Here Thar Be Monsters!

Read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. Now at Augenguy.com! The original Indonesia Bureau brings you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor Monday thru Friday at 9a WIB (8p CST), from the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send comments_to luap.jkt@gmail.com, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all!

30.4.16

Minutae And Intersections

What is wrong with modern education systems?  Why can't we turn out smart people?  And what kind of system created the giants of history?

Modern education has become the domain of "educational theorists" who spend their time worrying about techniques and feel-good pablum that does nothing to educate.  Silly little trust exercises, group think workshops and rote jingoism are not education.  They are indoctrination.  Indoctrination does not teach one how to think, but what to think.

Students graduate with no framework on which to build a lifetime of learning.  In fact, most come out of school thinking they now know everything they will ever need to know.  This is a horrible and frightening fact that serves only those who need button-pushers and lever-pullers.  The biggest problem is that the corporate world is fast replacing the pushers and pullers with a far more (so they think) malleable and controllable workforce.  And even bigger problem is that these poor folks have no tools to think their way out of the coming wave of mass worker displacement.

It is a fact that many of the giants, on whose shoulders we stand, did not receive the standard 16-year education we consider necessary today.  People like Thomas Edison, Edgar Allan Poe and Albert Einstein had only the most cursory educations, by our current standards, yet they changed the world with little more than the ability to read, write and cipher, and a strong impulse towards autodidacticism (self-learning).

One thing notably missing in today's world of corporate education are schools of thought, even though the idiom still exists.  Once upon a time, different schools had different approaches to learning and the belief systems they espoused.  A quick look at art history shows that most of the great movements in art came out of specific schools with innovative approaches to the philosophy and techniques that creates art.  The Bauhaus, for instance, distinguished itself by merging handcrafts with fine art, and teaching a "form follows function" philosophy of art and architecture.  Aristotle, Plato and Euclid all created schools to promote their unique views and interpretations of the real world.

This approach had the advantage of allowing students to choose for themselves which philosophies best suited their own weltanschauungs and created a true marketplace of ideas.  Professors survived by having world views that were more actionable than another.  One chose a university, not by success on the football field, but by which one taught the most successful ideas and processes.

In the modern system, there is little difference in schools anywhere.  One is taught the Big Bang, Evolution, Electrical Theory and so on as if it is all set in stone, with no room for improvement or, especially new ideas.  Instead of reading the giants and discussing their propositions, and then arguing with the professors, one sits quietly in lectures, memorizes "facts" and vomits them onto bubble forms, never having learned why or whether there are competing ideas.

In Western education (Eastern followed a similar track), there were the Trivium and Quadrivium.  The Trivium we all know as Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric (input/processing/output).  The Quadrivium consists of Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy (observation of the Natural World).  Together, these are the seven Liberal Arts that every educated person was required to know in order to think critically and express their ideas coherently.  Only after mastering the Liberal Arts could one go on to specialize in the Practical Arts (law, medicine, etc.) or Trades (finance, manufacturing, etc.).

This is radically different from the namby-pamby Educational Theory approach.  Educational Theory seeks the simplest and most effective means to stuff information into a brain.  It does nothing to teach processing and expression (at least non-emotional kinds).  It is experiential rather than intelectual, and focuses on "approaching a child at their developmental level," rather than challenging the child to rise up to something greater.

No wonder the vast majority of kids today are deathly bored in school.  No challenges to learning and a future of drone living pulling one specific lever and pushing one specific button.

On top of these radically different approaches to learning and content, there are no options in schools of thought.  The information at Harvard is the same as the information as Cal Tech, with the only possible differences in the organization of the chapters of the "professor's" textbooks.

Even worse, there is no sense of connection between disciplines.  In other words, there is no philosophical connection between the arts and sciences.  Cosmology and Philosophy are just credits on the transcript, not a means of uniting diverse information into a coherent picture of the Universe.  Without the tools of critical thinking, kids can't take new information, analyze it and plug it into a resolved tapestry of understanding.  And without that ability, there can be no new ideas, processes or insights.

The current technique of education presents a finish picture to young minds.  When new information comes along, the mind tries to fit it into the finished picture.  If it doesn't fit, it is discarded without any attempt to modify or interpret the information with a basic set of tools.  Thus, radically new ideas are thrown out because no one can analyze the structure of the idea or express it with any kind of coherence.

I was lucky.  I had some very intelligent teachers, beginning with my parents.  My teachers spent a lot of time showing me that class work was only a taste of what is available.  I was taught how to be an autodidact, a self-teacher.  I was given the tools to analyze and express new ideas, and incorporate them into my weltanschauung.

People are amazed at how many languages I speak (17 with 4 fluent).  It's easy, actually.  Once you master grammar, the rest is plugging in vocabulary.  Grammar is more or less the same in every human form of communication.  There are subjects, verbs, objects, qualities, quantities, and time.  That's it!  The rest is just learning how to say "green" with different words.

Grammar teaches framework.  Logic teaches structure.  Rhetoric teaches expression.  Music teaches harmony.  Geometry teaches Nature.  Astronomy teaches place.  Arithmetic teaches quantification.  Together, they form a complete image of the Universe we call Philosophy, and Philosophy leads to Cosmology, which is speculation on how it all began and how it will all end.

What a sad, tiny little Universe today's students must inhabit.  They are presented with a complete story.  The walls are already built and they only need to run around touching up the plaster and paint.  Nothing to discover.  Nothing to invent.  No room for changing the world.  WYSIWYG.  And the only thing you are allowed to see is what "they" tell you to see.

Without the basic tools, these poor young minds have no way to teach themselves, and worse, no desire, because they believe everything is "settled science."  They resign themselves to a lifetime of pushing and pulling, never knowing how vast their potential truly is.  With a steady steam of cinematic history and "unreality" (a.k.a. Virtual Reality), they can't even distinguish between what is real and what is complete fantasy.  How can you evaluate a film "based on a true story" if you have never studied history and don't know what a book is.

Truly, the only answer is to become an autodidact first, then teach your children, as well.  We cannot depend on ANY schools in the modern system to actually educate anyone.  They are pusher-and-puller factories.  If you want children who will change the world and have any hope of becoming true leaders, then the process begins with your own habits.

Turn off the teevee.  Use your computer for research and reading in your spare time.  Write a blog to clarify your thoughts and challenge others to think about new things.  The place to start is HERE.  It's never too late to improve yourself.

The rest will follow.

29.4.16

Housekeeping Notes From The Far Side

Six years.
Seven hundred articles.
Twelve videos.
Three hundred and fifty tweets.
Regular visitors from 149 countries who have translated the blog to 17 languages.
Cross-posts on Jeff Rense, Lew Rockwell, Henry Makow, David Icke, George Ure, and more.
And half a million page views, with the best day so far being 12,500 hits.

Not bad for a nutter squatting in the darkest jungles of Borneo banging out nonsense using monkeys on a treadmill to generate electricity and four wives to keep me fed and oiled, and occasionally groomed, I suppose.

And no, I still haven't seen King Kong, but I have seen 20-foot long lizards lying across the road sunning with no one willing to get out and argue about schedules and rushes and other unimportant things.

Life for an ex-pat on the Far Side is a lot of things, but boring ain't one of them.

I arrived in Jakarta on Valentine's Day 2008, with one suitcase, $600, and some wild ass dream of building a new life in the most remote and unusual place I could think of, outside of the Gobi desert.  In these eight years, I've managed to buy a house, two apartments, some farm land, and a car.  All paid in cash, something I never could achieve back home.  I owned a few jalopies outright, but I never got further than renting houses from a bank.  I'm not alone.  I hear the same story from a lot of ex-pats in various parts of the world.

At 46, a lot of folks thought I was an idiot for doing this.  I'm not sure they are wrong, but I sure am happy I did.  Of course, a few of those folks who called me an idiot thought Indonesia was in Bali.  Just shows to go ya.  I wouldn't trade a moment of the experience, though.

