Friday, July 31, 2020

Social Evolution, Revolutionary Change, Negotiated Settlement:What is best and when?

This week's  topic comes from The Old Fossil, aka Conrad, and offers three outcomes. It offers no event or happening that requires an outcome but it is no stretch to suggest social/cultural change IMHO.

Social evolution is the area of evolutionary biology that studies how social interactions, arise, change, and are maintained. A particular focus is on how cooperative behavior can be beneficial despite the intuitive advantages of being selfish. In other words, how what is good for the group is good for you.

Think of some of the important discoveries over time that have benefited society. Things that were part of societal/cultural evolution. Automobiles, light bulbs, telephones, printing presses - perhaps the most important - all caused great leaps in our culture. The printing press brought news, current events, and books to  society at large. That kick started the spread of knowledge which opened up society to a virtual wealth of advancements that continues today.

That leaves us with a negotiated settlement, something that seems to be extinct, along with dinosaurs. It is tough to negotiate without civility and I have noted several times on this blog that civility seemingly left the room. It is somehow ironic that the Senate is negotiating a secondary aid package to support the economy - an economy that is in serious trouble thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fittingly enough, the difference of about 2 trillion dollars between the Democrats approach as seen in the bill from the House and the GOP led Senate has some major sticking points.

Each of the three methods is able to be used in almost any circumstance, although each has its own unique value. Revolutionary change is  typically used during the birth of a nation - ie. the American Revolution and the Civil War. One succeeded and the other failed. The world has seen many revolutions over the years and I suspect there are many yet to come.

Social evolutionary change is constant as technology advances and changes at a rapid pace. At times it outpaces the ability to govern - look at the impact of social media, and the inability to effectively regulate it. Look at the 2016 and 2018 elections and the effect of Social media on each of them.

Negotiation should be a constant in our social system - with luck it will again  take its rightful place as the most effective and relied upon vehicle of change. It forces us to look the other side in the eye and find common ground that is acceptable to all sides in an event. It forces all sides to consider the other sides. Social evolution, on its surface, seems like the best thing to combine with negotiation to effect change. But, social evolution, unchecked or not regulated can institutionalize problems. Look at what it did for white privilege. No, not all white people are racists but they have benefited from a system envisioned by slave owning white men for other white men.White privilege does not mean you did not work your butt off to build a successful life, you probably did. But along the way you probably got a few boosts you weren't even aware of. Fortunately men of vision saw the benefit of abolishing slavery and eventually allowing women to vote. Now we need to finish the job and ensure the playing field is fair and everyone has a real chance at success - as long as they are willing to work for it.

Capitalism has shown over the years to be the best way to build and grow a thriving economy. But it feeds greed in some and that leads to corruption. It falls to us to wear our big boy/girl pants and take the proper steps to keep the system fair. Look at what Jeff Bezos has done with Amazon as an example. He built an enormous company that employs thousands that is sticking its fingers into any economic pie it encounters. But wait - it drives small businesses away you scream indignantly. Not really - do you know that 50% or more of Amazon's sales come from third-party small businesses in partnership with Amazon?

Finally, IMO there is no simple answer to the topic posed by the old fossil this week. All three options are sufficiently flawed so as to require interaction with one or both of the others. We live in a hybrid world so you'd better learn to be flexible, think on your feet. and improve your long game strategies.

That's my quick take on this week's topic. Ill see you next week for another round of 6-1 bloggers where we all write on the same topic. Be sure to visit my cohorts at their blogs to see what they think about this week's topic  SanjanaPadmumRaju,  Conrad, Ramana.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Globalization vs Tribal Nationalism

This week's topic was my suggestion. It is what I believe to be one of the 2 or 3 most important topics on the table and how we choose to address this issue could well determine if we survive long term or not.

I have discussed the tribalism that dominates our politics many times herein. Some of  you may recall what I termed the perfect storm that drove the issue - our electing a black man president and immediately choosing Donald Trump as his successor. Obama was called a traitor and racist by the Trump crowd and Trump the same by the Obama people. The net result - the tribal split we are "enjoying" today - a political divide so deeply entrenched there appears to be no end in sight.

Suddenly from seemingly nowhere came the Pandemic caused by a corona virus and the resulting Covid-19 that it caused, infecting through 7/20/2020 almost 15.5 million people, killing  over 630 thousand (4.1% of those infected) and an an upside survival rate of nearly 9.5 million (nearly 61%).Those concerned about the place of the USA in the world should take heart as we are the most infected - over 4 million, our death rate (over 140 thousand) stands at 3.6% (under the world rate of 4.1%) and our survival rate, well under the world average 61%, stands at 47.2%. No more numbers - I promise.

