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So I read several eye-popping climate diaries here today:

V.L. Baker's Rate Of Climate Change To Soar By 2020s, With Arctic Warming 1°F Per Decade

Joe Romm at Think Progress/climate is bringing us the stomach churning news of new research which doesn't mince words about the dire situation in which we find ourselves.
   The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) study, “Near-term acceleration in the rate of temperature change,” finds that by 2020, human-caused warming will move the Earth’s climate system “into a regime in terms of multi-decadal rates of change that are unprecedented for at least the past 1,000 years.”
And Walter Einenkel's Earth's climate is changing fast—in our lifetime fast
Many studies have been performed showing how our climate is changing in an earth-sized lifespan. All of these studies point to both natural global variances as well as those that have developed as a result of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This study is one of the first to try to investigate the potential temperature changes happening in human lifespans.
And xaxnar's truly scary Naomi Klein Spells It Out: Reshape the Global Economy Now, or Kiss The World Goodbye
The quick version: if we do not radically change the world economy, by 2017 we will have passed the point of no return. A tipping point is at hand, where changes will be locked in. We had three decades to make gradual adjustments - now only two choices remain: sweeping changes to our global economic systems ASAP, or global environmental disaster.
And with all urgency and terror and science I was asking myself, "Why can't we get our shit together?  I mean, even rich people want to avoid an apocalypse."

And then I found the answer at The Nation in an article by Christopher Hayes:  The New Abolitionism:  Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth.  And my eyes were opened.  Sure I knew that fossil fuel companies would have to leave a lot of their assets in the ground, but it didn't really hit me until reading that article just how much money that implied.  

It is almost always foolish to compare a modern political issue to slavery, because there’s nothing in American history that is slavery’s proper analogue. So before anyone misunderstands my point, let me be clear and state the obvious: there is absolutely no conceivable moral comparison between the enslavement of Africans and African-Americans and the burning of carbon to power our devices. Humans are humans; molecules are molecules. The comparison I’m making is a comparison between the political economy of slavery and the political economy of fossil fuel.

More acutely, when you consider the math that McKibben, the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) all lay out, you must confront the fact that the climate justice movement is demanding that an existing set of political and economic interests be forced to say goodbye to trillions of dollars of wealth. It is impossible to point to any precedent other than abolition.

So the basic story looks like this: in the decades before the Civil War, the economic value of slavery explodes. It becomes the central economic institution and source of wealth for a region experiencing a boom that succeeded in raising per capita income and concentrating wealth ever more tightly in the hands of the Southern planter class. During this same period, the rhetoric of the planter class evolves from an ambivalence about slavery to a full-throated, aggressive celebration of it. As slavery becomes more valuable, the slave states find ever more fulsome ways of praising, justifying and celebrating it. Slavery increasingly moves from an economic institution to a cultural one; it becomes a matter of identity, of symbolism—indeed, in the hands of the most monstrously adept apologists, a thing of beauty.

And yet, at the very same time, casting a shadow over it all is the growing power of the abolition movement in the North and the dawning awareness that any day might be slavery’s last. So that, on the eve of the war, slavery had never been more lucrative or more threatened. That also happens to be true of fossil fuel extraction today.

So far, so good.  But this is the main point, and the answer to my earlier question:
In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.
After reading that article, everything makes so much sense--the wall of propaganda, the bought and paid for politicians.  We are dealing with outright war.  But once we see who Climate Hitler is, we can see how to defeat him, and the article outlines how.

Yes, I've gone Godwin and pulled in a comparison to slavery, but we are talking about the end of civilization, possibly even humankind, so I believe I am justified.

Discuss

I am a scientist and like many scientists my job is completely dependent on grant money.  The Republicans in Congress have taken a hatchet over the years to federal grant money for scientific research.  Let me be the first to say that if it's a choice between feeding hungry children and paying research scientists, of course the hungry children come first.  There are a lot of Americans suffering from the terrible economy and that suffering is more important than publishing in peer-reviewed journals.  However, it is due to the hatchet-wielding Republicans that we are having to make those hard choices in the first place.  And while the toll is not as obvious as what they have done with shredding the safety net, it still has a profound and long lasting effect on the state of American scientific research.

Federal funding of scientific research was already cut to the bone before the sequester.  Then the sequester came and a lot of scientific research funding took the brunt of the cuts.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/...

