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Computing “Revolution” of Past Two Decades as a Showy Failure: 2

October 30, 2020 5 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about how almost every technological and scientific achievement we associate with the current era was developed before the personal computing “revolution” of past 20-25 years. We successfully designed and made everything from nuclear submarines, ICBMs, nuclear weapons, modern airliners, modern drugs, interplanetary space probes before this so-called “revolution”. Even more interestingly, the past 20-25 years have been the most stagnant period from the point of useful technological advancement in over 200 years. It is as if these two decades have not produced anything which has actually improved our lives or allowed us to real stuff that was previously considered out of reach.

In this post, I will go into some of the stuff I promised in that post- starting with automobiles. As Scotty Kilmer always likes to remind his audience, Japanese cars from mid- to late- 1990s consistently last for over 400k miles as long as you don’t go out of you way to abuse them. So let me ask you the next logical question- has any of the “computerization” of cars introduced since then made them last longer, significantly safer or somehow “better” for the consumer. I think we all know the answer to that question. Which brings us to next inevitable question- Why do corporations keep doing something that does not result in a better product.. and why does this trend keep getting worse. What is going on?

Why are car companies incorporating circuits in to their engines which make them easier to hack, far more sensitive to damage and often result in a lower quality product that does not last as long. Why do so many of them want to replace very ergonomic physical controls with virtual controls that make using them a far bigger chore than necessary. Why are so many car companies pushing hybrids that have excessively complex, hard to repair and often finicky hardware when they seldom have even a 5% better real-life mileage than their conventional counterparts. Also, curiously, why are some Japanese and Korean corporations far less likely to implement the worst of these costly and dangerous trends than their North American or European counterparts. What explains this difference?

Moving on to housing.. Has the quality of housing or the experience of living in one improved in the past 20-25 years? Have “smart” thermostats or “smart” security systems improved the quality of your indoor environment or security? Has having “Alexa” or its Google equivalent in you home improved the quality of your life apart from showing others that you are “hip” and “with it”. Also, what sort of idiot wants to pay corporations and the government to constantly spy on them in their own home? Have “smart” bulbs or LEDs really improved the quality of lighting in your house or substantially affected your electricity bill. Why do all the “smart” refrigerators, washing machines, coffee makers and other appliances fail much sooner, in addition to being unrepairable and more expensive, than their “dumb” analog counterparts .

Let us talk about education- both K12 and university. Has the extensive use of computers in education improved the quality of learning or made it less expensive. Are 2020 graduates somehow better than their counterparts from two decades ago? A large increase in use of computers for education has not improved its quality or made it less expensive. But if it hasn’t made education better, why is there still a continued push to increase the level of computer use in education. If something does not make the situation better, why keep pushing for more of it. And this phenomena goes far beyond automobiles, household alliances and education.

Consider the supposedly indispensable role of modern computing in running corporations. Did you know that large and multi-national corporations existed for decades before electronic computers of any sort existed. Did you also know that corporations of all sizes were able to run their supply chains, manage production, develop innovative products and pay employees and creditors on time before the first electronic computer of any sort was assembled. How did they do that? How did USA, USSR and Nazi Germany produce all the weapons and vehicles necessary for WW2 without possessing modern computers for running logistics or access to Excel tables and PowerPoint presentations? How did Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, GE, Motorola, IBM and many other corporations become big without access to CRM software.

How did large oil refineries run in the era before electronic computers? What about machine tooling? How did they build big stuff such as nuclear submarines, supersonic fighters and bombers, aircraft carriers or make millions of rifles, submachine guns, semi-auto handguns, assault rifles, artillery pieces in the pre-computer era. What about nationwide electrical grids, highway systems, railway networks etc? How come they ran just fine before era of electronic computers, let alone the computing “revolution”. Why didn’t the lack of electronic computers stop people from designing or building large dams, hydroelectric projects, irrigation products, coal-powered stations or electric grids. It is as if the lack of even older electronic computers has little to no effect on the ability of human beings to get things done in a way compatible with maintaining a modern lifestyle.

