CNC Machinist job related to custom bicycles & CIA version & comments

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Paul D. Fernhout

Jun 30, 2009, 12:42:22 PM6/30/09
This compares two CNC machinist jobs I saw recently, one at Serotta and one
at the CIA, with some comments on them, and some meta-comments about my
participation on this list and strategy and logistics for an open
manufacturing movement.

I've been vacillating whether to post it, but now seeing Wikichains started
by a geographer, maybe it is important to bring the issue up, just in case.
(I know nothing about that geographer, just a coincidence.)


Here is a CNC machinist job at a company making custom bicycles, near where
I live. I am posting it here as generally interesting for a few reasons:
* bicycles are green transportation and green recreation,
* the company is making *custom* fit bicycles (so, mass customization), and
* the job involves digital fabrication.

Obviously, that job probably entails mainly proprietary manufacturing
issues, so it is probably not "open manufacturing" in that sense. But
ignoring that, it is a great fit for work in the early twenty-first century
-- being a robot manager for some robots doing mass customization of green
products. It could also be a great way to improve in skill in these
technologies on someone else's dollar.

"CNC Machinist (Saratoga Springs)"
"Serotta Competition Bicycles is currently looking for a CNC Machinist for
our Saratoga Springs facility. Candidate must have experience with CNC
operations. Must be very mechanically inclined- (programming is a plus but
not needed). The applicant must be able to work from blueprints and use
measuring instruments. This is a permanent 2nd shift position Monday
–Friday. Serotta Competition Bicycles offers a full benefit package."

From their web site:
"Nothing shows off Serotta's maverick thinking like our Personal Fit System.
Your Serotta Personal Fit begins with no preconceptions, no template, no
bike at all -- just your body in motion, in space. Most fit systems compare
you to a data base of cyclists. At Serotta, we've always believed that you
are the only cyclist that matters. Your Fit is based on you as a unique
cyclist, your style of riding, the individual way you move as you ride and
how your bike should move with you. The result is a new Serotta that's as
unique as you are."

The only thing that would give me pause, as someone who has cited Alfie
Kohn's book "No Contest: The Case Against Competition" too many times, is
the use of "competition" in the company name. :-) But that might imply a
hyper business philosophy that might go down to the shop floor?

By the way, while regular bicycling is great for health usually, competition
bicycling can have some often undesired side effects for men:
"Study: Intense Cycling Training ... May Lead To Infertility"

And, obviously, for a button pusher like I've become these days at the
keyboard, that job is likely a bit more involved and skilled than what I
could handle, which might be more like this famous fictional machinist's
work who also made (presumably) bicycle components:
"George Jetson is a fictional character who appears in the animated series
The Jetsons. ... George is now an employee at Spacely's Space Sprockets, a
manufacturer of "sprockets" and other high tech equipment. His job title is
"digital index operator". His boss is Cosmo G. Spacely, notable for being
both short in height and in temper; Spacely usually treats his employees
(particularly George) in a rather tyrannical fashion. George's job primarily
requires him to repeatedly push a single button (or on occasion a series of
buttons) on a computer (named RUDI {Short for: Referential Universal Digital
Indexer} in the 1980s series of Jetsons episodes). Once George complained of
his heavy work load-having to push a button for one hour for one day of the
week! Often, Mr. Spacely will fire George in a fit of anger, only to hire
him back by the end of the same episode."

Still, for anybody who can arrange their life so as to bicycle to this real
company (it's probably an hour driving for me), and who gets into a state
of enjoyable flow doing somewhat repetitive technical work involving making
things using digital fabricators to do mass customization, for such a person
a manufacturing line job probably just can't get better than this one, as
far as extra psychic and karmic income. :-) Where else do you get to earn a
living managing robots making green products? Well, at least until the age
of George Jetson. :-) (I have no idea what kind of bosses are there,
obviously, whether like Mr. Spacely or otherwise; again, I don't know if
"competition" is a hint or not.)

Sadly, with so many extremely qualified machinists looking for work, a
relative machining novice like me does not have a chance for doing that sort
of thing; one post on this site:
"I am a cnc lathe machinist i have been doing this for the last 26 years an
i am loke most machinist and others out there now no work i have been
thinking of changing careers because i can't find a job as a machinist i
would hate to do this i love machining its in my blood so if any one out
there is looking for a cnc lathe machinist i am ready to work"

(No jokes about spelling please and punctuation and capitalization, please.
He sounds sincere, and maybe English is not even his first language.)

By the way, one safety tip to remember from there (uppercase in post):
"Is working as a CNC Machinist dangerous? ... WORKED A ICON OF MACHINING.

All these machinists with so much experience. And still, they can get pulled
in. So, keep your hair short or keep it wrapped away from the machines.

