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More Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 17 Jun, 2017

June 17, 2017 19 comments

In a previous post on this topic, I made three observations about the incident in question. They can be summarized follows: (1) The shooting will leave Steve Scalise impotent and incontinent for years, perhaps for the rest of his life; (2) This shooting incident was politically motivated and has no real precedent in living memory, as far as the USA is concerned; (3) The Scalise shooting has elicited far more popular approval than condemnation.

But what does any of this mean for the future, especially in near term (weeks to months)? Is this incident the start of a new trend or an once-off aberration? And how will it shape, if at all, the political course of the country?

Let me begin by reiterating my prediction, from the previous post, that we are likely to see more of such incidents in the near future. Also, it is entirely possible that the next such incident might not even involve the use of a firearm. Furthermore, these future incidents are likely to affect elected democrats in addition to their republican counterparts. Having said that, let me now expand on the likely course of events that will lead down that path.

Throughout human history, a strong possibility of imminent death is the most important factor that will result in people targeting their rulers. As a corollary, highly autocratic regimes can remain in power as long as most people in that country are relatively safe and otherwise well taken care of. Most humans lack the willingness to fight for abstract causes like justice, liberty or honor- if they understand those concepts in the first place. They will however fight tooth and nail if they are, or perceive themselves to be, in mortal danger.

That is why almost every single large-scale uprising, revolution and civil war in history occurred in the aftermath of widespread and prolonged shortage of essential goods or something which imperils life of the average person. In other words, such movements (centralized or decentralized) occur only once it is plainly obvious to a significant percentage of the population that the status quo is beyond unsustainable. In other words, the previous order starts to collapse when people realize that their very survival and any hope for the future is dependent upon the old system (and its elites) dying out.

Major uprisings in recent history from the French Revolution of 1789-1799, European Revolutions of 1848-1850, Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864, Russian revolution of 1917-1923, the many post-WW1 revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe, the rise of Fascism in post-WW1 Western Europe etc were precipitated by severe and prolonged crisis- from natural and artificial food shortages to expensive prolonged wars that were bad for everyone except, perhaps, the elites. Conditions necessary for rebellion, revolution or just plain chaos require a prodromal period where the old system is exposed as utterly inadequate in facing new challenges while still capable of immiserating most people.

Based on what I have seen over the previous 18 odd years, it is my opinion that USA (in its current form) has entered that prodromal period sometime between 2005 and 2010.

Many of you might also have noticed that the previous decade has seen the widespread loss of any reasonable hope for a better future in USA. Pretty much every aspect of the lives of most people from education, jobs, housing, economic security has kept on going down. At the same time, the system has been unable to tackle emergent challenges from winning wars to protecting people from new threats. In other words, the status quo in USA has been revealed to be simultaneously immiserating and unable to face new challenges.

It is therefore not surprising that unorthodox political figures such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been able to quickly gather very large and fervent followings. The flip side this phenomenon is a rapid loss of any residual public belief in the competence and ability of traditional political figures. Indeed, one can make a case that the public now sees the very existence of traditional political figures as a useless and dangerous obstacle to making things work for them again.

To make a long story short, it is very likely that a very small percentage of the many millions of people in various types of dire situations in USA will start taking out their frustrations on those believed to be responsible for causing their problems. While many classes of people will be at the receiving end of this rage- from managers and administrators to bureaucrats, it is likely the high visibility and name recognition of elected representatives might make them more likely to receive it.

Elected representatives are also very likely to be seen as especially culpable for things such as cutting healthcare benefits, cutting social security and similar benefits and facilitating corporate abuses. It is therefore very reasonable to expect more incidents like that Scalise shooting in the near future. Also, it is quite apparent that most people have now come to enjoy seeing conventional politicians get their just deserts. To put it another way, the times we live are about to get a whole lot more exciting.

Might write more about this topic in a future post- based on reader feedback.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on the Congressional Baseball Shooting: 15 Jun, 2017

June 15, 2017 16 comments

As almost all of you must have heard by now, a guy opened fire on some republican members of congress and lobbyists at a practice session for a “charity” baseball match yesterday. The shooter, named James Hodgkinson, was a 66-year man from Belleville in Illinois. While we do not yet know about the combination of circumstances which led him to shoot up republican members yesterday, it is very obvious that Hodgkinson had a long-term dislike for republican policies and ideologies. Idiots from both parties and their media surrogates are trying to paint him as some sort of violent leftist radical, even though there is not much to suggest that he was any more violent than tens of millions of other men in USA.

