Reboot

It’s been a big two weeks. The process of moving halfway across the nation and joining the faster paced world of San Francisco has been tiring, to say the least. Starting today, Barataria will resume its regular schedule.

So much has happened in the last two weeks, but then again little has changed. More specific analysis of the current economic and political situation will come later, but the larger trends are still simply moving ahead.

That remains the main point.

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Reason and Sense

This is a repeat from two years ago.

“Conventional Wisdom” isn’t.

Everyday life is the process of understanding and using key facts about the world around us. The sky is blue, red means stop, the 94 bus leaves at 7:53, and coffee will wake you up. Most of the important things in life are obvious enough, based on immediate observation or past experiences strung together.

However, the presence of technology and a growing interconnectedness impinges critical “facts” onto our lives which reach far beyond our senses and sensibilities. Cell phones work because they just work, this thing called “money” in our bank account is extremely important, people who live in distant lands are motivated by something akin to demonic possession, et cetera.

This is where it all breaks down. Or, more importantly, where things breaking down accelerates as reason itself fails.

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Standing on a Firm Foundation

Is there a difference between a conspiracy to collude and just being a total tool?

That’s one question before the American public and Congress now that the Mueller report is out in the open. The long and short of it is that there is a difference, and it’s clear that America has been under a sustained attack for years. There may not be an initial crime committed by the Trump team, as the operation was entirely led by Russian operatives.

There was, however, plenty of effort spent trying to hide it all. There still is. This is much more likely a crime, but more importantly it makes the case for impeachment even stronger. It’s much less about a crime than about getting out the truth about the threats that our nation, and every open democratic society, currently face.

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Huawei Criticism: Legit, or Fearmongering?

Since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO and daughter of the head of Huawei, the company has been in the news lately. Popular media has placed this story at the center of deteriorating relations between the US and China on both sides of the Pacific. In the US, the implications of Huawei acting as, essentially, an agent of the Communist Party of China have peppered the stories. In China, it’s all been another front on the trade war and effort to keep China itself down, yet again.

Which side is right?

Without a lot of context, it’s impossible to tell just what is going on. Huawei is indeed a fast rising company, and its connections to the government have definitely played a role in that. They’ve also played the free market game like any fast rising company by working incredibly long hours, poaching top talent (and their information), skirting around inconvenient laws, and slapping things together with blazing speed.

But, in the end, it’s not entirely Huawei which is the issue after all.

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Keepin’ Bizzy

Some have asked, “With the Mueller Report and Brexit and the yield curve inversion, why are you going on about ethics and sociology stuff?”  This piece, from a year ago, explains it.  Just take the long view.

Did you see the news today? It’s hard to not simply react to the world around us. There’s too much going on, too much chaos, too much news. And that post on facebook – did you see what “they” are doing now?

There are many problems associated with this sort of life, starting with anxiety and unhappiness. Stress induced coronaries come to mind as well. But as bad as this is for a person, it’s even worse for people. Everything in our world depends on some level of planning, deliberation, and rational thought.

Good luck with that.

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Grounding

On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Air flight 409 crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut. Radar and cockpit communications showed that the pilots struggled to keep the plane flying from the moment it rotated off the runway, eventually just falling out of the sky in a stall.

It was eerily similar to the rash of Lion Air 610 out of Jakarta on 29 October, 2018. Both crashes were of a kind that simply should not happen to a modern aircraft.

Since both incidents involved the relatively new Boeing 737 Max airplane, attention immediately centered on how safe the plane was. It seems like a simple decision – is this plane safe? But if you read a lot of the coverage of it, you might think this was entirely a political issue. Has everything, even safety, become a matter for politics and the questions at hand involving money and who looks bad?

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Brexit: Talking Past the Point

It is a busy week in the UK House of Commons. At this writing, Meaningful Brexit Vote 2.0 (We Really Mean It This Time) has failed by 149 votes.  This deals an apparent death blow to PM May’s attempts to negotiate an orderly retreat from the EU. The likely result will be a lot of hand wringing and a vote to delay the process.

The entire exercise appears to be based on what Winston Churchill once accused Americans of doing, namely “Once we have exhausted all the other possibilities we do the right thing.” Ignoring the will of the people after a referendum requires a period of slow torture and likely another popular vote (We Really, Really Mean It, We Promise).

All of this is quite impossible for one simple reason: Brexit isn’t really about Brexit. Like most political issues in developed nations today, the cause of all this noise and nonsense isn’t really the issue at hand. It’s not about whether the UK should be in the EU or not – in an ideal situation it’s rather obvious that it should be. The problem is that we are so far from ideal that no one can make any sense of anything.  And that’s where this American politely, humbly, offers his opinion on this situation.

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