Since we are, once again, close to a thousand words, I will now wrap up this post. In the next part, I will write more about how the so-called computational “revolution” has not improved the process of drug development, everyday financial transactions and popular entertainment.

What do you think? Comments?

Computing “Revolution” of Past Two Decades as a Showy Failure: 1

October 23, 2020 40 comments

One of the defining features of the past two decades in west has been the dominant position in public consciousness of corporations involved in manufacturing personal computer hardware (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, IoT crap, embedded electronics etc) or making them function and do stuff (‘IT’ corporations such as Google, FakeBook, MicroShaft etc). One could say that Amazon is a an ‘IT’ company which sells stuff that people used to buy in department stores. A large part of current market value of many stock indices in the west now comes from corporations who either make personal computational hardware or the software they run.

But have you ever asked yourself- has these rise of these corporations or the widespread usage of products and services sold by them actually improved the quality of life for the vast majority of people. To understand what I talking about, let us ask two more basic questions. Question #1: Would the absence of personal computing “revolution” during past twenty years have any negative effect on the quality of life or somehow constrain development of other technologies? Question #2: Has the computing “revolution” improved quality or reliability of other products and services, let alone increase the general quality of life for vast majority? As you will soon see, the answers to both questions are obvious as well as surprising.

The unpleasant fact for many geeks is that the computational ‘revolution’ of past two decades has been the most sterile and unproductive period of general technological advancement in the past two hundred years- and I do not make that claim lightly. To better understand what I am getting at, ask yourself if you can name a single non-computer product that has improved your life or is somehow associated with the modern world which would not have existed without this pseudo “revolution”. Give it a try.. can you think of any non-compter product which would not have exsited without this so-called “revolution”.

Since we have to start from somewhere- let us start with modern jet airliners? Well.. every airliner designed until the late 1990s was largely designed by competent engineers using their engineers using their experience and some combination of slide rules, desktop calculators, 8- or 16- bit desktops connected to a few clunky mainframes. The DC-9, DC-10, 737, 747 etc were designed in what was essentially pre-computer era. The A-320 was designed at very start of era where electronic computers (mostly mainframes) of any type were widely used for aircraft design. The 777 was the last aircraft designed with a combination of good engineering and primitive CAD technology. Only the 787 was designed in era of modern “computing”- and it has been the most over-budget and troubled design of them all.

And this is not just restricted to airliners. Consider space exploration and missiles. The space race between erstwhile USSR and USA occurred before the modern computing “revolution”. People went into space before even their vehicles had a single solid-state transistors, let alone a IC or CPU, within their rockets and vehicles. The flight control computer used in Apollo missions was a hand-made computer with about the same computational capability as an early Apple II, TRS-80 or Commodore PET- though it was a 16-bit machine. The Pioneer and Voyageur Probes which are the only man-made objects to visit Uranus and Neptune (albeit in a fly-by) did not have CCD cameras nor CPUs. The same is true for both Viking probes which landed on Mars in l970s as well as the Venera family of space probes that USSR successfully landed on Venus in that era. Oh.. and all those lunar probes and soviet lunar rovers too.

The vast majority of space probes launched prior to late 1990s used tube technology (or very primitive CCDs) for imaging and very basic IC circuits joined to make ersatz CPUs. And guess what.. they performed their job magnificently. But it gets even more interesting when you look at aircraft and missiles used by the military. Did you know that first ICBMs did not use solid-state electronics and it was not until the 1980s that ICBMs using Integrated Circuit Blocks for guidance became commonplace. Funny thing is that the accuracy of ICBMs has not increased by a worthwhile margin since the 1980s. Even ALCMs (Air Launched Cruise Missiles) achieved almost the same accuracy and guidance capabilities as those used today with what essentially a mixture of custom ASICS along with 8- and 16- bit CPUs. The GPS system worked just fine with receivers that contained what were essentially 8- and 16- bit CPUs.

