Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Younger Generations in West Losing Touch with Physical Reality: 1

April 23, 2021 20 comments

Regular readers of my blog know that I have written numerous post in past couple of years about how various factions, institutions and entire countries in west seem to have lost touch with physical and material reality. What makes this progressive loss touch with of reality in west especially interesting is that most of people outside its borders haven’t lost touch with reality- and this says a lot about the rapidly and terminally declining influence of western countries. Which brings me to the next and inevitable question- will this loss of touch with reality continue to its inevitable conclusion or will it stabilize and perhaps even reverse itself. While anything is possible on a long enough time-span, it appears unlikely that any significant deviation from current path of self-abasement will occur in near future.

But why am I so pessimistic about the ability of younger generations in west to correct the loss of their touch with physical reality in near future? Well.. there are many reasons for my skepticism and here are some examples of why I think that they might be (in many cases) even more detached from reality than previous generations. Of course, I also recognize that sooner or later a significant minority of this generation will almost certainly go against the current trend of pretending that physical reality does not exist or matter. However, I don’t think that their numbers or influence will be sufficient, barring some violent revolution, to affect the current course of events. Here are a few examples of why I maintain that belief..

Some of you might have wondered about why so many, especially in younger age groups, seem to believe that widespread use of electric and truly self-driving automobiles is inevitable in near future. If you ever go to message boards of sites frequented by autistic programmer-types such as ycombinator, slashdot, arstechnica etc, you will see tons of people who firmly believe that widespread adoption of electric cars and truly self-driving automobiles are around the corner. Fun fact- these people were saying the same things a decade ago. So why didn’t things change to any worthwhile extent over that decade? Some of you might say that the share price of Tesla suggests that I am wrong. Well.. what percentage of automobiles sold today are electric or truly self-driving? And do you really think that this state of affairs will change over next two decades- if ever?

To understand what I am talking about, let me ask you a simple question- why does a new technology replace an older one? Why were steam engines the dominant mode of traction for trains (all over the world) until after WW2 and why was the switch to electric and diesel so quick after 1950? Why did turbojets and turbofans rapidly become the main power-plant of airliners after the early-1960s? Why did the adoption of personal computers explode after mid-1980s? Why did smartphones displace older types of cellphones so quickly after 2008? Conversely, why do we still use Ibuprofen and Naproxen to treat inflammation and fever- even though they are over 50 years old? Why does the toilet look and work almost identically to one from almost 100 years ago? Or why does your refrigerator function and even look very similar to one from over 50 years ago?

It all comes down to a simple question- Does the “new” technology work significantly better than “older” technology and cost about the same or less. Steam engines were dominant until after WW2 because they were relatively inexpensive to build, reliable, easy to fix and had amazing torque. Diesel locomotives became competitive with steam in terms of cost and reliability once the diesel-electric transmission was refined by late-1940s. Once that occurred, replacing steam with diesel locomotives became a no-brainer as they had good horsepower, decent torque and required much less maintenance. Similarly, using electric locomotives on main routes became far more viable once an increase in widespread electrification of many countries occurred in aftermath of WW2.

Turbojets and then Turbofans became dominant power-plant of large airliners as it was much easier to build and maintain such engines with power outputs high enough to propel airliners capable of carrying over 100 people. This is also why turboprops are nowadays restricted to smaller airliners (cost-effective) or military transports (slower but rugged). Also, there are mechanical reasons why piston aeroengines making over 4,000 hp (or equivalent thrust) were never built in any significant numbers. Similarly personal computers boomed after mid-1980s once they became relatively affordable and able to do useful things such as help compose documents, spreadsheets or play games. Similarly smartphones displaced older types of cellphones after 2008, because they opened up entire categories of new possibilities for what users could do with a handheld device.

Did you notice a pattern? If not, let me spell it out for you- Newer technologies displace older ones when they can do stuff better or cheaper or, ideally, both. This is why, for example, LCD/LED TVs replaced CRTs so quickly after 2005. Or why power plants using natural gas exploded in popularity compared to coal-powered ones in past two decades. Hint: it was the cost of building, maintenance and fuel, and not lower CO2 emissions, which made natural gas the fuel of choice for generating electricity in north america within past two decades. That is also why coal-powered power plants will maintain their dominant position in countries such as China, India and many others without ready and reliable access to natural gas. This is also why we use older drugs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen over more newer drugs or why toilets and refrigerators haven’t changed much in over 50 years.

But what does any of this have to do with the loss of touch with physical reality exhibited by, what appears to be a majority of, younger generations in west? Well.. because almost nobody is asking questions such as what are the theoretical and practical limits to rechargeable battery technology, where they are going to get all that lithium for so many batteries or rare-earth elements for modern brushless electric motors. Very few of them seem to be concerned by issues such as the problems inherent in removing automobile wrecks containing damaged lithium batteries off the road or the logistics chain problems involved in building, maintaining and repairing electric cars on the same scale as ICE-powered ones.

Even fewer seem to understand the problems caused by such decisions to the entire chain of crude oil refining which is necessary for supplying starting chemicals for everything from plastics and agricultural chemicals to drugs and specialty chemicals for a gazillion different industrial processes. And best of luck trying to run military vehicles, airplanes and container ships on lithium batteries. To put it bluntly, trying to stop production and use of of ICE-powered cars is a suicide move for any country larger than a city-state or micro-country. And here is what makes this even more interesting.. a majority of younger generations in China, India, Russia, Japan etc have a far better appreciation of these issues than their equivalents in the west. This is not to imply that China or India will ignore electric-powered automobiles. In fact, they will likely adopt them at decent percentages in future for specialized uses.

It is just that no large country outside west will replace ICE-powered automobiles until an option which is cheaper and more rugged/dependable than internal-combustion engines come along. Sure.. they may give lip-service to that idea and sign non-enforceable agreements, but when push comes to shove they are going to keep building ever more internal combustion engine-powered automobiles. However for some “odd” reason, a lot of supposedly “educated” young people in west don’t seem to understand this reality. Even more curiously, they think that the demographically decrepit and technologically stagnant west has any leverage over anything beyond small third-world countries. This belief is even laughable as the ability and infrastructure to make stuff on a large scale has already shifted to countries such as China.

In the next parts of this series. I hope to tackle issues such as the reasons behind younger generation refraining from having kids, acting “woke” and going along with other stupid “intellectual” fads, believing in inevitable major technological breakthroughs which will revolutionize lifestyles when none have occurred for almost 50 years and believing in laughably stupid bullshit such as the viability of peaceful but real political change.

what do you think?

Indulging the Delusions of Mentally Ill People Always Ends Badly: 2

March 21, 2021 5 comments

In the previous post of this series, I made the point that indulging delusions of people who are obviously not right in the head is a recipe for disaster. Trying to understand their delusions in order to appear “liberal” only ends up validating them and leads to a constant increase in their demands. This is how, for example, we went from “trans people are vulnerable” to “normalize medical and surgical intervention in vulnerable children” and “trans women are real women”. And as I write in future posts, this is not restricted to performative woke-ism since you can make the exact same case against christian evangelicals and fundamentalist muslims.

But what makes indulging mentally ill people with delusions far more problematic than say the passion of a guy who spends every spare dollar he has on expensive toy train sets or hotrod cars? Or what about a woman who is obsesses with plastic surgery? Isn’t that also a type of borderline mental illness? Well.. yes, many strong obsessions could be classified as borderline mental illness, but almost all of them lack what is (in my opinion) the most important feature of a mental illness. For something to be a mental illness, it has to seriously disrupt or harm the life of that person or those around him or her. Confused? Let me explain..

A guy obsessed with collecting toy train sets or building hotrod cars is not harming their lives or those of other around them. Sure.. their obsession can appear strange to those who are not into that sort of stuff, but it an eccentricity- at most. Similarly, a woman who is obsessed with plastic surgery might harm herself a bit, but it is no worse than cutting, dieting or bulimia. My point is that a lot of what some people might call borderline mental illness is closer to personal eccentricity or personality. They aren’t forcing you to buy toy train sets, start building hotrods or undergo plastic surgery. They might make you roll you eyes once in a while, but that is all.

To illustrate the previous point a bit better, let me give you another example. If you have read this blog long enough, you know that I am into spanking girls and other mild BDSM. So how does this affect the way I interact with women, especially escorts. Well.. my preferences do factor in while searching escort reviews and I am upfront about what I would like. However, I have never forced anyone who is not into that sort of stuff to participate in it. Also, I steer the session into a different direction if the girl is not that much into it. The point is, I understand that others often don’t have the same sexual tastes as myself and have no desire to change it.

Now compare this to the “trans” people and their “cis allies” trying to ‘cancel’ everyone who doesn’t agree with their delusions. And yes.. there is a reason somebody who pretends that chromosomes or genitalia don’t matter is delusional. It is the equivalent of saying that the sky is green because it can appear greenish under very specific and uncommon conditions or that ice is not cold because it warmer than liquid helium. The fact that sky can sometimes appear greenish before tornadoes does not mean that it’s default normal color is anything other blue. Similarly, ice being less colder than liquid helium is irrelevant to our use of ice to, say, cool a drink or it feeling cold to touch. Weasel wording, you see, has no effect on physical reality.

