelined her cabinet colleagues and made herself the sole speaker in her cause. The trouble was, she was appallingly bad at it.

A faltering speaking style was coupled with an awkward facial tic: her expression tends to default to a grimace that only worsened under pressure. She repeated her slogans ad nauseam, constantly telling voters that the country needed “strong and stable leadership,” which only she could provide; that she wanted a large mandate to strengthen her hand in upcoming Brexit negotiations with the remaining twenty-seven EU member states that Britain is about to leave behind; and that the alternative was a “coalition of chaos” formed by the hapless Corbyn in alliance with the UK’s smaller parties.

Rapidly, she was mocked as the Maybot, her repetitions cut together and circulated virally via social media. Hers was a style of political communication perfected in the Tony Blair era that began in the 1990s, in which candidates were drilled in “message discipline,” repeating the same phrase over and over to ensure the key words made it onto the evening news. It worked then. But in the era of Facebook and Twitter, it exposed her to ridicule.

With nothing to lose, Corbyn turned up for various TV interviews or debates with the leaders of smaller parties that May had chosen to duck. She calculated that she would be granting him too much status if she debated him one-on-one, a view taken by several prime ministerial incumbents before her. But that allowed him to make his case. Whatever you thought of his politics, he was clearly a person comfortable in his own skin. The same could not be said of her.

Ethically, Americans Have Crashed

And they do not see how this could be a problem. America got ahead by being aggressive, and they don’t see why this attitude should not continue to be successful.

But things have have changed . The Industrial economy has been replaced by the Information economy.

This has been a long, complicated process, lasting over a hundred years – and the people affected by it, nearly everyone – did not know what was happening. But the end result is clear enough – they do not like people.

My home town of Ft. Madison, Iowa, for example, was an Industrial town with the Santa Fe Railroad on the West End of town and the Sheaffer Pen Company on the East End. It was a rough, dirty place – but it had lots of jobs. Now it is part of the Rust Belt, and has no jobs.

The people there (like most Americans) have no idea what happened to them, and no one can explain what happened to them – it’s too complicated for them to understand. So they have turned to reactionary politics to solve their problems.

Even the people who should know better – the people in the Computer Industry, are ethically deficient. I know, I worked there for twenty years.

By contrast, Software people are helping each other constantly – and know the advantages of being cooperative. They are not perfect, far from it – but they are more advanced ethically and technically. A new combination!