#ThursThreds Week 510 : Something’s Wrong

That afternoon, the path led Rose to a small house, on the edge of the forest, near the Black Mountains. She floated above the ground, hidden by the tree limbs and branches, and studied that house.

A few chickens were around it, a donkey, and a horse to one side. A cow on the other. She couldn’t see anyone. She stayed inside the forest, and moved to both sides of the house, as far as she could without leaving the trees. As she moved to the left, she saw a boy, and a girl, behind the house. They were standing next to a freshly dug grave. An old man stood across the grave from them. All three were crying.

“Something’s wrong,” Rose thought, as she left the cover of the trees, and floated toward the three people. She approached them slowly, so they could see her coming. As she got closer, she held up her right hand, and waved at them, “Hello.”

The children joined the old man on the far side of the grave from her. Rose looked at the grave, and whispered, “Show me.”

A woman appeared. She was milking the same cow that was at the house. As she was working, a second woman ran into the clearing around the house. She ran toward the woman milking the cow. She drew a knife from as she ran, and drove it deep into the back of the other woman, killing her.

Rose sank to the ground.

248 Words
@mysoulstears


It’s Week 510 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

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Why I Abandoned The Working World

Let me start with this interview of Michael Lewis that comes from VOX.

“Michael Lewis on why Americans don’t trust experts
How a society that is so good at creating knowledge can be so bad at applying it.”

Here’s the link to the article.
https://www.vox.com/vox-conversations-podcast/23030205/vox-conversations-michael-lewis-against-the-rules-experts

Unfortunately, I understand this article all to well. Because I jam one of the experts people in the US abuse, belittle, and ignore.

The people I worked with at Northrop Grumman for 29 years knew this. As my former manager expressed it one day, while I was out on leave for Major Depressive Disorder (which was caused by my work for Northrop Grumman and the United States Department of Defense), by declaring I’d been out six months, and the people I worked with were still figuring out all the things I did every day I was at work.

The people at Best Buy/Geek Squad that worked with me knew this, and know this. As Aiden and Avery both put it, “You have no idea how much I learned from you.” and “None of it is in any book, anywhere.”

And here I am having retired at the age of 62 years and 6 months. I will never work for anyone another day in my life, no matter how much money they offer me. I will take what I know about computers and how they work to the grave with me. That information, everything I know and could spread, and could share, will simply cease to exist when I die. And I’m good with that. It is my vengeance against the cruelty, the stupidity, the torturous behavior I have endured in my career. It is my vengeance against the abuse, the bullying, the insults, the declarations that I’m an idiot and don’t know anything, the declarations I’m a prima-donna who expects to always get their way. The list is endless. And I’m done putting up with it.

Now, I get to sit back and know that I’m not alone in abandoning the US working world, and the US society. I get to sit back and know I’m not alone in waiting for the collapse of our arrogant, pride filled, “do your own research” civilization.

We stop valuing those with knowledge and experience at our own peril. We drive such people out of our society at our own peril.

As an expert, I can honestly say I can’t fix everything that breaks in a computer program or computer operating system. Maybe, given enough time, and enough resources, I can fix most things, but there are things that practically speaking, just need to be gutted and started over.

Let me explain.

Windows (the operating system on most desktop, laptop, and notebook computers) has a component called the Windows Registry. A lot of people have no idea what the Windows Registry is, of even that it exists. But, the Windows Registry is the heart and soul of Windows. It contains almost all the rules that tell windows how to process specific events, specific types of data, specific applications. It tells Windows things like, “When the human double clicks on a PDF file, run Adobe Acrobat Reader, and have it open that file.” It tells Windows things like, “This is they kind of keyboard attached to the computer.” and “When the user presses this specific key on the keyboard, send the key pressed data to this device driver, and let it respond to the key pressed.” It tells Windows things like, “When audio data shows up, send that data to this device driver.”

As you can tell from that description, when something goes wrong in the Windows Registry, Windows itself breaks. Period.

There are, literally, 100s of Thousands of settings in the Windows Registry. 100s of Thousands. No single human being on the planet can know what every registry setting is, what it does, and how to set it properly in every specific environment. It is simply not humanly possible to actively memorize that many settings, and to continuously update them each time a new application is created, each time an existing application is updated, and every time Windows itself is updated.

Perhaps a big enough neural network with oceans and oceans of deep learning might be able to figure out most of it, and keep it working under most circumstances. A single human can’t.
Almost always, when Windows is broken, the cause is something in the Windows Registry. Some setting (or several settings) located somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of Registry settings that its broken. To fix Windows all you have to do is fix the setting(s) in the Windows Registry. Simple, right? As people has declared to me countless times, “Even an idiot could do that.”

There are over 100,000 settings in the Windows Registry. Which setting, or settings, are the causing the problem? How do you find those settings to fix them? How should those settings be modified to correct the problems the computer owner is having with Windows? If you fix those settings, are there any cascading affects? Does fixing the settings break something else in Windows? Given there are over 100,000 settings in the Windows Registry, how do you know if the changes you make to one setting will break something else?

