В чем сила?

По данным опросов, россияне не уважают тех, кто умеет «зарабатывать деньги», и не любят тех, у кого они есть. При этом сами предпринимать ничего не хотят.

От редакции LJ MEDIA
Mūsu sabiedrībā nav citādāk. Visvairāk ir kritizētāju un nosodītāju. Zinošu padomdevēju ir mazāk. Darītāju ir pavisam maz. Tas ir kultūras mēms, pāri kuram spēj pacelties tie, kam pagadījušies darītāja gēni un ārējie apstākļi. Un vēl tie, kas apzinās savu mantojumu.
Bet ir vēl sarežģītāk. Daudzi ir darītāji pēc pārliecības un aicinājuma, bet … viņi labāk neprot. Un tā iznāk, ka tie kritizētāji viņus kritizē pamatoti. Bet … paši spēj un prot vēl mazāk. Izeja, risinājums? Klusēt un darīt. Un vērtēt sevi pēc padarītā. I.V.
Avots: http://nikitskij.livejournal.com/700297.html?media
Posted in Contemporary Society Problems | Leave a comment

Daniel Dennett: ‘The whole singularity stuff is distracting us from more pressing problems

We’re only just starting to wake up to the potential outcomes of the technology that we’re inventing but increasingly don’t understand. Human co-operation and trust aren’t givens. They’re the byproducts of a cultural process that can be reversed. And civilisation is far, far more fragile than any of us want to realise.

The real danger that’s facing us is we’ve lost respect for truth and facts. People have discovered that it’s much easier to destroy reputations for credibility than it is to maintain them. It doesn’t matter how good your facts are, somebody else can spread the rumour that you’re fake news. We’re entering a period of epistemological murk and uncertainty that we’ve not experienced since the middle ages.

Maybe people will now begin to realise that philosophers aren’t quite so innocuous after all. Sometimes, views can have terrifying consequences that might actually come true. I think what the postmodernists did was truly evil. They are responsible for the intellectual fad that made it respectable to be cynical about truth and facts. You’d have people going around saying: “Well, you’re part of that crowd who still believe in facts.”

But in your latest book, you ask if civilisation can fail and conclude that it can. You say there’s a huge and present danger because the modern world has become too complex to fix. Does that have a different resonance now than when you wrote it?
I suppose it does. When I wrote it, I thought it would be a hard sell for a lot of people. Whereas now, well, we’re all facing it, aren’t we? My optimism is well surrounded by very pessimistic thoughts, which are in some way probably more realistic.

My friend Danny Hillis gave a TED talk where he pointed out that the vital services of the nation are much more dependent on the internet than they should be. If the internet went down, and a lot of people say it’s just a matter of time, it will probably take the power grid down, cellphones, radio, television – we’ll be plunged into electronic darkness. We’re not used to that. If you thought 9/11 was scary, this is going to be a tremendous panic-inducer. We should be planning what to do about that.

One of the big themes in my book is how up until recently, the world and nature were governed by competence without comprehension. Serious comprehension of anything is very recent, only millennia old, not even a million years old. But we’re now on the verge of moving into the age of post-intelligent design and we don’t bother comprehending any more. That’s one of the most threatening thoughts to me. Because for better or for worse, I put comprehension as one of my highest ideals. I want to understand everything. I want people to understand things. I love understanding things. I love explaining things to myself and to others. We’ve always had plenty of people who, for good reason, said, “Oh, don’t bother explaining to me how the car engine works, I don’t care. I just push the ignition and off I go.” What happens when we take that attitude towards everything?

More: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/12/daniel-dennett-politics-bacteria-bach-back-dawkins-trump-interview


Posted in Are We doomed?, Understand and Manage Ourselves | Leave a comment

U.S. Panel Endorses Designer Babies to Avoid Serious Disease

Since its invention four years ago, a powerful and precise technology for editing DNA called CRISPR has transformed science because of how it makes altering the genetic makeup of plants and animals easier than ever before.

But no possibility opened by gene-editing technology has been so exciting, frightening, or as hotly contested as its capacity to allow humanity, for the first time, to control the genetic constitution of children by applying CRISPR to human embryos, sperm, or eggs—cells which together make up the “germ line.”

On Tuesday, in a striking acknowledgement that humanity is on the cusp of genetically modified children, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s source of blue-ribbon advice on science policy, recommended that germ-line modification of human beings be permitted in the future in certain narrow circumstances to prevent the birth of children with serious diseases.

More: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603633/us-panel-endorses-designer-babies-to-avoid-serious-disease/?set=603688

Posted in Human Evolution | Leave a comment

Misticism on a full scale or COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS

The assertion means that we humans, or we who are conscious beings, are significantly intertwined with what physicists call the physical universe, which they assert is “living” and “conscious,” and responds to human minds. That “the universe” affects humans is of course indisputable, but that human existence changes the universe in some significant manner is not an idea most scientists would accept.

More: http://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/cosmic-consciousness-and-the-ptolemaic-principle/

It is very very simple. They write and speak about the information between humans and the environment but don’t say a word about the physical environment the information is stored, recorded, transmitted. I.V. 

Posted in Understand and Manage Ourselves | Leave a comment

Carl Sagan: We Humans Are Capable Of Greatness

Videos Every thinking human being has to watch. And know and live with it.

Posted in Happiness and Quality of Life, Human Evolution, Understand and Manage Ourselves, Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment


Carl Sagan (Nov. 9 1934 - Dec. 20, 1996)

On a Plea for Tolerance

We have held the peculiar notion that a person or society that is a little different from us, whoever we are, is somehow strange or bizarre, to be distrusted or loathed. Think of the negative connotations of words like alien or outlandish. And yet the monuments and cultures of each of our civilizations merely represent different ways of being human. An extraterrestrial visitor, looking at the differences among human beings and their societies, would find those differences trivial compared to the similarities. The Cosmos may be densely populated with intelligent beings. But the Darwinian lesson is clear: There will be no humans elsewhere. Only here. Only on this small planet. We are a rare as well as an endangered species. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
—“Who Speaks for Earth?,” Cosmos

More: https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#all/1591b4666eb01d7f

Posted in Cosmology | Leave a comment

Without Poetry We are Dead: With It We Die Living

By Edward Curtin, February 15 2017

Most Americans dislike poetry, or at least are indifferent to it. That is probably an understatement. We live in an age of prose, of journalese, and advertising jingles. Poetry, the most directly indirect, mysterious, condensed, and passionate form of communication, is about American as socialism or not shopping. Unlike television, texting, or scrolling the Internet, it demands concentration; that alone makes it suspect. Add silent, calm surroundings and a contemplative mind, and you can forget it, which is what most people do. Silence, like so much else in the present world, including human beings, is on the endangered species list. Another rare bird—let’s call it the holy spirit of true thought—is slowly disappearing from our midst.

More: http://www.globalresearch.ca/without-poetry-we-are-dead-with-it-we-die-living/5574992

Posted in Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment

Energy Multipler Fast Neutron Breeder Reactor

In this post I will be providing a basic overview of the General Atomic fast neutron breeder reactor. There has been somewhat of a renaissance in Nuclear Engineering and the Energy Multipler (EM2) is a very interesting example of some of the new and innovative designs now in progress. In my view this is the most promising of these new design offerings.

Basic Overview

Like all nuclear reactors EM2 generates electrical energy by producing heat. The EM2 utilizes the Brayton cycle, the same cycle used in gas turbines and turbojet engines. This allows for a significantly higher thermal efficiency than achievable in the normally used Rankine cycle.  Below is a simplified diagram of this design.

The basic principle is simple. EM2 is a fast neutron nuclear reactor, hence has no moderator to slow down the neutron flux to thermal energies. This allows breeding of new fuel with a factor greater than one from the fertile elements, Uranium and Thorium. In the EM 2 design this capability allows the reactor to operate for 30 years without re fueling and without fuel reshuffling the fuel rods. This offers a very important cost saving feature of this design The general design is not that different than a fossil fuel gas turbine.

