Atom Wave: January 2008

Atom Wave

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

King Maker

The democratic process in America is a lie. It is the delusion of every American who votes to assume that they hold a singular undisputed voice in the direction of the country. The terrible truth is that the value of the vote has been falling for a while, and for all but the most privileged Americans.

Democracy in this age is dominated by money, and no one including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain will become president without a great deal of it. At this time it is reasonable to assume that the winner will accumulate nearly half a billion before the next election. George W Bush spent $360 million on the last election, a new record and mostly from private sources.

Political leadership these days is seldom genuine. The endeavor has been reduced to marketing. Marketing in the effort of acquiring funds for the next election. Marketing to the public for support. Then there is the persistent marketing of the party’s ideology and philosophy.

I didn’t even mention the forces of lobbying, the money pipeline for most candidates and the domain of big business and other special interests. These days’ politicians can expect plentiful assistance, with much of it coming from drug companies. These days one congressman can expect at least two lobbyists from the drug companies alone. Many congressmen can also expect to receive private jet service from companies at vastly discounted prices.

This corruption is troubling at the very least, and the de facto rigging of our elections at worst. Once big business and special interests have a strangle hold on our elections, are we really a democracy anymore? Our refusal as citizens to hold our government accountable leaves us responsible. There is a way out. Nobody has power; they are given power from the rest of us. We can still reclaim the power that is ours by refusing to support a candidate based on their popularity. We can also put an end to this by refusing to support the many businesses that have come to dominate politics. We will win every time we say no.

Monday, January 07, 2008

It's The End Of The World

The prophet Pat Robertson has spoken, 2008 will be the year of upheavals for the United States and the world.

We have much to look forward too. The stock market will crash in 2009 and no later then 2010. The dollar will continue its downward spiral this year and America will suffer a recession. As if that isn’t plenty to worry about, violence and chaos will come to dominate the world. The worst part is that oil will top out at $150 a barrel.

Now a wise man once said “a prophecy is a guess that comes true, when it doesn’t it’s a metaphor.”

This forecast requires no divine inspiration in any matter. Any competent journalist knows that violence is a growth industry. War continues to rage across the world, with eight major conflicts being fought as of this writing.

Across the country, the economy is already on the cusp of a recession. The banking industry has lost $200 billion due to the housing bust. Manufacturing is already down 2% in the last quarter with sales declining in hardware, furniture, glass, and wood products. Automobile sales continue to struggle, due in part to oil reaching nearly $100 a barrel. It is entirely plausible that the price per barrel could exceed $100 this year. The prospect of a stock market crash isn’t without merit, but still remote.

We all need to be going postal to pay any serious attention to Mr. Robertson.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Ignorance Is Bliss

Everything that you know is wrong! It turns out that knowledge is the poison of the mind; wait, clear that. Britney Spears, remember Britney Spears. That was horrible, something got past the filters.

Too late.

I will let you in on a little secret. The more you know the less you know. It turns out that once you acquire too much knowledge, your ability to innovate tapers off. This disturbing revelation or “curse of knowledge” is the product of a 1989 paper published in the Journal of Political Economy, thanks guys. The premise of the paper was that once you became an expert in a specific subject, you are less capable of thinking outside the box. We’ve all been there, at the vending machine with our co-workers tossing our code words and phrases around. Nearly every specific field of study in the world has its own inside jokes. That is all fine until somebody gets hurt, like the companies bottom line since sales are sliding.

Elizabeth Newton of Stanford University conducted a study in 1990 where she asked a set of people known as tappers to tap out the rhythm of a number of commonly known songs at the time. Another set of people known as listeners where assigned to identify the songs. They were terrible, only hitting about 2.5%.

Now translate this to the business world and you may be in business. All that is needed now is for the experts to speed up the non-experts and they will both be on the same basic line, and that is where the magic lies. This works even better with a “zero-gravity” thinker. The “zero-gravity” thinker is someone who isn’t an expert or is trained in a related field. It is even better if they don’t answer to the experts educating them. Once you have those elements in place the floodgates of creativity can flow. Experience is overrated, and employers ought to ask for less to staff their development offices.