The first active federal budget "sequester," an automatic, across-departments spending reduction, in more than two decades will cut funding from several U.S. departments and agencies that fund scientific research. Currently, the government funds more than one third of all research and development in this country. Details remain to be seen and the situation is still playing out, but many of these organizations clearly foresee losses in jobs and crucial funding.
The terrible result of these deep cuts isn't just the loss of current scientific research, but for many potential scientists the decision to go into a different career.  This generational loss is irreplaceable and will affect American scientific capability for years to come.

It also serves to chill the independence of currently practicing scientists.  If they can no longer be reasonably assured of getting funding from the federal government, they will be forced to get funding from private sources.  This necessarily will influence their choice of study subjects, as they will be either consciously or subconsciously be more likely to choose subjects of interest to corporations and other potential funders.

Personally I think a third of all scientific research should be privately funded, rather than a third of all scientific research being publicly funded--the percentages should be reversed.  Corporations are in the business of making a profit, so, for example, in the area of biomedical research usually only patentable pharmaceuticals and devices obtain private funding to be studied.  This can work well if done in tandem with robust publicly funded biomedical research, but that is not longer the case, at least in the U.S.

Pharmaceutical companies like to fund research into copycat drugs that have a very broad customer base.  But this bias leads to the humiliating current scenario of random people pouring buckets of ice over their heads just to raise money for research for ALS treatments.  We shouldn't have to do that.  Even though ALS is very rare, such a debilitating disease deserves to have lots of federal money thrown at it to help develop a cure.  Sure it wouldn't help that many people, and those people might not even be rich ( /sarcasm).  But they deserve a chance to be able to live a healthy life.  Scientists shouldn't be reduced to panhandling on the Internet just to get enough money to do their jobs.  

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This was already on here at dKos back when it happened back in June, but it cheered me up watching it this morning.  It's so refreshing to see a Democratic politician be unafraid, to bring it.

Here is the text of the speech:

http://www.berwickforgovernor.com/...

It is not liberty for all when one among us sleeps hungry, as 3000 Massachusetts kids will tonight; when 4000 families are homeless.  It is not liberty for all when one among us works 40 or 50 hours a week and can’t make ends meet for her family.  It is not justice for all when a person struggling with addiction or mental illness is slammed into a prison and forgotten.

And it is neither liberty nor justice when we surrender to the myth that, if some are to win, others must lose. That in a Commonwealth that thrives, Isaiah must die.

No! Wrong!  When injustice wins, no one wins.

For a compassionate Commonwealth, the answers are clear.  Are you hungry?  Food.  Are you lost?  Take my hand.  Are you sick?  Care.   Are you idle?  Work.  Union work.

The problem is lies – lies that endanger our nation. It is a lie that those with great wealth have the right to control our future.  It is a lie that corporations are people.  They aren’t.  It is a lie that the poor make themselves poor; that the sick make themselves sick.

I'm going to do what I can to help him win the primary and the general.  The primary here in Massachusetts is coming up fast, September 9th.  Unfortunately Votebuilder is down today so I can't phonebank.  

Here is hoping that every state in the country has someone running equally as bold and qualified.

Discuss

Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 12:51 PM PDT

Help me stop a hate crime?

by cordgrass

I'm a wiccan treehugger, and unfortunately must eat red meat or I get anemia.   For some reason, iron pills don't work for me.  But I wanted to eat responsibly sourced meat, so I found a local butcher who gets his meat from a local farm with very happy cows who eat grass out in the pasture.  The meat is very good quality and I've been going to his shop for years and have become good friends with him and his wife (who also works in the shop).  The shop is a halal butcher shop for Muslims, but they've always been very welcoming to me and other non-Muslim customers and give really terrific service, for example, only grinding hamburger right there after the order has been placed.

When I went in to pick up my meat order today, he was very distressed.  Some anti-Muslim bigot has posted extremely offensive pictures to his and other local Muslim butchers' yelp accounts.  He got a call warning him from a customer--the pictures have been up for over a week.  I'm trying to help him out, because he's not the most tech-savvy individual.  I tried calling yelp but there is no one in the office there on the weekend.  I emailed them using their contact form, but it says it could take up to a week to get results.

I've asked the yelp forum over there to help flag the pictures as inappropriate.  I'm hoping there is some kind of autoban if a photo gets enough flags.  I was wondering if people here have a yelp account, if they could also flag these three photos as inappropriate.  I'm trying to make them disappear as soon as possible.

http://www.yelp.com/...

Also, my friend was wondering if he should go to the police?  Any thoughts?

