cyberculture, commentary, cartoons, essays
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
IN THIS ISSUE:
NEW cyberbarf KOMIX
THE OIL ECONOMY
SNAIL PACE . . . . . . . . . .
A spinning wheel of death, the browser cursor, spinning like a pinwheel in a hurricane. In a high speed connection, too. Waiting. Waiting for seemingly forever. The trend is that page loads are turning into molasses of a 14.4 dial-up modem. And frustration is growing which each non-response.
It is time to equate this problem with early desk top publishing. The power to self-create DTP newsletters and graphics flooded the internet with graphically challenged nightmares of dozens of conflicting fonts, poor page designs, dangling headlines, and poor content construction.
We know the causes for these web page time-outs:
1. looking for ad server;
2. looking for facebook connection;
3. loading video content.
Those annoying pop up ads have now turned into even more annoying full screen video ads where the (close) button is hidden from plain view. If a page has more than two multimedia ad spaces, you are doomed to wait until the bottlenecks and conflicts are resolved somewhere far, far, far away from your terminal. It is like waiting a roulette wheel spin, after its fifth minute of the ball hugging the top rail, to fall. And it never falls on your number. The ads never do either.
Just as teeth grinding is waiting for a facebook connection. What if you don't care about facebook? What if you are not on facebook, as a matter of principle or pride?? It seems like a Terminator type robotic device to attempt to locate and destroy the human vermin that populate the electronic planetary systems.
Like overloaded DTP pages, there are pages that are just video windows. Slow loading video windows. Overkill video window pages. You can't smash your finger hard enough on the ESC key, but to little effect. You are doomed to stall out, then crash in any browser.
It is easy to get sucked into the Impatient Generation when web pages load like a sand hourglass.
Just because a page designer can throw all the bells and whistles, audio, video, graphics and links on a single page, that does not mean he or she should cram so much junk that an average user would rather abort the page load and move on to an alternative site. And that is what happens. If the page does not unfreeze after one re-set, it is on to a different URL to find the same information or entertainment.
FALSE EMPOWERMENT PERCEPTION
The real reason that Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen have turned into centers of protest against their autocratic governments is simple: high food prices (see, The Oil Economy), high unemployment, and corrupt government officials. They are not shouting for democracy, but merely change. Change is the form of a living wage, stable food prices, and less corrupt officials.
The boiling point of intolerance came when the educated and unemployed youth in North Africa gave them no opportunity. The current system was rigged against them. This was not a political movement but an economic protest.
Technology is only a tool to communicate instructions to protesters. But as one Egyptian businessman said during the height of the protests, the elderly women in the crowds of Tahrir Square were not Internet literate. In fact, Egypt shut down its internal net servers early in the rallies. It was the will of the people and not technology that spurred the crowds to gather to confront the forces of their discontent.
But American news television is a jaded lot. They have poured millions into electronic technology, swipe screens, HD monitors and web video-Twitter accounts. Anything that can be posted can become a graphic on the nightly news. Television news is fueled by images and simple story lines. So when some cell phone video of the violent clashes surfaces on the web, the TV producers leap to the conclusion that technology is the root cause for the revolution.
In Libya and other countries, a protester's Twitter post cannot defeat live bullets, police beatings or tear gas. There is no power in a cellphone that can dismantle a police barricade or stop a tank.
Film footage of the disturbances and street violence can change international opinion. But the spin on such events is propaganda, for both sides. What it takes is the internal opinion of those in power to change. In Egypt, an old dictator decides enough is enough and flees the country with his personal wealth. In Libya, an old dictator decides to fight for continued control of his power by armed actions against his own people. The one sided early Civil War in Tripoli of casualties has caused a run of foreigners to flee the country.
The view of the protests across the Middle East is similar to the early battles of the American Civil War. People, families, children would picnic on the hillsides around the early battlelines to view the skirmish between the opposing armies. It was an social event. But after the magnitude of the death and destruction hit home to those socialites, that they would quickly flee from on-coming combatants. For American television crews, reporting from inside the current protests are like those early social events. Observers inside the realm of something exciting, transforming, until the real violence hits home.
THE OIL ECONOMY COMMENTARY
Those who believe the New Economy is based on the Internet are greatly mistaken. The world does not run on telecommunications. It runs on petroleum.
Since the Industrial Revolution of the late 1890s, the planet has been running on fossil fuels to power monumental growth in technology and life styles. The shift from a subsistent agricultural economy to a heavy manufacturing-urban culture in less than a century is unprecedented in human history. Coal power created the steam era. Refined oil created the modern era.
Every person's daily life is controlled by petroleum. The technology to find oil such as drilling rigs. The technology to transport the crude in tankers, barges, pipelines and trucks. The technology to refine the crude into products like diesel, gasoline, petrochemicals and plastics. Everything around your home is touched by the oil industry: fertilizer for food production, petroleum to transport food and other goods to stores, plastics in home products including clothing fibers, building products like PCV pipes, to the basic power generated by utilities in the form of electricity. Electricity powers light, heat, cooling, cooking and appliances that every household takes for granted.
History is repeat with boom and bust financial cycles. In the past, some major event pulled the American nation from the brink. Whether it was war or the home grown industrial invention of the modern conveniences and middle class consumerism. But the current downturn has significantly different components, even though it is still a petroleum world.