Some of you might wonder.. were his actions justified? My answer to that question is as follows: What you, or I, think about a particular action does not matter to someone who is determined to carry out that action. Hodgkinson had come there to shoot and kill as many republican lawmakers as possible regardless of whether he would survive such a course of action- which he did not. He was not seeking external justification or validation, so what we think about his actions is irrelevant to his carrying out those actions. It is therefore best to see this event, and other like it, as an example of one person finally going through a series of actions which they they had almost certainly contemplated in private for many years before acting on them.

I can almost hear some of you say.. but, aren’t you dodging the question of whether what he did was morally “right” or “wrong”? To which I say- morality is highly subjective. Consider the fact that one of the severely injured, a republican lawmaker named Steve Scalise, was involved in the recent vote to repeal “Obamacare” in the lower chamber of congress. As you know, repealing even something as shitty as “Obamacare” will result in the loss of medical insurance coverage for over 20 million people in USA- resulting in tens of thousands of excess deaths per year due to lack of timely and adequate medical care. He also voted against a bill to apologize for slavery in 1996 in addition to having a following among some of most regressive parts of the Louisiana electorate.

In other words, Hodgkinson is not a hero and Scalise is no MLK Jr. Incidentally, Scalise has in the past voted against making MLK Jr Day a national holiday, which is now ironic since both the cops who intervened to save him yesterday from a white guy shooting him were black. But enough of talk about an event which has already occurred. Let us now consider the likely future effects of the congressional baseball shooting on 2017.

1] As far as Steve Scalise is concerned, he is likely to be in a world of hurt for a long time to come. Though he was hit by only one bullet (most likely a 5.56×45mm), it went through his pelvis- from left to right. Given the wounding characteristics of that cartridge, it is safe to say that organs and tissues in that part of his anatomy have likely suffered severe damage- even if the projectile was a FMJ. To put it in simpler language, he likely has suffered considerable damage to his urinary bladder, rectum, prostate and a host of blood vessels and nerves in that area.

It is therefore a matter of speculation if he will ever experience normal functioning of organs in that region of his anatomy, or those connected to them. While medical technology, including the treatment of projectile injuries, has seen considerable advances over the last few decades- there are limits to what can be done- especially for injuries in certain regions of the body.

2] While Scalise is not the first congress person to be shot or even killed (in living memory), every single one of the prior attacks were perpetrated by people who were either in religious cults or not mentally stable. Congress critters at federal level in USA have, until now, not been shot or killed for their professed ideologies, voting record or policy positions. Such accidental immunity from facing the consequences of their actions, combined with an unnaturally high rates of incumbency, have allowed them to believe that they can get away with anything. The Scalise shooting is the first in what I suspect is a trend of “elected” officials in USA having the face the consequences of their beliefs and actions.

I am sure that some of you have seen YouTube clips depicting extreme levels of hostility towards politicians at recent townhall meetings across the country as well as the conditions which allowed Trump to defeat all of his numerous and far better funded professional politician opponents in the republican presidential primary. My point is that the era of apparent immunity of elected politicians in USA to popular outrage for their actions is now drawing to a close. In the future, it is likely that we will see more republican and democratic politicians at the wrong end of a gun wielded by a pissed off voter. Of course, congress critters will try to increase security levels for them, but that might prove less than effective and result in a further backlash against them.

3] Many of you might also have noticed that most of the MSM, alternative media and a lot of people on multiple social networks have not expressed any real concern about that event. In fact the prevailing sentiment seems to be almost one of surprise that it took so long to occur. Moreover, unlike previous incidents including the one in 2011 there are far fewer people expressing any real sympathy for the congress critter who got shot up. You can interpret this apparently odd public reaction in many ways. My personal favorite interpretation is that this apparently anomalous public reaction is based in the simple reality that USA has ceased to be a united and functional society.

While there are many reasons and much blame to go around for this current state of affairs, it is nonetheless clear that it mostly comes down to the system being unable to provide a decent life and environment for most people in USA. People simply don’t care about beliefs or systems which do not, or are unlikely, to improve the lives of those who care about them. Overt patriotism and the somewhat civilized politics in USA was predicated on the system delivering a decent life (or a realistic promise thereof) for most of its citizens. This also means that the outcome I alluded to in the previous point (2) is more likely than most people realize or are willing to accept.

