China: All the Way Down

Automobile Sales and Birth Rates Decline

Worst Ever Car Sales Drop

China reported the worst-ever monthly sales drop in the world’s largest vehicle market on Wednesday, exacerbating concerns over the country’s economic slowdown and growing impact of an ongoing trade war with the United States. __ Auto Sales Decline

Elon Musk is betting Tesla on Chinese sales of the electric vehicles. He has not been reading the demographic tea leaves for the Middle Kingdom.

From United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
via SA


Birth Rates Continue Dropping

China recorded 15.23 million births last year, down 2 million from 2017 and the second consecutive annual decline, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

Marriage rates are also falling throughout China, with the ratio of newly-registered marriages in the total population down to 0.72 percent last year from 0.99 percent in 2013, NBS data showed. __ Lowest Since 1949

There are reasons why young Chinese do not want to get married or have children. Some of those reasons derive from having been raised as an “only child” among a sea of only children.

Despite attempts to encourage couples to have more children, China’s birth rate fell to its lowest since the country was founded in 1949. __More on historic decline

China’s workforce has already begun to shrink, leading to rising wage competition. China can no longer offer the low wage-costs that once attracted foreign manufacturers to China in flocks. These days, a growing number of competing nations offer more attractive economic packages — and without the intellectual property theft that China has become notorious for.

China is ageing at an unfortunate time in its history. The belligerent PRC government is creating problems on the international stage that an increasingly troubled economic base will find it difficult to help solve.

From Bloomberg Economics
via SA

Those of us who view the United States’ total debt are alarmed and disgusted that it is now above 100% of our GDP. In China it’s approaching 300%. When this bubble bursts, no one knows what the consequences will be. We just know they won’t be pretty. __ In China Everything is the Government’s

There is no clear distinction between private sector and public sector in totalitarian China. Thus total Chinese debt is government debt, with all the repercussions that represents.

China is a Prison State

The US hosts over 40 million first generation immigrants. Even xenophobic Japan welcomes 10,000 immigrants per year. What about China?

According to the latest PRC census, there are 1,500 immigrants registered in the entire country. Not 1,500 per year – 1,500. Some of those may be the “illegal” wives that frustrated Chinese men married, mostly from Southeast Asia, and brought home. They are, the regime has dictated, “dilutive” to the nation. __ Keep Them In Chains

Chinese Expansionism Makes Enemies for Life

The new reality of the BRI and PRC “assistance” is increasingly seen as hegemony and blackmail by many. As a result Chinese firms have now been disinvited from previous areas where the PRC rulers thought they had deals sewn up – in Malaysia, Pakistan, The Maldives, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar) and many African nations…

The combination of intellectual, property and technology theft, forcing recipient nations of PRC largesse to use PRC managers and sometimes laborers as a condition of loans, forcing “partners” to divulge proprietary information, and grandiose statements like calling the BRI “a community of common destiny” as Xi recently did, create significant resentment and animosity among other nations and cultures.

The PRC leaders may be able to fool starved-for-real-information Chinese at home with calling Russia’s Northern Route “the Arctic Silk Road, a partnership between China and Russia,” or claiming to be a “near-Polar state,” but others don’t fall for either the flowery phrases or the high-handedness.

Further evidence of this dawning realization on the part of many erstwhile partner nations abounds. The PRC decided to blast the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor through lands disputed by Pakistan and India. They were on the Pakistan side of the always-contested Line of Control but still – for people who like to think of themselves as terribly clever and cunning, how tone deaf could this have been?

Or when The Philippines took China to the World Court over its military buildup on Scarborough Shoal and both parties agreed to abide by the court’s ruling. When it came down in favor of The Philippines, the PRC simply sent additional warships to take the shoals by force. Tone deaf. __ The Bully China Sows Bad Seed

Most of China’s success over the past 30 years can be accounted for by corruption and greed in outside corporate officials and national governments. But as outsiders begin to understand the Chinese way of doing business — lying, cheating, stealing, and killing where necessary — erstwhile partners are having second thoughts, and beginning to desist.

It is the mark of a smart investor to understand when the tide is turning.

Posted in China | Tagged | 2 Comments

The Paradox of the Flat Mind

Psychologist Nick Chater says that he has discovered that the human mind is exceedingly shallow — or even flat. This is not what most people want to hear about themselves, and has not been a very popular message on the YouTube or public speaking circuits. But it is clear that the “flat mind hypothesis” elicits some powerful principles out of the dense tangle of concepts that make up modern psychology of the mind.

Mind Iceberg
Source

The mental iceberg concept is a common way of viewing the mind, portraying a relatively shallow conscious mind supported by a vast and deep subconscious. But according to Chater, it is crucial to understand that the “stuff” that makes up the unconscious mind is of an entirely different nature than the material that constitutes the conscious mind. In the conscious, we have words and images, smells and emotions. But in the subconscious there is nothing that we would recognise as mental thoughts. Only foreign-looking raw material resides underneath, starkest strangers to our ken.

This Is What Buddhists Have Been Saying

For thousands of years, Buddhists have taught that the conscious mind is an ephemeral creation without real substance. Students were taught that human suffering originated and was unnecessarily sustained when the ephemera of the mind were taken too seriously, and treated as real when they were not.

Chater looks at the conscious mind in a similar manner — the mind is a great improviser, an ad hoc creator of content just good enough to convince us that what we think we see is real.

Not New, But Very Powerful All the Same

This idea has been percolating through psychological research and theory for several decades, although no one has quite known what to do with it. An example of “flat mind thinking” is that the conscious mind can only truly focus on one thing at a time. Of course there are examples of persons doing two things at once — for example dancing and holding a conversation at the same time. But that is only possible if the dancer is quite accomplished, and capable of dancing automatically without conscious oversight. The same thing happens when a musician plays an instrument such as piano or guitar, and sings at the same time. At least one of the activities must be turned over to automatic circuits of the brain in order to free up the conscious mind for the more interactive activity.

In his talk above (and in his book) Chater discusses how early artificial intelligence researchers butted their heads against faulty concepts of the human mind, making their early attempts to develop artificial general intelligence quite futile. Since then almost all AI development has been of the ultra-specialist type, such as chess playing or automation — tasks based upon machine learning rather than theories of mind.

Nick Chater teaches and does research at a business school, with much of his research dealing with the intersection of marketing with the human mind. Over the years as Chater zeroed in on the flatness of the mind — the incredible limitations of the mind — more applications of advanced marketing to human psychology became clear.

The flat mind is a powerful improvisation machine, creating a semi-plausible reality in real time as we go. Many parts of the brain must act in concert with one another or the entire production begins to fall apart. But as we discover the nature of the constraint propagation within this improvisation machine, we can develop better ways to keep it working properly — or to “repair it” when things swing out of kilter.

Freud’s Unflat Mind

Freud’s Iceberg Model
Source

In contrast to Chater’s “flat mind,” Freud’s unflat mind seems more elaborate. But looks can be deceiving. In Freud’s iceberg, the mental content of the deep iceberg is made up of elements that seem familiar to our conscious minds, as if things that had been conscious had been “stuffed down” somehow into the deeper levels. As a common sense “folk psychology,” that sounds reasonable. But in reality such an approach merely postpones the day of reckoning, when spades must be called spades, and the substance of the thing must be made manifest.

The same criticism can of course be leveled against the “flat mind” theory, since for now it seems to be cramming more and more responsibility for consciousness into a two-dimensional improvisation machine that is poorly defined — to say the least. But sometimes before one can go to work creating full descriptions of what a thing is, he must first clarify in no uncertain terms what a thing is not. And that is what Chater has done in his book “The Mind is Flat.”

For students of Buddhism, the book only needs to be a welcome confirmation by modern psychological science of ancient religious teachings. But for students of psychology and artificial intelligence, the book can only be an opening salvo of sorts. The mechanisms of this improvisation machine have to be brought to light so that they can be tested and tweaked.

Understanding how we generate our worlds can help us to more quickly find our places in the cosmos, and more rapidly regain our equilibria when things go askew. But this understanding can also be misused by powerful forces that wish to regiment us for their own ends, or even to cast us aside in the waste bin.

As humans learn to tweak their minds, genes, social worlds, and physical environments, a number of possible futures open up to humanity as a whole. Works of fiction such as Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World offer contrasting but equally dystopic visions of possible futures. Nonfiction books such as the books of Ray Kurzweil, Harari’s Homo Deus or Drexler’s Engines of Creation present possible disruptive innovations that offer yet more possiblities.

At the center of all these visions is the human mind, and the choices that it makes. If the masses succumb to collectivist utopianism as offered by political leaders, then a dystopian future is assured. But if humans learn to individually plot their own courses based upon a strong knowledge of their own strengths, weaknesses, and proclivities, then the human future may yet be an open-ended one, abundant and expansive.

For the most part, children are not taught how to find themselves in order to find their ways through a rapidly changing landscape. You can do better, for your own children. Or if you are the only child you have, you can do better for yourself. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

Posted in Cognition | Tagged | 1 Comment

Death by Administrative/Bureaucratic Bloat

For thousands of years, administrative bureaucracies have been seen as “necessary evils” by most taxpayers. Without them, it would be impossible to administer or defend cities and nations. But when they grow costly beyond their actual value — as in modern higher education — they become parasites on the institutions that support them.

All institutions need administration. But the bureaucratic nature and ideological bent of many college administrations is damaging academic freedom and flow of ideas that learning requires. Again, this is particularly true of policies based on identity politics. An example is the censorship of ideas, words, and attitudes that are deemed “offensive.” In practice, whatever subjectively offends “marginalized” students is censored without regard to the impact on the others.

Professors are not exempt, as the progressive Bret Weinstein recently discovered at Evergreen State College. Weinstein was waylaid in his classroom by a mob of screaming students because he objected to a student campaign to exclude whites from campus for a day. He called it racist. This offended the organizers. Weinstein was subsequently forced to teach his class in a park because he was not safe on campus. The college President declined to suspend Weinstein but agreed to comply with most other demands put forth by the outraged students, whom he called “courageous.”

Dissenting students fare no better and often retreat into silence for self-protection.

Because of “offended” students, works of classical literature by white males are discarded. Some law schools no longer teach about rape. Less than one third of top colleges require history majors to take a single course in American history because it is considered racist. Students are being denied exposure to necessary ideas.

Administrative bloat also crowds out core university functions. Because of administrative bloat, class sizes swell. Universities have innovated to cut corners instead of improve education. They turn to online courses and competency-based education, where students teach themselves and prove their mastery of the material, to cope with shrinking faculty numbers. Students are denied the guidance and mentorship of committed educators. __ https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/06/administrative-bloat-campus-academia-shrinks-students-suffer/

Just as a cable company bundles channels together and makes you pay for them all, whether or not you watch them, colleges have bundled counseling, athletics, campus activities, and other services with the instructional side to justify charging more.

“All of those things they are bundling are adding to the price of attendance,” he said. __ https://www.chronicle.com/article/Administrator-Hiring-Drove-28-/144519

The same type of parasitic bloat can be seen inside large corporations, government institutions, and other institutions where money flows are poorly accounted for and political patronage holds sway over merit and functional productivity. This strangulation by bureaucratic bloat occurs particularly around departments dealing with legal or governmental booby traps laid by careless or reckless government regulations around issues of gender, race, or other hot-button issue having almost nothing to do with teaching students to think for themselves, for example.

Decades ago, it was relatively easy for students in state institutions to pay for their own educations:

In 1975, a University of Minnesota undergraduate could cover tuition by working six hours a week year-round at a minimum-wage job, the Journal calculated. Today, a student would have to work 32 hours at minimum wage to cover the cost. __ https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/administrative-bloat-at-americas-colleges-and-universities/

Since the above article was written, the work requirement for self-paying students has shot up well above 40 hours per week — leaving little time for going to class and doing required study. As for extracurricular affairs, forget about it!