Being unable to actively maintain a working knowledge of over 100,000 Windows Registry settings, and how each setting is supposed to be set up in the Windows Registry means, as a computer expert, that you will get insulted, called an idiot, told you don’t know a damn thing, and otherwise informed that you are as useful as a pothole in the middle of the road, by virtually everyone who uses a computer that runs the Windows operating system.

In other words, the computer expert will be attacked, verbally, and perhaps even physically, a person that never even heard of the Windows Registry.

Of course, with an angry customer, the management of the company that computer expert works for will also be written up in the company’s records of individual personnel performance, and that person will be flagged as needing more training. If this happens several times, that computer expert will not be getting a pay raise, and may be informed they are being removed from the company’s employee list.

You can tell me this is not how things work, this is not how they are, this is not how businesses operate. But, I’m now closing in on 63 years old. I’ve worked for over 40 years in American businesses. I know the truth. This is exactly how the American population treats experts.

For the past week or so, Windows 11 has been showing me popup notices about two programs (LEDKeeper and CCleaner64) trying to write to a protected folder. I’ve been ignoring them.

Today, I started working to fix them. Guess where the fixes are. In the Windows Registry. I made changes to the Windows Registry. Deleted multiple registry keys, and even sections.
I seem to have fixed one of the two problems. I can fix the second, but it’s more risky. The LEDKeeper problem seems to be solved. Of course, I found the reference to LEDKeeper in a “folder” for AMD graphics adapters. I used to have one. The RX-570. I replaced it, over a year ago, with the RTX-3060Ti. That’s how long the LEDKeeper problem has been showing up, off and on. And there’s been an AMD service referenced in the Services list on the computer also.
So far, after rebooting, I haven’t seen any signs of the LEDKeeper reference. I did see one for CCleaner64.

Now. If it’s that confusing, and there are that many settings, that I had to take a guess at what was causing the LEDKeeper notice to pop up, can you imagine what normal people would do? It would never be fixed. They’d ignore it. Or they’d tell windows to let it write wherever it wanted to.

In honesty, I could have done the latter. LEDKeeper is an app from MSI, the motherboard manufacturer. I know the app is about setting the LED lights on the motherboard. Something I don’t need. And I don’t see why it should have to write that data to a protected folder every time I log on to the computer, and every time I wake it from sleep or hibernate modes.

So, I fixed it.

And if it was specific to the AMD GPU, I didn’t need it anyway. Since I don’t even have an AMD GPU.

But, you see. There I go. Editing the Windows Registry. Like it was nothing. Because, for me, it’s something I’ve been doing since Windows XP Pro was introduced in 2001. For me, it’s not that big of a deal.

I know I can destroy windows that way. But, I also know that I’m rather unlikely to do something that will destroy Windows.I know what I am able to do. I am a Subject Matter Expert. And what I just did is something that oceans of COMP-TIA Certified professionals, and Microsoft Certified professionals, can’t do. I know. I’ve had to do these kinds of things for them.

And here I am, at home, retired from the workplace. I’m going to take all that I’ve learned, all that I know, my 40 years of experience in working with computers, into oblivion when I die, whenever that is. None of what I know, none of what I learned, is going to get shared with others. Instead, I’m going to sit back in my chair, and laugh at the US Society from wherever we go when we die. I’ll laugh, and drink soda, and eat chips, and laugh more.

I’m going to enjoy every minute of watching the United States implode as it rejects knowledge, learning, and expertise in everything. Go ahead, people in my country. “Do your own research! Find out for yourselves!”

And when your computer blows up, don’t waste my time asking me to fix it for you. After all. I’m an expert. What do I know? Nothing, obviously. Absolutely nothing.

#Perspectives : Part 3, Chapter 2

The meeting had been as dull, and boring as ever. John was relieved when it was over. As far as he was concerned the humans could totally destroy themselves. The world would be a better place without them. After all, the families no longer needed the humans. The humans had been replaced in every way by autonomous machines. And it was trivial to repair a machine as needed, or replace one when it became too worn, and too old to repair.

Humans weren’t cheap to have around. And sometimes, they rebelled, and turned against the families. Something the machines weren’t capable of. The machines had no free will. No intelligence.

But, most of the other families wanted to keep the humans around, if only to exploit them, play with them, and manage them to maximize their wealth and power. Basically, to have someone to dominate. And John did have to admit, at least the humans were good for that.

John’s plan to bring Norfolk and Hampton Roads into line with the objectives of the families was simple, and effective. It consisted of having the autonomous aircraft of the military in Hampton Roads commence bombing runs into North Carolina in an effort to stop the murder of non-white Christians in that state. Once the bombing had started, North Carolina would retaliate against Satan’s children in Hampton Roads using foot soldiers, and biological weapons. The result would be widespread devastation in Hampton Roads.

