Bernie and Donald – come again?

So, Trump and Sanders.   The previously unthinkable types of candidates in America.  What’s up with that?  Personally I agree with this Guardian article.  Most of my friends and colleagues who brand me a socialist are entirely beholden to the economic propositions and advantages of free trade.  It is scientifically proven to make an economy more efficient. 


Few even question what that means. The theory goes along the lines of whomever can make a good the most efficient (cheapest) way for equal quality should be the ones to make it. That way the good is distributed to the demand side for the lowest (most efficient) price for the given demand. 


Hell it makes sense even to layman like myself.  And indeed most people.  The labour movement takes the side that the workers create the value and should retain more of the reward for that work than those who own the means of production.  Because it drives up the unit cost, that is, according to same theory, less competitive as it is less efficient. 


The market theory then goes on to imply (this isn’t part of the economics) that other work will rise to take the place as labour is finite, and jobs will be found that will take over as the source of employment for those people, or they will move to where jobs are, or they will lower their wage expectations to make the company competitive (this part always only seems to target the largest cost of the labour force, rather than the entire wage AND profit rates of the company itself).  


It (and this attempt to analyze Trump support) continue to reduce things to minimal dimensions for ease of explanation, thought, and communication.  It removes people, lifestyle, quality of life, social impact, and thousands of other aspects.  The labour force is just a number on supply side.  The lowest cost is the goal that feeds the measure of profit.  


Remember too that with money as the measure, then the financial influence has increased in politics over the years. It has done so in order to shift rules to make this system and its premises work increasingly well. 


Doing so has pissed these very people who comprise the labour force off.  Because while their votes should count for more, their issues are sidelines and dismissed as it doesn’t support the needs of the economic theory, and gradually the influence of the labour force and the people in it have nobody representing them. 


The US didn’t take much.  As the article points out the Democrats abandoned those principles as they mainstream rhetoric was all around the economic leading indicators, which all reflect a combination of efficiency and productivity.  It has employment as well to say that the jobs are still there.  So when the Democrats focused on the economy they did so because everyone has somewhat sensibly bought into what the media and leaders now across the spectrum said was good for the economy.  


I believe this would have continued to progress further for another decade or two.  The anti-establishment rumblings were empowered by social media, but people still had jobs, the economies were still growing in North America and more free trade kept correlating with increasing GDP.  It was all smooth. 


But free markets relentlessly optimize.  Everything.  That’s why they do create these efficiencies. When there is no pressure, they maximize returns, most often to the owners/shareholders. That is the stated directive of the corporation. Some include the workers but most don’t.  They are, as I said, part of the cost equation. 


But in doing so the free market will externalize both risk and cost.  Never take on something on the cost or risk side if you can get someone else to do it for you. 


Two big results of that were having the government cover off catastrophic risk and failure, and remove all environmental or societal impact to government cleanup and support. And reduce the need for business to pay for that via lower corporate taxes. The people need the services, so they should pay.  Don’t tax the providers of jobs, they help.  Do you see where the system naturally goes?


So with this all proceeding and increasing smoothly with the re-emergence and popularization of neoliberalism, what happened?


The financial crisis. All the undercurrents and anti-globalization were giving small voices to the concerns. It’s not like the issues which are created by the effects of the proven economic theory were not felt or hidden, just that they were marginalized. 


So the market creating a web of inherent fragility, which is what highly optimized systems are. Another word for inefficiency in some cases?  Robustness. All that extra capacity or padding or ability to absorb change?  You don’t need that all the time so it gets optimized out.  The market did what it does best. A little too well some say.  I say to the best of its ability.  


Then something went wrong.  It came apart.  It came apart due to basically lying and fraud.  Normally when that happens in a market those bad actors are removed and punished.  That’s what everyone expected.  Except that those actors had the political system worldwide and especially in America in its pocket. So the citizens looked on and took the damage while their money was used to bail these companies out. In some cases that meant these same people kept their jobs.  But they still had a righteous sense that someone should be help responsible.  