Some of you might say.. it is about their attempts to control others rather than holding onto their delusion of choice- and there is some truth to that. But let me ask you something- why are “trans” people and their “woke” allies so obsessed with something that over 98% of other people see as utterly ridiculous. Why aren’t they obsessed with for example, banning clothing of a certain color or fashion? Why aren’t they devoting their energies towards banning certain cuisines or foods? My point is that their ridiculous demands from other people are specifically aimed at validating their delusions. Their pathetic attempts to control the discourse is as best- secondary or tertiary to validating their delusions.

Which brings me to the topic of Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen by Proxy. In case you don’t know, Muchausen syndrome is a mental illness when someone tries to get attention and sympathy by falsifying, inducing, and/or exaggerating an illness. This includes lying about symptoms, sabotaging medical tests or harming themselves to get the desired symptoms. Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability. Now tell me if a lot of “trans” culture and the actions of their “cis ally” enablers don’t remind you of these two mental conditions? And let me remind you that many others have said this exact same thing many years before today.

But why are so many people displaying symptoms of Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen by Proxy in 2021 as compared to .. say.. 2001 and 2011? And why is far more prevalent in certain western countries but not others? Also why is basically absent in all other countries around the world. My theory, which I will explain in the next post, is that this increase has everything to do with certain societies slowly decaying due to the effects of late-capitalism, neoliberalism and financialism. In other words, the rise of this social pathology (and many others) has everything to with the institutions of, and social dysfunction, created by a set of rapidly failing governing ideologies.

What do you think? Comments?

Banning Trump from Twitter is a Very Stupid and Short-Sighted Idea

January 9, 2021 26 comments

As all of you know by now, Trump being banned from multiple american corporate-owned social-media networks such as Twatter, FakeBook, ThotGram etc. You must also be aware that many LIEbral retards are celebrating this short-sighted decision. In any case, here is a post, written without flowery language and obscure analogies, to show you why this was an very stupid and dangerous decision with huge potential for ‘unintended consequences’.

1] Trump got almost 75 million votes in 2020 election in spite of a four-year long campaign of demonization by the MSM, Liberals and despite his inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is a pretty significant number of voters in this country and going somebody who could get than many votes in a presidential election at a time of massive political polarization is a really bad idea, because you have just created enemies out of tens of millions who did not have to pissed off any more than they already are. And let us be realistic.. Trump is, and has been, an entertaining clown or troll without the balls or mental ability to put together even a simple Munich beer-hall putsch. He almost exclusively implemented milquetoast republican policies (endless tax cuts, appointing conservative judges, trying to cut medicare/medicaid and supporting “law enforcement”) than anything which was even vaguely radical.

Banning this entertaining clown from Twitter and other american-owned social media networks makes him appear far more capable and important than he is in reality. Also, banning him provides support very strong support for his opt-repeated contention that he was the victim of a systemic deep-state and corporate LIEbral conspiracy. In my opinion, the incestous and incompetent LIEBral idiots in deep-state should have just ignored him or treated him like the entertaining troll he was. But now they have provided extensive conformation and validation to many of his more outlandish claims. Do you really think that Trump will have less credibility if you ban him from american-owned social media sites? If you do think like that, read some history and have your head examined. These actions achieve the exact opposite of the goal.

2] Trump’s followers and supporters are heavily represented in the military and law enforcement, both as ex- or current members. They are also heavily represented in people who work with their hands rather than the effeminnate keyboard jockeys, impotent code-writers in Bay Area, suburban white moms working office jobs and other diphits who don’t posses the means, background, experience or physical ability to perpetrate real violence. There is a reason why all successful revolutions in human history have been backed by men who knew how to use weapons and were not shy about killing. To put it blunty, the vast majority of people capable and willing to commit actual violence do-er types are not on the side of Democrats and LIEbrals. And this not the 1990s or early-2000s when most white conservatives believed that the government was on their side.

To make matters worse, the systemic socio-economic factors which led to rise of Trump have not gone way. In fact, the conditions of many have gotten worse, largely due to thoughtless lockdowns and school closures led by LIEbral politicians and democratic party associated unions and PMCs. In other words, things are about to get a whole lot crazier because the movement which catapulted Trump to presidency in 2016 is still there and in many ways stronger than it was in the past. Now combine that with the the fact that this group has a virtual monopoly on capability and ability for real violence. While Trump does not have the brain or balls to use his popular support and current situation, a future american Caesar will almost certainly do that very effectively and with zero qualms.

3] I have said, above and, in more than one previous post- the next person to use Trump’s coalition to seize power won’t be as stupid and incompetent as Trump. And there is a history for this dynamic throughout human history where the first attempts to overthrow a dying regime are often headed by incompetent people who fail but then they get replaced by smart and competent people who actually know how to use strategy and violence. Caesar was not the first roman consul with vision of becoming an emperor or who tried to become one. Napoleon was not the first french military general with visions of becoming emperor in aftermath of French Revolution. Mussolini and Hitler failed more than once before succeeding. I predict the next few years will see the rise a competent american Caesar- and it won’t be pretty. And make no mistake, a significant minority of american population (who have the majority of weapons and weapon training) are going to rally behind such a guy. The current democratic coalition of old black people and credentialed white paper-pushers living in a few urban and suburban areas have no real chance of prevailing against a competent american Caesar who commands the loyalty of his armed followers.

4] One of the most clever scenes from an early season of TV adaptation of “Game of Thrones” goes as follows: the much-hated juvenile idiot king aka Joffrey Lannister is shouting “I am the King” towards his uncle. At this point his grandfather (the true power behind throne) calmly tells him that “any man who must say I am the king is no true king”. The point is that anyone who has to justify their power by invoking external factors such as credentials, lineage, job-title etc has no real power. Similarly any person or entity who has to justify their power by appeals to external factors or the status-quo rather than actual control has only an illusory and tenuous grasp on power. It is no secret that current status of LIEbrals and Professional Managerial Class (PMCs) owes everything to others willing to go along with the charade.

Let me explain how this applies to the topic of our discussion. When the Chinese government censors people, ideas or opinions it does not like- it simply does it. That is possible because, unlike the corporate class in the west, it has real power and wields it appropriately. But that is only part of the story. The real reason why they have both this power and support from its population is that unlike their western counterparts, the Chinese government has been able to deliver almost magical improvements in the quality of life for its citizens in past four decades. In compassion, the past few decades in western countries (especially USA) have been marked by economic stagnation and reversal of fortunes for over 90% of their populations. To put it another way, people go along with some high-handedness only as long as the system can deliver a good lifestyle and hope of a better future.

The Chinese system also has far more internal accountability and constant fine-tuning than the american corporatist system. There is a reason why so many people have come to hate Amazon, FaceBook, Google and other software-based tech companies (Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Yelp etc) over the past decade. While the reason for their hatred varies from loss of their small business, loss of stable jobs, high-handed behavior etc, it does not take a genius to figure out that any rising Caesar will use the growing hatred of average people for these tech monopolies and oligopolies to either nationalize them or break them up- and we are already seeing early signs of this trend on the republican side among younger legislators. Ironically, the Chinese government pursues corporate anti-monopoly practices to prevent this outcome than their impotent and corrupted western counterparts.

5] It is also worth pointing out that the poorly though lockdowns and shutdown in response to COVOD-19 pandemic have caused large long-term job losses in addition to massive damage to small- and medium- sized business. Given that these lockdowns and shutdowns were mostly championed by Democrats, LIEbrals, certain unions and the PMCs- you can bet that the rapidly building public anger will cause a lot of damage to Democratic part’s electoral prospects in 2022. If you don’t believe, just read a bit about how Democrats went from their 2008 win to an almost total complete rout in 2010. Inability to deliver on needs of voters is not a winning strategy regardless of how many non-white and female faces you put on the ballot. Trump lost in 2020 because he could not deliver on his 2016 promises and Obama barely scraped through in 2012 because the Republicans managed to nominate someone (Romney) who was even more repulsive than him.

Given the inability of Democrats to learn from history, You can bet that they will try to push highly unpopular polices ranging from criminalizing domestic dissent, new gun control laws, climate change scams, shoring up the wreck known as Obamacare and a lot of other stuff which will piss off too many people. Those idiots will also push their “diversity” and “trans-rights” bullshit scaring off even more white voters living in non-coastal areas. And they will try to do all of this without providing any serious economic relief or compensation to the tens of millions whose entire lives have been destroyed by their stupid and bad policies they had championed. If you think that non-white and non-black voters are a captive democratic constituency, you are about to have a rude awakening. You do know that the vast majority of Hispanics in this country do not see themselves as People of Color (POC).. right?

