To counter the linear perception of time, Ken Johnson stresses that according to the Mayan concept of time there’s no exact moment (for example, 00:00) when one day nawal is replaced by the following one. When the sun sets the nawal of the following day already begins to assert its energy, while the nawal that governed the current day wanes.
So like everything else in nature, days and nights have their unique, flowing dance of energies, which intensifies whenever they mix and switch governance (of day and night/winter and summer). Spring, after all, is known as “The Quickening”, and fall is exactly what it means – a slowing down, a time to stop and take stock, gather gravity in preparation for winter – the standstill.
There are no clear cuts in the natural world. Clear cuts can only be found in the human world of words and dotted lines. They are arbitrarily set by my dualistic, calculating mind (one of my favorite tools!)
Queen Elizabeth II, owns and controls U. S. data management, corporate banking, resources of gas, uranium, gold, and many strategic resources and systems in the United States. This system of control is called SERCO, and it is essentially a Crown Agent.
Serco is not only an enemy of the United States, but an enemy of countries and people around the world. For example, did you know that the U. S. Patent Office is controlled by Serco? That’s right, a BRITISH based company controls the creative efforts of American entrepreneurs and creators. Serco was the company awarded the Obamacare data management system that cost America’s over $2 billion.
That’s right. SES employees in charge of selecting contracts for this lucrative data management system couldn’t find any U.S. based companies to do the work. Instead they cherry-picked their buddies at British owned and controlled Serco to deliver Obamacare management.
Here are a few highlights of what Serco does already in our government. To our friends in other parts of the world, don’t be surprised when you see similar structures in your own country run by the British Monarch through Serco:
Serco manages all patents for the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office. Brits have the first shot at stealing American’s intellectual property rights. This is shocking but true.
Serco controls the most sensitive data management systems in all branches of the military, federal government, and state and local municipalities.
Serco controls air traffic management, airlines security, airport management and all aspects of ticketing, visa data management, and timetable management.
Serco is called, “the largest company no one has ever heard of.”
Serco’s efficiency rating in England, Canada, and Australia is below 65% and many lawsuits have been filed against the company for egregious fraud and mismanagement.
Serco was paid $1.2 billion to management the data of Obamacare — British company handling American’s private medical information.
Serco goes by many names, so always look under the hood in their corporate documents to find its trail back to Queen Lizzie. In America, it operates as Serco Inc. and claims on its website that it “is a leading provider of professional, technology, and management services for the federal government.” Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Serco Inc. has approximately 10,000 employees, annual revenue of $2.5 billion, and is ranked in the top 35 of the largest federal prime contractors.
Piercing the corporate veil, we find that Serco Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Serco Group plc, a $7 billion international business that works with government and public services around the world.
Many researchers say that Serco runs the United Kingdom (UK), the United States, Canada, and Australia. Serco has over 60,000 people in 35 countries across the world. To our international readers, it is highly doubtful that they are not operating in your country.
Serco is a leading provider of public services of all types. Serco operates internationally across five sectors and four geographies: defense, justice, immigration, transportation, health and human services. Its services are delivered in UK, Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East.
Serco delivers records management and processing support services for many U. S. government agencies. Major programs include processing and classifying of patent applications for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; records management and process of applications and petitions at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Service Centers; processing visa applications at the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center and Kentucky Consular Center; and, records management services at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ National Benefits Center, among many others.
Ninety percent of Serco’s business is with the federal government with 10,000 workers across 45 states. Serco’s experience is in paper pushing, records management, processing applications, processing visas, handling patents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. There are more than 60 million records that Serco handles for the Department of Homeland Security.
Serco Inc. is indeed part of Serco Group, an international contracting firm headquartered near London and partly owned by the UK government itself. Serco Inc. is the North America division of Serco Group, plc. In North America, Serco Inc. serves federal, state and local governments, along with the Canadian government and commercial customers, and over 14,000 in North Americas.
Digest that for a moment: U.S. federal records, personal medical records, patents, and visas are held by a company owned and directed by the British Monarch. Its “soldiers on the ground” are employees of SES. These SES employees guarantee that Serco gets the contracts and then manages and oversees their continued involvement.
Th UK is suing Serco for the alleged theft of $80 billion dollars. UK officials have been investigating Serco and found that the company is only effective 65% of the time. Serco has been found out to be corrupt from top to bottom. Many mistakes of data management have also happened in the United States that have caused terrible disasters and multiple deaths. Serco manages services for the military and government that are incredibly sensitive and should be trusted to no one else but the United States of America.