Discuss

Short diary but important message.  I don't do crafts so I don't shop at Hobby Lobby, but I sure do eat organic food and have bought cases of Eden Foods organic beans in my time.  I will never buy another product from them again, as they were plaintiffs along with Hobby Lobby on that asinine "corporations are parishioners too" case.

http://www.dailykos.com/...

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!  I'm pretty sure Democratic women make up a huge part of their customer base.  They also sell organic soy milk, canned tomatoes, chili, and tons of other organic products, especially catering to vegans.

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Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 05:18 AM PDT

homeless person question

by cordgrass

This isn't a real diary, just a question about something--I'm not sure what to do.  We live near a little shopping plaza and I bicycled there to get my daughter some cough drops from the drug store.  When I went, I noticed there was an empty car on my street  with the engine idling.  It seemed strange that someone was warming up their car in June, but I really didn't think much of it until I returned and noticed it was still idling.   Alarmed, I put my bicycle away and I walked up to the car to check it out.  There was a person slumped over in the driver's seat, wearing a hoodie.  I knocked on the window and groggily she woke up.  She looked exhausted, a young woman.  I asked her through the window if she was okay, twice, and she nodded wanly.  I noticed when walking away that she had a box of baby wipes in her back seat.

So I'm fine with her sleeping in her car on my street.  I would even invite her in for a bite to eat except my daughter has strep and is contagious and I have to go to the doctor with her.  But is the woman okay to sleep for so long with the engine running?  I'm worried about carbon monoxide poisoning.  Her tailpipe was clear, but still.  All the windows were shut tight.

Discuss

Mon Jun 02, 2014 at 10:46 AM PDT

crowdfunding a malaria vaccine

by cordgrass

killers

I don't like to post this on such a great day for fighting global warming, but I am amazed by the news that an effective malaria vaccine has been developed.

Promising Malaria Vaccine Looks to Employ Robots to Mass Produce Its Product

Last year, Sanaria reported that in a Phase I clinical trial whose participants were consenting U.S. veterans, the vaccine administered at the higher of two doses kept all the patients who got it from becoming infected with malaria when bitten by mosquitos carrying Plasmodium falciparum, which causes 98 percent of all malaria deaths. This year, the company will conduct trials in the U.S., Mali, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea and Germany.

To produce the vaccine, called PfSPZ, Sanaria cultivates mosquitos in a sterile environment and infects them with Plasmodium falciparum(the Pf in PfSPZ). When the mosquitos are chock-full of Pf sporozoites (hence the SPZ), the company irradiates them to weaken the parasites. Workers then herd up the mosquitos, chop off their heads and squeeze out their salivary glands, where the parasites prefer to live the better to port over to the mosquito'™s next victim. They retrieve the weakened parasites from these tiny glands, filter out other contaminants and gather them up into an injectable vaccine.

Sanaria's method faces the additional challenge that dissecting the little buggers is tedious. Researchers can dissect 2-3 mosquitos an hour, which is nowhere near enough to mass-produce a global vaccine. So two years ago, Sanaria began working with the Harvard Biorobotics Lab to develop a robot that could do the work faster.

"From our perspective it's a very challenging project," said Yaroslav Tenzer, a post-doc who, with Robert Howe is developing the robot, called SporoBot. "œIt'™s small-scale tissue, and they'™re very soft; they'™re very fragile."

Tie-in with global warming--predictions are that malaria will creep up into more northern latititudes as the earth warms.  Consider crowdfunding--the life you save may be your own.

Sorry this diary is so short--I don't know enough about the science behind either vaccine production or robotics to add expertise, but I am very excited about this development.  

Discuss

Fri May 16, 2014 at 01:32 PM PDT

A REAL rally in DC

by cordgrass

I am so glad that I went to that--bless you, Jon and Stephen.

Discuss

Mon May 05, 2014 at 12:43 PM PDT

We are stardust, we are golden

by cordgrass

pix from the 350.org Summer Heat protest last year of the Brayton Point coal plant, a dinosaur of a plant that kills dozens of New Englanders each year.  It's shutting down in a few years, and some people here at dKos seem to think that's a terrible, terrible thing because it might cause electricity prices to increase.  Doubtful that that's the case, with all the planned wind and solar around here, but that seems to be the going sentiment.

Federal judge dismisses latest Cape Wind lawsuit

http://www.masscec.com/...

Solar use will push energy costs up in Mass.

Massachusetts utility customers could get hit with more than $1 billion in higher electricity bills over the next two decades under Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to dramatically expand solar power in the state, government and industry officials said Tuesday.