However, the role of combustors has been replaced by the nuclear core and unlike fossil fueled gas turbines we have a closed gas system.  Hot gas (Helium) flows out the reactor into the turbine portion of a turbo engine. This gas is at 850 degrees C (1562 F) and a pressure of 13.1 Mpa (1900 PSI). The exhaust of the turbine flows into the tube side of the recuperator heat exchanger. The cooled gas flows into shell side of the precooler heat exchanger to get the Helium to a low enough temperature to allow efficient compression by the turbo engine compressor. The compressed gas flow out the compressor into the shell side of the recuperator heat exchanger recovering some of the energy lost to allow efficient compression and then into the inlet of the nuclear reactor.

If the EM2 is cited where there is a river, lake or ocean ultimate heat sink, it’s possible to extract additional useable energy by including an organic Rankine cycle. This cycle utilizes an organic liquid with a low enough boiling point to undergo a phase change at a fairly low temperature to drive an additional turbine. The nuclear reactor produces a design maximum thermal power of 500 MW, resulting in a 240 MWe output in the Brayton cycle generator and 25 MWe in the Rankine cycle generator giving an overall efficiency of 53%.

Both generators are Asynchronous permanent magnet three phase generators. This allows them to be high speed which is especially important for the Brayton cycle. These generators are coupled to the AC grid using Load Commutator Inverters. (LCI) These convert the high frequency generator output to DC and then invert it to grid compatible AC.  (To digress, LCI inverters are somewhat different the inverters I posted on previously. They don’t use seg fire mode for wave shaping, they depend on the load to wave shape. They therefore are able to use SCR switches rather than IGFETS because they don’t need switching off capability. However, when LCI units are used to drive an electric motor they need to feed into a reactive generator to have a wave shaping source. Therefore they can only drive synchronous motors. However at startup they must implement a seg fire mode by turning the source side AC to DC converter on and off)

The Reactor Core

The EM2 core utilizes a fuel composed of Uranium Carbide which has a melting point of 2350 degrees C. ( 4262 F ) This fuel is clad with Silicone carbide which is physically stable up 2730 Degrees C ( 4946 F) This is far higher than current reactor designs. Also the cladding used can never be a source of hydrogen as is the case for light water reactors. The fuel is enriched to an average of 6.5 % (5.5-15%) with the lower enrichment at the edge of the fuel assembly. The core contains a large quantity of fertile isotope and EM2 can use both a Thorium and Uranium fuel cycle. If the fuel utilized is reprocessed spent fuel no uranium enrichment is required. EM2 has a 97% fuel utilization, equal or better than LFTR.

Reactor control utilizes control rods and rotating core barrels around the core made of 90 % enriched Boron 10- carbide which has a melting point of 2763 C. (5005 F).  To insure maximum neutron economy the control rods are fully withdrawn during reactor operation and reactivity control rests solely with the core barrels.

In order to use core barrels the EM2 reactor is designed to require reflected neutrons to achieve criticality. This is accomplished by the relativity low enrichment for a fast neutron reactor. The core is surrounded by a Beryllium oxide reflector.  The core barrel can rotate its Beryllium oxide surface or Boron carbide surface to control reactivity. The Beryllium Oxide has a melting temperature of 2100 C. (3812 F)

Achieving a 30 year refueling cycle is accomplished by having a large fertile Uranium or Thorium core load and a system to remove fission product gasses from the fuel during power operation. The Uranium Carbide fuel is porous to fission product gasses and the fuel rod design is annular, so fission product gasses can collect in the center void in the fuel rod to be removed by a Fission gas trapping system. This fission gas removal has two advantages, the removal of this gas prevents fuel swelling and deformation, a process that limits fuel life in other nuclear reactors and the fission gas isotopes have large neutron absorption cross sections. This improves the neutron economy helping to achieve a 30 year fuel load.

Reactor Safety

There is no source of energy that is 100 % risk free. Risk is the price we must pay to have the benefits of technology. The only reasonable question that can be asked is if the risk is low enough in proportion to the benefit. In my opinion, assuming the correctness of the current safety analysis and a demonstrated need for an energy source beside renewable energy sources the answer is yes for EM2.

Nuclear power plants present all the same risks as other sources of energy. But they also a present a special risk that is unique. This is the risk of a large scale radioactive material release to the environment. I hope to show that for EM 2 this risk is low enough to make this design an attractive option to generate power from nuclear energy.

There are two different types of events that cause a large scale release of radioactive material into the environment. These are a prompt criticality accident and a core meltdown due to loss of reactor cooling and the presence of decay heat.

Prompt Criticality accident

To understand this risk a little physics is needed.

Reactor Kinematics

To understand the nuclear process, a basic description of the neutron chain reaction is needed. Some perhaps unfamiliar terms will need to be introduced. These are;

Microscopic cross section, This parameter relates to the probability that a neutron will be absorbed by a given nucleus. It is not a constant, it can be affected in somewhat complex ways by the energy of the nucleus and the neutron. The units for this parameter is area.

Number density N, This parameter is the value of the density of a given micro entity.  Its units are atoms/ unit volume.

Macroscopic cross section. This parameter relates the probability that a neutron will be absorbed by a given collection of atoms.  Its value is given by Eq 1

With units of atom/unit distance. Flux (Neutron generally)

This is the produce of the number density and mean velocity. Its units are neutrons/Unit area- second.

Reaction rate R. This is given by; Eq 2

With units of interactions/ Unit volume – time interval  Geometric Buckling

This parameter represents the geometry of the critical assembly, for our purposes we can think of it as the ratio of the effective surface area and volume of the critical assembly, though its calculation is somewhat complex for a nuclear reactor core.

The neutron multiplication factor.This is the ratio of the number of neutrons in one generation and the number of neutrons in the previous generation.

Reactivity. This is the parameter that defines the degree of departure from criticality and is given by; Eq 4

Reactor Period, The time it takes the reactor to change in power by a factor of e.

Delayed Neutron fraction

In the fission process, most neutrons used to support the chain reaction are released during the fission event. However, for a select group of fission products, additional neutrons are released during the beta decay process.  This occurs because in some cases the neutron rich fission product is an excited state, which causes it to emit a neutron rather than a gamma photon as it falls back to a less excited state.  In defining the overall neutron generation time, we must average over all the neutrons that are needed to sustain fission. These delayed neutrons make the neutron generation time long enough to allow control of the chain reaction. A reactor must be designed to avoid having so much reactivity that these delayed neutrons are not needed. Such a condition is called prompt critical and is fatal for almost any reactor.   By summing over the sources of neutrons used to sustain the nuclear reaction we get the mean generation time Eq 5A &5B

Where are number of precursor atoms and  are number of prompt neutrons per generation

A closely related term is delayed neutron fraction which is given by Eq 6

Except in cases of very rapid power changes these terms are essentially equal to each other and will be considered so here.

Effective Delayed fraction

Normally this value is somewhat higher than the delayed neutron fraction because delayed neutrons are born at a lower energy and therefore more likely to avoid escape or absorption by non-fuel materials.  However, in a fast breeder there is very little neutron energy lost in the neutron cycle. So for fast breeder reactors the effective delayed neutron fraction tends to be smaller.

Power level of the reactor is given by: Eq 7

Where’ Eq 8

For all value of reactivity less than Here is the Delayed neutron precursor decay fraction, which is the ratio of precursor atoms that decay within a given time and all precursor atoms. This value ranges generally from 0.08 steady state, 0.1 for increasing power and 0.05 for decreasing power.

For values of reactivity greater than  the equation is; Eq 9

Where  the cycle time is equal to  sec We can easily see the problem here. If we can somehow get enough positive reactivity the exponential rate of power increase becomes uncontrollable. This is what happened at the Chernobyl and SL1 accidents.

Nuclear reactors can explode. They can’t explode like a nuclear bomb, they disassemble too fast, but they can release enough energy to breech any containment. So how does EM2 stack up concerning this risk? Well it can never explode the way Chernobyl did. This is because when the reactor power is sufficient to increase the fuel temperature, which is called above the point of adding heat, the natural processes of the reactor adds negative reactivity, making prompt criticality impossible to achieve.