Now, thanks in part to administrative bloat, too many students are forced into debt that can last most of the rest of their lifetimes.

What is the Solution?

The solution to administrative bloat depends upon the nature of the institution involved. Universities are a special case, since it is easy to see how a university can burden society with huge costs while not providing much in the way of benefit — at least in the case of debtor dropouts and the growing legions of the heavily indebted underemployed who cannot get a job in their trained field.

The university degree no longer guarantees that graduates can perform the work that employers or societies need done. Clearly universities must be exposed to serious competition of a meaningful kind. Alternative methods of training and skills certification need to be provided and accredited by concerned employer groups in all sectors of the economy.

Learning is a lifelong process, with modern university too often becoming an obstacle to learning. This is particularly true if a student finds himself trapped in an institution of indoctrination that fails to help him think for himself or face the world without fear or victimhood. The huge debt at the end is just an added stab in the back from the administratively bloated institution of indoctrination and academic lobotomisation.

IN the US, student loan debt exceeds credit card debt as well as auto loan debt. Student debt forces graduates to postpone normal life progression to family and home. This postponement coming on top of the inherent worthlessness of more college degrees represents a double burden on the underlying society.

Remember, the solution for corrupt administrative bloat is the ability to bypass the corrupt institution in question. Many times when such problems are explored to their roots, the underlying problem is bad government regulation or bad policy by government bureaucracies which are themselves corrupt and bloated. This discovery raises the need to bypass the government agency in question.

As the investigation explores more and more deeply into such counterproductive institutional disasters, the scope of what is needed to solve the deeper problems grows rapidly larger.

These are deeply entrenched problems where the maxim “follow the money” would provide a lot of answers if only it were possible to follow all of the money and the corrupt connections between governmental and non-governmental institutions, contractors, and individuals.

For now, it is enough to think seriously about what is wrong, and what might be done to repair the problems thrust on society by corrupt administrative bloat.

More: Young people are not being psychologically prepared for their real futures . . .

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/a-college-degree-doesnt-equal-success-it-takes-a-lot-more-than-that

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Women in Chess vs. Women in Tennis

Serena Williams
Image Source

When we think of the greatest players overall in either Chess or Tennis, we typically do not think of female players. In tennis, Serena Williams is often considered the best female player of all time, but if she were forced to play on the men’s circuit she might be lucky to be ranked 700th, rather than first.

The Difference is that In Chess It Might be Possible for a Woman to be #1

Judit Polgar
Source

Chess Grandmaster Judit Polgar broke into the overall top 10 rankings among her male competitors. She and her two sisters were beneficiaries of a special homeschooling from her father Laszlo and mother Klara. Chess was emphasised from the early years, with some of the world’s top chess experts called on to provide training and coaching during childhood. As a result, each of the three girls achieved significant success in the game of chess — with the youngest, Judit, being declared as the best woman chess player of all time. More from Wikipedia

But despite Judit’s obvious exceptional innate talent and the very advantageous headstart in her technical chess training, she was never able to either stay in the top 10 for very long — or to break through into the top rank or even the top 5. She herself says that she is unwilling to give up her life just to become world champion — and perhaps that is what it takes to achieve the top spot and keep it for a time.

Tennis Involves Strategy, Tactics, and Physical Prowess

In Women’s Tennis, matches consist of best two games out of three. Men must do much more and win three games of a possible five. The difference in stamina required between a “women’s match” and a “men’s match” — especially on a hot day against a skilled player — is almost incomparable. Worse, men hit the ball harder and faster on average, requiring their opponents to do far more work for each point.

For chess, physical stamina does not come into play so much as in tennis. Rather it is largely a matter of knowledge, memory, focus, visual imagination, and mental stamina. Theoretically, an exceptional woman might come along at any time — call her the Marie Curie of chess — who will defeat the best players in championship matches consistently over a period of time. But if Judit Polgar, with all of her advantages, was not the woman to do it — who will that woman be?

Polgar came from a Hungarian Jewish family where chess was honored, and she received some of the finest early chess training of any child ever. Most men who eventually become chess champions did not receive half the advantages in their early chess lives that Judit took for granted. How did these men burst from nowhere to become world champions when so many girls and boys who received gold-plated childhood training could not make their priceless nurture work for them?

Obviously, nature plays a role in the lives of chess champions, as it played a role in allowing Judit to achieve higher rankings than either of her two sisters, who shared her upbringing’s advantages.

The World is Open to Exceptionally Talented Women

Someday a woman may come along with enough chess skills, innate talent, and superb concentration to win it all. According to La Griffe du Lion, at elite levels of mental skills such as mathematics, there are between 7 and 10 men for every woman. Until recently, no woman had ever won the prestigious Fields Medal for mathematics, and very few women have won the Nobel Prize in Physics. It happens, but it is rare. Eventually, we should expect a woman to achieve the world chess championship over male competition, at least for a short time. That is not as likely to happen in tennis.

Female Distributions Do Not Match Male Distributions

Males predominate at the top in chess. Almost all grandmasters are male, there never has been a female world champion and only one female, Judit Polgar, ever has reached the top ten in the FIDE rating list (eighth spot in 2005 with a peak rating of 2735).

The male predominance in chess parallels that in domains such as mathematics, physics and engineering, which may tap some similar abilities and propensities. Carrying out research in high-level, competitive areas of physics and mathematics or playing a grandmaster-level game can greatly tax physical stamina and ability to concentrate and can strain the processing limits of our monkey brains, which evolved to carry out much simpler tasks. __ https://en.chessbase.com/post/explaining-male-predominance-in-chess

Over time, an occasional female wunderkind may come along who can compete with the very best males. But the overall distribution of female players as a whole will not likely ever match the male distribution. This is the more important comparison, although most humans are more distracted by the outliers than by the underlying distributions.

In tennis, the offset between male and female distributions is more dramatic than it is in chess (see distributions above). But it is this difference in distributions that makes all the difference in male chess vs. “female chess.” Underlying brain differences between males and females that exist on the “distribution level” of analysis also determines the dominance of males in fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, technical engineering and computer science, and other fields where top ability in hard maths and spatial reasoning is required.

Note: The “transexual craze” which has taken over radical politics in western countries illustrates the point nicely. When boys compete as girls in athletic events, they tend to win “top female” prizes an inordinate number of times. One would think that the radical ideologues who promote “arbitrary gender assignation” would eventually comprehend that they are defeating their own cause in the eye of the discerning public. But apparently radicals are too blinded by ideology to note the contradiction.

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China Toadies Shirk from Discussing Tiananmen

Thirty years after Tiananmen, for all its new wealth and progress, The People’s Republic of China remains a regime willing to stifle the freedoms that Westerners regard as a birthright. Let us not forget what the students of Tiananamen Square stood and died for: democracy. __ City-Journal

China’s dictatorship cannot handle the truth: Its grip on power comes at the cost of horrific violence against its own people.

It is not surprising that the CPC has worked so hard to extirpate the Tiananmen Square massacre from public memory. History – including the horrors of Mao Zedong’s rule – is too volatile a substance for the Chinese dictatorship. China’s leaders hold up their system of government as a model for other countries. But how can a regime be confident in the sustainability of its values and methods if it is afraid of its own past?

To hear Chinese communist leaders tell it, the party embodies that 4,000-year-old civilization. It does not. Who was responsible for the murder of landowners after the 1949 communist revolution? Who was to blame for the Great Leap Forward and the Great Chinese Famine? Who instigated the Cultural Revolution, with its accompanying mass violence? __ Unforgettable Tiananmen

All mention of the great massacres are forbidden within the bamboo prison run by the CPC, and the reach of China’s censorship extends far beyond the borders of the slave state itself.

China Humiliates Itself With Its Hysteric Secrecy

The propaganda machine of the CPC constantly reminds the Chinese people of the “humiliation” that China suffered under foreign powers during former centuries. But now it is the Chinese leadership that is humiliating the Chinese people through draconian restrictions on access to global information sources and corrupt laws forbidding free overseas investment of hard-won personal earnings by ordinary Chinese. Tiananmen Square is forbidden knowledge, and the penalties for violating the censorship laws can be deadly.

The communist government regards June 4, 1989, as dangerous knowledge, for it exposes the terrible contradiction in China’s dramatic rise from poverty. Beijing’s Communists know the value of a competitive market economy and open exchange of information. At the same time, they demand dictatorial control over what Adam Smith called “the invisible hand” of individuals engaged in free enterprise.

In 1989, China’s economic reforms were giving the people a taste of free market prosperity. In Tiananmen Square, free market reforms spurred calls for greater political freedom. __ Austin Bay

China torments its own people daily while breaking every international rule in the book to boost its relative national wealth and power — with the aim of being able to torment any other peoples of the world it may choose to oppress. A dark future, if China and its dimwitted — though often well-intentioned — apologists have their way.

China’s corrupt communist leadership carries a dark past and will eventually be forced to face up to its frightful responsibilities. Before that happens, it is possible that Hong Kong and Taiwan will be pulled into Beijing’s dark and bloody orbit. That is why so many of those who have the means are trying so desperately to escape from China, and from any place where the CPC can sink its bloody claws.

… erasing Tiananmen Square is ultimately about authoritarian self-preservation. The slaughter stalks China’s communist dictatorship. Chinese citizens bitterly resent the massacre and the totalitarian silence cloaking it. Complaints voiced in 1989 continue to anger Chinese citizens in 2019, such as China’s weak and murky judicial system and the corrupt communist elites enjoying stolen wealth.

In retrospect, the Tiananmen Square massacre signaled that China’s rise would not be peaceful, domestically or internationally. __ 30 Years Later

Anyone who does not feel a natural revulsion toward the Chinese regime is lacking somewhat in the basic ingredients of humanity. If they are older than the age of 30, that lack is unlikely to ever be completely remedied.

More:

Bloody Harvest — The monetizing of human organs from living donors, removed without anesthesia.

Some of the atrocities

Re-education camps for slavery and profit

Multiple Tiananmen links and graphics

Twitter, it makes you stupid!

Posted in China | Tagged | 6 Comments

Every Day of Homeschooling is a Day Without a Utopian Socialist Indoctrination

The Overqualified Homeschooler

A recent story making the rounds suggests that homeschoolers can be overqualified for many of the high-skilled, highly paid jobs which employers find it difficult to fill.

My son, Spencer, decided to apply for the High Voltage Lineman program at Arkansas State University Newport. He went through the interviews just fine, applied and was accepted. We also applied for the full tuition scholarship that was offered through our local electric cooperative. (There are 17 said scholarships available annually, one for each co-op in the state of Arkansas.)

My son filled out his application and eagerly awaited his interview with the selection committee. A little background: Spencer was homeschooled most of his life. That gave him the opportunity to do some pretty neat things. At 18, his skill set includes: light electrical, sheetrock, tiling, concrete work, and graphic design. He currently works full time for a cement contractor, awaiting school to start in the Fall.

So Wednesday, he had his interview. This is what he was told. ‘Spencer, I’m gonna tell you something you don’t want to hear. Your grades and test scores are too high and you are too articulate. We ran into this with another kid today. You need to enroll at the University and go into engineering. We need someone who won’t get bored and drop out.’

No [matter] how many assurances Spencer gave them, they wouldn’t listen. He got the official rejection call the following day. __ Source

Contrary to what Spencer was told by the official, difficult and dangerous jobs such as “High Voltage Lineman” need bright and capable people in them, to keep things “honest” and up to date. It is likely that Spencer would have worked his way up the ladder to a training and supervisory role, and then perhaps into administration. Perhaps the officials in the program were wary of that kind of competition?