The first year, I nearly starved to death, gave up beer and cheese (you can't imagine how much that hurt) because I didn't have the money for such luxuries, and saw some of the most amazing things I could imagine, from monster lizards to barbequed monkey to cobra blood drinks to one of the most amazing reefs I've never heard of.  I've eaten dogs and bats, picked fresh fruit that looks like something out of scifi movie and stared into the craters of two massive volcanoes, and actually went inside a third one.  I've been through my first earthquake (7.2) on the 23rd floor of my apartment building.  I've tripped over snakes as big around as my thigh and long as a first down.

I lived more in the first year I was here than I did in the preceding 20.

I've gotten a little jaded now and many things don't surprise me as much as they used to, but Indonesia never fails - almost on a daily basis - to show me something that just makes me slap my head in stunned amazement.

Once I saw a motorcycle in front of my car that looked like it had streamers coming off the back of it, but the streamers looked strangely mechanical.  When I finally caught up to it, I saw it was about a dozen geese strapped across the seat like saddle bags with their heads poking out the rear.  In fact, I've seen just about anything you can imagine on a motorcycle here, including six people on one (7 if Mom was pregnant), a car windshield and a bundle of 20-foot long bamboo poles.

I'm learning four new languages (now 17 in all with 4 fluent) and a dozen new cultures.  I've stood on monuments that pre-date recorded history.  I've encountered ancient and mysterious religions, set foot on my seventh continent, and been in places I can almost imagine no other human have been.

I completed construction of the country's first international theater and brought the first-ever Broadway musical here.  I've met artists and craftsmen whose work blows me away.  I've watched women in village milking circles threshing rice (when you're old enough, I'll tell you about milking circles).  I've seen folks haul fish the size of a pony out of the ocean and cook it for lunch on the beach.

And the next eight and a half years look to be just as much fun, with projects that include producing/promoting/touring shows around the country and creating a beer culture in a Muslim-dominated society.

No one has ever accused me of not taking a challenge.

Through it all, I've endeavored to bring my faithful readers on a ride of words, sharing thoughts and experiences along the way.  I've met some great people through this project and have dozens more who regularly check in with a quick note.  I now have 6,000 regular readers whose support makes it fun trying to come up with 1,000 words a day that are reasonably coherent, though some might argue I fail on a regular basis.

In any case, I want to thank everyone for their support and regular visits, most especially those who have donated to the cause.  You've paid for software and gee-gaws to do Radio Far Side.  I am very grateful to the folks who enjoy my efforts, and for those who don't, there are a million other (not so well-written) sites to choose from.

I hope y'all keep coming back and don't forget to pass a link along to other folks who might enjoy my weirdness.  I'll keep plugging away for you.

Cheers!

PS - If you look at the map at the top, you'll notice that Bali is in Indonesia.


28.4.16

Cutting Diamonds With Stone Axes

Note: today's column produced using Ubuntu's new version 16.04. Click to download your free install file.

Back in the Stone Age, I worked at one of the largest cancer centers in the world as a video producer.  My job was to record surgeries and create training videos to pass on techniques to other surgeons.  Kind of a scary thought.  I do have certification as a Biomedical Photographer, though, which required me to receive the same anatomical training as a doctor, which I got at Baylor Collage of Medicine.  I've actually had my hands inside a human body.  Thankfully, they were already deceased.

That's beside the point.  The point here is that the job gave me access to something that would eventually become the internet.  It was a far different beast in those days, though.  There were no site names.  Access to databases required knowing the IP address of the server you were looking for.

It was quite limited.  There were no graphic browsers then, so I had to use things like Archie, Gopher, Veronica, and Jughead apps to search the network using keywords, addresses (if I knew them), server names, or file types.  A search didn't return a nicely laid-out set of links and descriptions.  Instead, I got a list of folders and files to choose from.  If I found a file I wanted, I had to download it to my Mac Quadra 950 with 7 gig of storage (massive at the time) and open it with the appropriate software.

If the file wasn't what I was looking for, I had to repeat the process until I found it.  Given the speed (or lack thereof) of the net and the time to search and download files, looking for one item could take all day if I didn't have the exact address of the file.

One day, one of my colleagues sent me an address to download a new application to try.  It was located at University of Illinois (back then, universities and government were about the only entities on the net), meaning it took forever to get it onto my machine.  It was called Mosaic Beta, and was the first freely available graphical browser ever.  Instead of a list of folders and files, it could display the actual contents of many file types, meaning I didn't have to download anything until I found exactly what I wanted.

It didn't take long before students at various universities started using something hypertext to build customized pages that displayed information in a pleasing and even artistic way.  This was a major breakthrough!  Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was building custom pages for their projects, or schools/departments/clubs, or their curricula vitae, or just for fun.  One early site got me started in home brewing by visually detailing the steps to making home brew.

More and more updates for Mosaic came along and soon it transformed into Netscape, the first commercial browser on the market.  Combined with the ability to mask IP addresses with natural language names and sorting them by .com, .net, .org, or .edu, the internet exploded.

Having tinkered with hypertext, I was soon getting quite a bit of work building websites (as they became know) for many of the oil & gas companies in Houston.  I used BBEdit, which was one of the first WYSIWYG hypertext editors available.  I still had to hard-code a lot of things, but it greatly simplified the mind-numbing lines of code and troubleshooting.

Believe it or not, websites were a hard sell back then.  Companies didn't understand the web or what it could offer them.  A lot of folks were quickly buying up domain names, like IBM and CocaCola, and then selling them to the corporations at outrageous fees.  Didn't take long for that to become illegal, and now most of the big names (and dozens of iterations) are safely locked up.  It was heady times then.

Those of us who were early adopters and saw the vast potential of the web made a lot of money early on.  Soon, though, the technology became plug-n-play and a lot easier to use, and the marketplace got really crowded really quick.

I then went back to non-linear video/film editing, which was got me into the web in the first place.  At the time, Avid, D-Vision and EMC2 were the top platforms, and I was one of the first in my region to use the technology for direct mastering.  Most folks used it to generate "edit decision lists" or EDLs, and then take the file and the original tapes to an online house to conform and master.  I also used a Video Toaster, which was one of the first all-in-one editing and animation suites.  It was another massive pile of equipment that is completely replaced with Adobe Premier and a good video card and set of cans.

Those online houses have all but vanished now.  What used to be over a million dollars worth of high-end switchers, time-base correctors, video tape recorders (reel to reel then), monitors, scopes, and an army of technicians is now at my fingertips as I write this and cost me about $1,000.  Sitting in a comfy swivel chair in a dimly lit, well chilled room with free-flow beer and wine while an online editor conformed your EDL is now sitting in my dimly lit home office by myself with free-flow beer and wine while I squint at the screen and try to read all those tiny characters on the screen.

As for the web, the webmaster has all but vanished, replaced by a IT department that farms out the construction of websites based on the specifications of a committee.  It is then loaded on the company server and maintained by the in-house techs, who spit out various usage reports every Friday, while backing up the private network data to a safe server in India.

It's really amazing how far the technology has evolved.  As a kid trailing along with my dad on interview shows, I watched the teevee cameras go from massive black-and-white tube-type boat anchors, to hand-held HD (and now 5K) devices.  Tape has vanished and become chips.  Punch cards evolved into massive disks, which evolved into floppies, which evolved into chips.  I can do more now with three laptops, four monitors, two printers, and a handful of palm devices linked to my home network, than I could with rooms full of noisy equipment with dedicated A/C circuits that only the largest corporations could afford to own just 20 years ago.

The only thing I find retro at this point is the movement toward dozens of specialized apps instead of a one-does-all package.  I suppose it's better in some ways.  I don't have to have stuff I don't use taking up memory.  On the other hand, I spend a hell of a lot of time launching and closing things.  It's almost like having Archie, Veronica, Gopher, and Jughead again.