To summarize, the shooting of Steve Scalise is a far more consequential event than most people realize right now. It is also an indicator of a pretty major shift in how many people in USA relate to the system of governance they live under. I also think that this event is likely to first of a new class rather than an unfortunate anomaly. While nobody really knows where all this will ultimately lead to, it is equally clear that the post-WW2 system/ consensus/ order in USA is on its way out- one way or the other.

What do you think? Comments?

Pedestalling of Women by American vs Non-American Men: 1

June 13, 2017 31 comments

While I am not a big fan or user of Instagram, it is an interesting social network to keep track of how people all around the world want to present themselves to others. Over the years, I have noticed an interesting, but seldom talked about, pattern that is most obvious if you don’t use Instagram as an active participant. The observed pattern can be summarized as follows..

Fairly mediocre looking North-American women who post even somewhat revealing photos of themselves on Instagram get far more positive comments from obviously male user accounts than even more revealing photos of gorgeous women from countries in Europe and South-America.

Initially, I considered that this discrepancy in number of online male admirers might be related to the total numbers of Instagram users across various countries. It is no secret that a significant percentage of the first bunch of large-scale users of some internet-based social networks such as Instagram do live in North America. However, I noticed that the geographical discrepancy between number of positive comments to revealing pictures of women has persisted over the years.

Therefore, the far fewer number of male admirers writing worshipful comments in response to revealing photos of women from other parts of the world is not an artifact of userbase composition. Furthermore many of the comments by ostensibly male accounts on photos of young, attractive, thong-bikini (or less) clad women living in countries outside north america are also far less worshipful of the woman (or women) in those photos.

Local men who comment on photos of thong-bikini wearing hotties in Brazil almost never sound desperate, eager to please or otherwise submissive. Similarly, local men who comment on photos of topless (or even less) continental European cuties lounging on the beach seldom write comments that come across as pathetic or worshipful. Curiously, a significant number of worshipful comments towards such photos are in English rather than he language of the country of residence for the women in those photos.

Instagram is however not the first social network where I have seen this pattern.

As some of you might know, Flickr was the best online photo-sharing network before the idiots at Yahoo screwed it up. Many (maybe 5-7) years ago, I noticed that most of the corny worshipful comments for beach vacation photo albums of European girls were written in English rather than German, French, Italian, Dutch etc. However, it was also obvious that the majority of viewers of those photos were local.

And this brings me to my explanation for this apparent discrepancy. Men in North America are significantly more likely to be, or act like, beta orbiters than men in most other parts of the world. They are far more likely to compliment mediocre looking women for a basically non-existent chance of having sex with them than men in other parts of the world. Their pathetic online behavior is therefore merely an extension of their pathetic behavior in real life.

But why would they do that? Are they stupid enough to believe that a woman who they have no realistic chance of meeting in real life will suddenly want to meet them and have sex with them. Perhaps there are a few who think like that, but they are clearly not the majority. In my opinion, it is far more likely that this peculiar online behavior is a reflection of how they have been taught to behave towards women when they were growing up.

In other words, the dominant pre-internet cultural trends in North America were (and to some extent still are) far more female-centric than those in other countries. A lot of men raised in North America still believe, at some level, that being beta-orbiters of women is normal. These men appear to lack any significant amount of self-esteem and appear to accept being abused, exploited and ignored by even mediocre women as “normal”.

Of course, as many of you know, this state of affairs has changed a lot in the previous decade. However, it is also clear that a significant number of men who still live in that mental world. maybe that will change, or maybe it won’t. In any case, there is not much you can do for people who believe in something that is is clear contradiction with observable reality.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: June 9, 2017

June 9, 2017 3 comments

A few months ago, I came across another author/ journalist whose posts many of you might find interesting. Sam Kriss writes on a wide variety of issues and in a number of outlets. He also has a personal website.

Here are three of his articles that I found to be especially interesting.

Link 1: The Long Slow Rotten March of Progress

Desperation is everywhere; exhibitors make lunging grabs for any passers-by wearing an “INVESTOR” lanyard, proffer stickers and goodies, scream for attention on their convention-standard signs. These do not, to put it kindly, make a lot of sense. “Giving you all the tools you need to activate and manage your influencer marketing relationships,” promises one. “Leverage what is known to find, manage, and understand your data,” entices another. The gleaming technological future looks a lot like a new golden age of hucksterism. It’s networking; the sordid, stupid business of business; pressing palms with arrogant pricks, genuflecting to idiots, entirely unchanged by the fact that this time it’s about apps and code rather than dog food or dishwashers.

