Fox News Epiphany

Fox News Epiphany

I’ve come to an epiphany— The Fox News audience is a bonsai tree, and Fox News is this bonsai tree’s master.

Fox News tenderly cultivates and nourishes its own audience for its own pleasure and profit. Fox News carefully prunes the bonsai tree (i.e. its audience) in order to extract the advertising dollars that grow from the tree.

This tree must be forced to grow in a specific way that does not occur in nature because allowing it to grow free and unfettered would soon allow it to grow into a wilderness that Fox News would no longer be able to control. Should their audience grow into a wilderness, Fox News would not be able to package it into a palatable boxed product that they can sell to advertisers.

Commercial organizations other than Fox News, on the other hand, have to deal with this wilderness because they do not control their audience nor their market. Such is the devil in the free market— it is inherently free and unfettered!

It is for this reason (and not because of cancel culture) that many commercial organizations have decided to distance themselves from right-wing voter suppression policies— because their market demands it of them. Yet Fox News remains defiantly exempt from such market pressures.

Fox News is different from other commercial organizations, however, because they do not need to participate in the free market. Instead, they may cleverly choose to create their very own special market!

They can curate a special garden of their very own and grow just a single bonsai tree in the garden and tailor that tree for a particular garden that they wish to have. Thus, the tree and the garden and the master are one and the same.

For you see, the free market is wild and wooly and untamed. A lovely bonsai tree, instead, can be tamed by carefully pruning here and there and restricting its nutrients and the size of its roots. The reason Fox News is shallow is the very same reason the basin of the bonsai tree is shallow— to constrain the wild growth capacity of the tree itself. The entirety of the world that the bonsai tree knows or could ever know is strictly by the whim of the bonsai tree’s master. And so this is also true for the Fox News audience who is unwittingly fed an intellectual diet that intentionally stunts their growth in order for Fox News to package that viewer to a sponsor who pays Fox News for that finely curated audience of wealthy people.

Fox News and its audience and its sponsors are a closed ecosystem. Fox News has found a way to wrangle order out of the chaos of the free market by curating a bonsai tree garden.

I have no objection to this from a philosophical nor free market standpoint. They have found a perfectly valid exploit in human beings and have chosen to maximize profit from that exploit.

No. Rather, my objection is that Fox News is not satisfied with this small garden that they’ve tenderly raised. Their motivations are not for aesthetics as is the case for the bonsai gardener, but instead their motivation is (predictably) to maximize corporate profits. But their means of doing so is different than typical corporations who, in order to grow, must attract a more diverse clientele to its market because the market itself is diverse, and a narrow clientele such as the one that Fox News has cultivated, would necessarily narrow their potential market reach and thus limit their potential profits.

Because of this unique position in the market, Fox News is peculiar because they stand to benefit if the rest of the market and by consequence, the rest of the world, were less free and more similar to the curated garden of the bonsai tree. Rather than growing more diverse, Fox News stands to benefit financially if the entire world were less diverse and more similar to its curated garden. It is in Fox News’ interest to squash diversity and to prune wildness and to encourage an orderly and homogenous environment that is conducive to growing a specific kind of bonsai tree that continually bears the kind of fruit that has made Fox News so financially wealthy for all these decades.

And so in order to grow its market share while at the same time retain its present safe and successful business model, Fox News would prefer that our entire world to be most similar to the special ecosystem that it has fostered for its special bonsai tree.

And those preceding facts culminates in a special danger to our world. In a deadly cocktail, (1) the nature of human beings is that they are so easily influenced and (2) also that they are so easily and eagerly cultivated into pleasantly non-dissonant ecosystems that Fox News cultivates along with (3) the nature of Fox News as a widely broadcast information network, means that we are all in danger of being farmed by Fox News and placed into a tiny constricted basin for the rest of humanity’s existence.

Is it that far of a stretch to imagine that the weakness of most human minds is no match for the information/disinformation/misinformation behemoth of a network that Fox News is already/has already become? Now that I have clearly laid out the parts of the system and how they work, what alternatives would prevent Fox News from carrying out the above plan if they so chose? We have already seen the effectiveness of Fox News in cultivating human minds for profit and the myriad human minds who allow themselves to be molded and shaped in very much the same way as bonsai trees are shaped and molded according to their master’s wishes.

What will Fox News look like in 20 years? What will their audience look like? What will the world look like? Is the pattern I’ve outlined above a credible self-sustaining loop that Fox News may carry out for 20 years? Will other news organizations also adopt their own strategies for bonsai tree cultivation with the end result being that we are all separated by our own media ecosystems so that the big media corporations can each profit peaceably from the fruit from their little garden of stunted trees?


Trumpism is a Zero-Sum Culture

A zero-sum culture believes that in order for it to win, some other culture or persons must lose. Its inherent view of the world is that of a strict binary of predator and prey. If you are not predator, then you must be prey. There is no middle-ground in this world-view. Thus, it is preferable to be predator at all times, lest you be mistaken for prey by another predator. This is the central idea behind Trumpism. Cobra-Kai! Never show any weakness! Sweep the leg!

We know this view to be wrong through the lessons of World War 1 and World War 2 combined. But certain cultures will never let go of this idea. Trumpism seems to have captured the hearts and minds of those cultures under its political umbrella.