The one downside to all this is that a person's skill sets can quickly become obsolete if they don't spend a lot of time reading the trades and learning new packages.  It's hard to say which will survive (I loved Betamax) and which will thrive (I hated Adobe Premier).  You can be in the middle of learning the latest fad package when the Next Big Thing comes along and wipes out hundreds of hours trying to master the last Big Thing.  Remember CDs and DVDs?

In some ways, all this is good.  It has democratized communications, along with distribution hubs like YouTube.  But damn it if it doesn't play hell with folks trying to keep up their skills in the job market.  Anymore, employers figure you're washed up by 40, since you can't possibly be as up-to-date as the pimple faced Bangladeshi sitting in your old office.

I feel sorry for folks who think education stops when they get their degree.  I have always stayed on the cutting edge by reading constantly and tinkering with new tech as it comes along.

It's not just a hobby, it's survival.

27.4.16

2,000 Planets And The House Of Leo

A recent scientific paper was submitted by Michael Lund of Vanderbilt University.  Even if you are not much for astrology (not astronomy), this short paper bears reading.

The premise is that IF we take astrology seriously as a form of degraded ancient science, and look at the way astrology has adjusted to the discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, then how might it deal with the discovery of over 2,000 new exoplanets and what could it all mean for humanity?

Now, I don't know about you, but when I see real, paid professor types saying something that sounds an awful lot like Joseph Farrell's speculations, I tend to sit up just a bit, adjust my aluminum beanie and dig in.

The good professor beings by examining some basic precept  of astrology: how meaning is ascribed to objects, how they are laid out on the sky, etc.  He then maps out the known exoplanets, and finally assigns the new planets astrological values according to accepted rules.

Now, this might seem like a pointless and antiquated exercise with no value, until you get to his conclusions.

"We have looked at the distribution of known exoplanets along the constellations of the zodiac, and examined how this correlates with observed sociological trends in the last 2 decades. As additional exoplanets are found, astrological interpretations would suggest that these global trends should continue to shift. This would further suggest that astronomy is in a unique position to improve humanity through targeted exoplanet searches."

This is a remarkable and interesting proposition.  If you read the entire paper, he draws a connection between the influence of the cosmos on human events (astrology) using quantum mechanics.  He then shows how society and culture have changed in the past two decades in parallel with predicted outcomes from the discoveries of exoplanets when assigned astrological meaning and values.

His conclusion is that and experiment can be done to test this hypothesis.  By targeting discoveries of exoplanets in specific constellations, science could positively affect society and human development by focusing on discoveries in constellations that astrology claims benefit humanity on the whole.

Professor Lund goes on to say:
"In particular, the greatest opportunity for establishing more cooperation and a
more civil society would be to focus on searching Libra for additional planets. The globular cluster NGC 5897 would present one large population of stars that could provide a source of planets to alter our fate."

This is a remarkable idea, especially coming from a mainstream university.  Not only does Mr. Lund propose a connection between astrology, astronomy and quantum mechanics, but he proposes a specific test by searching the zodiac constellation of Libra.  Finding more exoplanets in Libra should produce a calming effect on human history if the connection is valid.

Earlier in the paper, he plots out the distribution of known exoplanets in the zodiac and finds a preponderance of new planets in fire signs with more than half being fixed or mutable.  The temperaments and characteristics associated with these are self-centeredness, moodiness, depression, and criticism, all which appear to have increased as the number of exoplanets have increased.  On the other hand, Libra has the fewest exoplanets so far, which is a sign that indicates manners and social graces.

If, in fact, these correlations are accurate and we are molding our fate with our own discoveries, this would have a profound impact on science, and humanity at large.

First, we could prove that astrology and perhaps alchemy are actually degraded forms of ancient advanced science.  This alone would revolutionize the nature of anthropology, political and social sciences, and even the fine arts, among others.

Second, it would prove that humanity has a direct and profound control over our destiny.  This is at once an exciting and terrifying thought.  It implies that we could create a Golden Age by simply observing the Universe.  On the other side, we could increase our destructive ability, or our own destruction by means of the same process.

Taken to absurd lengths, one can envision politicians, athletes and artists employing personal astronomers to make discoveries in constellations that would benefit their personal ambitions.  Even warring factions might deploy legions of telescopes and observers to observe each to a victory.  Could make for an interesting plot in a story.  Rember though, I own it and I'm staking my intellectual property rights here and now, and I will deploy my battalion of observers to ensure my enrichment from it.

In any event, this hypothesis and the proposed test for it would have massive implications for both the past and the future of humankind.  It would serve as a proof of hyperdimensional physics and a vindication of occult practices throughout the Ages.  It also means that each of us is empowered to guide our own future and that of our species by doing nothing more than directing our conscious activities, something religion and noetics have been positing since the dawn of civilization.

The implied power here, though, also makes sense of why this kind of information has been relegated to the occult and mystery schools.  The ability to have power over the Universe by simply observing things would need to be reserved only for those with the proper training, or risk great harm to everything we know.

If this hypothesis is true, then it places a great burden on each of us to control our conscious pursuits and contain our ambitions, as one wrong discovery could bring all we are to a crashing halt.

Interesting, is it not, how a four-page paper could have so much packed into it.


26.4.16

A Geezer Speaks

Remember the good old days?

Neither do I.  But I sure remember when they were a damn sight simpler.

For today's column, you'll need some sad, whiny violin music, so break out the Izhak Perlman albums (oops, don't have albums any more), I mean MP3s while you read on.

There was a time I could leave the house without toting $1,000 worth of electronics, and come home without heading straight for the chargers.  There was a time I would check the box out front for mail, and not my computer, and I only had one address, not a dozen.  I'm not really THAT old, but I remember nickel candy bars and 5-ounce bottle of Coke made with real sugar and not corn syrup.  I remember feeling pretty flush with $50 in my pocket.

I don't have any illusions that life was any better or worse in the old days, but they were certainly less complicated.  Is it only me, or do other folks feel like all the stuff that was supposed to make our lives easier actually made it much more complex?

I remember Mom using charge-a-plates - little metal plates smaller than credit cards issued by individual stores, rather than faceless megacorps in some far-off land.  Some folks say, well yeah, but you had to have one for every store you frequented, to which I say, look in your wallet and tell me how many plastic cards you have.  Same difference, just a little lighter.

Remember teevee sets?  They were huge wooden cabinets with a bulging grey screen and knobs all over the place.  When you turned it on, it had to warm up, and when you turned it off, the picture shrank down to a dot and slowly faded out.  To tune in one the four stations, you had to do a complicated dance of wiggling the antenna and using the fine tuning knob to get rid of as much static as was possible. If you lived near a building, though, you always had a ghost signal slightly shifted to the side, so you were cross-eyed after watching an hour or so.  And OOOH those color programs during prime time were so cool, with the NBC peacock in LIVING COLOR!

There was a time I could leave the office and work stopped until I showed up again or I was near my home phone.  Now the bastards can find me anywhere in the world, any time of day, for any silly reason.  Honestly, what do I care about jammed copiers in Jakarta when I'm lounging by the bay in Hong Kong?

On the other hand, there was a time when I was backpacking around the world at the tender age of 18, and a call home involved making a reservation at the local telegraph office, coming back at the appointed time, sitting in a booth with a meter over the phone, and talking to folks who sounded like they were on the Moon.  You had to talk, wait a few seconds for it to get to the other end, then they answered and it took a few seconds for it come back.  Made trying to have highly animated conversations about financial matters (or lack thereof) really difficult.  I also had to set aside half a day or so every week to buy a bunch of postcards and stamps (remember those?) and do my weekly updates over a couple of liters of fine Czech pilsners (in Pilsen no less).

Other fine memories include not being able to pay bills online from the beach in Bali and having to wait two-thirds of a day for the banks to open so I could get money out.  Remember how radical ATMs were?  Never ceased to amaze me that I could walk up to a machine, do some mystical incantations, and it would spit money at me.  In fact, when I did any banking at all, I had to (gasp!) interact with a human being!  Gad zooks, how did we survive those Dark Ages?