Capitalism doesn’t know what to do with its surpluses any more; it ruthlessly drains them from the immiserated low-tech manufacturing bases of the Global South, snatches them away from a first-world population tapping at computer code on the edge of redundancy, but then has nowhere better to put them than in some executive’s gold-plated toilet. This soil breeds monsters; new, parasitic products scurry like the first worms over the world-order’s dying body. The “Internet of Things” is meant to be the future, but it mostly looks like a farcical recomplication of what we already had: a juice press that needs to scan a QR code and connect to your wifi before it’ll exert functionally the same amount of pressure as a pair of human hands, a wine bottle that connects to the internet and only dispenses proprietary wines, light bulbs that burn out or flicker maniacally if you haven’t installed the drivers properly.

Link 2: Village Atheists, Village Idiots

The madman in this story is Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the frustrated punter is the rapper B.o.B. Near the start of this year—heralded by Tyson with the announcement that January 1 has no astronomical significance—B.o.B. began insisting (on Twitter, of course) that for centuries a vast conspiracy has existed for the purpose of convincing people that the world is a sphere, when it’s actually flat. And for some reason, Tyson immediately jumped in, skittle-bowl flapping noisily against his ass, to repeat endlessly that no, it’s round. He even helped create a genuinely unlistenable rap parody—“B.o.B. gotta know that the planet is a sphere, G”—that borrowed not only its backing track but its entire lyrical structure from Drake’s “Back to Back.” (See what I mean about rationalists and repetition?)

In the time of Kierkegaard and Marx and Parallax, there was still some resistance to the deadness of mere facts; now it’s all melted away. Kierkegaard’s villagers saw someone maniacally repeating that the world is round and correctly sent him back to the asylum. We watched Tyson doing exactly the same thing, and instead of hiding him away from society where nobody would have to hear such pointless nonsense, thousands cheer him on for fighting for truth and objectivity against the forces of backwardness. We do the same when Richard Dawkins valiantly fights for the theory of evolution against the last hopeless stragglers of the creationist movement, with their dinky fiberglass dinosaurs munching leaves in a museum-piece Garden of Eden. We do it when Sam Harris prises deep into the human brain and announces that there’s no little vacuole there containing a soul.

Link 3: Why won’t you push the button?

Imagine if a politician openly promised, during a campaign, that they would be willing to burn people alive. They come to knock on your door, bright and smiling in a freshly crinkled rosette: unlike my opponent, who doesn’t care about your security and the security of your family, I will personally subject someone to sixty million-degree heat, so that their fat melts and their bones are charred and their eyeballs burst and their bodies crumble into toxic dust. I will torture other people by burning their skin, I will torch their flesh away and leave them with open wounds bubbling with disease. They will die slowly. I will poison others; their organs will fail and they will shit out their guts in agony. I will do this to people who have done nothing wrong, to families, to children, to their pets; one by one, I will burn them to death. For you. For your security.

It’s striking how sharply the inhuman vastness of nuclear war contrasts with the pettiness and finitude and awfulness of the people who demand it. The first question on nuclear weapons came from one Adam Murgatroyd, who looks exactly how you’d expect, some simpering Tory ponce with his slicked-back hair and his practised raise of an eyebrow. ‘It’s disconcerting,’ he later told the press, ‘that we could potentially in six days’ time have a prime minister who wouldn’t be prepared to protect British lives over someone else’s life.’ Imagine the air poisoned, the soil dying, the biosphere eradicated, the grand flailing tragedy of humanity and its aspirations put to an abrupt stop, the families huddling their loved ones close as the shock wave hits, knowing they’re about to die – and all because some limp umbrella of a man wanted a leader who’d make the right kind of nationalistic hoots about defence. Now I am become Adam from the BBC studio audience, destroyer of worlds.

Enjoy! Comments?

The Business Model of SpaceX is a Quintessentially American Fraud

June 6, 2017 19 comments

I have been meaning to write this particular post for a few months now, but was not sure how to compress into something that can be comfortably read in one sitting. On the other hand, aiming for too much optimization and perfection is probably not helpful for getting things done and posted. So here it is..

