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Posts Tagged ‘USA’

On the Inevitability of Iran Acquiring Nuclear Weapons Within 5 Years

May 26, 2019 3 comments

The idea that Iran will, one day soon, develop and test nuclear weapons is not new. Losers such as Netanyahoo have been telling anybody willing to listen that ‘Iran will develop nuclear weapons within six months’ for, at least, the last 15 years. But for some reason, this never came to pass. In this post, I will give you my analysis on why Iran did not build and test nuclear weapons for past 15 years, but is almost certain to do so within next 5 years. And yes.. the reasons for that change are linked to my choice of word to describe that opportunistic nutcase. It is also important that you understand that I have no horse in this race, and have pretty negative views about all parties involved in this slow-motion train wreck.

So let us start with the first and most obvious question- why hasn’t Iran already developed and tested nuclear weapons. They certainly spent a lot of resources building their nuclear program. Other countries who devoted similar resources to developing nukes such as Pakistan and DPRK managed to develop them within a decade of serious effort. Given the number of competent engineers Iran produces every single year, they certainly do not lack human capital. Iran also does not lack ingenious sources of Uranium ore. Economic and technology sanctions are totally ineffective at stopping nations from developing nuclear weapons- look at China, India, Pakistan and DPRK. We have to look elsewhere to understand why Iran hasn’t yet developed nukes.

Some of you might think that Israel’s use of Stuxnet or paying idiots to assassinate a few Iranian scientists stopped Iran from developing nukes. Here is the sad reality.. Stuxnet did not even slow down Iran’s uranium enrichment program. The idea that it was effective is something impotent computer geeks, blusterous Israelis and few western think-tanks want (you) to believe. Even worse, Stuxnet spurred Iranians to build bigger, more secure and more efficient centrifuges. Talk about a counterproductive effort. Similarly, a few highly publicized but minor bombings of Iranian nuclear scientists ended up giving their government the excuse to crack down on internal dissent- much more harshly than otherwise possible. Way to go, Bozos!

So why hasn’t Iran developed nukes yet? The simple answer is that, for a long time, the utility of such weapons to Iran was marginal- at best. Iran is a pretty big country, with a large population and army competent in many overt and covert forms of warfare. It dominates its middle-eastern neighbors to such an extent that no country within a couple of thousand kilometers, including Israel, has a prayer of winning a land war against it. Even an unstable Iran, such as existed in early 1980s, could hold its own against an Iraq supplied with almost unlimited amount of conventional weapons and money by the West and, curiously, USSR. More importantly, only Iran and Turkey are natural states in the Asian part of Middle-East. To make a long story short, Iran did not require nukes to defend against its neighbors.

While Iran dabbled in developing nukes in decades following the 1979 revolution, it went down that path only after the failed american occupation of Iraq in 2003. That is right.. Bush43 is the real reason Iran decided to seriously pursue development of nuclear weapons. Think about that for a second.. it was the actions of USA, not Israel or Saudi Arabia, which led to the current situation. To make matters even more.. interesting.. Iran did briefly stop its nuclear program in 2003 and offered Bush43 administration a rare chance at normalizing relations. Bush43’s administration, however, was full of delusional ‘muricans who thought they could get a better deal and effect regime change in Tehran. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? By 2005, Iran figured out that american occupation of Iraq was doomed to end in humiliation and restarted the program.

However, this time they decided to ramp up the scale and resources devoted to nukes. However, unlike DPRK, they were still non-committal. In my opinion, replacement of the ailing Kim Jong-il by his son, Kim Jon-un, after 2011 was the biggest reason for DPRK decision to build nukes and ICBMs at scale. And let us face it, KJU was correct in pursuing such capabilities. Iran, on the other hand, thought they could use their nuclear capability as a bargaining chip to normalize relations with the west. Some famous western idiots may claim it was economic sanctions which brought Iran to negotiating table in 2013, but who are we kidding.. an Iran with nukes that could hit anywhere within 2000 kms can block the strait of Hormuz without sending a single extra patrol boat or firing a single shot. If Iran had developed nukes by 2012, they would not have to sign that worthless agreement in 2015. So why didn’t they develop nukes?

The thing is.. one faction in the Iranian government was extra-greedy and thought it could make tons of money by using the nuclear program as a bargaining chip. And that was the case- at least in the short run. Of course, they did not anticipate a weak, greedy and stupid man such as Trump to be elected in 2016. And mark my words, Trump will be the reason why Iran finally ends up developing, testing and deploying nukes. The orange buffoon with a Zionist son-in-law and Bush43 administration rejects such as Pompeo and Bolton, thought that he could do what Bush43 also thought he could but failed miserably. By now, you might have noticed that I have not mentioned Gulf state monarchs such as MBS. Here is why.. hereditary rulers in that region are at best, comic sideshows, of little consequence to the larger strategic picture. They don’t matter.