To summarize, the LIEBral corporatist establishments idea to ban Trump from major social media outlets (especially before his term ran out) was an incredibly stupid and short-sighted decision which transforms that troll clown into a legitimate political martyr who was the victim of a conspiracy to steal the election from him. These idiots have thus given Trump what he, by himself, could never have achieved- real legitimacy for his claims. In addition to this , they have accidentally cleared the pathway for the rise of a real and competent american Caesar who will end up crushing their proverbial necks when he gains power. Way to go.. dumbfucks!

What do you think? Comments?

Some Recent Examples of West Losing Touch with Physical Reality

December 14, 2020 13 comments

It is no secret that the so-called ‘West’ is in the midst of a terminal death spiral and there is no shortage of evidence, especially over past two decades, to supports this assertion. We can go over tons of data-points and trends ranging from changes in fertility rates, technological stagnation combined with loss of existing abilities, rise of magical thinking and cults such as environmentalism, centralization of power into hands of incompetent professional managerial class, rapidly rising inequality and many more. While it is possible to keep trudging on in the presence of one or two of these adverse trends, facing them all at once is.. to put it lightly.. not survivable in the medium to loner term. I will now add the knowing and unknowing loss of touch with physical reality to this growing list of adverse trends.

To be fair, the ‘West’ (especially USA) is the not the first empire or culture to have exhibit this particular trend. Indeed, almost every single dying empire and civilization in recorded history has exhibited such behavior pattern. The noteworthy point about this pattern is that it occurs towards the very end of that empire or culture. In other words this is a marker of imminent demise or permanent loss of status. Here are a few examples of such behavior throughout history. Towards the end of the western roman empire, specifically the last 4-5 decades, it became unable to defend even its main cities against repeated sackings by groups who the empire had successfully kept at bay for centuries. While many “academics” pretend that the end was part of a longer trend, we know they are spouting bullshit because the eastern roman empire survived centuries after its western counterpart was distant memory.

But have you ever wondered what the “elites” in western Roman Empire were thinking when all this shit was going around them? Well.. a few saw what was coming and some others tried to change with the circumstances. However a majority of them only paid lip service to the idea of substantive change while believing that all of this would blow over and things would return to the previous status quo. They also came up increasingly elaborate explanations to convince themselves of the validity of their beliefs, even if those beliefs were clearly not congruent with objective reality around them. And they were far from the only dying empire which did so. In the early 20th century and WW1, the Ottoman Empire kept behaving as if everything that was going within their domain and in the course of WW1 was not occurring or as serious as it was.

The same is true for both the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Romanov Dynasty and their courtiers in Russia. In the first few years after WW2, Britain kept behaving as if it still was a global superpower in spite of losing all its major colonies until severe economic and military setbacks forced them to accept reality. It took getting defeated and kicked out of Algeria for France to finally accept that it was just another second-rate western military power. It took decades of defeats at hands of western power for China (century of humiliation) to finally accept that their previous system and status quo was no longer workable. And it gets worse.. a rather large percentage of Indians still haven’t accepted the reality about why they were repeatedly colonized and exploited by foreign empires and continue to labor under delusions that their myths and legends are completely factual. Crazy.. huh.

But what any of this have to with USA and the ‘West’? Well.. a couple of news items within past 2-3 days brought the issue of these countries losing touch with reality to the forefront.

The first one concerns development and recent approval of a vaccine against COVID-19. Yesterday many blue check mark dumbfucks on Twatter were busy claiming that USA was still innovative because it had developed and approved a vaccine against COVID-19 before any other country. Except that this not true. Both China and Russia have approved adenovirus-based vaccines against COVID-19 at least a couple of months ago. In fact the first Chinese vaccine has been already used to vaccinated more than a million people in multiple countries while the Russian vaccine has been used on over 200k people. I should also point out that the adenovirus-based vaccine is far closer to the kinds of vaccines we have some experience with in humans and animals. RNA-based vaccines, like those from Pfizer and Moderna, have never been previously approved for use in humans or animals.

In addition to that, they are deliberately doing slower and more deliberate rollouts to catch rare but severe side effects. Compare that to USA and ‘West’ who want to inject hundreds of millions with vaccines based on new technology for which we have no historical long-term safety data. It is also worth mentioning that China is also developing multiple protein-subunit based, whole-virus based and RNA vaccines and many of these are in Phase II or Phase III human trials as we speak. The way China has gone about developing vaccines shows a far better appreciation for issues such as not betting the farm on one new technology, concern for long-term safety and an appreciation of the logistics of production and deployment. And yet, the vast majority of “intellectuals” and “elites” in USA and ‘West’ are acting as if this reality does not exist. Mind you.. these are the same idiots who have no realistic long-term plan to control COIVID-19 spread in their own countries or just live with it.

The second recent example of western “intellectuals” and “elites” having lost touch with reality comes in the form of their response to the failed test flight of Elon Musk’s latest scam aka the “Starship” prototype. Not only is the name of that chemical-rocket powered launcher supremely delusional, but it also won’t have a significantly higher payload than Saturn V launcher from late-1960s. Yes.. you heard that right! The full-scale and developed version of that ‘Starshit’ will, even under the most optimistic conditions, not put more into low earth orbit than the upgraded Saturn V launchers NASA wanted to build in mid 1970s.. about 45 years ago. As some of you know, the most recent test of a small-scale prototype of that launcher ended in a spectacular explosion also known as a failure.

But this has not stopped many pressitutes, blue checks shitheads on Twatter and many self-anointed “experts” from claiming that a rocket flight which ended in a giant explosion was a great successes. To be clear, almost every aspect of that flight which these “experts” claimed to be a roaring success had been already demonstrated with Falcon 9- especially during some of its developmental flights. If you still believe that this is innovation, then I have a bridge to sell you. But what is especially troubling to me is that so many people who should have known better were going overboard pretending that the delusional emperor was wearing clothes. Given that Musk is not constantly paying these idiots to pretend that his failures are smashing successes, one has to consider the other option- namely, that they are willingly deluding themselves into seeing what they want to believe.

But why do they want to willingly believe in something which is not real. Could it be yet another sign that “elites” in West have lost touch with physical reality?

What do you think? Comments?

Recent Articles about Ongoing Crapification of Personal Computing

December 3, 2020 20 comments

While browsing the intertubes in past few weeks, I came across a few articles about ongoing crapification of personal computing. As you know, this is interesting to me since I am also writing a short series about the computing “revolution of past two decades has been a showy failure. Hope to finish the next part in that series sometime soon. But till then, have a look at these posts by other people making similar observations.

Bring back the ease of 80s and 90s personal computing

Back in time when things were easy: You could opt into purchasing major (feature) upgrades every 2–3 years, and got minor (quality) updates for free very infrequently (say, 1–2 times a year). You made a conscious decision whether and when to apply upgrades or updates, and to which applications. You usually applied updates only if there was a specific reason (e.g., a feature you wanted or a bug you were running into and needed to be fixed). Systems typically ran on the exact same software configuration for months if not years.

Contrast this with today: Systems increasingly become “moving targets” because both the operating system and the applications change by updating themselves at will, without conscious decisions by the user. The absolute perversion of this are “forced automatic updates” as are common in some organizations, where users have no choice but to accept that updates are installed on the machine (even requiring reboots of the machine) whenever some central system administrator decides that it is time to do so.

Computer latency: 1977-2017

It’s a bit absurd that a modern gaming machine running at 4,000x the speed of an apple 2, with a CPU that has 500,000x as many transistors (with a GPU that has 2,000,000x as many transistors) can maybe manage the same latency as an apple 2 in very carefully coded applications if we have a monitor with nearly 3x the refresh rate. It’s perhaps even more absurd that the default configuration of the powerspec g405, which had the fastest single-threaded performance you could get until October 2017, had more latency from keyboard-to-screen (approximately 3 feet, maybe 10 feet of actual cabling) than sending a packet around the world (16187 mi from NYC to Tokyo to London back to NYC, more due to the cost of running the shortest possible length of fiber).

On the bright side, we’re arguably emerging from the latency dark ages and it’s now possible to assemble a computer or buy a tablet with latency that’s in the same range as you could get off-the-shelf in the 70s and 80s. This reminds me a bit of the screen resolution & density dark ages, where CRTs from the 90s offered better resolution and higher pixel density than affordable non-laptop LCDs until relatively recently. 4k displays have now become normal and affordable 8k displays are on the horizon, blowing past anything we saw on consumer CRTs. I don’t know that we’ll see the same kind improvement with respect to latency, but one can hope.