Even the state of design for nuclear weapons, which were often designed using a combination of previous experience and calculations on some of the first real “supercomputers”, has not progressed much further than it was in the mid-1980s. Remember that every single warhead in American and Russian Inventory was (at best) designed on a “super-computer” with less computational power than the original XboX game console. The same holds for design of everything from nuclear submarines, tanks, guns and missiles. To put it bluntly, even in areas where the computational “revolution” should have helped the most, things have been pretty stagnant since the 1980s- and not for the lack of money and resources thrown at the Military-Industrial complex. It is as if big and substantial technological advances haven’t occurred in these and many other fields since the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will wrap up this post. In the next ones, I will write about how the so-called computational “revolution” has not improved the quality of housing and automobiles, school and university education, transport and corporate logistics, process of drug development, everyday financial transactions and.. yes.. even popular entertainment. Even popular entertainment..

What do you think? Comments?

An Excellent Two Part Critique of Amy Schumer’s Comedy on Youtube

April 30, 2019 4 comments

A few weeks ago, I came across an excellent critique of Amy Schumer on YouTube. However, it was only the first of a supposedly two(?) part series. Well.. the second part was posted yesterday and it is as good as the first. As regular readers know, it is my firm belief that most comedians are not funny. My views on the talent (or its lack) in female comedians are also well known. Also, I once wrote a post about how most female comedians were intrinsically unfunny.

The person who made the YT videos I am linking to also seems to think along those lines. And while I have not seen every video he has posted, these two seems to be especially good. It does not hurt that he dissects the career of possibly the most overrated and incompetent female comic of this decade, aka Amy Schumer. The first video goes into some depth about the many factors and social milieu which facilitated her rapid rise in public consciousness.

The first video is almost 44 minutes long and covers many topics which surround her rise to fame (or infamy). And ya, it goes into detail about her tendency to steal jokes and why so many male comics are reluctant to call it out. The short version is that it has a lot to do with her being a white woman who fucked the right guys in addition to dabbling in diversity and identity politics.

The second part is about 40 minutes long and goes into detail about how she plays the diversity and identity cards. Specifically, it details how her “comedy” acts are now almost exclusively about virtue signalling and making “woke” people feel self-righteous and good about supporting “woke” female “comics”. She is basically selling the contemporary version of catholic indulgences. Then again, nobody went broke underestimating the capacity for self-delusion displayed by american sheeple. I have a feeling that readers are going to enjoy this two-part series about that woman.

What do you think? Comments?

American ‘HealthCare’ System Has Been a Scam for Over Two Decades

February 10, 2019 6 comments

What do you call a service which keeps on getting expensive much faster than general monetary inflation but which does not improve? How about calling it a scam. In the past, I have written a few posts about this general area such as the american ‘healthcare’ system is crap, a majority of people now see doctors as no better than credentialed scammers and how life expectancy in USA has always been about class, not race. Yesterday, I came across a tweet in my twitter feed containing a graph which tracked the amount of money spent on healthcare in USA since 1960. Intrigued, I looked up the source and used the more realistic inflation adjusted option. Having seen many other graphs and infographics about the ‘healthcare’ system, I noticed something right away. Here.. have a look at the attached figure to spot what I am talking about.

You might have noticed that the increase in calculated average life-expectancy at birth from world bank data has a peculiar relationship with cost in USA. For starters, the calculated average life-expectancy at birth has improved by just shy of 9 years since 1960. But isn’t that a good thing? Well.. sure, but have a look at how it correlated with cost. It had already reached the 74 year mark in 1981, when the total cost was about 440 billion USD (inflation adjusted)- which is about 1/4th of what it costs now. But it gets better.. or worse. In 1998, the average calculated life-expectancy at birth was 76.6 years and cost about 1,016 billion USD (inflation adjusted). Long story short, average life expectancy has increased by only 2 years over the previous 20 years- but the costs have more than doubled over the same time span.