However, what about reactor operation below the point of adding heat, the situation that occurred at SL1. Here EM2 has no advantage over any other reactor and in fact except for the special case of the TRIGA reactor, no other nuclear reactor is immune from this risk. So how large a risk is this. Very small. This type of accident can only occur at reactor start up and during reactor start up highly redundant safety systems and rigorous procedures prevent such an event.  I can go into more detail on this for those interested but I won’t here.

Reactor Meltdown

When a Nuclear reactor is shut down, the chain reaction is stopped, but the reactor core does not stop producing heat.

Decay Heat. The power level of a shutdown nuclear reactor can be calculated by summing over all the fission product isotopes decaying. Each isotope adds energy, with the shorter have life isotopes contributing the most energy. Eq 10

Summing over all the fission products we get; Immediately after Shut Down 6.5% total of the average power over the history of the reactor before shutdown.

One hour after shutdown 1.5% of average power before shutdown

One day after shutdown 0.4% of average power before shutdown

One week after shutdown 0.2% of average power before shutdown

After one week the fall off in decay heat is very slow, the spent fuel will produce just under 0.2% for years.

So how does EM2 cope with this issue? First we will look at the case where the load is lost (generator trip) and all the reactor shutdown systems fail. Given that these are highly redundant systems that need no power to operate this is very unlikely event. Under these conditions the reactor core would rapidly heat up.  However, because the EM2 core can reach such a high temperature before any fuel damage occurs this design can utilize the change of core geometry to shut down the chain reaction.  In this design a geometric reactivity factor becomes important. Looking at the core the probability of neutron escape is given by; Eq 11

Where is a constant based on core design that is less than one and is the mean free path of a neutron through the core. This is based on the geometry of the core and is given by approximately; Eq 12

Where V and A are volume and surface area. So that; Eq13

Giving us; Eq 14

This factor becomes small enough to terminate the chain reaction before the fuel temperature reaches its meltdown temperature. However, this doesn’t account for decay heat which does not shutdown when the chain reaction stops. Therefore the EM2 reactor incorporates a Direct Reactor Auxiliary Cooling System.


A very simplified diagram of DRACS is below.

The operation of this system is simple. For normal operation this is an active system using blowers and pumps to effect the cooling of the reactor core. (There are two redundant DRACS in the EM2 design) However upon complete loss of power, valves and dampers automatically position to allow the reactor to cool by a natural convection process. This is sufficient to prevent the core from exceeding its maximum design temperature due to decay heat. However, consideration of a loss of coolant accident, that is the rupture of the primary system must be considered. This is easily demonstrated by looking at the thermodynamic relationships in the cooling process. We see that approximately we can use the equation’ Eq 15

Where heat transfer rate, is the mass flow rate and  are the Helium and Fuel temperature and is a constant based on the heat exchangers parameters.  For natural circulation flow we have; Eq 16

Here P is coolant pressure. Therefore, a loss of pressure can reduce the coolant mass flow rate causing a higher fuel temperature. If the coolant pressure dropped to atmospheric from its operating pressure of 13.1 Mpa fuel temperature would exceed safe limits. This problem can be dealt with in two ways or a combination of these two ways.  One is to limit the containment volume which limits the lowest pressure the coolant will reach on a primary system rupture. However, the external equipment installation makes this a challenge. Therefore this can be augmented by using an inert gas to pressurize the containment volume. This has the disadvantage that the reactor must be shut down and cooled before any maintenance can be performed inside the  containment , but given the design of this reactor this should only occur rarely.

This has been a rather broad stroke description of EM2. But I think this gives some basic understanding of this design and its innovative features


Posted in Scientific Publications, Abstracts & URL's | Leave a comment

Latvijas iekšējās drošības galvenais drauds

Jau pirms vairākiem gadiem rakstīju, ka noziegumu atklāšanā un izmeklēšanā un iztiesāšanā valda liela apjoma haoss, nenoteiktība un neskaidrības. 2016.gada februāra raidījumā “Tieša runa” sarunās apstiprinājās, ka tā pati situācija no gada uz gadu, desmitiem gadu nemainās vai mainās nenozīmīgi. Diemžēl raidījumā neizskanēja praktiski neviens kaut cik vērā ņemams viedoklis, kas un kā jādara, lai sakārtotu sistēmu. Tika runāts par izmeklēšanas problēmām, bet nedzirdējām atbildi vai ierosinājumus, kas nopietni jādara, lai policijā nodrošinātu noziedzīgu nodarījumu izmeklēšanas kvalitāti, novērstu korupciju.

Par katastrofālu stāvokli izmeklēšanā un iztiesāšanā jau 25 gadus notiek viena un tā pati gaušanās, augstākās amatpersonas par patiesām problēmām nopietni nerunā un nevēlas runāt, kamēr parādīsies politiskā griba kārtot lietas, kā pienākas, un tiks noteikts ar likumu, kas un kā jāreformē (reformai līdzekļi nav jāmeklē, tikai jāpārdala).

Bieži vien var sastapties ar izteicieniem, ka dažāda ranga priekšnieki vienkārši neļauj labi strādāt. Tam ir dažādi pamatoti iemesli, tajā skaitā tas, ka priekšnieki iejaucas svarīgākās lietās un nosaka ar likumu piešķirto „procesa virzību”.

Kā var runāt par kvalitāti, ja faktiski izmeklētāju institūts kā tāds neeksistē. Kā tā, jocīgs secinājums, jautās – kas tad izmeklē lietas vai, kā to sauc tagad, – kas izmeklē procesus, ja nav izmeklētāju. Atbildu, izmeklētāji nav izmeklētāji, bet tikai procesa virzītāji: ja vienlaicīgi vienā lietā ir daudz par daudz „procesa virzītāju”, grūti izvērtēt, kurš „šuva mēteli”, kurš „pogas”, tātad tā nav izmeklēšana. Izmeklēšana kā tāda ir sagrauta – padarīta par vadāmu un manipulējamu, sadrumstalota, bezatbildīga.

Izmeklēšanā valda shēma: „izmeklētājs” jau ierosinātu kriminālizmeklēšanu vai reģistrētu materiālu (atvainojos – procesu; process pošol) no policijas priekšnieka saņem ar rezolūciju un norādījumiem, ko un kā darīt.

Raidījumā tika izteikts, ka nav kvalificētu izmeklētāju. Linda Mūrniece esot likvidējusi Policijas akadēmiju. Arī par prokuroriem saka to pašu, ka nav kadru, kas var izmeklēt svarīgas lietas. Pagājuši 25 gadi, un „nav” kvalificētu kadru? Un vēl 25 gadus nebūs kvalificētu izmeklētāju un prokuroru, kamēr Krimināllikums un Kriminālprocesa likums būs tāds, kādu, manuprāt, uzrakstīja advokāti, tiesneši un prokurori savām vajadzībām un būs vadāmi izmeklētāji.

Vairāk: https://infoagentura.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/latvijas-ieksejas-drosibas-galvenais-drauds-tadu-izmekletaju-trukums-kuri-prot-veikt-izmeklesanu-un-kuriem-prokurori-un-tiesa-prieksnieciba-to-lauj-darit/

Problēma nenoliedzami ir, bet tā ir plašāka: Visur dominē cilvēku daba. Radīt sistēmu, kas uzrauga, ierobežo primātu izpausmes, ir grūts uzdevums, kurš daļēji atrisināts dažās attīstītās valstīs. Šos uzdevumus dažādas tautas risina gadiem ilgi, un to risināšanā jāpiedalās visai sabiedrībai. Mēs varam tikai gribēt un vēlēties, lai tie, kam nav iemācīta valoda, tajā runātu. Bērniem runāto valodu iemāca dažu gadu laikā, bet pieaugušajiem tas notiek ilgāk un grūtāk.

Īstuma, patiesības un vērtību valodu iemācīt tiem, kas to nav saņēmuši bērnībā, praktiski nav iespējams. Jo tā ir daudz smalkāka valoda. 

