The goals:

Stop financial institutions’ irresponsible and unethical gambling.

Break up monopolies.

End tax evasion and loopholes.

Shut down corruption in campaigning and lobbying.

Enforce ethics and ethical standards.

Re-nationalize the powers and duties of government.

And here’s how:

1) Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 as enacted June 16 of 1933, removing the damage done by the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. Investment banks and commercial banks should be separate so that Wall Street can’t gamble with our checking and savings accounts. Bank holding companies should also be banned, since that’s just another way to use what should be stable funds to cover bets and gambling and speculation.

2) Investment insurance and credit default swaps and other ways to hedge against risk should be limited to parties who are actually involved in the investment and cap payoffs to the amount being risked. YOU should not be allowed to bet $10,000 to be paid back $1,000,000 if I default on my $150,000 mortgage — because then you would be sorely tempted to find some way to make me default. I can insure my mortgage, or the bank can, but it’s really nobody else’s business — and the insurance payoff should not be so high as to be more attractive than finishing paying off the debt, for the same reasons.

3) Speculation for the purposes of investment isn’t a bad thing across the board, but it should be tremendously curtailed in commodities and currency markets. Don’t buy grain futures if you’re not prepared to take delivery of a warehouse load of grain to resell. Don’t buy a country’s sovereign currency unless you plan to do business in those amounts with the country in question. Cornering the market in food you can’t eat and money you can’t spend literally starves people.

4) Break up the monopolies. If your industry can support twenty competitors and there are four of you, then you either have to submit to pricing and service oversight or split up. No more super-mergers of banks, of airlines, of telephone carriers, of media companies, etc., without abandoning market freedoms.

5) If a corporation makes money from US labor, resides on US land, uses US agricultural resources, manufactures products or improves materials to be later used in production in the US, provides services to US residents using US infrastructures of road and pipes and wires and satellites, excretes wastes into US environmental resources of land or air and water, then it should pay taxes to the US people for the use, upkeep, and repair of the commonwealth and its valuable infrastructure. NO EXCEPTIONS. Practices allowing shuffling of assets overseas to prevent paying owed taxes should be banned, with fines for infractions set at at least double the amount originally owed.

6) Donations to a political party or political campaign — ANY political campaign, local, state or federal — should be capped at $1000 per ACTUAL HUMAN BEING OF VOTING AGE and -$0- for any group, club, or incorporated entity. Any corporation or organization that distributes funds to individuals for the purposes of being further donated on its behalf is to be guilty of money laundering. Organizations or PACs that collect these funds should be registered and tightly monitored.

7) …and it should be exactly the same for lobbying. If you accept money to produce material designed to sway public opinion on a matter of policy or potential policy, or, more explicitly, the opinion of a legislator, your income should be capped at $1000 per actual human being of voting age that is donating, with -$0- coming from corporations, businesses, organizations, or clubs.

8) End conflict of interest. If you have income coming from a company or a sector of industry, you should not be allowed to legislate or judge or enforce policy that affects that company or sector — concurrently or within five years of having served in an office that affects that company or industry.

9) If having an ethical business and financial sector makes us uncompetitive with businesses and markets abroad, then create tariffs on imported goods and services to be levied against companies and markets abroad that behave in ways we know are unethical. And stop loaning countries money if they’re going to be competing with us unfairly and undermining our standards — or embargo them altogether.

10) Nationalize or re-nationalize government infrastructure industries that have no business making a profit. The prison industry. Mercenary organizations. Police protection and law enforcement. The Federal Reserve Bank. And yes, this should include healthcare. If the industry earns money at the expense of producing, spreading, and extending human misery, then there should be no profit-minded motivation to try to grow the industry. Additionally, at no point should government powers be delegated to private business.

An addendum to #10 there, in case it’s not obvious. Causing misery is the government’s job. And we should limit it by funding it with tax money, because everyone wants to pay less taxes or spend what we collect on cooler stuff. If someone else does it for profit, then they’ll find a way to justify the results so they can make more money. It’s that simple.

Good enough for a first pass, I think.


November 30, 2011 · Posted in Everything Else  

Newton just won’t die.

First of all, God bless the man. Our mathematical approach to the universe produces all kinds of infinities and infinitesimals in our equations, and without his work, and the work of Leibniz, and I’m not getting into any discussion yet on who deserves the real credit for creating differential and integral calculus, we’d have been stopped dead scientifically for a really long time.

