Category Archives: THIS MONTH


Quantified Self

By:  Jonathan MacDonald

The Nike Fuelband is just one of many examples within a movement known as ‘Quantified Self’. In simple terms this is basically a process of being aware of what we do and how it effects us. For instance, knowing that by running 2 miles you burn a certain amount of calories, or that in a day you’ve walked a certain number of steps.

Moving forward we’ll see more tools appearing that enable us to access the data we’re producing and at the time of writing in the middle of 2013, the vast majority of comment is about the positive opportunities data recording brings. For Nike, last year’s profits rose by 18% in their equipment division due to the launch of the Fuelband, and for the public, it would appear we like recording and observing a lot of what we’re doing and, at times, sharing it with others. Continue reading QUANTIFIED SELF



By:  E J Wickes

Countries have been doing trade with each other since the camel and clipper ships. There was no WTO, World Bank or IMF. If you had something to trade and someone else wanted your goods, you’d make a contract and start doing business. The contract defined the parameters of your trade and bam, you were trading.

Some countries of course were more dominant. Spain, Britain, etc. had a vast military and navy. They would hit the beach with trinkets and beads and generally steal whatever they could from the Third World and when the natives retaliated, they’d send in the troops for occupation and colonization. Hawaii as an example for us. Britain and the U.S. have had a very strong hold on the oil producing Middle East. For some time a few have been getting very rich exploiting the “extraction” principle of economics. Taking resources from a region with little financial return for its people eventually breeds resentment when you consider that the ruling/business classes are the only ones benefiting.

Simply put, you have dominant nations or Superpowers and less powerful or Third World nations. The dominant ones extract from the weakest. The Western corporations, some owned by Americans in America, actually had a sense of national sovereignty to some degree, except for corporations like IBM who during WWII collaborated with the Nazis in secret. As time went on the various industrial nations became specialized in some form of agriculture or manufacturing, so for example, in History, if you wanted olive oil, you’d caravan the urns from Greece or Italy, if you wanted a car, you’d shop American, if you wanted electronics, maybe the Japanese, even though we invented all the electrical components, they manufactured cooler stuff with it. If you wanted optics or cutlery: Germany and so forth. Coffee: Columbia, you get the point.

With the increase of industrialization the stronger countries became more self-sufficient and organized labor was gaining ground. Workers’ rights and fair labor standards were won with minimal bloodshed. With that self-sufficiency came “tariffs”. We could produce or grow just about everything we needed for our day to day living and luxury here at home. It was almost ALL made in America. Although some imports like coffee were expected, if our cars weren’t quite what you wanted, for an additional fee, you could import something different. This protected both labor at home and freedom of choice.

As time went on technology and digital transmissions broke all borders. No longer were national corporations land locked to their labor force or beholding to any loyalty to a labor force who helped them become “too big to fail.” Money can be transferred in the blink of an eye and we can run our corporations from any location at any time. No need to live in any country where we have a business. We’ve joined the “International Ruling Cartel” where there’s safety in numbers. We live nowhere and anywhere. We belong to no country. Our money can be accessed anywhere, anytime. National economic pride in production became a thing of the past.

With the help of the Banking Cartels and a more “global” perspective achieving ground with Big Business, ideas like NAFTA were born. Yes. Everyone could prosper, but “…Only after a while, when things finally balanced out”, we were told. We weren’t quite sure if this was an attack on labor, but Walmart prices sure sounded good to us.

When labor gets too strong it threatens the bottom line of business. Labor and business were at some kind of a standoff for a long time. Even if you’re anti-union, you still have to realize that it was the unions who fought for your rights as well. We all have mixed views on the unions, but just as mixed now with Big Business.

Imagine if you will the members of the “International Ruling Cartel” getting together at some “secret resort” and saying, “Some of these countries are getting very strong. Their economies are ripe for the picking. It’s time to start thinking of ways to infiltrate that gold mine and get our just deserts. Because the Third World has been picked pretty clean, let’s go after the power players. After all, we’re globalized now and we have all our institutions in place. The World Trade Organization to manage trade disputes worldwide, the Banking Cartels to manage the money worldwide, so who needs borders? Let’s compartmentalize the world into trading zones. Since Free trade has declared open season on Third World sweatshops, who needs the American or Western worker with their demands for fair labor standards or a living wage? We’ve been screwing the Banana Republics for so long, let’s team up with the World Bank and start our campaign in the newspapers proclaiming how Rosario will work for sixty five cents an hour in Guatemala.” And the great big sucking sound continues….

Manufacturing jobs in America start dwindling by the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, to millions. Economic standards are declining in the richest, most innovative country in the world. Working communities loosing tax base and municipal services and standards of education. Walmart’s on every exit and tumbleweeds are blowing down Main Street. Outsourcing everything, producing next to nothing in comparison to fifty years ago. Inflation, declining value on goods, labor and of course, the Arts. Wars every ten years to “protect our interests”. Cities in despair; gun violence off the charts. The financial industry has run amok. “Nostalgia. Where the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it.” The only thing we’re missing here is a huge tropical rain forest and loin clothes. America used to be a producer. Now we’re a consumer nation with a huge unskilled service industry for retail, fast food and hospitality. “No, let’s not raise the minimum wage”, says Big Business. “It’s bad for the economy.”

Gone are the days of the superpower nations. No longer does national pride or loyalty motivate the big business man or banker. The world is his oyster. The black market collapsed the Soviet Union, not Reagan or Gorbachev. The KGB – turned Russian Mafia brought Capitalism to the Eastern Block. Soon Ukraine will bite the dust. The Bankers are in charge. With the advent of the WTO anybody at any time can open a factory anywhere and rarely have to apply fair work or Eco-standards to the Third World in their quest for “Free Enterprise”. And where does it all stem from? The “International Ruling Cartel”. Those who have no loyalties to anyone accept their bank accounts and their hunger for power. And now the superpowers are feeling the suction. Soon we all will be exploited by the “Third World Extraction Economics” of those with no country.

We elect the same type of formulaic candidates who continuously sell us out to special interests and say it’s good for America. And the irony is that the same individuals who play this game are so far removed from it all, they either don’t have a clue which is unfortunate, since we expect them to have some level of expertise with problem solving, or they know exactly what they’re doing and could care less as long as they make it to the bunkers in time. Our economy is being extracted by the millions and eventually if something doesn’t change, or a new paradigm forthcoming, we will be no different than those poor indigenous natives from the far off lands we conquered over a century ago.

(That said, I am fortunate to be working for a small, family owned, American manufacturing business, but there’s damn few of ’em left.)