The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Computerus: Technology to Defetus.

Oh, ... and good luck with that "Happy New Year" crap!

The start of another Year, the beginning of another War, on what or whom we don't really care, as long as there's another one. We in the peace-loving West will surely start, expand, fund, or cause via clandestine, plausibly deniable circumstances, that no one will really believe, another series of catastrophic events and blame them, like the hacking of Sony's criminally-insecure network, on another country, preferably communistic. Although nobody I mentioned it to had noticed, every time the name of North Korea was invoked as the perpetrator of the Sony hacking conspiracy, it was always prefaced with the word "Communist".

What that particular episode of Western criminality highlights, but that I have as yet heard nary a comment on, is the ease with which the private sector can manipulate the Federal authorities, all the way up to the Presidency, to put the safety of the American public at risk in order for them to reap huge rewards, while the risk to their own bloated selves remains minuscule.

That's one.

Another is the fact that conspiracy, no matter how obvious, and this one was, I'm sorry folks, pretty obvious, no matter what proofs are lacking, and in fact, not, for the most part, even asked for, even though we now know that the NSA can pretty much just make up whatever they want to, prove or disprove whatever they need to, it's still scoffed at when  you point out the obvious idiocy of the accusation, and object that not a shred of evidence has been put forward to document it, people for the most part will still believe what the MSM tells them, swallowing their view of reality as though it were Holy Scripture. Yet even when this is pointed out to them, they insist it must be the case, else why would the News say otherwise?

Yet no matter how long the list of reasons you give to explain why they might say so otherwise, nor how salient those reasons, you aren't Anderson Cooper, or Sony's CEO, so your opinion's not worth much. CNN and Fox News have been the worst corrupting influence on the nature of the news, turning it into momentary entertainment with no need to provide evidence for their views, as that's all they are anymore, views. There is no longer a news industry in anything but name, it is merely an offshoot of the entertainment industry and a tool for government/corporate propagandists and therefore utterly corrupt.

What I'm pretty much convinced of is that the reason for this is the computer and its evil stepchild, the Internet, a collection of networks funded with the earnings of the US public to connect the Universities and the Pentagon, atomic research facilities and the Libraries, into a single network to facilitate the exchange of information between the public and private sector. It was then extended to eventually result in what we have today, enabling someone like me to write what I want and allow you to read it if you so desire. But there was already a mechanism for that called the newspaper, so it was this business model that was attacked and destroyed first. Then industry after industry has been eroded, downsized, taken over or destroyed  until we have the conglomerate of super Corporations that bestride the globe like a colossus against which the largest government in the world, the United States of America's, president is used as a simple pawn in a tawdry scheme to get a sophomoric, addle-brained, mean-spirited little one-joke flick a chance at clawing back at least some of the money wasted on its production. This would not have been possible in the days before the computerization of everything. But, like the automobile before it, the computer is such a pervasive, invasive, by design, by the way, technology, that no one questions, (what's the point, right?), its ascendancy anymore.

That was not always the case. When I first started working at a small computer company called Comten, but which was actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of the largest retail business machine manufacturer in the world, NCR, (cash registers were then the most ubiquitous business machines, not computers; the bank I was a teller at before starting in the computer field had not a single computer in the entire branch ... that was 1977) to tell people I was in the computer field was akin to saying I was working for the CIA (I lived in California, San Francisco, no less, so there's that, but still ... considering that this is where the industry eventually found the perfect combination of smarts, inventiveness, love of innovation, and seed capital, it's pretty telling).

As it turns out, they were more right than I gave them credit for. The NSA, for example, was a mere shadow of its current self in those days. It's the complete cellurization of communications, all of which, unbeknownst to most of its users, uses the internet as the backbone of its national and international infrastructure: ie computers. All those cell towers you see all over the place, or don't see, as they're pretty good at disguising them, transfer calls only to the next tower or two, any further and they hop onto the local switch, usually an AT&T facility, to transmit over longer distances, as that particular company, which btw, bought the above-mentioned NCR, so yes, I was an employee of theirs while they were buying up all the RBOC's (Regional Bell Operating Companies that were split off in 1984 by the Justice Department when it created what they eventually called "the Baby Bells, all of which would be swallowed up by AT&T, such that all the Telcoms in addition to the longlines in the country made their way back into their hands, only now, instead of a regulated monopoly, we got blessed with an unregulated monopoly, but who cares about monopolies anymore? They're just an accepted, unspoken of, fact of life now, for good or ill, and yes, there are some advantages consumers derive from monopolization).