It was a simple, elegant solution to the problem. He was proud he’d suggested it. The families quickly approved his plan, and ordered its implementation.

John remembered when his father first showed him the plan. It had been generations in the making. The families were nothing if not patient.

Grow the economy of the United States, turn it into the most powerful economy on the planet. Guarantee white people, white families, and especially white Christian families, received the greatest benefits. Put families that had never been able to afford homes into homes. Raise their standard of living. Make them comfortable. Make them fat.

Then, arrange for the court system to strike down the advantages those people had been given. Have the court system implement racial equality, and integration. That had been such fun. His father had told him all about it. Those nightly stories of “Your father and his peers”, and the things they’d done were priceless to him. He made certain to share them with his own son.

They’d made Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Susan B. Anthony, Franklin D. Roosevelt. All the greatest names in the history of the United States were names the families made. One after another, to lead the humans, guide them down a carefully laid out path.

They’d made certain the US courts had legislated marriage equality, the legal declaration that men could marry men, and women could marry women. They’d legislated the removal of barriers to homosexuals, so they would spread through the population.

At the same time, they manipulated the education system of the country. They slowly brought in the concept of education standards, and mandated what people needed to know to be educated properly. Then, they slowly stripped away funding from that education system, forcing the best minds in education to abandon the field, and find other walks of life.

Then, they’d started to rewrite history. Nothing so bold as saying, “The holocaust never happened.” Or “Slavery was a good thing.” No. They just had to make people question the evidence. That’s all it took. A single seed of doubt. A single voice that said, “It’s all a lie!” And the rest was history. That lie took root, and spread. And the humans did what they’d always done. They forgot. They declared it wouldn’t happen again. And because it hadn’t happened in generations, they began to doubt it ever had happened.

The families funded the development of the economy, transportation, electronics, appliances, entertainment. They made it all appeal to the humans, so the humans couldn’t resist the urge to consume it all, and become dependent on fossil fuels. Fuels that poisoned the air, and gradually grew to threaten all life on the planet. They deliberately manipulated the supply of those fuels, so it became impossible for the humans to break their addiction to them.

People bought houses, made by companies owned and operated directly, or indirectly, by the families. People bought cars, made by companies owned and operated directly, or indirectly, by the families. People bought televisions, washing machines, freezers, vacuum cleaners, underwear, shirts, pants, dresses, shampoo, soap, deodorant, plates, silverware, bandages, beer, wine, hamburger, and everything else, from companies owned and operated, directly or indirectly, by the families.

And they didn’t even know it.

The families created billionaires among the humans. Rockefellers, Fords, Kennedys, Walls. Hell, they even created altruistic, movie star billionaires, like Jobs, Musk, and Gates. And they convinced humans everywhere they could become rich if they worked hard enough. If they were strong enough. If they were dedicated enough.We gave them just enough they couldn’t resist believing, and trying.

The families owned everything. That had always been the plan.

The humans did what we wanted them to do. Always had, always would. We’d kept them around while we built our world. We’d kept them around to build our power, our wealth. And we worked to build autonomous machines with the purpose of replacing as many humans as possible. Because, less humans meant less expenses for us, and even more wealth, and power.

That’s why we’d spent generations bringing about the war.

John walked through his family’s massive underground complex. His son was in school, being taught by the best learning systems in existence. Far more effective than the limited education system the humans had. His son’s learning experience was tailored specifically to him. It targeted his weakest skills, and worked to improve them. It targeted his strengths, and worked to perfect them.

“Let the humans believe in their little war,” he thought, as he walked toward his control room, where he could study the progress of the war, how widespread it had become, if there were any trouble spots where human populations needed to be further reduced. “I like the words they have for this.” He smiled, and nearly laughed, “Human Resource Management.” He shook his head, “If only they knew.”

#SwiftFicFriday Week 120 : Rose Was Curious

Rose watched the woman recklessly run through the forest, breaking small limbs off trees, pounding her feet in the leaves and debris on the ground. She wasn’t the least bit interested in being quiet. As she watched, she noticed the woman carried a knife in her right hand.She swung it at anything in her path. Clearly, she was desperate to keep moving.

“Stop her,” she whispered. The trees ahead of the woman began to move together, closing off her forward path. The trees behind her closed instantly, as did the trees to either side. They forced the woman to stop running, as she realized the trees had trapped her in a small circle, and left her nowhere to run.

Rose floated into that circle, out of reach of the woman. “Who are you, and why are you here?”

The woman screamed, and lunged at Rose with the knife. Rose floated up, out of reach. “You’re not nice, are you?”

The woman sank to the ground, on her knees, as she tried to catch her breath. “I have to escape! They’ll kill me!”

“Why?”

The woman didn’t answer Rose. Instead, she stood, and started attacking the trees with the knife. “If they find me, they’ll kill me!”

“Keep her here,” Rose ordered the forest. “And show me where she came from.”

