Archive

Archive for the ‘Secular Religions’ Category

A Quick Analysis of the First North Korean ICBM Test: July 5, 2017

July 5, 2017 10 comments

One of the joys of blogging is the ability to point to one of your older posts and say- “I told you so”. As some of you might recall, a little less than three months ago I had written a post about how the narrative about USA disrupting North Korean missile tests through cyberwarfare was fake news. At that time, one credulous or delusional commentator spent lots of time trying to prove otherwise. Well.. we know who was right.

As it turns out, I am also right about the reason why some of the missile tests by that country in the first few months of this year were unsuccessful. To refresh your memory, I has put forth the idea that North Korean scientists and engineers were experiencing issues with using potent hypergolic fuels since they had very limited experience with them in the past. It now appears that they have mastered the use of rocket engines which use those more potent fuels. Don’t believe me? Well just look at the first picture below.

The combination of a clear, almost transparent, rocket plume and that yellow-orange clouds surrounding the rocket as the engine starts up is the signature calling card of hyperbolic propellants- specifically an engine that uses UDMH + N2O4, as opposed to IRFNA and Kerosene or solid propellants like HTPB-based mixtures. To put it another way, they have mastered the use of modern hypergolic rocket fuels including the ability to build engines (and associated plumbing etc) to handle them.

And this brings us to the second question, namely, what is the range of this missile? As late as yesterday evening, the delusional officialdom of USA was unwilling to definitively call it an ICBM. Perhaps they were having some trouble accepting the reality that yet another non-white country had successfully mastered the tech to build an ICBM. It seems that they have now accepted that it was an ICBM but are still trying to make the bullshit claim that the missile can only hit Alaska as opposed to the Alaska and the west coast of mainland USA. So here is another picture to help you understand the next point I am going to make.

While this photo might appear somewhat ordinary, it gives two important characteristics of the missile in question- apart from the obvious fact that it is road mobile and hence very hard to destroy in any preemptive strike. Note that the missile is about 13-16 meters long and 1.5-1.8 meters wide (first stage). As it turns out, those dimensions, having a hypergolic first stage and the fact that it is road mobile tell me that it weighs somewhere between 30 and 50 tons. My best guess is about 35-40 tons. So why are those figures important?

Well.. as it turns out, these dimensions and weight are very similar to a family of submarine-launched ICBMs developed and deployed by the former USSR in the early 1970s. SLBMs of R-29 Vysota family, specifically the first (and oldest) version of that series have a very strong resemblance to the North Korean ICBM which was tested yesterday. Interestingly, unlike hypergolic fuel using ICBMS of other countries, those developed by USSR (and now Russia) can be stored in their fueled and ready condition for years.

Here is why I think they chose to base their ICBM on the R-29 (aka SS-N-18 “Stingray”). Firstly, they probably had access to the technology, blueprints and consultants who developed that missile series. Secondly, it is a relatively light and proven design that can be stored in the ready condition for a few years at a time. Thirdly, though neither highly accurate or capable of carrying especially heavy warheads, it can easily project a single warhead with a combined mass of over 1.5 ton to about 8,000 km (you can convert that number to miles, if you want to).

It does not take a genius to figure out that building a slightly larger (10-15%) version of the R-29 with a slightly lighter warhead (700-800 kg) allows it to reach the 10,000 km mark. I strongly suspect that the North Korean ICBM is a slightly larger version of the R-29 with similar, but not identical, flight characteristics. Moreover it is pretty easy to adjust engine burn times, propellant loading etc to increase the maximal velocity by the few hundred meters per second necessary to make it go a couple thousand extra km.

To make a long story short, that North Korean ICBM can most certainly put a warhead on Seattle, Bay Area or maybe even Los Angeles-San Diego urban aggregation. Of course, we can always get many smartly dressed and hair-styled “experts” on TV to say otherwise, but then again these same idiots were also telling us that it would be many years before North Korea would successfully test an ICBM. Of course, it is unlikely that North Korea is going to use such ICBMs unless provoked to do so by the USA. Then again, it is USA you are talking about.

What do you think? Comments?