Meanwhile, IBM was struggling with its own anti-Trust lawsuit from the Justice Department. They won their suit. So here we have another of life's ironies, in that the two main manufacturers and users of computerization (a computer is, at its heart, a switch, as is Telephony) were known even as far back as then, to be monopolies, and the one that lost its anti-trust suit is the won that won, because AT&T was more ubiquitous and utilized than IBM, the company that won because it was at its zenith and too unassailable because of its place at the heart of the oil, banking and insurance industries. To not buy "Big Blue" was to put your job in jeopardy if you managed a data center and there was even the slightest problem  with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) products.

But the technical reason, the expansive, all-connected network that the US Pentagon had in mind, required, not the breakup of IBM, but the smash-up pf AT&T and the tight grip it had on devises that could be connected to its network. Just as you know, if you ever bought a PC, the advantages to be derived in -house from computerization are quite constrained without the ability to communicate those results to others.  In other words, it was the network that needed an upgrade to accommodate the needs of mainframe computers and it was the telephone company that was standing in the way.

It was this decade that saw the beginings of what we are stuck with today. We have built an economy that is designed, like the re-vamped telephone network itself, for the convenience and use of the computer, not the consumer, because the computer is by far the most voracious of consumers, so its needs, naturally come first, even to the destruction of the rest of the economy, and it is the result of that evolution, that our world is in the stagnating state it is today. Computers are used and distributed not to enhance customer service, speed of delivery, or any of the other advantages that actually are derived sometimes from their installation and implementation, but always and everywhere to decrease the number of employees needed by any going concern  to deliver those goods and services, even if the consumers of them now needs to take much of the responsibility of said delivery onto themselves.

That is why the rich are so voracious theses days, they may not know why themselves, but it's because they too, share the same attributes as computers, they take all the advantages offered by the economic system, even to the detriment of it, because, like computers, they have no National interests, only their own. The fact that wrecking the economy will wreck their own ascendancy in that economy occurs to them no more than it does to the machines that give them instant access, and can take it away just as quickly. No matter how rich a billionaire you are, to see the system snatch away access to resources from an entire powerful country such as Russia, should drive home the point to you that you're not in command of any of your resources in the banks without the network.

Capitalism killed communism, it is said, but computerization killed Capitalism, and that is not said. But the more I ponder it, the more convinced I am that that is exactly the case. Capitalism, by any definition, is not what we see operating the economies of the world today. As a case in point, I would like to point out that many very well-read and respected economists refer to the Banking system separately from what they call the "Real Economy" (again, that is their rhetoric, not mine), and it is this banking system, this "other" economy, that holds sway now. That is a fact ... it is not an exaggeration. It is the reason that the egregious criminality that brought the world's economic system to its knees so as to cater to the fanciful whims of a small, useless, unproductive, narcissistic cadre of crooks, was never prosecuted. And that "other" economy straddles the Real one like a beast in rut, and the tool it uses to do so is the Cloud (there's always been a cloud, they simply didn't call it that ... think of your e-mail, for example. If the network goes down, or if you fail to pay your bill, that data all belongs to the phone company, (or ISP, they're practically synonymous now), not  to you. They have no use of the data, in fact it takes up some of their storage space, so it's a cost. Welcome to another aspect of the New Economy: doing business by holding your customers' data hostage).

So, one of the things I'd add to Ha-Joon Chang's really good compendium, "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism"'s  list of, now 24, things you didn't know about Capitalism, is that it's dead. The system that will replace it is still forming in the Computerus, but the way things look now, defetus may be still-born.

Post a Comment