Which makes me realize that for the last couple of decades of steady
contraction in US manufacturing, there has not been much of an on-ramp for
young people to learn that trade, or for mid-career professionals to switch
careers into it, given all those machinists who started decades ago trying
to hold out until retirement. Those people looking for work at the site
above are often age 55 with decades of experience, so how can one compete,
except maybe on price? But those wages are low to begin with, and any
company would be pretty foolish to entrust a million dollar CNC center to
someone who did not know what they are doing to save a couple dollars an
hour. People who have not heard such stories that relate to safety.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum of conventional "greenness",
there is always the CIA as a career move to pull in an out of work
machinist; they pay twice the average green ration units it seems:
CIA Home > Careers > Careers at CIA > View All Jobs by
Organizational Divisions > Machinist
Work Schedule: Full Time
Salary: $55,512 – $95,026
Location: Washington, DC metropolitan area
Are you an experienced machinist with the ability to fabricate high-quality
practical solutions, mentor others, and troubleshoot complex problems? The
CIA is looking for enthusiastic officers who can work effectively as part of
a technical team to design and fabricate devices needed to address
challenges driven by operational needs. As part of the Technical Operations
Officer cadre, applicant will work in direct support of CIA operations
against issues of critical importance to US policymakers. The metal
specialist will be responsible for fabricating, and assembling all forms of
complex mechanical devices, working from initial prototype to final
deployable product. Applicant must also modify and customize commercial
products in support of specific technical requirements. Applicant will be
required to maintain accurate design and fabrication records and will
prepare final documentation such as operating instructions for the end user.
This position provides the individual with an excellent opportunity to
develop their design skills and further advance their mechanical hands
skills while being directly involved with current, high priority field
operations. As a metal specialist, applicant will be approached for
modifications to, and fabrication of, finished products using manual
machines as well as CNC driven equipment. CNC programming and set-up
experience is required. Familiarization with CAD design software is desired.
A background in welding and/or sheet metal fabrication is also a desired
qualification. Applicant will be required to perform domestic and foreign
travel to include temporary assignments as well as permanent relocation for
a period of 2-3 years. ...
Important Notice: Friends, family, individuals, or organizations may be
interested to learn that you are an applicant for or an employee of the CIA.
Their interest, however, may not be benign or in your best interest. You
cannot control whom they would tell. We therefore ask you to exercise
discretion and good judgment in disclosing your interest in a position with
the Agency. You will receive further guidance on this topic as you proceed
through your CIA employment processing.

Still, "defense' in its variations is a big part of the US economy. It is
almost inescapable. Or maybe it just is inescapable.

I can only wonder how much military contract related stuff my father made or
supervised making when I was a kid growing up on Long Island (home of some
big defense contractors, like Grumman that no doubt sent stuff out to small
shops). Who knows what so many parts are for, anyway? Still, the stuff I
know of was not directly military -- stuff like knitting machine components,
developing flame spray coatings for CorningWare, and making robot parts and
laser optics holders for a university.

So, what is the CIA doing hiring machinists for multi-year relocation
(presumably to foreign countries), I wonder? :-(

Maybe just as a bluff to make every country in the world nervous? :-)

Seriously, why else put it on their web site and findable as one of the top
search results in Google for CNC machinist?
[Note: that was a few days ago when I started this note; it is no longer top
of Google's search results... Wow, they are on the ball there? :-)]

Or maybe, they have decided to help out the open manufacturing movement? :-)

Whether this is for real or a bluff, as I see it, this is probably another
example of post-scarcity technology wielded by scarcity (and secrecy)
obsessed organization. A skilled machinist can make all sorts of amazing
things to make the world a better place -- including assembly line robots to
make goods in vast quantities -- especially by working openly in cooperation
with other machinists and designers. That job making customized bicycles is
an example of such good work, a job that can give people a health-promoting
transportation and recreational option. Or, a government agency can spend
post-scarcity dollars to hire machinists for (I don't want to think what)
long-term activities on-site in foreign countries (or even cause a lot of
trouble just by pretending to hire them).

Still, as jobs go, the CIA pays people to do stuff like I do here for free,
although probably analysts' final reports are not written in such a wacky
idiosyncratic way, or so long, or so oriented towards meshwork-hierarchy

They are hiring though: :-)
"Economic Analysts use their specialized skills to analyze and interpret
economic trends and developments, assess and track foreign financial
activities, and develop new econometric and modeling methodologies. ...
Science & Technology Analysts use their unique technical and scientific
knowledge to identify and analyze weapons proliferation and proliferators;
conventional weapons systems; chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;
information warfare; computer systems; and energy security."

And, of course, as noted in my last post, they hire geographers. :-)

Short hints to the CIA analysts no doubt tracking this and other groups (for
the DIYBio references and Bryan's participation if nothing else: :-)
* Economic demand is limited, invalidating all mainstream macroeconomic
theory in the face of an exponential growth in technological capacity;
* Marshall Brain has outlined two possible paths we may follow in "Manna";
* Marshall Brain might suggest that, like any other knowledge workers, CIA
analysts will be assigned quarters in a Terrafoam welfare project after
they are no longer needed, unless we do the Australia Project globally
first; and
* The US Government is tops on that weapons proliferation list. :-(

Which of course are not the answers these analysts' supervisors are looking
for. :-)

So, they will hire more people to find the answers they are looking for.
People like this:
"Powell's chief role was to garner international support for a
multi-national coalition to mount the invasion. To this end, Powell
addressed a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on
February 5, 2003 to argue in favor of military action. Citing numerous
anonymous Iraqi defectors, Powell asserted that "there can be no doubt that
Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce
more, many more." Powell also stated that there was "no doubt in my mind"
that Hussein was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear
weapons. Most observers praised Powell's oratorical skills. However,
Britain's Channel 4 News reported soon afterwards that a UK intelligence
dossier that Powell had referred to as a "fine paper" during his
presentation had been based on old material and plagiarized an essay by
American graduate student Ibrahim al-Marashi. A 2004 report by the Iraq
Survey Group concluded that the evidence that Powell offered to support the
allegation that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction
(WMDs) was inaccurate."

Oops, they did not hire that guy. He's from the Army (even though he ran a
lot of the defense show for a time as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

So, maybe someone like this woman the CIA hired gets to leaders what they
want to hear?
"A court filing by Libby's defense team argued that Plame was not foremost
in the minds of administration officials as they sought to rebut charges
made by her husband, that the White House manipulated intelligence to make a
case for invasion."

Oops, at least at the end, she of the CIA was on the humane side of that
conflict, opposing the war racket. It gets so confusing, so fast. :-)
"A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it
seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what
it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense
of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.""