The main point of this post, stripped down to its absolute minimum, is that the business model of SpaceX is a uniquely american-style fraud. Note, I am not saying that corporations like SpaceX are incapable of making a profit someday in the future. My issues with their business model concern the many claims made by them about their future prospects, especially about their advertised potential for future growth, profit and services.

To be fair, the business model of SpaceX is Elon Musk‘s second largest fraud- after Tesla Inc. FYI- My criticism of the business model of Tesla Inc is not based on whether electric cars are practical or viable (they are both). It has to do with the claims made by Musk about how electric cars will displace internal combustion because the former will become somehow cheaper or more functional than the later. But that issue is best left for another day.

It is an open secret that Tesla Inc market capitalization has no link to the number of cars it can sell. How else can you explain a corporation selling less than 80 thousand automobiles a year being considered more valuable than one that sells 10 million a year. As you will soon see, the public image of SpaceX’s future potential is also largely based on a combination of extremely wishful (ok.. highly delusional) thinking and silly valley-style optimism. Along the way you will also see why I say that it is a quintessentially american fraud.

So let me list the many ways that SpaceX’s business model is based on a public relations-led fraud.

1] Everything SpaceX has achieved to date is based on half-century old research funded by the american government. Yes, you heard that right! SpaceX’s launchers are based on technology and fundamental research done by the public sector decades ago. Furthermore, unlike the older corporations comprising United Launch Alliance (Boeing, Lockheed etc), it has not really invented or discovered anything more innovative than making the lower stages of their rockets land vertically and streaming HD videos from them.

SpaceX’s business model is based on PR promoting themselves as innovative while being dependent on decades old research as well as direct and indirect government largess. It certainly helps that there are enough idiots in the world who will buys flashy hype. In other words, the business model of SpaceX is very similar to Tesla Motors and pretty much every single corporation (startup or otherwise) in Silly Valley. As I will show you in the next couple of paragraphs, their claim of being the cheapest space launch system is based on a gross misrepresentation- on many levels.

2] Elon Musk’s is trying to sell the dream that it is possible to build a few dozen launchers and then simply refuel and fly them over and over again for say 10-20 times before building new ones. To put it another way, he wants you to believe that it is possible to make space launch systems that are more like commercial airliners than conventional space launch systems. There is just one problem with that idea.. it is based on what can be best described as optimistic bullshit.

Rocket engines, you see, are rather different from most other types of engines in that they work under conditions of extreme heat and pressure and with a very tiny margin of mechanical safety. They have to so because of the conditions necessary for their operations and the need to keep weight down. While it has been possible to build potentially reusable Kerosene-LOX engines of the type used by SpaceX for decades now, there haven’t been any takers. Even the ex-USSR, and Russia, preferred to use new engines rather than reuse engines even when they knew that the later would OK after refurbishment and testing.

But why? Why did countries like the ex-USSR which made them in tens of thousands prefer to use new engines than use ones they knew could be reused. Well.. it comes down to a cost and risk calculation. Rocket engines, even the most simplified and robust ones, are always one tiny defect away from blowing up. It is easier to be certain about the lack of tiny but fatal defects in a newly built engine than a refurbished one. Moreover the cost of a refurbished engine blowing up once in a while exceeds the cost of using freshly built engines. Also refurbishing and testing used engines can get almost as expensive as building new ones from scratch.

3] The launch costs of a spacecraft, especially a satellite or space probe, are often the smallest part of the program budget. Yes.. you heard that right, launch costs for satellites are often significant lower than costs of designing, building and testing them- not to mention ground support for the next 10-15 years. My point is that launch costs for a satellite or any spacecraft (which is not a disposable transport vessel) are usually less than 20% of the “Total Cost of Ownership” for that particular spacecraft program. In other words, launch costs are not a particularly big concern to organisations whose primary operations require reliable and long-lived spacecraft. And this brings us the next point..

4] Even if we assume that SpaceX is actually cost competitive, who will use their launch services? Here is a hint- almost nobody outside the USA. Here is why.. Countries such as Russia, China, India and Japan are going to use their own launch systems for a number of reasons such as ensuring national security, keeping their own scientists and engineers employed and maintaining national pride. Also, vertical integration of spacecraft and launcher programs create far more cost savings than using somebody else to launch your spacecraft using slightly cheaper launchers.Even European countries are unlikely to use SpaceX over their own ESA launch systems- even if they are a bit more expensive because it is about technology, jobs and security. Furthermore, countries other than those listed above are also unlikely to use SpaceX since countries like China already offer very competitive packages covering everything from satellite design and launch to post-launch support.