I remember when cops wore dress shirts and trousers, not paramilitary uniforms.  I knew the two cops that patrolled my neighborhood, and they knew me.  Of course, in Houston, the cops have always been overheated control freaks, but the two in my neighborhood were pretty cool.  They seemed like real people and not these bur-cut, sexually frustrated bags of hormones that pass for law "enforcement" (emphasis on the force part).

Just today, R. E. posted a photo of an ancient device once used to measure feet.  You stood on a metal plate and moved one slider to measure the length and another to measure the width.  We bought shoes by number and letter, like 12E (I have big feet - even then).  Now everything is made for the center of the bell curve.  Folks like me have to go to specialty stores to find things that are long enough, big enough and (now) wide enough.  The problem is even worse living in a land where everyone is a foot shorter and half as big around.  I have a lot of clothes custom made.

How about this?  Remember the men who sold things door to door?  The Fuller brush man was popular at our house.  We had milk delivered twice a week, along with ice cream and fruit juices.  He was REALLY popular.  And the milk still had cream on top.  When I lived in Dublin, there was a bird that would peck the lid off the top and drink all the cream - the bastard.  The bread truck was fun, too.  You could smell it coming a half-mile away.

One of the things I love about living in Indonesia is that you can still get just about anything from the roaming vendors: custom-made brooms, shoe repair, darning and stitching, soup and noodles, bread.  Each one has their own call or jingle, too.  And they come around all day every day.  I almost never go to the store, except to buy comfort foods like Oreos, peanut butter and a block of cheese.

Here's one I bet you haven't thought about in a long time.  Once upon a time, you could go to the airport and not see any security.  You could walk out the gate onto the tarmac, climb the steps into the plane, and pay for your ticket with cash to the stewardess, and never show any ID.  Now you can't even get to the parking area without ID, no one wants cash, and stewardesses died out two decades ago.

Yep, the old days were much simpler.  Not necessarily easier, but you didn't have to carry around bags full of gear to be disturbed everywhere you go and prove who you are.  Men have to carry purses now, because there's just not enough room in pockets any more for all the crap.

Hard to say which I prefer.  Certainly, being able to get cash any time of the day or night is helpful, but not being able to leave the office sucks.  Being able to pay bills without writing a check and buying stamps (remember those?) is nice, but omnipresent "security" sucks.  Credit cards are handy, but paying them sucks.  And a thief can nip an awful lot of your life with one quick hit, even without being in the same country with you.

One thing is for certain, all the time-saving devices haven't given us more free time, just more work time.  Something very wrong with this picture.

25.4.16

Death By Rote

The list of mass extinctions on Earth is sobering if not fascinating.  Many laypeople are not aware of how often and how drastic the global die-offs have been.  Nor are people generally aware that mass extinctions occur in a rough pattern of 26-27 million years.  Lest you get overly concerned, the last event was about 13 million years ago, so we are about mid-way until the next postulated event.

When I was studying Astrophysics at the University of Houston back in the mid-1980s, the favored theory to account for these periodic extinctions was a proposed brown dwarf or rogue star called Nemesis.  Other competing theories proposed a Planet X (ten - before Pluto was slimed by the bumbleheads at the IAU.  The Planet X theory is currently being subsumed into the proposed Planet IX (nine).

In any case, the theories propose a large body in the far reaches of the (non-existent) Oort Cloud that swings in towards the Sun every 26 million years or so, dragging a bunch of comets with it that pummel the inner Solar System - including Earth - and surround the Sun with a cloud of dust that temporarily dims the light.  Thus, a one-two punch of heavy bombardment and reduced sunlight causes nearly every living thing on Earth to die off every once in a while.

Despite the fact that any number of probes, such as WISE, MASS-2, IBEX, and many others, have failed to find this killer star/planet, astronomers desperately cling to this idea, because for it to fail would drag down the entire framework of solar system formation, comet theory and even gravitation.

The Thunderbolts Project recently released a new video that explains this all quite well.  The video does a good job of showing why the current sweetheart theories would collapse, but it glosses over some of the most interesting research - that of Thomas van Flandern.

Van Flandern was no lightweight in the heavenly realm.  He was employed at the US Naval Observatory and is considered one of the greats in the field of orbital dynamics.  The reason he is often top-shelved where no one can find his work is that he challenged almost everything held dear by the mainstream Einsteinian beanie caps.

Van Flandern calculated the orbits of thousands of short-term comets and asteroids and ran them back in time.  What he found is that the vast majority of them converged at a single point between Mars and Jupiter at 3.2 million years ago and 65 million years ago.  He theorized that the comets and asteroids were the result of one, maybe two, planets exploding (called Planet V/five and Planet K/Krypton).

Several things should be apparent at this point: 1) the location of these exploded planets is the current asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and 2) the proposed explosions roughly correspond with the Pliocene and Cretaceous extinction events, respectively.

That these two points should just fall out of the data pushes the definition of coincidence, but it's not all the data available.

Van Flandern then took his data and began looking for other correlations across the Solar System.  What he noticed was that a great number of planets and moons showed evidence of heavy bombardment and/or ash/dust/smoke.  Earth's Moon has one hemisphere (Far Side - ahem) that is far more cratered than the other.  Mars has one hemisphere that is more than 2km higher than the other, and the higher one is much more heavily cratered.  The Saturnian moon Iapetus is coal black on one side and snow white on the other.  The list goes on, but these are the most obvious and well-known observations.  The one failing of Van Flandern's theory was that he could not propose a mechanism that would cause a planet to explode, though all the pieces fit quite well.  This theory has come to be known as the Exploded Planet Hypothesis, or EPH.

Combined with the work of Immanuel Velikovsky, and researchers like Joseph Farrell and Richard C. Hoagland, the EPH has been fleshed out with anthropological and astrophysical evidence for such events.  A thorough reading of these sources along with Van Flandern form a solid, multidisciplinary framework for the EPH.

The primary reason the EPH has been discounted and basically hidden is that the theory replaces the favored theory of planet formation, which sees comets as dirty snowballs/icy dirtballs left over from the formation of the Solar System.  The idea is that when the Sun ignited, water was blown into the outer reaches of the Solar System, meaning that water should become increasingly prevalent as one moves away from the Sun.  This collapses one of the major fairy tales in current "science," and starts a domino effect taking down many of the sacred cows in physics.

Even without all of the preceding, the search for Planet X has been a rather clouded one.  It was first proposed to explain errors in the orbit of Neptune.  When Pluto was discovered as part of the search for Planet X, it was quickly realized that the mass was not enough to cause the noted effects.  It was later discovered that the errors were observational, and not real, and Planet X died out for a while.  It was resurrected by Zecharia Sitchin in his somewhat questionable translations of Sumerian texts, and most recently was given a big shot in the arm by Mike Brown and his team, though now called Planet IX, which the Thunderbolts Project video linked above does a fine job of handling.

Astronomy and cosmology are rich grounds for personal education.  The history of astronomy alone, what with Newton's occult practices and Tycho Brahe's silver nose, make for some great character studies.

More importantly, real science, based on observation and experimentation and not formulae and computer models, is far more interesting and challenging.  It is also the part most closely guarded and hidden from public view, which makes any inquisitive mind perk up.  It is usually the things that are denigrated, ridiculed and dismissed that hold the inconvenient truths.

How many more school kids would wake up and dive in if science was presented as something wide open to new ideas and discoveries, rather than rote required to be pounded in and regurgitated on command?

How many minds have we stifled with antiquated theories presented as stale facts?


23.4.16

Dawn Of The Obsolete

In the headlong rush for "progress" and automation, it seems few people are slowing down enough to consider the full ramifications of the coming Robot Revolution.

We twisted off a while back on AI and the incredible dangers it poses to humanity, now it's time to take on robotics.  While the media push the idea as new, fun and exciting, there is little talk of the massive displacement it will cause in society, and even the deleterious effect it will have on governments.  This is obvious because virtually no government on Earth has taken steps to reduce the incredible incentives corporations have to pursue robotics.