They weren’t. And the abuse got worse right out in the open at that point.  The attention to the lack of accountability or redress grew. 


The mainstream parties across North America didn’t seem to notice.  It was still fringe. Except it wasn’t.  People were now questioning. At least why the free market wasn’t a free market, but one where the taxpayers rather than the shareholders were now bearing the bulk of the risk.  It should have warned the establishment. A student of history knows that politicians use scapegoats to focus the anger of the populace away from themselves. But the new neoliberals and those fully beholden to not questioning the “free market” or how it was now being realized didn’t consider that. There was no redress. It was like it was ok.  But the average citizen saw how their money was spent to help those who didn’t need the help.  And how they still lost jobs. It was, in a very real parallel, the 2008 edition of the misquoted scene of “let them eat cake”.  It seems the new political elite skipped those classes. And now the people are outright angry. 


So in the US two champions have emerged.  One is and always has been anti-establishment. He had always been fighting for individuals and for the betterment of society as a whole, questioning the wisdom of how free market capitalism was realized. 


The other is a free thinker who has been both part of and outside the political elite variously while practicing that capitalism. He’s seized on populist rhetoric and touched on real and imagined pains as well as perceived slights and injustices, weaving them in to bolster the talk addressing the real injustices felt. 


Both are, as was said early in the campaign, anti-establishment.  Sanders is being openly repressed by the DNC in the nomination race.  Trump is now being attacked by the leaders of the Republican Party itself.  


One is sticking largely to the same principles and thoughts he had from the earliest days of his political activism. Tempered and deepened over the years. 


The other seems to me caught up in the campaign and fully populist, taking in anything that will give energy, be it anger or fervour, to his campaign.  


Both are gaining momentum.  Dawn has risen on the populace as they realize now that for once, they can make a difference and send a message more clearly than imagined in decades to the political elite that they are, in fact, in charge. They do have the power the fringe has been telling them they have. 


I disagree categorically with populism and especially that which fosters and feeds on hate or division. Much evil has been wrought over the years from such practice. This I disagree categorically with Trump, but he and his followers still need to be understood.  If you agree with my premise around the economic system and how the measures were agreed to for many years by all sides, he’s one of the strongest proponents of that system, when it suits his personal needs.  There is no integrity or consistency in Trump or his platform.   He is rife with hypocrisy. That seems to give him a veneer of credibility with his followers as he addresses all their anger, doubts, fear and desires, even when they conflict, and most often in impractical, unrealistic, outlandish, or even simply increasingly vague, ways.  But he addresses them. 


Sanders hasn’t shifted much that I’ve seen. This has hurt him due to his not tailoring the message to sub-constituencies, or special interests, be they labour, racial/ethnic, religious, demographic or even socio-economic.  He talks about the system and the injustices plainly. He has consistency and credibility but not populist appeal.  And he doesn’t say what everyone wants. He also challenges what we as a society have believed for years about economics.  I admire him. 


But if you only listen to the parts you agree with, Trump says your stuff. Bernie only sort of does.  He says some uncomfortable things in the middle. Trump says stuff you are also uncomfortable with but it seems too outlandish to worry about. 


Both are outlets for our anger, and especially for the anger and frustrations of American workers. Both are giving us a scapegoat. Indirectly, because they waited to act, the responsible group is actually the voters, but directly and tangibly, the scapegoat is the political elite that really should have known better. 



Just today (day after I wrote, but had not yet posted), the NPR talks about this from a different perspective.   The conclusion is about as overcooked-noodle weak and flimsy as I have ever read, but the idea of preserving the good while changing is the right idea to me.

Blog Reconstruction

Well, If you’re a reader of this blog, you will have noticed it was offline for a while, and now the address has changed slightly, and a number of the posts are missing. 