Our other stressor is the cultural revolution being revisited by our younger, politically active crowd. They are joined by few of us oldsters left over from the sixties that made huge inroads in racism but left the job undone. This time the resistance is dug in well but standing on the shoulders of the Confederate slave owning traitors will not serve them well.

As the culture is shifting internally in the USA the old white men in power are watching their power slip away to a multiracial, multicultured younger generation. And then there is the new International order lead by China, India, Turkey, and the like who are clamoring for their  place at the world table. No longer is the US looked upon as the leader automatically. Enter President Trump and our image has declined further as we amassed record debt with China and China forged alliances with countries known for not being fans of the USA.  Couple that with the fact that NOBODY plays the long game better or even as ell as China, China is a nuclear power and a newly invigorated Russia is rattling their sabers again leaves us with too many balls to juggle. Those poor old white men in the US are losing power on the world stage too.

The Pandemic is making it clear that cooperating with these other countries makes much more sense than going it alone. Beyond the Pandemic,  it behooves us to be on the good side of India as she stretches her legs, flexes her muscles and grows into a nuclear power to be reckoned with while she continues her struggles with her neighbor Pakistan. Pakistan is perhaps the most unstable of the nuclear countries but an emerging power in her own right.

Our tribal nationalism is far too well entrenched for it to be discounted and the newly emerging powers on the world stage are in the same boat. India has issues with another neighbor - China, and the Arab world is in serious jeopardy with the decline in value of their primary income generator - oil. Old alliances that have served us well since WWII may be at their sell by date. The side we pick as the new world order takes root will determine our future.

Please understand that we are not losing our power for any reason other than we have been an effective leader for decades and have shown how to win friends and influence people. Some leaders listened and nations are carving out a larger piece of the pie for themselves. Call it evolution. Rather than stick our heads in the sand and collapse upon ourselves, we need to be aggressively leading the marathon to the new world order, all the way reminding ourselves that China and India - especially China - are masters of the long game. The one thing remaining unsaid is that the driver of the new world order will be the large middle class the US and its allies have developed since WWII.

That's my quick shack take on things as I see them. Be sure to see what my compatriots in the blogging group think by checking out their blogs at  SanjanaPadmumRaju,  Conrad, Ramana.

See ya'll next week, same shack time and same shack channel.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Aplication of AI in Agriculture

This week's  topic is the Application of AI in Agriculture. How or does AI help farmers and if so will AI impacted products be accepted by consumers? There has been some resistance to technology in agribusiness -for example  many people will not purchase genetically modified products - will the same fate befall AI impacted products?

According to Bayer, farmers have always collected and evaluated a large amount of data with each growing season: seeds planted, inputs applied, crops harvested, etc. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools analyze this data at high speeds and funnel it back to farmers in the form of useful insights, helping them make critical, timely, in-field decisions.

AI should make our farmers more efficient and increase crop production -a good thing for everyone. The USDA says family farmers makeup 98 percent of all U.S. farms and those family farms account for 85 percent of U.S. agricultural production. I confess that fact surprised me as I have seen several articles that sound a common alarm like this one- Who is farming America's land? It's family farmers for the most part.

It turns out the above referenced link relates to the farming and raising of animals and the USDA cited values apply to crops. We have seen the result of the agribusiness raising animals while we are experiencing the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Pork production by a single Smithfield location reduced our pork production by 5% when the plant was shut down because of the number of Covid-19 cases there.

Smithfield -based in Smithfield, Virginia, is a leader in numerous packaged meats categories. Popular brands include Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan's Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, Farmer John®, Kretschmar®, John Morrell®, Cook's®, Gwaltney®, Carando®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Healthy Ones®, Morliny®, Krakus®, and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is a U.S. company that provides more than 40,000 American jobs and partners with thousands of American farmers. The company was founded in Smithfield, Virginia, in 1936 and was acquired by Hong Kong-based WH Group in 2013. Yep - Smithfield is a Chinese owned company.

Smart farming also applies “pig face recognition” to monitor a pig’s growth as well as automatically adjust the temperature and humidity in the pigsty. also said a robotic feeding device and flexible fence can lead to precise control of pig feed, according to Economic Information Daily

 Digital farming  enables individual solutions tailored to each farm’s needs: the right product in the right place, at the right time, in the right amount. With razor thin margins, farmers welcome all the help they can get.

There was a time in the sixties and seventies when thanks to the Green Revolution, feeding the worlds hungry was essentially a distribution problem.  We could produce sufficient food to feed the world.

