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Archive for September, 2012

NSFW Links: Sep 30, 2012

September 30, 2012 1 comment

These links are NSFW.

Cat Crawling on Knees: Sep 30, 2012 – You have to see this version of cat crawling.

Back it Up: Sep 30, 2012 – More arched backs.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized

Violent Revolutions Require Belief in a Better Future

September 29, 2012 18 comments

As I have written on numerous occasions in the past- we live in a world that is, for the lack of a better word, dystopic. While we can always argue about whether the world was more or less fucked up in previous eras, doing so does not change the basic fact. Having said that, people cope with the general suckiness of a meaningless existence in a number of ways.

One of them involves believing in the possibility of a better future.

Deteriorating socio-economic conditions almost always result in violent uprising, revolts and revolutions because people believe that a better system is possible. Predictions of unrest based on bad socio-economic conditions are therefore based on the unmentioned belief that people believe that a change for the better is possible.

But what happens if people believe that a change for the better is not possible?

While there always have been pessimists, their numbers as a percentage of the population have been relatively small. While there are many reasons for that, the single most important reason for an endless supply of optimists throughout human history has been high birth rates.

Every birth provides the sociopaths in civilization another person whose enthusiasm and naivety can be used to scam, abuse and exploit them.

The very small percentage of people who benefit from the scam known as civilization have used this fact and historically poor means of interpersonal communication to keep things going. While betrayal of the young has often caused extremely destructive revolutions, wars and uprisings- the underlying scam has not been destroyed.

However the last 40 years have seen two changes that fundamentally change the situation in ways never seen before in the history of human civilization. Effective and widely available contraception has caused birth rates to plummet all over the world. Even conservative Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran) now have fertility rates that are close to western countries. The world just doesn’t produce any surplus boiler fuel anymore. Then there is the effect of the internet on patterns of human communication, belief and association.

So how does all of that affect the nature of public reaction to deteriorating socio-economic conditions?

I believe that low fertility rates combined with vastly improved and accessible communication technology creates a far more cynical society. It changes the general tone of society from one of optimism and belief in a better future to widespread cynicism and misanthropism. People increasingly have no interest in the stability or future of a system that is obviously deceiving and exploiting them. While they many not come out and openly revolt against a system, they so something far worse.

They disconnect from the system in non-obvious ways.

Such behavior takes many forms such as people not interested in marrying and having kids or working hard for an employer. People increasingly, and rightfully, distrust various social and economic institutions- from schools, universities, the health-care system to democratically elected governments. While the “elites” in such societies might see that as evidence of their control it is anything but that.

What they see as subjugation is actually disengagement to an extent without any precedent in human history.

Unlike violent revolutions, it appears benign and seldom creates headlines. Disengagement manifests itself as decay and progressive breakdowns that make the system increasingly fragile and susceptible to small disruptions. In the end one or a series of otherwise unremarkable disruptions will take it down and almost nobody will care.

After things fall apart, even fewer will have the optimism or belief necessary to rebuild it.

What do you think? Comments?

The Increasing Cost of Car Ownership is Capitalism in Action

September 25, 2012 26 comments

The last two years have seen a flurry of posts about why ‘Gen Y’ is not that interested in cars. In a previous post, I had summarized my views on that topic as-

The lack of interest in cars (and automobiles in general) by Gen-Yers is the rational result of a combination of long-term trends and the profit hungry short-sighted mindset which characterizes the later stages of capitalism.

While that post listed and briefly explained the main long-term trends that make autos less desirable, it did not really go into the other part of the problem (short-sighted capitalism) in any worthwhile detail. So let us fix that..

Evangelists of capitalism and its numerous minor flavors such as free-market capitalism, libertarianism, fascism, corporatism etc keep on telling us that capitalism is self-correcting. But what does such “self-correction” lead to? Do social or economic systems really have a stable equilibrium? While we can certainly engage in sophistic arguments about what capitalism is or isn’t; such talk is no different from trying to say that soviet- and mao-style communism wasn’t “real” communism.

