The advertising glut dooms the social media industry

Summary:  The internet is a mirror in which we can see important aspects of America. Businesses funded by speculation (greed) struggle to survive in an era of few opportunities and falling investment, while high technology and rising inequality reshape America. The social media stocks are in this maelstrom, as virtual advertising space grows faster than their audience and advertisers dollars. Publishers grow desperate, try ever more intrusive ads. Few will survive.

Bubble cloud

Contents

  1. The race for internet revenue.
  2. Speculation.
  3. Inequality.
  4. Analysis of the ad-supported internet.
  5. For More Information.
  6. Great books about bubbles.

(1)  The race for revenue on the internet

The evolution of the internet is best seen in terms of what pays for it: banner ads, then pop-up ads, then auto-run video ads, and now “integrating” the content with the advertisements (these tends often end by debasing the product). It is an evolution to increasingly intrusive ads, forcing people to either spend more of their time killing the ads — or installing ad blockers (which are in a Red Queen race with the developers of ad technology).

Don’t blame the managers of these companies. That’s as foolish as blaming airlines for the poor service that accompanies the cheap fares we demand. We don’t pay for most of the information and many of the services we get on the internet. As Andrew Lewis said: “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” So we have no grounds to complain.

The managers know the futility of this race they’re locked into, but they’re desperate.

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The Cult of the offense returns: why we’re losing the long war, & how to win

Summary: We cannot escape history. It offers lessons to guide us. It’s deployed as propaganda to mislead us. Successful strategy requires distinguishing between the two. Our long war, so far a series of defeats, provides examples of both. We can do better in the future if only we’d pay attention.

“As we shall show, defense is a stronger form of fighting than attack. … I am convinced that the superiority of the defensive (if rightly understood) is very great, far greater than appears at first sight.”
— Clausewitz’s On War, Book 1, Chapter 1.

 

Contents

  1. The Cult of the Offense Returns.
  2. The allure of a losing strategy.
  3. Learning from the Revolution.
  4. For More Information.
  5. Clausewitz gets the last word.

 

(1)  The Cult of the Offense Returns

A reader brought to my attention Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History by the late scholar John David Lewis (2010). It’s an excellent example of history as political propaganda, of the kind Victor David Hanson deployed to build support for our defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan (e.g., Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power). The genre uses cherry-picked examples overlaid with moralism, telling a story made convincing by lavish use of historical detail to tell one side of the story.

Lewis advocates unceasing belligerence to our foes, always attacking. It’s a commonplace in history, often leading to ruin. It’s become the geopolitical strategy of American neoconservatives, ignoring lessons from American history about the frequent superiority of defense over offense.

De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace et la Patrie sera sauvée!” (Audacity, more audacity, always audacity and the Fatherland will be saved!)

— George Danton in a speech to the Assembly of France on 2 September 1792. He was the first President of the Committee of Public Safety. The radical Jacobins on the Committee took his advice, sent him to the guillotine for “leniency” to the enemies of the Revolution, and audaciously soaked the Revolution in blood — wrecking it.

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Stratfor: what the Iran deal means for oil prices

Summary: Here Stratfor discusses one of the big economic and geopolitical questions about the Iran deal, much more important the deal’s effect on Iran’s conjectural nuclear program (30 years of a nuke coming really soon). Low prices have depressed the economies of key nations such as Russia and the Gulf States (plus oil-producing areas of the US). If new oil from southern Iraq and Iran depresses oil prices even more we might see some shocks of a kind unimaginable in the heady days of $100 oil.

Stratfor

How the Iran Deal Will Affect Oil Markets in the Short Term
Stratfor, 16 July 2015

The nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers will naturally have consequences for global oil markets as Iran, the world’s third-largest oil producer before the Iranian Revolution, eventually exports more oil. Prior to the implementation of sanctions in 2012, Iran was a major crude oil and condensate exporter to Asia, Europe and others — in fact, exports totaled 2.6 million barrels per day in 2011. Today, that figure has fallen by almost 600,000 bpd to Europe and another 600,000 bpd to Asia. Iranian exports now hover closer to 1.4 million bpd, 1 million bpd of which is crude oil.

The July 14 deal paves the way for sanctions to be relaxed by early 2016, enabling anyone to buy oil from Iran. While Iran maintains that it can increase oil production by 500,000 to 600,000 bpd within one month of the removal of sanctions and increase exports to 2.5 million bpd within three months, Stratfor sees these figures as overly optimistic. Iran does, however, have at least 35 million barrels of crude oil and condensate in storage that it could use to increase exports in the interim before its oil production rises again. 2016, consequently, will likely be another year where a healthy oil supply tamps down any oil price recovery.

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Attacks by Muslims in America start a new phase in our long war

Summary: The recent surge in attacks by Muslims in America mark a new phase in our long war, one long predicted and potentially horrific. We have run wild killing at will in the Middle East. Here are some thoughts about the consequences of this inevitable blowback.

Flames of War Propaganda Video

 

Contents

  1. Blowback.
  2. Escalation.
  3. Muslim violence.
  4. For More Info.
  5. Preparation.

(1)  Blowback

Slowly, a new phase in our long war has begun. While we continue operations in Afghanistan, reenter Iraq, look for ways to get involved in Syria in Ukraine, and expand our involvement in Africa — the blowback I (and many others) predicted has begun with attacks in the “homeland”. On Thursday morning Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez (24) shot four U.S. Marines at a military recruiting center and a Navy training reserve center in Chattanooga, TN. It wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last.

