Friday, July 03, 2015

lloyds of london issues warning on food scarcity

twiland !  I have been waiting for the insurance industry to take climate change seriously. “Too big to Fail” was the rallying cry of the federal government when it took control of American International Group (AIG) in 2008. Taking control of AIG the federal government thwarted its likely bankruptcy.
American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading international insurance organization serving customers in more than 100 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional, and individual customers through one of the most extensive worldwide property-casualty networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of life insurance and retirement services in the United States.
The government-backed insurance companies had not, and for the most part, still do not factor climate change into their premiums. Let the little guy pay for the losses of the big guy seems to be their rallying cry. Crony Capitalism is squeezing the 99% to extinction.
Now Lloyd’s of London has issued “Food System Shock June 2015” that is available for download at
Although the graphic shown in this report is complex, it is clear that Lloyd’s is considering the impacts of climate change on food supply. Newer software models have been created to show the shocking effects of “business as usual” in turning food shocks into world crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been using software to indicate the long-term effects of climate change. But other groups are now developing software that will indicate the short-term effects. One software model that is being built by a government funded institution CSIRO in Australia is called “System Dynamics Model.”

Thursday, July 02, 2015

if by "animal link" you mean homo sapiens sapiens...

Reuters | Liberia confirmed a third Ebola case on Thursday, nearly two months after it was declared Ebola free, and officials said they were investigating whether the disease had managed to lurk in animals before resurfacing.
Dr Moses Massaquoi, case management team leader for Liberia's Ebola task force, said the three villagers who had tested positive for the disease had shared a meal of dog meat, which is commonly eaten in Liberia.
"They come from the same time and have a history of having had dog meat together," he said.
The response team was investigating whether domestic animals might be carrying the virus, he said, referring also to mysterious deaths of hundreds of cattle in remote Lofa county.

Liberia, the country worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak discovered last year, was also its biggest success story: the only one of the three hard-hit countries so far to be declared Ebola free.

open thread thursday

vox !  Some physicists actually believe that the universe we live in might be a hologram.
The idea isn't that the universe is some sort of fake simulation out of The Matrix, but rather that even though we appear to live in a three-dimensional universe, it might only have two dimensions. It's called the holographic principle.
 The thinking goes like this: Some distant two-dimensional surface contains all the data needed to fully describe our world — and much like in a hologram, this data is projected to appear in three dimensions. Like the characters on a TV screen, we live on a flat surface that happens to look like it has depth.
It might sound absurd. But if when physicists assume it's true in their calculations, all sorts of big physics problems — such as the nature of black holes and the reconciling of gravity and quantum mechanics — become much simpler to solve. In short, the laws of physics seem to make more sense when written in two dimensions than in three.
"It's not considered some wild speculation among most theoretical physicists," saysLeonard Susskind, the Stanford physicist who first formally defined the idea decades ago. "It's become a working, everyday tool to solve problems in physics."
But there's an important distinction to be made here. There's no direct evidence that our universe actually is a two-dimensional hologram. These calculations aren't the same as a mathematical proof. Rather, they're intriguing suggestions that our universe could be a hologram. And as of yet, not all physicists believe we have a good way of testing the idea experimentally.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

the christian right has taken over texas and kansas and would like to take over a whole lot more...,

academia |  All warfare is based upon deception. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity; when active, inactivity. When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away, that you are near. Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him…Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance….Keep him under strain and wear him down….When he is united, divide him….Attack where he is unprepared; sally out when he does not expect you.‖ Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 500 B.C.

Introduction Organization of the Book
This book is organized in three parts. Part I examines the Christian Right thematically in order to examine different theologies and ideologies and link those theologies/ideologies to dominant organizations and networks. This is essential to understanding Fourth Generation Warfare which posits that moral conflict is much more important and strategic than physical combat. The main purpose of Part I is to establish that despite different theologies and ideologies, and even somewhat different vocabularies, the right-wing has a common worldview in which the federal government embodies both evil and an existential threat to Christians and/or patriots; that only right-believing Christians are duty-bound to rule on behalf of Christ; that political and economic elites ruling on behalf of Christ are subject to God‘s laws, but not the democratic electorate; that the free market is the embodiment of God‘s will;  that everyone else is basically an enemy of God and the Christian State; and, the enemies of God are liable to be subjected to genocide. The underlying purpose of Part I is to present the multiple ways in which the Christian Right is actively challenging and undermining the dominant liberal values of a secular political culture.