I am going to use the response of contemporary society and its institutions to the “new car owner crisis” to demonstrate that capitalism-based systems are not self-correcting. Indeed, they have a very strong tendency to destroy themselves and damage the underlying social fabric.

The responses of car companies to this emerging crisis comes in two forms-

a1. Trying to find new car owners in emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Russia and India. They hope that they can get enough new customers to make up for the stagnation and decline in western countries. While the idea is not without merit, it assumes that whatever is causing the crisis in developed countries won’t occur in these emerging markets. While that assumption might have had some merit a few decades ago, that is no longer the case and trends from female fertility, rates of marital discord and other socio-economic trends spread much faster today than they used to. But let us ignore that for a moment and move on to the next response.

a2. They are hiring “trend consultants” and “designers” to create “hip” and “quirky” cars that will hopefully appeal to ‘Gen Y’. While doing so will make a few consultants wealthy, it does not address why things have gone downhill. Designing “hip” cars is about giving the appearance of action. It is similar to putting a colorful band-aid on a cut artery or giving aspirin to a person suffering from a serious infection. In both cases, it allows people to shield themselves from accusations of inaction.

The auto-makers response seems to be a combination of abandoning ship and casting spells to entice new car buyers. What about the government? Are they any better?

Now you might think that people in the government would be interested in keeping the status quo, if only to ensure the continuity of their scams. While they are aware of the potentially disastrous effects of declining rates of car ownership and use on their bottom line, it is apparent that they cannot get their shit together and act rationally. But why not?

b1. A government is a ever-morphing collection of scamsters and vested interests- just like any corporation. While the older version of this institution (from 1935 to say 1985) had some interest in ensuring their future through keeping the underlying society healthy, the newer version is full of rent-seekers. The governments of developed countries are now largely made up of factions and groups that have absolutely no interest in solving problems or building a better future. Indeed, they try hard to create more problems and opportunities to use legal coercion to collect rent. Consequently they spend most of their time trying to collect more and ever larger traffic tickets, build toll roads in preference to public access roads, and write rules and regulations to makes car ownership more expensive and onerous.

b2. Another factor that affects the government’s ability to respond meaningfully is that they employ an ever-increasing number of people to regulate and micromanage rather than do something useful. While this trend was a response to decreasing opportunities for employment in the private sector due to capitalism, it has created lobbies and cliques that want to justify their jobs, expand their domains and abuse others. While doing that is equivalent to killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, most people are too short-sighted to think (let alone act) otherwise.

OK, so the government is solidly into rent-seeking and kicking the can down the road. But what about society in general? How are people trying to address the problem?

c1. The first and most predictable response is denial as most humans believe that reality requires their explicit consent to manifest itself. The strategies to deny this particular problem range from seeing it as good for the environment, a sign of the end of suburbia to seeing it as a reversion to the mean of ‘impoverished’ existence. While I have hate suburbs, I can see that they were about reestablishing racial and economic segregation. Cars just made the process a whole lot easier. The aggregate sum of the pollution caused by cars pales in comparison to that put out by coal powered electric generation in China. Furthermore, comparing our age with any previous one in human history is as meaningless as comparing a fish to a rat.

c2. Then there are those who hope and pray for a second coming of job based prosperity. But is that possible in a world where automation and machines increasingly do most important jobs? Face it, most jobs today are about scamming, bullshitting, zero-sum competition to do tasks that have a net negative utility to society. We can pretend that jobs in education, law, medicine, management, human resources, sales and other sectors are about creating a better world. But is it true? It is also important to understand that automation, technology and machines are increasingly replacing human labor in even these areas.

c3. We cannot also forget the CONservative, and often older, subhumans who try to convince everyone that they are lucky to alive as slaves. These are often the same asswipes who never try of telling others how they bought and worked on their first beater in the 1960s and 70s. They conveniently miss out the part about relatively stable jobs, low (or no) student debt and living under a less predatory version of capitalism. Some of you see such behavior and beliefs as an example of a simple misunderstanding, but I do not. Many of the morons who exposure such beliefs are just greedy cynics who believe that they are ageless and immortal.