On 1 June 2009, Carlos Bledsoe killed 23-year-old Pvt. William Long and wounded 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula at an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas. The best-known case is, of course, Maj. Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 and wounded 32 at Fort Hood, TX, on 5 November 2009. Since then there have been other attacks by Muslims on members of western military forces.

This year has seen a pick-up in our foe’s activities in America. In April Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud was indicted for planning to attack a (unstated) US military base. Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud planned to attack a base in Texas.  Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed 4 Marines and a Navy sailor at Chattanooga TN. Glen Greenwald describes other attacks

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Martin van Creveld: Our armies become pussycats, part 1

Summary:  The revolution in military affairs continues, silently and invisibly. Our hardware-obsessed military and its fanboys see only tools while the nature of war itself evolves. Previous posts looked at the increased role of women and children. Here Martin van Creveld looks at another fundamental change.

Army Strong

 

Pussycats – Part I

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 21 May 2014

Here with his generous permission

For several decades now, Western armed forces — which keep preening themselves as the best-trained, best organized, best equipped best led, in history — have been turned into pussycats. Being pussycats, they went from one defeat to the next.

True, in 1999 they did succeed in imposing their will on Serbia. But only because the opponent was a small, weak state (at the time, the Serb armed forces, exhausted by a prolonged civil war, were rated 35th in the world); and even then only because that state was practically defenseless in the air. The same applies to Libya in 2011. Over there, indigenous bands on the ground did most of the fighting and took all the casualties. In both cases, when it came to engaging in ground combat, man against man, the West, with the U.S at its head, simply did not have what it takes.

On other occasions things were worse still. Western armies tried to create order in Somalia and were kicked out by the “Skinnies,” as they called their lean but mean opponents. They tried to beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, and were kicked out. They tried to impose democracy (and get their hands on oil) in Iraq, and ended up leaving with their tails between their legs. The cost of these foolish adventures to the U.S alone is said to have been around 1 trillion — 1,000,000,000,000 — dollars. With one defeat following another, is it any wonder that, when those forces were called upon to put an end to the civil war in Syria, they and the societies they serve preferred to let the atrocities go on?

By far the most important single reason behind the repeated failures is the fact that, one and all, these were luxury wars. With nuclear weapons deterring large-scale attack, for seven decades now no Western country has waged anything like a serious, let alone existential, struggle against a more or less equal opponent. As the troops took on opponents much weaker than themselves — often in places they had never heard about, often for reasons nobody but a few politicians understood — they saw no reason why they should get themselves killed.

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False rape accusations tell us something important about America

Summary: The changes in America are often easily seen in the news, if read analytically (rather than as entertainment). Read about the latest false accusation of rape to see not just a gripping story of injustice and eventual vindication — but also an important trend affecting America.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“I interviewed the victim twice, and I believed her.”
— District Attorney Denise Lunsford, explains why she ignored evidence showing that Mark Weiner was innocent (from Slate).

Justice lying down

In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird all-white jury convicts an innocent black man of raping a white woman in a small 1930s southern town, despite the efforts his lawyer who defies the town’s lynch-mob mentality and proves the victim’s story to be false. It’s a new century, a sequel has just come out — and we have a new surge of men being falsely convicted of rape despite the evidence.

The latest example is Mark Weiner, who on a rainy day gave a woman a ride to her home — ending in a sentence of eight years in jail for abducting a woman with the intent to sexually harm her. There was almost no evidence of his guilt, and considerable exculpatory evidence (some of which was not disclosed to his attorney), but that does not matter to the true believers who increasingly run America. This happened in Charlottesville, home of the infamous fake rape publicized in last November’s Rolling Stone.

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A great sociologist explains the logic of our wars: “crackpot realism”

Summary: Every day brings forth a new tide of analysis about events. Yet world dynamics change only slowly, and instead of new clickbait we should look at old insights that we have not learned. Such as this explanation of US grand strategy by the late great sociologist C. Wright Mills: the “crackpot realism” of our leaders. Written at the peak of the cold war, it aptly describes the logic of our mad wars since 9/11. The real fools are, of course, those who blindly follow such leaders.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“The view that all is blind drift is largely a fatalist projection of one’s own feeling of impotence and perhaps … a salve of one’s guilt.”
— From C. Wright Mill’s “The Power Elite” (1956).

Mills' Causes of WWIII

 

From C. Wright Mills’

The causes of World War Three (1958)

 

… Among both {the USSR and USA}, there are “war parties” and “peace parties,” and among both there are what can be called crackpot realists. These are men who are so rigidly focused on the next step that they become creatures of whatever the main drift — the opportunist actions of innumerable men — brings. They are also men who cling rigidly to general principles. The frenzied next step plus the altogether general principle equal U. S. foreign policy.

In crackpot realism, a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands. In fact, the main content of “politics” is now a struggle among men equally expert in practical next steps — which, in summary, make up the thrust toward war — and in great, round, hortatory principles. But without any program.

Programs require that next steps be reasonably linked with principled images of a goal. To act toward goals requires that the next step be consciously worked out in terms of its consequences, and that these consequences be weighed and valued in terms of the goal. Lacking a program, the opportunist moves short distances among immediate and shifting goals. He reacts rather than inaugurates, and the directions of his reactions are set less by any goals of his own than by the circumstances to which he feels forced to react out of fear and uneasiness.

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