Bet paldies autoram: ja neviens nekliegs, tad vispār cerību nav. I.V. 

Posted in Human Evolution, Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment

Coming Soon to a City Near You

By John W. Whitehead
February 13, 2017

“Our current and past strategies can no longer hold. We are facing environments that the masters of war never foresaw. We are facing a threat that requires us to redefine doctrine and the force in radically new and different ways. The future army will confront a highly sophisticated urban-centric threat that will require that urban operations become the core requirement for the future land-force. The threat is clear. Our direction remains to be defined. The future is urban.”— “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” a Pentagon training video created by the Army for U.S. Special Operations Command

The U.S. military plans to take over America by 2030.

No, this is not another conspiracy theory. Although it easily could be.

Nor is it a Hollywood political thriller in the vein of John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May about a military coup d’etat.

Although it certainly has all the makings of a good thriller.

No, this is the real deal, coming at us straight from the horse’s mouth.

According to “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” a Pentagon training video created by the Army for U.S. Special Operations Command, the U.S. military plans to use armed forces to solve future domestic political and social problems.

What they’re really talking about is martial law, packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security.

The chilling five-minute training video, obtained by The Intercept through a FOIA request and made availableonline, paints an ominous picture of the future—a future the military is preparing for—bedeviled by “criminal networks,” “substandard infrastructure,” “religious and ethnic tensions,” “impoverishment, slums,” “open landfills, over-burdened sewers,” a “growing mass of unemployed,” and an urban landscape in which the prosperous economic elite must be protected from the impoverishment of the have nots.

More: https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#inbox/15a397013fa1c897

This is not for the common citizen. The staff is only for those who know, can understand and evaluate more than is written. Accept less and think more. I.V. 

Posted in All Posts | Leave a comment

10 Steps for Getting Over Humiliation

I doubt that anyone gets through life without ever feeling utterly humiliated. But what should you do when it happens to you?Humiliation can feel so intensely painful and debilitating that advice for dealing with it may seem futile. Maybe in those early moments, it is hard to do anything but wallow in your own distress, but there are some useful tips out there.

More: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201402/10-steps-getting-over-humiliation?collection=143589

Posted in Understand and Manage Ourselves | Leave a comment



Posted in Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment


More: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vvDV2kYNNY


Posted in Are We doomed?, Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment

Elon Musk and the rise of Silicon Valley’s strange trickle-down science

Tere are good reasons to worry about the future of humanity. Do we have a future, and if so, how much and what kind? For most people, it’s easier to feel these existential concerns for our species than it is to do something about them. But some are taking action. On 27 September 2016, the SpaceX founder Elon Musk made a bold, direct claim: that, in order to survive an inevitable extinction event, humans would need to ‘become a space-faring civilisation and a multi-planetary species’. Pulses raced and the media swooned. Headlines appeared in the business and technology press about Musk’s plan to save humanity. Experts and laypeople alike debated details of the rockets, spacecraft and fuel needed for Musk’s journey to Mars. The excitement was palpable, and it was evident at the press conference. During the Q&A that followed the announcement, Musk said that his goal was to inspire humanity. One audience member yelled: ‘[Musk] inspires the shit out of us!’ Another offered him a kiss.

Musk’s plan to colonise Mars is a sign of an older and recurring social problem. What happens when the rich and powerful isolate themselves from everyday concerns? Musk wants to innovate and leave Earth, rather than to take care of it, or fix it, and stay. Like so many of his peers in the innovating and disrupting classes, Musk prefers to dwell in fantasy and science fiction, safely removed from the world of here and now. Musk is a utopian, in the original Greek meaning: ‘no place’. Repulsed by the world we all share, he dreams of a place that does not exist.

Lucianne Walkowicz, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and a critic of the ‘hubris’ of using Mars as a ‘backup planet’, puts this point simply and directly: ‘The idea that Mars will somehow save us from the decisions we’ve made is a false one.’ If we ‘truly believe in our ability to bend the hostile environments of Mars for human habitation, then we should be able to surmount the far easier task of preserving the habitability of the Earth.’

Musk’s plan is, of course, not to save the Earth. Rather, he needs an excuse to justify his outrageous plan to colonise Mars, and so he appeals to the preservation of, in his word, ‘humanity’. But Musk’s concept of humanity excludes most living and breathing humans. In his September 2016 announcement, he declared that a fully self-sustaining civilisation on Mars would need around 1 million people. From Earth’s current population of 7.125 billion, the Musk Million would bring 0.014035087719298244 per cent of it to Mars.

We are surprised that Musk’s plan has drawn only limited critical engagement. Most of the critical response has been to his technical assumptions and plans. We understand the many reasons that compel people to set aside practical concerns – Earthly concerns, as the case may be – and to support plans to explore and colonise Mars. The thirst for adventure, to reach for the stars, and to pursue the sublime is worthy, perhaps commendable. Even a dedicated activist such as the Rev Abernathy, who protested NASA’s launch in 1969, was overcome by a sense of awe. When he watched Apollo 11 take flight, he ‘really forgot the fact that we had so many hungry people’.

Who are we to tell Musk – or any private citizen, for that matter – what he should or shouldn’t do with his money? In US society, to question societal norms of conspicuous consumption, no matter how juvenile or vain, is frowned upon. Musk’s million-dollar McLaren sports car could buy more than 345,000 meals for the hungry. But it is up to Musk to make his decisions about his resources, not us. Our criticism comes in part from Musk’s position as a leader and role model. And we are sure he has failed in this regard.

We are his fellow citizens, fellow humans, and we don’t want people to follow in the direction Musk is leading. He could lead others to help those suffering now, to get involved in addressing the actual problems before us. There’s no shortage of them. If Musk prefers the planetary scale of action, he could lead people to preserve our single planetary resource, also known as Earth, the only planet we will probably ever have. Even on Musk’s own optimistic terms, his adolescent space fantasies will benefit only 0.014 per cent of humanity. He makes the politicians who serve the 1 per cent seem like communists.

More: https://aeon.co/essays/is-a-mission-to-mars-morally-defensible-given-todays-real-needs?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=a8c3b644a9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-a8c3b644a9-68643017#_=_

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The future is mixed-race

Differences in physical traits between human populations accumulated slowly over tens of thousands of years. As people spread across the globe and adapted to local conditions, a combination of natural selection and cultural innovation led to physical distinctions. But these groups did not remain apart. Contact between groups, whether through trade or conflict, led to the exchange of both genes and ideas. Recent insights from the sequencing of hundreds of thousands of human genomes in the past decade have revealed that our species’ history has been punctuated by many episodes of migration and genetic exchange. The mixing of human groups is nothing new.

What is new is the rate of mixing currently underway. Globalisation means that our species is more mobile than ever before. International migration has reached record highs, as has the number of interracial marriages, leading to a surge of multiracial people such as Shewmake. While genetic differences between human populations do not fall neatly along racial lines, race nevertheless provides insight into the extent of population hybridisation currently underway. This reshuffling of human populations is affecting the very structure of the human gene pool.

People today are more likely to live in an environment for which they are not biologically well-suited. If the history of life on Earth can teach us anything, it is this: as conditions change, species either adapt or become extinct. In our time of considerable environmental change, humanity should consider its options. No species, even the almighty Homo sapiens, can stop evolution completely. But we can choose to limit our capacity for ongoing biological adaptation in an effort to remain ever the same by keeping populations isolated. Of course, such decisions are not made by humanity as a whole but by individuals and governments. Nationalism and xenophobia, on the rise in the US and Europe, threaten to decrease genetic exchange between populations, stifling our ability to continue evolving and adapting.

Alternatively, we can embrace immigration and globalisation in an effort to position ourselves for a brighter future. The underlying causes of the current high rates of human migration are likely to persist, and perhaps to increase, as the global human population continues to grow. Access to natural resources such as fresh water have long driven population movements, and these might become even more important drivers of migration as the world’s population expands. Likewise, as economic development proceeds, the amount of resources used by each person will continue to rise, putting further pressure on scarce resources and further motivating people to move in search of better conditions. Sea levels are expected to continue rising as a result of global climate change, and this is likely to drive large-scale population movements away from low-lying coastal areas as they become uninhabitable. In short, the reshuffling of populations that results from the movement of people around the world will continue to shape the structure of our gene pool – and, by extension, our future evolution – for many generations to come.