There are many stories of homeschooled students who begin college at age 13 or younger, or who are able to finish at least half their college work by the time they are 18.

A well designed and well-supervised homeschool will not unjustly slow the progress of students who are ready to move ahead with dispatch.

In public schools much of every school day can consist of politically correct social justice indoctrination. Children are no longer taught to think for themselves in public — and even in many private — schools. Increasingly they are not even taught the essential core skills of reading, writing, basic maths, and responsible civics. As a result, most conventionally educated college-bound youth are incapable of completing a rigorous four-year degree in less than six years — if at all.

Homeschoolers score higher on aptitude tests and often perform above expectation in national and regional spelling, math, and geography competitions. And besides that, every day of homeschooling is a day without school shootings, utopian socialist indoctrination, and exposure to violent bullying and drug use/sales.

Homeschool requires that parents spend more time with their children than is typically the case today. But if the time is well spent, the children will remember — and the long term closeness and functionality of the family is more likely to persist over time.

And there is more scheduling freedom to teach practical skills to homeschoolers. Remember Spencer from the story above. His practical skills included:

…light electrical, sheetrock, tiling, concrete work, and graphic design. He currently works full time for a cement contractor…

These are skills that one is not likely to learn in most public schools before the age of 18. But for homeschoolers whose parents give the idea considerable forethought, the acquiring of a range of practical skills is just one of the many advantages.

As Mike Rowe often says:

We’re churning out a generation of poorly educated people with no skill, no ambition, no guidance, and no realistic idea of what it means to go to work. __ Mike Rowe

If home school is done right, it can help to correct this trend for many young people.

Posted in Education | Tagged | 2 Comments

Trump’s War Against the Swamp

The Deep State government and its cronies comprise a debilitating parasitic mass sucking the life’s blood from the US economy and its people. Because Mr. Trump typically does what he says he will do, he represented a threat to the Deep Crony State from the beginning. It was unlikely that Trump would win the 2016 election, but “just in case he did,” the denizens of the swamp laid out an insurance policy which they believed would guarantee the failure of Mr. Trump and his plans to drain the swamp.

The grumpy doomer Howard Kunstler presents his perspective on the grand political drama of the past two and a half years. His point of view clashes with that of the mainstream media:

the US Intel “community” trafficked in fictitious malarkey supplied by Mrs. Clinton to illegally “meddle” in the 2016 election.

… The evidence already public indicates that Robert Mueller must have known as early as the date of his appointment (and likely before) that the predicating evidence for his inquiry was false. After all, his soon-to-be lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, was informed of that in no uncertain terms by his DOJ colleague, Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, in 2016. Justice may seek to know why Mr. Mueller did not inform the target of his inquiry that this was so. The answer to that may be that Mr. Mueller’s true mission was to disable Mr. Trump as long as possible while setting an obstruction of justice trap — which also failed tactically.

… In an interesting turn of the screw last week, polling showed that a majority of those asked were in favor of investigations into the origin of the RussiaGate story. The FBI, being an agency under the direct supervision of the Attorney General, will be hosed out for sure. The CIA, on the other hand, has a sordid history of acting as a sovereign state within the state — hence the derivation of the Deep State. They are renowned for protecting their own. Remember, the Senate Minority Leader, Mr. Schumer, snidely told the incoming President Trump at the get-go that the Intel community “has six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” I guess we’ll finally get to see about that because the CIA’s former director, the wicked Mr. Brennan, is grand jury bound. I suspect he will not be protected by his former colleagues. His downfall may presage a more thorough cleanup, and perhaps a major reorganization, of this monstrous agency. __ Howard Kunstler

Kunstler finishes his piece above by predicting a global economic collapse and recommending that readers grab some supplies and head for the hills. But then that is what he always says, and it would seem suspicious if he took any other turn.

The key thing to remember is that if the Deep State political machine loses the doomer community, it loses a significant chunk of independent voters. If independents vote for Trump in 2020 the Deep State swamp will be in for a world of draining, and it knows it. Where did it go wrong, and what can it do to get back in control?

The internet has cut much of the legs of the mainstream media from under it, and provides an almost infinite number of alternative pathways of information for the curious and intent. By making such a botch of its attempt at a coup d’etat, the Deep State left itself open to inspection and ultimate destructive dissection. As the grouchy doomer Kunstler suggests in his article above, things may get rather interesting soon.

More: Bring out the long knives

There are a growing number of indicators that the leading players in the 2016 election drama are turning on one another, making a mad dash for the lifeboats to escape being dragged under with the political Titanic that is Christopher Steele and his dossier. These are many of the same people who had been eager to exploit the dossier, that collection of memos paid for by the Clinton campaign and supposedly sourced from Russia. Once treated like the Rosetta stone of collusion, the Steele documents now seem even to Trump antagonists more like the Howard Hughes diaries.

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Why China is Losing: Reading Between the Lines

China increasingly realizes that it’s playing a losing hand in the trade war, and its counter-moves have been made mainly for public consumption in China. __ Source

If you take the trouble to look at the items that China left off its tariff list — compared to the things it included in the list — you can see clearly into the deep weaknesses of Mr. Xi’s playing hand. China’s economic numbers are built upon technology theft and the overproduction of infrastructure.

China cannot make everything it needs because of the very nature of its top-down command economy. This is the same hobbling economic factor that brought down the USSR.

… based on what we know, what’s even more revealing about China’s choices are the U.S.-made products that haven’t made any tariff list. They include civilian aircraft and their engines and parts, which had a 2018 export total of $17.73 billion. They include semiconductors and their components, which last year had China shipments that totaled several billion additional dollars. They include the equipment needed to manufacture and inspect semiconductors and their parts, which racked up at least $850 million in 2018 exports to China; devices for conducting chemical and physical analyses (with $912 million in China exports last year); laser equipment ($304 million), motor vehicles, auto parts, and plastics resins and polymers (which each produced billions in exports to China); and billions of dollars’ worth of other products that the Chinese either can’t (yet) make or can’t make in the amounts that they need—or that consist of goods preferred by Chinese consumers over their Made in China counterparts. __ https://nationalinterest.org/feature/chinas-tariff-list-advertises-its-trade-war-weakness-58637

China will try to use Europe to relieve some of the trade pressure it is feeling from Trump. But will that be enough? I think not.

… the hit to China is long-term and directly on production, thus right across the economy right at the most difficult phase of economic transition. Chinese economists are talking about a 1-2% hit to GDP. I suspect much more plus increased domestic social and political tension. Xi is in more trouble than we think. __ ZeroHedge

A deeper-seated problem for China is its currency. China has been fearful of a true opening of its economy, because the yuan might not survive such a thing.

Why does China cling to state control of its currency’s valuation? The obvious answer is that China’s economy and global role are too fragile to absorb a major revaluation of its currency up or down: a major loss in purchasing power would raise the cost of energy and other imports, while a major strengthening of the yuan would crush the global competitiveness of China’s goods and services.

… If China wants superpower status, it will have to issue its currency in size and let the global FX market discover its price. Anything less leaves China dependent on the U.S. and its currency, the dollar.

If China is so powerful, why doesn’t it let its currency float on the FX market like other trading nations? Until its currency floats freely like other currencies and the yuan’s price is discovered by supply and demand, China’s global role in currency payments, loans and reserves will remain near-zero. That is a weakness that appears to be insurmountable. __ Of Two Minds

Trump Read Things Right

If outsiders do not give China the technology — and if they make it harder for China to steal it — then China must buy what it cannot make, for now. China cannot afford to play by the rules, for then its many weaknesses would be exposed.

… released in response to Trump’s recent—and perhaps least expected—escalation of the trade war, the latest Chinese tariff list undoubtedly aimed to underscore China’s economic strength and resilience. And in principle, there could be more to come from Beijing, both in scale and scope. The most accurate description of China’s new announcement, though, is a confession of weakness—and a confirmation that Trump has read the bilateral economic balance of power exactly right. __ China’s Tariff List

Chinese “society” is sealed off in compartments and unable to interact freely between its different units in such a way as to expand and grow organically. Economic decisions in China are not made on the basis of supply and demand, but rather on the basis of graft or military/political expediency. And while China’s workforce is beginning to shrink, its growing mass of aging dependents is not going away soon. China is not prepared for what is coming.

Posted in China | Tagged | 4 Comments

China and Russia: Desperately Seeking Hegemony

Guest Article by Edward Lucas from the Center for European Policy Analysis

The Toxic Twenty Revisited

Russia and China are both engaged in an undeclared war on the West. They are not allies, but they cooperate. Their arsenals are different, but overlap. Six tactics are common to both.

First is cyber-attacks on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data held on a target country’s computer systems. China concentrates more on stealing intellectual property and acquiring big databases that help it conduct digital surveillance of the outside world. Russia’s efforts include gathering high-level political intelligence, and also the sabotage of critical infrastructure such as power grids.

Second are diplomatic divide-and-rule gambits designed to weaken multilateral rule-based organizations, and to create the perception of targeted countries isolation and indefensibility. For China, these center on its campaign to humiliate and isolate Taiwan, and to constrain EU decision-making. Russia’s approach is a bit cruder, focused mainly on Ukraine, which it depicts (not very successfully) as a failed fascist state.

Third is military bluffing and saber-rattling, plus irregular and regular warfare. China does this in the South China Sea, to intimidate Taiwan, and in recent border skirmishes with India. Russia focuses on Syria and Ukraine, plus air and sea challenges to western countries in the Baltic and Black Sea, and aggressive military exercises.

Fourth is the use of organized crime networks. These can be for intelligence purposes, or to demoralize target countries; Russia is in the lead here, notably in Europe and North America. China has more limited use for these, mainly via Hong Kong triads.

Fifth is overt and covert payments to buy influence in political parties; Russia focuses on Europe, both on the left and right-wing fringes, but also in what might be called the “greedy middle.” China has been caught red-handed putting money into Australian politics.

Sixth is the physical intimidation of opponents and critics. Russia conducts political assassinations. China prefers kidnapping.

Three tactics are I think are specific to China.

The first of these is what I term discourse domination – trying to control the way that foreign universities, think-tanks, media, and publishers discuss China, and in particular highly sensitive topics. These include: Tibet, Taiwan’s statehood, human rights, religious freedom, and, lately, the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs. The tactics include carrots, such as access to the Chinese market, and sticks, such as career-killing accusations of racism. Discourse domination is a central part of Leninist political ideology, long-forgotten in Russia but at the heart of the regime in Beijing. Russia, by contrast, fights its propaganda corner, but makes no comparable attempt to achieve cultural and intellectual hegemony abroad.

Second is the use of weaponized infrastructure projects, sometimes called “debt-trap diplomacy.” China promotes big, superficially attractive schemes which land the target country with crippling debts. They may also involve bribing decision makers. The combined effect is to build bastions of political influence, as well as “facts on the ground” – road, rail, and sea routes under Chinese control. Russia lacks the financial and organizational clout to do this – indeed some would argue that it is itself in danger from this kind of Chinese operation.

Third is the weaponization of the diaspora. The Beijing regime regards overseas Chinese as a resource and also as a liability: they may fall victim to pernicious Western ideas about freedom. Policing and using the diaspora is a major task for the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. Russia has signally failed to do anything similar.

Article Source

The author of the above piece barely scratches the surface of the bad behaviour (lying, cheating, stealing, killing etc.) exhibited by the dastardly duo of Asia, overtly and covertly. A Russia and China appeasement policy — such as displayed by the US under President Obama — may not be the best approach toward the two international outlaws.