 While the Christian Right is waging a war to induce a crisis of legitimacy, it is premised upon and includes the Christian Reconstructionist‘s rejection of: the Enlightenment; the dominant historical narrative that the U.S. Constitution did not create or embody a ―Christian nation;‖ that America is based upon pluralism and tolerance of religious, racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation differences; and, that the U.S. Constitution begins with the assertion that the American people created a federal government with a communitarian purpose to serve the people rather than embodying a radical anarcho-libertarian concept of a minimalist government without the power to tax and regulate commerce. Consider just one example from late 2012: Texas Governor Rick Perry on a conference call with Rick Scarborough, head of Vision America, a nation-wide organization of patriot pastors, told these pastors that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment the separation of church and state is false and that President Obama is a satanic agent driving God and Christians out of the public square.

 According to Perry: ―‗This separation of church and state…. this steel wall, this iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face. We have a biblical responsibility to be involved in the public arena proclaiming God‘s truth…. President Obama and his cronies in Washington continue their efforts to remove any trace of religion from American life…. Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you and one of the untruths out there is driven is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena

Chapter 1 establishes that at the root of the Christian Right is the fundamental belief that a good Christian serves either God or serves the embodiment of human reason in the form of the State. For the Christian Right, the Bible is literally true, without error, and provides absolute certainly correct answers regarding political, economic, scientific, historical, and social issues. This is the crux of the Christian Right‘s pre -suppositionalism and their epistemological break with reality. Coming from the self-imposed internal exile of fundamentalists and evangelicals following the 1925 Scopes trial, the broad Christian Right believes that secular America is fundamentally evil, satanic, and anti-God. These two modes of knowing faith versus reason put  America into a civil war situation, in their view. The ramifications of this civil war posture are profound and further developed in the chapter. The drive for power and dominion discussed in Chapter 2 demonstrates conclusively that the nexus and unity of strategic purpose between the Christian reconstructionists and the New Apostolic Reformation was established in the mid-1980s through their collective participation and joint collaboration in the Coalition on Revival (COR). The Coalition on Revival attracted hundreds of leading theologians, professors, and strategists from fundamentalist, evangelical, Pentecostal, and charismatic Christians. COR produced 17 ―Worldview‖ documents which were distilled down to 25 theological tenets or Articles. These COR worldview documents, tenets, and a ―Manifesto for the Christian Church‖ were subsequently distributed to thousands of pastors and churches. The Coalition on Revival not only bridged the divide between pre-millennial and post-millennial Christians, in itself a strategic coup, but united the broad Christian Right in terms of strategy. The public unveiling of the ―Manifesto for the Christian Church‖ in 1986 in Washington, D.C. by hundreds of Christian Right leaders included officials from the Reagan administration. The New Apostolic Reformation took the 17 Worldview documents and 25  Articles and boiled them down further to their Seven Mountains campaign for dominion. In other words, Christians are duty bound to wrest control of the seven key mountains of society from Satan‘s agents: government, business, education, religion, family, media, and arts. In order to seize the strategic high ground of society, NAR apostles and prophets lead their followers in the practice of strategic level spiritual warfare and spiritual mapping. While these practices appear benign they are just prayer in fact, they are the precursor to actual physical combat.  And, while the Seven Mountains campaign is specific to the New Apostolic Reformation, a significant portion of the Christian Right collaborates or supports the Seven Mountains dominionism of the NAR. This joint collaboration is best exemplified by the hybrid Freedom Coalition which includes major leading groups from the Council for National Policy‘s Conservative Action Project, itself a coalition that includes the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, and groups from the New Apostolic Reformation.