“Decentralization is based on the simple notion that it is easier to macrobull***t than microbull***t. Decentralization reduces large structural asymmetries.”
“For studying courage in textbooks doesn’t make you any more courageous than eating cow meat makes you bovine. By some mysterious mental mechanism, people fail to realize that the principal thing you can learn from a professor is how to be a professor—and the chief thing you can learn from, say, a life coach or inspirational speaker is how to become a life coach or inspirational speaker. So remember that the heroes of history were not classicists and library rats, those people who live vicariously in their texts. They were people of deeds and had to be endowed with the spirit of risk taking”
“If you do not take risks for your opinion, you are nothing.”
“A saying by the brothers Geoff and Vince Graham summarizes the ludicrousness of scale-free political universalism. I am, at the Fed level, libertarian; at the state level, Republican; at the local level, Democrat; and at the family and friends level, a socialist.”
“Those who talk should do and only those who do should talk.”
“You can tell if a discipline is BS if the degree depends severely on the prestige of the school granting it. I remember when I applied to MBA programs being told that anything outside the top ten or twenty would be a waste of time. On the other hand a degree in mathematics is much less dependent on the school (conditional on being above a certain level, so the heuristic would apply to the difference between top ten and top two thousand schools). The same applies to research papers. In math and physics, a result posted on the repository site arXiv (with a minimum hurdle) is fine. In low-quality fields like academic finance (where papers are usually some form of complicated storytelling), the “prestige” of the journal is the sole criterion.”
“You can define a free person precisely as someone whose fate is not centrally or directly dependent on peer assessment.”
“The only definition of rationality that I’ve found that is practically, empirically, and mathematically rigorous is the following: what is rational is that which allows for survival. Unlike modern theories by psychosophasters, it maps to the classical way of thinking. Anything that hinders one’s survival at an individual, collective, tribal, or general level is, to me, irrational.”
“Things designed by people without skin in the game tend to grow in complication (before their final collapse). There is absolutely no benefit for someone in such a position to propose something simple: when you are rewarded for perception, not results, you need to show sophistication. Anyone who has submitted a “scholarly” paper to a journal knows that you usually raise the odds of acceptance by making it more complicated than necessary. Further, there are side effects for problems that grow nonlinearly with such branching-out complications. Worse: Non-skin-in-the-game people don’t get simplicity.”
“Journalists are currently in the most insecure profession you can find: the majority live hand to mouth, and ostracism by their friends would be terminal. Thus they become easily prone to manipulation by lobbyists, as we saw with GMOs, the Syrian wars, etc. You say something unpopular in that profession about Brexit, GMOs, or Putin, and you become history. This is the opposite of business where me-tooism is penalized.”
“How much you truly “believe” in something can be manifested only through what you are willing to risk for it.”
“The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the workings of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning, something self-serving institutions have been very busy hiding from us.”
“A civil servant can make rules that are friendly to an industry such as banking—and then go off to J.P. Morgan and recoup a multiple of the difference between his or her current salary and the market rate. (Regulators, you may recall, have an incentive to make rules as complex as possible so their expertise can later be hired at a higher price.)”
“Those who use foul language on social networks (such as Twitter) are sending an expensive signal that they are free—and, ironically, competent. You don’t signal competence if you don’t take risks for it—there are few such low-risk strategies. So cursing today is a status symbol, just as oligarchs in Moscow wear blue jeans at special events to signal their power.”
“making some types of errors is the most rational thing to do, when the errors are of little cost, as they lead to discoveries. For instance, most medical “discoveries”are accidental to something else. An error-free world would have no penicillin, no chemotherapy…almost no drugs, and most probably no humans. This is why I have been against the state dictating to us what we “should”be doing: only evolution knows if the “wrong”thing is really wrong, provided there is skin in the game to allow for selection.”
“Thirty-nine percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent.”
“we have evidence that collectively society doesn’t advance with organized education, rather the reverse: the level of (formal) education in a country is the result of wealth.”
“Administrators everywhere on the planet, in all businesses and pursuits, and at all times in history, have been the plague.”
“The divergence is evident in that journos worry considerably more about the opinion of other journalists than the judgment of their readers. Compare this to a healthy system, say, that of restaurants. As we saw in Chapter 8, restaurant owners worry about the opinion of their customers, not those of other restaurant owners, which keeps them in check and prevents the business from straying collectively away from its interests.”