Posted in China, Russia | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Government is Not the Country

The USA is a country that dominated the 20th century, but was supposed to have faded rapidly by now to take a subservient position to China in the 21st century. The US government is badly in debt, and mired in partisan battles at juvenile levels that would make schoolchildren appear mature and wise in comparison. But intelligent and informed persons should keep in mind that “the government is not the country.” Most of the US government will eventually be ejected and trashed, replaced by minimalist legislative and judicial forms that encourage the private sector to innovate and interact in such a way to replace most of the former functions of government. At least, that is the best path to an expansive and abundant future for most humans on the planet — and for any humans that wish to live off-planet: The slashing of the US government in order to boost the vitality and creativity of the underlying country.

Around the world, the people and the land tend to outlive any number of failed experiments in bad government. In a short 90 years, the Russians survived the corruption of the Tsars, the Bolsheviks, and Yeltsin — and they will survive Putin as well. In a similar time span, the Chinese survived the Qing dynasty, the warlord era of the early 20th century, the Japanese occupation, the civil war after the end of WWII — and they will survive the Chinese Communist Party.

Venezuela’s failed experiment in socialism is a lesson in what a bad government can do to a rich country, as is the Iranian experiment in revolutionary religious theocracy. Cuba has been a bad joke since the coming of the Castros — but the country still abides despite the long history of ruinous government.

Under most free systems of government such as you see in Europe and the Anglosphere, the government is not allowed to dominate every part of life. This is not true for members of the “Dictatorship Club”: Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, China, and North Korea etc.

The dictatorships tend toward totalitarian rule of a corrupt and arbitrary nature, which in the long run ties up a nation’s human capital and natural resources so that economic productivity is choked off. It takes time to drive skilled people out of the country along with economic capital, but the members of the dictatorship club have been depleting their human and economic capital for many years — and things can only get worse.

Global Stability – Instability
http://zeihan.com/the-map-room/

The Rise of Socialism in America

The US is vulnerable to the same type of decline and dictatorship as we see among the dictator’s club, thanks to the failure of government supported school systems to educate the young on the inevitable result of socialist government. We know what happens when socialism takes over a country:

The result in dozens of national experiments since then has been totalitarian dictatorship, economic collapse, or both, at the cost of some 100 million lives. In Marxist-Leninist thought, this human cost was a price worth paying during the supposedly temporary “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Despite the stated goals of demagogues, Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek foresaw in The Road to Serfdom that such a dictatorship would not be a temporary phase but the end result of socialism: “A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.” __ https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/education-socialisms-only-antidote/

If new generations of Americans hand over the riches of the country into the hands of a rapacious government, a temporary descent into the dark ages of socialism becomes an eventual possibility.

Until now, the US government has been limited by the US Constitution and a legal system that on average enforces most of the important principles of that document. But under corrupt forms of government such as socialism, rule of law tends to be replaced by a corrupt rule of ideological and personal expediency. We see this happening in California and New York and in many large US cities such as Chicago. The descent into socialism is the opposite of an emergence into minimalist government. Socialism would represent the squashing of any dreams for an abundant and expansive human future — at least for a significant time span.

But The Government is not The Country

Eventually, many of the brighter and more vital people learn their lessons about bad government, and tend to turn to better alternatives. If these people attain an intellectual influence and a political following, they can turn a country away from bad government — such as socialism or radical theocracy — and give the people freer alternatives and wiser philosophical lessons about their lives and futures.

In the 20th century, when much of the world was experimenting with extremist totalitarian forms of dictatorial government, the US stood as the most economically powerful nation — and ultimately as the most powerful military as well. This single fact prevented the world from falling into a totalitarian morass that might have lasted most of the 20th century well past the middle of the 21st century.

Among Dictatorships, Today’s China is a Special Case

In today’s world, China represents the global champion of totalitarianism. China’s current patina of economic prosperity is due almost entirely to foolish choices by European and Anglospheric companies, who have handed over to China their industrial secrets and manufacturing plants for a mere pittance. This betrayal of their home countries and home workers by these western corporations (and their political enablers) has allowed China to pretend to buck the normal tide of dictatorial decline for a time — at least to outside appearances. But China is still a totalitarian dictatorship despite a facade of markets and “free” trade. The normal multiplier effect of innovation which one sees in freer societies is not operative in a slave state such as China. This is true even for stolen innovations which make up most of what passes for innovation in China, even today.

It should be clear that the people to blame for the success of China’s quasi-criminal approach to international trade and enterprise, are western corporations and western politicians, who handed their riches to China for a song. We’re gonna need a lot more guillotines!

But time will take care of these governmental perversions and deviations, and the same advanced technologies which are being used to enslave people in the socialist and communist countries, will eventually be used to advance the freer people who outgrow socialism and communism in the future. Then on to an expansive and abundant future, at least for some.

For many humans — particularly the less intelligent and the ideologically blinded — totalitarian forms such as socialism and communism present too great an appeal for them to overcome. For such people and the unfortunates who fall under their influence, the future will be very dark indeed.

Escaping totalitarianism is only possible for those capable of distinguishing between “the government” and “the country.” This conflict has been in play for many thousands of years, since the rise of cities and civilisations, and will probably continue for thousands of years more. The important thing to understand is that anyone who promises or pursues utopia through governmental means is suffering from a form of madness, and wants to pull everyone else into that madness as well. If you want a future worth living, you will not allow that to happen.

Another point of view on China’s rise and its multiple Achille’s heels

Why China will not dump US Treasuries

US Jobs Boom Under Trump Must Never be Admitted by the Media

Trade War to define international order

Stronger US economy changes the rules

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 3 Comments

Scholastic Aptitude: Can Blacks Ever Rise to Equal Others?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test has for decades shown a stark gap between scores by black students and scores of other ethnic and racial groups. No matter what is done, nothing seems to help to even the score. Will blacks ever be able — as a group — to match the performance and aptitude of other groups?

The average white score on the SAT (1,123 out of a possible 1,600) is 177 points higher than the average black score (946), approximately a standard deviation of difference. This gap has persisted for decades. It is not explained by socioeconomic disparities. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported in 1998 that white students from households with incomes of $10,000 or less score better on the SAT than black students from households with incomes of $80,000 to $100,000. In 2015, students with family incomes of $20,000 or less (a category that includes all racial groups) scored higher on average on the math SAT than the average math score of black students from all income levels. The University of California has calculated that race predicts SAT scores better than class. __ https://www.city-journal.org/college-boards-sat-adversity-score

Anyone who pays attention to these things already knows that raising the incomes for blacks will not automatically raise the aptitude scores of their children. Instead what we tend to see is a regression to the mean, with wealthy black students badly underperforming students from other groups, no matter the income levels of the others.

And when one looks at Asian SAT scores, the effect of family income is even less significant:

Asian students outscore white students on the SAT by 100 points; they outscore blacks by 277 points. It is not Asian families’ economic capital that vaults them to the top of the academic totem pole; it is their emphasis on scholarly effort and self-discipline. Every year in New York City, Asian elementary school students vastly outperform every other racial and ethnic group on the admissions test for the city’s competitive public high schools, even though a disproportionate number of them come from poor immigrant families. __ https://www.city-journal.org/college-boards-sat-adversity-score

IQ Distributions for Four Populations

When one looks at average IQ test scores, one sees a stratification by group which is similar to the stratification one sees when comparing group results of scholastic aptitude and achievement tests. Again, this should not be a surprise to anyone who has looked at this issue previously.

Comparing US white IQ scores with black (American) IQ scores in context of occupational demands, one can better understand the practical implications of these group differences. There are many important pieces of the puzzle that must be intensely studied before any policy decisions should be made — other than to understand that all the best intentions in the world cannot change evolutionary reality.

Black White Group IQ Differences
Modified from Gottfredson (w Black distribution added for comparison)

More effort by black parents to make the most of the aptitudes of their children is one thing that certainly can help. And that is the one thing that may give black children more confidence in setting their own life’s course, separate from the education bureaucrats who only want to use them as pawns in their own nefarious schemes.

Black parents need to focus as relentlessly as Asian parents on their children’s school attendance and performance. They need to monitor homework completion and grades. Academic achievement must no longer be stigmatized as “acting white.” And a far greater percentage of black children must be raised by both their mother and their father, to ensure the socialization that prevents classrooms from turning into scenes of chaos and violence.

At present, thanks to racial preferences, many black high school students know that they don’t need to put in as much scholarly effort as non-“students of color” to be admitted to highly competitive colleges. The adversity score will only reinforce that knowledge. That is not a reality conducive to life achievement. The only guaranteed beneficiaries of this new scheme are the campus diversity bureaucrats. They have been given another assurance of academically handicapped students who can be leveraged into grievance, more diversity sinecures, and lowered academic standards. __ https://www.city-journal.org/college-boards-sat-adversity-score

Blacks, whites, Asians, and other ethnic/racial groups evolved over tens of thousands of years under different selection pressures. Different selection pressures lead to different evolutionary results. This should not be a shock. But denying these obvious differences can be both financially wasteful and highly destabilising to multicultural populations, leading to lowered trust and increased animosity.

It is clear that blacks — on average — do not have the same scholastic aptitude (or IQ), as other groups. Pretending otherwise helps no one.

Posted in Blacks and crime, Education, IQ | Tagged | 4 Comments

You Know Nothing Chairman Xi

China Chooses to Lie Cheat and Steal Rather than Reform

China could have chosen to abandon its long practices of forced technology transfer, product piracy, arbitrary discrimination against foreign litigants in disputes with Chinese companies, large scale industrial espionage, and many other sins against fair trade. Instead Mr. Xi’s China chose belligerence. And now Chairman Xi’s country will pay.

A U.S. trade agreement with China would (if enforceable) certify China as a place where foreigners can invest and be protected against espionage, intellectual property theft and unfair legal treatment. That prospect of certification is now suspended. That makes investing in China less desirable for many multinationals, not just U.S. ones. That, in turn, limits Chinese domestic wages as well as long-term learning and technology transfer. A U.S. certification of China might even boost Chinese domestic investment, but again that is now off the table. __ https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-05-13/china-loses-more-from-this-trade-war

Foreign companies are moving out of China, for good reason. Their products and their employees are not safe inside China, and other nations are offering more favorable labor costs and other incentives which cheating China no longer provides. And so China loses from being a place that no serious and intelligent company can trust.

Within a few years, a country such as Vietnam will provide the same products, perhaps at cheaper prices, because Vietnam has lower wages. So the costs to U.S. consumers are temporary, but the lost business in China will be permanent. __ Tyler Cowen

China Has More to Lose

In a tit for tat tariff war, China has more to lose in dozens of ways. One obvious way in which cheating China is vulnerable is that to avoid financial crisis, China has to sell to the US — whereas the US does not truly need to sell to China.

China imports less from the U.S. than the U.S. imports from China, which is why Trump is taking action in the first place. This means that China’s scope for imposing further tariffs is limited. What it could do is weaponize its foreign-exchange reserves and start selling some of its holdings of U.S. Treasuries. This would have the effect of forcing U.S. bond yields and borrowing costs higher. But it would also tend to reduce the value of China’s remaining hoard of Treasuries. __ https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-05-14/china-may-have-miscalculated-trump-s-weak-spot-jvn9r6mb

The US economy does not rely on exports in the same way that China literally lives or dies by exports.

Right now we export less to China than we do to Japan, South Korea and Singapore put together. That’s the point. So the effect of China’s new tariffs on the U.S. are yet another rounding error. Even if China banned all imports from the U.S., that would amount to only 0.6% of our gross domestic product. And we’d sell the stuff somewhere else. __ MarketWatch

Certainly China can influence world stock markets through policy announcements and influence operations. But China’s shock announcement of retaliatory tariffs just before last Monday’s NYSE opening had far less effect than hoped for by Mr. Xi, who after all this time still knows nothing.