Even worse, average life-expectancy has been slowly falling over the past two years– but costs keep on going up. While USA spends a bit over 18 % of its GDP on ‘healthcare’, other developed countries achieve significantly better results by spending less than half that amount and their average life expectancy is 3-4 years higher and still rising slowly. So what is happening in the american system? Well many things.. first, the income of doctors started rising a lot after 1980 due to the introduction of billing codes. Impressed by the ability of doctors to extort the system, hospitals joined in the act and used their leverage to out-exploit them starting in the mid-1990s, which is also when pharma got in on the act. So far, none of the three want to stop. And why should they? Too many boomer idiots still want to delude themselves into believing that the american ‘healthcare’ system is the “best in the world”. Keep believing..

What do you think? Comments?

Large Corporations and Governments are the Real Clients for 23andMe

January 26, 2019 24 comments

Over the past 3-4 years, many of you must have seen tons of advertisements (both in traditional and new media) for DNA testing services such as 23andMe, ancestry.com and many others who offer seemingly reasonably priced DNA testing services to help you find your “real heritage” and other liberal-idiot friendly bullshit. These ads usually contain some actor, often of mixed-ancestry, touting how he or she was able to find his or her “real roots” by taking a “simple DNA test” to the accompaniment of new-agey music and other bullshit advertising tropes. So.. what is going on? Why are these sociopathic entities (corporations which offer DNA testing services) interested in helping you “find your real ancestral roots” at apparently reasonable prices.

Think about it, a bit. What is in it for them? Also, how can so many business which offer the same or very similar services able to afford their extensive advertising campaigns and offer relatively inexpensive tests- and all of this while ostensibly operating under operating principle of making ever-increasing profit. Doesn’t smell right, does it? Now ask yourself, which other corporations have a similar business model. Let us start by talking about other corporations which offer “free” services to their average user such as Google, FakeBook, Twitter etc. How do they make their profits. Well.. by collecting and selling data about their users to corporations who want to extract more money from them via advertising or otherwise scamming them or those who want to surveil them for purpose of abuse and discrimination- in other words, various governmental agencies.

And this brings us the next logical question- what exactly has the so-called “genomic revolution” of past 20 odd years achieved? What I am about to tell you is not going to please idiots who believe in the fairly tale of technological progress. Long story short, the “genomic revolution” of past two decades has been a costly and hilarious failure- as far as delivery of original promises is concerned. See.. I am old enough to remember what was being promised in very-late 1990s, when I was in my early 20s. At the time, human (and other organism) genome sequencing was touted as to the magic key which would help us identify genes for common diseases, protein targets for new drugs, targeted cancer therapy, develop super crops and all sorts of other futuristic nonsense- not unlike what you hear for “artificial intelligence” today.

Things did not turn out that way.. to put it mildly. After a few years in early-2000s, it became painfully obvious that finding genes for common diseases such as various types of Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimers etc was a fool’s errand. Even worse, the results cast doubt on what many so-called “experts” claimed to know about those diseases. At best, genomics helped us better understand and sub-classify rare single-gene diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis etc. Even the area in which genomics is most often touted to have “improved” disease management, namely anti-cancer therapy, has not seen worthwhile improvement in outcome for majority of patients. And oh.. vast majority of drug targets identified by genomics have proven to be totally worthless.

The point I am trying to make is that entire fields such as genomics, bioinformatics etc have not delivered even a small fraction of what was confidently promised in 1999. And ya.. I think we are going to see something similar happen to current DNA-editing technologies such as CRISPR and other hyped scam such as Gene Drive etc. Turns out that getting something to work properly and reproducibly in non-model systems outside the laboratory is a real bitch. Here is another insight.. technologies that were not hyped during their initial and often rocky development such as the modern computers and the internet, monoclonal antibody drugs, better use of existing drugs etc usually have a much larger impact than those hawked as (next) ticket to riches and utopia.

So why would large corporations and governmental agencies be interested in genomic data? Isn’t it almost completely useless? They can’t be that stupid.. right? Well.. let us start with the “are they that stupid” part. The answer to that question, sadly, is a resounding YES. The leaders and underlings of large corporations, you see, have to pretend that they are doing something useful while robbing those corporations. The simplest way to give the appearance of real work and making important decisions involves them promoting any shiny scam which is currently making rounds of the corporate circuit. This is why for example, corporate executives are always touting the newest management techniques, employing consultants, promoting mindfulness, talking about corporate responsibility, “making the world a better place” and all that BS.