Over time, climate change, civil unrest and population growth have us in the unenviable position of needing to boost production significantly, lower production cost significantly and distribute the food we can produce to those who need it. Digital data is the most efficient way to solve that issue and AI is a large part of that solution.  While a percentage of people in the west refuse to partake of genetically modified food, they can afford to. I seriously doubt a starving family in a third world country will be quite as picky about the wheat they use to make their bread or the fact that the meat they eat comes from a genetically modified animal that gets to market faster. Artificial Intelligence will be a large part of the equipment digesting the applicable data and making the decisions that once again enable us to feed the worlds  hungry, assuming of course we can control the civil unrest and limit the corruption that lines the pockets of some dictator.

AI can also evaluate vast quantities of data to allow farmers to make decisions on seeds, fertilizers and such on the spot as necessary. It would appear the only way for a farmer to survive in this market is to embrace digital technology and AI. A rapidly warming climate and changing weather patterns will continue to bedevil farmers and it is an adapt to survive scenario facing the world's population. Perhaps more than any other industry, agriculture will require a global response and IMO AI will be at the front of that battle. It remains to be seen whether or not people can navigate the political waters and get the job done.

That's my admittedly quick take on AI in agriculture. Be sure to check out my six on one compatriots takes on the subject. Their blogs can be found at these locations -  SanjanaPadmumRaju,  Conrad, Ramana.

I'll see you next week, same shack time and same shack channel.

Thursday, July 9, 2020


Our topic this week is Confusion. How did we get here - wherever here is? How did we get to a T in the road and ignore the direction to civility and take the direction toward  tribalism? How did we get to another T and turn away from science and fact while heading down the road to the politization of everything? How did we get to a place where our knowledge of  our own history is as full of holes as a wheel of Swiss cheese? How did we get so damned confused about seemingly everything except which  tribe we belong to? How did we get things so wrong about the Pandemic?

That's a whole lot of confusion going on. It all started  when we turned away from civility and started setting speed records on the way to tribalism, and that was a direct result of the election of 2016 and a serious dislike of both candidates. Civility took common sense along with it on a long holiday that has lasted almost four years. I am not sure our culture or our country can survive another four years but the culture war looks to be a rocky road.

That rocky road is a direct result of the tribalism that pervades the country and has since we elected a president who has no interest in uniting this country and has in fact done more to divide it than anyone in memory, although the MAGA tribe has chosen to blame everything on Barack Obama. Now I do not recall any particularly divisive speeches or commentary from 44, and exactly the opposite from 45. That tan suit he wore sure did irritate the MAGA people (admittedly before they knew they were MAGA people). And, they took his polite "bowing" to certain world leaders as offensive and derogatory actions as they relate to us here in the U.S.A..

The other reason we are here, IMO is that in spite of all the work we did and things we accomplished in the sixties we left the job unfinished. We incorrectly assumed everything was done when it wasn't, and electing a black man president followed immediately by electing the great divider to follow him, the minority that was always lurking around rose to the surface as supporters of MAGA and the great divider stoked their hatred and fear of white men losing power.  Now he praises Confederate officers and questions the removal of the rebel battle flag as a symbol of hatred - while that same flag is a symbol of pride for many of 45's white supremacist MAGA supporters.

A great deal of the current confusion stems from one simple fact - history is written by the  winners. In the case of our US history those winners were white. The history they wrote and we have been taught could more rightly be called mythology - not because they fabricated our history but for what our white ancestors omitted. 

Yes, we learned Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but it was useless with the paper filament he used. It was Lewis Latimer, a black man, who invented the carbon filament that makes the light bulb worthwhile. Every two seconds someone  in the US needs blood. Thanks to Charles Drew, that blood is available. Drew was a physician, surgeon, and medical researcher who worked with a team at Red Cross on groundbreaking discoveries around blood transfusions. In World War II, he played a major role in developing the first large-scale blood banks and blood plasma programs. Drew is a black man who also fought with the Red Cross over segregating blood by race and type. Dr. Shirley Jackson is an American physicist who received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. She was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in nuclear physics at MIT. Her experiments with theoretical physics paved the way for numerous developments in the telecommunication space including the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable. There are many more black men and women equally as accomplished that need to be included in our textbooks.

How many of you were taught the Black Hills of South Dakota were given to the Sioux in a treaty and promptly taken back illegally when a fellow named Custer found gold in those hills? I wasn't - nor was I ever taught about the Tulsa race massacre/riot in 1921. Were you?   And thanks to the Academy Award nominated film, Hidden Figures, we’re now all familiar with the amazing contributions of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, black women all made to NASA.

It is a wonder things are not even more confusing then they are, but thanks to the black community that knows and celebrates (or reviles) these things in their history and the native Americans, AKA the indigenous people from whom we took nearly everything and proceeded to try and eliminate their culture by "educating"it out of them,the truth is still widely known and the white privilege that has permeated our culture since the beginning has been laid bare.