This game must continue to play out to its logical end, as most of the developed world — that had grown fat and lazily complacent — continues to allow itself to be startled, bullied, and manipulated by a China that is over leveraged and getting more over leveraged by the day.

When confronted by a trading partner that refuses to knuckle under to dishonest and predatory Chinese trading practices, the Chinese Communist Party leadership has chosen to lie, cheat, and steal, rather than to reform. This was predictable, when considering China’s global policies of debt slavery and military expansion. Mr. Xi has already pulled the trigger on China’s global strategy, and cannot afford to surrender on any front — particularly on a front that underwrites China’s real economic clout. At this point China’s leaders feel they can only attack, both overtly and covertly.

Foreign influence operations – which can be broadly defined as the coordinated utilization of capabilities to affect changes in the perceptions, practices, and policies of foreign target audiences – in and of themselves are neither new nor not unique to China. But growing concern about aspects of the Chinese state and its broader conduct, as well as a series of recent incidents which have spotlighted the more illicit and coercive aspects of alleged influence operations – be it election interference, the bribing of key influencers, or the manipulation of media environments – have contributed to increasing the spotlight on this subject. The focus on Chinese influence operations is also occurring amid a confluence of broader trends, including intensifying major power competition, deepening ideological struggles between democratic and authoritarian forms of governance, and rising scrutiny on the digital domain, all of which have been particularly worrying for open societies including the United States and its allies. __ https://thediplomat.com/2019/05/chinas-influence-operations-in-asia-minding-the-open-door-challenge/

Those who can only attack are at a decided disadvantage over a long term war — even if opponents are evenly matched. In a case where the underdog is massively over-rated — and in the case of hyper-leveraged China — the tactics can escalate rapidly out of desperation when the true stakes become more widely known.

Under President Trump, jobs have returned to the US at rates not seen for 50 years. But other countries are also profiting at the expense of China, due to lower costs of production and less expensive transportation costs — among other dynamic factors involved. China does not hold the clever hand it once held. Which is why China’s rapidly escalating militancy is somewhat difficult to excuse.

In the end, you know nothing, Chairman Xi. And neither do your masses of fawning acolytes among the western media and cash-strapped western governments such as Greece and Italy. Their nations will pay the price of their greed, and in the end you also will pay the price for your premature decision to fire.

China’s stock market card has so far been massively underwhelming in the act. But we should be prepared for more Chinese style kabuki theatre in the near future.

Posted in China | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Thing That Is Different About Space Enthusiasm This Time

Ever since US President Kennedy pledged in the early 1960s that the US would land a man on the moon within the decade, the US has been caught up in episodic bouts of space enthusiasm. Engineers and other technical people tend to be science fiction fans at some stage in their lives, soaking in visions of outer space exploration and space outposts and colonies on the moon, Mars, and beyond. Until now, nothing much has come from these bouts of space fever — but something seems different this time around.

The world’s richest man — Jeff Bezos — and one of the world’s most audacious men — Elon Musk — are competing to be the one man that fathers the true age of humans in space. Musk’s company SpaceX has been successfully launching satellites and ISS resupply missions for well over a year, and Bezos’ New Glenn heavy launcher is poised to begin launching heavy orbital payloads in less than three years.

Now Jeff Bezos Wants to Go to the Moon

Recently at a Washington DC ballroom in a gala event, Jeff Bezos announced plans to build spacecraft that could land on the moon. He wants to be the one that makes permanent space outposts and habitats on the moon a reality. Bezos also wants to facilitate the building of giant space habitats orbiting Earth, with human populations into the millions each.


Some of you may remember the heady days of Gerard K. O’Neill’s “High Frontier,” and the grand idea to build large space habitats in L4 and L5 orbits between Earth and the Moon. Bezos’ dream is a bit closer to Earth, with the giant idyllic habitats directly orbiting the home planet.

“These are very large structures, miles on end. They would hold a million people or more each,” explained Bezos to a quiet audience made up of supporters, media, and elementary school robotic students.

He went on to show images of cities, parks, mountains, and waterfalls all in a self-contained rotating space cylinder. He talked about how they could differ in gravity, perhaps affording humans an opportunity to become birds.

“You could have a recreational [colony] that has zero Gs so that you can go flying,” Bezos said dramatically pausing, “With your own wings.”

While acknowledging that this reality is extremely far off, Bezos set out his utopian vision. Humans will live peacefully together among the stars in these contained O’Neill colonies rather than spreading to inhospitable worlds like Mars.

“This is Maui on its best day all year long; no rain, no storms, no earthquakes,” he said, “People are going to want to live here.” __ https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a27434904/jeff-bezos-oneill-world-history/

[Admin: Note that the Popular Mechanics article above posted an image of the wrong Gerard O’Neill. You can never be too careful about fact checking the people who run the media these days.]

Both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos can seem a bit grandiose at times. Here are some of the problems Bezos plans to solve, for example:

His immense wealth often prompts questions about how he chooses to spend it, and Bezos hinted at the criticism on Thursday. “There are immediate problems, things that we have to work on … I’m talking about poverty, hunger, homelessness, pollution, overfishing in the oceans,” he said. “But there are also long-range problems, and we need to work on those too.” __ https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/05/jeff-bezos-moon-nasa/589150/

Bezos is not alone among the new rich in wanting to solve problems that do not easily lend themselves to real world solutions, beyond grand words and phrases. Bill Gates’ foundation is working on many of man’s oldest and most intractable problems. Elon Musk is trying to solve global warming using solar energy of all things. The fact is, no matter how wealthy a person becomes, there is no solution to the inability of the human brain to solve itself. Wherever we go, there we are, and there will also be humanity’s problems.

But if we are not willing to reach beyond our grasp, what’s a heaven for? Or so Mr. Browning suggested many years ago.

So What is Different This Time?


This time, the space enthusiasm does not rest on the fickle shoulders of politicians and government bureaucrats. This time it is being pushed by super-wealthy individuals who are planning to find a growing number of ways to become much wealthier as a giant web of new space enterprises grows itself outward from Earth to the moon to near-Earth asteroids to Mars and beyond.

The sheer willpower and ingenuity of private entrepreneurs within an opportunity society such as the US is a force to be reckoned with. Things will be moved to make it all possible, because the very technologies that made these men wealthy are all enmeshed within a larger movement of innovation — from biotech to nanotech to advanced computing to increasingly autonomous robots and more. As long as governments are not the ones driving the projects and decisions, something special is likely to get done.

More at NextBigFuture

Cislunar Economy Step by Step
http://www.cislunarnext.org/Site/Home.html

Posted in Space Future | Tagged | 10 Comments

You Must Learn to Face the Pain and Suffer

This article was previously published on the Dangerous Child blog

You must, where necessary, learn to face pain and to suffer, in order to destroy and assimilate the pathological material contained in the symptom. (p. 166)

__ Perls, Hefferline, Goodman “Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (1951)

In other words, running from a source of inner fear and pain merely prolongs the agony and expands the sense of inner weakness beyond where it has any right to go. Facing the pain and bearing the suffering can shorten the ordeal and strengthen the self — but many children are not open to the logic involved here, on a moment to moment basis.

Dangerous Children do not reach the levels they do by taking the safe and easy path to person-hood. In the act of growing up every child confronts obstacles and suffers many types of pain. Traditional parents often rush to remove obstacles from their child’s path, but parents of Dangerous Children understand that the child must learn to confront difficult, and often painful, problems. Suffering is inevitably involved in the simple process of growing up and gaining a step by step maturity.

We have discussed the use of “mindfulness,” meditation, self-hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy, and neurofeedback in Dangerous Child training. Different methods of “quieting” or “balancing” the Child’s mind will suit different children for getting over minor emotional bumps. Dealing with more substantial and threatening obstacles can require a more nuanced approach.

Usually the simpler the approach to dealing with emotional blocks to learning, the more easily the child can move on to the next challenge. But simple does not necessarily mean “direct.” A paradoxical approach often yields quicker and more effective results than mere “common sense” direct advice or instruction.

Paradoxical Therapies

Example: Paradoxical Intention — Visualizing or practicing disturbing symptoms or situations to the point of absurdity or humor.

Paradoxical intention is a bit like trying to tickle yourself. Consider that you are in control while trying to tickle yourself (or trying to experience a disturbing symptom). This sense of “being in control” makes it difficult to experience the tickle or the troubling symptom, because most of the tickle and most of the emotional symptom comes from not having control in the first place.

This tactic of willfully trying to produce the feared symptom usually impresses clients as absurdly incongruous when the therapist first proposes it. And their bemused reaction tends to introduce an element of humor into the therapy… Such an injection of humor is designed to help clients detach themselves from their symptoms through the very act of smiling or laughing at them. __ Leon Seltzer (p. 59) (see link below)

Or, in the case of the Dangerous Child, posing the experiencing of the uncomfortable emotional symptom as a challenge — better yet as a humorous challenge — reframes the situation completely, and makes it easier for the Child to disentangle himself from the bad feeling, bad habit, or troubling thought. This is not a trick and should not be presented in a sneaking way, but rather in an open and straightforward manner.

Paradoxical techniques are simply tools for teaching, and their efficacy depends upon the trust that the Dangerous Child has in his parent, mentor, coach, or teacher.

The master of paradoxical therapies was the psychiatrist and clinical hypnotist Milton Erickson M.D.. But the basic techniques are practiced by psychotherapists and coaches of many different disciplines and practices.

The pearl of gestalt wisdom excerpted at the top of the page was quoted in a 1986 book “Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy,” by Leon Seltzer. The book describes a wide range of “paradoxical” approaches to therapy from ancient Buddhist thought to Freud to Gestalt Therapy to Behaviorist Therapy to Paradoxical Hypnotic Suggestions.

Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson in his “12 Rules for Life,” emphasizes the importance of facing up to the things that frighten or trouble us, so that we can get past them. He often recommends “desensitization” using an incremental approach — doing as much as you can or taking as much as you can take, then increasing the intensity or duration the next time, and so on.

Peterson also emphasizes the need for persons to take responsibility for the things that are within their power to change and make better. Doing this can give purpose to the individual’s life — and purpose is one thing that can give meaning to life’s suffering (since suffering is inevitable).

It may seem odd that one can run into the same sort of personal growth techniques from ancient Tibetan Buddhists, modern martial artists, Freudian analysts, Gestalt therapists, Cognitive Behavioral Therapists, hypnotists, storytellers, and self-help psychologist-guru-authors like Jordan Peterson.

That should tell you that the dysfunctional avoidance of uncomfortable — but common — situations is a problem that keeps individuals stuck in ruts across all sorts of societies and cultures and socioeconomic classes.

For Dangerous Children, the method that gets him out of his self-made rut and back on the road to Dangerous Childhood, is the best approach for each one.

Posted in Childhood Development, Dangerous Child | Tagged | Leave a comment

Wind Power Boom Is Over

… the 20-year subsidies granted to wind, solar, and biogas since 2000 will start coming to an end next year. “The wind power boom is over,” Der Spiegel concludes. __ https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/05/06/the-reason-renewables-cant-power-modern-civilization-is-because-they-were-never-meant-to/#2a527dd2ea2b

No economy can afford to run its industry and commerce on unreliable and exorbitantly expensive intermittent energy sources, such as big wind and big solar. Leftist politicians are willing to sacrifice citizens on an altar of green ideology, but more practical people understand that a modern society cannot be run on unreliable forms of energy.

The higher the percentage of a society’s dependence on intermittent energy, the more ruinously expensive the misconceived project becomes.

