What Late Stage Capitalism Can’t Sell You

I’ve heard the argument that free trade via a money supply allows the market to quickly signal through price of products what goods and services are needed. And this is true to an extent— for goods and services that are saleable and *can* be priced.

But this leaves out a vast portion of our lives which cannot so easily have bar code price stickers affixed or encased in hard clear plastic— friendship, love, civic duty, honesty, community spirit, genuine dialog and so much more.

Individuals offer those things freely to the society because people intuitively understand that they’ll receive likewise in return from their trusted friends and family. However, such an economy of these necessities in life is like a black market that is entirely outside of the “normal” economy. People who have found “their people”, whomever those people might be, are saved from the emptiness that is the life promised to them in “The American Dream”— which is an entirely materialistic one.

But in a society that values only those services and products which can command a price tag and a profit by producing a surplus, these other essential holistic elements for a satisfying human life are conspicuously absent from the marketplace, with only cheap substitutes sold in their stead.

And so, the symptoms that we see are casualties of despair due to the failure of capitalism to provide the most basic nutrients to sustain a healthy and happy human life. It is implicit in this “free market utopia” that each individual seek and satisfy the remainder of their human non-material needs through their own means. That is part of the contract of a “free society”. But people don’t always realize that and also don’t always know where to fulfill the remainder of their needs.

The problem is that the society that uses the free market as the foundation of its entire construct provides no guidance as to how and what further is necessary to obtain for a satisfying life. The recommendations that ARE given are intended for the producers to extract a profit from the people seeking something more in life. That is the nature of the foundation of this market-centric society.

In the absence of this guidance of what more to seek out in life, people have sought more meaning in their lives through the products and services that have been advertised to them. It is unsurprising that such products and services that don’t fill the holes in their souls. And when those things sold as promises fall short, people turn to other false promises from a variety of other charlatans in religion, politics, or other temporary snake-oil salves.

There is no doubt in my mind that all that is happening is a crisis of late-stage capitalism. The flaw isn’t that capitalism is terrible. It has served its part quite well— to relieve society of scarcity of material goods and services. However, it has not and cannot relieve society of the scarcity of immaterial things such as love, friendship, civic duty, respect, honesty, and so many other things that we inherently value as a social species.

We must find those things ourselves. But it’s difficult for people who are accustomed to using money to find solutions to all of their problems. When that currency is not accepted by the providers of these other immaterial needs, the people who are accustomed to being “valued customers” grow angry that their money is no good here.

That disconnect is what I see most often between people who have bought into the “material goods” worldview and the “immaterial goods” worldview. The two economies use different currencies, and there is rightfully a rejection of money being used to buy goods and services from the “immaterial goods” economy. When someone with money tries to buy from the “immaterial goods economy” without earning the currency first, there is indignation and offense, and often times rejection of their attempted purchase. And there is indignation and offense in return that their money, that they’ve worked hard for, has no value in this economy that is foreign to them.

You have to find your people, whomever they may be. That’s the missing ingredient. And for each person, that ingredient is different. So, it’s hard for capitalism to produce a surplus to satisfy this particular demand, though they certainly have no qualms about trying and profiting from it anyway.

How Systemic Racism is like the Hillsborough Disaster

CW: People crushed to death at Hillsborough Stadium.

The Hillsborough Stadium disaster has always struck me as a metaphor for systemic racism. The cries and pleas of the people being crushed and asphyxiated at the bottom of the crush of the crowd cannot be heard by the people at the top. So, the people at the top are oblivious to the danger that their pressure adds to the system.

The ones who are making decisions about the system also do not have a good view of what’s happening at all places. Thus, they make decisions that have life and death consequences to the people who had an unfortunate position in the system.

Even the authorities blame the very victims for what is clearly a failure of systems. People want someone to blame— the victims’ families blame the authorities and the authorities blame the crowds themselves.

The problem is the system and that the authorities made decisions without all of the information about the system in a timely manner. This is where lack of communication, lack of foresight, and lack of understanding of the system turns to be deadly. I fear that I’m seeing this same pattern play out in real-time with systemic racism and this administration’s response to it.

The people at the bottom are screaming, “I can’t breathe” but it’s still business at usual at the top, where people are unable to hear the screams of people at the bottom. The people at the top are still applying pressure, not knowing that they are each contributing to someone’s death far away from where they see that everything is fine and normal.