Things are so bad that a google search for ‘why is windows 10 so bad‘ yields hundreds of results, including long discussions threads on multiple subreddits and official Microsoft support newsgroups. You can get almost the same number of hits for asking ‘why is office 365 so bad. And it is not just Microsoft as you can find similar opinions past few iterations of Mac OS X and iOS. In case you are wondering, Android has always been a shitshow, though it is a little better than the older versions. Did I mention that even widely used google services such as Google Maps and web version of Gmail has become significantly worse and inconsistent over past few years. And then there are the numerous poorly executed design updates by Amazon, FakeBook, Twatter, InstaCrack etc. My point is that is an industry-wide phenomena.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting YouTube Channel: The 8-Bit Guy

November 1, 2020 3 comments

Since I have been recently writing about how the so-called computing “revolution” of past two decades has been, largely, worse that useless- here is a YouTube channel about old personal computers. I am sure that some of you might have already comes across The 8-Bit Guy. The channel is mostly about 8-Bit personal computers, gaming systems and games.. though he does occasionally go into computers and other related technology of a later vintage. I found his channel interesting because it is one the few which goes into the proverbial nuts and bolts of what was probably the last generation of computing (hardware and software) which could be completely understood by a single person.

He also had a recent series about the large number of pioneering computer companies (both hardware and software) which used to exist in Texas. Oh ya.. most of those buildings which used to house these pioneering and often quite successful companies now either sit empty, have been converted into yoga studios and professional offices or have been demolished. I cannot help pointing out that something like this would never have been allowed to happen in countries such as Japan or Germany where they cherish and maintain sites associated with the founding of important companies or discovery of new technologies. USA is almost unique as a country and culture in being almost exclusively concerned with short-term profits and fellating financial interests above everything else. And this shows, in many unflattering ways.

Clip #1: Commodore History Part 3 – The Commodore 64 (complete)

rest of that series is here.. Commodore History

Clip #2: Back when cameras used… Floppy Disks? Sony Mavica

What do you think? Comments?

Computing “Revolution” of Past Two Decades as a Showy Failure: 2

October 30, 2020 5 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about how almost every technological and scientific achievement we associate with the current era was developed before the personal computing “revolution” of past 20-25 years. We successfully designed and made everything from nuclear submarines, ICBMs, nuclear weapons, modern airliners, modern drugs, interplanetary space probes before this so-called “revolution”. Even more interestingly, the past 20-25 years have been the most stagnant period from the point of useful technological advancement in over 200 years. It is as if these two decades have not produced anything which has actually improved our lives or allowed us to real stuff that was previously considered out of reach.

In this post, I will go into some of the stuff I promised in that post- starting with automobiles. As Scotty Kilmer always likes to remind his audience, Japanese cars from mid- to late- 1990s consistently last for over 400k miles as long as you don’t go out of you way to abuse them. So let me ask you the next logical question- has any of the “computerization” of cars introduced since then made them last longer, significantly safer or somehow “better” for the consumer. I think we all know the answer to that question. Which brings us to next inevitable question- Why do corporations keep doing something that does not result in a better product.. and why does this trend keep getting worse. What is going on?

Why are car companies incorporating circuits in to their engines which make them easier to hack, far more sensitive to damage and often result in a lower quality product that does not last as long. Why do so many of them want to replace very ergonomic physical controls with virtual controls that make using them a far bigger chore than necessary. Why are so many car companies pushing hybrids that have excessively complex, hard to repair and often finicky hardware when they seldom have even a 5% better real-life mileage than their conventional counterparts. Also, curiously, why are some Japanese and Korean corporations far less likely to implement the worst of these costly and dangerous trends than their North American or European counterparts. What explains this difference?

Moving on to housing.. Has the quality of housing or the experience of living in one improved in the past 20-25 years? Have “smart” thermostats or “smart” security systems improved the quality of your indoor environment or security? Has having “Alexa” or its Google equivalent in you home improved the quality of your life apart from showing others that you are “hip” and “with it”. Also, what sort of idiot wants to pay corporations and the government to constantly spy on them in their own home? Have “smart” bulbs or LEDs really improved the quality of lighting in your house or substantially affected your electricity bill. Why do all the “smart” refrigerators, washing machines, coffee makers and other appliances fail much sooner, in addition to being unrepairable and more expensive, than their “dumb” analog counterparts .

Let us talk about education- both K12 and university. Has the extensive use of computers in education improved the quality of learning or made it less expensive. Are 2020 graduates somehow better than their counterparts from two decades ago? A large increase in use of computers for education has not improved its quality or made it less expensive. But if it hasn’t made education better, why is there still a continued push to increase the level of computer use in education. If something does not make the situation better, why keep pushing for more of it. And this phenomena goes far beyond automobiles, household alliances and education.

Consider the supposedly indispensable role of modern computing in running corporations. Did you know that large and multi-national corporations existed for decades before electronic computers of any sort existed. Did you also know that corporations of all sizes were able to run their supply chains, manage production, develop innovative products and pay employees and creditors on time before the first electronic computer of any sort was assembled. How did they do that? How did USA, USSR and Nazi Germany produce all the weapons and vehicles necessary for WW2 without possessing modern computers for running logistics or access to Excel tables and PowerPoint presentations? How did Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, GE, Motorola, IBM and many other corporations become big without access to CRM software.

How did large oil refineries run in the era before electronic computers? What about machine tooling? How did they build big stuff such as nuclear submarines, supersonic fighters and bombers, aircraft carriers or make millions of rifles, submachine guns, semi-auto handguns, assault rifles, artillery pieces in the pre-computer era. What about nationwide electrical grids, highway systems, railway networks etc? How come they ran just fine before era of electronic computers, let alone the computing “revolution”. Why didn’t the lack of electronic computers stop people from designing or building large dams, hydroelectric projects, irrigation products, coal-powered stations or electric grids. It is as if the lack of even older electronic computers has little to no effect on the ability of human beings to get things done in a way compatible with maintaining a modern lifestyle.

Since we are, once again, close to a thousand words, I will now wrap up this post. In the next part, I will write more about how the so-called computational “revolution” has not improved the process of drug development, everyday financial transactions and popular entertainment.

What do you think? Comments?

Computing “Revolution” of Past Two Decades as a Showy Failure: 1

October 23, 2020 40 comments

One of the defining features of the past two decades in west has been the dominant position in public consciousness of corporations involved in manufacturing personal computer hardware (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, IoT crap, embedded electronics etc) or making them function and do stuff (‘IT’ corporations such as Google, FakeBook, MicroShaft etc). One could say that Amazon is a an ‘IT’ company which sells stuff that people used to buy in department stores. A large part of current market value of many stock indices in the west now comes from corporations who either make personal computational hardware or the software they run.

But have you ever asked yourself- has these rise of these corporations or the widespread usage of products and services sold by them actually improved the quality of life for the vast majority of people. To understand what I talking about, let us ask two more basic questions. Question #1: Would the absence of personal computing “revolution” during past twenty years have any negative effect on the quality of life or somehow constrain development of other technologies? Question #2: Has the computing “revolution” improved quality or reliability of other products and services, let alone increase the general quality of life for vast majority? As you will soon see, the answers to both questions are obvious as well as surprising.

The unpleasant fact for many geeks is that the computational ‘revolution’ of past two decades has been the most sterile and unproductive period of general technological advancement in the past two hundred years- and I do not make that claim lightly. To better understand what I am getting at, ask yourself if you can name a single non-computer product that has improved your life or is somehow associated with the modern world which would not have existed without this pseudo “revolution”. Give it a try.. can you think of any non-compter product which would not have exsited without this so-called “revolution”.

Since we have to start from somewhere- let us start with modern jet airliners? Well.. every airliner designed until the late 1990s was largely designed by competent engineers using their engineers using their experience and some combination of slide rules, desktop calculators, 8- or 16- bit desktops connected to a few clunky mainframes. The DC-9, DC-10, 737, 747 etc were designed in what was essentially pre-computer era. The A-320 was designed at very start of era where electronic computers (mostly mainframes) of any type were widely used for aircraft design. The 777 was the last aircraft designed with a combination of good engineering and primitive CAD technology. Only the 787 was designed in era of modern “computing”- and it has been the most over-budget and troubled design of them all.

And this is not just restricted to airliners. Consider space exploration and missiles. The space race between erstwhile USSR and USA occurred before the modern computing “revolution”. People went into space before even their vehicles had a single solid-state transistors, let alone a IC or CPU, within their rockets and vehicles. The flight control computer used in Apollo missions was a hand-made computer with about the same computational capability as an early Apple II, TRS-80 or Commodore PET- though it was a 16-bit machine. The Pioneer and Voyageur Probes which are the only man-made objects to visit Uranus and Neptune (albeit in a fly-by) did not have CCD cameras nor CPUs. The same is true for both Viking probes which landed on Mars in l970s as well as the Venera family of space probes that USSR successfully landed on Venus in that era. Oh.. and all those lunar probes and soviet lunar rovers too.