Did you notice something common to every major point in this article? Institutions and people are letting boundless greed, delusional beliefs and absolute self-interest rule their very existence. Some many say that doing so is human nature, but is it just human nature? Isn’t that how capitalism really works?

What do you think? Comments?

The Best Clip from Watchmen Motion Comic (2008)

September 24, 2012 2 comments

Somewhere between publication of the original comic book in 1986-87 and the movie which was released in 2009,a motion comic which is truer to the original comic was made in 2008. Here is my favorite chapter from that series.

Chapter 4

What do you think? Comments?

NSFW Links: Sep 23, 2012

September 23, 2012 1 comment

These links are NSFW.

Back It Up: Sep 23, 2012 – Back that thang up..

Cat Crawling Around the Pool: Sep 23, 2012 – Moist cuties crawling around pools.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized

The Peculiar Link Between Sam Bacile and Mitt Romney

September 22, 2012 1 comment

In the past, I had written a series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4) on how technological changes which alter the pattern and ease of information spread have a large impact on the underlying socio-economic system. The last 2-3 weeks have provided us with two more examples of this phenomena.

1. A sarcastically named 13 minute YouTube clip ‘The Innocence of Muslims‘ has caused quite a stir in many Muslim countries, resulting in the death of the US ambassador to Libya. While many think of the reactions to this film as just another example of Muslim intolerance (which is kinda true), ask yourself- would this have been possible in a world before YouTube, inexpensive digital cameras and desktop video editing software?

While people always had the desire to make such intentionally inflammatory material, the ability to make them and distribute it required far deeper pockets than today. Now any guy with a few thousand bucks, the e-mail addresses of a few dozen extras, a half-decent digital camera and inexpensive video-editing software can have an impact that would have been unthinkable to most people even a decade ago. Also note that the countries in which this clip caused problems used to have rather poor computer and internet penetration.

However, that was the past! Today it is now both easy to create such content and distribute it to where it would have the maximum impact. Also consider the disproportionately amount of money and resources spent by governments to stop or attenuate the problems caused by this clip.

2. Moving on the secretly recorded performance of Mitt Romney at the 50,000 $/plate campaign fundraiser. Even 10 years ago, recording and disseminating such material would have taken a lot of resources. Today any person (or server) at such an event with an “unchecked” smartphone can record material that can upset the carefully obfuscated image created by spending billions of dollars on image management. Furthermore, organisations with a fraction of Romney’s campaign budget can spread it on the internet and derail an organisation that is far bigger than them. Something like this would, once again, have been barely thinkable even a decade ago.

Whether those YouTube clips or their fallout will doom the Romney-Ryan ticket remains to be seen. However it is hard to ignore that an entity of limited resources (the recording guy/girl) was able to make the much bigger entity (the Romney campaign machine) stumble, trip and bleed. As in the previous example, far more resources were used to counter the damage than to create it. I would not be surprised if more incriminating video clips of him at other fundraisers were in existence.

What do you think? comments?

Mitt Romney as a Hypocrite: Sep 19, 2012

September 19, 2012 5 comments

I am sure that you heard about Mitt Romney’s recent attempt at performing comedy for a 50,000 $/plate dinner crowd. Here is one of his more egregious comments-

Now watch this clip of his mother during a TV interview, during the 1950s, when her husband (Mitt’s father) ran for Governor of Michigan.

Apparently Mitt Romney’s father was on welfare and their family received assistance during his own youth. Did I mention that Mitt’s grandfather went bankrupt twice?

In the United States, Romney grew up in humble circumstances. The family subsisted with other Mormon refugees on government relief in El Paso, Texas, for a few months before moving to Los Angeles, California, where Gaskell Romney worked as a carpenter. In kindergarten, other children mocked Romney’s national origin by calling him “Mex”. In 1913, the family moved to Oakley, Idaho, and bought a farm, where they grew and subsisted largely on Idaho potatoes.The farm was not on good land and failed when potato prices fell. The family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1916, where Gaskell Romney resumed construction work, but the family remained generally poor. In 1917, they moved to Rexburg, Idaho, where Gaskell became a successful home and commercial builder in an area growing owing to high World War I commodities prices. George started working in wheat and sugar beet fields at the age of eleven and was the valedictorian at his grammar school graduation in 1921 (by the sixth grade he had attended six different schools). The Depression of 1920–21 brought a collapse in prices and local building was abandoned. His family returned to Salt Lake City in 1921, and while his father resumed construction, George became skilled at lath-and-plaster work. The family was again prospering when the Great Depression hit in 1929 and ruined them. George watched his parents fail financially in Idaho and Utah and having to take a dozen years to pay off their debts. Seeing their struggles influenced his life and business career.

