The Book of Genesis relates the story of a time when the whole world shared a same language. With this common language the people of Babel attempted to build a towering system to reach heaven. The account reveals that by divine design, or a mysterious ingrained mechanism, no single earthly power gets away with building a totalitarian system: In biblical terms, of playing God. As soon as an earthly power does, there is a built-in mechanism that sets in motion a dynamic to destabilize any tyrannical endeavor. The story shows that the Lord’s intervention stopped the evil plan. It resulted in the creation of multiple languages and eventually division leading to growing confusion, protectionism and economic chaos in the world.
The definition of language does not limit itself to human speech, but to any signs or codes used as means of communication between two or more entities. One example of a global language consists of codes making up the hypertext markup language (html, http, etc) that allows computers and other devices to communicate between each other in order to create the World Wide Web’s interfaces. These codes are subliminal, they are nonetheless a language. Unfortunately, the development of this omnipresent language has made it possible for earthly powers to play god to monitor the whole world and control the people of the planet.
The Unfolding Schism
The Web became the most pervasive communication interface in the world. Unfortunately the WWW has been hijacked by a few big technocratic bodies. However, its global popularity does not mean that other protocols like quantum Internet could not be developed and adopted by varied institutions and states in the future.
Computers today use a binary system of 0s and of 1s in order to function, whereas quantum Internet uses a new language using qubits (or quantum bits) to communicate. Unlike bits, qubits are either fussy 0s or fuzzy 1s, a combination of both states, or a “superposition of states”. The novel quantum leap will bypass the current World Wide Web and inaugurate a new world of communication.
Timing is everything. And necessity is the mother of invention.
What we need to do is reinvent the Net. We have to rethink the Net.
PS: The image above represents a work of art by Marta Minujín, appropriately entitled Tower of Babel. The structure stands seven stories high. It is located in Plaza San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The piece of art is made of a collection of 30,000 books written in different languages donated from 50 countries.
Just 23% of pregnant women in the US have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Only something like 11.1% have been fully vaccinated.
The CDC is seeking to drive these numbers up, but it is not doing the one thing that would, perhaps more than anything else, assuage the “hesitations” of these so-called “anti-vaxxers”: investigate and explain widespread reports of menstrual disruption post-Covid 19 vaccine – and, if necessary, add a warning about it.
I have five female friends who, after receiving Covid-19 vaccines, experienced disruption to their menstrual cycles. Their symptoms have included hemorrhagic bleeding lasting more than a month; heavy intermittent bleeding for four months; passing golf-ball size clots of blood; and extreme cramping, serious enough to land one friend in the ER.
Most of these women are in their 20s and 30s, and at least one of them thinks she might want to have children. She now worries that her symptoms might be the harbinger of long-term fertility problems. At least two of my friends have symptoms that have not resolved. All are feminists and have throughout the years been consistent Democratic Party voters…
To a casual reader, this may seem like a dry bit of industrial policy, but woven into the new order is a revolutionary idea that has rocked the antitrust world to its very foundations.
The Paradox of Antitrust
US antitrust law has three pillars: the Sherman Act (1890), the Clayton Act (1914), and the FTC Act (1914). Beyond their legal text, these laws have a rich context, including the transcripts of the debates that the bills’ sponsors participated in, explaining why the bills were written. They arose as a response to the industrial conglomerates of the Gilded Age, and their “robber baron” leaders, whose control over huge segments of the economy gave them a frightening amount of power.
Despite this clarity of intent, the True Purpose of Antitrust has been hotly contested in US history. For much of that history, including the seminal breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in 1911, the ruling antitrust theory was “harmful dominance.” That’s the idea that companies that dominate an industry are potentially dangerous merely because they are dominant. With dominance comes the ability to impose corporate will on workers, suppliers, other industries, people who live near factories, even politicians and regulators.
The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 saw the rise of a new antitrust theory, based on “consumer welfare.” Consumer welfare advocates argue that monopolies can be efficient, able to deliver better products at lower prices to consumers, and therefore the government does us all a disservice when it indiscriminately takes on monopolies.
Consumer welfare’s standard-bearer was Judge Robert Bork, who served as Solicitor General in the Nixon administration. Bork was part of the conservative Chicago School of economics, and wrote a seminal work called “The Antitrust Paradox.”
TheAntitrust Paradox went beyond arguing that consumer welfare was a better way to do antitrust than harmful dominance. In his book, Bork offers a kind of secret history of American antitrust, arguing that consumer welfare had always been the intention of America’s antitrust laws, and that we’d all been misled by the text of these laws, the debates surrounding their passage, and other obvious ways of interpreting Congress’s intent.
Bork argued the true goal of antitrust was protecting us as consumers—not as citizens, or workers, or human beings. As consumers, we want better goods and lower prices. So long as a company used its market power to make better products at lower prices, Bork’s theories insisted that the government should butt out.