The domino effect1 theory of the cold war was seduced by this zero-sum idea of the free world versus the communist world2. It was a failure as a guiding political theory. Its predictive nature was nil, and its damage to America was considerable.

The greatest historical lesson from both World War 2 and the Cold War is that a culture that believes in the zero-sum game is doomed to lose to the cultures that help each other as allies in a positive-sum game. The success of the positive-sum game cannot be more stark than the difference between post-WW1 Germany and post-WW2 Germany.

Post-WW1 Germany was a zero-sum culture. But 1930s Germans had every reason to see it this way since the Treaty of Versailles punished them by saddling Germany with the costs of WW1 which directly “stole” from Germany and enriched the Allies during the post-war economy.

And this alienation of Germany after WW1 of course led to the humiliated and economically isolated Germany that ultimately gave rise to Hitler and Naziism.

Contrast that with post-WW2 Germany which is an economically and politically thriving leader in European affairs with over a half-century of peace, growth, and prosperity. That’s because true economic prosperity is not a zero-sum game; it is a positive-sum game. And post-WW2 Pax Americana is a direct consequence of that positive-sum game. If we want to make America great again, all we have to do is to dive back into that positive-sum game and lead it again.

Even during WW2, the positive-sum game of allies working together was the winning strategy over the predatory strategies of fascism and nationalistic expansionism.

And post-WW2, the allies working freely together during the cold war out-competed the communist-bloc allies who were forged artificially as a defense unit, but not as true cooperative allies. In 1989, as soon as the USSR allowed the freedom of the communist bloc countries to leave the coalition, they did so quickly with little hesitation because the USSR was predatory in their relationship with them.

And since WW2, global economies have become even more integrated and more efficient. So if it was clear that the world had become a positive-sum game during and after WW2, then it should be exponentially clear by now, in 2020, that modern national strength derives from greater interconnectedness and not from isolationism and brutal winner-take-all competitiveness.

Yet, that archaic attitude of vicious competitiveness is at the heart of Trumpism, which in itself is a relic of an imperialistic nation prior to WW2.

Trumpism is that ancient virtue of selfishness at the expense of others. It is outdated and wrong. It is a loser ideology. Nazi Germany tried it, and failed. Soviet USSR tried it and failed. America tried it in Vietnam and Korea, and failed.

But there is something still ingrained in our hunter-warrior cultures that exalts the zero-sum conqueror as a glorious hero. Winning in sports and war has only one winner and one loser, by the rules of the game. That’s why Trump’s favorite insult is “loser” because in his binary world, if the other is the loser, then he alone remains the winner by default. Winning and conquering is glory, and America is addicted to that feeling both in its sports and its war.

America is a fiercely competitive culture— in its love of sports and war. When you see the world only through the lens of winning and losing, then any third alternative such as “cooperation”, by virtue of it not being “winning”, is interpreted automatically as “losing” to you.

This is how to view the world through Trumpism. Everything is simplified down to the point-mass diagram of winning or losing on a single dimension. Anything and everything that is too complicated can be reduced to this single line and placed on the “losing” side of the ledger. There is nothing in the world that cannot be simplified to this single-dimensional explanation.

Trump, and by extension his supporters, cannot grasp the concept of a positive-sum world in which everyone can be winners. Such a multi-axis world is too confusing, so they simplify it down to the single axis of winning-losing.

This is why universal health care or climate change accords are so strange of a concept to them. Their thinking is that if they accede to any demands, then they are losing ground to someone, and thus are losing the war on their one-dimensional axis.

There is no way to explain the multi-dimensional aspects of complex topics to them that clarify how everyone can win in a net-positive-sum game. They will tend to reduce your argument down to the single dimensional axis of winner-loser because that’s what they’re comfortable with in their worldview.

In such a zero-sum worldview, they cannot comprehend the simple facts of a net-positive-sum economy such as that winning against a pandemic as a team not only saves lives but also will improve the economy faster.

The same concept is true of global climate change. We all win as a team if we maintain the environmental conditions that are best suitable for human industry and agriculture as we currently understand it. To do otherwise is simply making everything more difficult and more costly for every person as a whole.

When we’re all on the same team, we all win together. There isn’t even an enemy, except for ourselves and our inability to work together as a team. The zero-sum mentality prevents this crucial understanding about how the modern economy works. This mentality is what thwarts the pandemic response and will thwart the upcoming climate crisis response.

Rejecting immigration is also a foolish artifact of zero-sum culture. It is only looking at one side of the ledger to see what someone takes away from you. But it’s not looking at the full ledger of what immigrants contribute to America as a whole.

Considering that America has always been founded on the strength of its generous immigration, it’s naive and foolish to reject the tremendous boon that immigration offers to America. It should be obvious and clear by many objective measures that immigrants by far add a net positive contribution to America in many ways, both historically and currently.

However, to the zero-sum cultures under Trumpism, this everybody is a winner concept is alien and unnerving and unconvincing because they cannot tangibly feel it in their every day lives. And that’s because America is so viciously predatory in its capitalism that it’s impossible to feel anything other than paranoia that predators are out to get you.