More: https://aeon.co/essays/the-future-is-mixed-race-and-thats-a-good-thing-for-humanity?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=a8c3b644a9-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-a8c3b644a9-68643017

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The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to analyze people in minute detail based on their Facebook activity. Did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory? Two reporters from Zurich-based Das Magazin went data-gathering.

Anyone who has not spent the last five years living on another planet will be familiar with the term Big Data. Big Data means, in essence, that everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make when our mobile phone is in our pocket, every “like” is stored. Especially every “like.” For a long time, it was not entirely clear what use this data could have—except, perhaps, that we might find ads for high blood pressure remedies just after we’ve Googled “reduce blood pressure.”

In November 9, it became clear that maybe much more is possible. The company behind Trump’s online campaign—the same company that had worked for Leave.EU in the very early stages of its “Brexit” campaign—was a Big Data company: Cambridge Analytica.

To understand the outcome of the election—and how political communication might work in the future—we need to begin with a strange incident at Cambridge University in 2014, at Kosinski’s Psychometrics Center.

Psychometrics, sometimes also called psychographics, focuses on measuring psychological traits, such as personality. In the 1980s, two teams of psychologists developed a model that sought to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the “Big Five.” These are: openness (how open you are to new experiences?), conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?), extroversion (how sociable are you?), agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and neuroticism (are you easily upset?). Based on these dimensions—they are also known as OCEAN, an acronym for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism—we can make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us. This includes their needs and fears, and how they are likely to behave. The “Big Five” has become the standard technique of psychometrics. But for a long time, the problem with this approach was data collection, because it involved filling out a complicated, highly personal questionnaire. Then came the Internet. And Facebook. And Kosinski.

More: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/how-our-likes-helped-trump-win

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Workless, or working less?

That’s the title of review of Tim Dunlop’s excellent new bookWhy the Future Is Workless, published at Inside Story.

More: https://groups.google.com/forum/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=footer#!topic/atvoid-2/WWAHOkqz2Kk

Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency has brought to the fore issues that have been simmering for some time. Despite his manifest unfitness, nearly half of American voters supported a candidate who promised to “make America great again,” most obviously by bringing back good jobs. As Trump’s dystopian inauguration speech made clear, good jobs are part of a past to which many Americans aspire.

These hopes raise the obvious question: will jobs of any kind survive in the future? This is the issue addressed by Tim Dunlop in Why the Future Is Workless.

The future (or lack of a future) of work is well-trodden ground. Dunlop surveys the wide variety of views to emerge in recent years and also, more importantly, challenges assumptions about work, labour and jobs that are taken for granted most of the time. As he points out, “jobs” as we understand them didn’t exist in significant numbers before the middle of the nineteenth century. When American politicians were drawing up the US constitution in the late eighteenth century, he writes, they “envisioned a nation of independent yeoman farmers and other forms of self-employed workers, not one of wage slaves who worked for someone else.”

Good jobs – secure and well-paid enough to support a family in reasonable comfort ­– only became a standard expectation in the middle of the twentieth century, and it is these jobs, rather than the facts of work and labour, that are now disappearing.

Technological change has been rendering old skills obsolete ever since the invention of the spinning jenny in the eighteenth century, and will doubtless continue to do so. The real problems we face today are not technological but social and economic. Like it or not, a radical reorganisation of work is under way. The question is whether we can shape it to benefit the world as a whole, or whether it will continue to enrich the few at the expense of the many. As Dunlop concludes, “We have been told that when it comes to work, there is no alternative. What these new technologies suggest is that maybe there is.”

Posted in Economics and Politics | Leave a comment

Has the American Dream Become the American Nightmare?

By John W. Whitehead
January 24, 2017

“Most Germans, so far as I could see, did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of their splendid culture was being destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work were being regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation … On the whole, people did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous tyranny. On the contrary, they appeared to support it with genuine enthusiasm.” ― William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years 1930-40

For too long now, the American people have allowed themselves to be persuaded that the government’s job is to take care of us: to feed us, clothe us, house us, educate us, raise our children, heal our infirmities, manage our finances, protect us from our enemies, guard us against all dangers (real and imaginary), and provide for our every need.

Where Americans go wrong is in failing to recognize that there’s always a catch to such devil’s bargains purportedly carried out for the good of all society.

You want free education for your children? The government can take care of it. In exchange for free public schools, however, your children will be molded and indoctrinated into compliant, obedient citizens who reflect the government’s values rather than your own.

You want free health care? The government can take care of that, too. In exchange, your medical decisions—how you live and die—will ultimately be determined by corporations to whom you are little more than a line item impacting their profit and loss margins.

You want to be insulated from all things that might cause offense? That’s not a problem for the government. Its thought police will use hate crime laws to criminalize speech, thought and actions that may be politically incorrect.

You want a guarantee of safety? Sure, but your local police will also have to be militarized and trained in battlefield tactics, your communities and communications will be subjected to round-the-clock surveillance, and you—the citizenry—will be treated as suspects and enemy combatants.

You want to root out domestic extremism and terrorism? That’s just fine. But in the process of identifying and targeting terrorists, the government will have the power to label anyone who disagrees with its policies as an extremist/terrorist and subject them to indefinite detentions.

Are you starting to get the picture?

This is the terrible price—the loss of our freedoms and the enslavement of future generations—that must eventually be paid for the goods and services rendered by a government whose priorities are the acquisition of ever-more power, control and money.

As the old adage warns: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”

Unfortunately, we’ve been on the receiving end of the government’s taxpayer-funded handouts—and its deceptively well-intended dictates—for so long that many Americans have forgotten what it is to think for themselves, provide for themselves, and govern themselves.

Indeed, this age of entitlement is a far cry from the kind of constitutional republic America’s founders envisioned.

Gone is the proud, independent-minded, pioneering spirit of early Americans like my parents who rejected what they called “hand-outs,” worked hard for whatever they had, protected their homes and families, and believed the government’s job was to govern based on the consent of the governed and not dictate.

Contrast those fiercely-independent, early Americans who took to heart James Madison’s admonition to distrust all those in power with today’s citizens who not only expect the government to care for their needs but have blindly entrusted the government with vast, growing powers.

By giving the government the green light to act in loco parentis and treat the citizenry as children in need of caretakers, “we the people” have allowed ourselves to be demoted and infantilized, reduced from knowledgeable, independent-minded, capable masters of a republic to wayward, undisciplined, dependent, vulnerable children incapable of caring for ourselves.

It’s time to grow up. Good proposal but not real. All information processing machines behavior is determined by the information embedded. In order to change the behavior substantially, we must change the information content at the same degree. Currently that is impossible. 

Incredibly, despite the fact that we allowed the government to become all-knowing, all-powerful and all-mighty in the mistaken belief that it would make our lives safer, easier and more affluent, we’re still shocked when that power and might is used against us.

It’s time to stop being so gullible and so trusting. People’s behavior is determined by their decisions. Decisions are determined by values created and programmed in lifetime. At current time the individual’s and family survival values are much more important than some abstract common values: common well-being, happiness or some global survival. Most people don’t want to destroy or sacrifice their individual lives in order to improve some common values. Especially, if we are told: if we abandon religions, there are no other values. Some do but wanting is not enough: knowledge is necessary. This is a very special knowledge: how to attain global survival and unite it with the real human nature, restricted resources, human impact on planetary processes. Currently human society doesn’t have this knowledge. 

Even when the headlines blare out the news about SWAT team raids gone awry, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside cavity searches of young women, children being shackled and tasered, and Americans jailed for profit in private prisons, we still somehow maintain our state of denial until suddenly we’re the ones in the firing line being treated like suspects and criminals, having our skulls cracked, our doors smashed, our pets shot, our children terrorized, and our loved ones jailed for non-offenses.