5] Even in USA, the launch business for commercial and military satellites is an oligopoly- one long dominated by well-known players such as Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Thiokol. Did I mention that those corporations have much more money, and many paid lobbyists, than SpaceX? To make a long story short, Space X is unlikely to become the dominant player in the area of launching american spacecraft (at least in dollar terms) unless the other larger players screw up very badly. This is not to say that SpaceX cannot make a decent profit on launching some spacecraft for the american governments and USA-based corporations. SpaceX will run just fine as long as it is run as a conventional launch business.

My point is that SpaceX is bluffing and lying when it claims the ability to “disrupt” the space launch business or become the dominant global player in that sector. What is especially sad to see is the number of otherwise intelligent people who are willing to treat the press releases of that company as holy gospel. Then again the USA is full of self-delusional types who are confident of becoming multi-millionaires within the next decade. To summarize, the long-term (and even medium-term) business model of SpaceX is a confidence scam based on rosy and polished presentations combined with exhortations to positive thinking. And that is why I called it a quintessentially american fraud.

What do you think? Comments?

My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 2

Towards the end of the previous post in this series, I wrote something to the effect that mythical accounts suggesting sporadic, transient and accidental contact between extraterrestrials and human beings are far more likely than those which claim purposeful, extended and prolonged contact between the two. To put it another way, the Sumerian or Babylonian myth of Oannes is far more likely to be evidence of an extraterrestrial visiting earth than, for example, the construction of Giza pyramid complex or any other large bronze-age (and earlier) buildings and structures found in Egypt or other parts of the world.

One my major issues with people such as Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin or Giorgio Tsoukalos are their attempts to pass off large man-made ancient structures as evidence of extraterrestrials helping human beings, even when it is pretty clear than humans built those structures by themselves. Much of the willingness, among their audience, to believe such bullshit comes from the still prevalent general belief that all people in previous eras (especially in bronze-age and pre-bronze age times) were stupid, primitive and generally incapable barbarians. However, even a brief look at modern archaeological evidence show that was not the case.

It is clear that even pre-bronze age human beings were quite capable of exploring and manipulating the world around them- even if they did so in ways that are not immediately familiar to us. For example: The indigenous people of central america were able to selectively breed an otherwise barely-edible grass known as Teosinte into Maize almost 10,000 years ago. Similarly, the selective breeding of a number of edible plants from potatoes to wheat and rice- all of which occurred before the bronze age suggest that human beings in those eras were just as clever as those living today.

The domestication of certain livestock species, such as cattle, from problematic wild ancestors such as Aurochs also occurred before the bronze age (or very close to its start). Of course, not all species of livestock were that difficult to domesticate and some such as pigs and goats can easily revert to their wild phenotypes. My point is that we should not underestimate the intellectual capacity and ability of human beings from previous eras- even if their mental model of the world around them was rather different from ours.

Moreover there is evidence that technologies were often discovered and then lost in the pre-printed book era. A good example of this is Concrete, which was made and extensively used by Romans only to be lost and then rediscovered almost 1,500 years later. Or take the Antikythera mechanism which is a , pretty complex, geared astronomical calculator made over 2000 years ago. Even fairly large and complex technologies like those behind the sanitation and drainage systems of the Indus Valley civilization can be lost for thousands of years. The mere presence of seemingly advanced technology does not, by itself, prove that extraterrestrials were interacting with or teaching human beings in the past.

And this brings us to the next issue: Is it possible to group instances of alleged historical extraterrestrial-human contact into categories based, perhaps, on their likelihood of being based in fact? After giving this problem some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to categorize alleged instances of extraterrestrial-human contact cannot be binary (as in ‘yes’ or ‘no’) since the classification too much certainty. A better way to classify them would be as follows: high unlikely, ambiguous and somewhat likely.

The highly unlikely, aka basically impossible, category is the largest of the three. It contains ancient mega-structures such as the Giza pyramid complex, the Megaliths at Baalbek, Moai on Easter Island, Stonehenge in UK, other Megalithic structures and complexes in Europe, Mesoamerican pyramids and pretty much all of the very impressive structures built in the stone- and early bronze-age. Note use of the words “pretty much all” rather than “all”. We will come back to that in future parts of this series. The common feature of all objects (mostly structures) in this category is that they appear mysterious only because so many people today think that people in the past were totally stupid savages.