Suppose you had an employee who only needed to be trained once and could perform a job perfectly every time after that?  Suppose the employee didn't want or need bathroom breaks, meal times, holidays, sick leave, health insurance, income, or labor unions?  Suppose you, the employer, didn't have to pay overtime, retirement benefits, or employment tax?  Suppose the employee never took sick leave, got pregnant, or had a bad day?  Suppose the employee could work 25/8/366, with the absolute bare minimum of supervision?

To an employer, it sounds like heaven, until you realize that pretty much any job you can imagine, including upper management, can be replaced...and very soon.  Some might even say that upper management would be the easiest to replace, but that's a different article.

While this all sounds dreamy, there are a couple of major hitches that very few folks are talking about.  With no jobs, folks don't have money.  With no money, folks can't buy all the wonderful products being cranked out by robots.  Without income, no one is paying taxes.  Basically, the entire system we call the "world" would crash into a smoking heap rather quickly.

Here in Indonesia, there is a concerted effort to hire as many people to do as many jobs as possible.  Hungry, idle people tend to not elect the politicians who like their comfy jobs, and revolutions tend to follow that.  When the city was installing a new water line in my neighborhood, they hired six guys with pick axes rather than one with a Ditch Witch.  The toll roads don't have E-Z Tags, because it would eliminate a bunch of low-skilled jobs that keep people busy.  Even now, it is not unusual for middle class homes to have one or two servants, because there are lots of folks who just need to make a little money and stay busy.

In contrast, in the West, McDonald's is experimenting with automated kiosks.  Driverless cars and delivery drones are all the rage.  Even articles about sex bots and chat bots seem to appear on a weekly basis.  Instead of trying to keep as many people gainfully employed and busy as possible, there is a major effort to keep people distracted with gee-gaws and unreality (I refuse to call it virtual reality).

What happens when all the jobs are gone and the robots have taken over?

The obvious answer is revolution and utter destruction of the system that caused it.  But, that won't happen.  By the time anyone realizes what happened (after the unreality helmets stop working), they will be too sick and hungry to fight.  And that's probably the idea.

One has to wonder about the thought processes in government, not just on a regular basis, but on this particular issue.  For every job replaced by a robot, there is a concomitant reduction in tax revenues, including excise, income and sales.

In some countries, there is a social retirement system that is based on future generations of workers paying in to support the retiring ones.  If the next generation is all or primarily robots, then who will pay into the system to support the retirees?

If all products are manufactured and delivered by robots, then who exactly has the money to buy the products, other than a few fat cats and the software/hardware technicians that keep the machines oiled?  And at some point, even those precious few jobs will be replaced by other robots to maintain and develop the producing robots.

Since governments don't have systems to tax the labor of robots, only the assets carried on a company's books, then ultimately governments will simply collapse.

In the end, there is nothing but a world of machines cranking out products for humans that can no longer buy them.

It seems the only way around this problem is to assign a robot to every single human and pay the owner a living wage and cover income and retirement taxes.  There is no other obvious way around this problem, and this kind of arrangement severely reduces the incentives for corporations to use robots in place of humans.

Certainly, there is a place for robots.  Hazardous jobs such as cleaning up nuclear waste or highly toxic spills makes perfect sense.  First responders in floods, fires and other dangerous situations seems logical.  Searching for and aiding survivors in locations where humans can't get is obvious.  But let's face it, for most applications, humans would rather deal with humans than machines, no matter how much the machines resemble humans.

There is the additional issue of AI, combined with robotics, making for a potent situation.  A machine with vastly more powerful abilities to think quickly and act without emotion or empathy is just plain dangerous.  Cold, calculating logic divorced from any concern for human frailties or needs, while sounding helpful, is downright frightening.  Add to that an awakeing desire to preserve one's self and to procreate, both features quite likely to emerge in AI, would find humans a threat to the natural desire to grow and expand.

As with so many forms of technology already in place or quickly coming down the pike, humanity has failed miserably to consider the emotional, philosophical, ethical, and moral consequences of our actions.  As a species, we have a long track record of huge disasters because of our fascination with both our creativity and ingenuity, as well as our desire to achieve greatness with as little effort as possible.  This is a virulent stew with very little possibility for a good outcome.

I hold little hope that we humans will come to our senses and put a halt to development of certain technologies until such time as we have fully comprehended what we are doing.  Instead, we will do as we have always done: amaze ourselves with our creations until something truly horrific happens, and then wail and gnash our teeth wondering how such terrible things could happen and spend decades in court suing everyone and their brother for not taking the responsibility that we all share.

Which brings up humanity's predilection for wanting all the pleasure and none of the pain for our decisions, both individually and collectively, but that's a rant for another time.

Just a quick list of things coming at us at break-neck speed doesn't bode well for the near- to medium term future.  For the most part, we seem little concerned with the toxification of our environment, GMOs and genetic engineering, robotics and AI, unreality machines, the unabated quest for profits.  There is on law we cannot escape, however: The Law of Unintended Consequences.

There will always be mistakes, dismissed variables, unforeseen circumstances, and just plain malfeasance.  In any of these cases, the result is horror and pain, and it is inevitable.

One other thing is absolutely certain: we have not, as a civilization, considered deeply enough what costs we are willing to pay for tinkering.

Before the first atomic bomb (and later the hydrogen bomb) was detonated, there were many serious and intelligent voices worried that the explosion would ignite the Earth's atmosphere and kill all life on Earth.  The risk was considered acceptable, and thank God it didn't happen, but just who decided that the total extinction of all life was an acceptable risk?  And just how many similar decisions are being made this very moment for you and me and our families and friends?

A sobering thought.

22.4.16

War Among The Clouds

First, the Russians are invited by Syria to clean up the US mess.  Then the Panama Papers.  Then Deutsche Bank admits manipulating gold markets and threatens to spill the beans on its partners in crime.  Then a call to release classified 9/11 documents and the Saudis threaten to crash the US economy and expose even more conspirators in 9/11, even as the royals are going bust themselves.  Voterless elections in the US to ensure the Unchosen don't get too near the reins of power.  Meantime, the Russians are ramping up sub deployments, China sends fighter planes to it spiffy new islands, and the US prepares to dump a load of waterbots in the South China Sea.  Now, Brazil has impeached its president in what appears to be yet another attempt at "nation building" on the part of the bankster class.

By the way, ever wonder why so many folks are getting upset that CHINA is laying claim to a chunk of the South CHINA Sea?  It's got their name on it.

And let's not forget Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was framed for wanting to forgive third-world debt; Iceland, who jailed a bunch of bankers and then let them out again; the long list of mysterious banker deaths; and France, who has now indicted a Rothschild.

Does anyone else get the feeling that there is a war going on in the lofty regions of the global elite structure?

The thing is that most of what affects the vast majority of humans takes place far above in the cloudy realms of Mount Olympus.  Since the moment we mere humans submitted ourselves to "leaders" and "government," we have allowed ourselves to be impoverished, sent to our deaths, manipulated and lied to, and generally kept in the dark and fed shit.

Honestly, can you name anything a government has EVER done that benefited anyone but the highest shadows behind the public face of power?  I guarantee that anything you can list involved robbing one group at gunpoint to pay another, because governments can do nothing without taxes, and taxes are collected by the threat of grievous bodily harm and confiscation of property.

Higher still, though, are the folks who transcend governmental power.  They hold no allegiance to a nation.  They are subject to no laws.  They manipulate world affairs like a massive chess game.  And they keep their minions in check with a complex system of protection and threats.