Der Spiegel cites a recent estimate that it would cost Germany “€3.4 trillion ($3.8 trillion),” or seven times more than it spent from 2000 to 2025, to increase solar and wind three to five-fold by 2050. __ Spiegel quoted in Forbes

It took Al Fin a number of years to understand the problems that large scale wind & solar cause for power grids. But once the problems with intermittent power are understood, the macabre nature of this horrendous hoax becomes readily visible. Grid-scale energy storage would only make the problem of consumer power costs much worse, despite the claims of advocates with vested interests.

The electricity exiting from a typical utility-scale solar plant, without subsidies, costs about $70 per megawatt hour. Adding the battery to the system will jack up the price to more than $300 per megawatt hour.

__ https://stopthesethings.com/2019/04/27/attery-bollocks-why-giant-batteries-wont-solve-wind-solars-chaotic-intermittency/

If you are planning to build an off-grid cabin or retreat, then a small solar array or wind turbine makes perfect sense. But something very ugly happens when wind and solar are scaled up to the scale of power grids. The unpredictable intermittency of these unreliable energy sources gets magnified to huge proportions — and there is no affordable mitigation in sight.

If you want modern civilisation to come to a bloody screeching halt — with the four horsemen of famine, pestilence, war, and death riding in triumph — push unreliable forms of energy to their limits, and then keep pushing. This is what leftist greens have been doing for years in Germany, the UK, Australia, California, and other dens of unscrupulous political villains.

But if you want to see human civilisation pass through the transition into an abundant and expansive future, powered by clean, safe, affordable and unlimited forms of power — reject the treachery of wind & sun. Push for an all-out development of advanced fission and fusion power, the only chance for a truly open-ended human future.

Posted in Energy, Wind | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Taking Responsibility by the Numbers, thru the Word, from the Heart

Note: This article is cross-published from the Dangerous Child blog

Dave Ramsey: Responsibility by the Numbers

Dave Ramsey is an author and radio personality who teaches different ways for people to take responsiblity for their finances: Get out of debt, balance your budget, save for emergencies and special needs, and invest to build wealth.

All of this is not as easy as it sounds, and Dave Ramsey is not afraid to get into the grit and grime of debt and personal irresponsibility in the attempt to salvage a person’s future, self-respect, and financial peace of mind.

Jordan Peterson: Responsibility thru the Word

Jordan Peterson is an author, university professor, public speaker, entrepreneur, consultant to corporations and other large organisations, and increasingly prominent public personality. His message is for people to take on responsibility as a way to make something good and meaningful in the face of the underlying tragedy of human life. Using the power of the word — using ancient myths and modern phenomenon alike — Peterson helps to reveal the predicament we are all in. He then helps us find the many tools that we can use to generate purpose and meaning powerful enough to motivate us in taking responsibility for shaping our futures.

Stephen Levine: Responsibility from the Heart

Stephen Levine was an author, poet, leader of workshops, public speaker, and personal coach to persons who were living through the experience of terminal disease. Levine’s ideas strike deep into the non-verbal experience of confronting and accepting ourselves, on levels that virtually everyone fears to tread — if they are even aware of the places inside of their deeper selves.

Every bit as potentially life-changing as the messages of Dave Ramsey and Jordan Peterson, the teachings of Stephen Levine have the potential of providing a deeper meaning to one’s life than might be imagined, whether a person is dying or not likely to die for a very long time.

Taking Responsibility

Taking responsibility for one’s own life and education is an integral part of Dangerous Child training. The training goes far deeper than achieving financial self-sufficiency and multiple practical skills in the teen years, and mastering a wide range of lethal and semi-lethal skills. It is in the mastery of one’s self that the Dangerous Child comes into his own. And that self-mastery takes many different forms over many facets and depth levels of the many phases of the person’s life.

It’s never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood, but the earlier begun, the better mastery that can be achieved.

Posted in Jordan Peterson, Philosophy | Tagged | Leave a comment

Big Five Personality Test

Big Five personality Traits
Wikipedia

The big five personality traits are the best accepted and most commonly used model of personality in academic psychology. The big five come from the statistical study of responses to personality items. Using a technique called factor analysis researchers can look at the responses of people to hundreds of personality items and ask the question “what is the best was to summarize an individual?”. This has been done with many samples from all over the world and the general result is that, while there seem to be unlimited personality variables, five stand out from the pack in terms of explaining a lot of a persons answers to questions about their personality: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience. The big-five are not associated with any particular test, a variety of measures have been developed to measure them. __ OpenPsychometrics (Click link to take test)

Another Site to take Big 5 Personality Test

More on the Big Five Traits (Source)

Openness to Experience

Openness to experience has been described as the depth and complexity of an individual’s mental life and experiences (John & Srivastava, 1999). It is also sometimes called intellect or imagination. Openness to experience concerns an individual’s willingness to try to new things, to be vulnerable, and the ability to think outside the box.

Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a trait that can be described as the tendency to control impulses and act in socially acceptable ways, behaviors that facilitate goal-directed behavior (John & Srivastava, 1999). Conscientious people excel in their ability to delay gratification, work within the rules, and plan and organize effectively.

Extroversion

This factor has two familiar ends of the spectrum: extroversion and introversion. It concerns where an individual draws their energy and how they interact with others. In general, extroverts draw energy or “recharge” from interacting with others, while introverts get tired from interacting with others and replenish their energy from solitude.

Agreeableness

This factor concerns how well people get along with others. While extroversion concerns sources of energy and the pursuit of interactions with others, agreeableness concerns your orientation to others. It is a construct that rests on how you generally interact with others.

Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the one Big Five factor in which a high score indicates more negative traits. Neuroticism is not a factor of meanness or incompetence, but one of confidence and being comfortable in one’s own skin. It encompasses one’s emotional stability and general temper.

More

Heritability of Big 5 Personality Traits

Genetically informative research, including twin studies, suggest that heritability and environmental factors both influence all five factors to the same degree.[79] Among four recent twin studies, the mean percentage for heritability was calculated for each personality and it was concluded that heritability influenced the five factors broadly. The self-report measures were as follows: openness to experience was estimated to have a 57% genetic influence, extraversion 54%, conscientiousness 49%, neuroticism 48%, and agreeableness 42%.[80] __ Wikipedia Big Five Personality Traits

While the heritability measures for the big five traits are not as high as heritability measures for IQ (80% in adulthood), the 57% heritability estimate for “openness” is reasonably close. The “openness” trait is sometimes described as “intellect.”

…. research has linked openness to experience to broad intellectual skills and knowledge and may tend to increase with age (Schretlen, van der Hulst, Pearlson, & Gordon, 2010). This indicates that openness to experience leads to gains in knowledge and skills, and naturally increases as a person ages and has more experiences to learn from.

Not only has openness been linked to knowledge and skills, it was also found to correlate with creativity, originality, and a tendency to explore their inner selves with a therapist or psychiatrist, and negatively related to conservative political attitudes (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999). Not only was openness found to correlate with many traits over time, it was also found to be extremely stable over time – one study explored trait stability over 45 years (Soldz & Vaillant, 1999), and found a relatively strong and significant correlation between the two times of measurement! ___ https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/big-five-personality-theory/

This is an interesting parallel between “openness” and “intelligence” since the Big Five Trait tests and IQ tests are quite different sorts of tests.

The “conscientiousness” trait seems to be a good parallel to the “executive function” concept. Executive function is better fitted to neurologic function (pre-frontal lobes of the brain) but has not been validated in testing as well as “conscientiousness.”

This research article helps to clarify relationships between some specific neurological functions of the brain and the personality traits of conscientiousness and neuroticism.

Gender Differences in Big 5

There are distinct gender differences in the big five personality traits, which help to partially explain why women do not earn as much income as men on average. They may also help explain why there are far fewer female leaders and explorers at elite levels in the most difficult fields of knowledge and skill.

This is not an indication of superiority or inferiority of either sex, rather it suggests that men and women evolved along parallel paths to possess slightly different sets of attributes — on average.

Big Five is a Good Place to Start

We cannot learn everything important about a person by just looking at five personality traits. But we can learn a great deal, much of which is of critical importance. Given the simplicity of test-taking and scoring, and given the demonstrated validity of the test — and consistency of scores over time — anyone setting out to learn more about what makes himself tick may wish to take the big 5 personality trait exam to provide a baseline.

After digesting that information (perhaps after taking 3 or 4 different tests), take a look at the self-authoring software by Jordan Peterson. These programs will help you understand how your personality strengths and weaknesses have combined to create your life, and how you can come to terms with your personality and begin to shape your future, taking into account the things you can change for the better.

I am still in the early days of exploring this area of science-based self help, but from what I have seen so far it seems worth exploring.

Don’t be discouraged by what you learn about yourself as you set out. It is the potential to change things for the better which should excite you.

Posted in Cognition | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Why Can’t Socialists Handle the Truth?

They feel that they have good intentions. This utopian dream of theirs is so vivid they can almost taste it! But why do they never sit down with the veterans of failed utopias and talk over the problems that their well-intentioned ideological dreams tend to cause, over and over again?

Talk to the people who escaped Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and the other current and former workers’ paradises of the world?

They want to talk about Scandinavian socialism, which is not really socialism when looked at closely and carefully. And truly, why would any sane person try to compare relatively simple, mostly monoracial mini-nations such as one finds in Scandinavia with a deeply complex and multicultural superpower such as the USA?

It is a utopian dream they are looking for, not any kind of reality which ever could be realised on this planet, with the broadly deficient strains of human breeding material one finds here. Feeling righteous about themselves is what they want — and they could never do that if they were to face the reality of what their dreams always result in.

Bernie Sanders Long Praised Cuba

In Cuba, doctors make the equivalent of 25 cents an hour and teachers 21 cents an hour. Pharmacists earn eight cents an hour.

In Cuba, there is no right to free speech and virtually no ­independent media.

There are no free, fair, multiparty elections. In fact, there is just one political party (Communist), and only members of the Communist Party may run as candidates for any ­office. But we were told we couldn’t object to this system, lest we lose our free education and free health care. __ Enrique Padron

Bernie Said the American Dream Could Be Found In Venezuela

We would go five or six days at a time without electricity, and that’s why we had to leave Venezuela. We buy food with debit cards [because inflation has rendered cash almost worthless], and when there’s no electricity the cards don’t work in the machines and you can’t buy anything. There were entire days I went without food. My 7-year-old, too. But thank God, my baby didn’t go hungry because I was still nursing. __ Génesis Gutiérrez Padilla, 27 quoted in NYT

Socialism is a Pretty Wrapping Filled with Dog Shite

In theory, North Korea is a bastion of socialism, a country where the state provides everything, including housing, health care, education and jobs. In reality, the state economy barely operates anymore. People work in factories and fields, but there is little for them to do, and they are paid almost nothing. __ https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/north-korea-defectors/?

The USSR imploded for much the same reason. Communist China almost self-destructed, before Deng allowed a private economy to bloom inside China.

Socialist paradises always run out of other people’s money, sooner or later. That is when they discover that their utopian dream system is unable to generate the wealth they want to spend. That is when the people start to flee.

But Where Will They Go if the USA Goes Socialist?

The US has a lot of surplus wealth which can be confiscated and spent, but with over 300 million people, it would not take long for the system to grind to a halt under genuine socialism. That would be the signal for the world to go to war.

If the US fell to socialism before China collapsed of its own internal debt and corruption, China would be in the best position to seize global power. But first the world would experience war, famine, and pestilence at levels never possible in previous, less densely populated societies. Under true socialism, the US would be in no position to intervene.

Tribal and clan dominated societies would use stockpiles of weapons they could never have made for themselves — and which would quickly wear out for lack of maintenance. They would keep buying replacement weapons as long as their valuable natural resources held out, until finally entire continents would starve.