Getting back to the change in situation with Iran since Trump was elected in late 2016.. the orange buffoon is apparently stupid enough to think that he can win multiple military and non-militarily conflicts by empty bluster and economic sanctions. Which is why he has antagonized many countries, from Russia and China to Venezuela and Cuba. As I wrote in a previous post, it won’t end well and Trump will be remembered as the guy who presided over second act of american imperial collapse. We have already seen the idiot and his old delusional advisers try and flounder repeatedly even against such supposedly easy ‘targets’ such as Venezuela. Trump’s hare-brained schemes have, however, exposed a fundamental flaw of the “western” system.

Any treaty or agreement between two or more countries is possible only if both parties believe there is a reasonable chance for things to work out in a half-reasonable manner. This is especially true when both parties are real countries and not fake ones such as those found in Central and South america or Gulf region. Since 1991, USA has consistently shown that it is unwilling to fulfill its obligations in any agreement or treaty. While they might have gotten away with such behavior prior to 2003-2005, things have changed a lot since then. USA is no longer the largest economy in world since 2008-2009, it makes little of global importance other than CPU chips and one family of airliners- and even that will be over within five years.

Did I mention the part where most of its citizens are now a paycheck or two from ruin and have to beg others to cover their “healthcare” costs. Or how its people would rather overdose or drink themselves to death or how its “heartland” is a poor and de-industrialized shiscape. My point is that USA is simply not in the same position it was in between 1991-2003. Its leadershit, however, still thinks it is 1997. The rest of the aging, shrinking and dying “west” is in similar shape, but still think the 1990s never ended. The net result of these senile western delusions is that they still think they can get away with behavior which they cannot. While this was not that obvious before Trump’s election in 2016, many of the decisions he has made since then have exposed the unwillingness of USA and its vassal states to stand behind agreements and treaties as well as a highly misplaced belief in their ability to influence events.

DPRK, under KJU, has demonstrated the inexorable impotence of the dying west. He has also shown that negotiating from a position of open and obvious strength is the only realistic way to deal with the senile west and its delusions of past grandeur. Until 2016, Iran had (for reasons largely linked to monetary gains) played by the decrepit West’s rules- which did not ultimately get them what they wanted. Now their leaders can no longer pretend it was a good deal. Regardless of whether there is any military action against Iran in near future, it is now almost inevitable that Iran will develop, test and deploy nukes within next five years. And guess what.. they will get help from China who would like to make things interesting for USA and its vassals.

In case you are wondering, China has done this twice before- directly in the case of Pakistan and by looking the other way in case of DPRK. While I keep mentioning a five year timeline, it is likely that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran might happen much sooner. Regardless, my point is that the process is now inevitable even if the ongoing tensions between that country and USA and its vassals are resolved in a peaceful manner. A return to the previous order of things is now simply not possible. One way or other, Iran is going to end up developing nukes in near future.

What do you think? Comments?

737-Max Fiasco is about Late Capitalism and Terminal Decline of USA

March 13, 2019 30 comments

By now, almost everyone of you must have heard about the 737-Max fiasco. In case you have not, let me quickly summarize it. About six months, a 737-Max 8 airliner with barely 800 flight hours crashed in Indonesia resulting in the death of all 189 people on board. Even at that time, this incident raised many eyebrows- largely because it was barely 3 months old in addition to being the most recent version of the long-running 737 family of airliners. The crash was subsequently determined to be the result of undesired behavior by a new automated trim control system. At that time, Boeing promised current and future customers of its new ‘737 Max’ series that the trim control problem would be fixed by a software update or something along those lines.

And then about three days ago, another 737-Max 8 went down under similar circumstances killing all 157 people on board. While we do not, yet, have the final report on this accident- it appears that this particular crash (too) occurred within a few minutes of takeoff and had something to do with the automated trim control behaving in an anomalous manner. Which brings us to the first question regarding this pair of airplane crashes- How does a large corporation such as Boeing with decades of experience building tens of thousands of airliners manage to build an updated version of the venerable 737 with bad flight characteristics during takeoffs and landings. In case you are wondering, dozens of incident reports from all around the world, including USA, filed during the past year about this version of the 737 have reported similar problems.

But what does any of this have to with late capitalism and the terminal decline of USA? A couple of poorly designed airliners falling out of the sky and killing over 300 people, while tragic, is by no means a harbinger of national collapse.. right? Well.. let me put it this way- I see it as another sign of the ongoing terminal death spiral of USA, at least of the form it exists in today. To better understand what I am talking about, let me ask you another question- At what point did people in USSR stop becoming optimistic about their future? The answer to that question is.. sometime in the mid-1970s. But why then and not during WW2 or the early 1950s when material conditions were far worse? Well.. because people will persevere in face of adversity if there is a realistic hope for a better future, but they won’t care about a system if there is no hope for one.

But how did this societal malaise manifest itself? Well.. in many ways and a multitude of areas. The one common thread which ran through most of them was a slow but steady degradation of pre-existing capabilities. Apparently, the quality of things built during that era, from apartments, cars, consumer appliances to unmanned space-probes and commercial aircraft, well.. basically anything not absolutely essential to survival of the existing government, went down. I have long held the view that post-2008 USA is increasingly like ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe after the early 1970s. Think about it- youth who do not see a brighter future for themselves.. check. An out-of-touch elite who want to maintain the status quo.. check. Widespread despair and slow decrease in life-expectancy.. check. Rampant alcoholism or drug addiction.. check. Increasing crapification of consumer products and services.. check.