This is a metaphor for the mechanism of systemic racism that has cost George Floyd his life. Privilege, ignorance, obliviousness, the inevitable consequences of systems, the randomness of position in the crowd, consequences and the casting of blame from all points of view are all represented here as similar to the pressures of systemic racism.

But more importantly, the crush of systemic racism is still happening. The oppressive crush and pressure is still ongoing, with some people advocating for it, causing its pressure to build up. I hope people can see this because it’s not too late to recognize the crushing weight of the system and pull back from adding our own weight to the system onto the people below us.

It’s not too late for authorities to recognize the system and turn back and relieve pressure before a disaster worse than Hillsborough occurs.

I hope people can see this metaphor clearly and take action to help shout so that people at the top of the crush and people in a position of authority are able to hear the voices who are being crushed at the bottom.

Even the allies who were dismantling the fences and carrying the injured on advertising boards were chastised by authorities as hooligans. The other side saw the victims’ desperation as pitch invasion because they didn’t have a complete understanding of what was happening. These same misunderstandings are occurring in the struggle for the voices at the bottom to be heard that “I can’t breathe!” Let’s be allies and help everyone hear their voices! I hope that this metaphor can help people see the system that is culprit so that the right information can get to the right people an that more people will become allies to the cause against systemic racism.

Eu-Ming Lee

Today, you… tomorrow, me.

Ok. Biden’s our guy, now. I know some of you don’t like that. That’s okay. And it’s okay to be hurt by that, and I’m sorry that this is the situation we’re faced with.

But I want our guy to win. So that means I have to do something to help make that happen. But how?

Here’s what I’m going to do. And I learned this right now because I tried to do it and couldn’t. What did I try to do?

I tried to find an old twitter conversation by a black voter who described what it was like growing up in the south with establishment politicians coming to visit them in their homes and their church.

This was a first-hand account of what the Democratic establishment meant to black voters. It was a good summary of why Biden won big with black voters on Super Tuesday.

But here’s where I failed. I couldn’t find it. It was just one of many opinions on Twitter about Biden vs. Bernie and was lost in that cacophonous noise. But now, I believe that it is a voice which deserves to be amplified. However, I failed to save it anywhere, and Google searches merely return that noise.

So here’s my action item, and I hope you’ll follow suit to support Biden in defeating Trump: Save those articles. Save them in your browser bookmarks. Save them and categorize them to inspire people who may need it.

Because black Democratic voters believe that Biden is a good ally to them. And I want to be a good ally to black Democratic voters myself. To do that, I will amplify their voices within my own social bubble so that people will hear that black voters deeply believe in Biden. And hope that the people in my bubble will come around to understand what Biden means to so many people who came out to vote for him on Super Tuesday.

With that power, we can make their faith in Biden come true by amplifying their voices so that the message trickles up through all of our barely intersecting social bubbles up to the top where the political establishment can hear it.

That’s not too hard to do. You don’t have to hold your nose to vote for Biden. You can listen to the voices around you for whom Biden means the culmination of a lifetime of fighting for civil rights since the 60’s. Biden himself might not have been on the right side of that fight at all times. But the Democratic establishment definitely was, and black voters know and remember that. Let’s not let their trust go unfounded. Let’s work with them and for them because black and brown people have chosen this, and this is what we can do to be good allies and honor their choice.

I’m all in for Biden. I hope you are, too.

America is a kakistocracy now, just like Atari Games was for a long time before its demise

Frustrated, I always chanted a soothing mantra to myself, “They’ll collapse under the weight of their own incompetence.” And one day, they finally did. There was no joy and no vindication in the schadenfreude. They simply collapsed, as expected.

What happened at Atari Games was kakistocracy. Long before I was hired there, some idiots came into power and found the formula to stay in power— they kept promoting their idiot friends and formed a political faction to suppress competence or anything that might challenge their power. Competence is the most dangerous threat to a kakistocracy. And so, over time, the competent people who could have turned things around were one-by-one sifted out. The best people at Atari either self-selected to form other companies with each other to get away from the idiots, or else they were forced out by the politics of the dominant political groups. I got in there late, but I saw it all happen, nonetheless.

Sarah Ellerman I just realized something. Trump IS Atari Games! Remember when the management at Atari frustrated me all the time? I’d come home pissed off at You Know Who constantly. When I first started, it didn’t bother me because I wasn’t on the front-lines of their stupidity. But as my role became more prominent, their stupidity become more intrusive and obstructive of my desire and ability to succeed on Atari’s behalf.