It’s time to remove those rose-colored, partisan-tinted glasses and wake up to the fact that our nation of sheep has given rise to a government of wolves. It is a labeling. We all have the same genetic heritage. Naming someone wolf doesn’t solve anything. 

Even though, deep down, we have suspected that the system is run by an elite who views the citizenry as little more than cattle destined for the slaughterhouse, we’re still shocked to find ourselves treated like slaves and economic units.

How could we not have seen it coming? We see and understand it. We can’t change it. 

How long has the writing been on the wall? Since centuries. 

How could we have been so blind, deaf and dumb to the warnings all around us? We are not blind. It is impossible to reprogram the specie’s genetic heritage without destroying their carriers. Evolution doesn’t work this way. 

Unfortunately, it happens this way in every age, in every place where freedom falls and tyranny flourishes. Exactly. Only when people will rise over themselves and start  consciously and purposefully teach their children completely new  survival-oriented global living, only then they will have a hope to survive. Not now. 

As Aldous Huxley recognized in his foreword to Brave New World: “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.”

This is how the seeds of authoritarianism are planted and watered and cultivated into aggressive, invasive growths that can quickly dominate an environment.

Remember, tyrants don’t always come to power in a show of force. Often, they sweet-talk their way to absolute power, buoyed along by a wave of populist demand for someone to save the country from economic, military and political crises.

As historian Jim Powell writes for Forbes:

Hitler didn’t take over a small government with an effective separation of enumerated, delegated and limited powers.  He took over a large welfare state… He dealt with unemployment by introducing forced labor for both men and women.  Government  control of the economy made it virtually impossible for anyone to seriously threaten his regime. Hitler added secret police, death camps and another war machine. The German educational system, which had inspired so many American progressives, played a major role in all this… the government gained complete control of schools and universities, and their top priority was teaching obedience. The professorial elite promoted collectivism.  The highest calling was working for the government.

It can easily happen here.

In fact, the early signs of this downshift are all around us if you only know where to look. Exactly

You can smell it in the air: there’s danger coming. A recent New Yorker article reveals the lengths some of the wealthiest in America are going to in order to survive an apocalyptic breakdown of society: isolated refuges, bunkers, gas masks, generators, solar panels, ammunition, etc. This means they are educated enough, they know and understand coming doom. 

You can see it in the changes taking place all around you: the government is preparing for something ominous. For example, the Pentagon is using a dystopian training video to prepare special forces to deal with the urban challenges of megacities: criminal networks, illicit economies, decentralized syndicates of crime, substandard infrastructure, religious and ethnic tensions, impoverishment, economic inequality, protesters, slums, open landfills, over-burdened sewers, and a “growing mass of unemployed.”

You can hear it in the news coming out of the independent media: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches have already weakened our long-established bulwarks against tyranny by their constant undermining of the Constitution and the president’s amassing of imperial power.

We are no longer a constitutional republic.

The American dream is turning into a living nightmare.

We are fast moving towards full-blown fascism.

So what’s the answer?

The powers that be can—and will—continue to distract us with electronic gadgets and entertainment news, they can seduce us with promises they have no intention of keeping, they can drug us with politics packaged to resemble religion, and they can use the schools to breed a populace of compliant slaves.

In the end, however, the choice of whether to keep drinking the Kool-Aid or reject the false prophets and promises of the police state—a.k.a. fascism or totalitarianism or tyranny—rests with “we the people.”

After all, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it was “we the people” who struck this devil’s bargain in the first place, trading our liberties for dubious promises of prosperity, security and advancement.

Through our inaction, our apathy and our unwillingness to do the hard work of holding the government accountable, perhaps “we the people” have been the greatest menace to freedom.

Perhaps all of this is our fault. It is not our fault, it is our destiny.

My parents’ advice was that if you made a mess, you had to clean it up.

No one else is going to clean this mess up for us, certainly not anyone on the government’s payroll.

As Jim Powell rightly concludes: “Ultimately, liberty can be protected only if people care enough to fight for it, because everywhere governments push for more power, and they never give it up willingly.”

So let’s stop buying into the fairytale that politicians are saviors, capable of fixing what’s wrong with our communities and our lives.

Let’s stop expecting the government to solve all our problems. Simple. Most governments people don’t want, some, who do want, can’t because the lack of education and means, who think they know and want, they can’t – they are the minority. There are also the rich. Some of them do want. But they don’t know how. Because it is not simple. How can we rise above the evolution? 

Stop playing the partisan game that paints anyone not of your political persuasion as evil.

Stop defending the insanity of an immoral system of government that sees nothing wrong with bombing innocent civilians, jailing innocent citizens, and treating human beings as little more than cattle.

Stop validating a system of laws, tactics and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

While you’re at it, start taking responsibility for your lives—and your freedoms—again. And maybe, just maybe, there will be some hope for tomorrow. I am sorry for bad news, information theory doesn’t give us hope. I.V. 

WC: 1731


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.


John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact staff@rutherford.org to obtain reprint permission.

source: https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/has_the_american_dream_become_the_american_nightmare?utm_source=The+Rutherford+Institute&utm_campaign=72164974b6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d7ffde3304-72164974b6-42148441

Posted in Are We doomed?, Contemporary Society Problems | Leave a comment

Carl Sagan’s foreboding of America


“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

Donald Trump’s Presidency Will Be a Fiasco for Donald Trump
The president-elect will only get smaller and less influential as broken promises pile up. By William Greider


— Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
First published in 1995  For many Americans, Donald Trump’s inauguration is going to feel more like a funeral than a celebration of democratic self-government. Trump is the most unpopular president-elect in at least 40 years. Pew says 68 percent of Americans find him “hard to like.” Only 41 percent approve of the job he’s done explaining his plans for his presidency. His “unfavorables” hover around 50 percent. If Americans wanted a performer to run the country, why not pick George Clooney? Instead, we got a slightly demented carnival barker with gilded hair and a bloated ego. The fright and gloom are understandable, but I have a hunch Donald Trump has already peaked. He won’t go away, of course—he will be Mr. President—but the air is already seeping out of Trump’s balloon. The president-elect has amassed a huge inventory of dubious promises, and I expect this powerhouse of American politics to get smaller and less influential as the broken promises pile up.

The Trump era is going to be a fiasco for the country, but especially for Donald Trump. He was a brilliant novice on the way up, both funny and tough, astutely attacking the stale dogmas of both political parties. On the way down, he begins to look like a great American mistake and bait-and-switch businessman.

As a salesman, Trump pitched an appealing nostalgia—a breezy promise to restore American “greatness.” “I alone can fix it,” he told the cheering rallies. His self-congratulations were over-the-top, sincerely-felt, though unconvincing.
. . . .
You might say Donald Trump won the presidency by dwelling in his own personal world of “magical realism.” If Trump says it, it must be true… at least until Trump says something new and different. During his campaign, his rude, crude words and wicked falsehoods effectively destabilized the standard language of democratic dialogue. Rival politicians were baffled. The press was late in grasping the incendiary significance of Trump’s candidacy, and so was I.

Others might say the suggestion of “magical realism” is too generous. Trump is simply a con man, a very talented one who succeeded in conning the Republican Party and the American electorate. If Trump was a character in a novel, he might be described as an “unreliable narrator.”

Some writers, like Jim Fallows of The Atlantic, explored a deeper explanation: Trump is a narcissist, totally self-absorbed in his own reality and oblivious to competing facts and understandings. He has an infantile reach of impulse and intellect; his world is self, food, now. This is probably not quite the case, but he seems to lack common traits of empathy and sincerity.

The harshest analysis I read was by Charles Krauthammer, the conservative columnist for T he Washington Post and a psychiatrist himself. In August, he was shocked when Trump attacked the Gold Star mother Ghazala Kahn following her appearance at the Democratic National Convention. “It reveals a shocking absence of elementary decency and of natural empathy for the most profound of human sorrows–parental grief,” Krauthammer wrote after Trump said Kahn wasn’t “allowed” to speak during her DNC appearance, where her husband spoke of their son’s death in the Iraq War.