I could go on, but you get the point. But how does the 737 Max fiasco fit in this picture? Let me explain.. but before we do that, let me give you a quick historical primer about the 737 family of aircraft so you can better appreciate what I am talking about. The project to develop the 737 was started by Boeing in the mid-1960s because they wanted a bigger 727 that could fly a bit further. At that time, Boeing had already making the 707 for longer routes, 720 for medium distance routes and the 727 for short hauls. In case you are wondering, all three of these aircraft were powered by turbojet or first-gen turbofan engines. And yes.. this fact is relevant. The 737 was originally designed to use first-gen and therefore low-pass turbofans. While these engines were less efficient and more fuel hungry than later high-pass turbofans, they were also far slimmer.

Some of you might wonder as to what this fact has to do with the current 737 Max fiasco. The answer is.. a whole fucking lot! Because Boeing wanted an airliner that was simple to operate, easy to repair and with a high dispatch reliability, they made some design choices. Specifically, they built an aircraft which sat pretty close to the ground- something that was possible because of the slim first-gen turbofan engines (-100 and -200). And it worked very well. After a somewhat slow start, sales picked up and it became pretty popular. But then Airbus came on the scene and its 310 series started providing competition for the 737. Boeing responded by developing the 737-Classic (-300, -400 and -500). This is also where they first faced the problem of how to install a fat high-bypass turbofan in a low-slung design meant for older and slimmer turbofans. They did it with some ingenious shaping and positioning for the new engine and it worked.

The next major update, aptly named the 737 Next Gen (-600, -700, -800 and -900) proved to be their most successful. Its engines were a bit less fatter than the Classic series, while being more efficient. It, however, proved to be the furthest they could safely stretch their original design. For a decade or so, this design was in a happy sales equilibrium with members of the Airbus 320 family. And then Airbus started developing the Airbus 320neo. It offered considerable fuel savings, lower noise levels and a longer range than its predecessors. But most importantly Airbus was able to develop it without spending a ton of money because the original design it was based on (the 320) could easily accommodate even wider turbofan engines. Remember that the 320 was developed after 2nd gen turbofan engines were developed.

Anyway, this forced Boeing to update the 737- with even wider and more efficient turbofan engines. The thing is, they had two choices. They could either use their institutional knowledge and ability to build a new design from scratch or they could just try to somehow shoehorn the new big-ass engine into the 737 design template. They chose the latter option for reasons that had everything to do with financial considerations. Through a combination of “clever” placement of the extra-fat engines, a slight height increase in their landing gear and a bit of wing redesign- they were able to develop a design that checked all the boxes their bean-counters cared about. However physical reality is a bitch and the new design had a less-than-optimal weight distribution and flying characteristics. Loathe to abandon something that almost worked, they decided to use a software solution to improve its flight characteristics.

Enter the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Without going into too much detail, this system was not well implemented and caused problems when the aircraft changed altitude rapidly such as during takeoff and landing. Furthermore, the issues with this system were not consistently reproducible- which is a fancy way of saying that the system misbehaved in an unpredictable manner. Also, the new cockpit interface which came with his update was different from the one in its predecessors and it took multiple steps to switch it off and the MCAS was automatically turned back on after each flight. Did I mention that the new manuals and checklists did a poor job of explaining the updated interface and this system.

In summary, Boeing built upon an old design template to save money resulting in problematic flying characteristics. To make matters worse, the hardware and software components of their auto-trim system (meant to fix poor flying characteristic) was inadequately engineered and poorly implemented. The user interface through which this system could be overridden was unfamiliar, poorly designed and even more poorly documented. On the bright side, a bunch of senior Boeing executives made a shitload of money and performance bonuses. And this is what happens when you run a company based on the whims and series of MBAs, bean-counters and other ivy-league scam artist as opposed to listening to and respecting the judgment of your engineers.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on Continued Existence of the Black Misleadership Class

February 18, 2019 18 comments

Regular readers of this blog know that I have written more than a few posts about the topic of race in america- specifically as it relates to factors behind continued and systemic racism against black people. And yes, they are were and are discriminated against because of their (relatively darker) skin color and ancestry rather than the continent of their origin. For all those people who want to keep using the term ‘African-American’- let me remind you that Elon Musk is technically African-American. Anyway.. in some of my previous post on this subject, I have written about why the quest for respectability and acceptance by whites was based on a flawed idea, how the willingness of blacks of accept white narratives about them has been super problematic and why conversion to Christianity was the second worst thing that happened to black people in USA.

And this brings me the topic of this post, or more precisely, how I came up with idea of writing it. Over the past few years, I noticed something interesting about the response of almost all of the so-called ‘black leadership’ types to large protests about police brutality against black people. To make a long story short, even though they acknowledged the existence of this problem almost every single one of them did nothing beyond push for a few cosmetic measures and make long speeches. And this includes that black neoliberal president aka Obama. In other words, they took great care not to upset the status quo while using those events to cynically get more black people to vote for them in elections. When I looked at this issue in more detail, it became obvious that we have not gone past the level of change achieved by the civil rights moment of 1950s-60s.