And that is exactly what’s happening now with the GOP. Have you noticed that the best and smartest GOP members have renounced Trumpism and the GOP? There are numerous articles of such principled people. What are left after this sifting are the unprincipled people. The best of the Republicans have already moved on, to leave the idiots to at the helm to themselves, just as the best people who formerly worked at Atari left to form Activision and Electronic Arts, companies which still exist, while the biggest grand daddy, with all of its money and power— Atari, failed to remain relevant,except in the fantasy of Blade Runner films.

This is what we are experiencing with the Trump’s executive handling of the Covid-19 emergency. This is how kakistocracy operates. I experienced it first hand at Atari Games, and so I recognize its tell-tale signs. It’s primary concern is maintaining power, because each individual within the kakistocracy knows intuitively that it is undeserving of the riches afforded to it. So, all tools and efforts are to maintain the lies and deception of governance while looting the treasury for as long as it will be allowed to do so.

Eventually, the kakistocracy produces the outcome exactly as I had predicted of Atari Games so long ago: “It will collapse under the weight of its own incompetence.” The only solace here is that it actually takes a long time for the rich flesh of the corpse to be stripped away, so America will lumber along, crippled by these parasites before it eventually stumbles and succumbs. That lengthy time buys some reprieve and hope to change course.

We shall see. Things won’t end immediately. This crisis is an opportunity for riches and re-election for Trumpism. And there may even be a continuance after that. America will make a rich corpse for the parasites to feed on for a long time. We can still carry on as normal inside of its bloated, sore-infested, pustulant corpse for as long as our lives will allow, shortened as it may be by the very existence of this parasite.


America 2.0 – America's Greatest Test in 3 Generations 3/21/2020

I’m becoming very very afraid for America. America is teetering precariously between two conflicting ideas— everyone for themselves, and we’re all in it together. It’s the latter spirit which helped win World War 2 and ushered in the golden age of Pax Americana of which we’re now at the tail end. But lately, the everyone-for-themselves side has been winning. We can see it in full evidence in several ways:

  • Senators dumping their stocks after briefings into the projections of Covid-19.
  • People hoarding medical masks and equipment that hospital workers desperately need.
  • People hoarding hand sanitizer only to be banned for trying to price gouge on Amazon.
  • Gun shops running out of guns and ammo.
  • People going to spring break in Florida regardless of the pending Covid-19 pandemic.
  • People down-playing the Covid-19 pandemic because it hasn’t affected them yet.

These are people trying to get ahead of the curve. This is the fundamental character of America, to get ahead of your neighbors, for yourself. Rather than pull together and fight together to solve a community problem, Americans, by instinctive nature, do what they can to protect themselves and their immediate family. This is why the hand sanitizer and toilet paper are gone from the shelves. It’s because Americans pride themselves as a self-reliant people. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an admirable quality. But it’s also a quality whose underlying dark side is the fundamental distrust of their fellow human beings to help them. It’s the quality of I must help myself because I’m the only one who will.
It’s the quality of buying up everything because of the distrust of the supply chain to remain intact during a crisis. It’s the quality of distrust of the government response. It’s distrust in our leaders to do what’s best for the all of us, rather than for themselves. It’s distrust of your neighbors, of other states, of other ideologies. We’re just a distrustful nation in general, and that heightens our self-reliant spirit which reinforces our natural distrustful disposition.

As it turns out, that distrust was quite warranted when we discovered that indeed the very people who we elected to protect our interests, our national representatives, had used early inside information to dump their stocks, to protect their own futures. They think nothing wrong of it, because that’s what all Americans do every day. That’s what you would do if you were in their position, of course, right? So, in a way, they are indeed true representatives of Americans. It’s not really so much their fault as it is the fault of the American character in general— that of fierce self-reliance, self-preservation, and individualism.

Americans are not as practiced at self-sacrifice and community support as other nations and cultures. Public service for American politicians is not about helping other people; it’s about helping yourself. Americans, in general, simply do not have a civic spirit.

I’m afraid for America today, March 21 2020, because I see two unstoppable juggernauts colliding into an inevitable result— the breakdown of society. Not just society as we know it, but society in total.