A top state official said that the average residential customer would pay $1 to $1.50 more a month under the Patrick plan, which aims to cut air pollution and create more jobs in the growing solar energy industry.

OH NOES!!!!   CLOSING DOWN BRAYTON POINT, IT'S JUST LIKE ENRON!
Poll

Closing down Brayton Point coal plant:

90%20 votes
9%2 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

I'm an author.  One book and that was enough.  I got a lot of accusations online when my book first came out that I was pimping my book, so I'm not going to mention the title of it in this diary.  That chapter of my life is over.  The thing was, I discovered the equivalent of female Viagra.  It wasn't just one pill, it was a balancing act of certain things in the diet combined with strengthening the PC muscles.  The approach greatly increased female libido, made clitoral orgasms easier for women, and gave some women for the first time the ability to have vaginal orgasms, i.e. orgasms from only PIV intercourse  I was also attacked venomously at the time for daring to say that there were other types of orgasm besides the clitoral kind--so if you want to call that kind of orgasm something besides an orgasm, that's fine with me.  I'm done fighting that battle.

My life was really difficult for several years and I was attacked on all sides.  But the thing that bothered me THE MOST was that I am a scientist, and I was making this approach known for science.  I tried my utmost to get a formal study going.  I wrote a rigorous proposal, I had a licensed metric, I had an offer to publish my findings in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, but I couldn't get funding.  I initially had offers.  One of the main parts of my approach was very large amount of fish oil.  I had two fish oil companies wanting to fund my research.  But I later found out that their interest was because they wanted a method patent for a "cure" for female sexual dysfunction.  In other words, they wanted to turn my natural approach into a prescription.  When my discovery became more public, being written up in magazines, etc., the hope of a patent was gone and they withdrew their offers.

The enraging thing was that no one believed me.  Common sense would say that a person discovering a way to get women to be more interested in sex and more orgasmic would have researchers beating a path to her door.  Of course.  Then people would lecture me condescendingly that my anecdotal data weren't data.  Like I didn't know that I needed a double-blind placebo-controlled study.  Still, they didn't understand how science works--I knew that my approach worked, that's how studies get started in the first place.  But if a tree falls in a forest...

Now I finally have vindication.  Jerks!  What health research is better funded than cancer research?  You would think that someone who had discovered a potential treatment for cancer would have money thrown at her, especially with all the independent fundraising groups "racing" for the cure.  You would think wrong.

How Big Pharma Holds Back in the War on Cancer

Seventeen years later and cancer-free, Retsky cannot be entirely sure the treatment cured him, but he believes it likely did. Numerous laboratory, animal and small human studies suggest that low-dose, continuous chemotherapy holds promise in shrinking tumors and preventing cancer’s recurrence. But the next step—testing what Retsky did in a large-scale clinical trial—is a longshot given the way cancer treatments are developed today.

Take Michelle Holmes, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She’s been trying for years to raise money for trials on the effects of aspirin on breast cancer. Animal studies, in vitro experiments and analysis of patient outcomes suggest that aspirin might help inhibit breast cancer from spreading. Yet even her peers on scientific advisory boards appear uninterested, she says.

“For some reason a drug that could be patented would get a randomized trial, but aspirin, which has amazing properties, goes unexplored because it’s 99 cents at CVS,” says Holmes.

Anyhow, this vindication has been swirling in my mind today with a lot of other things I've recently read, and I have economic questions about the future of our society.  I wrote a review here at dKos recently on Jeremy Rifkin's new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society, where he predicts due to inexorable market forces, capitalism will greatly diminish, and the collaborative commons will take over.  Clearly with cancer research that can't happen soon enough.  But in general I'm feeling the rumblings of an economic earthquake coming.  Today's diary

U.S. Solar Capacity up 418% Since 2010, Koch Bros Demand Tax on Sun

also shows that Rifkin's predictions are coming true.  And completely unrelated, I also read this humorous and useful article by David Wong in Cracked today:

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

He's young and doesn't quite understand how life works, but his points are interesting, harsh but interesting, sort of a tough love for millenials.  But what I found most fascinating, was it seems the kernel of his idea came from a truly repellent article

Hipsters on Food Stamps

But now suddenly we're all shocked: to the economy, the English grad is just as superfluous as the disenfranchised welfare mom in the hood-- the college education is just as irrelevant as the skin color.  Not irrelevant for now, not irrelevant "until the economy improves"-- irrelevant forever. The economy doesn't care about intelligence, at all, it doesn't care what you know, merely what you can produce for it.
The repellent author only looks at things from a capitalist, economic viewpoint.  Why spend money for a liberal arts college education when you will never get your money back by improving your employment chances?  Major in engineering or be a chump.  And don't give your labor away for free!  That viewpoint seems so antiquated now, and it's been less than two years.