Which is a nice way of saying that black ‘leadership’ since the 1970s has largely been about pretending to fight for equality for their constituency while simultaneously supporting the status quo and getting rich. As a recent example, Stacey Abrams (one of the alleged new non-white stars of democratic party) was supportive of republican gerrymandering to reduce the power of black voters in Georgia as long as it consolidated her own position. You might also remember that in 2015 it was revealed that Chicago police operated a “secret” site for disappearing mostly black people, and this occurred in a city that has been democratic control (and significant non-white presence in local government) for decades. The point I am trying to make is there is something peculiar about the black leadership class in USA which makes it unusually willing to screw over its own people while pretending to care about them.

Contrast that to what you see in politicians from other ethic groups, who either simply pretend to be “honorary” whites (Booby Jindal, Nikki Haley) or are actually involved in taking effective steps to benefit both their constituencies and ethnicities. Most black political leadership types, on the other hand, build their careers and rise to power via strong support of black voters but then conveniently go along with narratives and policies which perpetuate systemic racism and discrimination against their own people. You might remember how enthusiastically many members of the congressional black caucus (including frauds such as Maxine Waters and John Lewis) supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 democratic primary. Which is funny since legislation passed under her husband, Bill Clinton, to reform the criminal and welfare system screwed over the lives of millions of black people. Also, HRC tried to become popular with white voters in the 1990s by labeling young black men as super-predators.

Moving on.. why did people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have such long careers in the public spotlight? Can you think of two more ineffectual “leaders” for the “black community”? It is as if they were supported from outside to bamboozle their own community. More importantly, what did they achieve other than getting themselves in the news by making speeches? Can you think of one major problem (even at the local level) which these two conmen helped solve, over their multiple decades in the public spotlight? How can these people be even presented as semi-authentic leaders? There are, in anything, living examples of almost everything a leader should not be. To make matters worse, their younger replacements are at least as bad.

Take Kamala Harris, a woman who built her career by pandering to the fears and prejudices of white CONservative voters. A woman who gleefully described how she enjoyed jailing poor black women for the truancy of their children, but did not prosecute foreclosure fraud perpetrated by rich white guys, tried to help cover sexual abuse by clergy and laughed at prospect of marijuana legalization in 2014. Now she has suddenly remembered her Jamaican roots and pretends to give a shit about black people. Then there is the overwrought drama queen aka Cory Booker. We could write a paperback about his dishonest behavior, and here is a small taste. He is also a well-known confabulater, faithful servant to pharma and all-round embarrassment. And let us not forget Obama, the ultimate black neoliberal politician, who had no qualms about throwing millions of poor (and heavily non-white) people on the street in aftermath of housing bubble after 2009.

How do these self-hating scam artists end up becoming “leaders” of their communities?

What do you think? Comments?

American ‘HealthCare’ System Has Been a Scam for Over Two Decades

February 10, 2019 6 comments

What do you call a service which keeps on getting expensive much faster than general monetary inflation but which does not improve? How about calling it a scam. In the past, I have written a few posts about this general area such as the american ‘healthcare’ system is crap, a majority of people now see doctors as no better than credentialed scammers and how life expectancy in USA has always been about class, not race. Yesterday, I came across a tweet in my twitter feed containing a graph which tracked the amount of money spent on healthcare in USA since 1960. Intrigued, I looked up the source and used the more realistic inflation adjusted option. Having seen many other graphs and infographics about the ‘healthcare’ system, I noticed something right away. Here.. have a look at the attached figure to spot what I am talking about.

You might have noticed that the increase in calculated average life-expectancy at birth from world bank data has a peculiar relationship with cost in USA. For starters, the calculated average life-expectancy at birth has improved by just shy of 9 years since 1960. But isn’t that a good thing? Well.. sure, but have a look at how it correlated with cost. It had already reached the 74 year mark in 1981, when the total cost was about 440 billion USD (inflation adjusted)- which is about 1/4th of what it costs now. But it gets better.. or worse. In 1998, the average calculated life-expectancy at birth was 76.6 years and cost about 1,016 billion USD (inflation adjusted). Long story short, average life expectancy has increased by only 2 years over the previous 20 years- but the costs have more than doubled over the same time span.

Even worse, average life-expectancy has been slowly falling over the past two years– but costs keep on going up. While USA spends a bit over 18 % of its GDP on ‘healthcare’, other developed countries achieve significantly better results by spending less than half that amount and their average life expectancy is 3-4 years higher and still rising slowly. So what is happening in the american system? Well many things.. first, the income of doctors started rising a lot after 1980 due to the introduction of billing codes. Impressed by the ability of doctors to extort the system, hospitals joined in the act and used their leverage to out-exploit them starting in the mid-1990s, which is also when pharma got in on the act. So far, none of the three want to stop. And why should they? Too many boomer idiots still want to delude themselves into believing that the american ‘healthcare’ system is the “best in the world”. Keep believing..

What do you think? Comments?