I’m talking about looting and murder in the streets breakdown of society, not just self-quarantine. I’m talking about national guard in the streets enforcing curfews. I’m talking about suspending elections due to martial law. If you think it can’t happen here, then you’re thinking just like the people who didn’t buy guns and ammo. You’re thinking Americans won’t shoot Americans. You’re thinking, that’s unthinkable. But those bullet points above are foreshadowing the unthinkable things that are going to happen in the next few weeks and months at an accelerated pace that you right now cannot imagine. The cold hard math and trajectory of Covid-19 points to inevitable shortages of medical supplies and medical attention, leading to unimaginable numbers of tragic deaths throughout the nation. Today, March 21, 2020, the numbers seem concerning, but not unimaginable. You might be reading this in the future, and may have forgotten what was imaginable right now on March 21, 2020 because those actual things are happening to you right now. Those of you in my present time, I alert you, so you can be psychologically prepared for this. In real-time, you will be seeing news stories that you thought were unthinkable just a couple of weeks earlier. Let this article ease you into this shock and get ready for it.

I’ve come to the startling realization that there are two crucial things that we are relying on to solve those shortages:
1) Capitalism must be functional enough to meet the demand of the medical supply chain, but also all of our other needs


2) That the spirit of working together as a team and the spirit of voluntary self-sacrifice to get things done is the primary spirit during the crisis

What concerns me greatly about this reliance on those two things above to solve the medical supply shortage logistical problem is that they are fundamentally mutually exclusive. Capitalism is inherently comprised of numerous uncountable atomic acts of individual selfishness rather than collective action for the good of the whole. In fact, corporations are groups of individuals who work together for the collectively selfish singular purpose of that corporation. If we’re counting on capitalism to generously provide a steady supply chain for medical equipment to keep up with the exponentially increasing demand of dying Covid-19 patients, then we’re asking something of capitalism that it was not designed for— not profit-taking at the expense of others. This is why the Senators who dumped their stocks feel they’ve done nothing wrong. What they did was simply true to the American character. It’s those of us who feel that it’s morally wrong who are in the minority and who are unusual— Because that’s not how capitalism works nor how it has ever worked. And that’s why those of us who feel like it was wrong of Senators to dump their stock are also wrong about condition #1 above. We only believe that the supply chain to hospitals and grocery stores will be maintained because it’s right to do so, and has always just been there, like magic. But capitalism does not care about morally right or wrong. It cares singularly about the money. It has never ever shown anything other than this true character. And yet, we’re relying on it because it’s the only thing we’ve ever relied upon, so much so that it is invisible to most of us. Americans know no other way. But what if there’s no more money in maintaining the supply chain? What if we’ve bought all the stuff we need to hunker down and stores can stop ordering stuff from factories and factories can save money by shutting down? It was and has always been all about the money. But what if there’s no more money— at all?

The people who collectively emptied out the gun shops are the first warning signs of what’s to come. When others think, “it can’t happen here”, these gun buyers are the ones who think, “don’t be naïve, if and when it happens here, at least I’ll be prepared.” This is the same thinking that goes through people’s minds when hoarding toilet paper and other supplies. It’s the same thinking as the senators who dump their stock. At least I’ll be prepared. It could happen here.

What I’m saying is that thinking “It could happen here” is already the breakdown of society. American society is balanced precariously on top of capitalism. All of our supply chains— of toilet paper and food— all function because there’s money in it. If there’s no more money in it, everything stops. Capitalism is the delusion that stitches together the fabric of American society by virtue of a mass scam. In that way, Trump intuitively understands that if the American people see through that it’s all a scam, then the fabric begins to fray and unravel. If capitalism fails in America, we are all left naked with the frayed and threadbare fabric of our society hanging uselessly off our cold, naked bodies.

Except that won’t happen to those people who hoarded guns and ammo. They won’t be naked because they can take clothes, food and shelter from whoever is hoarding it. The people hoarding those things might be richer than them. But those people might also be YOU! Sure, it might be the unoccupied “investment” homes held by corporations. But those unoccupied homes taken by force also need to be filled with cans of food, masks, soap, and rolls of toilet paper. And maybe you’re the one who’s hoarding those things. If you can no longer buy the things you need from the stores, then guns and ammo are the only currency you need.

If you’re saying it can’t happen here then are you really that much different than the people in those states with fewer cases who are saying that Covid-19 can’t happen there? What is the reality of our situation? What is our delusion about how things should work versus how they actually are? We each have different delusions. We’re not that different, whether we deny the severity of Covid-19 or the possibility of total societal breakdown. They are two sides of the same denial coin. Reality is too ugly to even contemplate sometimes, yet here I am entertaining these ugly possibilities. Go into denial, if you must. Maybe we need some measure of it to maintain the fragile society that has been built upon capitalism.