If you think about it, the Romney family got a lot of second and third chances because they were white. While Mitt Romney’s parents did not forget their humble beginnings, he certainly has and professes ideologies that stand in stark contrast to the experiences of his own parents.

What do you think? Comments?

A “Final Solution” for the Human Condition

September 18, 2012 12 comments

I had once written a post suggesting that the real reason behind the lack of communication with extra-terrestrial beings has a lot to do with the fact that humans are primitive and unstable scum who revel in zeros-sum contests of no particular significance. It is unlikely that any sane trans-human intelligence would reveal its presence to humans, let alone interact with them.

The sad reality is that humans, especially the “civilized” type, are too delusional and fucked up to transcend their pathetic existence.

Every large-scale attempt by human beings to transcend their sad existence is either based on outright delusions and lies (traditional religions) or clever rationalizations (capitalism, communism.. any -ism) of their zeros-sum mentalities. It seems that humans in large groups are incapable of being anything other than psychotic apes. There are those who believe that human beings can change for the better. My observations of human beings suggest otherwise. Furthermore, it is simply far easier to get rid of all human beings than try to reform them.

Achieving human extinction is easy since people throughout human history have spent most of their ingenuity at finding better ways to con, steal from, abuse and kill each other. However, for most of that history people also lacked the means and opportunity to do so. Today we have much better technology to kill each other and a far more fragile socio-economic system. Of course, I am not suggesting that one could openly recruit people to kill each other till the last human is dead. Most people would not participate in something so upfront.

The trick is to give humans very useful tools and technologies that will cause their downfall.

You have to understand that most human beings are driven by ego, greed, status seeking and sadism. They have no interest in uplifting themselves in a manner that does not involve screwing over someone else. You just have to give people the means to engage in intractable and continuously evolving conflict.

Give people the means to destabilize the lives of others in a milieu of social atomization, and make sure that every group and individual can screw over every other group individual.

Such enabling technologies and behaviors can be disguised with appeals to ego, “profit” and vanity. While a minority of non-delusional people will see through such traps, human history suggest that most will not. Indeed, the majority will create new ideologies, belief systems and hierarchies that celebrate their own downfall. Even serious setbacks and damage will not stop them for destroying themselves as each shrinking group of survivors will think they are that much closer to claiming the “grand prize”.

Some of you might wonder if the not-totally nuts minority might spoil such a scheme. However human history suggests that human ego, greed, status seeking and sadism will always win over rationality. The dominance crazed majority will most likely persecute and kill those who points out the flaws in their designs, because most people have fragile egos and tons of insecurities.

What do you think? Comments?

NSFW Links: Sep 17, 2012

September 17, 2012 1 comment

These links are NSFW.

Cat Crawling on the Beach: Sep 16, 2012 – Moist tarts.

More Cat Crawling on the Beach: Sep 16, 2012 – More moist tarts.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized

Why CONservatives Believe FOX News

September 17, 2012 4 comments

The idea that FOX news and other right-wing media figures such as Oxycontin Limpballs are involved in brainwashing CONservative morons is a well established belief among a significant number of the progressive minded populace. But is that true?

Are CONservative morons really the unwilling victim of sophisticated brainwashing by right-wing media? Or is it an excuse to avoid talking about something else?

Let us, for a minute, think about an another explanation for the deep love of CONservatives for right-wing media. Could it be that the right-wing media is just providing a public forum and legitimacy to what CONservatives want to believe? What is so improbable about the idea that CONservatives are a bunch of subhuman scumbags who need to construct a mythology and worldview to justify their existence?