Donald Trump, he explained, “is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value—indeed exists—only insofar it sustains an inflates him.”

Now he is to be our president, and Trump’s “magical realism” is about to collide with the hard earth of mortal politics. The president-elect and his staffers are already busy trying to distance themselves from some of his more explosive promises, hoping they get forgotten in the excitement of a new party’s taking power. Trump acknowledged in passing that he is not going to prosecute Hillary Clinton after all. No more “Lock her up!” chants, he told disappointed supporters. Trump is also not going to “Drain the Swamp.” Indeed, some of the creatures from the Wall Street lagoon have been appointed to the important positions in Trump’s first cabinet. Trump still claims he will build the wall to keep out immigrants and make Mexico pay for it, but nobody believes him. He admitted the United States will have to pay for the wall then seek reimbursement from Mexico.

Campaign promises often perish after an election, but even some of his cabinet appointees are disowning Trump’s promises during confirmation hearings. His nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said he opposes Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims during his confirmation meeting. Nikki Haley, Trump’s nominee for UN ambassador, strongly supported NATO, which Trump recently called “obsolete,” during hers. These retreats and the high-risk legislation that lies ahead are part of why I foresee a hard road ahead for Republicans and their less-than-popular president.

Indeed, if Trump doesn’t produce on jobs and trade reform while cutting corporate taxes, I can imagine yard signs in working-class neighborhoods that blame “Double-Cross Donald.”

Posted in Contemporary Society Problems | Leave a comment

Gail Tverberg: Why There’s No Economically Sustainable Price For Oil Anymore

Producers need higher prices that the public can’t afford.

Actuary Gail Tverberg returns to provide an update on where we are in the global energy story. Her outlook is not rosy: she doesn’t see a path for society to transition to an affordable, plentiful substitute to petroleum as a transportation fuel. The physics as well as the funding do not pencil out, at least with today’s known technologies.

Without such a solution in hand, the world finds itself now mired in a scenario where there really is no long-term workable range for the price of oil. It’s either “too high” and demand suffers, or “too low” and producers can’t afford to extract it. The acceptable middle ground has disappeared:

When on the rising side of the Hubbert curve, everybody has good wage level and everybody can feed themselves. You can build new oil wells and everything works out fine. But what happens as you get past the 50% mark is that you no longer have enough oil coming out for the economy to keep growing. It starts going down. And what happens then is that the economy doesn’t function in the same way. You start getting the prices to spike as you try to get higher-cost oil out. And this is what we saw in the 2007-2008 period.

The price of oil spikes and you get recession. Then the price of oil comes back down. But wages don’t recover and you get the very low price problem that we have right now. So it doesn’t work right. You can’t keep getting the same amount of oil out, essentially because the wages of the people don’t stay up high enough in order to afford the output of the economy.

At this point, it has gotten bad enough that there is no price that works. The price that producers need is higher than what the market will bear.

If we go to a place like Saudi Arabia, you’d say: They can get it out of the ground for $20 a barrel. But then when you look at it, you discover that they really need a much higher price if you include in all of the taxes and all of the funding they need to keep social order, import lots of wheat and the many other things that their economy needs, and build a desalination plant. So they really can’t get along on $20 a barrel. They learned how they can get along on $100 or $120 a barrel, but they can’t get along on $50 a barrel  — even in Saudi Arabia.

So you end up with a situation where there isn’t any kind price that really will work.


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2017: The Year When the World Economy Starts Coming Apart

Some people would argue that 2016 was the year that the world economy started to come apart, with the passage of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Whether or not the “coming apart” process started in 2016, in my opinion we are going to see many more steps in this direction in 2017. Let me explain a few of the things I see.

2017: The Year When the World Economy Starts Coming Apart

in response to Gail Tverberg:

Some people would argue that 2016 was the year that the world economy started to come apart, with the passage of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Whether or not the “coming apart” process started in 2016, in my opinion we are going to see many more steps in this direction in 2017. Let […]

There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque. No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures…. it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship pervasive…. Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours…. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”— Professor Neil Postman

Donald Trump no longer needs to launch Trump TV. He’s already the star of his own political reality show.

Americans have a voracious appetite for TV entertainment, and the Trump reality show—guest starring outraged Democrats with a newly awakened conscience for immigrants and the poor, power-hungry Republicans eager to take advantage of their return to power, and a hodgepodge of other special interest groups with dubious motives—feeds that appetite for titillating, soap opera drama.

After all, who needs the insults, narcissism and power plays that are hallmarks of reality shows such as Celebrity Apprentice or Keeping Up with the Kardashians when you can have all that and more delivered up by the likes of Donald Trump and his cohorts?

Yet as John Lennon reminds us, “nothing is real,” especially not in the world of politics.

Much like the fabricated universe in Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show, in which a man’s life is the basis for an elaborately staged television show aimed at selling products and procuring ratings, the political scene in the United States has devolved over the years into a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population.

Indeed, Donald Trump may be the smartest move yet by the powers-that-be to keep the citizenry divided and at each other’s throats, because as long as we’re busy fighting each other, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny in any form.

This is the magic of the reality TV programming that passes for politics today.

It allows us to be distracted, entertained, occasionally a little bit outraged but overall largely uninvolved, content to remain in the viewer’s seat.

The more that is beamed at us, the more inclined we are to settle back in our comfy recliners and become passive viewers rather than active participants as unsettling, frightening events unfold.

Reality and fiction merge as everything around us becomes entertainment fodder.

Read it All:


Trump’s appointments are all establishment players. Obama played the liberals. Trump is about to play Joe Six Pack. They both take their orders from the same people.

Posted in Are We doomed?, Economics and Politics | Leave a comment

Helen Fisher: Technology hasn’t changed love. Here’s why

In our tech-driven, interconnected world, we’ve developed new ways and rules to court each other, but the fundamental principles of love have stayed the same, says anthropologist Helen Fisher. Our faster connections, she suggests, are actually leading to slower, more intimate relationships. At 12:20, couples therapist and relationship expert Esther Perel steps in to make an important point — that while love itself stays the same, technology has affected the way we form and end relationships.


Posted in Understand and Manage Ourselves, Values and Sense of Life | Leave a comment

A better way to talk about love

In love, we fall. We’re struck, we’re crushed, we swoon. We burn with passion. Love makes us crazy and makes us sick. Our hearts ache, and then they break. Talking about love in this way fundamentally shapes how we experience it, says writer Mandy Len Catron. In this talk for anyone who’s ever felt crazy in love, Catron highlights a different metaphor for love that may help us find more joy — and less suffering — in it.


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Paradox of Progress


Thinking about the future is vital but hard. Crises keep intruding, making it all but impossible to look beyond daily headlines to what lies over the horizon. In those circumstances, thinking “outside the box,” to use the cliché, too often loses out to keeping up with the inbox. That is why every four years the National Intelligence Council (NIC) undertakes a major assessment of the forces and choices shaping the world before us over the next two decades.

This version, the sixth in the series, is titled, “Global Trends: The Paradox of Progress,” and we are proud of it. It may look like a report, but it is really an invitation, an invitation to discuss, debate and inquire further about how the future could unfold. Certainly, we do not pretend to have the definitive “answer.”

Long-term thinking is critical to framing strategy. The Global Trends series pushes us to reexamine key assumptions, expectations, and uncertainties about the future. In a very messy and interconnected world, a longer perspective requires us to ask hard questions about which issues and choices will be most consequential in the decades ahead–even if they don’t necessarily generate the biggest headlines. A longer view also is essential because issues like terrorism, cyberattacks, biotechnology, and climate change invoke high stakes and will require sustained collaboration to address.

