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selectivedemocracy

So, if we recognize it or not, we are in the middle of the second American Revolution.

These things are no longer fought with pickaxes and guns. They are fought with ideas, rules and regulations.

It is very clear that the Republican Party had recognized that the only way it will win majorities is to gerrymander, or even more insidiously, to rework democracy.

You see, democracy is very convenient when it works for you, but is a bloody nuisance when it doesn’t. And democracy will no longer get GOP anywhere.

So, they need a new model. Perhaps we can kindly call it ‘selective democracy’, whereby you select those ‘worthy’ of participating.

Of course, they will generally be middle aged white men and anyone who agrees with them.

So, the process involves trying to shore up majorities that became minorities, to change rules, boundaries, lines and logic. Usually shamelessly.

It is unfortunate that Americans no longer believe in their republic, their constitution or even what is outright fair. They just care about winning. Indeed, it’s worse than that, they just care about beating other people, at whatever cost.

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valleyfascists

They pretend to be ‘liberal’ and ‘tolerant’. They espouse to free speech and equality. But what they really care about is their free vanillacappuccion with soy milk and their own excessive wealth, so they can determine the next world order.

My wife works for one of the biggest Silicon Valley companies and the tales of entitlement are breathtaking. In a startup you worry about making payroll for your ten staff which amounts to the salary of an average Big Internet employee. Still they moan and complain about how badly paid and how badly treated they are. Really.

These are the people who pretend to hate Trump and be Democrat, Labour or Liberal but are really the new slave gangmasters and factory managers who work mining huge wealth from ordinary people for their super rich bosses. But they are Trump, hundreds of thousands of little greedy people who will walk over bodies to their entitlements.

The dark, satanic mills of the internet are here and they are real. There is no Jerusalem, only Silicon Valley (or Texas or wherever comes next).

They are, of course, very comfortable, so they think they are doing well. The model suits them so they only push back about their already cushy positions. They do not offer half of their inflated salaries to house the homeless, the just moan, endlessly. Poor workers don’t complain because they would lose their jobs.

I do love the way that people are able to invent their own narratives, it reminds me of the pitch scene in the comedy ‘Silicon Valley’ where every startup ends their pitch with ‘..and we will make the world a better place’.

128 characters, spouting your every action, sharing your badly considered and badly educated thoughts do not make the world a better place, yet these are the winning pitches.

Silicon Valley was built on a cold war arms race and then descended into trivia that now dominates every aspect of our lives.

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IOLO

shortsoldhell

To know the meaning of the title of this piece, you have to have been the CEO of a public company, which I once was (on the junior NASDAQ market).

Short selling is when you can ‘borrow’ public company stocks for next to nothing and make huge margins if that company fails.

In other words, it’s like paying 1p at 100/1 that a horse will come in last, when the same horse requires a £1 stake at 2/1 on winning.

At one point shorts controlled more shares in my company than actually existed. How was this possible ? Because of all the vested interests involved, and because share trading makes a weekend in Vegas look like a logical proposition.

Many professional financiers will argue that shorting provides a form of ‘natural selection’ whereby weak companies get their comeuppance, but believe me this is not the case.

In markets, news is meant to be closely controlled and announced. However, my experience is that any good news saw a drop in your share price, since investors presumed that everyone already knew about this, so it was already factored into the share price.

The reality is, for the vast majority of public companies, they have to run parallel universes. One being the business they run and the other being market perceptions.

Now, all of a sudden this ludicrous situation has been broken.

You can buy a watch for £10, but still some people will buy a watch for £10,000. They both tell the time. The important factor in a market is supply and demand, and all of a sudden those who have made so much money for so long mis-manipulating this in public share markets are getting their comeuppance.

And how they are squealing! From the stupid regulators to the loss making shorters, they have been taken to task by forces which are illogical to them.

People are buying shares in GameStop and AMC as if they were cigarette cards. You can’t short the sale of a cigarette card. These are ‘fan investors’, including some spilling over from the ludicrous world of pseudo currencies, where such behaviour has long gone on (when the value of nothing is $250m, why not ?!).

Bitcoin is a currency whose only underlying value is vast environmental damage (you earn Bitcoin by using massive computing power, burning energy in the process).

Adam Smith must be turning in his grave, but the reality is that sentiment is the fuel of markets and social media is a flue.