Chapter 3 returns to idea of the epistemological break with reality started in Chapter 1 from a different angle the collaboration of segments of corporate America, the Republican Party, and the Christian Right in undermining the science that undergirds federal regulations. While corporations want to undermine science to improve their profits and the Republican Party apparently does it to secure campaign financing, the Christian Right‘s opposition to science especially evolution and global warming is rooted in their literalist, inerrant interpretation of the Bible, and their pre-suppositionalism and dominionism. The issue of denying the science of global warming brings together some major energy corporations, the billionaire Koch brothers, their allies in the broad Christian Right, and the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement, in turn, has been increasingly drawn into the Christian Reconstructionist‘s opposition to the United Nations and the so-called Agenda 21 which under the guise of sustainable, local economic development is supposed to rob patriotic  Americans of their private property, constitutional rights, and lives. Opposition to the United Nations is rooted in the 1950s John Birch Society conspiracy theories. The Koch brothers and their now defunct Citizens for a Sound Economy (now split into Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks) provided the organizational model for national, state, and local groups to forge alliances between extractive industry companies and conservative Christian organizations to promote ―wise use‖ anti-environmental movement organizations that also forged grassroots links with the Christian Patriot militia. Further readings on buybull buddy fourth generation warfare for control of the U.S. 

evangelicals are engaged in spiritual 4th generation warfare for control of the u.s.

npr |  On Wednesday's Fresh Air, Rachel Tabachnick, who researches the political impact of the religious right, joins Terry Gross for a discussion about the growing movement and its influence and connections in the political world.

Tabachnick says the movement currently works with a variety of politicians and has a presence in all 50 states. It also has very strong opinions about the direction it wants the country to take. For the past several years, she says, the NAR has run a campaign to reclaim what it calls the "seven mountains of culture" from demonic influence. The "mountains" are arts and entertainment; business; family; government; media; religion; and education.

"They teach quite literally that these 'mountains' have fallen under the control of demonic influences in society," says Tabachnick. "And therefore, they must reclaim them for God in order to bring about the kingdom of God on Earth. ... The apostles teach what's called 'strategic level spiritual warfare' [because they believe that the] reason why there is sin and corruption and poverty on the Earth is because the Earth is controlled by a hierarchy of demons under the authority of Satan. So they teach not just evangelizing souls one by one, as we're accustomed to hearing about. They teach that they will go into a geographic region or a people group and conduct spiritual-warfare activities in order to remove the demons from the entire population. This is what they're doing that's quite fundamentally different than other evangelical groups."

believe N-1 new apostolic reformation wattles are backward softheads at your own peril

talk2action |  The New Apostolic Reformation can now be defined as a distinct movement with a unique ideology.  The leaders of the movement, called apostles and prophets, claim that this is the most significant change in Protestantism since Martin Luther and the Reformation. The stated goal of the NAR is to eradicate denominations and form a unified church that will be victorious against evil in the end times.  Like many American fundamentalists, the apostles teach that the events of the end times are imminent, but unlike fundamentalists, the apostles see this as a time of great victory for the church.

Instead of escaping the earth (in the Rapture)* prior to the turmoil of the end times, they teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or "Kingdom" on earth. The end times narrative of the apostles is similar to that of the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s and 1950s.

The Transformations movies, Transformation organizations worldwide, and the Seven Mountains campaign are promotional tools to market their methodology for taking Christian dominion over:  arts; business; education; family; government; media; and religion.  The apostles who lead in areas outside church are called Workplace or Marketplace Apostles.

The apostles teach that the obstacles to their envisioned Kingdom on earth are literal demonic beings who hold control over geographic territory and specific "people groups." They claim this demonic control is the reason why people of other religions refuse to become evangelized and that the demons are also the source of crime, corruption, illness, poverty, and homosexuality.  Purging of the demons results in mass evangelization and eradication of social ills, as claimed in the Transformations, media.

The apostles teach that their followers are currently receiving an outpouring of supernatural powers to help them fight these demons through what they call Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW).
These unique concepts and methodologies, previously unknown in the evangelical world, include spiritual mapping to identify and purge both demons and their human helpers, sometimes identified in training materials as witches and witchcraft.  Another requirement of this utopian Kingdom on earth is the restructuring of all Charismatic evangelical believers under the authority of their network of apostles, the eradication or unification of denominations, and the total elimination of competing religions and philosophies.   