Once more, the trees shifted, leaving the woman trapped inside that small circle, and opening up a clear path that showed where the woman had run. Rose took flight once more, and followed the path. The sun sank below the horizon, and Rose still followed the path. When the sun rose in the East the next morning, Rose was still following the path.

“Where did she come from, and what happened?” Rose intended to find out.

297 Words
@mysoulstears


It’s Week 110 of #SwiftFicFriday, hosted by Katheryn Avila. I’m still wondering what the heck is going on with this story. There seems to be only one way for me to find out. Anyway. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #SwiftFicFriday. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up regularly.

#ThursThreads Week 509 : What Do You Think?

Through that morning, into the afternoon, Rose continued her journey to the ocean. But, as the sun approached the western horizon, Rose whispered, “Stop.” Everything stopped. She turned her head, side to side, and listened. “Something’s wrong.” The rabbit in her lap looked up at her, and twitched its nose. “What do you think?”

The rabbit didn’t answer. The wolves closed ranks to protect Rose, and her rabbit and bird friends. She looked up at a hawk that circled above, “I hear someone. I think you should go find them.” The hawk flew toward the north.

Rose stood up on her crescent moon shaped bolder, and whispered, “Hear.”

At first, there was no sound, then faint sounds of twigs breaking, and the swish of small brush being moved. The sound grew until it was obviously the sound of someone running. Rose whispered, “Heart?” The sound of a furiously beating heart faintly echoed around her. She whispered, “Running?”

She heard the hawk scream from the north, and knew. Someone was lost in the forest. Lost, and running, and scared. But who? How did they get so far from anywhere?

She flicked her wings, and took to the air. Tiny Rose flew toward the sound, faster than any hawk could fly. She flew through the trees, without touching them, between branches, between trunks, in a torturous course only a master of flight could have matched.

She found a woman running through the forest. A woman who was lost, and desperately afraid.

249 Words
@mysoulstears


It’s Week 509 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2022/04/18 (Week 246)

All too soon, the sun began to set, and Rose knew that meant she should stop her journey to the ocean for the night, and sleep. She patted the bunny in her lap again, “Where should we stop for the night?”

The bunny hopped from her lap, and ran ahead of the crescent moon chair. Every few yards he pounded his left foot on the ground a few times. Soon, Rose heard pounding coming from the forest around her. It was other bunnies, answering her bunny. “Oh, I’m so looking forward to meeting all the other bunnies!”

Within half an hour, there were 30 rabbits gathered in front of the crescent moon. The bunny that had been riding with Rose, stopped, faced the crescent moon, and nodded its head. The moon stopped moving forward.

The rabbits spread out in a circle that was 50 feet wide. Small trees, bushes, and the rest of the undergrowth moved out of the circle, leaving three large trees in a small clearing, surrounded by rabbits.

A single wolf came into the circle, and nodded at Rose. Rose knew there were wolves outside the circle, standing guard over her for the night. An eagle, and two hawks landed, one in each of the trees, to stand watch from above.

Rose climbed down from her seat, and picked a soft spot on the ground, where she sat down. She pointed to a space, and small plants sprouted from the ground. The plants rapidly grew, and turned into full size plants. One tomato bush, one bush of peas, one stalk of corn, and one vine with a squash on it. In no time at all, Rose had all the food she could eat, and it was all some of her favorites, and all freshly picked. She picked what she wanted, and ate it raw, straight off the plants.

There were plenty of leftovers on the plants for the rabbits to eat.

She walked around the clearing, and everywhere she walked, roses, chrysanthemums, lilies, daffodils, pansies, snap dragons, and more, grew from the ground, until the clearing was filled with flowers. As Rose walked, she hummed a random tune, whatever notes she felt like humming.

An owl flew into the clearing, and landed next to Rose. It hooted in response to the notes Rose sang.

Though she couldn’t see through the trees and brush surrounding the clearing, Rose knew the forest had put up a wall that surrounded her resting place. A wall so dense, no predators could get through it. She nodded at the three big trees in the clearing, “Thank you for taking care of me.”

She sang with the owl for a time, until she grew tired. She yawned, and walked up to her crescent moon chair. The ground shifted, and a flat spot formed, then rose up from the ground to make a flat, soft bed, covered in grass, for her to sleep on. It even made a small mound at one end for a pillow she could rest her head on.

She climbed into the grass covered bed, and curled up on her side, and whispered good night. Then, she fell fast asleep.

The next morning, she woke up with the sunrise. She stretched her arms, yawned, and said, “Good morning.”

Then, the trees at one end of the clearing parted, and formed a path into the woods that went in the direction of the ocean. The forest thinned at the top, and allowed sunlight to filter through the branches to light that path. Rose climbed out of the earthen bed, which then sank back into the ground and disappeared, grass and all. “Thank you, forest”, she bowed to the three trees.

With that, the rabbit that had sat on her lap the previous day hopped back on the crescent moon, and waited for Rose to climb back on, and sit down, so the journey to the ocean could continue.