An Explanation for the Proliferation of Superhero Movies and TV Shows

July 2, 2017 12 comments

The previous decade has seen a large and unprecedented increase in the number and relative percentage of movies and TV shows made in USA which are centered around one or more superheroes. In fact, it is now possible to find critiques of this seemingly endless glut of superhero-based movies in allegedly “respectable” magazines as well as on clickbaity sites. In other words, the belief that too many superhero movies are being made is now a mainstream viewpoint.

But how did we end up here? And more importantly, why? Sure.. superhero movies have been around since pretty much the dawn of cinema. However for many decades, especially until the late-1970s, the number of superhero movies was rather small. The first significant increase in the number of superhero movies came in the late-1970s and early-1980s. But even then, it was unusual for more than 2-3 superhero movies to be released per year.

The current glut of superhero movies can be traced to a few hugely profitable movies of that genre made in the early-2000s. It also helped that the same time period saw huge improvements in the quality of computer-generated special effects as well as a steep decrease in the cost of creating them. Since then, there has been a never-ending avalanche of movies and, increasingly, TV shows based on some superhero or the other- as well as tons of sequels, “prequels” and reboots.

But why? Why would movie studios and TV show production companies devote so much of the budget and resources to churning out even more productions full of men and women in tights and tons of computer-generated effects but without memorable characters or coherent plots? What is in for them? And why now?

Before we go to my explanation, it is worth quickly recapitulating the conventional explanations which have been put forth to explain this phenomenon. One popular explanation is based on the idea that such movies make more money around the world, especially in large non-western markets like China. To be fair, predominantly visual movies or shows are likely to sell better in countries that are linguistically and culturally different from those of their origin.

However, that does not explain why so many of these productions are set in the USA. I mean, would you not make even more money by creating superhero movies tailored to individual market like China? Another explanation is based on the ever decreasing cost of using high-quality computer generated special effects. Once again, there is some truth to the idea that reductions in cost of computer generated special effects being responsible for part of the increase in this genre of movies and shows. But that does not explain why movie studios and TV production companies seem to now favor this genre over other previously profitable ones.

Then there are those who point out that a significant number, and percentage, of superhero based production (including sequels and reboots) make a decent amount of money and more importantly- profit. Now.. it is no secret that any success of a new genre in the entertainment sector always results in tons of imitators as well as attempts to milk the original success to the limit. But we are now in 2017, not 2007 when the imitation hypothesis would have been sufficient. Furthermore, the number of superhero- based movies and TV shows has kept on increasing rather than stabilizing, let alone decreasing.

But perhaps even more importantly, none of these conventional explanations even attempt to answer the main question- which is as follows: Why do movie studios and TV production companies keep on making an ever-increasing number of superhero movies and shows while simultaneously cutting back on other genres including those which were responsible for the majority of their profit in the past and still appear to be capable of delivering it?

My explanation for this phenomenon is based on a somewhat unconventional analysis of the current zeitgeist, especially as it relates to changing patterns of general belief in society. To make a long story short, it is increasingly hard for people in USA to mentally associate themselves with traditional protagonists in films and TV shows. As you might recall, the protagonist in most films and TV shows made in USA has traditionally been somebody who (or willing to be) part of institutions that were once considered to be respectable or otherwise desirable.

That is why the protagonists of so many movies and shows are either in (or associated with) the army, police, FBI, CIA, medical profession, legal profession or some other american institution. Even movies or shows set in other eras (historical movies), domains of alternate reality (LOTR, Star Wars, Matrix, Harry Potter movies) or the future (Star Trek, back to the Future movies) end up replicating that institutional structure. To put it another way, the superhero movie genre is the only major one that ‘works’ without the presence of functional and recognizable american institutions.

In fact, the superhero genre requires conventional american institutions to be dysfunctional, incompetent or absent. And this brings me to what I think is the real underlying reason behind the proliferation and continued success of superhero-based films and TV shows in the previous decade. Simply put, it has become hard to sell protagonists who are connected with discredited american institutions- all of them. And that is why superhero- based movies and TV shows have taken off in such a big way over the previous decade.

I mean ask yourself.. what are the first images that pop up in your mind when you think of police in USA? People who protect the innocent or roid-driven murdering racists? What about somebody who is part of the CIA, FBI or any similar three-letter agency? Patriots or greedy power-crazy asshole of dubious competence? What about doctors or lawyers in USA? Pillars of society providing important services or greedy extortionists of questionable competence? I could go and on.. but you get the point.