Well, whoever the CIA hires, that person can blame me and pass on that
information as a joke. And so maybe get the point across, starting with:
"You know what that nutcase said this time?" :-)

If that's the best I can hope for in making a tiny change, so be it.
Sometimes, you can only reach one heart at a time, and sometimes only by
humor. From:
There are three things which are real:
God, human folly, and laughter.
The first two are beyond our comprehension.
So we must do what we can with the third. (John F. Kennedy)

I read somewhere 90% of the people at the CIA are no doubt very well meaning
bureaucrats and technicians sincerely believing in its mission as well as a
certain spin on the manifest destiny of the USA; a history debunked here:
"Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got
Wrong is a 1995 book by James Loewen. It critically examines twelve popular
American history textbooks and concludes that textbook authors propagate
factually false, eurocentric, and mythologized views of history. In addition
to critiquing the dominant historical themes presented in textbooks, Loewen
presents a number of his own historical themes that he says are ignored by
traditional history textbooks."

Or here:

Some CIA staffers no doubt really have had some big successes stopping both
the worst part of the meshwork and the worst part of the hierarchy
(including in the Oval office) from doing some awful things. I applaud them
for that, like preventing a push into Syria or Iran right after the Iraq
invasion, which would have been a disaster.

Thus this page is not completely wrong:
"CIA Kid's page"
"Welcome. We’re glad you’re here to learn more about the Central
Intelligence Agency. The CIA is an independent US government agency that
provides national security “intelligence” to key US leaders so they can make
important, informed decisions. CIA employees gather intelligence (or
information) in a variety of ways, not just by “spying” like you see in the
movies or on TV (though we do some of that, too). On the following pages,
you can read more about us, play some games, and help us solve some puzzles.
Throughout this section, you’ll also see some top secret things you won’t
find anywhere else. So if you’re ready to learn more about the CIA, our
employees, and what we do every day, click the appropriate link above and
we’ll start you on your way."

The fact is, these issues about manufacturing are critical to the national
security of the USA, as well as the global security of the world. So, it
would be no surprise to see the CIA taking an ever greater interest.

They may want a little more to go on than this book: :-)
"The book gives tongue-in-cheek advice on how one can survive in the event
that robots become too intelligent and rebel against the human race. How to
Survive a Robot Uprising is partially based on scientific fact, and is a
prime example of deadpan humor."

And then there are (guessing) another 9% or so historically helping
overthrow democracies in Chile or Iran or stuff like that. :-(

To destabilise the Allende Government, the CIA paid some U.S.$8 million to
right-wing opposition groups to "create pressures, exploit weaknesses,
magnify obstacles" and hasten President Allende's deposition. The CIA report
released in 2000 records some U.S. $6.8 million spent for the deposition.
... U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to depose President Allende
in 1970 — immediately after assuming office — with Project FUBELT. The U.S.
intervention in the internal affairs of Chile was a foreign policy meant to
worsen the economic crisis that President Allende faced — in order to
propitiate a right-wing coup d’état. This is further corroborated by a
document sent on September 15, 1970 by President Nixon, in which he orders
CIA director Richard Helms to "Make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent
Allende from coming to power or to unseat him"

US support and funding continued after the coup, with the CIA training the
Shah's feared and hated secret police, SAVAK. Originally, the Eisenhower
Administration considered Operation Ajax a successful secret war, but, given
its blowback, it is now considered a failure, because of its "haunting and
terrible legacy". The anti-democratic coup d’état was a "a critical event in
post-war world history" that replaced Iran’s post-monarchic, native, and
secular parliamentary democracy with a dictatorship. The coup is widely
believed to have significantly contributed to the 1979 Iranian Revolution,
which deposed the Shah and replaced the pro-Western monarchy with the
anti-Western Islamic Republic of Iran.

And people still wonder "Why do the hate us?" :-(

There are two examples of our post-scarcity US tax dollars at work, creating
an artificial scarcity of democracy, directed by leaders frightened of an
abundance of people thinking differently about economics than they do. :-(

On the other hand, those things were done decades ago.

And the CIA denies involvement with the recent Honduras' Coup:

And this guy could just be wrong:
Just after I had written three articles about the alleged voter fraud,
street demonstrations and violence in Iran being a classic example of a CIA
destabilization operation because of Iran's oil, and even more importantly
its strategic location, there is a coup in Honduras, which certainly
suggests another CIA operation. Two of the leaders of the Honduran coup are
School of the Americas graduates. The School of the Americas at Fort
Benning, Georgia has trained some of the most brutal dictators and death
squad leaders in Latin America. Two of those who immediately come to mind
are the former brutal dictator of Guatemala, Rios Montt, and the Salvadoran
death squad leader, Roberto d'Aubuisson, who was responsible for the murder
of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador. The names of these Honduran SOA
graduates are General Vasquez and General Suazo, the first from the army and
the latter from the air force. President Zelaya, the victim of the coup, was
flown to Costa Rica and the ambassadors from Cuba and Venezuela were
arrested. It is very reminiscent of the time when President Aristide of
Haiti was arrested by US forces and flown to the Central African Republic.
President Aristide was trying to raise the wages of the sweatshop workers
employed by American corporations in Haiti, and this situation simply could
not be tolerated. President Zelaya, being a leftist, was probably trying to
do something for the poor in Honduras, also.

Then of course there are the "five lights" people there too (one percent?),
who do stuff like this, which they omitted from the CIA kid's page:
"ST:TNG's Picard: There... Are... Four... Lights!"
(That does not have the graphic torture scenes of Picard, it is just the
end, a bit of a spoiler there I guess, but it's pretty obvious Picard must
survive given the series went on afterwards, right?)