Capitalism is a mass delusion about how things should work. And as long as it works, it does indeed work wondrously. However, the real danger, as I see it, is that at some point, it becomes obvious that it’s not working at all. And when capitalism stops working in America, and we’re left with no more supply chains, no more grocery stores, then the delusion is suddenly dispelled. Then, we’re really left with nothing. Nothing… except the world’s largest per capita gun to citizen population in the world.

The last time people decided that capitalism wasn’t working at all was in 1929 when their collective action that led to crash the stock market, as each individual acted in their own self-interest. There are some safety valves put in place for banks after that, but it doesn’t solve the fundamental pillar of truth— that belief in capitalism is all that holds it together.

Right now, these two juggernauts— a heavily armed citizenry and breakdown of capitalism, due to loss of faith in it— are heading toward each other. I’m afraid for America because I can’t tell which side— whether rugged individualism or whether steadfast determination to pull together as a team will be the spirit of America that wins. Both spirits are strong within her. But it lies in the balance. Both are formidable forces capable of winning the American psyche.

I know what you’re feeling after reading this. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! Maybe I’ll buy a gun and some ammo before they’re all bought out. Please don’t do that. That’s the individualism side of your American spirit getting anxious. Just please don’t. Not today. Not this week. Not this month. Not this year. Please, appeal to the other side: We can do this together! Because if we all pull together, we can do it. We’re tough and we can do this— FOR EACH OTHER!

Capitalism might be a delusion, but it’s all we’ve got right now. We still need it, for now. So, let’s pull through this by maintaining civility and calm while helping each other and not being selfish. We need both of those great American spirits to pull through this. We do need capitalism at this time when hope will seem frayed and worn, and we also do need our spirit of togetherness. Though they are at odds, we need both capitalism and a spirit of community, and that’s what scares me. But I hope I’m wrong and that these spirits are not truly mutually exclusive at all, but that these two great American spirits can work together in harmony just as Americans came together in industry and collective determination to defeat the Nazis in WW2. Maybe this can usher in Pax Americana 2. I hope this is our future direction. Greatest Generation 2— the best American sequel ever!

Taiwan’s humidity is too much for me 11/11/2017

The humidity in Taiwan ruins it for me. It’s always warm and muggy in Taiwan. It’s true what they say. It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. Even when it’s not really all that hot, maybe 78F, it still feels hot in Taiwan. That’s the humidity doing that. When it’s very humid, your body can’t cool itself down with sweat. But that doesn’t stop your body from trying. And try it does. If you’re not a native to Taiwan, your body will keep sweating in a vain attempt to cool itself down. I don’t know how the locals stand it here. I guess they get used to being sticky and sweaty all the time. They wear long sleeves and pants here all the time. I can’t even. It gives me a sense of claustrophobia. I gasp for air, like I’m drowning in the humidity.

It’s weird to see all these Chinese people. Occasionally, I see the lone blonde woman out on the street teeming with busy Chinese people. It’s always the same one. Her blue eyes don’t meet mine as I look at her curiously. I wonder if she feels just as strange, being a minority, as I do being in the racial majority for once. She doesn’t acknowledge my look. I’m invisible to her; she must get the same glances every day as she walks down the sidewalk. She’s drowning in humidity and Chinese. There’s too much of both here, and I’m an utterly unremarkable part of the background.

She’s not wearing any make-up. Nor do any of the Chinese women I see today. I don’t blame them. When it’s so sticky, I can’t imagine putting something called lipstick on. Make-up would be called facestick here. I can see the layers of paint bubble and crack on the ceiling of the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial. I imagine that’s what the humidity would do to make-up here as well. It’s a losing battle. There’s a better chance that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek leaps up from his resting place in his mausoleum to conquer mainland China for the Kuomintang than to conquer the humidity here.

I can’t tell if the blonde woman is pretty or not. I can’t tell if any of the Chinese women are, either. It’s not racism. It’s the humidity. No one can look good here, with or without make-up. I’ll bet if you took some of these Chinese women out of Taiwan, they would be really pretty. It would be like taking someone who had been wearing weights on their ankles all their life and putting them into a track and field competition without weights. They’d naturally be amazing athletes after being saddled with weights that had suddenly been removed.

