Jun 272011

What is No Time: Twisted Ladders about?
This science fiction work explores what may happen in the future when the human genetic structure (DNA) can be reprogrammed as easily as an application on a smart phone. No Time: Twisted Ladders also illustrates with many examples how you can become more creative in your daily life.

Here are the notes from the back of the book:
In the future, biological viruses will be a double-edged sword. Some will be engineered to save our lives, while others could be designed to steal the DNA that makes us who we are. No Time: Twisted Ladders explores the impacts on our society when the human genome can be reprogrammed as easily as a common computer application.

In the spring of 2055, Tryfold works in a government-sponsored think tank. As the result of genetic engineering, he is now the world’s top creative mind. President Kate Neala recruits this creative savant to investigate how secret information has been inserted into her mind while she sleeps. Using a stealth device called an Ellipsoid, he penetrates the Department of Defense and discovers that the federal government is not only stealing DNA from its citizens, it is also creating dangerous genetic weapons in research facilities buried deep underground. Furthermore, in what looks like a suicidal move at the national level, elite politicians appear determined to start another world war with China. As Tryfold races to uncover the ultimate reason for the government’s gruesome genetic research, it becomes clear that losing another world war to China is not the biggest issue.

Multiple wars break out, and the prospect of survival looks bleak. Tryfold steps up to the challenges and, armed with his unique brain and an arsenal of creative tools, begins inventing.

Currently, there are three ways to purchase No Time: Twisted Ladders.

If you have a Kindle you can purchase it at Amazon by clicking on this link.

If you would like to have the paperback version (6″x9″) you can purchase it at CreateSpace, a division of Amazon by clicking on this link. I make the most money if you go this route.

And if  you would like to purchase the paperback version at Amazon, click on this link.

Come back to this blog and join in the discussion about science fiction, creativity, where our countries are heading, politicians, and, of course, the future.


Apr 052015

Einstein was wrong about spooky quantum entanglement

Einstein’s biggest blunder wasn’t about vacuum energy in space, but in confusing people about quantum entanglement.

CHICAGO — Albert Einstein said his biggest blunder was changing his equation describing space to add a term for repulsive energy. Such energy was needed, he thought, to keep the universe from collapsing.

But then in 1929 Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding. So Einstein renounced his repulsive energy. He shouldn’t have, though, because seven decades later astronomers found evidence that repulsive energy permeated space after all.

“Einstein blew it,” says cosmologist Rocky Kolb. “He could have been famous if he had stuck to his guns.”

Still, neither predicting repulsive energy nor retracting it was really Einstein’s biggest blunder, says physicist Charles Bennett. It was confusing people about quantum entanglement.

Entanglement is one of the weirdest features of quantum physics. It refers to a situation in which two “particles” (a term that must be construed loosely in the quantum world) share a common history that makes their futures intertwined.

In the standard explanation, two entangled particles are sent to the labs of physicists named Alice and Bob. When Alice performs a measurement on her entangled particle, the fate of Bob’s particle is sealed. So if Alice tells Bob the result of her measurement, he instantly knows what the result would be of measuring his particle. He doesn’t need to bother doing the actual measurement.

“This worst thing that happens here is when people describe entanglement — and I’m not going to say who is the highly reputed scientist who did this first — as ‘spooky action at a distance,’” Bennett said last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “That has generated an enormous amount of confusion that people in this field are trying to undo all the time.”

At first glance, it does seem that entanglement permits instantaneous messaging from one lab to another, no matter how far apart they are. That’s what Einstein didn’t like. But actually, no signal is sent. Alice’s measurement merely alters the description of the “quantum state,” the math describing the entangled system containing the two particles. Alice’s measurement changes the universe in a way that gives Bob’s particle a definite property to measure that it did not previously possess.

“It’s spooky,” says Bennett, “but it’s not action at a distance.”

There is no instant at-a-distance communication, because Bob does not know what his result will be until Alice tells him her result by ordinary means, like e-mail or perhaps a text. (No tweets! Alice and Bob would never get any of their experiments done if they wasted time on Twitter.)

