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30Jul/130

Letter From the Gulag

Posted by Nate

The letter from GULAG

1951. Our family before the arrest of my father

I decided to publish this letter that my father wrote to me from Siberia where he spent 5 years accused of Cosmopolitism during the Stalin era.  He was fully rehabilitated after Stalin's death and came home in 1956.  He passed away in 1958.  I was eleven at that time.  I hope that after reading this letter you will understand why my father embraced the revolution.  Every society where all the wealth is concentrated in a very few hands is prone to disorder, violence and revolution.

January 12, 1955

My dear son!

Although I have not received an answer from you on my first letter, I decided to write you a second letter.  I am not upset that you did not answer me on my first letter.  I know that you are very busy:  you get up at 9 a.m., you have to get dressed, put shoes on, wash yourself, eat breakfast and then do your homework while your head is still clear.  And of course how can you miss playing outdoors in fresh air?  It is all important.  In no time you need to go to school.  There are other things to do after school:  wash your hands, eat dinner and of course play outside.  And then again homework - reading, writing, arithmetic.  And mama is always there watching that everything is done good, neat, clean.  And what about reading fairy tales?  You need time for all these things.  Days are not long enough.  How can I be upset, my dear son, knowing all of these?  Of course, not.

When you will grow up, then you will understand a lot, and how good, nice and warm your father feels reading tiny letters from his beloved first grade son.

To tell you the truth, at your age I did not read or write in Russian.  It was not my fault.  There was no school, especially for poor people.  Nobody could afford to pay for education.  Our family was big, we were poor.  Your grandfather (my father) was a very sick man, and your grandmother (my mother) was sick.  Of course, they worked but it was not enough.  Times were very tough - it was before the revolution (before 1917), then it was civil war, destruction.  Your teacher probably talked about it.

I remember, when I was little, there was no bread in the house.  It happened very often- so what should you do?  So I took a little sack and went to the fields (after harvesting) to gather rye, wheat, oats and barley spikelets.  I used to put a sack on my neck, walk barefoot on harvested field and look here and there for the remains of the spikelets.  The straw was spiky and they would prick my feet, it hurt, my feet bled, but I had to collect spikelets as much as I could.  Because my family wanted to eat, my smaller brothers were asking for bread.  Before dusk I would have my sack full, then same on the second day and the third.  We would dry the spikelets on the stove, beat them to get grains, and to my mother's great joy would take the grain to the mill.  Finally I carried flour home.  My mother, my good and dear mother bakes bread.  Oh, the smell of fresh bread!  How tasty the bread is when there is not enough of it!  You take a piece and in a moment it is all gone.

We needed potatoes, but there was no money.  What can be done?  So, my mother would take our cloth, and she and I would go to the nearest village to exchange cloth for potatoes.  You can survive without cloth, you still can use the old one, the ripped one.  One day later, after exchanging cloth for potatotes we were going home.  Good people gave us a horse and buggy.  I was the driver, but when we were passing a corner of one of the houses, the buggy turned to the side of the house, and my mom got caught in between the buggy and the house.  There was 1000 pounds of potatoes.  Her head was pressed to the house at her temple.  How could I, so little, turn the buggy?  What should I do?  Mama made hard, terrible moans.  I was so scared, I screamed suddenly so loud - "mama, dear mama", with such horror, that the horse got scared and with all her force dragged the buggy in the opposite direction from my mother.  I ran to my mom, her tired face was pale blue, there were tears in her eyes.  I hugged her very tight, started to kiss her and begged her "mama, dear mama, please live, live".  She looked at me, and probably saw my very scared face washed with my tears, and started to calm me.  I still remember this accident, I will probably never forget it.

My dear son, your father had a tough childhood.  Very difficult.  I am trying to remember all my childhood years and cannot come up with a happy moment.  Like a dark night.

Then after the Revolution when the Soviets came, our life changed.  I went to school and the sun started to shine for poor people. But I will write about it next time, how I wound up at school and so on.  I am sending you my picture.

Study well, my dear and beloved son, listen to adults, do not upset your mother and grandmother.  I love you very, very much and kiss you.  Kiss your mother for me many times.