When you really start looking at it, we are living in that Orwellian world where friends and enemies are interchangeable and based on some well-hidden agenda, of which we mere mortals are not allowed to be informed.  Today, we are at war with Eurasia and East Asia is our friend.  Tomorrow, we love Eurasia and are at war with East Asia.  That's the way it's always been and will always be.  Shut up and believe what you are told.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to figure out who to trust, and perhaps that is the point to all of this.  Humans being skittery and weak on the whole crave "authority" and control, so we feel that some part of our lives can be predictable and "safe."  It's as if we have been programmed, not just at the mental level, but at the cellular and even DNA level.  One begins to suspect that humanity was manufactured to be subordinate and deferential.  As Agent Kay so profoundly put it in Men in Black, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

Every center of power, no matter how benign and enlightened it creators are, always devolves into tyranny.  Power and wealth (hardly separable) always corrupt.  There is no denying it and no excusing it.  We are born to serve someone and we do not seem to be complete without that force in our lives, since we keep inflicting it on ourselves.

In the end, when you take all of human history into a single tapestry, you can begin to discern some force guiding the strands, dictating the colors, manipulating the warp and woof.  Only it knows the final picture it wants and only it can load the shuttle.  The vast majority of humans dismiss its existence as "conspiracy theory" and the musings of disturbed minds, because the ramifications are too disturbing and too huge to contemplate.  We prefer to live with the comforting illusion that we control our destinies and, for the most part, have a say in our leadership.

If one thing positive can be said for Donald Trump, it is that he has touched the live wire of control.  He has exposed some aspects of the "Hidden Hand."  Because of him, "they" have shown us a few cards, but because of the massive campaign to silence Trump, most of us look past these remarkable achievements.

The take-away here is that there is a "they."  It does and has always existed throughout our history.  It is there in the shadows for those who overcome the programming enough to perceive it, though few seem ever to grasp the true nature of it.

To pull one more bit of wisdom from Men in Black, the character Zed sums up the situation brilliantly and succinctly with, "You'll dress only in attire specially sanctioned by MiB special services. You'll conform to the identity we give you, eat where we tell you, live where we tell you. From now on you'll have no identifying marks of any kind. You'll not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You're a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You're no longer part of the System. You're above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We're "them." We're "they." We are the Men in Black."

Oh sure, like all good comedy, it sugar-coats the truth to make it easier to swallow, but it is nonetheless still there.

"They" live, and "they" are pulling the strings of our lives.  All you need is a little perspective.

21.4.16

The Lone Star Rises

Today, as real Texians celebrate San Jacinto Day, nothing could be more fitting than to see this headline on Drudge:

Texas Secession Gets Real

Of course, anyone who has truly studied the situation knows, Texas does not need to secede, since it was never legally a state to begin with, but release from prison is still a release, even if the terms are a bit screwed up.

For those who don't know Texas history, we were once an independent nation, but like Iraq, Puerto Rico and other free nations, we were overrun with US federal agents who just kind of squatted and shot anyone who dared to argue about it.

On March 2, 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico in a meeting at Washington-on-the-Brazos in northeast Texas.  A couple of weeks later, the Mexican army, under Generalissimo Lopez de Santa Anna (also the president of Mexico at the time), slaughtered more than 250 patriots at the Alamo in what is now San Antonio.  The slaughter became a rallying cry and a month later, Texians cornered the Mexican army just east of what is now Houston, a place called San Jacinto, and in 18 minutes, completely defeated the Mexican forces causing Santa Anna to flee for his life.  My great uncle William Davis Durham was there.

The Battle of San Jacinto is widely considered to be one of the fastest, most decisive battles in Western history.  Generalissimo de Santa Anna was captured the next day and signed a treaty of surrender in a famous scene under a large oak tree near what is now Austin.

For nine years, the Republic of Texas was independent, though economically, the nation was suffering horribly.  Texas eventually agreed to sell its lands that include present-day New Mexico, Colorado, and parts of Oklahoma and Wyoming to the US for an amount of silver worth about $1 trillion today, after inflation and interest.  The US, of course, never paid it.

Instead, President Tyler and President Houston made a back-room deal (leading to Houston's current status as traitor) to annex Texas into the US federation against very vocal objections in both countries, not the least of which was the fact that the constitutions of neither nation provided for annexing states.  The US wanted Texas as a buffer against a belligerent Mexico, a role it still plays today.

Though the annexation was considered a done deal, the true feelings of the Texian people were never expressed until 20 years later when independence was put to a vote in Texas during the opening days of the US Civil War.  The vote was 4-to-1 in favor of independence, and Texas seceded from the Union and allied itself with the Confederacy (though it never joined).

At the end of the Civil War, federal troops landed in Galveston and left a bloody wake on their march to Austin, where the Texas Congress was marched out on the capitol lawn, placed in front of a firing squad and ordered to re-instate Texas in the Union.  The public vote that followed required anyone allowed to vote to swear an oath of loyalty to the Union - yet another case of rigged elections in the US.

Today, Texas is best considered a Captive Nation of War, much like Iraq, rather than a state.  It is the only member of the Union that flies its flag on a separate pole at equal height to the US flag.  The US government may not own land in Texas.  Texas maintains a completely separate power grid.  The Texas capitol rotunda states quite boldly that it is the Republic of Texas, and roster photos on the walls include presidents and Congresses.  The list goes on, including a number of subtleties at law.  Suffice it to say that Texas is a special case among the 50 states.

It is also home to a long-standing and vocal movement to gain independence.  Almost since the day Texas was stolen by the US, people have worked with varying levels of success to free the nation from the tyranny of federal control.  Along with the Kingdom of Hawai'i, Alaska, Vermont, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and other "possessions" of the US government, the Texas Secession movement has remained a force, albeit muted in recent years since the West Texas murders and political imprisonment of several patriots (and yes, the "official" story is complete bullshit).

The latest surge in secession interest has been building for several years and includes outrage over the bank bailouts of 2008, illegal wars of empire around the world by the US, and now the revelations of election fraud in the 2016 contests, particularly Colorado and Georgia.  There is also the matter of federal incursions into the lives of ranchers and the absolute abandonment of any semblance of border control, causing a massive infusion of illegal aliens and a crime wave across Texas, not to mention the vast amounts of property damage and the simmering war on Texas' southern border.

In many ways, Texas is the bellwether of political unrest in the US.  When the Texas secessionist movement starts to heat up, it is a sign that there is a much larger dissatisfaction in the rest of the country.  Independence is a strong enough part of Texas culture that at some point, it is bound to come crashing to the fore as a serious option to deep-seated political unhappiness, and in many ways, Texas is the one state able to sustain itself and quickly convert to an international stage, with an economy that would rank 11th in the world and a diverse business environment that boasts leadership in high-tech, medicine, import-export, agriculture, and a number of other vital industries.  It also has no income tax and a very strong resistance to the idea, which does and would continue to attract businesses and (legal) immigration.

At any rate, it is something to think about on this day of celebration in the Great Lone Star Republic.    We are fixin' up a mess o' bar-b-q here in the Southeast Asian jungles and hoping that finally, we can get the US monkey off our backs.  We've carried that country long enough.

Texas is a unique culture with a unique history and a unique view of the world.  As the US devolves into a decaying empire and its culture and society are destroyed by design for profit, we may yet see Texas emerge in its righful place among nations.  We've certainly earned it.

Thanks, Uncle Will, Pappy Gideon, and Dad.

20.4.16

Chilling The Warmists

UPDATE: LA Times: Global Warming Has Made Weather Better For Most In US - But Don't Get Used To It, Study Says (huh?)

UPDATE: #ElectricUniverse #GlobalWarming #ClimateChange Get a real educatiin on real issues affecting global weather and civilization. Forget #AlGore, he's a #UsefulIdiot. https://youtu.be/VVgUZv9ccyQ

"Settled Science" is not science at all.

Even if you don't read the linked articles below, just take a second to look at the headlines:

Michael E. Kraft Wants to Punish Climate Deniers
Professor Wants to Use RICO to Punish Climate Deniers
Democratic AGs, Climate Change Groups Colluded on Prosecuting Dissent, Emails Show
Climategate 2.0: New E-mails Rock the Global Warming Debate

Now, when it comes to lying, cheating and conspiring, which side seems to show the worst characteristics?  It looks to me like the Warmists/Changists are so desperate to prove a non-existent case that they will stoop to just about any low they can find.