But his assumptions of a Platonic reference frame as a basis for all motion and concepts for mass and distance and inertia and gravity has stymied us all for more than three hundred years. That’s all broken.

Since the discovery of light’s nature as a wavefront people have been trying to get a grip on what the hell medium, what substance, light is a wavefront in, since you can’t have a wave without water. Sound is a wavefront we can detect in air (and other substances that are allowed to vibrate), for example. So when people thought of light as a wave, they tried hard to imagine — and to detect — the medium through which it travels. For a while they postulated aether as the substance. And that wasn’t a bad guess, all things considered.

Two hundred years after Newton left us all screwed up about inertia and gravity, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley set up a huge interferometer to try to detect Earth’s motion through the aether. It was sound in theory — create a wave source and as the boat moves into the wavefront, look for how it contracts or lengthens the distances between peaks and troughs depending on which direction you’re heading. It kind of screwed things up a bit when they couldn’t see any difference at all no matter which direction they looked. Lorentz swooped in to try to save them by offering them an equation to describe how the aether itself must be compressing in the direction of motion, but in the end, everyone had fits and just took a giant step backward, deciding it was the concept of aether itself that was the problem and that it was the Platonic framework of time and space itself that was compressing and stretching.

And for that, Einstein deserves his own dope-slap.

There’s only one word in the above that makes it horribly, horribly wrong, and that’s framework. Spacetime isn’t the graph paper that we draw everything on, they showed. And making it all rubbery really was just a step in the wrong direction, as frameworks go. Like you’d think. What good is a ruler that stretches and twists?

The aether answer was closer, frankly. If we equate spacetime and aether, conceptually, and leave out any possibility of an absolute Platonic framework, however stretchy, we’ve got a nearly workable solution. Spacetime is a substance, a measurable quantity with, you know, heft, and density, and distribution. A compressible fluid, gaseous, plasmid, viscous, sticky — with respect to actual void, at least.

It’s so hard for fish to talk about water. If you are a fish, and you’re in water, you can eventually figure it out. Water brings you currents and eddies of pressure and warmth. It offers resistance to movement and something to push against. It provides friction. Insulation. It provides some way to measure distance, by finstrokes at the very least. Pressure in it increases as you swim downward. It carries heat and sound and diffuses and refracts and reflects light. You can make it change phase and viscosity. And if you get a good run-up and jump, you can leave it behind.

Spacetime is a substance in which we are suspended and dissolved. We each carry our own with us, every separate one of us with our own viewpoints. It gives us what we take to be mass and energy and inertia and gravity. And the easiest way to know about spacetime is to leave it and look at its absence.

Everyone knows E = MC2, but no one seems to look at it properly:

Ej = Mkg * C2m2/s2

All of the capital letters up there are just numbers. And there’s some simple algebra. All of the magic happens when you put in the units and look at what happens.

There’s an energy term out front, in joules for convenience, and it’s proportional (says the equation) to a measure of mass in kilograms multiplied by a somewhat more complicated term of spacetime in square meters per squared seconds. Hell, we don’t even know how to think about square seconds. But all of that is just algebra. You can solve that equation for any term — joules, kilograms, meters, seconds — and see that they are all introconvertible into one another.

It may help to know that the final term is in the same units that people who map the surface of the earth use to measure and map geopotential — a measure of the force of gravity. As you know, the measure of the acceleration force due to gravity changes depending on your depth in the gravity well, and changes additionally due to the distribution of the mass beneath you. Practically speaking.

But there you have it: energy and mass and gravity all existing only with respect to each other, only existing as an expression in terms of spacetime. But that’s not the only way of looking at things.

It worries some scientists that at the quantum scale that it’s really hard to detect anything like a gravitic force. For that matter, it’s hard to figure out which way the arrow of time points, too. Energy and particles are borrowed from the future and put back at whim as long as the numbers are small enough, borrowed from the foam of spacetime itself, expressed as “virtual particles” that can be made to do a little work before they disappear back into the water like leaping fish. Just about all of the transitions and transformations mapped by Feynman diagrams can happen in any direction. Space has different rules, too, with the usual idea of barriers not applying at all when particles change states via “tunneling”, popping from one allowed value to another without at all appearing in any excluded region where their existence would not be allowed.