Russia would be reduced to trading the bulk of Siberia to China in exchange for advanced Chinese technology to use in the reconquista of Eastern Europe. And so Russia becomes a vassal state to China in the end.

This — and much worse — is the reality of the socialist dream which is being fed like hogswallop to university and high school students across Europe and the Anglosphere. The dysfunctional tide might be held back a while longer. But if the tsunami of socialism does sweep over the seawalls of residual sanity, there will be hell to pay.

HFTB. PFTW. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

Posted in Ideology | Tagged | 2 Comments

Homicide Near and Far


A bit of research will reveal that most of the US cities with high crime rates also host significant numbers of black residents — who are usually highly sequestered within particular neighborhoods. The graphic below indicates the type of statistical discrepancy that can be found between different neighborhoods inside the same city limits.

In high crime cities, a black person must work hard if he is to move himself and his family to a safer part of town. This urge to move to a safer place helps motivate those who are willing to do what it takes to escape the malevolent world around them.

In the US, correlation between proportion of black population and murder rates can be quite high overall. The graphic below looks at correlation coefficients between proportion of different ethnic groups in the population, and violent crime rates.

Within the Americas, one finds significant discrepancies in murder rates as well. North America and parts of South America such as Argentina/Uruguay have low murder rates on average. But Central America, the Caribbean, and nations such as Venezuela and Brazil have quite high murder rates.

One of the best ways to reduce a country’s homicide rates is to neglect to include most murders in your homicide statistics. This approach has worked for many nations in Africa. It also helps keeps departmental budgets down for public statistics bureaus. That money can be better spent by government officials on vacations to Switzerland, with a little banking business on the side. 😉

There are differences in gene alleles between different breeding populations, which helps to partially account for ethnic differences in violent crime rates. Gene alleles predisposing to violence are more common in subgroups of various breeding groups.

In central America and the Caribbean we see the confluence of genetic factors with a prominence of gangs and a very violent drug trade. Put it all together and rates of homicide are the highest in the world in Latin America and the Caribbean (as far as we can tell by the statistics which are kept).

It’s a dangerous world out there — both in particular countries and in particular cities and neighborhoods within generally low-crime countries. Best to stay alert, and make yourself Dangerous.

Posted in Africa, Crime | Tagged | 11 Comments

I Am Not a Crook

I Am Not A Crook
Source

What Did the President Know and When Did He Know It?

Worse than Watergate

“… if a single bugging of the political opposition is enough to bring down a presidency — and maybe lead to an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president — then what are we to make of the recently unveiled Obama administration program of massively spying on political opponents in violation of clearly established law?” __ Source

We have been aware of all of this for the last two years. But finally the US has an attorney general who seems willing to investigate crime under the Obama administration as crime, rather than as innocent childish pranks.

At this point in time, at least five different methods that the Obama administration used to spy on the Trump campaign have been made public:

1. FISA Warrant: Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was targeted with a FISA warrant by the FBI in October 2016. The warrant was subsequently renewed three times for 90-day periods. Other members of the Trump campaign might have had FISA warrants on them, as well.

2. Unmasking: Hundreds of so-called unmasking requests were made for the identities of members of the Trump campaign in intelligence reports. The House Intelligence Committee has so far identified Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice, Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, and former CIA Director John Brennan, as having filed such requests.

3. Undercover Informant: The FBI used Stefan Halper, an undercover agent, to infiltrate the Trump campaign. He contacted Trump campaign associates Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Halper has ties to the CIA, as well as MI6.

4. National Security Letters: The use of national security letters to target the Trump campaign was first revealed by officials to The New York Times in a May 16, 2018, article. National security letters allow the FBI to secretly subpoena customer records from banks, phone companies, internet service providers, and others.

5. Foreign Intelligence: British intelligence agency GCHQ provided officials within the CIA with information on the Trump campaign as early as late 2015, The Guardian reported in April 2017. Then-head of GCHQ Robert Hannigan also provided Brennan with sensitive information on the Trump campaign on a “director level” in the summer of 2016.

6. Reverse Targeting: Brennan admitted in an Aug. 17, 2018, interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that the CIA had obtained the communications of Americans associated with the Trump campaign through what appears to have been the use of reverse targeting. “We call it incidental collection in terms of CIA’s foreign intelligence collection authorities,” Brennan said.

We know from the nearly two-year-long, exhaustive investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller that there was never any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

__ Epoch Times

Mr. Obama is smack in the middle of a large number of criminal acts committed by his close underlings and advisors. What did he know, and when did he know it? The answer to those questions should shine a light on the obscure and contradictory public image of the former messiah in chief.

More on reckless criminality of Obama’s DOJ and FBI

Posted in Crime, Obama, Politics | Tagged ,

How to Make a 60 Year Old Brain Work Like a 20 Year Old’s

Theta-gamma nerve coupling between brain regions is key to cognitive functioning

Zapping the brains of people over 60 with a mild electrical current improved a form of memory enough that they performed like people in their 20s, a new study found.

Someday, people might visit clinics to boost that ability, which declines both in normal aging and in dementias like Alzheimer’s disease, said researcher Robert Reinhart of Boston University.

The treatment is aimed at “working memory,” the ability to hold information in mind for a matter of seconds as you perform a task, such as doing math in your head. Sometimes called the workbench or scratchpad of the mind, it’s crucial for things like taking medications, paying bills, buying groceries or planning, Reinhart said.

__ Source

Article abstract in Nature

Electrical brain stimulation was used to strengthen the brain wave coupling between the pre-frontal cortex and the temporal lobe of the brain. EEG monitoring was also utilised to improve the brain wave synchrony between the two regions considered to be important in human working memory.

A well-studied mechanism is cross-frequency coupling. As described first in the hippocampus, the phase of theta oscillations biases the amplitude of the gamma waves [phase–amplitude (P–A) coupling or nested oscillations].
http://slideplayer.com/slide/2595111/


Here is more information on the particular type of brain waves [Theta-gamma] that were the focus of the researchers in the study discussed above:

Working memory deficits are common among individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Yet, little is known about the mechanisms underlying these deficits. Theta-gamma coupling—the modulation of high-frequency gamma oscillations by low-frequency theta oscillations—is a neurophysiologic process underlying working memory. We assessed the relationship between theta-gamma coupling and working memory deficits in AD and MCI.

We hypothesized that: (1) individuals with AD would display the most significant working memory impairments followed by MCI and finally healthy control (HC) participants; and (2) there would be a significant association between working memory performance and theta-gamma coupling across all participants. Ninety-eight participants completed the N-back working memory task during an electroencephalography (EEG) recording: 33 with AD (mean ± SD age: 76.5 ± 6.2), 34 with MCI (mean ± SD age: 74.8 ± 5.9) and 31 HCs (mean ± SD age: 73.5 ± 5.2).

AD participants performed significantly worse than control and MCI participants on the 1- and 2-back conditions. Regarding theta-gamma coupling, AD participants demonstrated the lowest level of coupling followed by the MCI and finally control participants on the 2-back condition. Finally, a linear regression analysis demonstrated that theta-gamma coupling (β = 0.69, p < 0.001) was the most significant predictor of 2-back performance. Our results provide evidence for a relationship between altered theta-gamma coupling and working memory deficits in individuals with AD and MCI. They also provide insight into a potential mechanism underlying working memory impairments in these individuals. __ https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2018.00101/full

One of many places to download the “Dual N-Back” game free of charge to test yourself

For those who want more details on Theta-gamma brain coupling and how this coding system of the brain works, here are some scientific articles with more information:

The Theta-Gamma Neural Code published in 2013 in “Cell (Neuron)”

Hippocampal Theta-Gamma Coupling published in 2013 in Journal of Neurophysiology

Brain Stimulation Using Low Intensity Ultrasound published in 2016 in Basic and Clinical Neuroscience

Comparison of various brain stimulation methods from above article:

Parameter specify Deep brain stimulation (DBS) Transcranial current stimulation (tCS) Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) Low intensity focused ultrasound stimulation (LIFU)
Invasiveness Invasive Noninvasive Noninvasive Noninvasive
Spatial resolution ~1 mm Undetectable ~3–5 cm Depending on the frequency 1–5mm
Depth of stimulation Unlimited Undetectable ~1–1.5 cm unless H-coil is used 10–15 cm or more
Duration of reversible effect ~5 s 24 h ~5 s ~10–40 min
fMRI brain mapping Difficult Difficult Very difficult Easily possible

The Al Fin blogs have discussed electrical and magnetic transcranial brain stimulation methods as well as deep brain implant stimulation. The low intensity focused ultrasound method of brain stimulation is less well studied but from the comparison table above, LIFU appears to offer important advantages in spatial resolution and effective depth of reach inside the brain — for a noninvasive technique.

Neuroscientists try to make brain stimulation technologies noninvasive, inexpensive, user-friendly, direct, and safe. They believe that LIFU, regarding its features, can have a prominent role in brain stimulation and brain mapping in the future (Bystritsky et al., 2011). __ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4981830/

Note:

The brain stimulation method used by the Boston University researchers mentioned in the topmost article was a transcranial electrical current stimulator. Using a relatively simple device, the BU researchers were able to temporarily improve working memory performance for 60+ year-olds to the level of 20 something year-olds. The neural-coupling [Theta-gamma] effect was confirmed by EEG and the working memory improvement was confirmed using standard short term memory testing. The improvement for the seniors’ memories lasted at least 50 minutes after the end of electrical stimulation.

Posted in Human Brain | Tagged

Move Ova Obama! They’s a New Messiah in Town

Obama Messiah 2007

Obama at fund-raiser at Steven and Judy Gluckstern’s home, April 9, 2007. George Soros is seated to the right of the stairs. (Published in “How Barack Obama Struck Fund-Raising Gold, New York Magazine April 16, 2007; Photo-credit: Michael Edwards (note that this is the actual photo as published by New York Magazine, and contrary to the claim of William Lowther @ Telegraph, has not been doctored by this blog; (via “Daily Speculations” | What is the “Transfiguration”?)
Via Obama Messiah


George Soros needed a messiah around 2007, and he was determined to have one. After 8 years of seeing most of his grand plans put on hold, it was time to take direct action. Mr. Soros is pictured above, sitting at the feet of his messiah of his choice.

But Mr. Obama lived out his time as emperor-messiah, and departed the scene without leaving a successor. The club of Soros and their followers have been pitiable, ensconced in gloom, crippled without a champion on the throne.

But just as all hope seemed to be lost, a bright ray of sanctimonious sanctified sunshine has pierced the clouds.


Discarding Obama-Messiah in favour of Beto-Jesus, the fickle followers of political fortune now chase after the image that is itself seeking after a man.

Is George Soros On Board?

Think of George Soros as a left-wing billionaire king-maker — or in the case of the spiritually downtrodden, the messiah-maker. Remember that it was George Soros in 2007 who walked Obama-Messiah all the way to the White House from an almost hopeless primary situation against Hillary.

Also remember that it was George Soros who immediately after the 2016 US Presidential elections called a 3 day meeting of wealthy kingmakers and political dirty tricksters together in Washington DC to plan the overthrow of President-elect Donald Trump. This was not an action plan leading up to 2020. Georgie had a more immediate exit in mind for Mr. Trump. But plan A didn’t work out, so on to plan B . . .

Beto Needs Messiah-Makers

It is rarely remembered after all these years, but Bill Clinton had a very fine stable of messiah-makers in his corral back in 1991/1992. And as we have seen, Obama had some heavy-weight messiah-makers as well. Remember “He is the one!” proclaimed by Oprah just before the South Carolina primary and the great turnaround of the 2008 primary season?