In that environment, indeed, you would prefer to be the predator rather than the prey. And this is the feeling of strength that Trumpism affords these people, even if it’s an illusionary strength. It’s an illusion they can comprehend and tangibly and viscerally feel in their day-to-day economic interactions with American capitalism.

They are not wrong. American capitalism does indeed prey upon them. And it is precisely this feeling which makes them believe whole-heartedly in the zero-sum game of predator and prey. Viewed in that vein, can you really blame them?

Fundamentally, at the higher level view, the modern interconnected world is a net-positive-sum game. But on a smaller, individual level, American capitalism is predatory to such a point that it feels like a zero-sum game to individuals. Although some small amount of socialism could be the antidote to predatory capitalism, the populace have been made so paranoid of socialism that it regards it as yet another predator hungering for their paycheck.

It’s going to be very difficult to convince zero-sum mentality people that they’re not being preyed upon. Their unease about pandemic response, climate change response, and healthcare reform are all attributable to their rightful paranoia of being preyed upon by American capitalist interests in their current lives.

Ironically, they voted for a man who blatantly and openly preys upon them in Trump himself who is literally funneling their campaign contributions into his own interests!

That they should fall for such a blatant charlatan and con-artist is an indication of how deeply wounded these people are by predatory capitalism in America.

So how do we lift these people out of these grievous injuries to their psyche? For post-WW1 Germany, they turned to fascism to assuage their wounded psyches. We must not let that happen here.

Traditionally, government has been the foil to curb the excesses of capitalism. But corporate interests and government have been in alliance against the people for too long that the people can trust neither government nor corporations. The liberal Left is deeply suspicious of corporations and the conservative Right is deeply suspicious of government. Both have well-founded reasons to be suspicious!

The government needs to make a bold statement against the corporate control over American government in order to win back the people’s trust in the government. I don’t know if that’s even possible. But that’s the route away from fascism, difficult as it may be.

Corporatism is too strong of a force to be countered organically by the people. Only a government that is dedicated to curbing its excesses stands a chance of providing shelter for the people against predatory capitalism.

If people are hell-bent on framing the world as a simple zero-sum dichotomy, then I’ll present this one— either strengthen the government to curb predatory capitalism or else suffer the consequences of an angry fascist mob!

It’s important to understand how American culture is accustomed to view conflict in terms of a villain and a hero. Right now, we need to portray the government as the hero against predatory capitalism. What Trumpism has done is to portray a zero-sum world with fascist white supremacy as the hero and the net-positive-sum game of cooperation as the villain. We cannot allow this incorrect view to stand unchallenged.


  1. The entire cold war hallucination of the domino effect is a zero-sum culture belief— If a country could only be either capitalist or communist, then a communist country would infect its neighbors, and capitalist countries would have one fewer ally in the world.
  2. This world view is terribly naive in so many ways. Capitalist and freedom are not automatically synonymous, as we can plainly see in modern China. Furthermore, there is the false dichotomy of either capitalism xor communism without regard to any third option— decolonization of countries that wanted freedom from British, French, or other European imperialism. This was the true reason for the spread of communism— it was the automatic choice if you wanted an anti-imperialist ideology that automatically came with other anti-imperialist allies.

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.

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.






Post Debate Interview with Clinton

Reporter: We’ve asked Secretary Clinton if she would share her thoughts with us after her first debate with Donald Trump. She has graciously accepted our offer to interview her.

Clinton: Thank you. It’s nice to be here to answer your questions.

Reporter: Thank you for spending some time to answer our questions, Secretary Clinton.

Clinton: You’re welcome. I look forward to being able to answer your questions without being interrupted every five seconds.

Reporter: At the debate, you said you have been preparing for the debate instead of campaigning. Could you give us a little bit of detail of how you prepared for the debate? Were you brushing up on your facts and policies?

Clinton: Ah… haha, no. There’s no need for that. As you probably know, I’m known for being a policy wonk for the last thirty years or so, so there was really no need to brush up on my facts and policies.

In my line of work as Secretary of State, a dictator of a country may interrupt me at any moment with some comment about my clothes or appearance and it’s my job to bring the discussion back to reality with facts and a sobering explanation of American foreign policy that prevents a lunatic from doing something he’s going to soon regret.

You would be surprised and dismayed at how many times during important state negotiations, a wayward comment about a pantsuit nearly led to a drone strike in a foreign country. It’s unfortunate when it comes to that, and I’m sorely tempted to let their aggressively hostile remarks be the angel of their own death, but I try to remind myself that words are important and have power and pantsuits should not have more power than words, and so I use my words to project American power ethically and in doing so, have inadvertently protected the lives of many deplorable murderous leaders who really deserve the fate of their own careless words.

Reporter: If you weren’t spending your time brushing up and facts and policy, then how did you spend your time preparing for the debate?

Clinton: Honestly?

Reporter: I think the public deserves an honest answer don’t you?

Clinton: Honestly? No, not really. I don’t think so. That’s private. But I’ll answer anyway, because people don’t care about privacy anymore, and certainly not the privacy of a public official. I hate that, but I understand it. You want to know the real honest truth about how I prepared for the debate?

Reporter: Yes, I think the public has a right to know.

Clinton: I respectfully disagree, but I’ll tell you anyway because frankly I really need this interview to end soon.