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IOLO

pandemicfuckwitage

We live on an island. New Zealanders live on an island. We’re both roughly the same distance from Wuhan. So how come the Uk has the highest per capita death toll on earth and New Zealand has practically the lowest ?

The answer is Boris Johnson. As far as I can tell his answer to this pandemic has been:

blahblah handshakes fine blahblah wash hands blahblah maybe keep distance blahblah need PPE blahblah argh lockdown blahblah facemasks, why ? blahblah summer fun! spread out for cheap! blahblah I don’t feel well.. blahblah oops blahblah second lockdown blahblah oh fuck! blahblah third lockdown blahblah

Last March we should have stopped all international flights and got everyone to wear facemasks, like China and Japan and South Korea did.

But we’re run by chumps with Oxford degrees (can they be rescinded for anti-Darwinian stupidity ?). So 100,000 are dead blahblahblah..

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Truelies

I’m writing this after Trump finally flew into history and whilst watching All The President’s Men.

So, it’s time to take stock.

Let’s start with how truth became a relative concept. The main culprits were social media, hiding behind DCMA and literally monetising lies by the barrel load. Then there were the traditional media outlets who conveniently confused their news and opinion output.

We have lived through an age where media has been able to mind bend like never before, and it has been done by using peer groups. The Pals’ Battalions of the First World War are the discussion groups of social media.

Reasonably rational people became racists, revolutionaries and domestic terrorists in vast numbers. Families were split apart, not over a cause like slavery, but over the whipped up rhetoric deliberately implemented by bots and AI engines.

As Hearst and Murdoch knew and know so well, conflict sells. You can monetise extremism a lot easier than the mainstream.

And the shock telly jocks – Hannity, Carlson and Dobbs, none of whom are stupid, knew exactly what they were doing. There’s little question that their own motivation was money, not a sick, racist ideaology.

After all, Donald Trump was once a New York Democrat. But that wasn’t going to make him money. The media is full of New York – and Hollywood – Democrats. What the US needed was a Tea Party figurehead. Sarah Palin didn’t cut muster. So Trump reinvented himself by moving to the extreme right.

Given his family history of racism and exploitation of coloured people, this was hardly an ask.

This is a guy who had to import his wives from Eastern Europe, whose mother and paternal grandfather were immigrants.

The US has the First Amendment. But it’s worth remembering that this was instituted to stop the US Government from censoring citizens – it does not cover the media, let alone social media.

So maybe it’s time to implement some laws to protect demcracy. Laws that defend the truth, or what normal humans regard as the truth. The truth may have two sides that need representing, but the way that mainstream media re-published the lies, the outright, outrageous lies perpetrated by Donald Trump was pathetic. Balance does not involve indulgence. Balance involves weighing the versions of the truth and ridiculing lies.

But he was a great showman, wasn’t he? A clown and an entertainer. All the things politicians are not.

So, 74 million people are disappointed tonight. 74 million people who believed in lies, or used these lies to underpin their world views.

Let’s call them out for what they are: greedy, racist, hateful, stupid. Trump managed to tap into the lowest sentiments of humans and manipulate them.

He also operated a scorched earth policy – you were for him or against him, and the wind could turn in a blink. One after another, Manifort, Cohen, Bannon, Comey, to name but a few, were used and dumped. Yet many remained loyal, like dogs left at the side of the road, longing for their abusers. This approach has proven hugely successful in politics – Hitler, Stalin, Mao and many other successful political leaders have deployed this tactic. Fear works.

The strongman took no prisoners, and his fans loved it. When you’re weak and pathetic and stupid, what else do you need but a poweful leader and icon.

But now it is over. As a Brit who refused to visit the US whilst this psychopath roamed the country, I feel relief. In the UK we have our own morons and fascists to deal with, but the truth is sort of intact, if you can look beyond the fact that it was owned by Murdoch and now usurped by Facebook, Twitter and youTube et al.

For some reason, Brits aren’t as naive as Americans, but we still have idiots heckling nurses outside of hospitals in the middle of a pandemic.

The truth isn’t a relative concept with alternatives, it is what it is, and can elicit different responses, many of which may be valid. The Big Lie now lives on at Mar-a-Lago where it is an insidious seed, like Japnaese knotweed.

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Saviours

Well, it has been a mad week to start a mad year in the middle of a crazy pandemic.