This 1% may need some help from machinists on fabricating extra lights and
waterboards, when those machinists aren't abroad on other projects? :-(

Real recent example:
"CIA's Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described"
"Harsh interrogation techniques authorized by top officials of the CIA have
led to questionable confessions and the death of a detainee since the
techniques were first authorized in mid-March 2002, ABC News has been told
by former and current intelligence officers and supervisors."

Here is dialog from the fiction Star Trek example with the lights (a most
awful episode to watch, though I am glad I did for the message), which
includes a father, Madred, showing his kid what he does at work (which is to
torture "enemies" like Captain Jean-Luc Picard):
"Chain of Command (Star Trek: The Next Generation)"

Gul Madred and his daughter, JIL ORRA, an angelic young girl of seven, are
at the desk, working with a small twenty-fourth century cage. The cage
contains a Cardassian PET. Picard is unconscious on the floor, and now wears
a robe.


I want you to be very careful with your wompat from now on, Jil Orra. Now
that she's separated from her mother, she depends on you.


I will, father. (a glance at Picard) Do humans have mothers and fathers?


Yes, but... human mothers and fathers don't love their children as we do...
they're... not the same as we are.



I'm surprised... that you'd let her come in here...


(genuinely) Why?

Picard stares at him... the question is sincere... but it strikes Picard as


To let a child be exposed to this... to someone who is injured and
suffering... to see that you inflict that suffering...

Madred is looking at Picard with a curious smile, as though trying to
understand what he's saying.


From the time Jil Orra could crawl she has been taught about the enemies of
the Cardassians. And that enemies deserve their fate.

He moves idly toward his desk, hands drifting over the control for the pain

[Comment by transcriber:] Now, perhaps, you see how her playing earlier was
important. Gul Madred was acting as if everything was normal, and she
accepted that it was too. Now cognitive dissonance is at work: if someone I
love and I can act normally while this (torture) is going on, then it must
be normal for it to occur, thus must have reason.


Be careful, Madred. When children learn to devalue others... they can
devalue anyone. Even their parents.

Madred gives him a sharp look.


To her, I am a hero. I am the most powerful man she knows... she adores me...

Picard hears the slight note of desperation in the man's voice, seizes on it.


Now, perhaps. What will happen when she's fifteen? Twenty? Are you prepared
for the time when she might look at you and see you for what you are -- and
despise you for it?

Madred's eyes blaze.

More on that episode under the page for a character in that episode:

More on the theme, and a real Picard-like hero of the US military IMHO for
standing up about this issue:
"Torture? It Probably Killed More Americans Than 9/11 "
"Major Alexander says he faced the "ticking time bomb" every day in Iraq
because "we held people who knew about future suicide bombings". Leaving
aside the moral arguments, he says torture simply does not work. "It hardens
their resolve. They shut up." He points out that the FBI uses normal methods
of interrogation to build up trust even when they are investigating a
kidnapping and time is of the essence. He would do the same, he says, "even
if my mother was on a bus" with a hypothetical ticking bomb on board. It is
quite untrue to imagine that torture is the fastest way of obtaining
information, he says. ... In the aftermath of his experience in Iraq, which
he left at the end of 2006, Major Alexander came to believe that the battle
against the US using torture was more important than the war in Iraq. He
sees President Obama's declaration against torture as "a historic victory",
though he is concerned about loopholes remaining and the lack of
accountability of senior officers. Reflecting on his own interrogations, he
says he always monitored his actions by asking himself, "If the enemy was
doing this to one of my troops, would I consider it torture?" His overall
message is that the American people do not have to make a choice between
torture and terror."

If the USA is to restore its moral and practical standing in the world, it
will need more people like Major Matthew Alexander (pseudonym) as a start --
although no doubt even he is enmeshed in a scarcity-view of the world, so,
being practical in the short term is, as I say, just a start.

Even a global basic income is just a start. :-)

Of course, there are probably none who have not made compromises or mistakes
in life, often thinking they were doing the right thing. The question is,
going forward, who do we choose to be? Can "Madred" or the US equivalent be
saved from who he (or she) has become out of fear of scarcity or other
fears? Can CIA machinists (and even programmers and analysts) be saved from
such fears too? Can the CIA covert ops people be turned into a group doing
only random acts of kindness? :-)
"People who perform Random Acts of Kindness generally agree that doing a
kind deed for someone else makes them "feel good." But apart from sheer
niceness, why should people be encouraged to commit Acts of Kindness? Are
there any other concrete benefits that would motivate more people to become
kinder? The answer is an overwhelming "yes!" A number of scientific studies
show that Acts of Kindness result in significant health benefits, both
physical and mental, for those who perform them."

Far fetched, I know, at least that last part. Still, we can hope.

One can at least hope that 9% in the middle can be swayed? They are making a
lot more trouble globally than the 1% in some ways, and that 1% is under
pressure to stop from people like "Major Alexander'. The 9% in the middle
are the ones wielding post-scarcity intelligence technology ironically for
artificial scarcity ends. They are the ones we need to reach, the hearts we
need to turn. And that, is probably an almost impossible task. It requires
more poetry than anything else.

Related, a poet who helped the Chief Blue Meanie see things differently:
"... he then helps The Beatles to defeat the Meanies by covering the Chief
Blue Meanie with flowers, thereby proving that a Nobody can in fact, be

Also, on the Chief Blue Meanie:
Sometimes his own aggression gets the better of him and he needs to be
revived with "nasty medicine", which makes him even more eccentric than he
already is. He encourages his army of Meanies to be as unpleasant as
possible, but later admits that his cousin is "the bluebird of happiness".