The way I practiced was I watched 40 straight hours of Jack Ass and tried to keep a straight face and to not to roll my eyes. I gotta tell you, that scene where that guy was in a hazmat suit and breathed his own fart and then filled his helmet with his own puke was so funny and so disgusting it almost got me, but I remembered my dream of becoming the first woman president that I had had since I was a little girl half a century ago and I regained my steely composure. Thank goodness for Johnny Knoxville for helping me prepare for the debates. If I had not seen so many scenes of people getting kicked in the nuts, I might have felt sorry for Donald Trump or laughed at his stupid reactions. Oh my god, the sniffling. (Secretary Clinton struggles to not laugh here. She makes the same grimace she made constantly at the debates, neither a smile nor a frown. Frankly, she looks constipated.) If I hadn’t seen so many people smelling farts, I don’t know how I could have survived all that goddamn hilarious sniffling. Seeing hundreds of stupid reactions helped me keep my composure. It was my duty to the country to watch Jackass in preparation for the clown nut-bashing that was certain to be the debate. It was my obligation to the American people to not seem smug or condescending or gleeful at my opponent’s inevitable nut smashing. And so I was able to accomplish this very important goal by desensitizing myself to men being gravely injured in the testicles over and over again. You try watching forty hours of Jack Ass in a row and tell me again how I don’t have the stamina for the job.

Reporter: Thank you for your insight. Could you tell us a little bit of your strategy for the debate?

Clinton: Umm… We’re not exactly done with all of the debates yet, so it would be premature and a bit reckless to divulge my strategy.

Reporter: Yes, that’s true. But that’s assuming your opponent could take advantage of that information and formulate a strategy to counter your strategy.

Clinton (uncomfortably): Haha, well said. Okay, yeah, well that’s quite perceptive of you. I’ll have to talk to my campaign manager, but it might be okay to talk about it a little bit. I have a team of people who help me make decisions.

Reporter: I see, so you don’t make your own decisions?

Clinton: I wouldn’t say that I don’t make my own decisions. I believe good leaders gather all of the information they can from their smartest and brightest people in particular areas of expertise and then make a calculated decision based on many factors. So, that’s what I’m going to do. Please wait here.

Reporter: Ummm… Secretary Clinton? Are you coming back?

Clinton: Although I’ve really enjoyed this interview, I’m going to have to end it here. You can interview me again after the next debate. I’m sure after the next one, I’ll be happy to speak to a normal person again.

Reporter: So, what are you going to do next?

Clinton: Remember what I said about privacy earlier?

Reporter: Yes. However, I believe the public has the right to know. What are you hiding? Are you against the first amendment?

Clinton: Oh come on, that’s so unfair. I have to go to the bathroom and poop. Is that enough information to satisfy your freedom of the press baiting question? Sheesh.

Reporter: So, you won’t respect the first amendment? Is there any remaining amendment that you’re willing to stand behind?

Clinton: That is not what the first amendment means. Besides, I plead the fifth.

Reporter: Well played, well played.

Clinton: Good night. I really have to poop. If I don’t go, we’re going to have a Jack Ass moment here soon.

Reporter: Well, I guess that concludes our interview. A rare moment of honesty behind the scenes in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. You saw it here first.

[indistinguishable voices off camera]

Reporter: What? You got that on camera? No, I don’t think we should air it?

Producer: But we have Hillary Clinton’s poop. It’s a rare inside look at…

Reporter: Please, let’s not do this.

Producer: But the ratings…

Reporter: Can’t we just fade out on my face?

Producer: We’ll fade into the toilet shot in post, right?

Cameraman: Sure thing.

Reporter: No….

Producer: This election cycle has been such a shit show.

Cameraman: Literally. Tell me about. I filmed the literal shit.





Non-Organic Facts: The New Reality

Mark 2016 as the year that fiction supplanted reality. It’s the year that Pokemon GO introduced the idea that physically doing something in the real world enables you to accomplish something in the virtual world. It introduces the idea that doing something in the real world which accomplishes nothing in the real world, but accomplishes and advances your virtual world status is a perfectly reasonable and socially acceptable way of spending your time.

Sometimes, you may also accomplish real world tasks while simultaneously playing Pokemon GO such as walking your dog, going for a walk, or simply shopping. But the idea that simply walking your dog has merit on its own without also advancing your status in a virtual world is now beginning to become an outdated concept. Simply walking your dog for its own sake of enjoyment will be an old person thing. This is culturally what’s happening. Doing things in the real world for its own sake for its own satisfaction will soon be incompatible with the rest of society. This is 2016. What will it be in 10 years? In 20? In 50? In 100?

Right now, in 2016, doing something in the virtual world has value and perhaps more value than doing something in the real world. Fiction is greater than reality. At some point, a virtual economy game will certainly supplant Pokemon GO as the augmented reality game of choice. Maybe within 10 years, we will see such a game that will be an extension to normal life as we now know it.

