Chemistry and Life: What Did Trump’s Press Secretary Lie About? – Part I

Dear Readers:

I saw this piece in Politnavigator, written by Alexander Rostovtsev.  It is an excellent debunking of America’s claim to moral superiority when it comes to discussing the issue of chemical weapons.

Sean Spicer: Blustering Holocaust Denier and Ignorant Buffoon

The piece begins with the part of the story which was covered adequately even in Westie media:  namely, the gaffe emitted by President Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer  when he invoked Godwin’s Law  and compared Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Hitler — and unfavorably, at that!  Spicer, displaying gross ingorance, claimed that “even Hitler” never used chemical weapons on the battlefield.  Bloggers and even Real Journalists rushed to refute this blooper.  They pointed out Hitler’s extensive use of chemicals, such as Zyklon-B gas, against literally hundreds of thousands of innocent non-combatants, primary Jews, who had been hounded out of their homes from all over Europe and herded into Hitler’s death camps.

Cannisters of Nazi Zyklon-B

By comparison, al-Assad never did anything like that.  Plus, the people he is fighting against are not exactly innocents:  They are armed gangs of Al-Qaeda and ISIS jihadists.  So, the “lazy-Godwin” comparison falls apart right there at the start.

Not to mention the fact that the Germans actively pursued chemical weapons research in the course of the war, with brainy Nazi scientists inventing such deadly concoctions as sarin gas, soman gas, and the tabun nerve agent.  The Nazis eagerly tested their recipes on the helpless civilians held captive in their death camps.  If they didn’t empoy these gases on the battlefield, it was not due to pangs of conscience nor humanitarian compassion for enemy soldiers, but rather, knowing that, as per the unwritten rules of any war, the enemy would retaliate in kind.  This one tiny fact may be what Sean Spicer had in mind, and could possibly mitigate his gross mis-statement.  On the other hand, Spicer and his ilk always refer to al-Assad’s “regime”, despite the fact that Assad was elected into office democratically by the Syrian people.

Assad: “Unlike you, I won MY election fair and square!”

[yalensis:  As opposed to Trump and his entourage who even “admit” themselves now that their own so-called “election” was highly-compromised and  possibly “hacked by the Russians”, as they themselves claim, in essence calling themselves illegitimate bastards.  In which case, they themselves are just an undemocratic “regime” and nothing more.  This last paragraph somewhat facetious, as I don’t actually believe the Russians hacked the American election, but it’s what even Trump is saying now, so who knows?  Maybe he should submit his resignation to the American people!]

The Real Victims

Next, delving deeper beyond the surface story involving Trump, Spicer, Assad, Hitler and Godwin, Rostovtsev goes on to bring up some “incovenient truths” about American past behavior in the wonderful world of Chemistry.  Oh, these hypocrite Americans are no angels, and that is a fact.  One only needs to ask certain Asian and also some Arabic peoples who were unfortunate enough to get in the way of Pax Americana.

With the end of World War II, and the Nazi chemical arsenal in American hands, the very first nation in world history to suffer from massive use of chemical weapons was … wait for it… Korea!  The army of North Korea, as well as ordinary North Korean civilians were blasted with Napalm and White Phosphorus.  The chemical weapons were accompanied by the first large-scale use of biological weapons, in the form of plague-infected fleas.

America poisoned Vietnam with Agent Orange

But Korea was just the dress rehearsal.  Vietnam was the proving ground for American weapons of mass destruction.  Never before, or since, Vietnam, were so many chemical weapons used on so many people.  Both soldiers and civilians. The best known of these weapons was the infamous Agent Orange.  This defoliant, whose active and most deadly ingredient is Dioxin, was employed liberally in Vietnam by the American invaders for a full 10 years:  1961-1971.  The American Defense Department estimates that the Americans dispersed onto the territory of South Vietnam approximately 44 million Liters of Dioxin.  The deadly chemical did not merely destroy Vietnamese forests, but also seeped into the ground and into the water.  Within the organisms of humans, this poison resulted in skin infections, cancer, and birth defects.  The Politnavigator piece includes horrific photos of Vietnamese babies and children affected by this poison, and I would advise readers not to let any kids be looking over your shoulder, if you decide to view these disturbing photos.

The legacy of this poison continues even today, two generations on.  Now, the American government never cared about Vietnamese victims, they barely even cared about their own soldiers (some of whom were poisoned delivering the defoliant; and others poisoned while patrolling on the ground) and continued to deny that anything was amiss.

Dow has victims living all over the world.

However, in 1984 some members of the American military were able to “win” a civil case against Monsanto and Dow Chemical, the producers of the defoliant.  The chemical companies were forced to settle for $180 million, with the money going into a rehabilitation fund, while the companies technically did not admit any blame.

In 2004, Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange also brought to court a civil case against Monsanto and Dow Chemical.  But they were not able to obtain any financial compensation for their suffering, with the Federal Court of Brooklyn cynically dismissing this case, on the grounds of “the absence of direct witnesses”.  Justice Delayed was Justice Denied to these direct victims of chemical warfare and their descendants.