Entanglement remains a strange phenomenon. But it’s not magic.

“When you observe one part of a quantum system, you change the state of the universe and you change it in a way that we understand,” Bennett says. “It cannot send information faster than the speed of light. It’s entanglement. Learn about it.”



Apr 052015

The Rise of the Working Poor and the Non-Working Rich

Homeless in New York

There is a widening inequality between the working poor and the non-working rich. The ideal that America’s growing inequality is often justified doesn’t hold up—instead, it’s undermining the moral foundations of American capitalism.


Many believe that poor people deserve to be poor because they’re lazy. As Speaker John Boehner has said, the poor have a notion that “I really don’t have to work. I don’t really want to do this. I think I’d rather just sit around.”

In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time — sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

It’s also commonly believed, especially among Republicans, that the rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.

In reality, a large and growing portion of the super-rich have never broken a sweat. Their wealth has been handed to them.

The rise of these two groups — the working poor and non-working rich – is relatively new. Both are challenging the core American assumptions that people are paid what they’re worth, and work is justly rewarded.

Why are these two groups growing?

The ranks of the working poor are growing because wages at the bottom have dropped, adjusted for inflation. With increasing numbers of Americans taking low-paying jobs in retail sales, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, childcare, elder care, and other personal services, the pay of the bottom fifth is falling closer to the minimum wage.

At the same time, the real value of the federal minimum wage is lower today than it was a quarter century ago.

In addition, most recipients of public assistance must now work in order to qualify.

Bill Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996 pushed the poor off welfare and into work. Meanwhile, the Earned Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy, has emerged as the nation’s largest anti-poverty program. Here, too, having a job is a prerequisite.

The new work requirements haven’t reduced the number or percentage of Americans in poverty. They’ve just moved poor people from being unemployed and impoverished to being employed and impoverished.

While poverty declined in the early years of welfare reform when the economy boomed and jobs were plentiful, it began growing in 2000. By 2012 it exceeded its level in 1996, when welfare ended.
At the same time, the ranks of the non-working rich have been swelling. America’s legendary “self-made” men and women are fast being replaced by wealthy heirs.

Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans combined.

Americans who became enormously wealthy over the last three decades are now busily transferring that wealth to their children and grandchildren.

The nation is on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. A study from the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects a total of $59 trillion passed down to heirs between 2007 and 2061.

As the French economist Thomas Piketty reminds us, this is the kind of dynastic wealth that’s kept Europe’s aristocracy going for centuries. It’s about to become the major source of income for a new American aristocracy.

The tax code encourages all this by favoring unearned income over earned income.

The top tax rate paid by America’s wealthy on their capital gains — the major source of income for the non-working rich – has dropped from 33 percent in the late 1980s to 20 percent today, putting it substantially below the top tax rate on ordinary income (36.9 percent).

If the owners of capital assets whose worth increases over their lifetime hold them until death, their heirs pay zero capital gains taxes on them. Such “unrealized” gains now account for more than half the value of assets held by estates worth more than$100 million.

At the same time, the estate tax has been slashed. Before George W. Bush was president, it applied to assets in excess of $2 million per couple at a rate of 55 percent. Now it kicks in at $10,680,000 per couple, at a 40 percent rate.

Last year only 1.4 out of every 1,000 estates owed any estate tax, and the effective rate they paid was only 17 percent.

Republicans now in control of Congress want to go even further. Last Friday the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a non-binding resolution to repeal the estate tax altogether. Earlier in the week, the House Ways and Means Committee also voted for a repeal. The House is expected to vote in coming weeks.

Yet the specter of an entire generation doing nothing for their money other than speed-dialing their wealth management advisers is not particularly attractive.

It puts more and more responsibility for investing a substantial portion of the nation’s assets into the hands of people who have never worked.

It also endangers our democracy, as dynastic wealth inevitably and invariably accumulates political influence and power.

Consider the rise of both the working poor and the non-working rich, and the meritocratic ideal on which America’s growing inequality is often justified doesn’t hold up.