Feeling sticky, sweaty and muggy is a remarkably unsexy feeling. It’s like you’re really sweaty and out of breath after a long hard fuck, but subtracting all of the post-coital bliss of the long hard fuck. It’s just the clean-up part where you want a cool towel to wipe down your sticky and stinky nether regions. It’s hard to breathe and you’re just stinky and sweaty without the fuck and without the cool towel. There’s nothing sexy about humidity here. Maybe a southern gal in New Orleans could fan herself on the porch with a pitcher of lemonade and a sultry smirk. But that same gal and her fan would wilt under the humidity in Taiwan. The fan would be useless because the unrelenting humidity prevents any evaporation of sweat from the skin even in a light breeze from a fan. The stereotype of a Chinese girl with a fan came from northern China, not the sub-tropical island which is Taiwan.

I gasp for air again, just as a carp gawps at the top of the water for food. It’s so humid, Aquaman could breathe through his gills here. He must have gills, right? What is the biology of Aquaman? Does he release his seed as a swirling hazy cloud over Aquawoman’s eggs? I envy Aquaman for never having to use condoms. He just unleashes his seed bareback right into the ocean every damn time. Guaranteed safe sex. What a lucky guy. However, I can’t get too envious. He’ll never know the intimate feeling of skin-on-fin contact which is presumably very nice. I wonder when they’ll address this in the upcoming movies where they feature Aquaman. Now, Aquaman fertilizing some Easter eggs would be something to sit through the credits for. Imagine that cloudy emission floating straight at you in 3D, and the virtual tadpoles that emerge from your face. That’s the ultimate culmination of computer graphics and 3D, is to have Aquaman simultaneously inseminate an entire audience on opening night. That such a happy ending is in the realm of the possible is going to make all other possible endings disappointing in comparison now that the idea of that spoogy possibility has been disseminated to you. Likewise, the attractiveness of a woman in Taiwan cannot be determined because the platonic ideal of that same woman not being in the swampy, sweaty, junior high locker room air of Taiwan always exists in theory .

The humidity in Taiwan ruins it for me; it really does. Aquaman releasing his cloudy seed into your face in 3D at the end is merely a mild metaphor of how the humidity ruins it for me here in Taiwan. That  metaphor is barely a single tadpole compared to the hellspawn that is the actuality of the humidity here. But enough exaggeration and metaphor. The simple, unadorned truth is that the humidity in Taiwan makes rainy summers in Houston seem tolerable and almost nice and refreshing in comparison. That is no exaggeration, but simple truth.

The Real Reason We Lost Our Jobs to Robots

The Real Reason We Lost Our Jobs to Robots

The real reason we lost our jobs to robots is because our educational system trains our children to be parts of an 18th century world wide computer system that no longer exists.

This is why children in the 21st century still have nonsensical rules like “you can’t use a calculator on your math test” with the bizarre justification that “You won’t always have a calculator with you” just as they’re Snapchatting that exact absurd moment to their worldwide friends on a device which literally does a billion times more math than the room-sized computers that sent men to the moon. In school, you have to memorize to be able to do simple arithmetic, including long division in case you become a cog in the global human computer that was the great economic machine at the center of all human commercial activity.

Your handwriting must be uniform and precise. You must arrive on time and not leave before the specified time or else face penalties. Any human eccentric variation in these aspects could jam up the human computer and break the system. Thus, uniformity is valued and encouraged in this 18th century ideal of a young worker.

In the 18th century, preparing a population of replaceable computer parts for your global information network made a lot of sense. You needed to be able to find a part with legible handwriting and capable accounting skills to serve as your word processor or spreadsheet or to replace a broken part of your word processor or spreadsheet. In the old days, parts of your human computer could literally die. And you thought losing your iPhone pictures was bad. At least they’re still up in the cloud. Old Wentworth might be up in the cloud after losing his bout with Scarlet Fever, but you’re not getting your data back from him. However, we now have such things as actual computers which handle the tasks of global communication, commerce, and arithmetic far more reliably and cheaply.

