Wednesday, November 08, 2023

My Political Predictions for 2024


GIVEN the crazy chaotic times we live in, the primary objective of the practical observer should be to help move into the office of President of the United States the safest candidate possible. Meaning, that person with the best chance of not screwing up what remains the richest, most dynamic and even possibly freest country on the planet.

HERE are my levels of safety-- personality barometers-- from worst to best.

A.)  EGOMANIAC. The individual who sees all issues through how they affect his overlarge personality. Seen as a welcome change, by some, as a way to shake up a status quo machine, but the risks are great. Too great, to the thinking of this observer. This nation was built on the rule of law, with a system designed to discourage demagogues and dictatorships. We're not ready to abandon that thinking, yet.

B.)  OPPORTUNISTS. Those so overfilled with ambition they're liable to say or do anything in pursuit of their ends. Of the present crop of candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy best fits this profile. A fast-talking salesman, making outlandish promises, with no scruples, much less beliefs, other than making deals.

C.)  IDEOLOGUES. There are always plenty of those to go around, on the left or the right. They view the world as if through a tunnel, and force that world to conform-- in their minds if not in reality-- to their preformed beliefs. Included in this category are what might be called metaphorical bomb throwers, Hamas-like political extremists whose objective is to throw the present system into chaos. On the Republican side, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Any of them running for the office of President? Not yet.

D.)  PRAGMATISTS. Not those who exactly blow with the wind, but are shrewd enough to see which way the wind is blowing-- who can look more than one chess move out and plan accordingly. They're also not locked rigidly into their political party, are able on occasion to compromise (creating venomous attacks from their own side in so doing). They're typically mildly corrupt in a standard-local-politician kind of way. The best example among those currently running is Chris Christie. Corrupt enough to sit on a closed beach with his family during COVID, yet at the same time pragmatic enough to hug Obama to gain hurricane funding for New Jersey. Not ruthlessly ambitious-- he's stated in the past he wouldn't run for President if that meant stopping his visits to Burger King! Christie, perhaps alone among Republicans, can see that Donald Trump is going down-- will end up cutting a deal or going to prison: there's too much evidence against the Donald, as a former prosecutor would well know. Christie has planned accordingly. Not that he has a chance to get the nomination, at least this time. Too many bomb throwers on that side of the aisle.


For the Republicans, best guess is ideologue Rob DeSantis, who'll move to the forefront when Trump is knocked out-- then go on to lose big in the general election.

The Democrats, meanwhile, have problems with their own ideologues. If Biden loses the left wing of his party over the Israel-Gaza War, he'll become vulnerable in the primaries. Then, a 1968 situation develops. In that tumultuous year, President Lyndon Johnson faced unexpected opposition from upstart anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy. McCarthy made a strong-enough showing in the New Hampshire primary that LBJ bowed-out of the running. Eugene McCarthy, however, was too unpredictable for party bigs. A similar candidate-- one with a bigger name and more charisma-- was encouraged to run for the nomination. Robert F. Kennedy. Which he did-- and would've won the nomination, if not for an assassin's bullet.

In 2024, IF upstart outsider Marianne Williamson makes a strong showing in New Hampshire, Joe Biden will face pressure to step down in favor of a candidate with Williamson's upsides but at the same time, with stronger ties to the party. This means either Kamala Harris or Gretchen Whitmer will enter the race-- or both. One of whom will become the next U.S. President.

An outlandish scenario?  Perhaps. But worth a longshot bet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

AI Article at Lit Mag News


Are you a writer? An editor? A small press publisher?

I wrote an article for the widely-read Substack site Lit Mag News about the ongoing AI craze, in which I tried to give some background to the technology and cover all aspects of how it will impact those in the literary community.

Is it worth reading? YES!

(Plus there are about 58 supportive and contentious comments at the end of it.)

Take a look:

The Coming AI Assault

Monday, July 24, 2023

Interview About the Underground

 RECENTLY I did an interview with Wred Fright for Patrick King and the Mugwump Corporation. Much scattered thoughts about some crazy times, a slice of literary history.

With gigantic monopolistic corporations more powerful than ever-- dominating the culture-- alternative voices and ideas are more important than they've ever been. Needed: credible indie scenes, of the kind the Underground Literary Alliance once so capably represented. Culture belongs to everybody!

The Interview

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Save the Writer!


Sign the Petition NOW to take action against chatbots producing A.I. books and content and thereby replacing human writers. At minimum, all literary products should be labelled if created by bots.

This is an issue which should unite all writers high and low, be they on the left or the right.

The Petition.


Sunday, February 06, 2022

Why People Love NFL Football


No, it's not the violent hitting. Fans could better watch boxing, MMA-- or hockey-- for that.

The National Football League is the Number One watched sport in America by far for two main reasons.