That is why, for example, we see few (if any) highly profitable movies or TV shows that glorify mass murderers depicted as such or slave owners depicted as such. Human beings, even evil ones, like to believe that they are good and moral. They, therefore, do not want to associate with protagonists who are severely tainted or otherwise discredited. Superheroes are, by definition, not really a part of the institutions they belong to- even in their respective fictional universes. Hence it is far easier for audiences in the post-2008 era to mentally associate themselves with such protagonists.

To summarize- it has become much less profitable to sell movies and TV shows in USA (especially to younger audiences) in which the protagonists are somehow positively connected with any of the many american institutions which have been publicly discredited within the previous decade. And that is why we now have an avalanche of superhero-based movies and TV shows.

What do you think? Comments?

An Alternate Explanation for Murders of Black Men by Police in USA

June 24, 2017 22 comments

As many of my long-term readers know, more than a few of my older posts have touched on the issue of systemic racial discrimination in USA, especially as it concerns what is frequently described as the “criminal justice” system. In fact, I even wrote a short series about this issue in 2014. In that series, I made the point that murdering black men and women is, and always has been, one of the main functions of the “law and order” apparatus in USA.

In that series, I also made the point that USA as a country and society is simply too dysfunctional to fix the problem of extra-judicial (and judicial) killing of black people. The simple, if tasteless, reality is that a large percentage of white people are quite OK with treating black people as less than human. Of course, this won’t be a big problem in a couple of decades from now when the numbers and relative position of whites has irreversibly declined to the point that few will even care what they think or believe.

But the ongoing and irreversible decline of whites as a group in USA and rest of the world does not by itself solve the problem of “law enforcement” killing black people in USA. It is well-known that the race and gender of police has little connection with their willingness to kill or otherwise brutalize black people in USA. In other words, replacing a white cop with a black, brown or asian cop is unlikely to eliminate or even reduce the rates of extra-judicial executions of black people in USA.

But why has large-scale public exposure of numerous instances of police murdering black people in USA had little, to no, effect on their propensity to continue doing it? Why have all those large public protests had no worthwhile effect on the rate of police murdering black people, except perhaps to ensure that the family members of at least some of the murdered get monetary compensation? Why have all those appeals to the conscience of whites had no worthwhile effect on the status quo?

There are many reasons for public exposure having little effect on the continued predilection of police to murder black people in USA- but it mainly comes to the lack of adverse consequences. Police who murder, torture or otherwise abuse black people do not face any adverse consequences for those actions. Choking a black guy to death, murdering a black guy in front of his family, shooting an unarmed black guy from the back, murdering a black kid etc does not adversely affect the lives of police who did those things even if it is recorded on camera- sometimes from multiple angles.

To understand what I am getting at, here is a thought experiment. Do you think police would dare to murder Muslims of middle-eastern descent in USA at anything even remotely close to the rate they do for Blacks? And if not, why not? What makes police in USA and other western countries so hesitant to pull that shit on Muslims of middle-eastern descent?

Well.. there are two components to the answer for that question. Firstly, Muslims of middle-eastern descent are very highly organised AND they do not see their lives as less valuable than whites. Even Muslims from the poorest and most deprived countries in the middle-east do not see themselves as less human than whites in the west. In contrast to that, a majority of the native-born black population in USA appear to see their own lives as less valuable than their white counterparts.

But there is a second reason, which we don’t like to talk about. Whites in western countries understand that murdering Muslims from the middle-east has consequences, even if white western courts exonerated them. There is a reason why white Americans could not walk freely in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, even at the peak of their now failed invasions of both those countries. Turns out that people from that part of the world are more than willing to avenge the death of their relatives in any manner possible.

To make a long story short- it is very likely that police murdering Muslims from the M-E at even a fraction of rate of Blacks in USA would severely compromise the personal safety of themselves and their families. In contrast to that, police murdering black people in USA will at most result in more marches, prayers at some church and tearful interview with relatives on TV.

European whites did not get kicked out for good out of Asian and African countries after WW2 because they feared peaceful marches, prayer assemblies and tearful testimonies. American whites did not get kicked out of North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan because of nonviolent resistance by the local population. They had to leave those countries because the human and material costs inflicted on them by the local population (sometimes at great cost to themselves) was beyond their own ability to sustain those occupations.

What do you think? Comments?

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 32 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?