That widening inequality — combined with the increasing numbers of people who work full time but are still impoverished and of others who have never worked and are fabulously wealthy — is undermining the moral foundations of American capitalism.



Aug 162014

By Timothy Noah, www.msnbc.com
View Original
June 3rd, 2014

A worker cleans leaves from the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill October 17, 2013 in Washington, DC. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Photo by: Brendan Smialowski/Getty

Two decades ago, liberals and conservatives found common ground in the doctrine of government privatization. “It makes sense to put the delivery of many public services in private hands,” affirmed David Osborne and Ted Gaebler in their best-selling 1992 book, “Reinventing Government,” “if by doing so a government can get more effectiveness, efficiency, equity or accountability.” Vice President Al Gore headed up a “reinventing government” initiative that concluded, among other things, that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should avoid “hiring thousands of new employees” to perform worksite inspections by giving the job to private-sector inspectors instead.

A generation later, the federal government employs more than three times as many contract workers as government workers, and state and local governments spend a combined $1.5 trillion on outsourcing. One result, according to Demos, a nonprofit public policy organization, is that the federal government effectively pays $12 or less to nearly two million contract workers – “more than the number of low-wage workers at Walmart and McDonalds combined.”

Now a new report by In the Public Interest, a nonprofit group that tracks government contracting, argues that privatization at the state and local level “contributes to the decline of the middle class and the rise in poverty-level jobs, thereby exacerbating growing economic inequality.”
Public-sector pay is lower on average than private-sector pay, but at the low end of the pay scale the opposite is true: Workers with just a high school degree make 6% more in the public sector than in the private, and workers with a few years of college but no college degree make 9% more. For low-wage workers, then, privatization means even lower pay and fewer (or no) benefits.

“I was a housekeeper from Milwaukee County courthouse,” Mary Farrow told reporters on a conference call organized by In the Public Interest. Farrow said that working for the county she made $14.29 per hour plus health care and other benefits. Then, in 2010, the county turned housekeeping services over to a private contractor. “They offered me $8 an hour with no benefits,” Farrow said. She turned it down. Now, unable to find work, she’s had to raid her son’s college fund to cover living expenses.

In New Jersey, where 64% of all school food-service workers are contract employees, those who previously worked directly for school districts earned $4 to $6 less per hour after their jobs were outsourced.
In a home for veterans in Grand Rapids, Mich., that’s jointly funded by the state, the Veterans Administration, Medicare and private sources, nursing assistants earn $15 to $20 per hour and receive health and pension benefits. But that’s only if they’re lucky enough to be employed directly by the state of Michigan. Other nursing assistants at the same veterans home performing the same work are contract employees who receive only $8.50 per hour and no benefits.

“The false promises of privatization are triggering a race to the bottom,” Donald Cohen, executive director of In the Public Interest, said in the conference call.

Much of the “efficiency” realized by privatization lies in reducing former middle-class workers to poverty wages. Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington nonprofit, argued in the conference call that even from an efficiency point of view, privatizing low-end government jobs was self-defeating. “You get what you pay for,” Bernstein said. Lower wages for public services, he said, translate into “higher turnover and a decline in the quality of work.” It also means an uptick in welfare expenses. In California, contract school cafeteria workers collect $1,743 annually in public assistance because their private employers underpay them. In effect, the state is putting its own employees on the dole.

Outsourcing low-wage work is hardly limited to governments. It’s been a common practice for decades among corporations, which have been ever-more reluctant to employ directly anyone who earns, say, less than about $30,000 per year. As a consequence, these companies no longer offer much opportunity for anyone performing a menial job to make it to the top. That used to actually happen now and then. Sidney Weinberg started at Goldman, Sachs in 1907 as a janitor’s assistant and by 1930 was its chief executive. David Geffen started, as recently as 1964, in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency before advancing to Hollywood megamogul. Today, though, jobs like janitor and mailroom clerk are almost always outsourced.

