5th August 2008
Richard K Morgan.
Science fiction is one of my passions. I prefer "hard" SF,
although "Lord of the Rings" type stuff is grist for the mill. In
category "hard" the desirable features are introduction of likely
science and the effect on human society. e.g. "Brave New World"
introduced a possible future given mechanical reproductive technology,
and how such might affect society. Richard Morgan has published
a series of three placed several hundred years in the future starting
Carbon", a singleton placed about forty years in the future called
"Market Forces" and a singleton placed about 90 years in the
All Morgan's books disclose an author who has revolutionary
politics. In "Altered
Carbon" it was the "Quellists", who were at the core fighting against
elite. (One Quellist saying: "Human History happened because of
the search by women for a decent orgasm"). The technology
introduced in this series was potential immortality achieved via a
device that stored the personality and memories. The device could
recovered on death and placed in a new body (either custom designed, or
from a criminal
sentenced to many years of disembodiment). Of course "resleeving" (as
the process of being embodied
was called) was expensive. The hero had a specialized form of
psychological commando training,
which removed his preconceptions about everything, and thus gave
insight into others, and the ability to benefit from the insights
In "Market Forces" I could see echoes of our own corporate world with
market forces run riot. The innovation here was a legislative
environment that allowed contesting of corporate promotion by
challenges to the death on public roads. The hero is an executive
in a corporation
that finances revolutions in third world countries so that it can
obtain lucrative trade contracts with the client dictator.
between and promotion within corporations is by legalized games of
"chicken" on the highways. Again the theme is that rife elitism
A friend to whom I recommended "Market Forces" complained about
overemphasis on sex scenes. That was perhaps fair comment,
because they went beyond similar scenes in "Brave New World" or "1984"
where the sex scenes were employed to show an aspect of social
"Thirteen" is placed in a universe where super soldiers were
2090 by various nation states by enhancing area thirteen of the cortex,
which (apparently) had to do with aggression. This is again an
anti elitist book, in that it defines elitists as those variants (who
have become our modern era politicians) who supplanted
the "thirteens" who are defined as the dominant genetic variant
from the pre nomadic-agricultural era.
12th August 2008
The Government has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to bring
out recommendations on PRIVACY. Their recommendations are that
harsh financial penalties should be given to those who infringe the
privacy of others. The media are very much against that bill, and
not just the "National Enquirer" faction. Barvennon has not yet
contacted Lee Kwan Yew, but confidently predicts that the Island State
would endorse such legislation.
Nicole Kidmann was not asked her opinion on such a law. I would
imagine that most people who make their living from their public image
would endorse the notion of having a punitive veto on (true is not a
defense) media stories about themselves. The class of people who
make their living from media image includes judges, actors, sportsmen
wealthy businessmen and even some of the higher profile media
people. Oh, and POLITICIANS. Of course the law would not be
much use to Tom, Dick or Harry, because where would they find the money
to enforce their rights?
We can admit that some people who are famous for scandalous behavior
(like Paris Hilton) might not care very much.
However I would reckon that the vote is rigged, and the result a
foregone conclusion. What do you think?
15th August 2008
The Australian Reserve Bank is planning to reduce interest rates?
In the past 25 days the amount of US currency that can be purchased
$AU1.00 has fallen from around US 98 cents to about US 86 cents.
The price of oil has fallen from around US$150 to about US$115.
Gold has fallen from near $US1,000 to about $US800.
My own guess is that the above mentioned currency and resource
movements are caused by hedge funds selling down oil and other mineral
resources because their predictive software noted reduced world oil
consumption. That reduction was probably due to pollution control
restrictions in force for the Olympics around Peking. The nitwits
in hedge fund management are so secretive and knowitall that they did
not think to ask their analysts and in which case they might have
realized the preceding, and covered their short positions. I
would suggest that my readers short hedge funds, because I do think
hedge funds are not going to make very much money in the current
economy is showing a tendency to rising unemployment and rising
inflation. So far
that rising unemployment is mostly due to the psychological effect of
activism on employers. That activism results from the change of
government and the repeal of the rabidly anti union "work choices"
legislation. The rising unemployment and increasing
inflation resulting from the repeal of "work choices" was predicted on
this blog last February.
If the Chinese stop buying so many raw materials the rot can be
expected to accelerate. The Bracks report (discussed last
February) recommended a handout to the
auto unions of several billion dollars (disguised as subsidies to auto
manufacturers). At least Bracks does not recommend an increase in
So yes, I expect that the economy is going to grind slower.
Rising unemployment. Mortgagee sales metastasizing from the
poorest to the middle class suburbs. Rising welfare. Budget
The Reserve bank is strongly hinting that the interest rates it charges
banks will drop, and is attempting to persuade (bully) the big four
banks to drop their lending rates commensurately. They are
hedging, and saying that any reduction will be their decision at the
time. As I walked past some of those banks today I noticed that
they offering 8% up to 8.75% for 24 months.
GEORGIA and SERBIA
After the disgraceful way that NATO & the Clintons
treated the Serbians over their imagined ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, I
am not at all surprised that the Russians have moved to protect their
citizens from the Georgian murderers in South Ossetia. Trouble
is, nobody trusts the Russians (except maybe the Serbs). I warned
that attempts to recognize Kosovo as a nation would bring
problems. South Ossetia should now be proposed as a new
nation. Admittedly, the population is small, but there are
Speaking of Serbia. Milosevic was not going to be convicted of
war crimes, so he was murdered before the judgment was passed.