“Silver Rule (negative golden rule): Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you. Note the difference from the Golden Rule, as the silver one prevents busybodies from attempting to run your life.”
“Almost every academic you are going to meet is a complete and utter fraud. Scientists don’t do science any more. They do scientism. Economists don’t do economics. They do economism. They just come up with a whole load of ideas they can all agree upon to keep themselves in a job. Architects are the same. If they were crushed to death under a pile of rubble when one of their buildings fell down, they might try harder to design less crap. They all call themselves experts but they are anything but.”
“If you take risks and face your fate with dignity, there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don’t take risks, there is nothing you can do that makes you grand, nothing.”
“What we do today has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism. It is a crony type of system that transfers money to the coffers of bureaucrats.”
The problem is not with these artists per se, but rather with a subset of the intelligentsia who are busy with social engineering in the world of art. There is an insistent demand for museum boards, art fairs, award winners and museum contents to reflect the broad demographics of women and minorities in the US and Europe. While these groups have had great success in music, the visual arts, much like tennis, has favored both bureaucrats and practitioners with disposable income. Whether an impressive degree or simply the time to pursue unremunerative activities, poor people of any ilk are at a considerable disadvantage. Perhaps more importantly, especially with regard to women, is the lack of ambition to succeed in the Arts, as opposed to crafty lower case art.
The problem is that due to the relatively low number of women and minorities interested in pursuing the Visual Arts (I am addressing museum material) the rising demand for full demographic representation is a disaster. Think of the difference in the quality of men’s pro basketball versus women’s pro basketball. I may be 15 years behind in my perception of women’s basketball but we could as easily compare 1920s men’s basketball to the current pro scene. While current men’s pro basketball attracts fistfuls of dollars, and brings talent here from China and Yugoslavia, as well as stirring the hearts of wannabe six year olds, 1920s men’s basketball and current women’s basketball had/has a much weaker appeal. The world’s potentially best basketball player from 1920 may well have been trading pork bellies, lumber and coffee in 1920, and the current potentially best woman player may well spend her days selling real estate in Orange County, CA. My point is that there simply is not sufficient quality among minorities or females with an interest in a bureaucratic or creative positions in the Arts to justify full demographic representation. I am reminded of a problem the air force had with filling jet fighter positions with women; in order to please the bureaucrats they promoted second rate female fighter pilots whose abilities were below that required of men. The result was a high death rate and the loss of expensive jets.
The next greatest fighter pilot or world class artist may be a woman or be from Puerto Rico (or both), but that does not mean that the aggregate of women or minorities who wish to be fighter pilots or world class artists are as good as the aggregate of men or European-Americans who wish for the same.
It is common among female politicians and CEOS to have more balls than their male peers. Such people do not succeed because of their feminine attributes, but rather because of their ability to ape masculine ones, and often because they copy the worst attributes of their male peers. Likewise, most of the successful female and minority artists succeed by adhering strictly to the mental concepts of the bureaucrats promoting the idea of female and minority art. Bringing such mental concepts (and its attendant worship of the mind) to art is antithetical to real art, just as a female CEO cut off from her femininity is antithetical to real business.
The worship of ideas automatically divorces the worshiper from reality. Just so do we arrive at a world, in this case the art world, where all the leaders are exactly the worst ones for the job.
Imagine using helium instead of air in bubble wrap. Lower shipping costs presumably. It would hinge on the cost of buying or manufacturing helium versus using free air. Truckers could avoid weight limits by inflating long, large and reusable helium balloons placed beneath the ceiling of their semi.
Nassim NIcholsas Taleb has written a book called Skin in the Game. In it he talks about how today’s bureaucrats, politicians and business leaders do not have skin the game. Like the bailed out banks in 2008, these people share in the upside but not the downside. They are transferors of risk. He argues that those who don’t take risks should never be involved in making decisions. Below is a quote:
“This idea of skin in the game is woven into history; historically, all warlords and warmongers were warriors themselves, and, with a few curious exceptions, societies were run by risk takers, not risk transferors.