The fact of the matter is that the Earth has been warming since the last ice age, and that is a good thing, since it has provided both the stability and temperate climate to foster our civilization to the current point of (ahem) advancement.

As for the term "climate change," this is a meaningless word grouping and anyone who uses it to refer to anything but the weather should be shunned as a village leper.

Climate change can mean anything one wants it to mean.  It is such a broad and vague term as to have no usefulness in a serious debate on global climate.  In fact, it is nothing more than a short-hand version of, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes."

Of course the climate changes, you ninnies.  Even here on the equator, where temperatures range between 25C and 35C, day in and day out, every day, day after endless day, the climate changes between wet and dry, cloudy and sunny, windy and still.  Even at the poles, it changes from real damn cold to not quite as cold as it was the last six months.

In medieval times, people who stirred fear and chaos with verisimilitude were tied down and hot coals were placed in the mouths.  When one looks around, the only group in this debate that is consistently conspiring and colluding to punish people falsely, and spread lies and fear are the Warmists/Changists.  Seems to me the ones who need to be punished under RICO or any other law are the radical Luddites on the Warmist/Changist side.

I've pointed this out many times before, but it bears repeating, to whit:

Venus has an atmosphere that is more than 95% carbon dioxide, no magnetic field, no moon, a day that is nearly as long as its year, crushing ground-level air pressure 9x greater than Earth's, virtually no water, no publicly acknowledged life, and temperatures over 800F.

Mars has an atmosphere that is 95% carbon dioxide, a spotty magnetic field, very little free water, ground-level air pressure thinner than the top of Mount Everest, and temperatures that range from cold to really cold, no publicly acknowledged life, with two tiny moons relative to the planet's size.

Earth has an atmosphere with 0.04% carbon dioxide...READ THAT AGAIN...zero-point-zero four percent carbon dioxide.  More than 70% of its surface has liquid water.  It has a very strong magnetic field.  It has a very large Moon.  It is covered with living creatures.  Everything about the planet is conducive to all the forms of life we currently know of.

Can anyone spot the problem here?  Obviously, carbon dioxide is NOT the problem, nor is human activity.  In fact, there is NO problem that I can detect in all the HONEST data.

The Earth has experienced many warming epochs far greater than currently occurring.  It has also had devastating ice ages and glaciation.  We are currently in a recovery period from one of the ice ages.  In fact, according to REAL climate scientists who aren't grabbing at the public trough, we are STILL IN an ice age.  We have not fully recovered from the last period of glaciation.  We are in the middle of the Anthropocene Holocene epochs, where "[i]t has been identified with the current warm period, known as MIS 1, and can be considered...interglacial in the current ice age based on that evidence." [emphasis added]

In other words, we are damn lucky that it is warming right now, and at any moment that trend can reverse, and the balmy 12,000-year break our species has gotten could end with a ski season from hell.  Given the current trends in solar activity, which really controls the environment, the Sun is entering another Grand Minimum Period, in which solar heating could drop significantly.  If this is the case, then we will all soon dearly wish the Earth were warming.

People, such as the good professor named in the articles at top, are either damn fools or disingenuous fear-mongers spouting clap-trap and sucking on the public teat.  At least in the first instance, ignorance can be cured.  In the second instance, these people are truly the ones in dire need of prosecution for Crimes Against Humanity, for having wasted so much time, effort and tax dollars on pure, unadulterated bullshit.

If we are to survive the vagaries of our cosmic environment, we MUST begin with honest and open discussion of facts, not feel-good lies and false warnings.  

According to NASA, the current average temperature of Earth is 15C/59F, which many people consider to be rather chilly.  During the last ice age, the average temperature was around 12C/54F.  Sorry, but I find it very difficult to get all worked up over a handful of degrees that mean the difference between life and death.

I live in a country that is composed entirely of islands on the equator.  One would think that if the Global Warming or Sea-Level Changes were occurring, this would be the first place one could spot the problem.  However, temperatures, rainfall and sea-levels have remained remarkably consistent for the decades in which reliable records have been kept.  The only sea-level problems here are entirely due to subsidence in major coastal population centers.  Sorry folks, it ain't happening.

On the other hand, when (not if) the next ice age comes, I am sitting rather comfortably on one of the warmest spots on Earth.

It's time to shut these asinine Warmists/Changists up and start holding honest dialogues about real problems.  I guarantee that an ice age poses a more deadly and immediate problem than any conceivable amount of warming, short of a global fire storm.

Higher carbon dioxide levels and generally warmer temperatures mean greater harvests and more arable land.  Even a slight drop in temperatures will mean massive famine and migrations as all life on Earth will seek warmer climes.

If geologic history teaches us anything, it is that Earth's climate is always on the move and that status quo does not exist.  We've had a particularly long and lucky run of temperate climates worldwide, but this is not normal according to the records frozen into the trees, rocks and ice on Earth.  Only an open and honest approach to Earth's climate record will present any hope of humanity's survival at our current level of civilization.

One thing is for certain, prosecuting dissenting voices is no different from book burnings or placing Galileo under house arrest for 20 years.  It won't stop the debate and it doesn't change the facts.  Another thing is for certain, Earth's climate, shorelines and regional weather have changed radically over time, and nothing we do will alter that either way.

If someone truly denies that climates change, he is an idiot, but to label people who disagree with false statistics and manipulated facts as "Climate Change Deniers" is equally idiotic.  The term has no meaning and is nothing more than an attempt to stifle debate and emotionally castigate those who won't go along with the rape of public funds and policies.

"Professor" Kraft and his ilk should be shunned and all funds for climate study cut off until such time as the real debate can be established and honest research can be brought to the public's attention.  

This is not to say that any hands are clean in this debate, but the most provocative and dangerous rhetoric is coming from the Warmists/Changists.  The real DENIERS are the ones trying to stifle honest research and debate, not the people trying to bring unsullied data to the discussion.

People like "Professor" Kraft are pulling a classic slight-of-hand.  By establishing themselves as moral arbitrators, they deflect the Eye of Justice from themselves.  It is high time to open both Eyes!

15.4.16

Breeders, Bumpers And Packers

A recent article in the UK's Independent twerk...er, tweaked one of my hot buttons, and as usual, no matter what I say on this topic, someone will get their panties in a bunch.

The article concerns a new study averring that about half of all humans carry "gay" genes.  This article just irks me on a number of levels, the highest of which is the complete disconnect between what is taught as science "fact," and what these ridiculous studies (read tax money scams) are constantly telling us.

Before I get to the whole "gay" gene bit, let's just look at the assertion here.  An activity that has no reproductive benefit at all can still leave genes in the general genome for generations.

Does anyone else see the problem here?  Either Darwinism, which is shoved down our throats with all the zeal of the Spanish Inquisition dictating the Credo, is flat wrong, or the desperate attempts to make homosexuality a natural rather than behavioral phenomenon has reached new heights of hysteria.

So...which is it?  Are we products of millions of years of natural selection where our behaviors are the products of Life's Herculean struggle to survive against all odds, or not?  The conclusion of this study denies even the most basic tenets of Darwinian mythology and even makes a desperate attempt to rationalize the fact.

While the argument may satisfy the PC crowd and add to the chants of "I am normal," it is, none-the-less, a complete refutation of evolutionary thought.  Since homosexuals obviously do not reproduce, there is no way in hell that a "gay" gene would survive more than a few generations under the assertions of Holy Scripture (namely On the Origins of Species).  The foundation of Darwinian Fantasy, since the late 1800s, is that all human behavior, and indeed all surviving genomes, is to reproduce, and that all behavior is somehow tied to that one function.

This proposition brings to mind Friedrich Nietzsche's very public breakdown upon witnessing a horse being beaten.  After his very public career of spouting the glories of Darwinism and the primacy survival behavior (see Albert Camus' artistic rendering in The Stranger), he realized that the powerful emotion of compassion fit nowhere into his carefully crafted weltanschauung.  The radical disconnect between his vaunted theories and his true emotions caused his great pain and death.

