Moving On

Despite the endless madness that dominates life in the Middle East mankind moves on. Despite the religious power brokers set on clinging to old values science moves on: medical science moves on – diseases are eradicated; organs transplanted; limbs repaired; eyes and ears enhanced . . . we move on. The Internet gave us a huge leap forward in communications allowing us to move on to email, voice over, social media . . . moving us on beyond all expectation. Digital data in electronic form moves us on to run algorithms at lightning speed. Faster processors, cloud storage, and ever improving efficiency all moving us on to the creation of the blockchain. That’s huge. The blockchain is a huge leap forward. With it we can create tokens for financial exchange: for contractual integrity; for data analysis; for analysis of analysis; we even have a token for everything. The development of blockchain has opened a door moving us on to a better way of doing things but there is opposition. There’s always opposition: resistance to change. If we conclude that the understanding of evolution brings about rising standards; that adaptation circumvents difficulty and overcomes adversity, then what are we to do with the gods? If we remove the need to pray and praise then with what shall we do with our churches and temples?

 

Change challenges us in this way. Although a change before us is undeniably the better path to follow there are plenty to shun it because they feel threatened, and they’re right. They are threatened. Shoe makers in Arizona are threatened by shoemakers in Mexico. If iPhones assembled in China were not available to the US market then Apple would be threatened by manufacturers of phones made in the United States. The teenager determined on leaving the home is undoubtedly on the correct path but the parents will resist. They are happy with the way thing are; the clergy are happy with the way things are and the banks and governments are happy with the way things are but, change is here. Radical, do-away-with-treasuries, change is here and you can hear the resistance rattling through the vaults and bond exchanges like a typhoon through a crypt. With blockchain we are changing the way we do business. We are moving on, doing away with third party verification. We are removing the government control of our money. That’s a humdinger of a change that leaves many scurrying for shelter from its onslaught and cowering in its wake but it’s here: blockchain gives us Bitcoins to buy and sell goods and services with a click of a mobile without a bank, clearing house, lawyer or accountant in sight. Imagine how they all feel: imagine how the priests , bishops, cardinals of Wall Street and The City of London all feel about their livelihoods being undermined in this way – much, I suspect, as the Arizona shoe makers feel.

 

Warren Buffett was wrong when he said the crypto business would end badly. It will improve our lives. It will become better, much better but, like the coal miners, the finance workers – they who moved established manufacturing to cheap labour centres – need to adjust. They need to stop resisting; they need to move on.

 

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Meira III: The Gilgamesh Syndrome

Meira III has become long overdue due, in part, to distractions in world events but more so to the increasingly obvious need for radical change to the capitalist democracies predominate in first world nations. Why should that effect a work fiction? Because Meira is our paragon of common sense unhindered by preconceptions and conformity. From the time Christopher Jordan first realised that the Ancients had good working knowledge of solar energy he knew established historians would never accept his conclusions. Rather than combat the existing order he decided to by-pass it with credible fiction which we centred around an heroine with exceptional powers – Meira.
Unlike the unbelievable sock, bam, pow, of the American superheroes Meira is a work in progress – she grows in skills and wisdom as her adventures carry her ever nearer to her destiny. She grew from the angry young woman in Book I, Looking for Father, to the adventuress harnessing the power of the oceans in Book II, The Seahorse.
In Book III, The Gilgamesh Syndrome she progresses to the heiress proper – ultimately fulfilling her role and accepting the huge responsibility descending upon her.
While looking for answers in the ancient city of Aleppo is she caught up in terrorist activity but rescued by agents of her old enemy The Federation of Fossil Fuel Purveyors – FFFP. She returns to Mesopotamia, this time to Damascus, becomes entangled in the war raging there and is whisked away to southern Iran where a hidden city has been revealed by a commercial mining group. It is a staggering find of far greater value than of the city she visited in the Karakorum Mountains in Book I, and harnessing more power than the Sea Horse of Book II.
With her old friends, Ben and Peter, to help her, and her old enemy Commander Conway to protect them, she studies the architecture of the living city and the recorded texts only she can understand.
In Part II of Book III Meira is armed with knowledge of the Ancients stretching back to 100,000 BCE.

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A Better Form of Government

Nothing serves us better to demonstrate the inadequacies of our capitalist democracies than the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the most powerful nation on Earth. His unsuitability for the job, any job above that of an unskilled laborer, is abundantly clear from what he says and how he says it, yet he was elected in a free and fair process.

Nothing serves us better to demonstrate the inadequacies of our capitalist democracies than the corralling of 90% of a nation’s money into the coffers of 1% of the population. The function of currency is to facilitate trade in goods and services yet it is openly used to distort the media services, and corrupt politicians, judges and law enforcement agencies.