Little Beto has hopeful crowds and zanies by the thousands. But does he have the messiah-makers? Time will tell. It seemed like forever back in the 2007/2008 season before Obama-Messiah’s ground game began working for him — not until big Oprah got behind him. Obama needed two big messiah-makers to get the job done.

Little Beto also needs both big money and big street cred — something more than a hokey smile and a dubious history. Betito needs substance and tempering in the furnace. And he needs as many messiah-makers as he can get! Because Betitito is not black, not female, not a war hero, has never been a Senator or Governor — has not even been a reality TV show host — and any sober person would be hard put to come up with a rational reason to vote for the fluff-stuffed toy-sized action figure.

Leftists Need Messiahs Because Their Natural World is Utopian

Without utopian ideals there is no such thing as a leftist. Without the great paradise to come there is no leftist reason to do anything but destroy all that is.

This schizoid divide between utopian religion and nihilist revolution is the naughty little secret that adorable little leftists keep tucked away inside of them so that even they do not understand themselves.

They are drawn helplessly to messiahs, because someone needs to take all the burden of responsibility — somebody’s got to take the hell care of these little snowflakes! And somebody’s got to bring on the utopia as if by magic. Only a messiah can do that for the true believers.

But in the real world, the deplorables get to vote too. And if enough deplorables decide that your messiah is not real enough, then all the felons, all the illegals, all the risen dead cannot push your candidate over the top.

But beware. Dirty tricks and collusion between the Soros/Davos elite and clever operatives from the middle kingdom can create surprises unanticipated even by jaded observers such as yourselves.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood © .

Posted in George Soros, Politics | Tagged | 3 Comments

Dying Russia Update

Population Decline:

Russia is one of the few countries with a negative growth rate, and its 2019 population is estimated at 143.90 million, a decline from an estimated population of 146.3 million in 2015. It’s currently the 9th most populous country on earth, despite being the largest by area. __ http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/russia-population/

Corruption Pandemic:

… corruption is seen as a major factor in Russian combat disasters. Even military leaders accept that, but in peacetime the opportunities are too abundant and the discipline too inadequate to prevent corruption. Government prosecutors estimate that military corruption costs the military over $500 million a year and disrupts the operation of units, major programs and everything else. Despite the frequent prosecutions it is believed corruption in the military is increasing. __ https://strategypage.com/qnd/russia/articles/20190402.aspx

More on Russian Corruption from The Moscow Times

Russian Industrial Decline:

Vladimir Putin’s much-publicized program to promote import substitution is failing. Indeed, Russia may be in worse shape now than it was a decade ago as sanctions and declining earnings from the sale of raw materials leave the central government with less money to spend. Moreover, in contrast to China, which has a successful program in this area, Russia continues to buy completed products rather than the technologies on which they are based.

… the absence of domestic production in the industrial sector has contributed to the severe shrinking of Russia’s working class… the rising generation can see its own prospects being taken away by government policies of buying foreign goods rather than developing them at home. __ https://jamestown.org/program/import-substitution-in-russia-failing-as-moscow-buys-products-not-technologies/

Russian Mortality Again Rising, Population Falling

After a few years of small population gains in Russia due to rising births and falling deaths, since 2015 Russia is reverting back to a pattern of higher mortality and flat — or falling — birth rates among ethnic Russians.

Russian patterns of alcohol and tobacco use — and rising rates of HIV from intravenous drugs and dirty needles — underlie these high mortality rates. Young and middle aged Russian men display surprisingly high death rates.

More than two million Russian men are considered to be HIV positive, and the epidemic doesn’t show any signs of abating. In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with the infection.

… Serious health problems among Russians derive from high rates of smoking and alcohol consumption. Mortality among Russian men rose by 60% since 1991, four or five times higher than the European average.

These untimely deaths result mostly from preventable causes – alcohol poisoning, smoking, cardiovascular diseases, traffic accidents and violent crimes. __ https://www.theglobalist.com/russia-public-health-alcoholism/

Contrast Between Russia and China

Russia has a much larger land mass area than China, but China’s population is significantly larger and still growing — in contrast to Russia’s falling population. China has the industrial and demographic might to support its expansionist goals. Russia does not. China acquired the technology — it does not matter how — to produce its industrial equipment. Russia did not.

China needs lebensraum and is quickly spreading into the Russian Far East and other parts of Siberia. It is only a matter of time before Russian collapse meets Chinese expansion — no overt invasion or war will be required for China. Putin has already gone past the point of no return in his indebtedness to China.

Posted in Russian Decline | Tagged | 4 Comments

Space Access 2019 via Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society

Why Does the US Have So Many of These Conferences?

Space Access 2019
https://sa2019.erps.org/


Preliminary Conference Schedule

And What Good Do They Do?

Free Speech and Free Association form the Groundwork for a Civil Society

These freedoms are guaranteed by the 1st amendment to the US Constitution. When “free” people can get together to discuss, debate, and organise around almost any topic of choice (unlike in dictatorships) they can develop new approaches to problem-solving and form lifelong friendships and profitable associations. Cross-pollination of ideas is encouraged in this way, and innovation and enterprise-formation take place naturally.

People who were born and raised in America cannot conceive of life under an oppressive state, where a person can be imprisoned or “disappeared” without explanation or justification — just for holding a conversation that may fall outside of political or religious boundaries.

Various Groups Have Held Space Conferences in the US for Several Decades

These conferences are open to a wide range of attendees — from aerospace executives to high school students and amateur rocket hobbyists. This is where children and youth affirm future careers and where contacts can be made between fellow enthusiasts which sometimes grow to something more substantial than amateur enthusiasm.

Even during the dark days after the shutdown of the Shuttle program, before the coming of the upstart SpaceX, space conferences such as this one kept the spark of hope, interest, and experimentation alive in the broad community of interest in rockets and space development.

Brief Outline for Program of Space Access 2019:

Thursday 4/18/19 – The Entrepreneurial Revolution In Smallsat Launch

Friday 4/19/19 – Reusable Rocket Transport Networks in Earth-Moon Space

Saturday 4/20/19 – Getting There Faster: Advanced High Energy Propulsion

___ http://space-access.org/updates/sa2019schedule.html

Many of these conferences seem to take place in the San Francisco Bay area because that is where many of the speakers and other guests of such conferences reside. High tech companies have clustered in the Bay Area for several decades, and space has always been high on the list of interests for many of the engineers who work in these high tech corps and startups. The Bay is also a central location for many of the investors who sometimes drop some money on space startups.

US Tech Billionaires Driving Space Development Etc.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are the best known tech billionaires who made the big plunge into the aerospace industries. But there are others in the hunt for outer space $trillions.

Various tech billionaires are also helping to finance development in advanced nuclear fission, small scale nuclear fusion, life extension, and various assorted future technologies — all with the potential to introduce disruptive change into modern lifestyles.

This phenomenon of one disruptive industry leapfrogging to finance another more-disruptive industry seems more likely to take place in a society that allows freedom of speech and freedom of association than in stagnant and constipated societies that are bound up in bureaucratic rules and oppressive and arbitrary sets of laws — such as one finds across Asia, Africa, and parts of Latin America.

In a free society what is not explicitly forbidden, is allowed.

In despotic and stagnant societies, what is not explicitly allowed, is forbidden.

It should be clear where one is more likely to find the most disruptive innovations — in the more open society. Stolen innovations — such as one is likely to find in China — are another matter. But China is a politically saturated wasteland where everything in that sad society — from top to bottom — can change at any moment, and everyone is at risk who lacks sufficient political clout.

Even in the US, freedom of speech is threatened on university campuses, in most corporations, within mainstream news outlets, in deep state bureaucracies, and everywhere else that political correctness has insinuated itself.

So if you live in a free society where you can get together with people of similar interests and hold an international conference such as the one pictured above, count yourself lucky. You are living in a place where disruptive change is still possible.

Keep in mind, however, that freedoms which you take for granted are never entirely safe from abusive power-mongers in government, media, academia, corporations, activist groups, etc. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood © .

Posted in Space Future | Tagged | 1 Comment

Spygate: The Corrupt Administration that Perverted the Entire US National Security Apparatus For a Political Hit Job

Following in the footsteps of the Richard Nixon administration, the Obama administration took control of the US spy and law enforcement agencies and used them as just another arm of the Obama political machine.

The full story of the intentionally botched FBI investigation in the Hillary Clinton email scandal is slowly being untangled from the deep state detritus that has been attempting so long to cover it up. But more intriguing than the email-gate coverup is how that scandal morphed so seamlessly into the quickly concocted Russia collusion scam.

Some readers are not mature or cognitively competent enough to work their way through the maze of dirty tricks perpetrated by officials in the US Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and other arms of US law enforcement and national security. But the evidence does not go away just because they stick their heads in the sand and mutter “I hate Trump! I hate Trump! . . . ” in a mind-numbing perseveration of early onset dementia.

The ginned-up “evidence” came mainly from a Clinton-campaign document that was craftily placed into official government documents by members of the team pictured above. But the fictions were propagated relentlessly over cable news and late night “comedy” shows for two years to the point that much of the dumbed down public came to accept the fantasies for realities.

Sadly, a large part of today’s university-educated generations are no longer capable of following a logical argument or spotting logical fallacies. They have been taught to focus on their emotions, and to abandon logical argument as the obsolete purview of dead white males. And so the path to the idiocracy is paved with black ice on a decline plane.

For those capable of following the storyline — and who are curious as to how such a thing could have happened under the “transparent” administration of Barack Hussein Obama — read this expose.

We know why such a thing might have been attempted: There are $trillions at stake in government contracts and future government policies that will lead to $trillions more in future government contracts.

The US government has always been a cash cow for unscrupulous politicians, cronies, and puppet-masters. But over the last hundred years the government has exploded in size, power, budgets, and a seemingly insurmountable debt.

No government — Democrat or Republican — will try to attack the national debt. There is too much money and power that comes from manipulating government policies and contracts. There are few politicians with the fortitude to walk away from that kind of power.

To get Hillary Clinton elected as US President in 2016, heaven and earth were twisted into ribbons. Laws were broken, crimes were covered up, abuses of government power was rampant, and twisted agencies of government hid their wrongdoings from other agencies that were supposed to be keeping track of what was happening. But the effort failed, so another vast bending of the laws of the universe took place, to try to “set things right.”

But we see that that effort has failed — and already the groundwork is being laid for more abuses of power and new crimes against logic and reason. Not so strangely, the mainstream media has been complicit in the grand bent crusade of power all along. In fact, the skankstream media cannot get off the train at this stage — it is in for the duration.

The bottom line is that the government — the US government in particular, but most other governments as well — has too much power and is far too large and opaque. It has been that way since the FDR years, but has gotten worse every decade since the 1930s. Neither party wants to give up power, so nothing substantial is done to reduce the size and power of government.

Universities are training new generations of socialist drones, full of righteous indignation and outrage, but such people tend to burn themselves out on drugs and rage eventually. Unfortunately they also get hired into government positions under presidents such as Obama — as you can see from reading the narrative. They have no scruples because they are taught that there is no single objective truth — that all competing “truths” are equally valid, but especially the “politically correct truth.”

Things are going to get very bumpy. I say this because the tyrants of the university, the newsroom, and the deep state, overplayed their hand and exposed themselves. Opposition is rising — even from inside the universities themselves and from alternative media that is robbing viewership from the mainstream. And the deep state is running as fast as it can just to keep up with Donald Trump’s active pruning of its roots and branches via revocation of regulations. The clash of cultures is just revving up.

This bumper-car rollercoaster ride is just getting started. If you wish you can hope for the best. But by all means, prepare for the worst. It would not be too soon to start making yourself very Dangerous.

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Politics | Tagged | 1 Comment