We no longer need children to memorize capitals of states and countries so they can potentially serve as a shoddy version of Google Maps. We no longer need children to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which is not even on Google Maps, nor John F. Kennedy’s speech to serve as a living embodiment of an oral version of Wikipedia as if it were some Fahrenheit 451 dystopia where such information would be lost otherwise. Just now, I wasn’t sure how to spell dystopia, but a two second alt-tab to Google provided me the answer. Although such things are not important anymore, we still have spelling bees for children to exalt this useless skill. We’re told not to use the word “I” in our writing, because writing must be messages intended not for other humans, with senses of humor, but for the global computer made of humans. Never use the word “I” in your writing because you’re not expected to actually communicate with other humans. Your expectation is to communicate only to other parts of the machine which happens to be made up of anonymous humans. Soylent Computer is MADE OF PEOPLE! In fact, in your writing, the more you downplay and disregard that there is a human which is a computer part, the better it is for the computer. Soylent computer runs smoother and more consistently if emotions and human blather like love are left out entirely. Surely, this makes sense. I certainly agree with my 18th century intelligensia that my word processor and my spreadsheet are not made any better by allowing the CPU and internet connection to have human emotions. What a mess that would be.

The real reason we lost our jobs to robots and automation is because our educational system trains our children to be a shitty computer and far far better computers exist now. Instead of training our children to design and invent those robots, our educational system trains our children to BE those robots. Is it any surprise that shitty child robots grow up to be shitty adult robots who can’t compete against actual real and working robots? Is it any surprise that of the few children who can invent a robot to replace 1000 shitty human robots, that the one clever child who invents the robot makes 1000 times as money as those children would have made?

Income inequality, poverty, and joblessness all stem from one source: Computers advanced far faster at an exponential rate than innovation in our educational system. Our educational system was good for the 200 years in which global society used a Soylent Computer. But now that it’s clear that Soylent Computer is no longer needed, we need to change our educational system to reflect that profound change.

So, this is a call to everyone who can make change in the system. The system needs to change. And it must change fast. It’s changing far too slowly and the nation’s citizens are suffering for it for every moment we lag behind. Computers are still advancing exponentially. And the educational system is hardly even advancing linearly. It is static. It’s still stuck in the 18th century. The longer this remains the case, the more people who will be hurt by being born into this stagnant situation.

However, not all people of the earth will be born into this situation. There are many billions of people who, had they been born in the 18th century, would not have been born into an educational system which afforded them the potential to work at Soylent Computer. They would not have received the education to even be a cog in the human computer. They would not have participated in the world economy at any level.

People of China, of India, of Africa could have never participated in the global economy in the 18th century. Yet, now, going into the 21st century, they are not yoked as children into an 18th century rigid educational system. Instead, with no educational system at all, those nations and peoples are free to invent one which is suitable for the realities of the 21st century in which global communications and computers are ubiquitous.

Just as China did not have to build telegraph wires across their entire mountainous and difficult terrain to join the telecommunications revolution, future children of the world no longer have to endure the intermediate step of an antiquated educational system in order to participate in a dynamic and rapidly evolving world economy.

If America loses its dominance, it will be fast because the world moves so much faster now. The root cause will be because of its educational system. Just as in warfare where innovations such as rifling or camouflage or armored vehicles have a profound and upsetting effect on the nations which have met previous success with the status quo, the future of the global economy does not belong to the nations which adhere to the status quo, but instead adapt unrelentingly to the pace of change.

This is why conservatives, in the traditional sense of the word, as in “preserving the status quo”, are far more dangerous to the future of the United States than anyone dare thought, even in its current chaotic and turbulent state.

The pace of global change is so fast that you can put a man on the moon less than a hundred years after learning to fly and then subsequently land a probe on a comet in the same time as the first plane and landing on the moon. Being conservative and adverse to change in this situation is believing that the right shoes can win a footrace against a Ford Model T when the Tesla has already been invented. The man in the Tesla will beat your man with his best shoes on any day, often with heated seats and without touching the wheel.

The world is changing far far faster than the educational system. Even if we were to reverse this trend tomorrow, how much change would be necessary in order for it to make a difference? It would still be too slow. There are billions yet to be born in China and India into this new world economy. Your change to the educational system in the US would only affect millions in a few decades. Do the math. They taught you to do that, by hand, right? Now, do it. You didn’t. Because you know, like the future of the nation, someone else will do it for you, and more efficiently than by hand, at that. In two hundred years, how many billions will have been born into an educational system adapted to current conditions versus how many millions in the US born into an educational system still trying to figure itself out? Just going by the numbers, which system would be most likely to produce the most impactful citizens of the new world economy?