Your father, Isaac.

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend." http://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-4-5-us-face-175906005.html

23Jul/130

Breaking News and Silinness..

Posted by Nate

Royal baby

Daily Wisdom

The World is in a state of suspense and anticipation.

Reporters from around the world gathered, waiting, spending sleepless nights around the sacred grounds.

Newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television are on high alert, ready for the breaking news.

The World is holding it's collective breath.

Royal Baby

The suspense!

Why all this commotion?  What is happening?

First contact with the alien civilization?

World peace?

Muslim Brotherhood accepted democracy?

Republicans accepted Obama as our American President?

Aim higher my friends!  Halleluiah!

The brand new Royal Baby is on the way!  How blessed we all are.

New royalty

His Royal Presence!

People of Earth!  Rejoice!

The fresh royalty is showing his royal head out of the royal womb and checking out the paparazzi-filled world.

Oh the suspense...

Will he decide to bless the Earth with His Royal Presence?  Will he?

We horses are buffed with all this commotion.  We never create so much hoopla about a newborn horse; also we have a better reason for excitement.  At least we horses earn our living.  But we are too busy for this human nonsense.

9Jul/130

Fork in the Road

Posted by Nate

"A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public."  "The flaw is that there is no end benefit. The money simply travels up the chain. Only the originator (sometimes called the "pharaoh") and a very few at the top levels of the pyramid make significant amounts of money. The amounts dwindle steeply down the pyramid slopes. Individuals at the bottom of the pyramid (those who subscribed to the plan, but were not able to recruit any followers themselves) end up with a deficit." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_scheme

Consumption and grows based economy is a dead end

Current economic model

The question I have been asking myself for a while now:  Is the current economic model sustainable?  Isn't it a pyramid scheme bound to collapse?

Are these 21st century phenomena - industrialization, huge multinational conglomerates, growth and consumption-based economies - just dinosaurs?  A dead end?  Bound for extinction?

One of the common symptoms of the problem is growing debt among the rich and developing countries.  Reasons for growing debt in the developed world is the economic model based on growing consumption and growing use of resources like raw materials, energy, water.  There are many unanswered questions.  Where do we go from here?  What do we have to do to survive?

One important aspect of the new trend in society is having a job, employment, a “career”.

The work force is shrinking because of our changing economy with automation and the shift from manufacturing to service and an information-based economy.  Is it a positive phenomenon in the long run?  Is there a trend to be self-employed?

Many hate their jobs

Cannot wait to get in here?

Should we reassess the importance of a life-long career?  Here is an interesting excerpt:  Someone asked me: why do people hate their jobs?   I answered: Note, not everyone hates their jobs. There are some "entre-ployees" out there that love their jobs.  But for the other 98% of the population, jobs are modern-day slavery.  We are paid just enough to live and not more.  You are punished if you ask for more.

We are often verbally abused on the job and we take it because we think it's normal that people would yell at us.  The government gets up to 50% of your paycheck and then 10-20% of that goes to kill people on other parts of the planet, including our own children.

We are deluded into thinking our job-friends are our real friends.  With our job-friends we talk about pens, genitals, and cubicles.  We stop having real friends.  There is a glass ceiling.  It doesn't matter if you are a woman or a minority or a white man.  The glass ceiling is that you aren't allowed to make more than your Master, even if he's an idiot.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-altucher/why-do-people-hate-their-jobs_b_3110748.html

Millennials are not looking for careers.

They are different

New generations are not that interested in building a career.  Millenials do not like to follow authority and have little respect for it.  They are not that interested in building a life-long career.  They would like to do meaningful work.

A 2012 Georgetown University survey found that nearly three-quarters of Millennials think the nation’s economic system unfairly favors the wealthy – and according to a Pew study from 2010, we generally prioritize family and marriage over career advancement.  We’re not interested in pursuing career success for its own sake: rather, we see work as just one component in a well-rounded life. http://blog.ringcentral.com/2013/06/how-millennials-work/

Another important aspect of the new trend in society is technology.

New technology is changing society, changing habits.  E-readers instead of books.  Miniaturization: smart phones instead of desktop computers and landline phones.