So, there we have a choice, about wielding that post-scarcity power of Big
Blueness (high speed computing for intelligence analysis, like IBM offers):

A guide to positive transformations of one's soul in difficult times:
"Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's
Ordeals" by Thomas Moore
"When it comes to spiritual growth, we humans are solar-seeking beings;
eager for the bright lights of clarity and the bliss of illumination.
Paradoxically, we all need to walk through the shadow of the dark night in
order to discover a life worth living, according to psychotherapist and
spiritual commentator Thomas Moore. Unlike depression, which is more of an
emotional state, Moore calls the dark night a slow transformation process,
which is fueled by a profound period of doubt, disorientation and
questioning. Ultimately, a journey into the dark night will reshape the very
meaning of your life. As a self-proclaimed "lunar type," Moore is
comfortable leading his clients and readers into the shadows, where
ambiguities and mysteries lurk around every corner. He describes the dark
night journey in stages, starting with feeling distant from your life even
as you continue to go through the motions. The second phase is "liminality,"
meaning living on the threshold between the known self and the unknown self.
This is perhaps the most uncomfortable phase as the dark night may "take you
away from the cultivation and persona you have developed in your education
and from family learning," he explains. After dwelling in this murky
darkness, there's a stage of "re-incorporation," in which one integrates the
profound inner transitions into daily life. Like a tour guide to the
underworld, Moore leads readers through all these phases, offering tools and
rituals for making the journey more tolerable or at least more meaningful. ..."

So, our society right now is going through a "dark night of the soul" about
its manufacturing capacity and the goals of that infrastructure, IMHO. And
that is reflected in those two different job postings. Bryan had also made a
post: "How terrorists groups resemble manufacturing firms". And it is
reflected in how our society is thinking about what it means that many
people are "poor" amidst so much potential for abundance.

But clearly, Western European nations like the Netherlands have a good
handle on managing poverty, so it is a bit far fetched to think the US is
meddling with Latin America to keep it poor? Or maybe the Netherlands and
the rest of Western Europe are organized enough to manage the US influence

No doubt, the CIA and related agencies (even Google as a subsidiary :-)
may be going through their own collective dark night right now, with a new
administration and a continually changing social landscape, exponentially
accelerating towards a Singularity, where less and less makes any sense by
conventional wisdom. Sometimes the biggest thing about a dark night is you
do not even notice it. Like I did not realize I (and the rest of my family)
had been grieving every day for increasing losses relating to my mother's
fading into dementia for over a decade during the last years of her life,
until after she died I thought to do a Google search on grief and dementia.
So, my family hard a decade long dark night in that sense, without ever
realizing what it was -- grief. Example:
"The Anticipatory Grief of Dementia"

Sometimes, the hardest thing is to know the words to search for, or to think
to do a search on something. Is what is happening now to capitalism (and
imperialism) a form of dementia, with the current deepening economic crisis,
as all the old control system abilities and certainties are being lost, even
while the material body seems sound? Are, presumably, parts of the CIA also
suffering from this sort of dementia too -- where nothing makes sense
anymore, where predictions fail, where old ways of thinking no longer are
effective? Of course, organizations are not people, so they can reform and
renew themselves in ways individual people can't.

Dark nights may end well -- in sunlight of a new day, with a transformative
growth that is more like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly -- rather
than ending badly as just a voracious caterpillar growing bigger until the
branch it is feeding from breaks and it falls into a river. Doug Engelbart
used this metaphor (well, about ants) for how doing more of the same may get
us in trouble. Clearly, at this point, in my own life, I'm reaching
diminishing returns on thinking and writing, and I need to move back to
other things like programming and other activities.

For such a serious topic as hiring machinists to assist in espionage and
torture, here is some recycled humor on "wompats" with messages (the Star
Trek version of "wombats"?):
"A Wombat talking about a global mindshift"
Yo, listen up, this is your home (Earth), it's the only one you got. This
place is pretty (Jupiter) but you can't live there, you can't even get
there. So I repeat, this is your home, it's the only one you got. Cherish
it, protect it, it's the only one you're going to get. These guys (pictures
of people of different ethnicities), they're your neighbors. They ain't
going away. They ain't leaving. You have to get along with them. So, you
have to learn to share. You have to get along, you have to learn to get
along. Because they are your neighbors, they're not going away. OK, all this
stuff, the animals, the waters, the sky, the ground, the bugs, the fish, the
tacos, the people, they're all connected. Everything is connected. They all
depend on one another. If you ignore that, you're doomed, repeat, doomed.
OK? So listen up. It's all one. Not two worlds, not three, one, just one.
So, get it in gear. Remember, all is one. OK? Hit it. (Created by Jason
Ables for the Global Mindshift team)"

But the text I transcribed does not do justice to the short video.

Is that the kind of Global Mindshift that needs to happen at the CIA?

And what is such a global mindshift but what Albert Einstein talked about,
when he said: "The release of atom power has changed everything except our
way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind."

It's about a post-scarcity consciousness, that we can finally use all our
post-scarcity tools in post scarcity ways, instead of using them to create
artificial scarcities through war or monopolies (like patents and
copyrights) -- or secrecy.

It is a change of heart. Something that, ultimately, I would feel this open
manufacturing list is about.

And from something I wrote last year on the OpenVirgle list, on our three
advantages as a group there, which probably apply equally well here and now:
Our biggest advantage is that no one takes us seriously. :-)
And our second biggest advantage is that our communications are monitored,
which provides a channel by which we can turn enemies into friends. :-)
And our third biggest advantage is we have no assets, and so are not a
profitable target and have nothing serious to fight over amongst ourselves. :-)

Let's hope those advantages all hold true for a long time. :-)

Maybe I'm trying to make the OM list the post-scarcity social consciousness
raising equivalent for global intelligence analysts of "The Funniest Joke In
the World"?
"The Funniest Joke in the World" is the title most frequently used for
written references to a Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy sketch, which is
also known by two other phrases that appear within it, "Joke Warfare" and
"Killer Joke", the latter being the most commonly used spoken title used to
refer to it. The premise of the sketch is that the joke is so funny that
anyone who reads or hears it promptly dies from laughter. ... The
translation is given to British soldiers who do not speak German,
because not understanding what they are saying is the only way to survive
reading the joke aloud."