Based on more recent archaeological finds such as the massive and long-used religious complex at Göbekli Tepe, we know that even stone-age humans were far more organized than even “experts” had previously imagined. Let us also not forget that certain parts of the world with the potential for rich archaeological finds such as the Persian Gulf and coastal areas of the Black Sea were above water during the last ice-age which ended about 10-12k years ago. To put in another way, what we consider as “human civilization” very likely began at least a few thousand years before the dates given by conventional historical guidelines.

It is therefore not surprising that humans around the world had the capability and organization to build large stone mega-structures much earlier than is popularly believed. This is why I am very skeptical about those who want to interpret any ancient stone mega-structure as evidence of extraterrestrials interacting with and helping human beings. The case for extraterrestrial assistance or inspiration in building such structures would be stronger if they were built of materials other than stone or were built in hard-to-reach locations where they did not serve any obvious purpose.

In future parts of this series, I will look at examples of physical evidence that is ambiguous or somewhat likely.

What do you think? Comments?

The Genius of Kathy Griffin’s Intentionally Inflammatory Photo Shoot

May 31, 2017 18 comments

More than a few of you might have (by now) come across news, photos or video clips showing the controversial photo shoot by Kathy Griffin holding what resembles a bloody severed head with vague resemblance to Donald Trump. Predictably many on the right have blown their gasket or are pretending to be offended. A few like Mike Cernovich, aka one of Thiel’s butt boys, are even celebrating making CNN say that they won’t have her on their new year show. Frankly, I find all of this funny and predictable. But that is not the real story..

The real story is how Kathy Griffin, an otherwise forgettable but clever celebrity, has played the system like a maestro.

Not sure what I am talking about? Let me explain. Kathy Griffin, you see, is no newcomer to the entertainment and celebrity scene. She has been in the entertainment industry with a high degree of regularity since at least the early 1990s. Her career longevity is even more remarkable when you consider huge premiums on youth and looks in the entertainment industry. My point is that she is very good at playing the game of getting hired and remaining relevant. So you can be sure that she has done her homework before doing yesterday’s controversial photo shoot.

So why did she do a photo shoot which was certain to raise hell and result in some temporary setbacks? What is she trying to achieve? What does she hope to gain? And how is she playing the system? Well.. let me explain.

1] Kathy Griffin understands her real employers very well. She know that pretty much everyone with any real hiring power in the entertainment sector detest Donald Trump as a president. She also knows that those same people also have nothing but contempt for all those flyover country rubes who voted for Trump. In other words, the people with real hiring power in that sector are not going to boycott her. If anything, her little controversy is going to elicit their admiration and support behind closed doors resulting in more employment- not less. Face it, she just did what many of them would have loved to do in person but did not or could not.

2] She also understands that her core audience, and major source of income from performances, live in affluent coastal states who vote heavily for democrats. Once again, she put into her photo shoot what a majority of her audience already think and say behind closed doors. While she might lose a few gigs in flyover country, the number of gigs in coastal states will not be affected except perhaps in the very short-term. Once Trump does a few more stupid and unpopular things, nobody is going to care about the offensiveness of that particular photo shoot.

3] Her photo shoot went after the most controversial and generally unpopular president in living memory. You might remember that many more people have marched against Trump after he was elected than have attended his inauguration. Furthermore, the USA as a country is more polarized and divided today than at any time in living memory. Also, many hardcore democrats are aware of how republicans encouraged similar gestures against Obama when he was elected in 2008 and 2012. Consequently, Kathy knows that she is not going to lose the majority of her loyal audience. In fact, it is likely that she will become more popular and richer because of that stunt.

4] Republicans living in flyover country do not count for much (if anything) as far as their discretionary income is concerned. Consequently their disapproval or willingness to boycott is largely meaningless. People in the entertainment sector are far more concerned about antagonizing sensibilities of consumers in China than of those living in flyover country. We can certainly talk about whether this is fair or not, but we cannot deny that those living in flyover country no longer have power to influence the course of popular culture in USA. They just have not accepted it yet.

To summarize, Kathy Griffin recent controversial photo shoot was a clever and calculated move. She knew exactly what she was doing, where it would lead to, what short-term problems would arise from it and how it would improve her long-term prospects. She played the system, especially internet outrage from the alt-right types, like a pro. You do not have to like somebody to appreciate the quality of their scheming, cynicism and deviousness.

What do you think? Comments?