At some point in this development, we will begin to see activities online as being more valuable than doing things in the real world. You will prefer to walk a virtual dog than a real one. The virtual dog will provide the same benefits— companionship and virtual love— as a real dog without the messy poop and reliance on being fed. You will work online in the virtual world to generate virtual money to spend on your virtual things. You will create virtual things for other people. You are adding to the virtual economy by creating virtual dogs with clever virtual dog AI. Almost everyone will be doing this in the information age economy. As a side benefit, the virtual economy will be hooked into your real world economy so that you can trade what you’ve earned in the virtual world for real world money.

But you don’t really need that much real world money because you are sufficient in your tiny home with your only connection to your friends and family through your virtual world. Your virtual world endeavors sufficiently cover your expenses of keeping you fed and keeping a tiny home roof over your head.
You don’t participate in real life politics. That is for old people who pound a sign into their vast water-wasteful yards. You don’t run for office yourself. Your Pokemons and virtual dog would certainly starve if you spent so much time away from the virtual world to cultivate your campaign.

But you participate in politics online. You choose and select which communities you belong to. Because you can opt out and even remove people from these communities, you don’t have to learn to listen to other people’s ideas that differ from your own and your own carefully chosen friends. You never see the face of disagreement and learn from their point of view. All you see is text online that you disagree with and you can choose not to read it or you can choose a link that confirms you are correct.

It is 2016 and we are seeing fiction winning in politics. Does the truth matter anymore? What is the truth anyway? Politics is too far from me personally for me to experience it directly. So, I experience the truth through fiction written by people I agree with. If it’s something I disagree with, there is an immediate rebuttal by someone else I agree with. I can easily dismiss all ideas that do not match my world view. People see what they want to see. When I wrote “fiction winning in politics” above, you thought of a specific person. But I did not mention any person by name. I don’t want to belabor my point because I know you have the option to stop reading at any time if you don’t like what I’m saying. I’m just going to point out that I never mentioned a name, yet someone very specific probably popped into your head. Why is that?

I have a lens through which I see the world. It is a lens through which I am scornful because it is easy for people to sell me that scornful story for their own purposes. It works because I respond to it and others like me respond to it because it fits nicely in our world view.  It is much harder to sell me on a positive story that doesn’t match the world view shaped by those scornful stories. The only positive stories I hear are ones which support my side. But the opposing side cynically distorts my side’s story and so I am distrustful of anything they say.
My tribe is the correct tribe. The other tribe is not only wrong, but stupid. Their tribe lies. Our tribe tells the truth or at least tells it like it is. I know my side is the truth because of everything I’ve read from my friends who I’ve carefully chosen to add or remove based on how much they agree with me. My friends are good. I am good. My side is good. That’s all there is to it.

I love my tribe and my tribe loves me. The other tribe hates me and I hate the other tribe. Our tribe tells the truth about the other tribe, but they won’t listen. Instead, they keep passing these lies about our tribe. Why are they so hateful? Why are they such liars? It’s why I can never be friends with anyone in that other tribe. Because my tribe is the truth.

Reality is eroding away and being replaced by a new land mass. Our minds and our souls are reality. They exist and we seek like-minded souls to fill our lives. And these online people can become the majority and the whole and the entire in our lives because the internet allows us to transcend the limitations of time and space which prevented our ancient ancestors to form tribes with people on the other side of the continent. You may come to this post 10 years from now and welcome me into your tribe because you agree with what I’m now saying. I can connect with you who are from the future 10 years from now. This was not so easy back in the old days, but it is trivial now. I would have had to have been a great author to reach out beyond my immediate circle of friends at a particular time and place. But now, anyone can do it. We all travel through four dimensions trivially every day, like this post. Time and place are abstracted away from the message this post carries.

But now, we can form ideas and morals and judgements and even hatred of other tribes without ever having to meet or know anyone physically. First, we can choose our own neighbors through social media. And also, we can choose to enter various communities where we can meet like-minded people online.

These new land masses that are formed informally by social media and communities are rapidly changing as people friend and unfriend on social media due to polarizing opinions. Existing land masses get bigger and then fracture into smaller, more specific land masses. Then some of those land masses grow bigger over time, too.

Sometimes, these new land masses spill over into the real world. But because the virtual world is more real than the real world, that spill over doesn’t cause dramatic social change. Dramatic social change requires reality to be more real than fiction. And it isn’t. Reality doesn’t have a link to tell you that it is a lie perpetuated by that other tribe. Reality is inconvenient. You cannot unfriend reality. Therefore, reality sucks. And so, you unfriend reality anyway by going online which is your real reality anyway. Actual reality is not really reality, anyway. Reality is the inconvenient domain of your meat body, not your soul, not your spirit, not your humanity. Your true self is beautiful and shining and pure in its online form. Your physical self is just a container for your true soul which you reveal from time to time to your true friends. There are people who live in physical proximity to you, but they are not your true friends. They do not understand you in the same way. They are prejudiced and have had a different experience growing up which taints them. They cannot understand you.

You have carefully cultivated and collected your true friends as careful and precise as any good Pokemon trainer would. These are people who *get* you. They have suffered as you’ve suffered. They have experienced the same virtual experiences and same virtual arguments as you have and have agreed with you! They are indistinguishable from the real you in oh so many ways.