Public Trust in Medical Profession, Especially in USA, Will Keep Dropping

September 14, 2018 11 comments

Long time readers, of this blog, know that I am highly skeptical and downright critical of anything pushed under the name of “science”, “scientific consensus” or “objective experts”. A good part of my skepticism and distrust on these issues comes down to the fact that I have a PhD in a STEM discipline, and have witnessed too many examples of people getting famous through what later turned out to be shitty or deceptive research. Furthermore, I have been around long enough to see multiple 2-4 year cycles of some new technology being hyped to the moon and beyond before being exposed as a very modest improvement over the previous status quo, at best!

Readers might also know that I have quite critical of what passes for research and standards of knowledge in medicine. In the past, I have also written a bit about why public trust in the medical profession (especially in USA) has taken a real beating since the mid-1990s. To summarize what I have said before: there are a number of interacting factors behind the significant and continuous drop in public perception of physicians (and surgeons) over previous two decades. Some of these are unrelated to the practice of medicine, per se.

For example, currently available drugs and medical technologies are that efficacious for treating chronic diseases in aging populations (USA in 2018) compared to acute and sub-acute conditions in younger populations (USA between 1950s and 1990s). Similarly, factors unrelated to practise of medicine such as financialism and managerialism in pharma sector has (permanently) ruined its ability to produce truly innovative drugs since mid-2000s. Not to mention the fact that most biomedical research published in top peer-reviewed journals, nowadays, suffers from poor reproducibility or is usually of dubious value- to put it charitably.

Having said that, some reasons are quite specific to the practice of medicine- especially in USA. And that is what I intend to focus on, in this particular post. But let me first talk a bit about conventional “explanations” for decline in public trust of the medical profession. These typically range from “dumb patients are looking up things on the internet”, “everyone thinks we are too greedy” to “I, alone, know the truth”. These so-called explanations are however nothing beyond reactive ad-hominem insults, for reasons that will soon become obvious.

So let us begin by talking about one of the most overlooked reason for decline in public trust in that profession. I bet many of you did not even consider this issue..

1] In a previous era (upto early 1990s), most people who went to medical school were clever nerds who wanted an upper-middle class lifestyle and some social respect. More importantly, they came from a far wider range of social classes than today. It was, for example, quite common to see people who grew up in working class or average middle-class families get into medical school and become doctors. Some accuse the older system of favoring a certain gender or race, and there is some truth to that- but because that is how everything else was during that era.

Somewhere in the 1990s, that changed.. a lot. Now it was no longer sufficient to be a fairly clever nerd. Now you had to be a self-promoter with a pretty big ego. Not sure what I am talking about? Well.. ask anybody in the know if you can get into medical school today without having done some sort of “volunteering to help the poor”, “extracurricular activities” or anything else which showed your “leadership potential”? But isn’t that a good thing, you might ask. Isn’t it good to have some “life experience”? Shouldn’t future physicians have a “more well-rounded personality”?

Well.. maybe in theory. In reality, only kids whose parents are already upper-middle class have the financial wherewithal to fund their kids useless volunteering work among some community, start some worthless and dishonest shell charity or get their into some unpaid internship through their own personal connections. This leaders to selecting people with an extra-large ego, penchant for bullshit and tendency for virtue signalling. In other words, you are now selecting dishonest and extra-shifty assholes instead of plain assholes.

This is why other well-educated and financially well off people are the most distrustful of medical profession. I mean.. they have grown up around those getting accepted in medical schools since mid-1990s and often know them in social settings. The fact that social and economic peers of physicians usually have the lowest opinion about their professional competence tells you a lot about the type of person graduating from medical schools since mid-1990s, especially in USA. And yes.. this is far less pronounced in west-european countries where medical schools still prefer the clever status-seeking plain nerd over an egoistical, bullshit-spewing fake persona.

But people will, you see, tolerate vain egoistical assholes- if they can deliver. And that brings us to the second problem.

2] Consider for a moment, how revolutionary the progress of medical science was between mid-1930s (introduction of sulfonamides) to the late-1980s (ability to cure almost any infectious disease, perform any surgery safely, a host of non-invasive imaging technologies and advanced life-support technology in ICU units). Since then, the pace of progress has been rather slow- to put it mildly. Sure.. there have advances related to better use of existing drugs and technology and a few major ones for uncommon diseases. But the ability to successfully treat common chronic diseases from osteoarthritis and chronic renal failure to Alzheimers and most forms of solid cancers is not significantly better than what it was in early 1990s.

Sure.. newer drugs are less toxic and our use of existing drugs and other treatment modalities has gotten better- but face it, we are as close to curing Alzheimers , Parkinsons, Type 2 Diabetes, most metastasized cancers and many other chronic illnesses as we were in the 1990s. To put it another way, we still suck at treating most chronic illnesses- which becomes a big issue since populations in developed countries are significantly older than they were in the 1960s and 70s. But why is that such a problem? After all, physicians are only human.. right?

Well.. it would not have been much of a problem if the “healthcare” system in USA resembled that of any other country in western Europe. But it doesn’t. More specifically, an important justification for the relatively high payscales of physicians in USA has been the implicit promise that they are the “best in the world” and “they will find a cure for X disease”. As many of you might have figured out by now, the lack of progress in those areas for almost three decades has pretty much demolished that justification. Even worse, the average life-expectancy in most European countries is 2-3 years longer than in USA.