Although, obviously, that is a metaphor, and my objective is analysts
being reborn mentally as post-scarcity beings instead of any dying
physically as depicted in that comedy sketch. The best way to deal with
potential enemies is to make them into friends, a strategy idea lost on the
previous US administration. That is why the USA has so many more enemies
than it used to have compared to the 9/11 days of "We are all Americans":
"We are all Americans"
"... But the reality is perhaps also that of an America whose own cynicism
has caught up with. If Bin Laden, as the American authorities seem to think,
really is the one who ordered the Sept. 11 attacks, how can we fail to
recall that he was in fact trained by the CIA and that he was an element of
a policy, directed against the Soviets, that the Americans considered to be
wise? Might it not then have been America itself that created this demon?
... Perhaps it is also the end of an alliance that the United States had
traced out in the 1930s and soundly established in the 1950s with Sunni
Muslim fundamentalism, such as it is defended particularly in Saudi Arabia
and Pakistan. ... Beyond their obvious murderous madness, these latest
attacks nonetheless follow a certain logic. Obviously it is a barbarous
logic, marked by a new nihilism that is repugnant to the great majority of
those who believe in Islam, which, as a religion, does not condone suicide
any more than Christianity does, and certainly not suicide coupled with the
massacre of innocent people. ... In the long term, this attitude is
obviously suicidal, because it attracts lightning. And it might attract a
bolt of lightning that does not discriminate. This situation requires our
leaders to rise to the occasion. They must act so that the peoples whom
these warmongers are seeking to win over and are counting on will not fall
in step behind them in their suicidal logic. This we can say with some
dread: Modern technology allows them to go even further. Madness, even under
the pretext of despair, is never a force that can regenerate the world. That
is why today we are all Americans."

So, in that case, we see post-scarcity technology wielded by part of the
meshwork (not the largest hierarchies) also to fight over scarcity issues,
and to fight back by increasing scarcity in the USA (lost spouses and
parents and children, lost buildings, lost confidence, lost stock values,
lost airline industry, lost freedoms, etc.). In the end, no one won much.
Saudi Arabia has not changed from being repressive, and the USA is just a
worse place to live, with an even greater police state and more political
repression in the aftermath.
Pakistanis of all ages going to weddings and funerals keep getting blown up
by killer robots. Everyone is worse off. It even got harder to talk about
social inequity within the USA and the world without being called a traitor,
undermining the attackers presumable own goal. It was left to the comedians
to rescue us -- people like Stephen Colbert, a very brave man:
"Colbert Roasts President Bush - 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner"
He has managed to walk that sometimes very thin line between irrelevancy and

I firmly believe the social movement towards post-scarcity has to follow
strategic non-violence to succeed, for both ethical and practical reasons,
as outlined here by G. William Domhoff:
"But given the freedoms, civil liberties, and voting rights achieved by a
long line of American egalitarians and liberals, there is no end that could
be justified by violence, property destruction, or armed struggle in this
country. Such actions undercut the democratic rights won by past
egalitarians and play into the hands of the government, which has the power
to isolate and defeat any violent movement. Furthermore, property damage and
armed struggle of any kind are overwhelmingly rejected by the vast majority
of the American people. Due to their appreciation of the freedoms they do
enjoy, and despite the economic unfairness they recognize and experience,
average Americans are repelled by violent political acts, whether by right
wingers or left wingers. If the goal is to build a larger movement that
connects to a strategy to take over and transform the Democratic Party, not
just to force the authorities to react to one or another provocation with
slight reforms, then violence makes no sense. It is therefore both immoral
and counterproductive for American egalitarians to employ violent
strategies. Or, as Cesar Chavez used to say about violence when he was
leading the farm worker's movement, it's wrong and it's stupid."

Plus, nothing I write is really *that* funny enough to be a true "Killer
Joke". :-)

But some of what I write (funny or not) still might help some people think
outside-the-box, as I suggest here, borrowing from both C.S. Lewis and James
P. Hogan: :-)
"The Lion Memo [With apologies to C.S. Lewis & The Screwtape Letters]"
"Interdimensional Memo
From: Lion Undercover Command: Individual Field Endeavors Reviewer
To: Lion, Earth Universe Date: February 27, 2003
My dear Lion:
First off, I know from your reports that the Butterfly showed up before
you had much time to prepare, but nevertheless it was inexcusable that just
out the gate you made such a serious tactical blunder so early on. I'm
referring to when you took that Jewish carpenter, who suggested people could
turn the other cheek, and beyond that also suggested people might as well
also try being nice to each other for a change, and had him nailed him to a
tree. Definitely a move lacking in subtlety. I know you said appeals to
wealth did not tempt him, but really every man must have his price, and
undoubtedly you did not go high enough -- and what is money to us? I
recognize this was your first mission, but if you had paid more attention in
Security And Tactical Analysis Networking class you would have realized the
potential for blowback and planned accordingly. As it is, while the
immediate and long lasting results were a very bad setback, I will credit
you that within only a few centuries you were able to create a large
bureaucracy of those who might otherwise help others, inspired by that
carpenter's example, and ensnared them into inaction by offering them
security, wealth, and power. I noticed you used this bureaucracy to good
advantage, especially with that children's crusade leading to all those
innocent deaths. I especially liked the Inquisition; remembering those
screams from those inventive tortures still make me smile. Also, good job on
discrediting what little good that organization might do now by exploiting
human sexual urges and paranoia. So, all in all, I would say that situation
seems now well in hand despite what was with 20/20 hindsight a huge mistake
at the start. Still, there are some troubling signs of morality among many
of the clergy, including some speaking out against war even to the highest
levels, and I expect you to take further action here.
And regardless of what you may have heard through the rumor mill, we have
not yet lost a single soul through exposure to Butterfly inspired writings,
because there is no power in the pen, only in the sword -- but stay away
from such writings nonetheless -- is that clear? Our best minds think they
could be contaminated with some sort of toxin. We have started analyzing
them word by word, with each word handled by a different lab group, and lab
groups never meeting, in order to reduce potential exposure to any potential
toxic residue or chain reaction effects. And to answer your implied
question, the high turnover in the R&D center before we instituted such
procedures has been purely due to an unexpectedly high rate of promotions
among the junior staff. ..."

