Middle East Not Complicated

Here’s my review of AngloArabia:Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain, that I’ve also posted on Amazon.  In this review and other blog posts and reviews (noted below) I point out that oil–rather than religion, democracy, or anything else–is the driver of US policy in the region.

AngloArabia:Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain is a detailed yet eminently readable account of British sustenance of Gulf state monarchies in order to ensure the stability of global production and price of oil (and gas).  Although these brutal dictatorial regimes remain “reliant on the UK,” they depend “to a far greater extent on the US for their defense, even ultimately for their survival.” AngloArabia helps us understand that from the time of the British Empire to the present Middle East policies of Whitehall and Washington have always been “oil-centric.”  The Middle East is not complicated; it’s simple, it’s about oil (and gas).  It never has been, nor is it now, about Islam, democracy, or anything other than oil (and gas).

See also:

Dying to Forget and my Amazon review: “Oil, US’s Principle Goal in Middle East”

Addition to Blog Post “Religion, Oil, and the Middle East”

Religion, Oil, and the Middle East

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Internet+ Definition

Internet+ is the Internet plus attendant hardware (e.g., computers, smartphones, sensors, etc.) and attendant software (e.g., Google, the cloud, etc.)

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Internet+ Effects: Waining Interest in History and Increasing Awareness of the Present

There’s lots of whining about the waining interest in history.  None’s to blame for history’s decline in popularity and interest in history is not going to increase, no matter how shrill and numerous  the complaints and regardless of how many high-toned articles and books are written affirming the value of understanding the past.  We live in the Internet+ Age  and the technology of this Age drives the thoughts, behaviors, interests, and priorities of the people experiencing the Internet and attendant hard-and software. (The determinate, causative, force of technology is always the case.)

Internet+ people–that is, the people experiencing Internet+ technology; specifically,  those who grew up with the Internet  (Millennials) and those who grew up with smartphones (iGen’ers)–live in the present.  As a result of the effects of Internet+ technology, they’re less aware of what has occurred, of the past or history (or what might happen, the future) than they are of the current situation.  They evince an essentially, as McLuhan put it, “total involvement in an . . . inclusive nowness.”  This technologically driven extensive involvement in, and awareness of, the present precludes preference for, or interest in, looking back–or forward.

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Internet+ Age Emergence and Technology

The Internet+ Age evolved from “a . . . `new society,’ . . . the Internet, or, . . . `cyberspace’. . . . [that] emerged in the West. . . . in the mid-1990s”(p. 2). In these most-immediate-pre-Internet+ days, the growth of Internet usage, networking, and digital communication of ever-increasing amounts of information moving at very high speeds provided the necessary preconditions and impetus for emergence of the Internet+ Age about two decades later, around 2007. That was when many of the hard- and software products that distinguish The Internet+ Age broke through from their 1990s, and earlier, predecessors and began to permeate and dominate all of life:

Smartphones, specifically, Apple’s iPhone, was in announced 2007 (p. 19)
Facebook, “started to scale globally” in 2007 (p. 20)
Twitter “also started to scale globally” in 2007 (p. 20)
YouTube, built in 2005, was bought by Google in late 2006 (p. 20)
Android was “launched” in 2007 (p. 20)
Kindle was “released” in 2007 (p. 20)
• “[I]ntroduce[tion] of non-silicon materials . . . into microchips” occurred in 2007, thereby ensuring “the exponential growth in computing power” that might, it was thought at that time, be slowing down with traditional silicon microchips  (p. 21)
Sensors were miniaturization and widely used around 2007 (p. 3) (pp. (44-52)
The cloud “emerge[d]” in 2007 (p, 90)

On December 4, 2009, Google began to “use fifty-seven signals—everything from where you were logging in from to what browser you were using to what you had searched for before—to make guesses about who you were and what kinds of sites you’d like. . . . Google’s algorithms suggest . . . [what’s] best for you in particular. . . . [T]he era of personalization began. . . . December 4, 2009.” (pp. 2-3)

In 2011, Machine Learning (ML), another major component of The Internet+ Age, attained a notable level of advancement. That’s when IBM’s Watson “beat two human champions in a Jeopardy! competition.” (Wikipedia)  Moreover, developments in 2016 and 2017 (Google’s AlphaGo program, AlphaGoZero, and AlphaZero) exemplify additional improvements in this technology.  (Wikipedia)

Also in 2011, Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerged in a significantly advanced version in with Apple’s Siri, which uses “natural [ordinary] language to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions.” (Wikipedia)  AI is based on feedback. AI machines interact with the world, adapt to change, and pursue additional input. Whereas ML is reactive, AI is proactive. (Forbes)

The Internet of Things (IoT), another technological development of The Internet+ Age, was formally named in 1999, and by 2013-2014 the concept, “Internet of Everything (IoE)” evolved.