This is the theory that prevailed for the ensuing 40 years. It spread from economic circles to the government to the judiciary. It got a tailwind thanks to a well-funded campaign that included a hugely successful series of summer seminars attended by 40 percent of federal judges, whose rulings were measurably impacted by the program.
Morning in America
Everyone likes lower prices and better products, but all of us also have interests beyond narrow consumer issues. We live our days as parents, spouses, friends—not just as shoppers. We are workers, or small business owners. We care about our environment and about justice and equity. We want a say in how our world works.
Competition matters, but not just because it can make prices lower or products better. Competition matters because it lets us exercise self-determination. Market concentration means that choices about our culture, our built environment, our workplaces, and our climate are gathered into ever-fewer hands. Businesses with billions of users and dollars get to make unilateral decisions about our lives. The larger a business looms in our life, the more ways it can hurt us.
The idea that our governments need to regulate companies beyond the narrow confines of “consumer welfare” never died, and now, 40 years on, it’s coming roaring back.
The FTC’s new chair, Lina Khan, burst upon the antitrust scene in 2017, when, as a Yale Law student, she published Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, a devastating rebuke to Bork’s Antitrust Paradox, demonstrating how a focus on consumer welfare fails to deliver, even on its own terms. Khan is now one of the nation’s leading antitrust enforcers, along with fellow “consumer welfare” skeptics like Jonathan Kanter (now helming the Department of Justice Antitrust Division) and Tim Wu (the White House’s special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy).
Bombshells in the Fine Print
The Biden antitrust order is full of fine detail; it’s clear that the president’s advisors dug deep into competition issues with public interest groups across a wide variety of subjects. We love to nerd out on esoteric points of competition law as much as the next person, and we like a lot of what this memo says about tech and competition, but even more exciting is the big picture stuff.
When the memo charges the FTC with policing corporate concentration to prevent abuses to “consumer autonomy and consumer privacy,” that’s not just a reassurance that this administration is paying attention to some of our top priorities. It’s a bombshell, because it links antitrust to concerns beyond ensuring that prices stay low.
We get it, this is esoteric, technical stuff. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in 30 years’ fighting for a better digital future, it’s that all the important stuff starts out as dull, technical esoterica. From DRM to digital privacy, bossware to broadband, our issues too often rise to the level of broad concern once they’ve grown so harmful that everyone has to pay attention to them.
We are living through a profound shift in the framework that determines what kinds of companies are allowed to exist and what they’re allowed to do. It’s a shift for the better. We know nothing is assured. The future won’t fix itself. But this is an opportunity, and we’re delighted to seize it.
But it’s time to stop being willfully blind. With Big Tech’s wealth and power has come tremendous arrogance. There is a sense that society should be reshaped in its image – that we should all be prepared to move faster, work harder, and disrupt anything and everything. But the truth is that Big Tech answers to us – the people. The United States is in danger of becoming an oligopoly run by the wealthiness and most connected, and all to often we feel powerless to change the rules by which companies operate. We need to shake off that feeling of impotence and understand that we can make the rules of the digital economy and society what we want and need them to be. What’s more the stakes are too high for us not to do that…
Big Tech’s size and scale and speed have made it difficult to track and control. But we are beginning to understand exactly what we’ve given up to get all the bright and shiny new things that we have. No new technology remains unchanged, or keeps its hold over the public forever. The railroads once appeared to be an unstoppable force, until wise public officials put them in service to the broader economy rather than merely the robber barons who founded them…
Debbie W., Richmond, CA
Extremely Interesting Read. Deeply researched account of the symbols om the US dollar.
I’ve always been curious about the symbols on the one dollar bill and the little book explains them well. Highly recommend this read.
Peter O., Santa Fe, NM
Good and entertaining… This book is full of historical facts about the symbols on the dollar. You won’t be bored reading it. The author keeps delivering relevant info till the end. And once you’re done reading the book, you’ll never look at the dollar the same way again.
L. K. M., Seattle, WA
Great read! Extremely well researched writing of the history, symbols and makeup of the US currency.
After reading the book you will love the tender you exchange everyday. Highly recommend.
R. S., Santa Monica, CA
Well researched book on the symbols of our currency. Very interesting and revealing aspects behind the history of our currency.
Joanne A., Novato, CA
Everything you ever wanted to know about the one dollar bill. This book explains all the symbols on the one dollar. Who knew it was so detailed? Very interesting!
M.J.B., San Diego, CA
Great Read! Well researched, packed with interesting facts about the US dollar. Quick read.
Carl L., San Francisco, CA
If you’re curious as to how the symbols found on the US dollar came to be, look no further than
Michael Rizzotti’s well researched book. In addition to providing the reader with the history and context, the author expands on related subjects such as the Federal Reserve and the dollar’ s evolution to becoming the reserve currency of the world. All in all, a good, well written read.
Ricky I., Palm Desert, CA
Interesting and Detailed. A unique and well researched explanation and interpretation of the symbols we have all seen on ou US dollar. Mr. Rizzotti vividly introduces us to the history of the symbols; and quite interesting interpretations on how and or why these symbols were included on the dollar.