The vast majority of space probes launched prior to late 1990s used tube technology (or very primitive CCDs) for imaging and very basic IC circuits joined to make ersatz CPUs. And guess what.. they performed their job magnificently. But it gets even more interesting when you look at aircraft and missiles used by the military. Did you know that first ICBMs did not use solid-state electronics and it was not until the 1980s that ICBMs using Integrated Circuit Blocks for guidance became commonplace. Funny thing is that the accuracy of ICBMs has not increased by a worthwhile margin since the 1980s. Even ALCMs (Air Launched Cruise Missiles) achieved almost the same accuracy and guidance capabilities as those used today with what essentially a mixture of custom ASICS along with 8- and 16- bit CPUs. The GPS system worked just fine with receivers that contained what were essentially 8- and 16- bit CPUs.

Even the state of design for nuclear weapons, which were often designed using a combination of previous experience and calculations on some of the first real “supercomputers”, has not progressed much further than it was in the mid-1980s. Remember that every single warhead in American and Russian Inventory was (at best) designed on a “super-computer” with less computational power than the original XboX game console. The same holds for design of everything from nuclear submarines, tanks, guns and missiles. To put it bluntly, even in areas where the computational “revolution” should have helped the most, things have been pretty stagnant since the 1980s- and not for the lack of money and resources thrown at the Military-Industrial complex. It is as if big and substantial technological advances haven’t occurred in these and many other fields since the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will wrap up this post. In the next ones, I will write about how the so-called computational “revolution” has not improved the quality of housing and automobiles, school and university education, transport and corporate logistics, process of drug development, everyday financial transactions and.. yes.. even popular entertainment. Even popular entertainment..

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Take on Ongoing Crapification of Internet User Experience

September 19, 2020 11 comments

While reading a recent Slashdot post which in turn linked to an article about how 5G wireless was not better than 4G LTE in majority of situations, I came across what some might consider to be a spammy reply- one which I had seen a number of times in past. The very short version of that reply is that the Internet has become progressively less usable and useful since 1999. It also correctly identifies the factors behind this shift (financialization, monopolization, promotion of incompetent managerial types into decision making positions etc). Since I am considering writing a series on why technological progress in past two decades have made things worse and inferior, thought this rant might interest some of you. I have also decided to cut and paste the text of that reply in full for you to read and archival purposes.

In the year 1999, you went to a site, clicked “register”, filled in basic info, and then you had an account. No CAPTCHAs. No e-mail verification in most cases. Absolutely no “phone verification”. No fake error messages based on your IP address/”reputation score”. No underhanded “oh, wait, you cannot have the account after all” messages after you’ve already registered. No evil “shadowbans”/bubbles. No photo IDs had to be scanned in and sent to the owners of the site. Nothing like that whatsoever. Those days are long gone…

* The local auction site was bought by eBay a few years ago. I then tried to sell an item using my account created in 2003… only to be spat in the face with yet another “upload government photo ID to continue” message — after I had spent hours upon hours creating and perfecting the description, photos, etc. For an account that was 10+ years old. With nothing but positive feedback on every transaction. I immediately ceased using it forever.

* I keep getting locked out of accounts when companies start using Google’s reCAPTCHA even for logging in. All attempts to contact the companies in question in order for them to have my account “whitelisted” from having to jump through these hoops have been unsuccessful. Google must track every single mouse click, and blocking it means you can’t even attempt to get past their harassments…

* I once (in recent years) actually managed to successfully create a Facebook account, with a lot of trickery and swearing. In no time, they locked me out, forcing me to upload a face photo “for my protection”. I naturally sent them a fake photo and that’s the last time I ever saw that account.

* I tried numerous times to create an account on Plenty of Fish (dating site). Every single time, no matter what information I inputted into the registration form, it would give fake error messages about how the “username is already taken” (even when trying impossible, ridiculous ones full of random alphanumeric characters).

* I registered an account at Reddit and started posting. After a while, it seemed like it was eerily, suspiciously dead. I tried copying the URLs into a new browser instance (with a different set of cookies) and all of the links returned “not found” errors. I e-mailed the site owners about this and they flat-out admitted to me that my account had been silently put in a “bubble” immediately upon registration due to the IP address being owned by a VPN/proxy service. Needless to say, I immediately stopped using the site forever.

* To my horror, I discovered one day in 2019 that “anonymous” posting has been disabled on Slashdot. (As if the constant insult of being called a “coward” wasn’t already bad enough…) Registering an account involves a massive form of information, e-mail verification with an annoying forced “password reset”, and of course a Google reCANCER blob. In other words, it’s no longer possible to properly comment on articles. It was the last place where I could in any way make my little voice heard to a couple of other people.

* Have you noticed how insanely unhelpful error messages have become in recent years? It seems to be a disgusting new practice to actively and consciously make every error message as useless as possible, frequently downright lying, and to only show these at the very last step, to maximize the amount of time and energy you steal from the person trying to register. The excuse given (if any) is to “stop bots”, but since I’m not a bot yet keep getting these BS messages everywhere, they clearly very much affect humans trying to use these trashy services. It’s beyond insulting to get some worthless gibberish about “username is already taken” when the real “error” is “you are not using your home connection directly so that we can track you uniquely and know you by name and address and see exactly which pages you load from us even if you filled in zero personal information”.

* A couple of years ago, I needed a basic website for my software project. Not just every single server host, but even “webhost” (called “web hotel” in some languages) demanded that I sent a scanned copy of my (nonexistent) government-issued photo ID and Visa debit card for the privilege of getting to pay them money. None of them of course mention this prior to wasting my time and energy filling out their endless forms…

* I’ve long since lost count of the number of times when a registration form has claimed that “an e-mail containing a verification link has been sent” but I never actually received any e-mail. (No, it’s not “in the spam folder”…)

* As with countless other “decentralized” things, I looked into The Federation / Fediverse. From their site: “we expect sites we list to have a humane code of conduct in place. Should sites who fail to ban content that can be found generally harmful, that node will be blocked from listing here.” That makes no sense grammatically, but it continues: “Harmful content can be, but not limited to, malware, graphical material of minors, abusive images, hateful content, racist content and climate denialism.” In other words, the whole thing is controlled by the exact same truth-suffocating, hateful scumbags as the centralized giants, rendering it utterly pointless.

* Recently, after Microsoft had bought GitHub, I tried to log in to an account of mine in order to reply to a reply on an issue thread. I was only mildly shocked to learn that they had locked me out with a message about having sent a “verification code” to the throwaway e-mail address I used when registering, obviously long since abandoned and inaccessible. Apparently, having the right password is no longer enough to prove that you control an account. (I could never get back into it, resulting in a dead end for the issue.)

And yes, this is on-topic no matter which news article discussion field it is posted in, because it fundamentally affects us all.

What do you think? Comments?

A Very Intriguing Theory about Possible Artificial Origins of COVID-19

April 26, 2020 28 comments

A couple of days ago, I came across a rather long medium post about how COVID-19 aka SARS-2 might have been created in a laboratory rather than through natural selection. While I considered posting a link to it yesterday, it was prudent to do some due diligence first. See.. part of my job and training involves using software tools similar to the ones used in that post, so I decided to first independently verify a few of the main sequence alignments, structural models of proteins and publications etc before promoting it. Well.. while I have not re-verified every single point of data in this post, whatever I have done to date suggests that its main conclusions are correct.

Here is the post: SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research

Since this post is very long and technical, let me summarize it- very briefly. The author starts by pointing out the unusual coincidence of an absolutely minimal furin cleavage site evolving at the junction of S1 and S2 subunits of the Spike protein in SARS-2. This is suspicious since gain of function by natural mutations usually tend to first create less than optimal sequences for new functions before being optimized via evolutionary selection. But this virus is too new for such an optimization to have occurred naturally- at least, that is not the most likely explanation.

He then points out that the two viruses which SARS-2 is most similar to ones discovered a few years ago (2014 and 2017/2019) in two different parts of the China. The Bat virus (RaTG13 with 96% similarity) came from a faecal swab from bat droppings from some cave in a part of China that is over 1,000 km from Wuhan, while the Pangolin virus (MP789 – 70% something similarity) came from autopsy of a bunch of smuggled sick pangolins from Malaysia in 2017. He then compares their sequences and while the Bat virus (RaTG13) is very similar to SARS-2, the Pangolin Virus has considerable dissimilarity with SARS-2 in first quarter of sequence for Spike Protein. Homologous recombination in a host infected with two viruses of same “species” without a segmented genome requires them to be very similar to each other.

More curiously, the new furin cleavage site in SARS-2 is a “gain of function” mutation, which means that it allows the virus to be more pathogenic (more infectious or capable of infecting a wider range of hosts/ cell types). It should be noted that more than a couple western research groups tried to insert similar enzymatic cleavage sites into other Coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS etc in the past. So it is not unreasonable to assume that the Chinese group in that Wuhan lab might have also tried it. In fact, we know that multiple research groups in Beijing tried that same gain of function mutation in a chicken Coronavirus. Oh ya.. and they also showed that putting that site into the S protein of another bat Coronavirus allowed it to infect human cells.

