2018, The Best Worst Year

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Some start their Christmas in October, but for many, that feeling of festivity begins around now. It kind of dawns on all, quite suddenly, that a year is about gone.

2018 can have many names that apply to this space and more generally. The year of frustration would be appropriate, with the Brexit mess, a stagnant or falling stock market, Trump’s inability to deliver on his promise of a business friendly environment, China’s unwillingness to work with the west on a level playing field, Russia’s continued 20th century attitudes of aggression, and in Arabia, the assassination of a journalist.

It’s as if this year all questioned where they are and where they are going. The year of transformation, thus, may be more appropriate. Britain has suddenly realized they just have no clue what relationship they want with Europe. Do they want to be close, or at arm’s length. Friends or just neighbors? Maybe the whole Brexit win was a mistake, the exception to prove the usual wisdom of the crowd. Yet even if so, the euro area is now different from EU. Brexit or no Brexit, Britain still needs to decide just what is their role and who are their best buddies.

Trump we see as a chained lion. Able to roar and does sometime so, but surrounded by hyaenas keen to jump at any point. That makes us both like him and not like him. What he, and more importantly America, has probably realized this year is that the question of immigration is in fact quite complex.

The ability to freely travel across the world is quite a nice idea. The bringing up of walls like centuries long gone, is not. Finding the right balance between gated countries and the benefits of freedom is no easy task for anyone.

China amazes and repulses. The people, of course, are the same as everywhere else. Entrepreneurial, hard working, keen for the comforts of life. Their government policy towards the west in particular, however, has been what we would call nationalist. That may have given Trump his America First excuse, but if everyone is for themselves, then we’re in the jungle of the last century.

The human race has reached a certain level of education and knowledge, a certain level of moral compass, whereby we all know that to work fairly together is far better than otherwise and if one cheats they do so at their own loss as well as others.

In short, to cheat is idiotic in an objective way. The cheater may gain a bit temporarily, but less even in the short term than had he behaved honestly, and far less in the long term in addition to the risk of reaction by the honest ones or punishment.

It is not clear whether China’s government has learned that lesson. As long as they fail to show they have, it is difficult for us to forgive them for they have locked us out of the manufacturing base we have created, especially Shenzhen and what appeared to be an organic Makers movement that could have delivered fascinating stories regarding IoT and so on.

Not much “real” information comes from China, but we’d ask them to open the doors. That’s a debate they have been having, hopefully to the enlightenment of all.

Of Putin we stand in disappointment. We hoped and still do hope that Russia can become a European country that is friendly with its neighbors and even more than friendly.

Spheres of influence create isolated islands when the globe is itself an island. There is no land that belongs to any people, the whole world belongs to all people. Perhaps thus we can dream of a day when we outgrow this tribalism, or nationalism, and work towards as well as defend global peace at almost any cost.

Yet what clearly looked like fake and constant coughing by Putin during his first conference with Trump, presumably as a cheating tactic to make Trump and the audience uncomfortable when he wanted to, showed that perhaps it isn’t quite the west at fault or unwilling to work.

It is unclear how many world wars are needed to learn a simple lesson: geopolitics is of the devil. There is no Russian or American, there is a people. There is no real gain at the expense of others at this civilized stage, there’s only real gain when it benefits both.

Of Arabia, it appears the crown prince faces a very difficult task of restoring a pretty damaged reputation. This is the only region on earth still embroiled in war. Even in Africa, the guns have fallen silent.

The complexities of the Middle East are somewhat simple to understand. Imaginary borders are imaginary. Bringing us back to that concept that cheating does not benefit even the cheater, even in the short term, but certainly not in the long term.

People of the same culture, even families, find themselves in different sides of some fictitious line. Divided, they subjugated, until the young get angry and we learn for the trillionth time just why cheating doesn’t work.

The solution to Arabia, and by that we mean the entire region including Iran and Israel, is the European model.

If this was more of a general paper we would have probably named Merkle as the person of the year. What Germany has done for Europe in particular deserves the Nobel peace prize for a continent that even near the beginning of this millennium was at war, now is not only at peace, but is prospering.

Even the poorest European countries, like Albania or Macedonia, are now relatively reasonably prosperous. Something of a miracle for half of an entire continent, some 250 million people, have been raised to near first world standards in just a decade.

Some might say that was at the expense of richer countries, like Italy, but it was the Italian people who voted for Berlusconi and his near two decades of bunga bunga, not Eastern Europe.

Their failure to put their own house in order has no bearing on the miracle of this millennium so far. That’s shown by Spain doing better than Italy. That’s also shown by France, Germany, much of northern Europe and much of all Europe now rising as a beacon of hope for the entire world.