Mark 2016 as the year where various untruths have propelled candidates towards the presidency, yet no one gets up to do anything about it other than trade links back and forth to other articles online. Oh, I’m writing about it. Isn’t that enough? Here I am, pointing out that the other side lies. That should be enough, right? I mean, the other tribe must be *stupid* if they can’t see the truth laid bare before them. Right? I’ve done my part. I’ve shed light on the *truth*. I cut and paste a link. What else more can I possibly do?

It is 2016 and I’m guilty of consuming non-organic facts. I have consumed mostly processed facts because there is no fact labeling that will allow me to distinguish between genuine experiences and non-organic experiences that echo my world view.

It is 2016, and in this year, our poor old dog Gracie died. I miss the genuine experience of petting her and her joy at everything in life. However, sharing that with you is also a genuine experience even though it is not the same kind of experience as petting a dog. It is still real, however.

It is 2016, and the definition of reality is changing. This post is real. Fiction may become even more real as time goes on. It’s something we need to recognize as real. It is strange when fiction becomes reality. When the waters on the beach recede before a tsunami, you get the first sign that something is going to happen. 2016 is the year that the water first began to recede from the beach.

There is a different reality coming. The information age has yet to really have its impact felt on society and culture. We are still products of the industrial age. But the industrial age people are going away. We have exported the industrial age to other countries for cheap labor. We do information age work now. And information age work is a different new reality. It’s a reality propped up by fictions and infinite choices and communities.

What will happen? Who can say? All I can say is that things are very different. I can say that because I am both old and new. I am an old industrial age person who has worked in the new information age and consumed many non-organic experiences. Some could say I helped bring on the new fiction through technology. That would be a generous assessment of my contribution.

Maybe calling the new reality a fiction or lies is too harsh. Perhaps a more neutral term could be “non-organic experiences.” But perhaps that is just another fiction and another lie to hide the truth— that words and communities can form a new reality around you and that you can be forever tainted by those beliefs and ideas to the point where you are resistant against opposing views and ideas.
When I grew up in the 70’s, parents were very concerned about children creating fictional worlds and inhabiting them with fictional characters in role playing games. Perhaps, instinctively, they understood the danger of becoming addicted to non-reality and living in a world of non-organic experiences that eclipse any real experiences they could possibly have. Maybe those parents were a last hold out to reality against the incoming age of information and age of fiction. Maybe they saw reality differently as communism and fascism swept the real world only a few decades earlier. Perhaps they foresaw a dangerous echo chamber trap of media and imagination in a self-contained fictional bubble long before such a thing was possible with cable news networks and social media.

Maybe when we grow up in a post-industrial age filled with abundance, our concerns and stresses can be magnified by non-organic experiences and we call those experiences fun because we have never had to struggle against the real world constraints of war, hunger, and famine. Struggling and achieving something is fun. We can do that safely in the virtual world. It is fun to capture Pokemon and have them grow and evolve. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is just as real a feeling as me reaching out to you through this blog entry.

I’m just pointing out that the world is changing. What you want to do with that information is up to you. How much importance you place on the real world versus the virtual world is also up to you.

For me, the virtual world is of utmost importance. It is my livelihood and my social connections and my entertainment. I suspect the same will be true of more and more people as time passes. I suspect some people will resist against this, just as any broad social change brought on by technology is resisted. But to what avail? We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, can we?

If we choose, we can have more organic experiences. I predict there will be more pet ownership in the next 50 years due to our reliance on the virtual world. Pets provide a wonderful organic experience. So, if you’re a stock market or business person, investing in pets as a consequence of virtual reality might be a smart thing to do.

America’s Technical Debt

If you are reading this and you know what “technical debt” means, then you already have a kind of privilege that most of America does not have. For those of you coming to this without knowing what “technical debt” means, I will briefly explain.

Technical debt is something akin to the programmer equivalent of “Honey, I’m busy right now. I’ll do the chores later, I promise.” Programmers do this kind of procrastination so often, that they came up with a term for it. That term is technical debt. Basically, it’s leaving some tough problem to fix later because immediate needs are more pressing.

It’s not as simple as the above explanation. In reality, there are often many good reasons to accumulate technical debt which you promise you’ll get to later, as soon as you find the time. Well, time and time again, we find that there just isn’t enough time to get to that technical debt. We are too busy taking care of the now to worry about the later.

One of the good reasons for technical debt is that there is an immediate thing that needs to be done and we can’t worry about the future because there will be no future for this company or product until this one thing I’m currently working on is done. Often times, the dreaded future never comes or comes in a form that is more manageable than originally believed. When it comes due, you simply pay the cost of the technical debt. You never know when it will come due. But in order to make progress, you must pay that technical debt off. And it’s always painful.

But once that expedient choice is made, the technical debt locks itself into the system immediately affecting all of your future progress and future decisions. But it’s tolerated because to even get to the point of considering the problems of the future would not have existed unless some technical debt was incurred at some point.

By this analogy, which will be more effective if you are an engineer or programmer who has experienced technical debt or have been asked to fix it, we look at America as a country with tremendous technical debt which is about to come due.

Let’s look at one instance of American technical debt which is not quite so politically charged right now so we can illustrate by analogy objectively and not be affected by the very system we live in which carries tremendous technical debt, and thus tremendous influence over our unconscious attitudes and biases because we inherently believe, as humans are wont to do, that whatever we are currently doing is correct and moral.