He then goes on talk about the whole field of Coronavirus research including many publications by a prominent researcher named Ralph Baric, who pioneered many of these techniques used for creating “gain of function” mutations in Coronaviruses. And yes.. he collaborated with the head of that Wuhan Coronavirus lab over the years, so it is makes perfect sense that you would see some his techniques are used in the later’s lab. Long story short, they looked at many “gain of function” mutations which made the resultant viruses deadlier. Also, Baric’s work seems to be have been “inspirational” to the lab in Wuhan since they kept trying out his ideas on Bat Coronaviruses.

The author then goes on to point out that accidental “leaks” of viruses from secure labs are far more common than most people realize, and are almost always due to poorly or hastily trained staff. So the idea that a poorly trained or careless researcher getting infected, but not developing serious illness and going on to spread it outside the lab is far more plausible than many would like to believe. He also points out the restriction enzyme map of nucleotide sequence, necessary for many types of genetic engineering, is rather similar for SARS-2, Bat and Pangolin coronvirus. And there are some other unusual similarities between the nucleotide codons used for certain amino acids- The explanation for which is a bit technical and complicated.

To summarize, the likelihood that this virus was created (along with others) to study effect of various “gain of function” mutations in Coronaviruses but then accidentally released into community through the actions of a poorly trained junior researcher is much more likely than it evolving naturally from a bat Coronavirus found in some remote part of the Yunnan province in China somehow magically recombining with a Pangolin Coronavirus from Malaysia and gaining just the right fragment of the Spike protein from it.

What do you think? Comments?

Electric Cars and “Renewable Green Energy” as Virtue Signalling Scams

August 25, 2019 9 comments

As some of you might have heard, the autistic girl promoted by globalists aka Greta Thunberg is making news for taking an ultramodern yacht to cross the Atlantic and publicly demonstrate her commitment to a supposedly “zero carbon” lifestyle. Just do that you know, most of her handlers and promoters are flying to NYC. Any ya.. once her fake sanctimonious speeches in NYC are over, she too will quietly fly back to Sweden. While I could write a lot more about how this delusional and mentally-ill girl is being promoted as the face of environmental activism, it is best to leave that for another time. Instead I will talk about how electric cars and “renewable green energy” are nothing more than virtue signalling scams. Yes.. you heard that, they are scams.

Readers might remember that I have written a (still ongoing) series about how anthropogenic climate change is a form of secular apocalypticism. Some might also remember my thoughts on Tesla Motors being an image driven scam. This is not say that electric automobiles are somehow impossible. Indeed, electric vehicles with performance equivalent to their internal combustion powered equivalents have been technologically feasible since the late 1990s. My objection to the popular delusion that the future of automobiles being electric is based on factors other than technological feasibility. To put it very briefly, the electrochemistry which underlies rechargeable battery technology puts an upper limit on the amount of energy stored by this method.

Long story short, the amount of energy stored in carbon-carbon or carbon-hydrogen bonds (fossil fuels) will always be at least a magnitude greater than that possible with an battery utilizing the most optimal electrochemistry. But that, by itself, is not the Achilles heel of electric automobiles. As you know, it is easy to build electric vehicles with pretty decent performance using currently available battery technology. The far bigger and related problem is as follows: how do you get all that lithium, cobalt etc to build batteries on a large enough scale to displace internal combustion engine powered vehicles. This becomes tricky rather quickly, even if we assume better than 95% recycling of all metals used in such batteries. Then there is the issue of obtaining enough of those pesky lanthanides aka ‘rare earth elements’ for their electric motors.

But the electric car scam gets truly exposed once you consider how the electricity used to power and recharge it is generated. As things stand today and in near future, most of that electricity is going to come from coal/gas fueled power stations. Some will come from hydroelectric or nuclear powered stations. My point is that only a small minority of the power used to recharge those vehicles is going to come from “renewable energy sources”. In other words, using electric cars instead of normal ones merely shifts the location where carbon fuels are being burnt, not the amount. And it gets worse. Let me ask you another related question. How big is the “carbon footprint” of the industrial and transportation infrastructure necessary to build, install and maintain all those solar cells and windmills? Are you starting to see the problem?

And it just keeps on getting worse. Ever wondered why hydroelectric power has long been the dominant way to generate renewable energy? Well, think about it this way.. the amount of water which flow through a river, while varying from season to season, is reasonably constant over a period of several decades. Furthermore, it can be easily stored for future use, and over multiple years. To make another long story short, generating a constant and predicable amount of power is far easy if your source of renewable energy is water rather than wind or sunshine. The same is true for power plants using coal, oil, gas or nuclear fission. In contrast to this, the two most touted sources of “green energy”, namely wind flow and sunshine, are fickle and dependent on weather.

Do you think it is possible to run massive power grids based on the whims of weather? Some will say- why not build “green energy” power plants with.. say.. 10x the capacity you need? Well for starters, it starts becoming far more expensive and maintenance intensive than conventional power plants. But more importantly, building even 10x capacity doesn’t give you the same level of confidence in power grid stability as conventional power plants have been known to provide for many decades. Imagine running an electric grid which will fail on a massive scale at least a few times per year and during extreme weather events when such power is necessary. But couldn’t we store this energy?

Well.. sure, we can store energy from fickle sources and release it in a more gradual manner. But doing so introduces even more complications. Building huge rechargeable batteries of any known electrochemistry is expensive and they not as reliable as many want to believe. To make matter worse, if that is possible, their malfunctions can be far more catastrophic and harder to repair than is the case for conventional peak power plants. The other way to store excess energy or moderate its fluctuations involves the use of pumped storage. While this particular technology is very mature and routinely used in hydroelectric plants for providing extra juice for certain times of the day, constructing such an installation requires certain topographical features in addition to lots of water. In other words, you can’t set them up in most locations.

But what about a “smart” grid? Wouldn’t having a “smart and connected” grid solve the problem? Well.. not really. Leaving aside the part where you actually have to first possess enough energy to distribute it properly, there is the issue of whether these “smart” grids are robust enough to deliver power without massive and frequent failures. You don’t have to a genius to figure out that anything connected to a large network or the internet can and will be hacked. And even if does not get hacked, a “smart” grid is far more sensitive to cascading failures due to component malfunctions than your old-fashioned “dumb” grid. Of course, you can always use coal, gas, nuclear and hydropower plants for generating the base load and backup. But then, how much “renewable green energy” are you actually using and more importantly- WHY?

If your use of “green energy” is not sufficient to reduce your sins.. I mean carbon dioxide output.. by over 80%, what is the point of spending all that money on building and maintaining these white elephants? Did I mention the part where most countries in Asia and Africa do not go much further than giving lip service to the cause of “renewable green energy”. Yes.. you heard that right. For all the noise the leaders of some developing countries make about “green energy”, when push comes to shove they simply build more conventional power plants. For them, “green energy” is, at best, a way to provide some peak energy and keep a few more people employed.

Electric cars and “green energy” are solutions in search of a problem which does not exist. Sure, they have some good niche applications. For example, using electric cars in densely populated cities would certainly improve air quality. Similarly using solar panels to augment peak power usage for air-conditioning and refrigeration in warm countries with lots of sunshine makes sense. But let us not pretend that people are going to give up a comfortable life to perform penance.. I mean, pay much more and get far less.. to please the insatiable gods of environmentalism. Moreover, attempting to do so via rules and regulations is guaranteed to piss of the majority and result in the election of more right-wingers nutcases such as Trump.

What do you think? Comments?

MultiCellular Life Arose More than Once and is Far Older Than We Think

July 27, 2019 2 comments

During some background work for my series about why belief in anthropogenic climate change is a form of secular apocalypticism, I came across some interesting new evidence for multicellular life evolving far earlier than is common “scientific consensus”. But before we go there, let me first give you a bit of relevant background and explain certain concepts. First, life on earth is over 3.5 billion years old since the oldest undisputed microfossils of single-celled organism which resemble modern-day bacteria (Prokaryotes or Archaea) are at least that old. However, there is evidence for bacteria-like microfossils in even older rocks. And evidence for 4 billion year old life exists at more than one location. And yes.. there are still many in the “scientific community” who do not want to believe that life could have existed in the Hadean eon (4.6-4 billion years ago).

It is, however, important to understand that life on earth for the first 2 billion or so years was almost certainly unicellular. But how can we be so sure that this was the case. The simple answer to that question is, atmospheric oxygen, or more precisely its lack. See.. all existent life on earth has a common ancestor (DNA/RNA based), but that common ancestor was unlike almost all of the life on earth today, for a simple reason. Oxygen constitutes about 21% of our atmosphere now, but it was a trace gas (likely less than 0.1%) when the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago and remained so until about 2.5-2.4 billion years ago. And we know that was the case, because there is a huge amount of evidence for the point in geological history when oxygen levels finally rose above 1%. And this change had a profound effect on the Earth, because it is linked to the longest period of global glaciation in Earths’s history– one lasting almost 300 million years.