Technology in turn makes it easier for small businesses, for the self-employed to compete. The self-employed  cannot be laid off. Their schedule is flexible.  They have better control over their lives.

More people are self-employed either because they lost jobs or by choice.  They are involved in services exchanges.  Plumbers and carpenters, computer servicemen and painters, etc., working together forming teams or just being hired between themselves.  People prefer to hire somebody they know and trust instead of working with a large company.

New ways to save money...resources are becoming more common. Exchanges are more popular:  zip cars, bike-sharing, equipment-sharing and so on.  Is there a trend toward becoming more of a tribal society?

Depletion of natural resources.  Paradoxically the growing middle class in Asian countries like China and India is a problem. People have means and are consuming more meat.  Increased meat production requires additional huge resources in farming and energy.

The centralized food production by industrial farms and a huge, complicated delivery system is wasteful, inefficient and unhealthy.  In the USA we burn 12 calories in transportation for every 1 calorie in food.

 

Industrial farming

Cruel and unnatural.

The problem is rapid and radical twentieth-century transformation of our food system from sustainably based, locally-focused production, to a fossil-fuel-addicted industrialized system.  Agriculture has changed more in the past two generations than it did in the previous 12,000 years.” http://www.sustainabletable.org/982/energy-use-climate-change

Also the current highly-specialized and interconnected economy is fragile, susceptible to crashes and is easily affected by unexpected cataclysmic events.

So what is the answer?  Amazingly, poor African villages show the way.

Some interesting facts:  In November, three young engineers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with financial backing from Google, installed a small satellite dish powered by a solar panel, to hook up a handful of computers in the community center to the rest of the world.

In recent years the mobile phone has emerged as the main modern communications link for rural areas of Africa.  From 2002 to 2007, the number of Kenyans using cellphones grew almost tenfold to reach about a third of the population, many of whom did not have landlines, according to the International Telecommunication Union. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/technology/internet/02kenya.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

Tribal economic model

The future?

Electricity in remote African villages.  The VPS is a model, off-grid, micro-generation power station that harnesses energy from renewable sources such as solar, biomass, wind and mechanical power for providing electricity to small rural populations.

Micro-nuclear generators.  Toshiba has developed a new class of micro-size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks.  The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.  http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news-toshiba-micro-nuclear-12.17b.html

Micro-manufacturing.  Due to current technological advances, manufacturing in the near future may be possible in every house, thanks to the 3D printing on a molecular level. 

Science fiction has always envisioned a real-life molecular creation tool, a device that could create objects (like food) on a cellular level, and they appear.  By adding a special resin, carbon, light and water, University of Tokyo Scientists were able to create an object on a cellular level using a 3D printer-like device.” http://www.digitalafro.com/molecular-creation-device-like-star-trek-scientists-use-3d-printer-to-create-microscopic-objects/

So many household items will be made by a “replicator” (3D printers) making many parts of the “economy” obsolete.  Manufacturing, delivery, storage, stores, human resources will not be needed anymore.

I think that an economy based on local services, local manufacturing, small localized energy sources is much more efficient, flexible and stable.

And what about “jobs”?  Think about this:  a hundred years ago people worked long days and long weeks.  And many dreamed that, with the advance of technology, people would not have to work so much.  Do we work any less than we did a 100 years ago?  Not at all!  Why?  Who said we need to work 40 hr. weeks?  We are producing hundreds more products now.  The reason is a consumption-based economy that needs to grow to sustain itself.

A pyramid scheme...a scheme to make the rich richer by convincing us suckers that we need more and more stuff.

Consumption based economy

The "SYSTEM"

In conclusion I just wanted to add this thought by Neil deGrasse Tyson:  "During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore—in part because it's fun to do.  But there's a far nobler reason.  The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us.  In that bleak world, arms-bearing, resource-hungry people and nations would be prone to act on their “low contracted prejudices.”  And that would be the last gasp of human enlightenment—until the rise of a visionary new culture that could once again embrace the cosmic perspective."  http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/universe/201367/cosmic-perspective?page=3

   

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