Rose made sure all the flowers stayed in place as she started the second day of her journey to the ocean.

Who cares how many words.
@mysoulstears


Written for Week 246 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Mirror, mirror on the wall. What can I do with you as a prompt? You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

#Perspectives : Part 3, Chapter 1

John walked the halls of his family’s underground home, completely safe, and protected from the chaos at the surface. He walked because he always thought more clearly when he walked.

It had taken some doing, and a lot of planning, and hard work, but he and the others had accomplished what they’d set out to do. They’d solved their problems, and someday soon, their families could return to the surface, at least for a time.

He had forgotten what the sun felt like as it warmed his body. Oh, the Virtual Reality systems were good, the families had made damn sure they would be. But they were only VR. Not real. The breeze was managed by a vast array of tiny fans That covered the walls, floors, and ceiling. The human eye could not see them, but they were there. Everywhere. They’d been carefully programmed, and crafted, and tuned, to cause the air in the VR room to flow, like it actually flowed on the surface.

It was the same with the sounds, the temperature, the weather, sunrise and sunset. Micro Electro Mechanical Systems technology at its best. At times, with the contact lenses in his eyes, he actually believed he was walking on a beach somewhere on the Atlantic seaboard. He could even smell the ocean air, and taste the salt on the breeze, and feel the sand as it blew along the ground.

It wasn’t real. But it was good enough. It helped him, and the others, remember what they were doing.

He thought of the chaos hundreds of feet above his head. The biological weapons God’s Army was using against its enemies. Weapons the families had designed, and provided, to God’s Army. How very simple they were, never questioning where the weapons came from, how their science teams developed them, or tested them. Yet unquestioningly they used them to kill millions.

The automated war machines of the American nation, unified against God’s Army. How they carpet bombed entire cities, entire countrysides, in a desperate effort to stop God’s Army. A desperate effort to survive. How they never questioned where those war machines came from, how they’d been developed, how they were so effective, so efficient, at killing. How the American nation used them relentlessly, desperately.

It was exactly as the families had planned. John smiled. It was a good management plan. Necessary for the growth of the families, and the recovery of the planet.

He found it striking how the humans drew no distinctions among themselves. How they all believed they were humans. One race. One species. It was as if they’d classified Orangutans, Chimpanzees, Monkeys, and Apes as one generic group, one branch of the tree of life. Classifying all humans as the same made no sense, and was anything but true.

The families knew. There were multiple branches of the human animal tree. Caucasian, Mongoloid, Negroid, and a few other, less populous branches. And despite how the human race claimed all were equal, and all belonged to a single species called Homo Sapiens, their behavior demonstrated it wasn’t true. The hatred, mistrust, and millennia long history of the human animal tree illustrated that. The endless enslavement of Negroids by Caucasians, The religious wars between Caucasians, and Mongoloids. The differences in Western and Eastern philosophy, and religion. The social differences between the species. They all provided clear evidence the human race, Homo Sapiens, didn’t exist.

The families had always happily let the races believe whatever they wished. They knew the truth.

The families had evolved. They’d left the tree. Become their own branch. The evolved, advanced, future humans. Much like the humans had evolved beyond the apes, the families had evolved beyond the humans.

In the families, everyone knew their purpose. The men ruled. Period. It was a genetic fact. The women ruled at the family level. Again, a genetic fact. Men had the chromosomes of strong group leadership. The genetics to rule. Women had the chromosomes of matriarchs, strong mothers who raised strong families.

In the families, everything made sense, everything happened for a reason. Marriages were always arranged. And always by men, for the leadership, and betterment of the families as a whole. Families were managed by women, always, for the growth, and strengthening of each family.

It was the natural order of life.

Men and women were not equal. Never had been. Never would be. They were two different beings. Each had different strengths, different gifts. It was for the best of all that those gifts, those abilities, be utilized properly.

John found it stupefying how the humans believed they were all equal. How each individual was of the same value, the same worth. It made no sense at all.

He arrived at the conference room. Its walls were covered in displays. Flexible Optical Light Emitting Diodes. Transparent. They could display anything. Pictures of the surface provided by orbiting satellites, and the automated machines the humans happily put to work everywhere.

It was time for the daily meeting, where the families assessed the progress of their plan, and refined its details. Determined if any specific actions needed to be taken on the surface to ensure their objectives were met.

Even the humans knew what it was. They had a name for it. Human Resource Management. John laughed at that, as he wondered how the humans couldn’t understand their own language, their own terms. Human Resource Management. The management of the human resource. It was right there, in all their marketing and business texts. Each of their companies had its own Human Resources branch. And still, the humans didn’t actually manage themselves. They’d watered down the entire concept, turning it into an employee mental health activity, more than a resource management activity.

He laughed again. Humans were shockingly stupid. And shockingly proud. And a near perfect resource.