Peering into the future can be scary and surely is humbling. Events unfold in complex ways for which our brains are not naturally wired. Economic, political, social, technological, and cultural forces collide in dizzying ways, so we can be led to confuse recent, dramatic events with the more important ones. It is tempting, and usually fair, to assume people act “rationally,” but leaders, groups, mobs, and masses can behave very differently—and unexpectedly—under similar circumstances. For instance, we had known for decades how brittle most regimes in the Middle East were, yet some erupted in the Arab Spring in 2011 and others did not. Experience teaches us how much history unfolds through cycles and shifts, and still human nature commonly expects tomorrow to be pretty much like today—which is usually the safest bet on the future until it is not. I always remind myself that between Mr. Reagan’s “evil empire” speech and the demise of that empire, the Soviet Union, was only a scant decade, a relatively short time even in a human life.

Grasping the future is also complicated by the assumptions we carry around in our heads, often without quite knowing we do. I have been struck recently by the “prosperity presumption” that runs deep in most Americans but is often hardly recognized. We assume that with prosperity come all good things—people are happier, more democratic and less likely to go to war with one another. Yet, then we confront a group like ISIL, which shares none of the presumption.

Given these challenges to thinking about the future, we have engaged broadly and tried to stick to analytic basics rather than seizing any particular worldview. Two years ago, we started with exercises identifying key assumptions and uncertainties—the list of assumptions underlying US foreign policy was stunningly long, many of them half-buried. We conducted research and consulted with numerous experts in and outside the US Government to identify and test trends. We tested early themes and arguments on a blog. We visited more than 35 countries and one territory, soliciting ideas and feedback from over 2,500 people around the world from all walks of life. We developed multiple scenarios to imagine how key uncertainties might result in alternative futures. The NIC then compiled and refined the various streams into what you see here.

This edition of Global Trends revolves around a core argument about how the changing nature of power is increasing stress both within countries and between countries, and bearing on vexing transnational issues. The main section lays out the key trends, explores their implications, and offers up three scenarios to help readers imagine how different choices and developments could play out in very different ways over the next several decades. Two annexes lay out more detail. The first lays out five-year forecasts for each region of the world. The second provides more context on the key global trends in train.

The fact that the National Intelligence Council regularly publishes an unclassified assessment of the world surprises some people, but our intent is to encourage open and informed discussions about future risks and opportunities. Moreover, Global Trends is unclassified because those screens of secrets that dominate our daily work are not of much help in peering out beyond a year or two. What is a help is reaching out not just to experts and government officials but also to students, women’s groups, entrepreneurs, transparency advocates, and beyond.

Many minds and hands made this project happen. The heavy lifting was done by the NIC’s Strategic Futures Group, directed by Dr. Suzanne Fry, with her very talented team: Rich Engel, Phyllis Berry, Heather Brown, Kenneth Dyer, Daniel Flynn, Geanetta Ford, Steven Grube, Terrence Markin, Nicholas Muto, Robert Odell, Rod Schoonover, Thomas Stork, and dozens of Deputy National Intelligence Officers. We recognize as well the thoughtful, careful review by NIC editors, as well as CIA’s extremely talented graphic and web designers and production team.

Global Trends represents how the NIC is thinking about the future. It does not represent the official, coordinated view of the US Intelligence Community nor US policy. Longtime readers will note that this edition does not reference a year in the title (the previous edition was Global Trends 2030) because we think doing so conveys a false precision. For us, looking over the “long term” spans the next several decades, but we also have made room in this edition to explore the next five years to be more relevant in timeline for a new US administration.

We hope this Global Trends stretches your thinking. However pessimistic or optimistic you may be about the years ahead, we believe exploring the key issues and choices facing the world is a worthy endeavor.

Sincerely, Gregory Treverton, Chairman, National Intelligence Council

More: https://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends/letter-nic-chairman

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Is Gravitation Interaction or just Curved-Spacetime Geometry?

Abstract.  As there have still been attempts to regard gravity, a 100 years after Einstein’s general relativity, not as a manifestation of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime, but as a physical field (and therefore as a force), it is high time to face the ultimate judge – the experimental evidence – to settle this issue once and for all. Two rulings of the ultimate judge are reminded – (i) the experimental fact that falling particles do not resist their fall rules out the option that gravity may be a force, and (ii) the experiments that confirmed the relativistic effects are impossible in a three-dimensional world, which also implies that gravity is indeed manifestation of the geometry of the real spacetime. It is also stressed that not only are attempts to impose a kind of scientific democracy in physics doomed to failure (because the question of what the external world is, is not necessarily determined by what the majority of physicists claim), but such attempts might, in the end, hamper the advancement of fundamental physics.

1 Introduction Despite that for centuries physicists have known well that there is no democracy in science, there have been attempts in recent years to get rid of the tyranny of experiment and to introduce the “values” of democracy in physics too – to sideline the scientific method silently as an undemocratic method of doing physics and to replace it with purely unscientific “criteria” such as beauty and elegance [3] of the mathematical 1 formalism of proposed theories, ambiguous virtues such as explanatory power, and the core of scientific democracy (which has being implicitly promoted) – if a proposed theory is supported by sufficient number of researchers and a great number of MSc and PhD theses on this theory have been defended, the theory should have the democratic right to be treated equally with the established theories. Not only may allowing any degree of scientific democracy in physics not lead to scientific progress, but it almost certainly may hamper the advancement of fundamental physics and may even have disastrous consequences. Here are two groups of examples of what I think are manifestations of attempted scientific democracy some of which might have held back the progress in fundamental physics (just imagine the funds and the number of researchers involved in the research on string theory, if it turns out that it contradicts the existing experimental evidence, especially if that contradiction could have been discovered years earlier): Proposed theories: In recent years there has been a growing dissatisfaction among physicists with the attempts to regard theories (such as string theory and the multiverse cosmology), which have not been experimentally confirmed, on equal footing with the already accepted physical theories. In December 2014 George Ellis and Joe Silk published in Nature the article “Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics,” whose beginning openly expressed that dissatisfaction and alarm [4]: “This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue – explicitly – that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical.” While the multiverse cosmology does not seem to make any testable predictions (which excludes it from the realm of physics), string theory needs especially rigorous and impartial scrutiny because I think it contradicts the already existing experimental evidence [5]. Alternative interpretations: I will give two examples of interpretations based on misconceptions in spacetime physics. The first is a growing fashion to claim that the notion of relativistic mass (that mass increases with velocity) is a misconception [6]. In fact, it is the claim that mass does not increase with velocity that is an unfortunate and embarrassing misconception, which becomes immediately obvious when two facts are taken explicitly into account: • the very definition of mass (mass is defined as the measure of the resistance a particle offers to its acceleration) • that in relativity acceleration is different in different reference frames. Therefore the mass of a particle cannot be the same in all frames in relative motion. Proper or rest mass (which is an invariant) and relativistic mass (which is framedependent) are exactly like proper time (which is an invariant) and relativistic or coordinate time (which is frame-dependent), and, to some extent, like proper and relativistic length. The second example deals with attempts not to regard gravitational phenomena as actually being manifestations of the non-Euclidean geometry of spacetime (viewing the geometrical presentation of general relativity as pure mathematics), but as caused 2 by a gravitational field (and therefore by a gravitational force). As such attempts still exist a 100 years after the creation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the purpose of this paper is to stress it as strongly as possible that such an interpretation of Einstein’s general relativity is ruled out by the experimental evidence as will be shown in Section 2. It will be also shown in this section that the experiments that confirmed the kinematic relativistic effects would be impossible if spacetime were a mathematical notion not representing a real four-dimensional world. The logically unavoidable implication from (i) the non-existence of gravitational force an (ii) the reality of spacetime that gravitational phenomena are fully explained by the nonEuclidean geometry of spacetime, without the assumption of gravitational interaction, is outlined in Section 3. An Appendix demonstrates that it is almost self-evident that what is traditionally called kinetic energy is in fact inertial energy; it is this energy (not gravitational energy) that is involved in gravitational phenomena.

More: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/12722/1/Gravitation.pdf

This is not the only field of science where the ‘democracy’ arises. Information theory, Artificial intelligence, entropy and complexity – often in these disciplines obscure, misty and mystical pronouncements are distributed. The main notions are not defined and therefore everybody can say everything – nobody can doubt or deny it.  I.V. 

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