David Wong saw how the wind was blowing and opened up the horrible idea of the repellent author by realizing that contributing to the sharing economy was also worthwhile, and much, much better than doing nothing.

If you protest that you're not a shallow capitalist materialist and that you disagree that money is everything, I can only say: Who said anything about money? You're missing the larger point.

#4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People

So my question for people who know things about economics, is what is going to be happening?  Capitalist jobs are going away, and more and more capital is moving away from producing things that help society to simply being a rentier parasite on society, or even worse, actively discouraging things that might truly be beneficial to society.  With everything moving to free and open source, people helping each other because it's the right thing to do rather than getting paid, how are we all going to afford room and board?  This entire website is based on the collaborative commons.  Is it right that I benefit from Horace Boothroyd's excellent articles here without paying him?  How will we all pay for room and board when none of us have income?  And even billionaires would benefit from a cure for cancer--it seems most of them have one foot in the grave.  Yet with all their money they can't accomplish what the collaborative commons might?

I'm rambling.  But it seems we are going through a pretty rapid paradigm shift, especially considering today's amazon bestselling books (Occupy Amazon: Elizabeth Warren, Thomas Piketty, Michael Lewis Books Surging Online).  Does anyone have the skinny on how all of this will play out?

Discuss

Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:02 AM PDT

Middle-aged fat lady on a bicycle

by cordgrass

I'm 48, I'm almost 300 pounds, and I'm riding my new bicycle every day to the commuter rail train station.  Granted, I'm 5'9" so my weight isn't as much of an exercise detriment as it could be.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't start doing this a couple years ago, it would have made my life much easier.  So because of that, and in honor of Earth Day, I thought I would write a short diary giving encouragement and tips to others my age, weight and gender who might be considering bicycling part of their daily commute.

First off, my particular situation is very conducive to bike riding.  The parking where I work is $30 a day and my employer does not cover it.  My employer does cover half of my monthly commuter rail pass.  For the last several years I have been using a combination of rail, subway, bus, walking and parking at the commuter rail station to get to work.  The parking at the commuter rail station costs $4 a day.  In addition, my ride to the commuter rail station is very short and through a residential neighborhood.  I only have to cross one busy street, and I usually walk my bike across that intersection.  So all of those things conspire to make commuter bicycling very compelling for me--I'm not judging anyone who would have a longer or more dangerous bicycling commute.  I'm lucky.

That said, I'm old, I'm fat and I often wear dresses and skirts to work, along with lugging a heavy bag.  Almost all bicycles are only good for up to 220 pounds, and most aren't compatible with skirts.  Also I would look ridiculous all bent over like a racing bicyclist.  So I did some research, so if you are interested and in a similar situation, here is my advice.

If you are obese, there is really only one place that I could find to easily get bicycles in the U.S.

http://www.zizebikes.com/

They have two types of bicycles--regular bicycles from

http://www.worksmancycles.com/

which are good for up to 330 pounds, and their own brand of bike, Zize Bikes, for those people over 330 pounds.  You may ask why I bought from Zize Bikes rather than direct from Worksman Cycles.  It's because Worksman Cycles has too many options and the price is about the same.  Zize Bikes selects the options best for someone overweight and manages the shipping and whatnot.  I get the feeling from the feedback I found about Worksman Cycles that they are a little flaky.  On the other hand, I am glad to buy from an American company, especially one that makes a point to employ veterans.

After receiving my bicycle, I think I would prefer this bicycle over a regular bicycle even if I were under 200 pounds.  I purchased a Comfort Bike:

http://www.zizebikes.com/...

 photo comfort_bike_zps4dc15789.jpg

And I want to say that this is a bicycle that even a very obese, middle-aged lady like myself can feel totally comfortable riding.  Mine is three speed so I can make it up hills, the seat is very broad and cushioned, I ride it sitting up mostly straight so I can see the road.  It is a totally different and more comfortable experience than the racing bikes of my youth.  I've added all sorts of extras like front and rear removable lights, a removable metal basket, kickstand, bell, and most important for commuting, fenders.  And of course I bought a U-lock and helmet.  This bike is substantial, especially the tires.  I feel confident and in control on it, which is pretty remarkable given my age, weight, and general lack of fitness.