Needless to say, opinions on white privilege vary widely. As my friend and fellow blogger Conrad has written, "White privilege doesn't mean you haven't suffered or fought or worked hard. It doesn't mean white people are responsible for the sins of our ancestors. It doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of who you are. But it DOES mean that we need to acknowledge that the system our ancestors created is built FOR white people. It DOES mean that we aren't disadvantaged because of the color of our skin and it DOES mean that we owe it to our neighbors-- of all colors-- to acknowledge that and work to make our world more equitable."

That's a large order but it must be done - even if it feels just like starting over.

That is my take on this weeks topic - Confusion. Be sure to check my blogging companions comments on the same topic  SanjanaPadmumRaju,  Conrad, Ramana.

See ya next week, same shack time, same shack channel.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Are People Intelligent or Stupid in This Pandemic Situation

Raju, one of our bloggers in India, asks "Are People Intelligent or Stupid in This Pandemic Situation?"

Here in the USA your response likely depends on which side of the veracity of the Pandemic question you fall. You likely believe the Pandemic and Covid-19 are real public health threats or they are simply a mass-media fraud and thereby Fake News. Your actions are deemed intelligent by those who believe the same as you and are deemed stupid by those on the other side of the equation.

I cannot recall a time in our history when nearly everything is politicized as it is today and in that regard, we are 100% stupid. Our political system is based upon compromise - start with areas on which there is agreement and build consensus through negotiation. There are more lines drawn in the sand these days than there are lines on a football field and they all seem to be red.

Here's a quick lesson about COVID-19 . It is a disease that causes your white blood cells to attack your cells, tissues, and organs.  The evidence clearly shows that simply wearing a face mask is the most effective way to retard the spread of the disease. While many individuals are able to recover from it with no problem, they can easily carry it to someone in the high-risk group and that individual won’t be as lucky. That simply makes being belligerent and not wearing a mask incredibly selfish and stupid. We all have an obligation to protect our society and to ignore this simple method to help protect others is to me incredulous. It is mind-boggling to think that the Lt.Governor of one of our largest states is on record as saying sacrificing a few older, at-risk people is perfectly acceptable. Remind you of the alleged death squads Obamacare allegedly would establish? Dan Patrick of Texas is a scary individual and I hope the voters in his state consider that attitude when he is next up for reelection.

Now, of course, the country is facing an unprecedented surge in new infections, thanks largely to increases in four states. Several events converged in a perfect storm  - Memorial Day, bars and beaches opened up, street protests with insufficient - if any - social distancing and a complete lack of leadership from the current administration. POTUS pressed to open the country for economic reasons and effectively convinced his base wearing masks wasn't necessary. Anything to boost his image for the upcoming election. I suppose he agrees with Dan Patrick - what are a few older lives. But an interesting thing has happened.

In the current wave, those developing Covis-19 skew younger than before. They apparently put too much faith in the notion they were strong and invincible. Now POTUS says wearing a mask is not a bad idea, he has worn one on occasion and thought he looked pretty good - ala The Lone Ranger. I'll leave it to you to decide if that's intelligent or stupid.

Then there are the folks who claim it is their right to not wear a mask and quote Ben Franklin "Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety". Bless their patriotic little hearts. Stupid or intelligent? Your call.

Dr. Tony Fauci, one of our nation's top infectious disease experts recently (this week) warned we are in danger of adding 100,000 new cases daily soon if current outbreaks were not contained. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas says  Fauci has been wrong about everything related to the pandemic and denied the crunch in intensive care beds is the result of COVID-19 cases. Texas is one of the four states whose combined total of new cases is half of our national total. “He (Fauci) doesn’t know what he’s talking about. … The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him. … He’s been wrong on every issue,” Patrick said. Is Patrick intelligent or stupid? You make the call. 

To top it off, along with the Pandemic we are enduring, we could well be entering a period of cultural revolution the likes of which we have not really seen. All of the work done in the sixties cultural revolution was not completely baked into our culture and the heat has been turned on to finish the job. There will be much kicking, screaming, denial, and likely some violence as so-called citizen patriot "militia members" dig in their heels and wave their semi-automatic weapons in resistance. But that's a topic for another week.

That's my quick shack-take on Raju's topic. Intelligent or stupid - you make the call, but if you are in Dan Patrick's camp I guarantee you do not have to worry about running into me.

Be sure to see what my blogging compatriots have to say - SanjanaPadmumRaju,  Conrad, Ramana.

I'll see you next week for another round of 6 on 1 blogging when we all write on a single topic.