But back to the type of microorganisms which lived on earth prior to the Great Oxygenation Event. The first ones were almost certainly Chemoautotrophs who survived under anaerobic conditions. They were followed by Haloarchea which use Rhodopsin rather than Chlorophyll for photosynthesis. Bacteria which use chlorophyll came later, but were almost certainly around by 3.5-3 billion years, based on the presence of fossil stromatolites and microfossils. The key connection between these distinct groups of bacteria is their ability to survive and grow without atmospheric oxygen. Moreover, cyanobacteria release oxygen during photosynthesis. So what happened to all the oxygen released by them for the first billion or so years of their existence? Well.. it reacted with available sinks of gaseous oxygen in the atmosphere, on land and in oceans. In other words, all that oxygen reacted with atmospheric methane, terrestrial deposits of iron and other readily oxidizable elements. Atmospheric levels rose only after these sinks were saturated.

While I am not going into the many effects of rising atmospheric oxygen on levels of methane and CO2, the short version is that levels of methane fell a lot, while those of CO2 increased. FYI- methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and the sun was less brighter in the past. All of this led to a long series of ice ages that lasted about 300 million years. But why do the levels of atmospheric oxygen matter? The simple reason is the energetic of anaerobic vs aerobic respiration is such that only the former can support multi-cellular life. This is not to say that rise in oxygen levels had no major effect on microbial life. Indeed, the rise must have killed most of the previously existing species of anaerobic microorganisms on earth. Today strict anaerobes exist only in certain environments such as under the soil, below ocean sediment, in decaying organic matter, bowels of ruminants etc.

Now let us, once gain, get back to the topic of this post- namely, ancient multicellular life. While bacteria can form mats and films with some external characteristics of simple multicellular organisms, they lack the defining feature- cellular differentiation. Multicellular organisms, you see, are defined by being Eukaryotic and exhibiting cellular differentiation. This is important to understand, because unicellular Eurkayotic organisms (with endosymbiotic mitochondria) have been likely around for about 2 billion years. And you will soon see why that approximate age for Eukaryotes becoming capable of aerobic respiration, through endosymbiotic mitochondria, is very relevant. Now let us talk about the history of scientific belief on when multicellular life first came into existence. Until 1959, geologists and paleontologists were certain that multicellular life came into existence at the start of the Cambrian era. But one pesky problem remained..

How did so many different phyla (many of which are still around) suddenly appear in the fossil record, without any precursors? But for decades, most scientists chose to ignore that question. The funny thing is.. odd shapes which looked like multicellular life-forms had been found in pre-cambrian rocks as early as 1868. But “scientific consensus” being what it is, such discoveries were ignored or explained away as bubbles or concretions for almost a century. It took the discovery of Charnia fossils in 1956-1958 for the evidence of pre-Cambrian life to become strong that it could no longer be ignored. Since then, fossils of multicellular life from the Ediacaran era have been discovered all over the world. While almost nobody today doubts these fossils to be of multicellular life, they raise more questions than answers.

While a few, such as Dickinsonia, can be tentatively assigned as animals (as opposed to plants), most Ediacaran biota does not resemble existing organisms. Even the body plan of many exhibits peculiarities such as fractal branching and radial symmetry, which are basically non-existent in animal phyla today. Also, they seem to lack a circulatory or digestive system, but have a far more structured body than sponges or jellyfish. To make matters more interesting, we do not know what they evolved from- especially given that the Earth had just emerged from an almost 100 million years long glaciation at the start of Ediacaran period. Nor can we can say with certainty, if they evolved into something which survived into the Cambrian period, which started about 540 million years ago. But wait.. there are even older fossils of multicellular organisms.

For the past few decades (1960 onward) the “scientific consensus” slowly accepted the reality of multicellular organisms during the Ediacaran period. But they still maintained that not much happened before 800 million years. Of course, there are multiple sites with fossils in the ‘boring billion’ between 0.8 and 1.8 billion years ago, including red algae from 1.6 billion years ago. And we cannot forget all those trace fossils, found all over the world, of what appear to be tunnels and tracks made by worm-like animals from around 1.5 to 1 billion years ago. However recent discoveries have pushed that date for multicellular life even further back in time.

In 2010, a French-Moroccan professor at University of Poitiers came across what appeared to be fossils of multicellular organisms from 2.1 billion years old black shales of the Paleoproterozoic Francevillian formation in Gabon, Africa. You might member that this was the time when Earth emerged from Huronian glaciation episode. The oxygen levels in the atmosphere had also finally reached about 2%, barely a tenth of today, but enough for primitive multicellular organisms. His group kept returning to that site and finding even more evidence of such fossils at that site, now known as Francevillian biota. Here is a figure from one of his papers in 2014.

and here is another.. FYI, many of disc shaped fossils are a few cm across.

While these fossils are not much to look at, in addition to being controversial because they go against “scientific consensus”, their existence is compatible with what we already knew about atmospheric conditions at that time. As it turns out, 2.1 billion years ago was immediately after the Huronian ice ages, when atmospheric oxygen levels had finally reached somewhere between 1 and 2% and Eukaryotes had recently gained endosymbiotic mitochondria. It is therefore within the realms of possibility for simple differentiated multicelllar animals such as slime molds, proto-fungi, jellyfish-like animals and proto-wormlike creatures to have evolved from unicellular Eukaryotes in the 50-100 million years years after the Huronian glaciation ended.

To be very clear, nobody is suggesting that they possessed dedicated circulatory or digestive systems like those seen in even the most primitive multicellular animals around today. But their overall size and morphology, in addition to the environment under which they were deposited strongly suggest they were multicellular. While we do not know if their descendants evolved into creatures such as those seen in the much later Ediacaran biota, that is irrelevant to the fact that they represent the evolution of multicellularity. My point is that multicellular life began much earlier than believers in the “scientific consensus” are willing to accept. Never forget that it is scientific theories which must adjust to observed reality, not the other way around. Here is a recent paper containing evidence for motility in some members of the Francevillian biota.

What do you think? Comments?

Anthropogenic Climate Change is a Form of Secular Apocalypticism: 1

July 6, 2019 6 comments

Over the years, I have written a few posts about why anthropogenic climate change is a form of secular apocalypticism whose origins can be traced to the ongoing terminal demise of the ‘white’ west. However, I never got around to writing an in-depth series about that topic- until now. My biggest concern about writing such a series was its potential length and the necessity of explaining many concepts as it unfolded. But it gradually became obvious that ‘kicking the can down the road’ was not a viable long-term strategy. So, I have decided to start writing it- even if the results turn out to be initially less brilliant than hoped for.

With that out of the way, let me quickly describe the structure of this series. While it would have been preferable to first tackle the psychology underlying belief in anthropogenic climate change, doing so would have created a series of long and turgid posts which were unlikely to capture the readers interest. Instead, I have decided to mix posts about interpretation of scientific evidence with others about related psychological concepts. The first couple of posts in this series will be about the lack of correlation between atmospheric concentration of CO2, average surface temperature of earth and mass extinctions over past 550-600 million years of geological history.

But before we go there, let us be clear about a few things. Measuring atmospheric CO2 directly and accurately is only possible if you have an actual sample of the atmosphere. All measurements of atmospheric CO2 from the past are therefore indirect, albeit to varying degrees. For example, while it is possible to measure CO2 dissolved in ice-cores samples, the numbers have to adjusted for the atmospheric temperature at which the tested snow originally precipitated using isotopic analysis, because the solubility of CO2 in water and ice is temperature dependent. Ice-core measurements, in contrast to other methods, do have good temporal resolution.

There is however a upper-age limit to using ice cores and the oldest one, we are somewhat certain about, is about 2.7 million years old. Also, there may be a hard limit on how far we can go back with ice cores since parts of mainland Antarctica within 483 km (300 miles) of the south pole were seasonally ice-free as late as 2.6 million years ago. The next part of this series will explore how those parts of Antarctica were 30 degrees Celsius warmer than today, even though the atmospheric CO2 levels were not that different. Measuring atmospheric CO2 from a time before 2 million years requires different, and even more indirect, methods of measurement.

Without going into too much detail here (you can always read the source paper), this category of methods is based on atmospheric CO2 being directly correlated to preferential weathering of certain minerals in rocks (through rain) and carbonate deposition in the oceans. It also factors many other things from stable isotope measurement of certain elements in dated rock/soil samples, size and position of continents in past, outgassing through known large-scale volcanic activity and many others to estimate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The relevant part is that this model, even in its crude older form, gives an acceptably accurate measurement of CO2 in the atmosphere upto 600 million years ago. Ya.. the error margins can be upto 50% of the measurement, but it is still good enough to tell us that the earth used to have far higher atmospheric CO2 in the past. Reconstruction of average surface temperature during these eras is based on fossils records of plants and animals, various isotopic ratios and recreating positions of landmasses using paleomagnetic data.