Does Osborne, now a senior partner with a consulting firm, have second thoughts about privatization? “No, I don’t,” Osborne wrote in an e-mail. “We could subsidize higher wages than the marketplace provides, as we often do in the public sector, and tell ourselves we are all better off. But it would be a lie. The more of our dollars that go into taxes and fees to support public employees, the less we spend on other things, and the more demand we withdraw from the private economy. The end result: we are all poorer.”

“Far better,” Osborne said, “to support things like [the Earned Income Tax Credit] and food stamps and job training to help the working poor than to subsidize millions of public employees.”

But since when is government assistance an acceptable substitute for paying employees a living wage – particularly when those employees themselves work for the government? In the Public Interest’s new report suggests that, at least for low-wage workers, we might be better off reinventing government back to how it was before liberals succumbed to privatization fever.



Aug 162014

This is a selfish smartphone — it will not take pictures of me. The selfish cell phone only takes selfies of itself, ad nauseam

The Selfish Selfie photo: ragan, 2014 (c)

May 182012

This Uber-Wealthy Venture Capitalist Gave A TED Talk Saying Rich People Don’t Create Jobs — And TED Is Refusing To Post It

As the war over income inequality wages on, super-rich Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer has been raising the hackles of his fellow 1-percenters, espousing the contrarian argument that rich people don’t actually create jobs.
Nick Hanauer

The position is controversial — so much so that TED is refusing to post a talk that Hanauer gave on the subject.

National Journal reports today that TED officials decided not to put Hanauer’s March 1 speech up online after deeming his remarks “too politically controversial” for the site.

In an email obtained by the National Journal, TED curator Chris Anderson told his colleagues that Hanauer’s speech “probably ranks as one of the most politically controversial talks we’ve ever run, and we need to be really careful when” to post it. He added: “Next week ain’t right. Confidentially, we already have Melinda Gates on contraception going out. Sorry for the mixed messages on this.”

TED regularly posts speeches about sensitive political issues, including global warming and contraception, so it’s not clear why Hanauer’s talk would be singled out for censorship.

We’ve emailed Hanauer to see what he thinks, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt for you to judge for yourself:

I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.

So when businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it’s a little like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.

Anyone who’s ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a capitalists course of last resort, something we do only when increasing customer demand requires it.  In this sense, calling ourselves job creators isn’t just inaccurate, it’s disingenuous.

That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/this-billionaire-venture-capitalist-gave-a-ted-talk-saying-rich-people-dont-create-jobs–and-ted-is-refusing-to-post-it-2012-5?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business%20Insider%20Select&utm_campaign=Business%20Insider%20Select%202012-05-17#ixzz1vGx04Lrs

Apr 292012

Derivatives – The Unregulated Global Casino for Banks.

(Click on the above to see the full article as well as astonishing graphics that illustrate what a trillion dollars looks like. –Rick)

A derivative is a legal bet (contract) that derives its value from another asset, such as the future or current value of oil, government bonds or anything else.

Ex- A derivative buys you the option (but not obligation) to buy oil in 6 months for today’s price/any agreed price, hoping that oil will cost more in future. (I’ll bet you it’ll cost more in 6 months). Derivative can also be used as insurance, betting that a loan will or won’t default before a given date. So its a big betting system, like a Casino, but instead of betting on cards and roulette, you bet on future values and performance of practically anything that holds value. The system is not regulated what-so-ever, and you can buy a derivative on an existing derivative.

Most large banks try to prevent smaller investors from gaining access to the derivative market on the basis of there being too much risk. Deriv. market has blown a galactic bubble, just like the real estate bubble or stock market bubble (that’s going on right now). Since there is literally no economist in the world that knows exactly how the derivative money flows or how the system works, while derivatives are traded in microseconds by computers, we really don’t know what will trigger the crash, or when it will happen, but considering the global financial crisis this system is in for tough times, that will be catastrophic for the world financial system since the 9 largest banks shown below hold a total of $228.72 trillion in Derivatives – Approximately 3 times the entire world economy. No government in world has money for this bailout. Lets take a look at what banks have the biggest Derivative Exposures and what scandals they’ve been lately involved in. 

You can confirm this total derivatives number via the USA government (it’s now up to $244T):