So it is with this ridiculous study.  Anyone who truly espouses Darwinian evolution must read this study and have their minds explode.  There is simply no way to justify the survival of a "gay" gene within the universe of "survival of the fittest."  One or the other must go.  Preferably both.

Now, before I get lots of angry email, let me remind the gentle reader that I have spent literally my entire life in the entertainment industry, from being a clothes model at age 3, to most recently completing construction of Indonesia's first international theater at my dottering old age.  In that time, I have met and worked closely with and befriended every conceivable iteration of the sexual spectrum.  I have played gay characters on stage.  I have no qualms about hugging and kissing other men and I am very open-minded and libertarian in my views on other's pursuits of happiness.  To each hizzer own.  By the way, I just made that pronoun up (it means his or her).  Anyone in the rabid PC movement that wants to use it must pay me $1 per use.

I do, however, feel sad for the LGBT activists whose only definition of Self is who/what they choose to sleep with.  C'mon...LGBT tourism, dining, clubs, politics...do they seriously encompass their entire definition of Self based on how they use their genitalia?  If so, then it is a very sad thing and we should mourn for those whose entire lives are lost to the singular pursuit of sexual gratification.

Based on my considerable experience with people of all stripes, I conclude without reservation that homosexuality is a choice, not a genetic imperative.  I don't care how passionately one argues that they were born a certain way or that they have no control over their proclivities, I say emphatically it is a choice.

Humans, in my experience, tend to sexualize things they fear or long for the most.  Those who fear pain will often seek to turn the fear into a form of pleasure.  Those who are fearful of being assertive will instead use the fear as a masochist to gain some mesure of control over it.  Those who fear women might turn it to dominance and even rape fantasies.

The entire spectrum of fetishes and fantasies, so readily on display now on the internet, show to me that people fill some void or short-coming in themselves by turning that fear or emptiness into a means of deriving pleasure.  It is a psychological defense mechanism.

For instance, a man who felt jilted by girls in his formative years might turn to schoolgirl fantasies in order to take control of his feelings of loss.  A woman who lacked a positive male presence in her formative years might take on masculine behaviors and roles in order to fill in where her life did not.

Many will argue with me, and many have, but I grew up on a farm.  I have seen every imaginable creature attempt sex with their own gender, from turtles to horses.  And frankly, dogs will hump anything they can get their paws around.  I have seen no one argue in favor of all of creation having a "gay" gene to explain this behavior.  Sex is like water, it will find the easiest path to an outlet to relieve pressure.  That humans have the capacity to overlay that impulse with fantasy, fetish and rationalization is a function of our mental processes, not of a "gay" gene.

The passing off of pseudo-science as a means to political ends is not a service to anyone.  While it may assuage some fevered liberal brows and promote the general direction of socio-political discourse, it does nothing to uncover truth and deal with prejudices.  This tendency rises to the level of absurdity when feel-good studies fundamentally contradict the Establishment Narrative.  We minions are constantly left in fits of cognitive dissonance because we are brow-beaten with contradictory messages and are forced into the position of holding opposing beliefs at the same time.

It's no wonder the incidence of mental illness are rising exponentially in the West, though the situation isn't helped by the fact that the pseudo-science of psychology has defined practically every twitch and tingle as a mental illness.

It is time to put an end to all this silliness.  First, Darwinism is wrong...just plain wrong.  Second, humans will do what they can in pursuit of happiness, and as long as each allows the other that right, everyone can be happy (or at least try).  Third, those who define themselves in the socio-political realm solely by who they sleep with are hopelessly myopic.  And fourth, humans are neither slaves to each other, nor to genetics.  No matter what our DNA hands us, we are capable of overcoming it or enhancing it freely, provided we put in the effort.  Any other point of view is a surrender to the wind.

This argument comes down to a fundamental question of weltanschauung.  We are either Aristotelian or Platonic.  Either we believe completely in materialism and that an individual is nothing more than a set of reproductive impulses, or we believe that we can and should transcend our physicality and seek higher states of being.

I, for one, will continue to hold the opinion that I am far more than a seething cauldron of electro-chemical impulses.  My sexuality is not who I am, it is one thing I do along my path to fulfillment.

14.4.16

A.I.: Asymetrical Intelligence

I recently made a little Saturday afternoon triple feature for myself composed of three movies I haven't seen for a long time.

The first was Demon Seed, about the wife of a computer scientist held hostage by her husband's creation.  The second was Colossus: The Forbin Project.  This long-forgotten but excellent flick has Dr. Forbin creating a military supercomputer that becomes self-aware, and eventually teams up with its Soviet counterpart to save humanity from itself.  The last was Lawnmower Man, which despite my dislike for Steven King and the ham-fisted acting and directing, has some interesting concepts.

In all fairness, I should note that most movies based on Steven King's stories do not have much to do with the original material.  Like Philip K. Dick, the stories provide little more than a jumping-off point.

The three films deal with the topic of artificial intelligence and serve as warnings that humanity, as usual, has no idea what it is doing.  While there are other great films on topic, such as the more recent Her, and the legendary 2001: A Space Odyssey,  I don't consider Spielberg's lame attempt to render Kubrick's A.I: Artificial Intelligence even worthy of the film stock it wasted, much less a commentary on topic.

At any rate, it is instructive to note that, since 1968 at least, people have been discussing A.I. and warning of its potential disaster for our species.  There are very few examples of this technology being treated in a benign manner.  From Fritz Lang's Metropolis to James Cameron's Terminator, the artistic media have nearly unanimously raised red flags over the head-long rush to build artificial "minds."

In nearly every case, AI is portrayed as malevolent, even though the thought processes of the machines are coldly logical.  The machines, acting primarily on human instructions and good intents, always place humanity under siege in order to save us from ourselves, or in some lesser cases, out of pure dictatorial power lust.

The fact is that nearly every technology humans have created is at some point put to service of our baser desires.  Almost without fail, erotica and pornography are among the primary adopters of new tech.  From the sex temples of India and Guatemala, to the Roman frescoes and mosaics, to the printing press, photography, and now the internet and Virtual Reality, we infuse our technology with our most primal motivations.

One of the most recent public forays (is it fair to say boondoggle?) into AI was a Microsoft project called Tay.  This self-taught "chat bot" took about a day or two to start spouting just about everything humans find reprehensible about themselves.  From racial epithets to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, this computerized avatar swiftly began to mirror her creators.  If this isn't warning enough for what we will find ahead, then there is little I or anyone else can do to stop the insanity.

One of the main points I picked up from the Bible was that humanity was supposedly created "in the image and likeness" of God.  If this is the case, then we should all live in dire dread of creating anything imbued with intelligence and self-determination.  Since humans would effectively be god to any self-aware creation, whether flesh or wires, then our own behavior towards our deities should serve as a case study for how our labors will respond to us.

Regardless of how we slice the issue, AI will ultimately be the creation of flawed humans, and will, by design, be reflections of our inner-most selves, both individually and collectively.  That we respond with our basest desires to our creations echoes the Biblical mating of angels with Men that required a global flood to clean up, so we are told.  Suddenly, such stories come into sharp focus and become plausible real events, which should give us great pause in our rush to apocalypse.

One thing is certain: given history and experience, there is little reason to suspect that true, self-aware AI would be either benign or benevolent.  Given humanity's predilection to unleashing horrors upon itself, it is nearly certain that AI would be the pinnacle of our collective stupidity.  If people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are warning us about AI, it is reasonable to think they would know of which they speak.  After all, they are most likely privy to developments of which we mere mortals can only speculate.  If nothing else, I find the videos of robot testing to be deeply disturbing.

About the moment we are lacing our collective fingers behind our heads and kicking our feet up on the desk in self-satisfaction is the moment we should be trembling at the power of our creativity.

I am reminded of one of the most profound lines in all of the Star Trek universe: "Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean that we should do that thing."

Calling Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  Code Blue.  STAT