Also, the vast majority of people who end up in the leadership of, or other high positions, in large institutions are very likely to be bad at anything other than lying, kissing ass, backstabbing and self-promotion. Look at how easily a CONartist such as Elizabeth Holmes was able to extract money, validation and support out of allegedly experienced and seasoned top ex-bureaucrats and CEOs. It never ceases to amuse me when I hear libertarian idiots (usually white guys who also believe in other scams such as “IQ”) try to explain their hilariously reverential mental image of corporations and other supposedly “meritocratic” institutions. The situation inside large institutions (private and public) has far more in common with the movie ‘Office Space‘ than the toilet-paper dispenser known as ‘Atlas Shrugged’.

But what does this have to do with not using DNA testing services to find your “real roots” . Well.. think of these services as corporate- and government- funded fronts for collecting your genomic metadata. But what harm could come from providing DNA samples, especially since genomics has turned out be a very expensive damp squib. As it turns out- a lot! The pretense of knowledge has, historically, caused much more problems than real insight into problems. In case of genomic metadata, this would translate into denial of “healthcare” insurance coverage in the third-world country of USA. Then there is the certainty of discrimination when applying for jobs, getting loans and many other interactions with corporations. Remember that their decisions and “algorithms” don’t have to be based in reality as long as they have more lawyers and money than you.

The abuse of genomic metadata by Governments will take a different direction. Don’t be surprised if the DNA of non-violent “troublemakers” starts to appear at the site of various unrelated violent crimes. Or government bureaucrats come up with some cockamamie scheme of classifying people based on bullshit data analysis performed by using “deep learning” techniques. In case you are wondering, police in USA still regularly plant fake evidence to imprison and convict black men and governments in the past have based large-scale policies (eugenics, the final solution, residential redlining and most rule/ laws passed in USA before 1965) on bullshit beliefs such as “inherent” superiority of some racial groups over others. In summary, there is no upside to getting your DNA tested to find you “real roots” or “true ancestry”. There are however many downsides to letting corporations and governments collect your genomic metadata.

What do you think? Comments?

Establishment Democrats and their Obsession with ‘Bipartisanship’

December 21, 2017 11 comments

As some of you might know- I am not a big fan of Christmas, and the holiday season in general, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I find this whole thing to be highly disingenuous given that it is clearly a consumerist holiday which pretends to be about something “higher”. Other holidays such as Halloween are far more honest about what they are, namely crass consumerism and drunk girls dressed like whores. Secondly, I detest any holiday which requires stores and restaurants to be closed for even a single day of the week. What is the whole point of a celebration if you cannot get a nice lunch or dinner at the restaurant of your choice?

Also, most public places seem to be filled with too many screaming kids during the holiday season. Then there is the issue of office buildings being subject to yet another round of poorly thought “upgrades” and “repairs” during this season. All in all, this is why I have not written posts on any profound topics within the last couple of days. And today will be no different, as this post is about a fairly mediocre topic that I had considered writing about a couple of times in the last few years. I decided to finally write about it because of the supposed opposition by establishment democrats to the blatant corporate giveaway aka the Republican Tax Reforms of 2017.

Some of you might say- “but, isn’t it good that establishment democrats were finally united in their opposition to this corporate giveaway by the republicans?” Well.. that is a superficial way of seeing things. A little digging under the surface reveals that more than a few democrats opposed corporate giveaways for reasons other than it being a bad idea. Rather, they seemed to be more upset that the bill passed today did not care about their input. In other words, more than a few establishment democrats would have been perfectly happy with supporting a similar corporate giveaway as long it was not that obvious and blatant. And this brings me to why establishment democrats are so obsessed with ‘bipartisanship’ for the passage of major legislation.