Still, my advice to the CIA is treat my writings like that. Too late? :-)
So, now you are all stuck in the same boat I am, trying to figure out a way
to navigate a stormy ocean of artificial scarcity to a post-scarcity land in
the hazy distance.

But that last paragraph is just a joke, and a fantasy.

The Roman Catholic Church preserved its ideological purity for centuries in
the face of alternative ideas. This was one technique:
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books") was a list of
publications prohibited by the Roman Catholic Church. It was abolished on
June 14, 1966 by Pope Paul VI. A first version (the Pauline Index) was
promulgated by Pope Paul IV in 1559, and a revised and somewhat relaxed form
(the Tridentine Index) was authorized at the Council of Trent. The
promulgation of the Index marked the "turning-point in the freedom of
enquiry" in the Catholic world. The avowed aim of the list was to protect
the faith and morals of the faithful by preventing the reading of immoral
books or works containing theological errors, although it also contained
scientific works by leading astronomers such as Johannes Kepler. The various
editions also contained the rules of the Church relating to the reading,
selling and censorship of books. Manuscripts that passed inspection by
official readers were printed with nihil obstat ("nothing forbids") or
Imprimatur ("let it be printed") on the title page. However, some of the
scientific works on the Index (e.g. on the foundations of cosmology) are now
routinely taught at Catholic universities worldwide, and Giordano Bruno
whose works were on the Index now has a monument in Rome at the place where
he was burned alive at the stake. The writings of Maria Valtorta that were
on the Index have since received an imprimatur from a Roman Catholic bishop.
Mary Faustina Kowalska, who was on the Index, has since been declared a
saint. The developments since the abolition of the Index signify "the loss
of relevance of the Index in the 21st century."

Why should the CIA not be able to do the same? Time pressure alone would
keep analysts from reading widely.

Oh, they have software to help them see things from multiple perspectives?
Too late, too? :-)

Ah, who am I kidding. The intelligence system is designed to contain
information and ideas in small compartments. That is one reason it is so
ineffective at doing anything important in safeguarding the people of the
USA from scarcity and fear (let alone the rest of the world),
while very effective at preserving institutional power, torturing people
pointlessly and counter-productively, and overthrowing socialist democracies
heading in post-scarcity directions.

And one individual butterfly like myself can only fly the edge of such a
Lion so long before one miscalculation and it gets squashed. A misplaced
negative or something like that. Whatever. It may end badly for this
individual butterfly. Almost certainly, given how much I have written
pushing the edge of what is possible to say in our society:
"The Devils"
"Baron De Laubardemont: I also have a maxim, father: give me three lines of
a man's handwriting and I will hang him."

But maybe I can get a few laughs along the way. :-)
"Life is Beautiful"

Such as with this other story, written during the run-up to the Iraq war,
and posted on a Pacifica Radio Web Forum. It was in a response to someone
pro-military saying how they would rather be a big strong lion --
presumbably rampaging around the world -- than a little weak butterfly (he
didn't get it, which is why I wrote the previously linked one):
"The Lion And The Butterfly"

Certainly our scruples have affected our income already, and jobless people
are generally less effective advocates, but those with jobs are too busy to
be advocates, which is one way capitalism protects itself. My little niche
as a stay-at-home Dad (but part-time, given a wife working half-time),
having a middle class life and time to write and think as an amateur
post-scarcity analyst (in part by frugality like only one car and a smaller
house) is a very rare thing in our society. I've had to devote thousand of
hours to get beyond certain dogmas, like to learn how demand might be
limited in practice in healthy societies instead of infinite and how that
assumption invalidates conventional macroeconomics, or to learn how values
might effect the Singularity, or to learn about how cheap computing may make
everything cheap, or to see how stigmergy using open licenses for content
might lead to great things. That is all learning I've tried to share here.
And frankly, it is little that others did not know, but it was new to me,
and I tried to connect the dots, as it were. Even if it all seems
tremendously obvious now. And if I turned out different
Marvin Minsky (see my previous post about Marshall Brain's writings, and the
strained Star Trek Data/Lore analogy between Minsky and me), one mostly
should thank my wife, and books she put in my path (some in turn put in her
path by John Thomas of IBM Research, who is part Native American).

And at least 160 mailboxes around the globe can get a sense of what is
possible in playing with the intelligence agencies that are so interested
now in manufacturing, and maybe do it better next time. :-) Maybe someone
will even read what is in those mailboxes, someday. :-) Or read it on the web.