We can see these virtual particles made permanent near black holes, where, when particles are produced in pairs, one of the two falls into the black hole and the other escapes. In a very similar way, time’s arrow appears on the quantum level, when it appears at all, due to the disturbance of a small amount of a large number of transitions, ordinarily reversible and actually reversing, under the influence of a not-entirely-uniform accelerating field — the same way a game of marbles would be a much different game if it took place on a playground slide. A debt can’t be paid back if the payment window keeps moving, accelerating away.

Does that make time a side-effect of an interfering non-uniform accelerating field, a translating force that creates distance between particles that were once close enough to revert to quantum foam, creates split-seconds between them so that they miss their appointments? Time, and space too. Spacetime is added to individual particles by translation of energy, by decay of mass, by imparting momentum. Distance in time and space is created by impact, destroyed by attraction — or, rather, translated into or out of mass or energy.

But all of that takes place in deep water. To actually get outside of the gravity/mass/energy-bound pressures of spacetime, you have to cancel the fields, create a special neutral arena where the chance of finding mass or energy or momentum or distance or differences in time is zero — or close enough to zero that Heisenberg is satisfied. A dimensionless condition of being where all kinds of things are permitted — except time and space and mass and energy and inertia. Perhaps a region where fields are excluded by a new kind of Faraday cage. Or a region cleared by cavitation, where the fabric of spacetime is stretched enough that it wears thin and tears.

This is the place that needs exploring — these holes between spaces, these dimensionless gaps outside of space and time — where new kinds of infinities and infinitesimals thrive, before the beginning and after the end, where everything is when it’s between moments. We must be like fish that are aware of water, that can experience air when we jump, that can imagine vacuum and what can exist within.


November 27, 2011 · Posted in Everything Else  

Air sucked through tubes always puts up a struggle. I’m not sure why that is. It’s springy, spongy stuff, and it judders and vibrates as it is pulled and pushed, tugged like hot taffy along a poorly greased table. It’s never quiet about it. You hear it going through your nose, your sinuses, in and out of your bronchial plumbing, and all of that is loud enough. Anything we’ve ever done to extend the system, SCUBA gear, building heating and air conditioning registers, rubber pipes, copper, tin and galvanized steel boxes, just makes it all noisier. Piccolo to sousaphone to 130-foot pipes in a pipe organ.

There ought to be a way to grease the air molecules, something to slip in with the nitrogen and oxygen and miscellaneous other gaseous rubbish to make is all less sticky-tacky so I can breathe quietly. Or maybe there’s some texture, some super-slick Teflonish coating — or maybe something in the other direction, some fractalized texturing that holds the air so well it only has friction against itself, and as long as it moves slowly enough that viscosity causes no cavitation…. Or maybe combinations of all of the above.

Whatever it takes to make it quiet in my own head.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s just noise. It’s ever-present. How can I even stay aware of it long enough for it to annoy me?

There’s a trick to it.

The shape of a cavity governs the resonant frequencies that can possibly live within it. It’s the science of acoustics. Hold two seashells, one to each ear, and you can hear the differences between them. Each speaks with its own voice relaying the stories of the ocean. You can make cavities to trap all kinds of fields and physical phenomena, tuning them for the frequencies of vibrations you care to allow. Make the shape of the void right and only the right thing can fill it. And because the universe is infinite, the thing that will exactly fill the void has no choice but to appear.

It sounds like ten kinds of sorcery and a hundred kinds of bullshit, but it’s true.

The shapes of the holes in my head, the cavities and sinuses and associated plumbing, trap old sounds I’ve heard before, sounds I’ve made before, and repeat them to me with each breath. The shapes of the spaces shape the only sounds I can make. Possibly that sounds like more of a limitation than it is — you’d be surprised at some of the sounds than can come out of a clarinet, for instance. Or a rabbit. But it’s a limitation all the same.

And the sounds of the air going in and coming out — it’s an aggregate sum of all of it. Every sound I’ve ever made and will ever make. If a giant were to make an ocarina out of my skull, it would add nothing to my repertoire. I’m drowning in the white noise of it. Off-white. Colored by the individual seashell shapes I carry inside. The void demanding to be filled by the waveform that fills it exactly, unchanging.

Maybe what I need is a new hole in my head.


November 25, 2011 · Posted in fiction