John sat down at his conference table in the meeting room. It was time for the meeting to start. He wondered how the other families would react to his plan to correct the problem of the strong military presence in the Hampton Roads sector. That sector could not be allowed to escape unscathed. It had to be pruned, cleaned. The humans had severely overpopulated that sector, and were rapidly destroying all biological resources in it. It was time to correct that problem, and restore the balance of nature to that area.

John waited patiently for the conference to begin.

Example 3 : Television Sets.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were lots of TV sets that were made in the USA. Sets by General Electric, RCA, Zenith, Curtis Mathes, Marantz, Motorola, Sylvania. It’s a large list. Today, that list is much shorter, and includes very few names. Today, most TVs are made in other countries, then repackaged by a few US companies that sell them.

What happened?

I would say free and open markets, but that’s actually only part of the story. The other part is television broadcast signal standards, where the US was particularly stuck in the past.

As before, after World War II, Europe, and Asia, were rebuilding. This left Television manufacturers in the USA with limited competition. Cathode Ray Tube based TVs were limited, technologically. The way the CRTs worked, it was impractical to build anything over 32 to 36 inches diagonally, because the CRT weighed too much for a single person to move it.

Additionally, the US over the air broadcast standard was analog based, and limited television signals to using two 262 line images to make a single 525 line image. The broadcast speed further limited the number of images to 60 images per second. As it took two images to make a single 525 line picture on the TV screen, the broadcast signal was limited to 30 images per second.

Due to the broadcast standard, and to the lack of competition for Europe and Asia, US Television manufactures learned not to compete. They learned not to evolve their products. Not to improve their products. Not to develop new television technologies. There was no need for new technologies in the television market in the United States.

That started to change with the advent of personal computers. Many of the first personal computers attached to home TV sets. This limited their display systems to the US Television standard. 30 frames per second, composed of two interlaced frames, one with all the odd numbered lines, the other with all the even numbered lines.

With time that changed, as computers started requiring their own CRT displays. Those displays had higher resolution than the broadcast TV standard. Many of them also did away with the interlace screen images, and make each image contain the entire picture. 480 lines in a single image. Then 720 lines. The 1024 lines.

Then, Europe and Asia began developing a new television broadcast standard. One that used 1080 lines of image data. It also used a wider image.

Sensing that US Broadcast Television would be left behind, technologically, by the rest of the world, the US responded by matching the 1080 line broadcast specification. They also tried a 720 line image.

What happened next spelled the end of the US Television Manufacturing Industry. TV manufacturers in the US had never developed new display technology. They made CRTs. CRTs didn’t work well with the new 1080 line images, they could only display a section of such images. Modifying CRTs to work with the 1080 line images was expensive. New screens had to be made. New CRT guns had to be made. New, high density, RGB meshes had to be made, with smaller dots, more accurately aligned. Corresponding changes had to be made to the CRTs that drew the images. Those had to operate more precisely, aiming at smaller dots on the screens. They also had to work faster, drawing 4 times as many lines than they had drawn before.

In short, the CRTs had to be reinvented. All those manufacturing lines, all those machines that made the parts of a TV, had to be replaced, re-engineered, redesigned.

The Television manufacturers had to start over.

They tried. But they made all the wrong decisions. The Asian and European manufacturers had all been developing flat panel display systems that were digital. These systems didn’t have the same limits that CRT panels did. They drew entire lines at one time. They also were able to address single dots on the screen. And they did it all at 60 screens per second.

Once again, because the US television market had been a captive market, without competition from the outside, the US television manufacturers had learned to not invest in new technologies. They simply worked to improve, and maintain, their profit margins. There was no need to invest in new technologies. There was no need to improve the product. It was good enough. And it sold.

Until the TV broadcast standard changed, and suddenly, the US Television manufacturers found themselves hopelessly behind the manufacturers from Europe and Asia. The US manufacturers couldn’t compete.

And they got wiped out. Every last one of them.

Go ahead. Close the market. Make it where the US has to develop its own products. Make it where we have to by products made in the US. Just be aware of the truth that those products will be obsolete. That new technologies will not be developed in the US, because there will be no need for them. That products will not improve over time because there will be no need for them to improve.

Close the market. Isolate the US from the world. Just understand that you won’t be able to get new products that are available outside the US. That your TV won’t get any better. That the TV your children, and your grandchildren purchase, won’t be any better than the one you own.

That’s how protecting the market works. All you have to do is look at history. All you have to do is ask what happened to all those companies in the US that used to make television sets.

Example 2 : Chips.

Second in my continuing series of opinions, I’ll talk about semiconductors. The chips that are in everything. They are in our cars, or ovens, our dish washing machines, our washers and dryers, our lawn mowers, our electric power drills, our cell phones, our heating and cooling systems, our stereos and televisions. Chips are in everything.

Now, there is a chip shortage. No one anywhere can make enough chips. It’s a shortage that shuts down automobile manufacturing plants, and causes automobile manufacturers to sell cars that don’t have all their features, because the chips that enable those features can’t be obtained.