Donald Trump was finally defeated, as was GOP, but he managed to egg his followers for one final violent throw against logic and ended up, basically, disavowing those who supported him.

I cannot understand why anyone would vote for Trump, let alone be prepared to spend many years in Guantanamo Bay as domestic terrorist for this psychologically disturbed man.

But this isn’t unique, is it ? Anyone who is religious has suspended all reality and believes in utter garbage and dogma, and this has been going on for milennia.

I was trying to explain the concept of religion to my six year old niece in her home schooling this week and I utterly failed. I have no understanding of what religion is, beyond a belief in lies requiring ‘faith’, usually for the financial or social advancement of a small number of people (sorry, a small number of MEN).

Why do humans need these crutches, these ‘beliefs’, these idols to fawn over and follow dogmatically ? People who have sharp intellectual minds turn them to mush in the thrall of ‘faith’.

In the case of religion eternal life and heaven seem like sensible, if somewhat implausible, endgames, but in the case of Donald Trump, what is the outcome ?

Well, my observation is that people project what they wish they could be even though they realise that they will never be it. Trump supporters, like Christians and Mohammedans, see themselves as extensions of their idols. They want to be them, they want their power and influence, but failing this, they just want to be mates with the powerful guy (or the guy they have been told is powerful).

How did homo sapiens get to 2021 and still be in this quandary ? Why are we, ironically, incapable of original thought ?

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Fatberg!

The Government is pouring money into the economy. The vast majority of it is going to Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google, Facebook, Etsy and many other American Big Internet companies.

It’s also going to European companies who control most alcohol sales and other US companies who control fast food sales and online payments such as Paypal, Square and Stripe.

There are UK companies capable of benefitting – Deliveroo, for example, and some supermarkets, where taxpayers have long been subsidising zero hours wages. But we have no competitors for the major US monopolies and we are no longer willing to even recognise monopolies, or fatbergs…

The Tory party exists totally within a property development bubble, which pays their way and sustains them both politically and economically. The online world and the high street are, frankly, irrelevant to them. BoJo made his fortune from bribes as MoL from million pound rabbit hutches developed for Russians and Chinese. BoJo would not recognise a British person if they stood in front of his face.

You can tell that he just hates being PM. Being accountable and building a consensus is well beyond his megalomania.

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The Idiot

This guys was once one of the most admired men in the world. Now his own daughter thinks he’s a schmuck and he regularly makes an absolute idiot of both himself and the truth.

What does Trump do to make successful, independent men destroy themselves ? Rudy Giuliani will forever be remembered as the guy who defended the indefensible, on the back of his two predecessors ending up in jail. 9/11 is Trumped.

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The Problem

Need I add any more ?

This guy has broken planning laws, COVID laws, tax laws and still, unelected, gets to tell us what to do.

That would be dandy if he was any good, but the U.K. is a shit show thanks to him and his ‘boss’ Boris.

45k dead and counting. No Brexit. An economy in free fall. Massive debts.

There’s little doubt that things would be significantly better if we adopted the Former Belgian model of having no government at all.

And as for all those Brexiteers who voted for Boris, what did they expect apart from bluster and lies and failure?

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South Africa

I spent a lot of my college days protesting apartheid outside the South African embassy in Trafalgar Square, often taken into custody. At the time apartheid seemed the most egregious sin on earth. Having sat in Brixton and Toxteth as they both burned, perhaps I was over-reaching, and I had my own gripes as part of a heavily oppressed minority in the UK (MI5 were actively framing Welsh speakers at the time).

Naturally, I believe that the forgiveness and compassion showed by Nelson Mandela in a world full of Reagans and Thatchers was my moral code.

When I moved to London in the 80s I worked with an African partner to bring music from the continent to the UK and got involved with Amandala, the cultural wing of the ANC. I had never visited the country at this time and would not do so for a long time. Still, I played my part based on morals, not geography.

Madiba has sadly passed and South Africa has now matured and hosted the soccer world cup for the first time on the continent of Africa.

In the meantime, Invictus has matured into a rugby world cup win under Kolisi and a more representative team.

The country is still a long way from where it needs to be and divisions and tensions remain palpable, although perhaps less so than in the US, a country that seems to have reverted badly into dark times.

My ambition now is to take my latest venture, an educational platform, into South Africa and make a real difference, not scoring some political points.

But I still wonder how my life and destiny got sucked into a country so far away, where I have no natural affinity.