If it worked there, it can work anywhere for no other continent has such deep tribal wounds as does Europe.

For those lucky to have at least one grandparent still alive who witnessed the poisoned fruits of nationalism last century, Queen Elizabeth the Second may well be their embodiment.

We wish her a very long life, but necessarily at that age life is no longer long. Her passing, when she does, will be a closing of a chapter. An end of an era and the beginning of a new one.

2018 may well have been the year of preparations for that beginning. The millennials are now themselves parents. Some run countries. Their parents are now the grandparents.

It would perhaps be obtuse to suggest all this disruption and these structural changes we have witness are due to the millennials. Yet, in many ways, this generation is now in charge.

The aim is now clear. Peace first and foremost, in all nations and in the entire world. Cooperation above conflict, fairness above cheating, humans above imaginary lines.

Nice words that in practice translate to empty ones, hence the challenge. It is knowledge that lifts man and turns him from a caterpillar into a butterfly. The greatest humanitarian cause, therefore, might be a mass translation of primarily English textbooks and studies into all languages, especially the main ones.

With the permeation of the internet now in all corners, its effect may well be a second or third world version of the invention of the printing press. That being a new enlightenment.

Teach them how to fish and they can fish themselves perhaps better than the teacher. Open the doors of knowledge and you have a very capable civilized man or woman.

That would require much resources and it is organically occurring, with the second aim being a greater focus on positive developments rather than negative ones. The food of the mind shouldn’t be poisoning.

A grand theme would be useful to explain the meaning of life and to effectively upgrade religion to keep its good parts while making it fit for our enlightened times. Ours is somewhat simple.

Energy can not be created nor destroyed. Energy, thus, always was and always will be. Nothing does not exist in real terms for no scientist has been able to find “real” nothing. Making nothing a concept. Something thus always was, making something “real.” As such, god is a metaphor for energy.

As energy will always be, then in a long enough time frame of infinity, it must be the case that the atoms which currently make us will once again combine in roughly the same way. Meaning we will probably live again.

If we do, then it is probable we will have no “real” memory, but there may be a condensed version of it through the DNA.

Hell and heaven are both on this earth. Not in the exaggerated way told by the old, but the slums of Calcutta are not far from hell, while the pleasures of the Maldives are not far from heaven.

Both are relative terms. Thus one doesn’t need the slums of Calcutta to “need” a hell. If Calcutta becomes the Maldives, then there will be some other place that is closer to heaven.

As we will return again, it is rational to aim for all places to be as close to heaven as possible. A perfect heaven, however, will never be reached, but we may get fairly close to it and closer and closer indefinitely.

From that derive all the other wisdoms of religion. Love thy neighbor and so on. Because effectively the good actions of anyone take all of us closer to heaven on earth. The intentional murder of anyone, thus, is the greatest crime for they might have gotten us all closer to heaven than anyone else.

The above does effectively provide much of what religion gives, but in a more objective way and in a more modern way that does away with some of the unnecessary constraints of old religions.

One can imagine a flashing out of it and even perhaps a weekly gathering where people discuss knowledge with someone perhaps reading something interesting or whatever. So turning religion into a means of mass factual education.

Obviously facts can be subject to opinion, but there are ways of objectively knowing something.

To end this objective explanation of metaphorized religion hidden here under a somewhat unrelated title, energy has to face entropy. Our aim thus is to beat entropy by learning more and more and by becoming so advanced to the point we can perhaps even stop entropy.

The above is probably the rational conclusion one would reach if they spent time studying religion and much else. It does take some level of belief, and there may be plenty of ifs and buts in the detail, but overall it makes sense and more importantly allows us to gain some level of certainty and some sort of direction.

That brings us to ethereum, one of the most recent advancement of civilization. The world computer has in many ways reflected the transformations in the wider world with 2018 being the best worst year.

Worst because there were certain delays and some confusion on eth’s direction and ability to achieve its aims. Best because they appear to have gotten their house in order and have now laid out some interesting plans to speed up eth and this space.

“We’re close to 100%” focused on scalability, Vitalik Buterin, Chief Scientist at the Ethereum Foundation, said. Some (10x) scaling might arrive by this summer. Then sharding and so on to get it to world level scaling.

More widely in the crypto space there’s now general regulatory certainty with the elected generally supporting what they see as a very innovative ecosystem.

That frees us to build all the things, with 2019 looking like a very busy year as the structural work of 2018 hopefully starts paying off.

Now if you made it this far it is worth mentioning these pages will slow down during the festive period as you may have already noticed. That’s to allow all to enjoy the yearly ritual without the daily “ordinary” developments.

Copyrights Trustnodes.com and Andrew Quentson

 

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Angela

Great article. There’s a typo in the surname of Angela Merkel.