Conventional “wisdom”, aka bullshit spewed by paid shills in the mass media, suggests that establishment democrats care about ‘bipartisanship’ because they are “good and decent” human beings who care about maintaining the “civility” of discourse, due “process” and “dignity” of institutions. But is that really the case? Establishment democrats had no problem passing multiple rounds of corporate deregulation in 1980s and 1990s, welfare “reform” in the 1990s, opposing single payer healthcare in 1990s and 2000s, cheerleading for many “free trade” treaties and agreements, supporting the endless losing war on “terror” since 2001 and voting for any defense budget regardless of cost.

In other words, establishment democrats have been consistent and enthusiastic supporters of policies and institutions which immiserate the bulk of their voters. But what does this have to do with their obsession with ‘bipartisanship’? Well.. think about all the legislation and policies which the democrats did not pass because it supposedly lacked “bipartisan” support. Do you see a common theme running through such legislation and policies? In case you did not, establishment democrats most often talk about ‘bipartisanship’ as an excuse to not pass legislation or policies which would benefit the majority of their voters. A smaller, but still significant, percentage of ‘bipartisanship’ talk is also used to justify their support for pro-corporate legislation and policies.

But why is that so? Why do establishment democrats pretend to care so much about maintaining “bipartisanship”? What do they get from attempting to keeping up that charade? Who are they trying to deceive? The answers to this question start become obvious once you start looking the how the two main political parties in USA are funded. To make a long story short, there is almost complete overlap between the list of major financial contributors to both the republican and democratic party. While there a few standout exceptions, it is fair to say that both parties and their elected representatives are beholden to corporate and non-corporate financial backers who also provide cushy post-political jobs to legislators who further their interests.

While this explains why democrats are so willing to work with republicans on legislation and policies that screw over almost everybody else who voted for them, how does it explain them invoking ‘bipartisanship’ far more often than republicans? To understand that, we have to consider another factor- namely, the profile of those who vote for each party. Since the passage of civil-right regulations by democrats in the mid-1960s, they have not been able to win the majority of white voters in almost every national election and most regional ones. Now, we can spend thousands of words trying to explain the stupidity of many classes of white voters voting for republicans- but that is not the focus of this post. Instead, let us focus on who votes for democrats, especially establishment democrats.

To make a long story short, establishment democrats get most of their votes from the following constituencies: non-whites, poorer whites especially women, younger whites, whites with professional degrees and university education- especially women and truly well-off whites. As you might have noticed, the bulk of their voting constituencies stand to benefit from progressive legislation such as raising the minimum wage, single payer government healthcare, inexpensive tax-funded higher education, rules against corporate monopolies etc. Establishment democrats therefore have to at least put up a facade of being devoted to the causes of the so-called 99%. But how can they put up that facade and then weasel away from those promises- one election after the other?

This is where the concept of “bipartisanship” becomes so central for establishment democrats. They can use that concept, again and again, to explain to their voter-base why they are incapable of passing legislation which would improve their lives. Increase in minimum wage.. sorry, we could not reach a bipartisan agreement on it, Medicare for all.. sorry, there was not bipartisan support for that idea, taxpayer funded university education.. sorry, there was too much opposition from republicans and so on. On the other hand, they can still participate in republican initiated gutting of the social safety net, repealing regulations and rules that hinder corporate excess and pretty much anything demanded by their corporate backers- because they are “common sense reforms” and the results of “bipartisanship”.

Readers might have noticed that this particular scam by the democratic establishment is not working as well as it used to, especially after 2008. A significant percentage of their voter-base now sees through this bullshit and has stopped voting in elections or switched their vote in protest. That is why the democratic party lost so many state level seats, governorships, house, senate and presidency since their last high-point in 2008. That is why a Jewish guy in his mid-70s came so close to beating the anointed democratic candidate of the establishment in 2016 democratic primaries. A similar process among the republican voterbase is key to understanding why Trump won the republican primaries and then the presidency in the 2016 elections.

So let us call ‘bipartisanship’ by its real name- collusion against the interests of the majority of their respective voterbases.

What do you think? Comments?