In a fit of total frustration with JCS hosting which has deteriorated markedly over the past year, I have now moved the last piece off of their system and over to GreenGeeks, but in doing so the DB backup isn’t compatible as WordPress did a major upgrade in the midst and for a few other technical reasons.

So I still have all the posts in MarsEdit, but I can’t just bulk upload them to a new blog unfortunately.   I’m posting them across and editing the publication dates back to their originals as I go, so I should have everything back up and running in a few more days.   Then I’ll get things sorted more fully.

I’ve decided to drop the old static home page of the last millennium and move to a pure WordPress-oriented site.   Simpler, cleaner and the content that updates the most, being the blog, becomes the centrepiece.   I hope you will enjoy the new format and bear with me while I finish the migration.   


Almost seamless

If you made it here to this post and the post previous, you’ve been successfully redirected to the new home of The DNS caches around the Internet are still flushing (basically, for the less technically inclined, it’s like getting your address updated in the phonebook — it takes a while for everyone to get the new phonebook). I’ve moved to now. I was on a very good server run by a long-time friend and past coworker, but I always felt guilty asking for new bits or a change in the config or what have you, as he wouldn’t accept payment for the hosting, so I finally eased my conscience and quit imposing on him. Thanks again Kor, it was a flawless… 7 years of hosting of! (I had to check the copyright notice on the page to know that :-S)

As such I’m doing some housecleaning and doing a few upgrades, such as this blog, which is now hosted on WordPress 2.x software. I’m liking it a lot. While bloged worked well for a long while, I wanted categories primarily, as well as some of the nice features MarsEdit has to offer, and the option to get the comments going. Plus I did not want to administer the server. I can, but I have 3 sons and a wonderful wife, and my spare time with my family is more valuable than $10/month.

I’m also gradually going to split the site, and put the technical aspects over at as well as a technical blog there (linked in the blogroll on the right). I’ll be doing more of the in-depth technical things on that site as I get it rolling, and this will be more my fun and hobbies, and my personal viewpoints. So depending on what you’re looking for, some adjustment might be required.

You might note that the rss address changed, as did the actual blog address. The home page is the same, so I expect everything will transfer, and now you can consume RSS 2.0 or Atom feeds for the blogs. Any other suggestions or comments, please let me know! Comments are enabled, although I’ve asked for verification and registration to stop the moron bots and such or at least slow them down. We’ll see how it works out. Or email me. Still at dallas (at) hockley (dot) ca and all that translation to an email address at this site.

Lightning2Aug092006.jpgAnd another lightning picture from last night, where it just crackled across the whole sky…..

Currently playing in iTunes: I Dreamt the World Had Ended by A Northern Chorus

Err…. Rougherer

Tonal Experiment Ok, this is again for posterity and I make no pretenses about this being a desired piece of audio for most people. It’s a second experiment with GarageBand and my fledgling Shakuhachi skills. Difference this time is that I put a bit of midi tonal instruments to it, and well….. you can tell my tuning isn’t quite matured yet. 😉

Apologies in advance to anyone with both perfect pitch, good pitch or just a musical ear and insatiable curiosity as some of this recording WILL make you cringe. It does it to me, but I’m not composing this stuff yet, just noodling and combining and capturing the raw ideas. Oh yeah, and dropping them on the handful that read this blog. It’s got some interesting ideas I like enough to commit it to the digisphere, so I keep my errors and my good bits in.

Curiosity got the best of you? Pain tolerance up? Musical sensibilities off and into the whiskey? Then have a listen. I’d say “enjoy:, but I think “experience” is more apropos. (Dashboard translated “Tonal Experiment” to the Kanji on the left. Dunno if that’s right, but there it is. The previous one was “Music”)

Time passes

2006_06_26_22-38-55-987_n0.large.jpeg I miss my dad. Father’s day was very, very…. sobering. Only seven years
ago did I join my dad on the honored end of Father’s Day. Now it’s having
Father’s Day without a father to call and talk to. My boys and my wife
sure made me feel special that day though.