Prominent people took risks – considerably more risks than ordinary citizens. The Roman emperor Julian the Apostate, about whom much later, died on the battlefield fighting the never-ending war on the Persian frontier – while emperor. One may only speculate about Julius Caesar, Alexander, and Napoleon, owing to the usual legend-building by historians, but here the proof is stark. There is no better historical evidence of an emperor taking a frontline position in battle than a Persian spear lodged in his chest (Julian omitted to wear protective armor). One of his predecessors, Valerian, was captured on the same frontier, and was said to have been used as a human footstool by the Persian Shapur when mounting his horse. And the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Palaecologus, was last seen when he removed his purple toga, then joined Ioannis Dalmatus and his cousin Theophishis Palaeologus to charge the Turkish troops with their swords above their heads, proudly facing certain death. Yet legend has it that Constantine had been offered a deal in the event of a surrender. Such deals are not for the self-respecting kings.
These are not isolated anecdotes. The statistical reasoned in this author is quite convinced: less than a third of Roman emperors died in their beds – and one can argue that given that only few of these died of really old age, had they lived longer, they would have fallen either to a coup or in battle.”
“Some think that freeing ourselves from having warriors at the top means civilization and progress. It does not. Meanwhile:
Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.”
Technology once had actual and real benefits. The roof, the shelf, the wheel and fire were beneficial without substantial negative side effects. For some time new technology has focused on making money and benevolent outcomes are no longer the rule. Below are two examples of the fruitlessness of commercially driven tech.
The replacement of the cash register accomplished one simple transaction: the labor of accounting was transferred from the back office to the clerk and the customer. I was in Starbucks recently, ordering a simple tea for $2.45. The clerk punched at least 12 buttons to effect the transaction. This was with the computer working (not always the case) and with an experienced clerk. While a plus for the company, with a lower paid clerk doing the work rather than a higher paid accountant, it is numbing work and a waste of the customer’s time. It works because everyone has transferred the accounting function to the point of sale, so customers have no choice in the matter and have acclimated to the negative tech.
Attorneys are largely devoted to words on paper. One would think that the advent of “word processing” would have reduced the number of hours attorneys, paralegals and secretaries devote to each document, and a substantial lowering of the cost to the client. Yet such as not occurred. A relaxed and sloppy approach to creating documents has resulted in endless revisions. The time and cost savings haven’t materialized. In addition, despite word processing being the screwdriver of technologies, where one would expect a standard method would make it a one-time learning event, typist have had to contend with a seemingly endless parade of new products (remember Workperfect?) and upgrades. Imagine the screwdriver you bought in 1988 suddenly stops works.
Other technologies look better on the surface, but that is because the negative outcomes are so hidden and complex that they cannot be easily ferreted out. Technology for financial gain plays on people’s penchant for novelty and their fear of being left out. It is a pernicious and likely fatal ploy. As in all things in duality, we activate two polarities with our every action. As long as corporations and customers ignore this, unintended consequences will dominate.
What do I mean by Skin in the Game? My Own Version
When selecting a surgeon for your next brain procedure, should you pick a surgeon who looks like a butcher or one who looks like a surgeon? The logic of skin in the game implies you need to select the one who (while credentialed) looks the least like what you would expect from a surgeon, or, rather, the Hollywood version of a surgeon.
The same logic mysteriously answers many vital questions, such as 1) the difference between rationality and rationalization, 2) that between virtue and virtue signaling, 3) the nature of honor and sacrifice, 4) Religion and signaling (why the pope is functionally atheist) 5) the justification for economic inequality that doesn’t arise from rent seeking, 6) why to never tell people your forecasts (only discuss publicly what you own in your portfolio) and, 7) even, how and from whom to buy your next car.
What is Skin in the Game? The phrase is often mistaken for one-sided incentives: the promise of a bonus will make someone work harder for you. For the central attribute is symmetry: the balancing of incentives and disincentives, people should also penalized if something for which they are responsible goes wrong and hurts others: he or she who wants a share of the benefits needs to also share some of the risks.
My argument is that there is a more essential aspect: filtering and the facilitation of evolution. Skin in the game –as a filter –is the central pillar for the organic functioning of systems, whether humans or natural. Unless consequential decisions are taken by people who pay for the consequences, the world would vulnerable to total systemic collapse. And if you wonder why there is a current riot against a certain class of self-congratulatory “experts”, skin the game will provide a clear answer: the public has viscerally detected that some “educated” but cosmetic experts have no skin in the game and will never learn from their mistakes, whether individually or, more dangerously, collectively.