(Did anybody say only doctors buried their mistakes? Add UN
liberals to that list!). I
suggest that the recently captured Karadzic should, for his continued
existence, plead guilty,
otherwise I feel that he will meet the same fate as Milosevic.
There is no way
that Karadzic would be permitted a finding of "not guilty". That
would call into question the justice of the NATO intervention.
Christopher Hitchens writing in "The Australian" attempts to demolish
the similarity between Kosovo and Ossetia but makes several
It would be nice if we could get consistent & unbiased reporting
from Liberal journalists. I suspect that a few years ago Hitchens
was probably lauding those he now calls "the Clintonoids".
Subject selection is a political decision by editorial staff, but after
that unavoidable political act, I would like to see those who think of
themselves as journalists (rather than entertainers) make an attempt at
honest reporting based on facts.
- There was no governmental "Serb cleansing" of Kosovar Albanians -
the only alleged incident I can recall involved a couple dozen
fatalities found in Kosovo. The ethnic background of the
fatalities reflected the local ethnic ratio. The Serbs claimed
that the fatalities were the result of turf wars between Albanian drug
the western press had promptly renamed the KLA). That single
incident, and a few thousand economic refugees seem to have been the
sole basis for the NATO war on Serbia. Russia on the other hand
responded to Georgian military (aerial) action that (according to the
UN) killed hundreds of Ossetian civilians.
- Hitchens uses Iraq examples. Even he admits that Iraq is
not the issue.
- Hitchens does not seem to know whether the Russians intend to
absorb Ossetia, or create an independent nation, but he assumes both
and castigates both solutions.
Capitalism in Crisis.
Let me define the term "capitalism". The USA is not a capitalist
government, it is a republic which has an economic system that has
relied on capitalism and industrialism for production. Capitalism
arose when the steam engine was invented. Prior to the industrial
advances that followed that invention, road transport was most
economical by an owner driver with a horse and cart. After the
steam engine, somebody with large amounts of capital could build a
train service, and the horse and cart was marginalised. So,
"Capitalism" was born. More recently, IC engines have restored
the previous balance, and individuals can once again compete with
capital(ists) in the transport business. Extrapolating,
Capitalism is going the same place
that feudalism went with the industrial revolution.
Back in 2005 I
predicted that big business in the USA was about to collapse.
the high in 2007 the US stock exchange has collapsed between 25% - 30%,
and that is
just the beginning. The reason is that small organizations can
now do the job of large organizations cheaper & more
efficiently. (Think Amazon, Google, Drudge, Itunes, Ebay).
There is no monopoly (even infrastructure or copyright & patent)
that is safe to buy
into. That is the root cause of the problems in the stock
and bond markets. Large corporations are uneconomic entities in
the modern world. Any that continue to exist will only manage by
corruption (eg. purchase legislation that establishes them as a
There are still entrepreneurs, and those
make lots of money. The problem for investors is that those
entrepreneurs do not go IPO until their business is mature, (which
say it has already passed the rapid growth stage and has plateaued or
is in decline) or
until the entrepreneur wants to retire, (in which
case the business will decline because MBA's who replace the
entrepreneurs are not as good as
the academics certified them to be - think Steve Jobs). It is
these entrepreneurs who are giving the paradoxical US economy
data. (The economy is booming, but (big) business is failing.)
How bad can it get? The great depression began October 1929, when
the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was at just below 400.
After one year it had fallen by about 25% to about 300. It took
about three years for the DJI to bottom for a 90% fall to about
40. It took a further 25 years for the DJI to recover all that
lost ground and again reach 400.
This recession will probably be worse than the great depression.
Factors are converging and those factors will put the basic concept of
money as capital under stress. Those factors are the retirement
bulge and failing credit trust. Global warming and the energy
crisis are trivial issues that will pall by comparison. My
prediction is that the recession will continue to erode the value of
large corporations for at least five years. My suggested cure is
federal control of M2, negative income tax, government revenue derived
from land tax (reference
"Progress & Poverty").
It was because I foresaw this looming crisis in capitalism back in 2005
(and overtaxed) regimes of Europe will continue in economic
as their stagnant governments raise taxes in an
attempt to maintain the bureaucracy with a declining tax base.
The UK (which has been fighting the trend) will decline as North Sea
reserves decline. Performance of the
US economy will be spotty to good, as new industries take over from
the old. The caveat is that government not intervene to prolong
agonies of the old industries. Japan's economy will improve from
it's weakened base. Australia will continue to prosper on
the back of primary product sales to China and further
liberalization of the labour laws.
Those chickens seem to be in the coop. Benanke has the thankless
task of keeping (for the next 2-3 years) the US economy between low
inflation and deflation while at the same time minimising the
recession. Worldwide there will be large scale destruction of
wealth. Australia will do worse than predicted (above) because
"liberals" (i.e. Rudd & the ALP) are now in power. They will
kowtow to the unions, and can be expected to support & subsidise
big industry when
it should be allowed to decline. That will make the inevitable
decline just that much more painful.