I can hear the endless screaming about how this wouldn’t be a problem if we made all the chips in the USA. We’d have all the chips we wanted.

Talk about not understanding how life works. Let me explain that “build it here!” problem.

Intel. The king of chips in the United States, is currently sinking 25 or more Billion dollars into chip fabrication facilities. 25 Billion. Here’s what all that money does. It makes Intel competitive with TSMC and Global Foundries. That’s it. That’s all it does. It doesn’t provide any capabilities that TSMC and Global Foundries are not already working on, or even trying to surpass. That 25 billion simply makes Intel competitive.

For the past 10 years, Intel has been stuck. Their chip manufacturing process has not improved. They’ve been stuck at the 14 nm manufacturing process, and just recently managed to get 10 nm process working, after years of effort. Meanwhile, TSMC and Global Foundries already have 4nm manufacturing process in place, and working, and are implementing 2nm processes. Intel’s grand plan for that 25 billion dollars of chip fabrication capability brings them into competition with TSMC and Global Foundries.

How did Intel get so far behind? Money. More accurately, stockholders, and company managers. Literally, Intel stopped investing in improving the chip fabrication process. There are multiple reasons the investment stopped. First, their chips were dominant in the market. They had no serious competition. AMD was viewed as a beginner chip for dirt cheap computers, that couldn’t match the performance of Intel systems in any way. ARM was no threat, at best, it was a chip for slow, battery powered, mobile devices.

Intel ruled. Intel could do what it wanted. Intel made the chips it wanted to make. It improved them in little steps, a tweak here, another tweak there. Just enough to keep the sales going. And, if you wanted the best chips, you bought Intel.

Where have we heard that line before? Something about American automobile manufactures owning the market, right?

Then, ARM expanded, and started showing up in everything, not just slow cell phones. Then, AMD made radical changes in the design of its chips. And ARM and AMD both teamed with TSMC, Global Foundries, and others, to produce their chips.

Suddenly, Intel didn’t have the best chips. And the market responded accordingly, with sales of AMD chips growing dramatically, and with customers abandoning Intel for AMD, or ARM (as Apple did).

This is exactly what happens when you own the market. You don’t have to compete. You don’t have to get better. You stagnate. Just like the US automobile manufacturers did.

Let me continue with this example, by throwing in China and Russia. China made big headlines yesterday, with a new ARM processor that has 128 processor cores, and is made on a 5nm fabrication process. That fabrication is performed by TSMC. And, just like that, China has a processor that is competitive on the global market. But, it’s very clear China does not manufacture the chip itself. That’s because China’s chip fabrication capabilities are currently only at the 14mn fabrication level. In other words, China can’t make the chip itself. It has to have someone else make the chip.

Russian semiconductor manufacturing may be more limited that China’s. It appears that the best Russian CPU is manufactured on a 28 nm process, and is no where near competitive with ARM, Intel, or AMD. For Russia to become competitive will require hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. Additionally, Russia will not likely be able to purchase some advanced manufacturing technologies on the global marketplace, and will have to manufacture and develop their own processes. This will take decades.

If we shut down the use of semiconductor manufactures that are not based in the US, as a means of protecting the US manufacturers, and as a means of guaranteeing our own supply of chips in adequate, we will very likely end up with an obsolete semiconductor manufacturing capacity that makes chips that would have been good one or two decades ago, and improvement to the manufacturing process would stop, like it did at Intel, because there would be no reason, and no need, to improve the process. There would be no competition.

It would be the end of Intel and AMD on the global market. It would limit them to the US market only. Maybe not at first. But over time, they would be surpassed, just like the semiconductor manufacturing sectors of Russia and China, which can not manufacture 5 nm chips.

Go ahead. Scream about how we need to develop our own chip manufacturing capacity here, in the US, so we can solve this chips shortage problem, and not be at the mercy of the international market for semiconductors. Then, watch as the US becomes unable to compete with other companies in the semiconductor marketplace, and ends up with chips that only exist in the US, and that do not have the performance or chips from TSMC, Global Foundries, and others.

Now, let me list some names that have gone into the history books, of what were once grand American companies that are now a fraction of what they used to be, or are gone completely.

International Business Machines.
Digital Equipment Corporation.
Honeywell.
UNIVAC,
NCR,
RCA,
General Electric.

Companies that, like Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, had no real competition. Until technology they didn’t develop left them all obsolete, and noncompetitive. IBM still exists, but it’s now mostly a niche company, specializing in really big computers, and in customized cloud computing. It is a shadow of the company it once was.

Look at the names. Learn what happened to them. Learn the stories of their collapses into history. Learn the ending to their stories. Now tell me again, why we have to have an isolated, US controlled semiconductor manufacturing capacity that will always be there for us, even if it means we can’t compete with anyone outside the captive US marketplace.

Example 1 : Cars.

Sometimes I want to throttle everyone that’s a “Nationalistic” kinda person. Because. They have totally missed the point of everything. Let me explain. Let me use lots of examples. This is going to be a series. I’ll start it with this note.