The sport is start and stop but once it starts it becomes amazing bursts of speed and energy, either backs carrying the ball running at unreal speed across the field dodging tacklers while so doing, or the football rocketed from the hand of the quarterback like a laser-guided missile. The United States is a nation-- an economy-- built on precision and efficiency. No sport reflects this better than American-style football. (A metaphor also for the precision of the modern battlefield? Probably.)


Because of the complexities of its schemes and strategies, American-style football appeals to the analytical mind. The left side, if you will, of right-brain left-brain dichotomy. Nerdy (for athletes) TV analysts-- usually middling former players such as Dan Orlovsky and Emmanuel Acho who got by due to their understanding of the game-- spend countless hours breaking down every fine detail of why this team was successful and that one was not. Intellectuals assessing a made-up game, but no less intellectual for all that, with appeal to the intellect of fans every bit as much as the game's sensory aspects of speed, color, and movement appeal to them.


Are there lessons here for those involved in the literary game?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Why Tesla's Stock Price Is Too High


Is Elon Musk himself the chief ingredient in Tesla Motors' trillion-dollar market valuation?

It's true he's been the face of the auto company almost from the beginning. Visionary, but also hypemaster.

HOW MUCH of the current stock price is pure hype?

If the hype is 10%, the stock is overpriced by 10%. If 25%, a 25% overvaluation. And so on.

Tesla fans need to get out of their heads the idea that Tesla is fifteen or twenty times better-- or has a twenty times better future-- than General Motors or Ford. This unrealistic view is based on the most important phrase uttered about Tesla-- whether coined by Musk or one of his team, or one of their fans: "Tesla is more than an auto company."

Is it really?

Maybe at the outset, but legacy manufacturers-- Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes Benz, Toyota-- are scrambling to catch up in tech features, and most importantly, in battery technology.

The Tesla stock price has two props. Two premises. Assumptions which have become assertions.

1.)  Tesla will continue to lead in battery efficiency and distance. (Which is, really, the ballgame.)

2.) Tesla will be first to develop Full Self Driving. True autonomous vehicles.

Do these two pillars rest on quicksand?

Re #1. Tesla may have already lost its ten-year lead. Hyundai's Kona Electric has achieved 637 miles per charge. Nio's ET7, 621. The new Lucid Air is getting more than 500. GM's soon-to-appear Ultium battery is said to be state of the art, as is BYD's Blade battery, which will also be used by Toyota.

Re #2. The assumption that Tesla leads in Full Self Driving rests on the assumptions a.) autonomous driving is soon perfectible by anybody; b.) it will be approved for widespread use; c.) consumers in large numbers will buy it. Beyond that is the assumption Tesla, by not using Lidar (a laser imaging device) has chosen the quickest and safest route to the goal. Maybe. But maybe not.

THERE IS also a third pillar sustaining Tesla's stock price, and that's the stock market bubble itself. Once central banks begin seriously raising interest rates in order to quash inflation, what will result? We'll find out.


The entire move to EV's is contingent on battery tech continuing to improve-- batteries becoming more efficient and EV's more affordable. But what if this doesn't occur? (Just as autonomous driving remains a "What if?") Look closely into it, and much of the Tesla strategy remains a huge gamble.


The most worrisome part of the Tesla stock price bubble is Elon Musk himself-- that the company is completely dependent upon one man. The sole face of the company. The corporation's entire PR department in one individual, an individual who reportedly works 80-plus hours a week. What's sustaining him? What happens when Elon Musk burns out?


Musk is far more of a gambler than innovative capitalists of the past like Edison, Ford, Steve Jobs and so on, which has been Tesla's strength. He pushes ahead with his ideas and decisions and expects the company-- and the world-- to catch up. Which means he and his company can move and maneuver way faster than any automotive company ever seen. Which also means that in the face of sudden obstacles, the company may move quickly to correct him. (That Tesla may use something akin to Lidar after all, as rumor has it, may be one example of this.)


The key question is: Will Elon Musk's luck run out?

Monday, December 13, 2021

Elon Musk and the Myth of Invincibility

 THERE ARE numerous reasons to think the stock price of Tesla Motors is way too high. Foremost among them has to be that the valuation is based on the hyperbolic persona of one person: Elon Musk.

To date he's tangled with co-founders, critics, banks, regulators, competitors, media, and always comes out on top. Which doesn't mean this will continue. The one person in fact who can least afford a public setback is Musk, for this would puncture the bubble of perception about his unstoppable genius.

In this regard, the historical example most analogous to his situation is that of Napoleon. You know: the French conqueror who at the height of his success crowned himself emperor. A giant setback was sure to follow-- and did, when Bonaparte invaded Russia, then quickly enough had to leave, his much-lauded army vanished in ice and snow.

There's a kind of immutable law in the universe which decrees if you get too high, too hubristic, you're due for a devastating crash.

Anyway, I wouldn't bet against it.