Many of the evangelical "Reconciliation" programs popularized over the last decade are an outgrowth of the apostles' SLSW efforts to remove demons including "generational curses" which they claim obstruct evangelization of specific ethnicity groups.  These activities have political significance not apparent to outsiders.  For instance, Senator Sam Brownback worked extensively with leading apostles in pursuing an official apology from the U.S. Senate to Native Americans.  However, the NAR advertised this Identificational Repentance and Reconciliation a SLSW method to remove demonic control over Native Americans, evangelize tribes, and curiously, as a required step in their spiritual warfare progress in  criminalizing abortion.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

the rich push N-1 fairy tales because they cost nothing...,

NYTimes |  Christianity is in decline in the United States. The share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians and attend church is dropping. Evangelical voters make up a smaller share of the electorate. Members of the millennial generation are detaching themselves from religious institutions in droves.

Christianity’s gravest setbacks are in the realm of values. American culture is shifting away from orthodox Christian positions on homosexuality, premarital sex, contraception, out-of-wedlock childbearing, divorce and a range of other social issues. More and more Christians feel estranged from mainstream culture. They fear they will soon be treated as social pariahs, the moral equivalent of segregationists because of their adherence to scriptural teaching on gay marriage. They fear their colleges will be decertified, their religious institutions will lose their tax-exempt status, their religious liberty will come under greater assault.
The Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision landed like some sort of culminating body blow onto this beleaguered climate. Rod Dreher, author of the truly outstanding book “How Dante Can Save Your Life,” wrote an essay in Time in which he argued that it was time for Christians to strategically retreat into their own communities, where they could keep “the light of faith burning through the surrounding cultural darkness.”

He continued: “We have to accept that we really are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist.”

Most Christian commentary has opted for another strategy: fight on. Several contributors to a symposium in the journal First Things about the court’s Obergefell decision last week called the ruling the Roe v. Wade of marriage. It must be resisted and resisted again. Robert P. George, probably the most brilliant social conservative theorist in the country, argued that just as Lincoln persistently rejected the Dred Scott decision, so “we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation.”

These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.

darpa, synthetic biology, terraforming mars...,

motherboard |  It’s no secret that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is investing heavily in genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Whether that excites or terrifies you depends on how you feel about the military engineering totally new life forms. If you’re in the excitement camp, however, here’s a nugget for you: DARPA believes that it's on the way to creating organisms capable of terraforming Mars into a planet that looks more like Earth.

The goal of terraforming Mars would be to warm up and potentially thicken its atmosphere by growing green, photosynthesizing plants, bacteria, and algae on the barren Martian surface. It’s a goal that even perpetual techno-optimists like Elon Musk think isn’t going to happen anytime soon, but it’s a goal that DARPA apparently already has its eyes on.

“For the first time, we have the technological toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth, but to go into space not just to visit, but to stay,” Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s new Biological Technologies Office said Monday at a DARPA-hosted biotech conference. As she said this, Jackson was pointing at an artist's rendering of a terraformed Mars.

So what’s this technological toolkit she’s talking about? For the last year, Jackson’s lab has been working on learning how to more easily genetically engineer organisms of all types, not just e. coli and yeast, which are most commonly used in synthetic biology projects.

“There are anywhere from 30 million to 30 billion organisms on this Earth. We use two right now for engineering biology,” she said. “I want to use any organism that has properties I want—I want to quickly map it and quickly engineer it. If you look at genome annotation software today, it’s not built to quickly find engineer able systems [and genes]. It’s built to look for an esoteric and interesting thing I can publish an academic paper on.”

DARPA and some of its research partners have created software called DTA GView, which Jackson calls the “Google Maps of genomes.” At the conference, she pulled up the genomes of several organisms on the program, which immediately showed a list of known genes and where they were located in the genome. 

“This torrent of genomic data we’re now collecting is awesome, except they sit in databases, where they remain data, not knowledge. Very little genetic information we have is actionable,” she said. “With this, the goal is to, within a day, sequence and find where I can best engineer an organism.”
The goal is to essentially pick and choose the best genes from whatever form of life we want and to edit them into other forms of life to create something entirely new. This will probably first happen in bacteria and other microorganisms, but it sounds as though the goal may to do this with more complex, multicellular organisms in the future.

no sex and status-seeking at the root of ______________?

japantimes |  After years of paying limited attention to academic and media warnings about the declining birthrate, aging population and complaints from the rest of the country about the overconcentration of people and resources in Tokyo, political and corporate leaders in Japan were jolted by the conclusions of a 2014 book by Hiroya Masuda, a former Iwate prefectural governor and head of a government committee on local revitalization.

