C-Realm 407: Distinguishing Collapse from Catastrophe
It was really a privilege getting to be on the show, especially with the caliber of guests that KMO has on. I have not listened to it, because I'd feel too weirded out listening to myself speak. I'll try and recall what I said from memory as much as I can. I did listen to the intro and outro, however.
To answer one obvious question, Chad Hill is not my real name, it's a non-de-plume. It is very close to my actual name, however. It's not that I have anything to hide or I'm trying to be secretive at all (I'm sure the NSA knows who I am); I'll happily correspond with people using my real name. It's just that a.) I want to control access to the site and not just have it come up with a random Google search of my name, and b.) Blogging anonymously gives me more freedom, because I don't have to worry about self-censorship, even subconsciously. That would ruin the purpose of writing here, where I can talk about topics that, well, for better or worse, are a bit out of the mainstream, and c) It sounds better.
And, as always, thank you so much to all the readers and commenters over the years for your continuing patronage and support. As I mentioned, it's been a real pleasure finding an audience.
Now, for some show notes. I mentioned some possible downsides to the sharing economy where everyone has to operate as a free agent all the time, even if they have a job. I was referring to these articles in particular:
The Collaborative Consumption Trap (Medium)
What if we find ourselves running in place in a Red Queen’s Race, as this additional income disappears into rising fixed costs like rent? I already know people who can only afford to pay their rent by renting out their place on Airbnb. For them, they have no choice but to participate in the Sharing Economy just to stay in place. I don’t know how we can prospectively determine how those gains will be distributed — but my instinct is that people driven to the point of renting out the clothes in their closet are not in a great bargaining position. And even if some gains materialize — the safety net becomes weakened.Pixel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in the Gig Economy (Fast Company)
Whatever you do, it will be your choice. Because you are no longer just an employee with set hours and wages working to make someone else rich. In the future, you will be your very own mini-business. The vision is so intoxicating that even as the U.S. unemployment rate remained stubbornly high, with millions of long-term unemployed dropping off the rolls and untold millions more underemployed, the gig economy came to offer not just a path to freedom from our desks but also a way to get the American people back to work. In a TED talk, Rachel Botsman, author of What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, described sharing economy companies as "lemonade stands on steroids.” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote a piece headlined "How To Monetize Your Closet” that argued "these entrepreneurs are not the only answer for our economic woes...but they are surely part of the answer.”If Tom Friedman is talking up something, be very afraid.
In the outro, KMO mentioned people drugging themselves to compete. I first heard of this drug on the Joe Rogan show, (watch this if you dare) and it sounds like it's already becoming widespread among the executive class: Modafinil (Wikipedia). And, of course, Adderall abuse is already endemic in major universities. ADHD diagnoses are up 24 percent in 2013, and autism rates are up 30 percent. And see this: America's Medicated Kids (BBC) and The Drugging of the American Boy (Esquire):
On this everyone agrees: The numbers are big. The number of children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder—overwhelmingly boys—in the United States has climbed at an astonishing rate over a relatively short period of time. The Centers for Disease Control first attempted to tally ADHD cases in 1997 and found that about 3 percent of American schoolchildren had received the diagnosis, a number that seemed roughly in line with past estimates. But after that year, the number of diagnosed cases began to increase by at least 3 percent every year. Then, between 2003 and 2007, cases increased at a rate of 5.5 percent each year. In 2013, the CDC released data revealing that 11 percent of American schoolchildren had been diagnosed with ADHD, which amounts to 6.4 million children between the ages of four and seventeen—a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 42 percent increase since 2003. Boys are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed as girls—15.1 percent to 6.7 percent. By high school, even more boys are diagnosed—nearly one in five.And as for sleep, the military is leading the way:
Almost 20 percent.
Darpa is working on more exotic answers to sleeplessness, too. Columbia University psychologists, working under a Darpa grant, are keeping people awake for 48 hours straight and then zapping their brains with focused magnetic waves, to keep their cognitive capacities intact. Lexicon Genetics has found genetic targets in mice that seem to make sleep itself more restorative, enhancing learning and memory. And Wisconsin professor Giulio Tononi is breeding a strain of fruit flies that gets by on just a third the normal amount of sleep. If his research keeps progressing — and that’s one big, fat if — maybe some day, far off, troops may not need any kind of lamp at all to stay awake.No “Go Pills”; Air Force Wants Sleep-Fighting Lamps (Wired)
And lest you think that's not a big part of corporate culture already:
Sleep comes to be seen as part of a leader's character. When Napoleon Bonaparte was asked how many hours sleep people need, he is said to have replied: "Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool."Thatcher: Can people get by on four hours' sleep? (BBC)
For the Iron Lady four hours was a badge of almost superhuman strength. It fits the narrative of the "warrior" prime minister as set out by the Times' Matthew Parris this week. "She understood that this was war when others didn't. And in war you need a warrior," he writes. But is the four-hour measure something ordinary people should aspire to?
In the world of business it is certainly something people strive for. High-profile chief executives from Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! to Pepsi's Indra Nooyi get by on four hours a night, while Donald Trump claims to survive on three. Geraint Anderson, author of City Boy, who worked as an analyst and stockbroker for 12 years, recognises the phenomenon.
"There was a real macho competition in the City about sleep. One of the ways of getting respect was bragging about how little you got." The hours were long - from 6.30 in the morning to seven at night. Socialising might mean staying out till three in the morning. And this was just the analysts. The corporate financiers were the real hard workers. "They'd work into the early hours, get a couple of hours' kip at the office and start again."To admit needing sleep was a sign of weakness: "After the Christmas or summer party you'd make sure you stayed the latest and came in a little earlier than normal the next morning."
Also related to his story: 24. Alabama Farmers Look to Replace Migrants with Prisoners (Project Censored) (incidentally, chattel slavery for prisoners is entirely legal under the U.S. Constitution)
For another horrifying way that technology may not make our lives better, see: Future Drugs Will Allow Prisoners To Serve A ’1,000-Year Sentence In 8 Hours’ (Disinfo) Considering what they did to Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, this does not fill me with confidence.
I'm not sure if this topic came up in this podcast or will be in the Vault, but I came across this article, which makes some of the same points I made about using our resources to create a post-carbon economy: Think Big, Think Bold (Yanis Varoufakis) Why the Left in Britain and in the Eurozone must aim for a radical Pan-European Green New Deal.
And this is the website I mentioned, New Economic Perpectives
And I like the distinction between quality of life versus standard of living. I've been working on something about that that I'm hoping will be done this weekend. Thanks all!