Well, it's been fun writing this blog for the past year. Over 200 posts and counting. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read one of my posts; I hope you gained something valuable from it. I thought I'd take the first day of the new year and lay out a retrospective of the major posts and themes of 2011.
I opened the blog back in March taking on the myth that "more education" will solve our jobs crisis:
And my series on automation, What Are People Good For, was the first major piece:
http://hipcrime.blogspot.com/2011/03/what-are-people-good-for.html (6 parts)
I returned to the theme of automation many times:
along with Job creation:
In April I wondered if Japan has entered the future a few decades ahead of the rest of us:
http://hipcrime.blogspot.com/2011/04/is-japan-future.html (7 parts)
And a follow-up is here:
Is libertarian neofeudal Mexico the harbinger of global society in the coming decades?:
Or is Dubai?:
Later, I wondered whether Greece might be an accurate picture of the future:
Thoughts on the Royal Wedding:
In the hot months, I looked at the history of air conditioning:
Is modern society making us crazy?:
Is size the problem?
A revelation: Capitalism is as centrally controlled and planned as Commnism was:
Craziness in China:
Is a war with China inevitable?:
Don't forget India:
Infrastructure doesn't have to be boring:
Many of the world's problems are solvable:
Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street:
Thoughts on Steve Jobs:
Are we undergoing a reformation in economics?:
We can't grow forever on a finite planet
The ongoing collapse:
Why the Singularity won't happen:
Some great quotes collected from the past year:
"...libertarianism is basically the Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function."
"Although people often bemoan political apathy as if it were a grave social ill, it seems to me that this is just as it should be. Why should essentially powerless people want to engage in a humiliating farce designed to demonstrate the legitimacy of those who wield the power?"
"If execs really don't know the day-to-day details about how their global corporations work, why is it that they're compensated so well for whatever it is they DO know about?"
"Who runs America today? The rich and the multinational corporations. Who runs the White House? David Plouffe, whose job it is to make sure that ever word, every action of the president is calculated for electoral gain rather than the country's needs. Who runs the Congress, on both sides of the aisle? The lobbyists, who win in every negotiation. And who loses? The American people, who have said repeatedly that they want a budget that sharply cuts the military, ends the wars, raises taxes on the rich, protects the poor and the middle class, and invests in America's future not just in Obama's speeches but in fact."
"Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It's about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one's own culture, this is it."
- M. TAIBBI
"Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint. It pretends that only the state intrudes on our liberties. It ignores the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free. It denies the need for the state to curb them in order to protect the freedoms of weaker people. This bastardised, one-eyed philosophy is a con trick, whose promoters attempt to wrongfoot justice by pitching it against liberty. By this means they have turned “freedom” into an instrument of oppression."
"It is ironic that modern capitalist societies engage in public campaigns to urge individuals to be more attentive to their health, while fostering an economic ecosystem that seduces many consumers into an extremely unhealthy diet."
- K. ROGOFF
"We are in the process of destroying a great many things which are real — air, soil, water, energy, resources, other species, our health — for the sake of something that exists chiefly in our imagination: money."
- D COHEN
"[A]t close scrutiny we do not seem to have done anything except gradually automate activities that human beings have been performing for a few hundred, and sometimes thousand, years already. The development of a large number of different technologies that help us to automate these tasks has driven economic development and business proliferation in the past. Now, technological progress is at the stage where a number of these technologies and products have been developed to a point where we cannot realistically expect them to develop much further. And, despite widespread belief of the opposite, we cannot be certain that there are enough new products or technologies left to be developed for companies to be able to make use of the resources that are going to be freed from existing industries."
-M. LARSSON (quoted in Heinberg)
"The sooner we stop prioritizing the metabolic needs of our “technomass”, at the expense of human and other biomass, the better. Our technological fixes are no less absurd than the fetishism that brought earlier civilizations to collapse, whether through overinvestment in armies (Rome), temples (Maya), or megalithic statues (Easter Island)."
"Invention is the mother of necessity. To keep their markets growing, companies must keep persuading us that we have unmet needs. In other words, they must encourage us to become dissatisfied with what we have. To be sexy, beautiful, happy, relaxed, we must buy their products. They shove us onto the hedonic treadmill, on which we must run ever faster to escape a growing sense of inadequacy."
- G. MONBIOT
"I'm about to scream the next time some middle-aged humanities major talks about Facebook as if it's the greatest thing in mankind and can be used to feed and shelter 7 billion people on this planet. Facebook is nothing more than a picture album and an interactive alumni newsletter that relies on advertising revenue. Nothing else has changed. Facebook cannot create jobs when there is no demand, it doesn't bring our manufacturing jobs back from China. Facebook is frankly part of the problem, because it facilitates this myth that our country of 300 million can subsist in the virtual world of gossip, vanity and braindead correspondence."
"Like a creature born in the morning that has only seen daylight, conventional economics has never experienced night and so it has no conception of darkness."
- C.H. SMITH
"An effective response to this predicament, as I’ve proposed here, involves several unfamiliar steps. The first of them is to get out from under the collective thinking of our society and the manufactured popular pseudoculture that holds that collective thinking pinned firmly in place in the minds of most people, so you can make your own decisions about what goes into your mind, instead of letting huge corporations ante up millions of dollars to choose for you. (It still amazes me how many people never wonder why what appears on TV is called "programming.")"
- J.M. GREER
"...even the most self-proclaimed humane modern workplaces, for all their creature comforts, are bastions of bone-crushing tedium and soul-sucking mediocrity, filled with dreary meetings, dismal tasks, and pointless objectives that are well, just a little bit alienating. If sweating over the font in a PowerPoint deck for the mega-leveraged buyout of a line of designer diapers is the portrait of modern "work," then call me — and I'd bet most of you — alienated: disengaged, demoralized, unmotivated, uninspired, and about as fulfilled as a stoic Zen Master forced to watch an endless loop of Cowboys and Aliens."
"Even among bourgeois economists, there is hardly a serious thinker who will deny that it is possible, by means of currently existing material and intellectual forces of production, to put an end to hunger and poverty, and that the present state of things is due to the socio-political organization of the world."
- H. MARCUSE
"What we now have — most extremely in the U.S. but pretty much everywhere — is the mother of all broken promises Yes, the rich are getting richer and the corporations are making profits — with their executives richly rewarded. But, meanwhile, the people are getting worse off — drowning in housing debt and/or tuition debt — many who worked hard are unemployed; many who studied hard are unable to get good work; the environment is getting more and more damaged; and people are realizing their kids will be even worse off than they are. This particular round of protests may build or may not, but what will not go away is the broad coalition of those to whom the system lied and who have now woken up. It’s not just the environmentalists, or the poor, or the unemployed. It’s most people, including the highly educated middle class, who are feeling the results of a system that saw all the growth of the last three decades go to the top 1 percent.”
- P. GILDING (quoted by Friedman)