It was kind of a pain in the ass getting it, though.  First off, it was expensive.  For me it's an investment which will pay for itself pretty quickly in time and money saved, but most won't be in my particular position.  On the other hand, considering how much I spend on my car, and that I will be using this daily when the weather is decent, I think even if I didn't have my particular commuting situation it would have been worth the price.

Second, you have to order it weeks in advance and they manufacture it for you.  I was lucky, I bought one at a discount that had been returned to Zize Bikes so there wasn't that wait time.  Still, I had to have it shipped to a bike shop where they assembled it for me for a fee.

Third, it's HEAVY!  In general, that's a good thing.  This bike is built like a tank--it can definitely handle my overweight.  But getting it onto the bus bike rack to take it home from the shop took some serious heaving.  If I were fitter I would have rode it home from the shop, but it had been years since I was on a bike and I didn't want to risk it.

I know this sounds like spam for a particular company, but I couldn't be more pleased.  I can ride this in a ladylike fashion--my dresses and skirts are fine getting off and on, and I've already received compliments and very surprised looks.  I especially like the hilarious looks when people on the train see me carrying my bike helmet--I can see them trying to imagine the improbable sight of me on a bicycle.

If you've been on the fence about getting a commuter bicycle because of your age, weight, or general lack of fitness, I think now is the best time of year to take the plunge, if it fits in your budget.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.  And Happy Earth Day!

Discuss

Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 06:15 AM PDT

The End of Capitalism

by cordgrass

I just finished reading The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.  It was fascinating and opened my eyes.  Jeremy Rifkin, the author, convincingly demonstrates that capitalism will become a niche market within the next three decades and that most large corporations will go bankrupt--inevitably, due to market forces, rather than because of activism or government activity or populist revolution.  Here at dKos I got into a debate in the comments of a diary about the end of capitalism, and I can now say that I was wrong.  Capitalism is ending, and so are private sector jobs.  Here are some quotes:

The Collaborative Commons is already profoundly impacting economic life.  Markets are beginning to give way to networks, ownership is becoming less important than access, the pursuit of self-interest is being tempered by the pull of collaborative interest, and the traditional dream of rags to riches is being supplanted by a new dream of a sustainable quality of life.

In the coming era, both capitalism and socialism will lose their once-dominant hold over society, as a new generation increasingly identifies with Collaboratism.  The young collaboratists are borrowing the principle virtues of both the capitalists and socialists, while eliminating the centralizing nature of both the free market and the bureaucratic state.

Solar cells are capturing more solar energy that strikes them while reducing the cost of harvesting the energy.  Solar efficiencies for triple junction solar cells in the laboratory have reached 41 percent.  Thin film has hit 20 percent efficiency in the laboratory.

If this trend continues at the current pace--and most studies actually show an acceleration in exponentiality--solar energy will be as cheap as the current average retail price of electricity today by 2020 and half the price of coal electricity today by 2030.

What's becoming apparent is that a growing number of giant capitalist enterprises across a range of commercial sectors that are already facing plummeting profit margins will not be able to survive for very long against the rising tide of near zero marginal costs in the production and delivery of goods and services.  Although the thousand or so highly integrated, vertically scaled megacorporations that currently account for much of the world's commerce are imposing and seemingly invincible, they are, in fact, highly vulnerable to a collaborative economy that is quickly eating away at their already precariously low profit margins.
Basically he's saying that almost all megacorporations are going to go the way of the music, publishing and newspaper industries--the "Napster effect" writ large.

This book inadvertently explains a lot about the current economic state.  It makes sense now that multinational corporations are acting so rapaciously--they are not fighting for more profit, they are fighting for their actual continued existence.  Whether you believe what Rifkin says or not, clearly the powers that be believe it.  His predictions also explain banks' and hedge funds' recent interest in land, including farmland, and commodities.  In quickly arriving age of material and energy abundance, the only places of scarcity will be raw materials, land, and the food grown on that land.

His book is similar to Kurzweil's predictions about the future and exponential growth.  Change is coming faster than most of us expect, especially in the areas of robotics, AI, renewable energy and 3D printing.  He spends most of his time talking about the Commons, which is useful and good--I have a deeper understanding of the larger forces at work and the history behind them.  However, his vision of a happy and collaborative and distributed future, where most material goods are nearly free, ignores the dark side of such a future.

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