The first technical debt I would like to discuss is the free pass that the United States government gives to tobacco companies. If any other company made a product that is known to kill people as regularly as tobacco, we would collectively complain and have it stopped or reduced. In fact, that has happened, but the tobacco companies were able to get away with it for a very long time and still do. Have you ever wondered why?

Well, it’s not just because they’re a big corporation with a big lobby in Washington. Well, that is one reason, but the reason for their long-lasting influence over the course of 200+ years is because they have always been hugely influential on the USA from the time before there was even a USA.

In the days preceding the US’s independence from England, the fledgling colonies experimented with printing money. And largely this experiment with printing paper fiat money went about as well as you’d expect, which is not very well. There were counterfeits and inflation and each state had their own currency. It was a mess which is why we don’t have states printing their own money today. Yet, if they did do that, and it was a successful system, you can bet they’d still be doing it today and would be pressing for legislation to keep doing it forever. This is a fictional alternate history version of technical debt meant to illustrate how our past successes can impede our future progress.

And so, because of all of the bad money going around paying for individual states’ militias and taxes and whatnot, people regarded the printed money of the colonies as basically worthless. But the economy still had to keep working, so what did people do?

Well, they bundled up dried tobacco leaves and used it as currency! In this way, you didn’t have to rely on a state’s solvency to back its paper currency. You could, in a pinch, simply sell your tobacco. Bundles of tobacco were made into units of currency. So, a foreign nation such as France who would be quite wary of being paid in worthless Colonial paper currency could instead be paid in tobacco bundles. An average colonist could be paid with a slip of paper that was basically an IOU for some amount of tobacco! Tobacco was literally money!

And so, for a while, the entire tobacco industry propped up the US economy. If the US needed to buy weapons and cannons from France, they could pay in a currency that France would accept: bundles of tobacco leaves. Or they could convert tobacco leaves to gold themselves on the open market and pay in gold.

And so, the fledgling colonies incurred technical debt with the tobacco industry in this way. Without tobacco, there wouldn’t have even been a United States of America. So, that is a great debt that the Colonies and the new country of the United States of America owes to tobacco growers. But more importantly, the political influence that tobacco growers had on colony and US politics still remains very influential even though it is no longer as crucial to the US economy as it was in the early days.

The US has grown far beyond the economy of tobacco. We have largely fixed that technical debt. It was an important and influential backbone to American economy and society for a long time. But then, eventually, the time came to discard it along with all of its associated evils.

Part of that evil was the Civil War which pitted the agricultural slave-owning south with the industrial North. Well, the shape and future of the nation was decided in that war. We would shape the country in the model of the North and not the South. Not only that, but the South was not allowed to continue their course. This is part of fixing the technical debt of slavery and tobacco and an agricultural economic base. We abandoned that potential future because it was unethical and more importantly, not as economically viable as an industrial nation rather than an agricultural nation.

So far, so good. America is doing fairly well now. Certainly, the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln could not have envisioned where we are today, communicating via global electronic network in a largely industrial society that is supported by mass produced agriculture that is greatly enhanced in productivity by industrial invention with immigrants from every corner of the world.

However, they also could not imagine the technical debt that we suffer today which is a problem left over from a legacy of a nation struggling for survival.

When a civilization arises from a nation built on slavery and wealthy landowners and wealthy industrialists, then is it any surprise that the foundational structure of that system favors the children and grandchildren of those people? Is it any wonder that the descendants of those people would regard former slaves and immigrants as undeserving upstarts who were trying to take away something that is rightfully theirs?

Is America really the land of the free? Or is that merely a misleading slogan like “The Patriot Act”? Perhaps the meaning behind “The Land of the Free” is that it is the Land of the Currently Free, meaning those who were free men by virtue of wealth and lands at the time of the Revolutionary War, not the land of the free-to-be-in-some-indeterminate-future.

Well, we are that indeterminate future today. We are those upstarts. And we have seen a different America that we like. We see the potential of a land of opportunity. A real land of opportunity, not just for the predestined inheritors of the Colonies, but for people who have immigrated here or whose ancestors have been brought here unwillingly, and for all who have yet to immigrate here and call it home and call themselves Americans. This is different than what America has been or ever was. This is an unintended consequence of immigration, of women’s suffrage, and civil rights. This is what happens when you have the kind of constitution where people can democratically decide how to change it. Small, incremental changes can have huge long lasting effects. But that class struggle is still there, the technical debt from the early days of the nation. If you are not in the image of the original colonists, then you are an outsider and a usurper. You are illegitimate to the claim to the prize that is America. That is the regressive, conservative sentiment. It is understandable. But is it wise?

This class division is America’s technical debt. It has been sitting there for a very long time since before there was even a country or constitution at all. It sits there as a fundamental structure of society, just as crusty as the old code in a program or app gets in the way of adapting it to new things.

American culture has changed, but the fundamental structure of American society as one that is for descendants of the original colonists has not changed. It is now okay to embrace multi-culturalism, but not okay to openly embrace racism and xenophobia. This pivot occurred after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Going into the past beyond those cultural lines, those attitudes were more acceptable. Going forward, into the future, those attitudes are becoming less acceptable, although it seems that Trump is tapping into that ancient sentiment to gather votes.