But it gets worse..

3] Another way to justify the high pay of physicians in USA and cost of “healthcare” has been the obsession with endless tests, new drugs, new gizmos and pretty much anything which creates the appearance of doing something extra. As some of you might be aware, endless testing, use of the newest drugs and gizmos in the american system has not improved the outcome of treatment as measured by changes in life-expectancy. Indeed, in many chronic diseases such as most common cancers, there is evidence that the incidence of false positives in many early diagnostic tests lead to aggressive treatment which does not improve overall prognosis while costing a lot more than a conservative approach to diagnosing and treating such illness.

It certainly does not help that physicians have been associated with many other bad, but once fashionable, public health ideas in living memory. We all remember how the belief that dietary carbs were good while all fat was bad was the default dietary advice for many decades. Who can forget the ceaseless promotion of aerobic exercise over muscle-strengthening for better cardiovascular and overall health? Or what about the aggressive promotion of extra-low sodium diets based on dubious data? I could write an entire series or book about the bullshit promoted by physicians in USA for last few decades, but we have to move on.

We cannot also forget how drugs of questionable efficacy but high costs have been prescribed since the late-1980s. Just think of how easily doctors prescribed SSRIs to anybody with even mild reactive depression or anything resembling depression (regardless of whether it helped them) or how newer anti-psychotics were prescribed for everything from atypical depression, agitation in patents with senile dementias and children with ADHD- even if made them worse. Or what about prescribing anti-hypertensives without paying much attention to co-morbidities? Or statins for primary prevention of heart attacks in people at low risk at such an event. Once again.. I could go on and on about this sub-topic.

But we have to move on to what I think is the real clincher or proverbial straw..

4] Physicians, for better or worse, are the public face of “healthcare” in USA and everywhere else. To put it another way, most non-physician related problems within a healthcare system will cast an aura over public perception of physicians. So.. for example, surprise costs caused by being treated by out of network doctors will cause hurt their public perception. Similarly, the unwillingness of insurance companies to pay for certain drugs or surgeries will color public perception of them. Long story short, most of the problems caused by the peculiarities of what passes for “healthcare” in USA will hurt public perception of physicians.

And then there is the ghost of 2008, or more specifically what happened to job and income stability for most people in USA after the 2008 global financial crisis. Once again- to make a long story short, physicians were among the few well-known professions which did not suffer significant loss of income or job precariousness since 2008. It is as if the party continued for them- despite their questionable behavior, habit of promising too much, inability to deliver, being wrong on major issues and being associated with other groups than average people hate.

In other words, most people in USA now see physicians in the same light as banksters who totaled the economy in 2008 and got bailed out, corrupt pharma executives who incessantly raise price on old drugs resulting in suffering of patients or middle management in large anonymous corporations who facilitate daily abuse and humiliation of average workers to satisfy their superiors. That is not good company to be seen in.. Anyway, I might edit this post a bit later and insert a few links if necessary.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Jingoistic Delusions of Arstechnica Fanboys about SpaceX: 1

July 11, 2018 8 comments

As regular readers know, my longer posts are usually about large-scale trends, systemic issues and other ‘meta’ phenomena. This one is about something far more specific and kinda obscure. However, as you will see, it does eventually connect with a few meta- trends. So what is it about, anyway? Well.. I am going to cast the harsh light of reality onto absurd and delusional fanboy-ism displayed by “journalists” at technology oriented websites (especially ArsTechnica) towards SpaceX and Elon Musk.

In case you require a quick refresher, here are a couple of links to my previous posts on SpaceX (link 1, link 2). Also, as many of you know, my cynicism about Elon Musk is largely due to the outrageous claims mabe by him about future of his enterprises as well as his P.T. Barnum-esque PR efforts. As I have said before, the dreams of endless profits, market monopolization and “disruption” which he is selling to rubes are also darkly funny. But enough about him, let us talk about his fanboys (paid or otherwise) in american “journalism”.

To understand what I am talking about, have a look at some of the fanboy-type articles posted on ArsTechnica about SpaceX. While I am no stranger to the concept of “journalists” promoting and pimping whatever product or ideology their corporate masters require of them, the sheer amount and degree of magical thinking, fake positivity and informercial-level promotion of SpaceX by alleged “journalists” working at ArsTechnica is reminiscent of supermarket tabloids (the ones only old people seem to read nowadays).

Some of this “journalistic” booster-ism is extreme enough to become unintentional parody (example 1, example 2). The articles which pissed me off, and were the reason for writing this post, concern their willingness to lie about the space programs of other countries- often displaying no understanding of the geo-political and historical considerations underlying the funding of national space programs. While ArsTechnica “journalists” (metaphorically) sucking Elon Musk’s dick might be “normal”, lying and making up bullshit to massage the delusions of its more jingoistic readers is a bit too much.