In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations viewed $35.00/barrel for crude oil the limit. It was believed that over that amount, Americans would find it cost efficient to re-drill the reserves within their borders. OPEC wanted to continue to apply monopoly characteristics to its oil exports, creating a vast dependency of the industrialized world. The concept of petrodollars found its way into normal lexicon. The resource rich but poor OPEC countries soon had vast wealth built on a single commodity: oil. So they kept the price within a limited range to protect their wealth. Oil is the best indicator of the economic formula of supply and demand. In the late 1970s, there were huge oil shortages. Long gas lines crippled America. World leaders feared that their grasp on the oil fields would be weakened if Americans has to pay more than $1.00/gallon for gasoline.
At the same time, food prices remained flatlined; corn prices ranged from $1.20-$1.80 bushel, depending on weather and crop yields. Farmers had to scrape by on low corn prices, federal subsidies, set-aside programs in order to eke out just above poverty wages. Three major components in a farmer's budget, fertilizer, pesticides and gasoline, were all greatly increased by oil price spikes.
So when oil hurdles toward $100.00/barrel, food prices skyrocket. Corn prices are now between $6.00-7.00 per bushel, a more than 200% increase from the norm. This is at the same time the federal government continues to drone that that the U.S. has no inflation. That is because the government formula takes out the volatile elements of oil and food prices. The average person going to a supermarket knows that food inflation is running rampant as a grocery basket worth of items has doubled in price in a few short years. The gas pump also does not lie: people cannot remember when gasoline was $2.00/gallon when it is currently trending above $3.40/gallon.
Most economists will now admit that the average worker's wage (purchasing power), adjusted for real inflation, has gone down in the past twenty years. Everything costs more. It used to be April 15 was tax day, the day during the year that current wages to that time would meet one's federal, state and local tax obligations. This tax day has moved quickly into July, as the public burdens on private citizens are now more than 50% of their real wages.
Adding to the squeeze in the household budget is that fact that politics has warped natural business economics. Environmentalists and government officials have diverted huge amount of fertile cropland to ethanol production as an alternative means to oil. However, the cost of creating one gallon of ethanol is quadruple the cost of gasoline. The taxpayers are subsidizing an extremely cost inefficient energy source, then paying dramatically more in food prices as a result of human food crop acreage losses. The government action to support an inefficient green industry may be a scandal like Tea Pot Dome before the dust settles.
The same environmentalists continue to defy a federal court order to allow deep sea drilling to continue in the Gulf of Mexico. The vast reserves of oil in the gulf is one means of lessening the dependence on foreign oil and stabilizing energy prices. But the mantra of No Drilling on American Soil has taken root with the federal regulators. Those rigs in the gulf are now gone, to other places throughout the world to capture that $80.00 plus per barrel black gold.
In past downturns, America used to be able to work its way out to prosperity. But the hyper bubble bursts of the housing industry and financial sector meltdown fueled by government misspending has created a massive sink hole all the way to China. American manufacturing is hovering around 50% capacity due to massive outsourcing of technology and assembly to emerging markets. Imports with low tariffs make American products a disadvantage on store shelves compared to Chinese imports. The entrepreneurial spirit of risk and reward to start a business today has been muted by a credit squeeze, high taxes, dense regulations and cheap imports. For the first time in American business, a majority of the Fortune 500 companies have made their profits from overseas operations. The nation is no longer a leader but a follower in creating goods.
The federal government on February 14, 2011 did something most people thought was impossible. The federal deficit toppled the annual Gross Domestic Product of $13 trillion. The US was officially bankrupt. It would take a full year of every single penny of goods, services and private spending to pay off the debt. Debt that does not include the massive borrowing of state and local governments. In reality, the US is in the same financial position of tredding-water countries like Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.
The United States is still the largest consumer nation. However, the whole consumer economy is a layered ponzi scheme of credit over savings, entitlements over work, and growing class warfare between the public and private sectors. China has stopped using its massive trade surplus of US dollars to buy US Treasury bonds. The largest buyer of American debt is the Federal Reserve, which makes little common sense that we are borrowing money from ourselves; money which we don't have in the first place. But that is the high finance that only a few government officials believe they know and understand, while the financially naive taxpayer is left to scrabble from paycheck to paycheck.
During one past election cycle, a Congressman running for re-election was ambushed by a question from a reporter. It was a simple one. What is the cost of a gallon of milk? A basic, household staple. A weekly expense to each and every voter in his district. A true indicator of the economy at the lowest common denominator. The congressman stumbled and had no answer. It showed how far out of touch the people who make laws affecting taxpayer's bread baskets are to the true economic realities on Main Street America. One gets the feeling that Washington D.C. elite have an attitude that the people in the heartland shall have their cake and eat it too; a precursor to the French Revolution of mandates of do what I say but not as I do. The current policy is to continue to import oil at higher and higher prices in order not to upset the environmental agenda even though it is killing the average consumer.
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
If you stay in Beverly Hills too long you become a Mercedes.
THE STEAM PUNK SPECIAL EDITION featured new Music from Chicago Ski & the (audio) Real News:
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EXAMINING THE NET
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THE WHETHER REPORT
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* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
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Question: Whether Intel's Thunderbolt transfer technology will become the new standard over USB 3.0?
* Educated Guess
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Question: Whether technology has hit a physical wall in data transmission speeds due to the inherent finite limitations of the global network capacity?
* Educated Guess
* Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
* Vapor Dream
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