Trump’s movement, to me, seems regressive. He not only does not want to fix the technical debt that America has accumulated into the structure of society such as institutional racism and institutional sexism, but wants to rewind the clock to a time when those were the prevailing attitudes and were both acceptable and morally correct. In essence, he wants to revert all of the code back to pre-civil rights movement and possibly back further, pre women’s suffrage and god forbid, pre-civil war.

The question is, if Trump’s movement succeeds in gathering not only voters but also changing the dominant sentiment on the future of America, then where does it end? If the white male inheritors of America “deserve” to inherit America before all others because of their ancestors’ sacrifice and hard work, then where does it end? Will he expel all people who were descendant from immigrants after the United States was formed? Will he revoke women’s right to vote because that’s what the founding fathers had wanted? Will he revert American society back to a point where not only was slavery legal, but also moral because the Bible is the absolute authority on morality and it’s not only condoned in the Bible, but there are also tons of pro-tips on slavery in the Bible.

Even if Trump is not willing to go that far, his ideas may spawn a future where someone takes his ideas further to regress the code further so that all of the technical debt that we’ve fixed so far is thrown away so that we return to a structure and system more similar to colonial times even though we are now in modern times. How would such an agricultural system work in a modern post-industrial information age society? Who knows? But I don’t think that the people who are seduced by Trump’s ideas care about the practicality. They care about the sentiment: This is “rightfully” ours and everyone else should GTFO.

But they are on the other side of history and progress, I hope. I hope that most of the people who have had this sentiment had died out long before crossing those important historic cultural lines. Like it or not, simply electing a biracial black man into office is crossing a cultural line. I think the Trump supporters instinctively understand what that means: Once you go black… you can’t go back… if I could borrow the crude perjorative phrase to elucidate their greatest racist fears come true. But they oh so desperately want to go back now. The odds are no longer stacked in their favor. And their misunderstanding that this means the odds are stacked against them means they will fight any and all attempts to rectify institutional racism and institutional sexism because they are also hurting, despite their inherent privilege over many others.

In other words, the current existing system that has inherited the technical debt of all of the original colonists still exists and still haunts us and prevents us from making changes to the source code. It still works, people say, so you can’t change it.

Well, some of us would like to build a structure or at least modify the existing structure so that it can last far into the future. And what we’re saying is that the old edifice and the old structures upon which this nation was built are not good and strong enough to last us very long into the future. So, some of us would like to fix that. Some of us, who are denigrated as not the true descendants and founders of this country, still feel strongly about the good of the future and are as invested in the success and future of this country because it is our home, too.

I think this is where movements such as #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter clash. It is this inherent disagreement about America’s technical debt. Does it exist? Should we fix it? Who should fix it? And who should own the source code after we fix it?

These issues arise in a regular tech company and the discussions and arguments get just as heated and just as political. Blame gets cast all around and communication breaks down. It’s both interesting and disheartening to see the examine same thing play out on the national stage. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. People are human, after all.

It’s just surprising to see my experience dealing with people in an office setting play out almost the exact same way in a real life political setting. I don’t know if this is a new thing due to social media collapsing all of our various communities into mono-cultured echo-chambered identities so that a group of people such as #blacklivesmatters becomes condensed into a single identity in the eyes of many others rather than remain the diverse group of individuals that they are.

But it’s interesting there are so many parallels with this class struggle as there are in an office that is struggling over how to fix technical debt.

Anyway, I thought I’d share that insight with my audience today.

And so, my conclusion is that America had incurred a lot of technical debt in its early revisions and we’re seeing some of those consequences continuing to play out today. Now, fixing technical debt is never an easy task and is certainly very technical and not fun at all. But it is something that we must do if we hope to make a foundation that is strong enough for us to rest our entire futures upon it.

If I had a more neutral term for #blacklivesmatter, I would go with #fixAmericasTechnicalDebt. I only make this recommendation because I find people having some trouble acknowledging that the societal structure has some problems and that we can all roll up our sleeves and be on the same side of the issue and get some work done together rather than fight against each other. Unfortunately, #blacklivesmatter has taken on a sort of exclusionary tone to some people who are not deeply listening to legitimate grievances that people may have about a certain issue which is only one of many illustrative issues of the problem of America’s technical debt. Of course, it’s not meant to be exclusionary, but that doesn’t matter. People are gonna hear what they want to hear. So, let’s change the conversation to be inclusive and unmistakably so. Let’s call it fixing America! We know America is old and we know what worked in the past doesn’t work in the future. Are you still walking around with a Nokia phone? Or a Palm Pre? No? Then, maybe some progress is not a terrible thing. So, maybe some things the founding fathers got wrong we can fix today! We fixed slavery! We can fix the legacy to slavery, too! Let’s do it! Those guys in the 1800s got nothing on us! We’re smarter and better than those guys for sure right? And we’re smart enough to not fight a civil war about it!

Tobacco currency: This link also describes why buying slaves was preferable to buying land when tobacco is your main cash crop. Tobacco wore out the land and so you had to move often. If you moved to a new rented land, you would bring your slaves with you. And so, tobacco and slavery went hand-in-hand in early colonial America.