A few recent articles such as ones about the “inevitable collapse” of the Russian space program and its future prospects are particularly illustrative of what passes for “journalism at ArsTechnica. Let us first talk about their “journalistic” posts about the Proton launcher- which for many years was a cheap, if inherently problematic, commercial launcher. For example- if you read this piece of propagandist bullshit without knowing enough of the background, you might be led to believe that there was something newly wrong with the Proton launcher system. Unfortunately for the presstitutes at ArsTechnica, the reality is quite different. On a side note, feel free to browse some of their other recycled jingoistic posts which pass for “journalism” at ArsTechnica.

The Proton launcher family was always the red-headed stepchild of Russian space program. To make a long story short- the fact that it used hypergolic fuels and was promoted by Vladimir Chelomei, made it particular unpopular with Sergei Korolev and his faithful proteges. In fact, it would never have been developed if Korolev had not died in 1968. Well.. he died unexpectedly and Chelomei ensured that it got developed. And yes, it had tons of teething problems and failures in its early years. Eventually they were able to make it work reliably. But there is more..

The two main reasons USSR did not develop a RP-1/LOX equivalent of the Proton was because the later was cheap to manufacture and quite reliable after 1972. So there was no point in spending more money to develop, test and validate yet another new launcher system which was not significantly better or cheaper than the Proton. It also helped that the launch sites used by the Proton were situated in regions where an occasional catastrophic failure was not a big deal. Why fix something that is not broken?

Anyway.. after the dissolution of USSR and commercialization of space launch facilities by Russia, it became a fairly popular launcher because it was reliable enough and cheaper than equivalent Ariane launchers. FYI- Commercial launches by Boeing and others in USA had been almost dead since mid-1980s because of their exorbitant prices. So Russia just kept on cranking out more launchers inspite of many looming problems, especially Kazakhstan’s increasing reluctance to let them keep using the Baikonur launch site.

To make matters worse, they made the decision to transition from Proton to Angara launchers without first properly developing and validating the later system. To make a long story short, poor management (and graft) by those in charge of the Angara program in combination with mismanagement (and graft) of those in charge of the now deprecated Proton program predictably caused issues with reliability and costs of the later. Furthermore, Chinese rockets were already competing with the Proton for low-end of the launch market. The entry of SpaceX in the launch market merely sped up the process.

To quickly summarize this part, the Proton launcher family is Russia’s equivalent of the Titan III rocket family. In other words, good and important enough to last far beyond when it was meant to be replaced, but always fundamentally problematic. To claim that issues relating to half-hearted attempts at winding down its production and replacing it with Angara are somehow different from similar delays and screw-ups experienced by USA while transitioning from Delta-2 and Titan III to Delta-4 and Atlas-5 is intellectually dishonest.

And this brings me to another bullshit story being peddled by the presstitues at Arstechnica. As I briefly mentioned earlier, they are trying to push the claim that Russia somehow lacks the money and will to keep funding its space program. I see this one as an index example of how many jingoistic americans are incapable of thinking in addition to being severely deficient in their knowledge of history. The development and funding of pace launch systems, you see, have always been primarily about strategic prerogatives- not “free market” bullshit.

The development of space launchers by USSR (now Russia), USA, EU, China and India is largely driven by considerations such as maintaining and developing technological capabilities, employing their own people, developing related industrial sectors and nationalistic pride. I cannot think of any space program which has consistently turned a “profit”. And for good reason.. capability in projects and programs related to national security and strategic capability is far more valuable that any arbitrary monetary value.

To put it another way, no large country with any degree of strategic independence is going to shut down its space program and outsource it to SpaceX. And they all have far deeper pockets and infinitely more staying power that SpaceX. It is also worth mentioning that almost everything developed by Russian space program in the past has been about strategic considerations and national pride. I should also mention that in the 1990s, many “respectable” western news outlets were full of endless stories about how Russia would lose ability to make nuclear weapons, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, would be invaded from east by China etc.

So what happened since then in the real world? Well.. it turns out that it was USA which got involved in and lost wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria. It was USA that got de-industrialized through “free trade agreements” and now has serious problems fielding reliable next-generation military aircraft and aircraft carriers. It is people in USA who keep on getting screwed over by rapidly rising costs in the education, health and housing sector. It is USA that is now experiencing record low fertility rates in native-born women and a rapidly increasing number of deaths from drug overdoses, alcoholism and deferred medical care. It is cops in USA who now behave like their power-crazed versions in other countries were supposed to behave.

To put it another way, it is the USA (not the rest of the world) which is now in terminal decline. And this brings us to the issue of who is the real audience for this laughable propaganda and fanboy-ism from american technology “journalism”. Spoiler: It is meant for an American (and perhaps British) audience, who might be delusional and desperate enough to believe that ‘their team is still winning’. The thing is.. most people in countries which matter haven’t believed in anything coming from western (mostly american) “news” outlets for over a couple of decades- at the very least.

In the next post of this short series, I will focus on how “journalists” at ArsTechnica and other american “news” outlets write about other countries.

What do you think? Comments?