“Local Extinctions,” Masuda’s detailed report of population changes, used the latest official figures from the government’s National Institution of Population and Social Security Research to show that 896 cities, towns and villages throughout Japan were facing extinction by 2040. At first glance, the book simply repeated what earlier reports had concluded. However, it also included the percentages by which child-bearing women between the ages of 20 and 40 were expected to decline in each and every city, town and village.

The latter figures, in particular, caught the eye of a large number of people, especially politicians, bureaucrats and corporate leaders who were, predominately, elderly men already worried about the declining birthrate. The grim predictions forced everyone, though, to ask old questions with new urgency: As the population shrinks, who will give birth to the next generation of voters? Without new mothers, where will the next generation of taxpayers, business leaders and customers come from? And if too many localities become extinct, what will happen to all of those Tokyo-based firms that rely on the rest of the nation to stay in business?

“Local Extinctions” became a best-seller, and spawned a number of books and magazines on the same issue. All raised fundamental, and yet very practical, questions about the country’s political and social future. Before looking at some of those questions, though, let’s take a look at the position Japan is to be in a quarter century from today, using both Masuda’s book and official government data.

In 2014, the population of Japan was just under 127 million. By 2040, it’s expected to drop to about 107 million and, by 2050, it will be around 97 million.

Monday, June 29, 2015

bad sex and ego at the root of austerity?

telesurtv | Speaking at the largest anti-austerity rally since the Conservatives won the election Brand questioned their ability to rule the country.

Comedian Russell Brand told anti-government protesters in London Saturday that Britain’s problems were caused by megalomaniacal leaders and members of parliaments with poor sex lives.

Speaking at the largest anti-austerity rally since the Conservatives won the election with a majority 44 days ago, attended by between 70,000 and 150,000 people, Brand talked about the “crushing disappointment” many people felt at the result.

He criticized the policies made by establishment figures and questioned their ability to rule the country.

“What I feel like we’ve done is created a culture around the worst aspects of our nature. I have selfishness in me, I have greed in me, I have the megalomaniacal tendencies of Boris Johnsonn, or Rupert Murdoch, or David Cameron, but I don’t turn them into policies. I go to 12-step meetings and psychiatrists to try and deal with that shit,” he told the cheering crowd outside the houses of parliament in Westminster.

“I’m assuming that the vast majority or those (in the houses of parliament), Jeremy (Corbyn) and Caroline (Lucas) aside, are not having very successful sex lives … Something is wrong,” he added

The demonstration comes in response to the recent announcement by Britain's Conservative government that it plans to adopt new measures to reduce the national deficit, including further welfare cuts, cuts to social services, departmental spending cuts and boosting revenue through a crackdown on tax avoidance. The Conservative financial minister, George Osborne, is expected to announce a further £12bn cuts to spending on benefits, according to Sky News.

“We’re here to say austerity isn’t working,” said Caroline Lucas, the Green Party representative in parliament. “We’re here to say that it wasn’t people on jobseekers’ allowance that brought down the banks.

“It wasn’t nurses and teachers and firefighters who were recklessly gambling on international markets. And so we should stop the policies that are making them pay for a crisis that wasn’t of their making.”

time to repo puerto rico....,

NYTimes |  Puerto Rico’s governor, saying he needs to pull the island out of a “death spiral,” has concluded that the commonwealth cannot pay its roughly $72 billion in debts, an admission that will probably have wide-reaching financial repercussions.

The governor, Alejandro García Padilla, and senior members of his staff said in an interview last week that they would probably seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island’s creditors, which could include deferring some debt payments for as long as five years or extending the timetable for repayment.

“The debt is not payable,” Mr. García Padilla said. “There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.”

It is a startling admission from the governor of an island of 3.6 million people, which has piled on more municipal bond debt per capita than any American state.
A broad restructuring by Puerto Rico sets the stage for an unprecedented test of the United States municipal bond market, which cities and states rely on to pay for their most basic needs, like road construction and public hospitals.

That market has already been shaken by municipal bankruptcies in Detroit; Stockton, Calif.; and elsewhere, which undercut assumptions that local governments in the United States would always pay back their debt.

Puerto Rico’s bonds have a face value roughly eight times that of Detroit’s bonds. Its call for debt relief on such a vast scale could raise borrowing costs for other local governments as investors become more wary of lending.