And conservatives want to keep out immigrants? If conservatives love this country, they would be advocating for the exact opposite immigration strategy. At the moment, the US still stands as a coveted nation for immigration. How long will this remain true? A hundred years, at best, given the current rate of progress of other nations and the stagnation of the US. And how does it benefit the US if it loses the status of the most preferred nation by the world’s intellectuals, the world’s most talented people, and the world’s most wealthy people? Easily within 100 years, which, given current advances, it will be within youlifetime if you’re only 10 or 20 years younger than me, the US will no longer hold the esteemed title of most coveted country for immigration. That will be the inflection point at which historians will be able to point to and say that this was the fall of the American empire. That will be the point in time, like the collapse of the Roman Empire, which will attract the most historian scrutiny. But lost in history will be the time and moment when the American empire had the means to change all of that. Perhaps, some historians will point to the election of Trump as the inflection point in which this inevitable turn of events hinged. But this problem is beyond Trump and beyond Clinton. Clinton may have been more tolerant of change than Trump, but she would not have been an advocate of radical change in the educational system since she was most definitely, a moderate, at best. No, the necessary change to alter future history is not anything any politician can realistically implement anyway. The systems of education and politics are too calcified to change faster than the rapid iteration of innovation in human economic activity. Even revolutions did not change the educational systems throughout society. A political revolution is about the maximal change possible in such systems and not all of it may have an immediate positive effect. So, how many revolutions per hundred years would be required to keep up with the relentless pace of change in technological innovation? A thousand per century? Ten thousand? The pace of technological innovation is ridiculous.

Systems such as education and politics which deal with people cannot keep up with the pace of technology. Thus, problems of loss of job skills and economic disenfranchisement will be the primary perennial problems of a post-scarcity world economy for humans. Computers and robots will be fine. But humans live in a wide logarithmic gap between geological scale and computer nanosecond scale. And their silly feelings will need to be assuaged to cope with post-post-modern life lest they cause societal problems with their emotions. Ironically, after being freed from being a human computer cog by real computers, human beings will still be encouraged to suppress their feelings in a world dominated by computers and robots simply because feelings and emotions and irrationality become the greatest threat to destroy a highly ordered and computerized world economy.

The crucial moment when we can still do something about this inevitable collision course with fate is now. Yet, nothing will be done and the events I have described will simply play out as it does in a heavily foreshadowed script. A single person is no longer enough to change history now that billions of people have the opportunity to join the world economy. The myth of the great person only works if there are only so few people in the world that their noble lineage can all be traced such that inevitably a single person with opportunity may arise from that small population of known nobility. The days of nobility are over, now that the opportunity to become great may be afforded to more people than only the nobility. The massive human crush of billions of middle class people will have their own revolution in nothing so dramatic as Marie Antoinette, but whose effects will have far-reaching worldwide consequences nonetheless.

April 9, 2017

Eu-Ming Lee


Thanks, Obama!

No, seriously, thanks, Obama! ACA literally saved my life.

But even if fate had other plans and I had died, the loss of a single mortal life cannot diminish the kindness, compassion, poise, humor, tolerance, grace, and careful reflection that you’ve brought to the highest office in the land to all of the people who continue to live and thrive in this great nation.

It is those qualities among so many others, rather than saving my life, which earns my thanks. For it is your great character and calm, steady leadership in the face of rabid, intense rage-filled opposition that sets the tone of hope and trust for millions of people who grow weary of the cynicism of politics day by day.

Thanks, Obama. You’ve done a great job, even though those whose job it is to congratulate you cannot do so without losing votes or losing advertisers. Forget about them. You did what was right and what was best, and I’m thankful and grateful that we had someone as thoughtful and nonplussed as you as our leader for eight years. I believe history will judge you best once the nation awakens from the foolish, but profitable business of self-cannibalizing partisan politics. And when that day arrives, hopefully soon, history will finally recognize you as the leader who was gently nudging the nation awake the whole time.

Thanks, Obama. We will miss you when you’re gone. Your legacy is as secure as your quiet confidence in the righteousness of all of your decisions. May you enjoy your retirement blessedly surrounded with company of your beautiful beloved family and comfortably with the knowledge of a job well done.

Thanks, Obama, once again. Your policies allowed me to live to see the end of the final term of your presidency. We are already seeing the evidence of how badly we needed you for those last eight years in the upcoming crop of potential seekers of your office. Be sure to swap in a smaller chair before you leave because it will be difficult for any one of these office seekers to fill the chair as you have.