Blockchain is a major technological component of The Internet+ Age. In 2014 it became Blockchain 2.0 with expanded capabilities and applications. (Wikipedia) (Harvard Business Review)

Another major component of The Internet+ Age are mobile apps. In 2017 there were over 6 million apps available to smartphone users. (Statista)

Electricity is the most basic underlying technological development of The Internet+ Age. Without it there wouldn’t be electric communication; the essentially instant communication/information exchange, seen initially in the telegraph (1844), then in the telephone, the cell phone, television, the Internet, and most recently in the hard- and software of the Internet+ Age.(p. 33) (pp. 6-7)

As we increase our understand the technology of the Internet+ Age, what it is, its potential, and its effects on individuals, institutions and, actually, on all of society and the world, we increase our ability to advance our interests.

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Focus On The Present

We should focus on the present, rather than on the past.  We need to become more aware of our present situation and what we’re now experiencing.   This is contrary to Santayana’s dictum–“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”–and anathema to historians, the pros of the past, who would have us believe we can learn  from the past/history and be much the better for it.  But filling our minds with the past dulls the present, makes us stumble and fail.  In McLuhan’s words, when “we look at the present through a rear view mirror . . . we march backwards into the future.”

Here’s another comment by McLuhan on the important of a focus on the present:  “the favorite stance of literary man [e.g., Santayana, historians] has long been “to view with alarm” or “to point with pride,” while scrupulously ignoring what’s going on.”  Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, Critical Edition, pp. 269-70.

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Survey Research, Correlation, Causality, And Sex

Correlation is not causality.  Survey research can establish correlation (or,what’s   sometimes called a dependent relationship), but not causality. However, that does not stop askers and those who rely on answers to questions from saying that correlation is causality.  For example, the title of a Chicago Tribune article based on survey research affirms a causal relationship between marijuana use and sex: “Study Finds Marijuana Users Have Sex More Often.”  That’s causality; pot causes sex: “Regular marijuana users have about 20 percent more sex than abstainers.”  But maybe not causality but, rather correlation/dependency: “the study . . . found . . . a . . . `dependent relationship’ between marijuana use and sex frequency. . . . “The study does not . . . indicate a causal relationship between marijuana use and sex.”  But maybe not correlation but, rather, as the article concludes, causality: “Nevertheless, . . . a causal effect could be a work here.”

Here are my conclusions from this mish-mash:

If you want to find out about marijuana use, don’t ask.

If you want to find out about sex, don’t ask.

Actually, if you want to find out about anything, don’t ask.

See also Survey Research and Sex and The Problem with Survey Research.




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Internet+ Effects Irresistible

Effects of Internet+ (that is, effects of the Internet plus smartphones, Google, cloud computing, sensors, and other attendant hard- and software) are irresistible, cannot be overcome, largely because these effects are invisible to us; we’re not aware of what they’re doing to us, not aware that they’re “massaging. . . . us over completely” (The Medium Is The Massage).  But regardless of why Internet+ effects are irresistible, the more important point is that that the are irresistible.  Here’s McLuhan’s statement on the irresistibility of technology’s effects: “The spiritual and cultural reservations that . . . people . . . may have toward our technology will avail them not at all.  The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinion [survey researchers can’t help us] and concepts [nor can philosophers], but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without resistance.

What to do? what to do?  Answer:  Focus on  effects of Internet+ on us and on our institutions (governments, banks, etc.), processes/procedures/activities (politics, elections, decision making, etc).  This is to say, identify and seek to understand the effects of Internet+ on our individual psyches and behaviors and on our situation/environment.  Ignore the content of Internet+; that is, ignore the meaning of what’s on the Internet, such as the meaning/content of Facebook feeds, the Trumper’s and the Pope’s Tweets–yes (but after you read it) the content of this blog post.  The medium itself, not its content, is the message, is the massage!  The medium, not it’s content, is working us over!  Focus on what Internet+ (not its contents) is doing to us and, actually, to the world.

For more of my posts on the Internet, Internet+, and related matters, type internet into the Search box at the top right of this page.

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