Perhaps more important, much of Puerto Rico’s debt is widely held by individual investors on the United States mainland, in mutual funds or other investment accounts, and they may not be aware of it.

Puerto Rico, as a commonwealth, does not have the option of bankruptcy. A default on its debts would most likely leave the island, its creditors and its residents in a legal and financial limbo that, like the debt crisis in Greece, could take years to sort out.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

nice business you've got here, be a shame if something happened to it...,

WaPo |  Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) made a fortune as an early wireless industry executive. Now, he's on a tear about the tech industry's most disruptive companies and why politicians — especially presidential candidates — aren't talking more about their impact on the labor economy.

He sees a growing number of sharing-economy companies such as Uber, TaskRabbit and AirBnB transforming employment. About half of all American workers will be freelance or contractual workers by 2020, some economists predict. This trend is upending our notions of what it means to be a worker and what responsibilities a company has to provide benefits like health care and pensions. If unanswered, questions about a national social safety net for contractual workers may end up burdening the whole economy, he warns.

To be clear, Warner isn't proposing federal laws just yet for part-time and contract worker benefits. He's already seeing innovative solutions from tech companies and local governments to address policy concerns. But he's trying to get candidates, policymakers and the biggest companies in Silicon Valley listening -- and says legislation at some point may be the best option.

The following is an interview with Warner, edited for length and clarity.

uber and airbnb are not the villains in this evolutionary struggle...,

guardian |  “Got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks,” tweeted the singer Courtney Love from Charles de Gaulle airport. She was caught up in what is becoming a global trend: the backlash against Uber. French taxi drivers were protesting on Thursday at vehicles operated by drivers working for the Californian business, which functions like a taxi-hire company, but via smartphones and without directly employing its drivers.
The taxi drivers were protesting at seeing their livelihoods threatened: it costs more than €100,000 (£71,000) for a taxi licence in Paris. Uber drivers, though, pay nothing, using their own cars and just paying a proportion of their takings to the company for the rides they pick up. There has been similar anger, though not riots, in New York where taxi licences, called “medallions”, can cost a million dollars. And regulators, courts and police have been raising concerns around the world, too.

It’s been a tough week for Uber. The protests in France, where UberPop (as it is called locally) has been declared illegal yet still operates, came just a week after California’s Labor Commission decided that Uber drivers there were employees, not contractors – a distinction that could impose significant costs and responsibilities. Uber had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
Uber’s troubles signal a troubled birth for a 21st-century concept: the sharing economy. In this brave new world, untapped capacity – such as idle cars and rooms – is made available for hire, increases efficiency and lowers the price of those goods and services. 

It is not just Uber that is facing resistance over the sharing phenomenon. Paris is also the scene of another collision between a company from the sharing economy and the authorities: about 2% of all apartment units in the city are available for rent through AirBnB, which connects apartment owners and short-term renters. With 40,000 listings at the start of April, it’s the company’s largest market in Europe, ahead of London with just under 25,000 and Barcelona with 16,600.

collaborative consumption

wikipedia |  A sharing economy takes a variety of forms, often leveraging information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services.[1][2] A common premise is that when information about goods is shared (typically via an online marketplace), the value of those goods may increase, for the business, for individuals, and for the community.[3]

Collaborative consumption as a phenomenon is a class of economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership.[1]
The collaborative consumption model is used in online marketplaces such as eBay as well as emerging sectors such as social lending, peer-to-peer accommodation, peer-to-peer travel experiences, peer-to-peer task assignments or travel advising, car sharing or commute-bus sharing.[4]

conspicuous consumption

wikipedia |  Conspicuous consumption is the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power—either the buyer's income or the buyer's accumulated wealth. Sociologically, to the conspicuous consumer, such a public display of discretionary economic power is a means either of attaining or of maintaining a given social status. Consumption is regarded to foster economic benefits, by some accounts.

Moreover, invidious consumption, a more specialized sociologic term, denotes the deliberate conspicuous consumption of goods and services intended to provoke the envy of other people, as a means of displaying the buyer’s superior socio-economic status.