Example #1 : Cars.

Hate me all you want. But, following World War II, Europe, and Asia, made virtually no cars. Both parts of the world were tied up in repairing their countries, and rebuilding their nations. Entire cities were gone. Entire industries were wiped out.

South America, Africa, the Middle East, had no ability to build cars.

That left General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and a few others (predecessors to what we have today in the USA). American car manufacturers got to build what they wanted to build. Because, if you wanted a car, you bought what they sold. It was that simple.

The auto makers did not have to innovate. They did not have to worry about passenger safety. They did not have to worry about fuel economy. They did not have to worry about reliability. Because. If you wanted a car, you HAD to buy one from them. Period.

That changed in the 1970s. Especially in the late 1970s. That’s when Datsun, Toyota, and Honda virtually destroyed Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Because, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler could not compete with them. Could not build cars that got the same gas mileage. Could not build cars that were as reliable. Could not build cars that were as safe for their passengers. Could not build cars that provided all those features, all those advantages over American cars, at a price that was competitive with Datsun, Toyota, or Honda.

It resulted in a bloodbath for American automobile manufacturers. American Motors died out completely, with Chrysler buying its remains. General Motors bordered on bankruptcy, but managed to negotiate with the unions to stay in business. Ford did the same. Chrysler would have folded if not for a 9 billion dollar bailout from the US Government.

It all happened back in the 1970s, and 1980s, during the days of Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

Why did it happen? Because of isolationism in the car market. Because, for almost 40 years, the only cars in the US were from Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, with smaller players like American Motors Corporation. Because, those manufacturers only had each other to compete with, they had no other competitors.

They grew fat. They grew entrenched. They lived off the reality they could sell what they wanted. Because in the USA, if you wanted a car, you bought one from them.

Then, the market opened up, and imported cars arrived in the USA. When that happened, the consumers in the USA realized what junk the cars made by Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were.

It’s now closing in on 50 years later, and Chrysler is gone. The name exists, but it’s just a division of the Stellantis Corporation, which is primarily Fiat and Peugeot, both of which are European automobile manufacturers. General Motors is dramatically different. Pontiac and Oldsmobile are gone. Cars are virtually gone, with only a few models left. Ford is now a truck and SUV manufacturer, having admitted it can’t make money on cars.

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Hyundai, KIA, and others, own the car market. And they are investing heavily in the SUV and truck markets. It is these import car manufacturers that now determine the future of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Because they invest, continuously, in improving their products, and in developing new products, and new technologies.

Let me reiterate how this all happened.

The US automobile manufactures literally owned the US auto market for decades after World War II, with no competition from anyone outside of the US. Their only competition was each other. This resulted in the manufacturers becoming unable to innovate, unable to improve, unable to develop new technologies. They stopped growing, stopped evolving, because they had no reason to continue doing so.

They owned the market.

You can look further into the history of the US automobile manufacturers. As you look, you will notice they never made any significant sales in any Asian market. In Europe, they had to develop entire European divisions that ran separately from the US divisions, because the US cars did not sell in Europe. In South America, again, a similar story unfolded, with automobiles that sold in the US not selling well at all in South America.

But, that was all acceptable, because the automakers made so much money in the US, they didn’t have to worry about the rest of the world.

The result? The rest of the world passed the US Automobile Industry, and left it behind. And that industry has spent nearly 50 years trying to become competitive on the global market.

Now? Now, there are people who want to ban the imported cars. People who want Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, KIA, Volkswagen, and everyone else, banned from the US car market, as a means of forcing the US to develop its own manufacturing capability, and capacity.

These same people seem oblivious to the history of the automotive market since World War II. They seem oblivious to the truth that for decades, the US automobile manufactures were the only option US consumers had for purchasing a car. They seem oblivious to the documented history that the US automobile manufactures made awful cars, and had no interest, and no financial incentive, to improve those cars.

They seem completely clueless to what will happen if they close the US automobile market to everyone except US owned manufacturers. In the 1970s, when Toyota, Datsun, and Honda exploded on the US car marketplace, front wheel drive cars were an already fully developed technology. Transverse engines were an already fully developed technology. 4 valve per cylinder engines were already fully developed. The list continues for pages.

And none of those developed technologies was available in the United States. None of them. Because, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler had no reason to make them available. Because it cut into their profit margins to modify their assembly lines to support the use of those new technologies. Because the products they had were selling well, why mess with a successful product?

Today, if you, as a consumer in the United States, have a choice between a Ford Escape, or a BMW X5 SUV, which vehicle would you like to purchase? Why?

I’ve said enough. Let me close out example 1 by saying that this is what happens when you close off the market place in your country, to protect American jobs, American workers, and American companies. When you close off the market place in your country to make your country great again.

You end up doing everything but making your country great. You end up with a country that can’t compete, that has a trapped consumer market, that has no innovation, no advancement, no growth. You end up at a dead end. And the entire world leaves you behind.