My parents bought me a shakuhachi for Christmas this past year. Yes,
they too thought I had taken leave of my senses. I never got a chance to
show my dad that I could in fact play something that didn’t move the
table across the floor (I play drums) and keyboard (organ mainly). I’ve
been poking at it on my own now since Christmas. For those who don’t
know, a shakuhachi is a traditional Japanese bamboo flute. Nice part
about this
is that it is made of PVC rather than bamboo. The tone is quite
nice, but the PVC makes it cheaper and a lot more resistant to drying
and splitting in this dry climate in Calgary.

It’s a very pure, solitary instrument in sound, and it has been a goal
of mine to be able to play it since I visited Japan in 1991. Thanks to a
mic, GarageBand and some practice, I’ve eked out a very simple recording
of me pretty much “hacking” on the shakuhachi. It’s not a great demo of
the instrument, but I’ve recorded it for posterity, and to at least show
my mom that the gift is being used and was well received. Thanks Mom! It
might sound a bit contrived and there’s parts where my tone and control
show “rookie” in flashing lights, but I’m happy with more than a few
portions. If you’re curious how it really sounds, iTunes
has a whack of Shakuhachi music by professionals. One good disc would be
the Japanese
Masterpieces for the Shakuhachi
Various Artists - Japanese Masterpieces for the Shakuhachi

All that warning and diversions aside, I’ve got the AAC
(3.8 MB) of my little experiment
. I’ll post more as I get better,
but please send me your impressions on the email chain at “dallas (at)
hockley . ca”. Minus the spaces and filling in the at sign as needed. ;-)

A Long Time

2006_02_17_21-08-39-885_n0.large.jpegIt’s been a very long time since I cranked up the blog. Busy Christmas,
much to do with work, a number of trips for work to the US and UK.

That all came to a sudden halt on the 7th of February. The fine
gentleman on the left, my dad, passed away suddenly that day. I wasn’t
going to blog about it, but this blog is my own sort of diary in many
ways, and I can’t think of how to put another entry in without at least
one about him.

I’m still coming to grips with all of this. I’ve never come close to
this level of loss in my life. I’m very lucky that I have a strong and
loving wife to help me through this, as well as my boys, a great family
and many friends offering support and comfort. I’m not the only one that
this has ever happened to, and unfortunately there will always be more
to come, but I’m very thankful and relieved that I was very close and on
excellent terms with my dad before he left us. He was a loving man, and
always ready to help people and offer advice. He brought smiles to those
around him with his fun and teasing, his quick wit, and his eccentric
character. He was and is my hero, my role model and someone I have and
still strive to follow in the footsteps of. I’m proud of my dad. I miss
him terribly and probably will the rest of my life. I will continue to
try to do what I believe would make him happy and proud, and hopefully
be as good a father to my kids as he was to me.

In honour and loving memory of Clifford Lloyd Hockley, November 12, 1934
– February 7, 2006. We’ll all miss you, but we’ll all smile when we
remember you.

Perfect…. They Don’t Suspect a Thing

A friend of mine forwarded me a bunch of interesting research around
global warming and solar activity correlation over the years. Much of it
appears to have decent science and legitimate correlation behind it. He
then also forwarded me an
interesting link
to what can best be described as a far right-wing
American blog.

Let’s be clear. I’m not a left-wing activist. But I have kids, and I’d
like them to live in and experience a healthier world than the one I’ve
grown up in, and here in Canada, that world is pretty good to begin
with. But our modern society is still rooted in some pretty bizarre
ideas of what progress is.

So essentially, this blog (this post by Timothy Birdnow) dismisses
global warming as unrelated to CO2 levels being released into
the atmosphere. And then he extrapolates, from his limited frame of
reference and perception, that the Kyoto accord is designed to cripple
and limit the US economy. Uhhh….. ok. Sure. Whatever you say.