In the 19th century, the term conspicuous consumption was introduced by the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), in the book The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions (1899), to describe the behavioural characteristics of the nouveau riche (new rich) social class who emerged as a result of the accumulation of capital wealth during the Second Industrial Revolution (ca. 1860–1914).[1] In that social and historical context, the term “conspicuous consumption” was narrowly applied to describe the men, women, and families of the upper class who applied their great wealth as a means of publicly manifesting their social power and prestige, be it real or perceived.

In the 20th century, the significant improvement of the material standard of living of a society, and the consequent emergence of the middle class, broadly applied the term “conspicuous consumption” to the men, women, and households who possessed the discretionary income that allowed them to practice the patterns of economic consumption—of goods and services—which were motivated by the desire for prestige, the public display of social status, rather than by the intrinsic, practical utility of the goods and the services proper. In the 1920s, economists, such as Paul Nystrom (1878–1969), proposed that changes in the style of life, made feasible by the economics of the industrial age, had induced to the mass of society a “philosophy of futility” that would increase the consumption of goods and services as a social fashion; an activity done for its own sake. In that context, “conspicuous consumption” is discussed either as a behavioural addiction or as a narcissistic behaviour, or both, which are psychologic conditions induced by consumerism — the desire for the immediate gratification of hedonic expectations.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

what electricity consumption tells us about the state of the u.s. economy...,

zerohedge |  A year ago we wrote about how electricity consumption could provide clues to the performance of the US economy, which generated a lot of interest and comments.

A relationship between the two variables makes sense, but needs to be framed in the proper context. Genuine economic (and population) growth should translate into more electricity consumption, as we have more activity and transactions taking place throughout the economy.

However, factors such as energy efficiency and the weather can muddle this relationship:
  • An increase in efficiency means that the same output can be obtained with less inputs. Therefore, a small-ish reduction in electricity consumption versus a prior period may not necessarily be indicative of a sluggish economy over that time. And we know that this efficiency has been on the rise in recent years (just look at the power rating of your new appliances).
  • Likewise, a warmer winter versus the prior year may also cause a drop in electricity consumption, simply due to home heaters not being used as hard, not necessarily because the economy is doing badly.
So can we adjust electricity consumption to take these factors into consideration and get a better measure of its relationship with economic growth?

We developed an indicator to do just that together with, an energy systems data company. We provide a brief technical explanation of our proposed methodology below (for a much better overview please visit this supporting article). Bear with us, the analysis is quite interesting!

what flavor tard will be first to squeal water rationing is communism?

alternet |  Rich people rarely tell you how they really feel about poor people. Occasionally, though, you get a glimpse. Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a storyabout Rancho Santa Fe, a small but extremely wealthy enclave in Southern California. Like the rest of California, the people of Rancho Santa Fe are dealing with a drought. As you might imagine, that means water is scarce and conservation is critical. For the denizens of Rancho Santa Fe, however, conservation is someone else’s problem, namely poor people.

According to Steve Yuhas, who lives in the area and hosts a conservative talk-radio show, privileged people “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.” Oh, the humanity! In case it wasn’t clear, Yuhas added that the right to water ought to scale with income: “No, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

And Yuhas isn’t alone. Gay Butler, an avid equestrian and fellow resident of Rancho Santa Fe, fumed for similar reasons. “It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” she said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?” Perhaps Butler has a point. It’s one thing to demand sacrifice in extraordinary circumstances, but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right? If a woman wants to ride her finely manicured horse on a dirt-free prairie in the middle of the desert, what matters a little drought?

Brett Barbre, a fellow Orange Country aristocrat, also appears to get it. “I call it the war on suburbia,” he remarked. “California used to be the land of opportunity and freedom. It’s slowly becoming the land of one group telling everyone else how they think everybody should live their lives.” Barbre continued: “They’ll have to pry it [his water hose] from my cold, dead hands.”

You may be asking yourself: Do restrictions on water consumption during a historic drought really constitute an all-out assault on human freedom? Fair question. Most of us fail to see this issue in such grand terms. Maybe we’re missing something. Mr. Barbre is either a bold lover of liberty or a detached plutocrat with a penchant for hyperbole. You be the judge.