But how much more CO2? Well.. it was almost 20 times higher than today in the Cambrian era and about 10 times more during the Ordovician. And it remained in the 8-12 x range for the Silurian and Devonian. Notably, these were the four geological ages when most animals and plants lived in or near oceans and other water bodies. It was also the heyday for Mollusks and shelled Cephalopods. Evidently, all that atmospheric CO2 had no negative effect on oceanic pH.

More curiously, the Ordovician-Silurian (O-S) extinction was largely due to a short spell of global glaciation. And this global ice age occurred when CO2 levels were over 12 times higher than today. It was only in the late Devonian (after plants had finally established themselves on land) that atmospheric CO2 levels started to fall, and there was another moderate sized extinction towards the end of that age. The next age, Carboniferous, saw a massive expansion of plants of land and resulted in a further decrease in atmospheric CO2 until it was about 2-3 times current levels. It was also the age of high oxygen levels and giant insects.

Atmospheric CO2 levels during the Permian remained low for millions of years but then started to go up. The end of this era saw two very closely spaced and massive extinctions, the End-Capitanian and Permian-Triassic aka ‘The Great Dying’. While CO2 levels went up to about 4-5 times today, temperature increases (especially in tropical and sub-tropical oceans) were insane. There is evidence that the surface temperature of ocean water in subtropical regions exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for a few hundred thousand years. While temperatures did fall afterwards and life recovered, they remained pretty high by current standards. However the climate eventually became wetter, especially after the Carnian Pluvial Event.

The Triassic-Jurassic extinction ended the Triassic and ushered the Jurassic. That geological age saw an increase in atmospheric CO2 but no accompanying rise in average surface temperature. While forests on earth never reached the density and levels they did during the Carboniferous, the Jurassic comes a semi-close second. Earth transitioned into next age, aka Cretaceous, with only a few minor and small extinctions. Initially the cooling seen during the late Jurassic continued, but soon reversed itself and it became almost as warm as the middle-Jurassic. The Cretaceous was also the longest geologic age since the Cambrian explosion and lasted about 145 million years. Atmospheric CO2 levels slowly declined to about 2-3 times today, in spite of the temperature remaining fairly high and constant. Isn’t that odd?

The Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous-Tertiary/Paleocene extinction. After that the earth recovered from it the climate was still pretty warm and humid. Then we had the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum at around 55 million years and for about 200 k years it so warm that Palm trees grew in Washington State and Southern Canada. Then around 45-35 million years ago, there was another round of cooling and a further slight decrease in atmospheric CO2. However temperatures went up again between 35 and 6 million years ago. The most recent round of global cooling began about 6 to 7 million years ago when a land-bridge between north and south american continents started to form between southern tip of what is today Mexico and northern tip of Colombia. This bridge started to cut off equatorial connection and circulation between the Atlantic and Pacific.

Once that land connection was fully formed about 2.6-2.3 million years ago, global temperatures dropped even further and we started having regular and long ice ages (after almost 300 million years) with brief inter-glacial warm periods. This is also when a lot of tropical and sub-tropical whale species and large marine mammals went kaput and consequently took out predators such as Megalodon. Did you notice that the drop in atmospheric CO2 cannot explain the current stretch of ice ages started around 6 million years ago, nor why they intensified in past 2.3-2.6 million years. Are you beginning to appreciate why I think that the whole anthropocentric climate change theory is bullshit. In the next part, I will show you that as late as 3 million years ago, Antarctica was a significantly warmer continent.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on How a War Between Iran and ‘USA’ Might Unfold

June 24, 2019 9 comments

In a fresh round of escalation today, the orange buffoon unveiled another bunch of meaningless “sanctions” against Iran. While it is still not certain that the buffoon-in-chief is delusional enough to actually start a war with Iran, pressure from people who have promised him tons of money etc after his term is over (such as that idiot in SA and his equivalent in UAE), pleadings of Zionists (including his son-in-law) in combination with chicken-hawks such as Bolt-on and Pompous-Idiot is likely to result in a war with Iran in the near future. While it is far more desirable, for everyone, that such a war does not start in the first place- it increasingly looks like we will get there, one way or the other. Notice that I said ‘war’ rather than ‘conflict’, ‘skirmish’. You will soon see why.

But before we go there, a quick geography and history lesson. Iran isn’t a small country. It has about 1/5th the area of lower 48 and about 1/4th the population of USA. To make matters more interesting, it is one the only three long-standing nation states in Middle-East, the others being Turkey and Egypt. There has been a Persian state of some sort covering most of modern-day Iran for over 2,500 years. Compare that to modern cockatrice states such as Iraq, SA, other Gulf Sunni emirates and even modern-day Syria. Did I mention that Persians and are not Arabs. Oh.. and also Iran was able to withstand the 8-year war with Iraq (and all states which supported the former) during the 1980s. Also unlike arab neighboring countries they make almost every single weapon system they use. Sounds a bit like DPRK, doesn’t it?

So let us start with the predictions..

1] Iran is not going to wait for Trump to change his mind or finish his presidential term. It will keep ratcheting up the tension, because they have nothing to gain by playing the waiting game. Expect more mysterious fires, explosions and mishaps at petroleum and petrochemical facilities in SA and other gulf Sunni emirates. They understand that west-European countries are spineless decaying entities who will not openly defy the also terminally declining USA. The best way to separate west-Europeans and other american catamites from USA is to cut off the former from being able access all middle-eastern oil. Iranians fully expect the USA to attack it, sooner than later- and they want prefer it sooner than later.

2] The ideal situation, as far as Iran is concerned, is for USA to attack it without significant preparation (troops on ground) and not expect a serious response. But once they do attack Iran, expect it to systematically target and destroy Saudi and UAE ports, oil storage installations, pipelines, desalination plants, brine-pumping plants etc. Iran wants to cause enough damage to shut down the oil output of those countries for at least a few months. And they have enough cruise and ballistic missiles with the requisite range and accuracy to pull that off. To be clear, I expect them to primarily use anti-shipping missiles (boat and land launched) to target structures on or near the shore. Have a look at a map of the area and compare it to the range of various short and medium range missiles possessed by Iran, in abundance.

3] To make matters more interesting, they will also send large number of irregular soldiers and militias into Iraq and Afghanistan to attack american military facilities, but also civilians and spread chaos in those countries. Expect Iranian irregulars to conduct a lot of bombings of oil infrastructure, assassinations of local american-stooges and create general mayhem in those countries. They might go especially hard on the Kurds parts of Iraq (who they see as american collaborators) and engineer a refugee crisis. The motives here are two-fold. Disrupt oil production and export from Iraq. Secondly, greatly increase the size and complexity of battlefield for USA.

4] Doing 2 and 3, almost simultaneously is possible for Iran and achieves a few synergistic objectives. Wrecking petroleum production and transport facilities all across the middle-east quickly cuts the world’s supply of crude oil etc by about 30-40%. More importantly it delivers an especially nasty blow to west-European countries, Japan, South Korea, India and other wannabe american catamites. Do you think countries like France, Germany, Japan and India can keep running properly if 60-80% of their oil supplies just disappear for at least a few months? Furthermore, USA is now faced with the prospect of fighting locals and militias in at least three countries in addition to dealing with a massive exodus of expat workers from those countries and more refugees from Iraq. And it gets even better.

5] Imagine what will happen to global trade, commerce and the stock market of many countries if such a large percentage of oil supply suddenly vanishes and the price for remaining supplies go up by 400-800 %? Oh.. and you cannot normalize the supply unless Iran is defeated (very hard, if not outright impossible) or peace is reestablished in that region. Do you think Trump and the Zionists will remain popular in USA if oil cost 20-30 bucks per gallon? Some of you might say- doesn’t USA have enough military might to prevent this outcome? Won’t they be able to blow Iranian boats out of the water or something like that? Well.. have a look at distances involved. Iran could do most of this by using nothing more fancy than civilian vehicles to transport most of the troops and missiles necessary.

6] It goes without saying that such a large-scale but unconventional attack across neighboring countries would cause mass panic and result in the abrupt departure of many ruling families- in addition to yet another refugee crisis. The perceived inability of USA to protect the interests of their local stooges will further damage whatever residual credibility it still has in that region. To summarize, given available options and capabilities, Iran is likely to rapidly exacerbate war with USA, by going after its oil-producing client states in that region.

What do you think? Comments?

Good Explanation of Physics Behind the Chernobyl Reactor Explosion

June 21, 2019 1 comment

A week ago, I came across this very good YouTube clip about the nuclear physics underlying that disaster. While I have seen dozens of reviews of the currently popular HBO miniseries about the Chernobyl disaster, this is one of the very few which goes into the physics of why things went so wrong. To make a long story short, the reactor design was less idiot-proof than should have been the case for something designed for routine power generation. FYI, Chernobyl-4 was the only one of the RBMK type to actually suffer such an accident. It might interest readers to know that all other reactors of this design type never experienced any major issue and ten are still completely operational and generating power as usual. The most important lesson of Chernobyl is that any product or service meant for mass use has to be way more idiot-proof than otherwise necessary.

What do you think? Comments?