Open manufacturing, a basic income guarantee, and a post-scarcity future
won't happen without the intelligence community on that side (or at least,
it won't happen as painlessly, given the tools at the disposal of that
community to create artificial scarcity). So, a big challenge is the
question, how does an open manufacturing movement get the global
intelligence community of individuals (even if not the institutions right
away) on the side of wielding post-scarcity technologies for abundance
instead of destruction? How does one "green" the CIA? No, not that green
(money), the other green (post-scarcity sustainability). :-)

Anyway, my time to post much here grows short as I focus on other
money-making things myself (while waiting for a global basic income :-), so
I mention that concept of indirectly playing with the CIA for others here to
remember, on the assumption they are monitoring your communications. :-)
Even as mentioning it may make the effort less effective. Or does it? :-)

It's amusing to me to think about how difficult analyzing everything I
posted here would be for a CIA analyst, even before they realize who else is
Princeton '85. :-) Hint: the last class letter I got the other day made a
point of saying a copy went to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That little fact is
likely to slow down the CIA's social network analysis software some. :-)
Just a random quirk of fate? :-)

My advice to people here is to build movements in such a way that the CIA
can be proud of them :-) as well as so Smári and Bryan and others here can
be proud of them too. :-) And, given the CIA is hiring machinists, build a
movement where, in a good way, you assume everyone in it is working for the
CIA, :-) but where you still get important stuff done in moving the world
towards a post-scarcity open future. Just like people should assume Google
is a division of the NSA and/or CIA. :-) An impossible task? Well, consider
it more like a creative challenge. :-)

Again, remember, strategic non-violence is the way forward. Don't let people
tell you otherwise -- they are fooling themselves in a world of extensive
surveillance and all sorts of weapons handled by people who have spent years
training how to use them. Domhoff outlines a better way that can probably
still work in what remains of democracy in the USA and Western Europe...

Like Stephen Colbert in his roast of President George W. Bush, people here
need to stay on that middle way between doing nothing and being
violent. Non-violent does not mean non-engaged.

See also the Quaker wrestler joke here:
Richard Nixon was a Quaker, and he ended the Vietnam War. :-) OK, he bombed
more first. :-( But, he also advocated for a guaranteed basic income. :-)

But in the meantime, before such a post-scarcity transformation of our
society, individuals need to navigate the time between now and a
post-scarcity future -- myself included, but also every individual, even
every intelligence analyst out there, whether paid professional or

So, maybe there is something useful to think about in this post as regards
post-scarcity open-related manufacturing jobs. They are out there -- ones
like the one at Serotta managing robots making mass customized bicycles, a
job that is just about as (post-scarcity sustainability) "green" as it comes
(even if I doubt it would pay more green ration units than subsistence for a
middle class family). It's the kind of work many people here might even be
willing to do even without pay, in a (transitional) post-scarcity society
with a guaranteed basic income and abundance for all.

Some more jobs at random:

A true Zen master never charges for enlightenment; they charge for things
like cutting wood (or making customized bicycles). That is one thing I have
thought often about in terms of thinking what to charge for and not, on our
path to a post-scarcity society.

And who knows, maybe even machinist jobs at the CIA might be green that way
too, someday. I can hope.

"Everything I Learned About Torture I Learned From Star Trek"
"There was one scene where the interrogator invited Captain Picard to eat
with him. A place was set with eating utensils and a napkin and the Captain
was given what looked like a huge ostrich egg. When the captain cracked the
shell, the egg was raw and uncooked. The captain looked at his interrogator
for just a moment and then drank the egg before the interrogator could
change his mind. The interrogator smiled and explained that the egg was a
Cardassian delicacy. He told the story of how when he was just a little boy
growing up hungry in a Cardassian ghetto, somebody broke his arm when they
took a similar egg away from him. Captain Picard looked up from his own egg
as if he had a sudden revelation. The captain told the interrogator that it
must be gratifying to inflict so much pain on another. From this point on he
would see the interrogator as a helpless child, weak, and unable to defend
himself. This got to the interrogator. Suddenly, he dialed the remote
control to maximum and pushed the button. Captain Picard was writhing in
pain but was screaming through tears that his interrogator was weak and
helpless. I think the captain passed out from that episode of torture."

Is the big problem with the CIA that, deep down, it feels weak and helpless?
Or at least, parts of it do?

Will it take moving beyond that for the CIA to finally go "green" in a
post-scarcity way? :-)

The CIA and Princeton have a long history together:"

So, one really can't envision a post-scarcity Princeton without also
envisioning a post-scarcity CIA. :-)

Or a post-scarcity NSA for that matter, too. :-)
"On the morning of October 22, 1960, a small group of invited guests sat
quietly on folding chairs as they listened to Princeton University president
Robert F. Goheen dedicate the latest building on his expansive campus. John
von Neumann Hall was a contemporary, red-brick, two-story building with a
pleasant, tree-shaded patio surrounded by an eight-foot-high brick wall. It
might have been a new science building or possibly a student center. It was
neither. Named after the brilliant mathematician who pioneered computer
logic, John von Neumann Hall was, in effect, the academic world's
entranceway into the NSA's secret tunnel."

What is most ironic about that is that John von Neumann talked about
post-scarcity self-replicating robots. But here was an agency designed
around and devoted to a scarcity world view based in such a building. Again,
post-scarcity technology wielded by those ironically using it to create and
maintain artificial scarcities.

When will we move beyond global irony to global abundance? :-)

Still, maybe any gods out there find it funnier the way it is? :-)

Maybe I just need to accept that *that* ironic joke is the point of this
universe, if it has a point? :-) Those foolish humans -- having abundance in
their hands and using it to torture each other? :-( A never ending gag...
Never ceasing to be funny, no matter how many times you see it. Still, I was
never much of a Three Stooges fan:
Though I liked this take on it:
"Number 5 and the Three Stooges"

All the best to all the global intelligence analysts out there, whatever
your affiliations, or professional or amateur status. :-)

--Paul Fernhout
Hopefully not having gone quite this far:

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