Initial Thoughts on Novichok Agents, Sergei Skripal, Russia and UK: 2

April 6, 2018 2 comments

About two weeks ago, I wrote a post about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter by an organophosphate compound– allegedly by “russian agents” in UK. At that time, corporate MSM outlets in the west were busy concocting increasingly outrageous stories about that incident. As it turns out, pretty much every single story promoted by the MSM about that incident turned out to be unsubstantiated by evidence. For example: initial reports of twenty other people being accidentally exposed to that compound proved to be incorrect. The only other person allegedly exposed to that compound has since recovered and we still are not sure about how he got exposed to it in the first place.

More tellingly, none of the first responders and medical personnel got ill from handling Skripal and his daughter. Initially, British authorities had claimed that the poison was found in the car ventilation system, then they claimed it was on the door handle and now they are considering the possibility that it was in a gift brought over by his daughter from Russia. They also initially said that Skripal and his daughters had little to no chance of recovery and we now learn that his daughter is recovering and will leave the hospital soon. Today, we are told that Skripal will also make a ‘miraculous’ recovery.

In other words, the “official” narrative put forth by the British government about that incident has been unusually vague, ever-changing and too dependent on having uncritical belief in their honesty. Some of you might recall how similar and totally made up claims by British “intelligence” services at the core of’Iraq Dossier‘ were used by Tony Blair’s government to justify support for the failed american invasion of Iraq in 2003. There is also a strong parallel between this incident and the attempt by German intelligence agencies in 1994 (with approval by USA) to implicate the then Russian government in a fake plot to smuggle plutonium into the west.

To make matters even more peculiar, the British government still has not been able to provide evidence that it knows the identity or structure of the compound involved in that incident. As I wrote in my previous post, indirect identification of organophosphate compounds by their ability to inhibit cholinesterases and other related esterases is pretty straightforward. Definitive identification of the compound, though easy nowadays compared to 30 years ago, is substantially more complicated. Having said that, the apparent inability of multiple government labs in nearby British biological and chemical warfare laboratories at Porton Down to provide objective data to support their claims of identifying the compound is odd.

Based on the many peculiarities and oddities of this case in addition to the past history of those making the accusations, it is worthwhile considering another possibility. Maybe the British government, or some faction within its “deep state”, is behind the poison attack on Skripal and his daughter. False flag attacks to generate public sympathy for, or unity behind, a cause are not unknown. Similarly, there is a rich history in the “west” of using false flag attacks to demonize another country. It is also hard to ignore that the “deep state” in UK and USA is the biggest beneficiary of such an attack. Let me explain that point in some detail..

Skripal was an ex-Russian spy who betrayed his fellow officers in the KGB for purely financial reasons. You probably know that he was caught and tried in 2004 and imprisoned for a few years (2004-2010) in Russia before being part of a spy swap deal with UK and USA in 2010. If the government in Russia really wanted him dead, he would not have lived long enough to be part of the spy swap deal in 2010. Then there is the question of why this incident occurred days before the presidential election in Russia. Think about it.. how does such an incident benefit Putin in his reelection campaign? The simple fact is that it does not help him.

Such an incident does however provide the “deep state” in UK and USA with more ammo in their ineffectual campaign to demonize Putin. It is no secret that the USA and its old crippled prison-bitch aka UK are not adjusting well to the emerging world order- an order in which they stand to further lose whatever real or imagined global influence they possessed. It is no secret that the many recent global military misadventures by USA (and UK) such as the failed invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliating and expensive failures. Their attempts to extend NATO right upto Russian borders and generally behave as if the world is still stuck in 2000 have not gone as planned.

The pathetic attempts by USA, UK and France (waning western powers) to interfere in other parts of the world such as Syria and part of Africa has been unsuccessful. Furthermore, their dream of turning Russia into some vassal state ruled by west-friendly oligarchs has been a miserable failure. It does not help that the financial crash of 2008 has exposed the many failures of western neoliberalism to their own domestic populations. It is no wonder, therefore, that average people in the west have in the recent past voted for concepts such as Brexit and people such as Trump and other fake right-wing populists. To make a long story short, the traditional elite in the west (especially the USA and UK) are feeling their power slip away irreversibly.

It is therefore not surprising that these mediocrities are trying to reboot the Cold War. The general thought process behind their actions is as follows.. The cold war was good for establishment elites as it allowed them to consolidate their power in western countries and suppress dissent and challenges to their undeserved power. Perhaps, rebooting the Cold War (they think) would let them use the same playbook and turn back the metaphorical clock. Of course, any objective person can see that this hare-brained scheme is going in failure since the underlying conditions across the world have changed a lot since the late 1980s.

Then again, establishment elite have never been the sharpest tools in the shed (link 1, link 2). I mean.. look at how they are reacting to Trump’s election in USA. Not a minute goes by when these idiots are not breathlessly talking about another leak from the “Mueller team”, another “new” link between Putin and Trump or some other similar absurdity. In fact, I have written more than one post about this in the past, including how this obsession is a symptom of a much deeper intellectual bankruptcy among establishment elites in USA.

All of this in addition to the “deep state” fondness for hare-brained schemes which look amazingly impressive on paper strongly suggest that the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in UK was a false flag operation, which did not work out as originally planned.

What do you think? Comments?