There are many examples in human history where millions of people have constructed entire mental worlds and belief systems to justify their actions. In that respect, the British justification for their theft and genocide based empire were no different from the Nazis desire to murder millions and create more living room. The cheerleaders and supporters of American capitalism were (and are) no different from their counterparts who did the same for Soviet Communism or Chinese totalitarianism.

A significant percentage of human beings prefer to live in imaginary worlds with little connection to reality or real human beings, as long as it makes them feel correct. They prefer to believe in theories and ideas which appeal to their ego rather than care about their impact on themselves or others.

Many progressives prefer to believe that right-wing media is responsible for brainwashes CONservatives because the other logical option, that CONservatives are human scum who let their ego override their own best interests, sounds rather unpleasant. But what if that is the real reason behind their behavior, actions and worldview? What if CONservatives are loathsome subhuman trash who desperately seek external validation of their belief system?

Maybe FOX news, Instapundit, Oxycontin Limpballs, Mormom Beck are just opportunists making money and careers out of using stupid and mean rubes. Remember that porn sites did not create human sexual desire, they just provide for a service for a desire that exists. Similarly, restaurants exist because people want to enjoy nice food without having to cook it. They don’t create the demand, they just service it.

Look, maybe you still want to believe that CONservatives are just nice but brainwashed people. But then again, guys rarely buy tampons for their own personal use, unlike women.

What do you think? Comments?

Blaspheming Most Major Religions Is Safe in the 21st Century

September 14, 2012 12 comments

A 13-minute clip on YouTube is causing considerable offense to Muslims. Have a look at it-

As you can see, it is a poorly made and heavily dubbed film populated by amateurish actors. Having said that, the points made by the movie about the founder of Islam are largely based on the content of its principal books- the Quran and Hadith.

But what makes followers of that religion so sensitive to any mockery of their faith?

Isn’t it odd that blaspheming other major religions almost never results in violence? For example a well-known satirical website, theonion.com, recently published a picture that is offensive to the other four major regions in the world today– see below.

I guess that Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists are just not as insecure about the basis of their faith, nor do most of them take the contents of their scriptures too literally.

What do you think? Comments?

Romney Foot-In-Mouth Disease: Sep 14, 2012

September 14, 2012 17 comments

I am busy writing up a couple of longish posts, so here is something to keep you entertained for the rest of today. As many of you know, Mitt Romney has a long history of making remarks that betray his general disconnect from the vast majority (as in over 95%) of Americans. Here is the latest example-

Romney Believes “Middle-Income Americans” Make $200,000 to $250,000 a Year

“No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is (to) keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,” Romney told host George Stephanopoulos.

“Is $100,000 middle-income?” Stephanopoulos asked.

No, middle-income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,” Romney responded.

However the median income of individuals in the USA is about 27,000 $/ yr. The “average” (not median) household income is barely 50,000 $/yr, and the median household income is very likely less than that (somewhere between 35-45,000 $/ yr.

Only 6% of Americans make over 100,000 $ /yr. Therefore, even under the most optimal of circumstances only 5-6 % of American households (probably less than that) could be considered “middle” income based on Mitt Romney’s criteria.

So is the guy out of touch, the messenger of a latin-america type plutocratic future or possibly both?

What do you think? Comments?

Categories: Current Affairs, Dystopia

Photograph of the US Ambassador to Libya Dragged to his Lynching

September 12, 2012 9 comments

OK, as most of you know by now- the US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, was killed along with 3 more of his colleagues. While the official story so far has been that he was killed in a RPG attack on his car, a photo circulating on the inter-tubes tells a different story. While he looks injured and roughed up in that picture, it is rather obvious that he was not dead when the mob got to him.

While all religions are fairy tales for adults, some are more fucked up than others.

What do you think? Comments?

Categories: Current Affairs

NSFW Links: Sep 10, 2012

September 10, 2012 1 comment

These links are NSFW.

More Cuties Looking Back: Sep 8, 2012 – Once again, striking the right pose.

Cuties Looking Back: Sep 8, 2012 – Waiting for you..

