Posts Tagged future trends

Sign along the dotted line and work for 50 year


Britons will have to work until the age of 70, at least five years beyond the current retirement age, if the Government is to stand any hope of bringing public debt under control over the next decade, a report claims.

What if folks decided they didn’t care about bringing public debt under control? What if folks decide they don’t want to work till they’re 70? How long will folks be allowed to decide when they will and won’t work? This article shows clearly who is working for whom.

The Telegraph article has a couple of interesting maps: the UK unemployment map and the UK job losses since Oct 08 map.

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The urge to save humanity

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule. – H.L. Mencken

The same point was made by Ayn Rand in both her fiction and non-fiction, but I found it hard to accept. Where is the evidence, I wanted to know.

Well, today, I found it, on Austrian economist Bob Murphy’s blog Free Advice: The Road to Serfdom: CA City Bans Smoking.

The Belmont City Council voted unanimously last night to pursue a strict law that will prohibit smoking anywhere in the city except for single-family detached residences. Smoking on the street, in a park and even in one’s car will become illegal and police would have the option of handing out tickets if they catch someone.

The actual language of the law still needs to be drafted and will likely come back to the council either in December or early next year.

“We have a tremendous opportunity here. We need to pass as stringent a law as we can, I would like to make it illegal,” said Councilman Dave Warden. “What if every city did this, image how many lives would be saved? If we can do one little thing here at this level it will matter.”

A “tremendous opportunity”…. to save humanity, or to rule ever more intrusively?

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Symantec to identify safe software by ‘reputation’

This article on ZDNet (Oct. 24th, 2008) says that

Symantec will soon introduce a “reputation-based” software-rating technology that it has claimed can accurately differentiate malicious malware from legitimate programs.

“Reputation-based security is the latest and greatest technology in malware detection,” said Basant Rajan, chief technology officer of the IT security vendor’s India office…

“When seeking good food, we’ll most likely go to the restaurant with the most customers. That’s an example of a reputation-based choice in selecting a restaurant,” Basant said in an interview with ZDNet Asia, during his visit to Symantec’s Kuala Lumpur office.

“You just look at the behavior of people and make a decision based on that behavior. We can do the same with programs,” he explained.

  1. Is choosing a restaurant the same process as identifying malicious software?
  2. Does popularity equal high quality? (See Dilbert’s comment on mediocrity and “best practice”)
  3. On the other hand, if it works…

According to Basant, Symantec’s reputation-based approach assumes three distinct populations in its user base, which numbers in the millions. “You have one population that is ultra-safe, one that is adventurous and one that is completely unsafe,” he said.

OK, what’s the next stage, do you think? Choose from the list below, or add your own:

  1. The “unsafe” users will be tagged and blocked from an increasing number of websites due to their high risk of infection;
  2. “Adventurous” users will also likewise be tagged and be blocked from some sites they visit, or find they have to go through a laborious process of “security evaluation”, (including virtual-reality “body checks” for their avatars)
  3. “Safe” users will offered “fast-track access” to sites from which the “adventurous” and “unsafe” users will be either blocked or have to go through lengthy security checks to enter; this “safe” status will be linked to airport security and “no-fly” lists.
  4. “Unsafe” and “adventurous” users will be offered “fast-track” access if they agree to pay a premium and have customized software installed on their computers;
  5. “Unsafe” and “adventurous” users will find themselves on “no-fly” lists and subject to lengthy and embarrassing security checks wherever they travel; their phones will be bugged and their email scanned and categorized and tagged;
  6. Legislation will be passed criminalizing “unsafe” users and making them liable to financial penalties and to having certain software forcibly installed on their hard-drives.


Japan’s food statistics

A friend’s shared Google Reader feed alerted me to this video created for the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). It contains some interesting statistics, and begs some interesting questions. E.g.:

Japan only produces about 40% of the food it consumes. This is the lowest among all major developed nations. This is the result of the significant change in the Japanese people’s diet

and goes on to describe, and lament, the gradual change from a diet of fish, rice and vegetables (“a nutritionally balanced diet”) to consuming more meat, fat and oil.

  1. Why has this change happened? The video makes it sound as if those stupid, unenlightened, unpatriotic and selfish Japanese consumers made this change happen by their intransigent demands and their refusal to listen to the wisdom of their elders and betters. However, consumers cannot buy what is either not for sale or what is priced beyond their budget. In addition, I recall a short podcast by Dr Andrew Weil (A Toxic World), in which he says, “how can the [U.S.] government say it is innocent… when, if you go into a supermarket in this country, the most expensive calories you can buy are fruit and vegetables, and the cheapest calories you can buy are all the low-quality carbohydrate foods, and the reason those are cheap is because the Federal Government subsidizes those crops and artificially drives down prices. The corporations take the position that, it has nothing to do with them, they are just giving people what they want.”
  2. Why is the government putting out this propaganda? The aim of the video is, what, exactly? To protect and improve the health of the Japanese people? To protect and improve the prospects of the Japanese farmers? To prepare the public to accept tariffs on and higher prices for meat, oil and fats? To prepare everyone for higher food prices all round? (And that this acceptance will be patriotic, therefore objections may be considered unpatriotic?).

Lots of soy and cereal grains are needed to make oil and feed, so they are being imported in large quantities.

  • This gives us a clue: a diet rich in meat, oil and fat is more capital intensive, less efficient, and therefore provides more profits for more people.

Although Japan imports a lot of food, it also disposes of more edible food than the entire world food aid.

  • Woah!

My overall question is why market forces, combined with an informed populace, cannot be left to work their magic on their own? Why stay on the road towards more control and more manipulation? The Japanese government, and much of the population, seems to take the following attitude unquestioningly; as an artist put it, “Millions and millions and billions of people becoming artists? Are you out of your mind? People are herd animals. They need dogs to move them around into the right places.”

In other words, does the MAFF video represent a step towards greater freedom, or towards less freedom and more of the same, centralised, “Daddy Government knows best” statism?

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The wonders of modern science

Darpa wants to see inside your house, from Wired. Your tax dollars at work.

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