The fact these two failings of democracy were foretold by the Greek philosophers 2,500 years ago has done nothing to prevent the bloody evolution of nations under the rule of monarchs, dictators, and religious leaders of various hues, from becoming our history. We have reached this point with first, second, and third world nations administered variously by democracies and dictatorships only to find the most advanced in terms of military might and highest living standards has, at its masthead, an incompetent who abjures science and holds his electorate in complete disregard.

The temptation to look back to see what went wrong, is strong, but let’s resist. Let’s look forward; let’s see how we can put the obviously wrong to rights and make the world a better place. Two words come to mind: sortition and assets. The first, sortition, to prevent misrule; the second, assets, to prevent misappropriations.

Sortition

Simply defined sortition is the choosing of officials by lot. Rather than have our officials elected through the ballot box, engendering the circus that is the media feast in which false promises and corrupt practices thrive, we draw straws. Using a process similar to that of the British and American jury selection, a diverse group of people are notified of their impending duty to serve in the administration of the nation. The larger the group the greater the diversity; the greater the diversity, it has been established, the greater the intelligence. In her paper “Democratic Reason: the Mechanisms of Collective Intelligence in Politics,” Hélène Landemore, Assistant Professor at Yale, pulls together a collection of works on the subject of democracy and the benefits of collective reason. Following the arguments presented by other worthies from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, to Scot Page’s How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, it appears that Intelligent Diversity has proved to be a far better way to solve problems than the collective intelligence of experts. Collectively experts bring little value over that of the one because experts are similar – they are similarly educated and similarly experienced and are, in effect, more of the same. A group drawn by lot on the other hand can be as dissimilar as sheep shearers to cardinals. Each member brings a differing perspective thus collectively forming a wider view. It is this wide view – this diverse intelligence – that best serves to make the wisest decisions.

Assets

A nation’s assets are in the land it encompasses and the people who live there. The value of the land increases with infrastructure, water management, and the extraction of minerals, while the value of the people increases with education and the maintenance of good health. Its currency is used to facilitate the exchange of goods and services the products of which, along with foreign reserves, add to the nation’s wealth.

Should any of a nation’s assets fall into disuse it becomes a poorer place. For this reason we must keep our roads and ports, and our health and education, in good repair. Failure to repair our roads results in potholes, slowing the traffic, allowing other nations to overtake us. Failure to maintain good health and improving education slows our mobility of labour, allowing other nations to take over the markets. Money, too, must remain in good use to lubricate the processes upon which the nation thrives. Should the money seep away from general circulation the machine slows, much as an engine overheats and slows when there’s an oil leak, and keeps slowing while the money decreases until it seizes solid, making it very difficult to restart. Recent austerity policies adopted by some administration to limit the loss of oil merely overheats the little that remains. Engines, like national economies, require a very precise level of lubricant: too much it spills into the wrong places; too little it dries the bearings and slows the wheels.

The management of currency then is vital to the health of the nation. It has to be circulating. It serves no purpose locked in empty buildings or unused land or vaults or under mattresses. Money has to be out there, working, or it is of no value to the nation. It perhaps needs to be remembered that money belongs to the nation that created it. It is not for the sole use of an individual or an institution or a company that accumulated it: it belongs to the nation to be used by that nation. Money not in use must therefore be brought back into use to prevent overheating.

A better way to govern then is to harness the intelligence of cognizant diversity to manage a nations assets to ensure they remain in use. Sortition goes a long way towards achieving diversity by the selection of groups to decide policy. This works only if the groups are informed by experts, much as a jury is presented with information by advocates in the courtroom. A group drawn by lots presented with the pros and cons of various economic policies are less likely to decide to adopt austerity in the face of a shrinking economy than a political party seeking re-election. Similarly a group encompassing a wide range of ages and incomes is more likely to adopt a health program for the common good than that of ministers subjected to the overtures of drug company lobbyists.

The management of money revolves around taxation so policies adopted here have profound effects on all aspects of life within a nation. Modern thinking is moving away from taxing income, which inhibits spending, seeking instead to tax assets, which discourages all forms of hoarding. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century advocates such policies but the chances of a ballot box dependent government adopting such radical changes seem slim. A group drawn by lot on the other hand would have no such inhibitions when presented with all we have learned in 300 years of the ever changing backdrop of our economies.

The actual management of government departments must of course remain in the hands of those best suited to the job. In Donald Trump we have a mind blowing example of the result of poor selection from the ballot box. Democracy, that is government of the people by the people, ought to be better served by the majority vote than it is but, term limits, media manipulation, and money, all distort the process. Let’s by all means choose from volunteers those best suited to administer government but let them be chosen by juries isolated from external influences. Government can then continue, much as it does now, by well informed civil servants, overseen by an executive best suited for the job, doing the daily work but in a manner dictated by policy determined by intelligent diversity.

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