In any case, I see the decadence of the people in Rancho Santa Fe as a microcosm of America today, particularly corporate America. What these people exhibit, apart from their smugness, is a complete absence of any sense of collective responsibility. They can’t see and aren’t interested in the consequences of their actions. And they can’t muster a modicum of moderation in the face of enormous scarcity. Every resource, every privilege, is theirs to pilfer with impunity. These people are prepared to endanger an entire ecosystem simply to avoid the indignity of brown golf courses; this is what true entitlement looks like.

true evil is a social construction that inspires people to brutal acts in the name of moral order

unh |  In his new book, Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Satanic Abuse in History, Frankfurter investigates the social and psychological patterns that have given rise to myths of witches, demons, satanic cults, and cannibalism throughout history. According to Frankfurter, evil does not exist as an entity beyond the realm of human understanding, but instead manifests as an unsettling public discourse created by folklore, cultural ideas, literature, and oral traditions.

The first work to provide an in-depth analysis of the topic, the book draws upon the history of religion, anthropology, sociology and psychoanalytic theory to probe the myriad ways people imagine evil, how they treat those who are deemed evil and the factors that give rise to panic about witches or evil cults.

“People have been obsessed by evil for centuries—obsessed with what evil is, who is evil, and how to avoid evil—and the 21st century is no exception. President Bush famously dubbed Iran, North Korea, and Iraq the Axis of Evil in his 2002 State of the Union address. In casual conversation and media stories alike, terrorists, politicians and criminals are labeled evil. With all these accepted references to evil, it is time that its true nature is exposed and thoroughly examined,” Frankfurter says.

According to Frankfurter, linking terrorism and evil shifts the view of the terrorist “from a concrete mass-killer with a biography, distinct motivations, and specific goals, to a shadowy opponent of family and society in heartland America. And terrorism, of course, is the evil force that will stay outside as long as we conduct large-scale military exploits off in the distant lands we associate with it.”

In many ways, the term terrorism and its close association with the concept of evil conjures meanings and responses similar to the terms witchcraft, devil-worshipper, and commie. And that, Frankfurter says, should be of concern to many.

“We become lost in these large-scale terms for evil, invoking them for every anxiety, every criminal suspect, every political maneuver,” he says. “Those who have become wed to large-scale schemes of danger and conspiracy have sought to root it out by any means necessary.”

People imagine evil in many ways. In its most basic form, evil for many takes on the likeness of demonic spirits: half-animal, monstrous, overly sexual or cannibal. However, often people have imagined evil as actual people: foreigners, especially those nearby, or members of strange religions that we imagine ritually abusing or eating children and women.

“Imagining evil people and demons and witches is also exciting: we think about all the outrageous things they do with a kind of prurience,” Frankfurter says.

So how do certain people or groups become labeled as evil? According to Frankfurter, the major factor is the arrival of "experts in the discernment of evil" -- witch-finders or experts in satanic ritual abuse or cults who bring a broad and intensified concept of evil to a community already anxious about misfortune, subversion, enemies, foreigners, cults and demons.

“But more broadly, we find these panics especially in cultures that are experiencing a kind of tension between their familiar worlds of neighbors, spirits, demons, evil eye, and bad luck, and a larger world of institutions (churches, child protective services, presidents and law enforcement). What happens is that the small community begins to feel that its familiar problems must now be understood in terms of the large-scale evil,” Frankfurter says.

For those deemed evil, often the public response is to take drastic measures to cleanse them from the landscape. “One imagines the view of Tutsis in 1994 Rwanda, the view of Jews in 1939 Germany (and often in European history), and the view of Christians in second-century Rome. They represent predators, obstacles to safety and success,” Frankfurter says.

When society labels people as evil, it places them outside humanity where others don't have to think about motivations or context in any critical way. “Use of this label amounts to intellectual laziness and has led, consistently, to the worst atrocities we know about. Speaking of ‘evil’ leads people to evil,” Frankfurter says.

And according to the professor, people are thinking more about evil today. “We see and hear about so many horrible atrocities and crimes, yet are constantly presented with contexts and backgrounds and ways of understanding how they could happen. For many people, especially people of evangelical Christian bent, to label something or somebody evil has a refreshing clarity to it,” he says.
This clarity provides an easier concept for understanding evil than thinking about the complex motivations of a person or a group. Thinking about evil is also exciting, Frankfurter says, offering a kind of license to think about sexual perversions and brutality we couldn’t otherwise let ourselves imagine.