Let me propose an… alternate reasoning for Kyoto. Let me, in my
naive and optimistic way suggest it’s rooted in sustainable development,
and perhaps in the thinking from the very, very excellent book,
Cradle to Cradle.
So if you think along the lines that perhaps global
warming is not the reason, but simply being more efficient, effective,
and causing less of an impact through our industrialized society might
be the core reason, then you arrive at an alternate situation.

The world will move to sustainable development with or without the US,
despite what they may believe. Already, Europe is arguably ahead in some
ways for renewable energy. What Kyoto is doing is pushing everyone to
make a leap forward, and like it or not, we are very, very good at
creating and using oil and gas. So moving over to any other source will
take time, and to get started, you do need a fairly solid nudge. Global
warming may or may not be a factor, but there’s acid rain, oil prices,
air quality, energy security, and a large number of other aspects that
Kyoto actually assists. The point is that it reduces the consumption and
consequently the reliance on fossil fuels.

So let’s say it’s a really blundering attempt to cripple the US economy.
I for one can’t think of a single reason to even want to do that,
but let’s just assume that’s because I’m Canadian, and I like a lot of
the people down there. So let’s say the US doesn’t follow Kyoto. What is
likely to happen?

Well, some of the US is still pushing forward (a million solar roofs in
California) and such, so it’s not like they won’t have some capability
in new energy. But the expertise, the core competency and the best
capabilities in the production, generation, and manufacturing of these
systems will be in those Kyoto adherents, and in the countries that
manufacture for them. Those countries will enjoy less smog, less acid
rain (well, in areas not close to the US and others), and a lower cost
of energy over time than the US will. Let’s face it, if we get more
efficient fuels, and specifically fuel that has lower initial cost like
wind, solar, tidal and others, the cost of the energy will eventually
get below the cost of today’s fossil fuels. At that point, the Kyoto
adherents will be in a better economic position and likely have a higher
quality of life than the US will at that time.

Now this is based on some big assumptions, some fairly major
extrapolations, and a bit of thinking. So by no means is this a solid
prediction, just a possible scenario. So think what you want. I like
the idea of Kyoto, as there’s a small chance of that wish for my kids
coming true.

Hockey season is upon us!

Well, keeping a positive spin on tomorrow, many NHL teams open training
camp on the 11th.

It’s hard to explain to people that don’t play or really get passionate
about hockey just how much the game can mean. I never really played
until well into university, and I’ve only ever really played rec leagues
of course, but still, there is something about the game, the speed, the
elegance, the complexity, and the sponteneous nature of the game that
just brings about the closest thing I think there is to a perfect
balance in sports.

Team sports usually have superstars, and hockey is no exception, but it
is interesting that the superstars can still be brought low by a team of
hardworking people that act as a team, and this holds most obviously in
hockey. Man to man coverage is one thing, but in hockey if the team
isn’t acting in unison, the breakdown can be devastating. I play goal,
and while many think that’s more of an individual place when names like
Roy, Hasek, Tretiak, Dryden and the like come to mind, that position is
as reliant on the team as the team is on the goalie. You don’t get a 90%
save percentage facing an unending streak of 2 on 1 breaks and
breakaways. You get it by your team limiting the types of shots you
face, and by working with them to present the hardest options possible
for the opposition to score.

If you think scoring is the only exciting part of hockey, go to a live
game, where you can see more than the individual view the TV often
shows. Watch how the defending team denies whole sections of ice to
players and passes. Watch how the good defense pairs cover for each
other in offense and defense as the situation changes. Watch how the
defense keeps the shots and scoring chances limited by forcing the play
to the perimeter.

None of that requires clutch and grab hockey, which is a cop out. It
requires good positioning, good planning, and good skill. I like seeing
a good goal, I love seeing a great save, but I really deeply appreciate
the execution by the team of effective defense. The offensive excitement
is the other team solving that defense, and seeing as the sides adapt
and adjust.

Anyway….. GAME ON!!!!