Have you wondered why, on high-speed highways there are surprisingly few rogue drivers who could, with a simple manoeuver, kill scores of people? Well, they would also kill themselves and most dangerous drivers are already dead (or with suspended license). Driving is done under the skin in the game constraint, which acts as a filter. It’s a risk management tool by society, ingrained in the ecology of risk sharing in both human and biological systems. The captain who goes down with the ship will no longer have a ship. Bad pilots end up in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean; risk-blind traders become taxi drivers or surfing instructors (if they traded their own money).
Systems don’t learn because people learn individually –that’s the myth of modernity. Systems learn at the collective level by the mechanism of selection: by eliminating those elements that reduce the fitness of the whole, provided these have skin in the game. Food in New York improves from bankruptcy to bankruptcy, rather than the chefs individual learning curves –compare the food quality in mortal restaurants to that in an immortal governmental cafeteria. And in the absence of the filtering of skin in the game, the mechanisms of evolution fail: if someone else dies in your stead, the built up of asymmetric risks and misfitness will cause the system to eventually blow-up.
Yet the social science and the bureaucrato-BSers have missed and keeps missing that skin in the game is an essential filter. Why? Because, outside of hard science, scholars who do not have skin in the game fail to get that while in academia there is no difference between academia and the real world, in the real world, there is. They teach evolution in the classrooms but, because they are not doers, they don’t believe that evolution applies to them; they almost unanimously vote in favor of a large state and advocate what I’ve called “Soviet-Harvard top-down intelligent design” in social life.
As illustrated by the story of the surgeon, you can tell, from the outside, if a discipline has skills and expertise, from the presence of the pressures of skin in the game and some counterintuitive consequences. But what we call “empty suits”, of the kind you see in think tanks or large corporations –those who want to increasingly run our lives or intervene in Libya — look like actors playing the part, down to their vocabulary and the multiplicative meetings. Talk is cheap and people who talk and don’t do are easily detectable by the public because they are too good at talking.
Plumbers, bakers, engineers, and piano tuners are judged by their clients, doctors by their patients (and malpractice insurers), and small town mayors by their constituents. The works of mathematicians, physicists, and hard scientists are judged according to rigorous and unambiguous principles. These are experts, plus or minus a margin of error. Such selection pressures from skin in the game apply to perhaps 99% of the population. But it is hard to tell if macroeconomists, behavioral economists, psychologists, political “scientists” and commentators, and think-tank policymakers are experts. Bureaucrato-academics tend to be judged by other bureaucrats and academics, not by the selection pressure of reality. This judgment by peers only, not survival, can lead to the pestilence of academic citation rings. The incentive is to be published on the right topic in the right journals, with well sounding arguments, under easily some contrived empiricism, in order to beat the metrics.
Accountants, not other “peer” forecasters, nor referees using metrics should be judging forecasters.
Metrics are always always gamed: a politician can load the system with debt to “improve growth and GDP”, and let his successor deal with the delayed results.
Alas, you can detect the degradation of the aesthetics of buildings when architects are judged by other architects. So the current rebellion against bureaucrats whether in DC or Brussels simply comes from the public detection of a simple principle: the more micro the more visible one’s skills. To use the language of complexity theory, expertise is scale dependent. And, ironically, the more complex the world becomes, the more the role of macro-deciders “empty suits” with disproportionate impact should be reduced: we should decentralize (so actions are taken locally and visibly), not centralize as we have been doing.
In addition, owning one’s risk was an unescapable moral code for past four millennia, until very recent times. War mongers were required to be warriors. Fewer than a third of Roman emperors died in their bed (assuming those weren’t skillfully poisoned). Status came with increased exposure to risk: Alexander, Hannibal, Scipio, and Napoleon were not only first in battle, but derived their authority from a disproportionate exhibition of courage in previous campaigns. Courage is the only virtue that can’t be faked (or gamed like metrics). Lords and knights were individuals who traded their courage for status, as their social contract was an obligation to protect those who granted them their status. This primacy of the risk-taker, whether warrior (or, critically, merchant), prevailed almost all the time in almost every human civilization; exceptions, such as Pharaonic Egypt or Ming China, in which the bureaucrat-scholar moved to the top of the pecking order were followed by collapse.
The goal of news isn’t to keep you informed. It’s to entertain and outrage. That’s what the incentive structure underlying the modern media system is built on. If our outlets were actually reporting the events of the world as they are, 90 out of 100 days would be so mundane that you would never want to hear from them again. – Zat Rana