Cat-Crawling Cuties: Sep 7, 2012 – Side views.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized

The MesoAmerican Black Death: Huey Cocoliztli

September 9, 2012 9 comments

The conventional narrative about epidemics of infectious diseases in indigenous Amerindian after the Colombian exchange goes something like this- Europeans and their African slaves introduced infectious diseases, such as Smallpox, which decimated the Amerindian population. While this narrative is fairly accurate, it ignores the devastation caused by epidemics of infectious diseases that were indigenous to the Americas. Contrary to popular belief, such infections caused as much death as the introduced infectious diseases- especially in Mesoameria.

I am guessing that most of you have never heard about something called Huey Cocoliztli. Google it here: Huey Cocoliztli. Apparently it was an epidemic infectious disease that killed millions of Mexicans decades after a significant number of them died of imported diseases such as Smallpox. It stands out from other epidemics of infectious diseases that swept the region we now know as Mexico on three points: (i) It killed more people than Smallpox; (ii) The course and symptoms of the disease were unlike anything the Spanish had ever seen; (iii) The indigenous people had legends of massive sudden deaths associated with a certain set of climatic conditions. A good introduction to the topic can be found here- Was the huey cocoliztli a haemorrhagic fever?

Many scientists used to think that Huey Cocoliztli was an old world disease such as epidemic Typhus, Yellow Fever or atypical forms of Smallpox. However the symptoms described by Spanish physicians who were familiar with these diseases tell a different story.

The fevers were contagious, gripping and continuous, very much a total pestilence and in great part lethal. The tongue, dry and black. Intense thirst, urine the colour sea green, leafy green, and black, and from time to time changing from a greenish to a pale colour. Pulse frequent and rapid, but small and feeble, sometimes almost none. The eyes and all of the body yellow. Following (these symptoms) delirium and convulsions. (There appeared) pustules behind one or both ears, and hard and painful tumours, pain in the heart, chest and stomach, trembling and great anxiety and dysentery; the blood, which flowed from a cut vein was the colour green or very pallid, dry and without any serosity. In some gangrenes and lesions erupted on the lips, the pudenda and other areas of the body with members putrefied, and blood flowed from their ears; in truth, in many people blood flowed from the nose.

If you read the entire description and other contemporary descriptions, it seems that Huey Cocoliztli presented as an acute fever with a minimal and localized rash whose main symptoms and effects on the body are centered around its effects on blood coagulation such as nosebleeds (epistaxis), conjunctival suffusion(blood-shot eyes), vomiting of blood (haematemesis), bloody stool- (dysentery), frank blood per stool (haematochezia), haematuria (blood in the urine), bleeding from the gums (gingival haemorrhage), and vaginal haemorrhage. The effects on urine color are also highly suggestive of intravascular haemolysis. Furthermore the incidence of the disease was linked to the extent of your physical involvement in agriculture, so that mexican peasants who worked the fields had the highest incidence of that disease while those who lived and worked away from fields rarely suffered from it. An other interesting feature of this disease was that it killed the young while barely affecting old people, who also survived the disease in far higher percentages than their adult children and grandchildren.

Indeed, the lasting socio-economic effects of Huey Cocoliztli on Mesoamerica were linked to the fact that it killed a majority of the young Mexican peasants and laborers during it many major and minor outbreaks from 1545-1580 AD.

There are however two types of questions about this disease that have never been properly answered-

1. What is the identity of the microorganism (likely a virus) responsible for this disease? If this disease was transmitted by animals (very likely), which species of animals are the natural reservoir of this virus? and does this virus still exist? Why did it disappear as an epidemic disease about a hundred years after its dramatic appearance in the mid 1500s. Why were the later epidemics smaller, even though the disease remained fairly lethal in those who suffered from it.

2. While epidemics with similar symptoms were known before the arrival of the spanish, why did their arrival make things so much worse? Was it linked to habitat disruption whereby the Spanish forced the local population to expand agriculture in geographical locations containing the animal carrying the virus? What was the role of climatic changes especially recurring droughts in those decades on humans and the animal species carrying the virus?

What do you think? Comments?