Next:  American military loves the smell of napalm in the morning.

[to be continued]

Posted in Military and War | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Futurology VI

Dear Readers:

In the last installment of his monstrously good essay, author Lyttenburgh debunked the false promises of the Positivistic philosophy regarding the state of the Human Condition.  We discussed important issues such as consciousness, self-consciousness, and the huckster hype of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In the comment section I plonked down my own 2 cents about AI, Turing machines, and the like.  It never ceases to amaze me how people keep invoking Alan Turing and flogging something (=AI) which Turing himself proved, around 1936 or so (invention of the Universal Turing Machine), was physically and mathematically impossible.  Let it go, people!  But no, valiant Knights continue to pursue this Holy Grail of Futility.  Oh well, in the course of that Monty Python-like quest — just as a few useful chemical recipes emerged from the futile attempts of alchemists; and just as some ancillary knowledge was acquired by the Grail-questing Knights — so too a few useful inventions have emerged, here and there, as by-products of the AI scam.

Be that as it may, let us return to Lyttenburg and resume his thread, or should we say, his Moving Tapehead, of thoughts, exactly where we left off:

 

On the painfully naïve modern iteration of Futurology:

 

When formulating the problem, the Great Design and Expectation of the AI to come, it was assumed, that, theoretically, there will be created an AI so powerful as to simulate all the “infinite variety” of the human psyche. That this hypothetical Computer will “grow up” to the human level. But this is a fiction, a lie. Instead, looking upon humans, voluntarily becoming more and more “binary-like”, some of which strive to improve the superconductivity of their head-unit CPUs by making them as empty as possibly, one might suspect, that, no – instead we ourselves might undergo a massive downgrade to the level of the computer idiot-savants.

Forking once or being a dumbass dunce?

“Man is the only animal that contemplates death, and also the only animal that shows any signs of doubt of its finality.”
– William Ernest Hocking

There is once catch, though, one cop-out. Oh, these things always exist, don’t they? It’s only natural that our hopelessly deranged optimistic Futurologist will come to this one “exploit”.  I’m talking about interconnected with the AI fantasies a religious belief about creating a prosthetic version of human “life” and “soul” in the form of “up-loading” one’s personality on a digital container. Needless to say that this particular idea, which not only permits our dear Futurologists to shed away their often ugly and very imperfect meaty containers, but also to achieve a form of immortality!  Also, needless to say, this particular idea is utterly moronic and absolutely impossible.

“Who you callin’ impossible?!”

First, we have here the same obstacles and problems while dealing with this attempt to create “artificial intelligence”. To create a valid copy of something, one must understand how it works in the first place. Why is this understood and accepted by, say, car-makers, weaponsmiths, carpenters and saddlemakers, but is beyond the supposedly mighty brains of the Futurologists? At the same time – it is precisely that the phenomenon of “consciousness” cannot be understood fully.

Oh, you can, in theory, build a perfectly accurate copy of the brain as an analytical device – and get a computer working on the same principles as the brain (by the way it’s far from granted that it will be more efficient than any of the modern – or even not so modern – computers). But where does consciousness come from? Is it self-generating, or what? What, are we on the same level as the “wise” folks of ages past, who till mid XVII c. sincerely believed that frogs and worms are spawned spontaneously in marshes under the rays of the sun?

And now – all attention on the hands, folks. An act of prestigitation as performed before you by the collective of the Futurology. They are, of course, Materialist minded people – this is important, remember this tidbit for future reference! As such, they simply can’t believe in the existence of conscience outside of the body. Body without consciousness? Sure! Consciousness without body? No way. Literally dozens of billions of consciousness possessing humans lived and died in the course of history, and yet the “ghost stories“ and “out of body experiences” belong to a particular, shameful, far away shelf in any bookstore, that, usually, is situated nowhere near the shelves devoted to the fundamental sciences.

But at the same time, being materialists, they themselves must admit that any consciousness can’t exist outside the body – including the one “forked” or written down on a hard-drive. Therefore, is we are to download (“cut+paste” if you like) a person’s mind onto an external container, while the “original” becomes deprived of it, this is just a very hi-tech form of the suicide – nothing more. The best anyone can hope to get as a result would be a “cyber-double”, that, while parasitizing on the downloaded information from the “Original” might successfully fool the Turing Test to “pass for a human”. But to anyone unbiased (i.e. for anyone who is not as blindly invested as the tunnel-vision possessing Futurologists) it’s apparent, that such an “emulator” does not have a mind (unless you are too big into “smoking” behaviorism in which case… my condolences). Such an  “emulator”, in the end, won’t be a an immortal copy of “You” – it will be just a very expensive toy, a placebo for your grieving relatives… if you have any.

“Pigs In Space” — now made up from the stuff of nightmares…

And this is very, very bad news for all those highly progressive transhumanistic Futurologists, who planned to live to the bright and shiny day of the Future to Come, when they, unashamed by the fetters of their old bodies, will finally enact their long time dream of having a three-some with their “forks” in the bodies of the up-lifted pig (transhumanists feel a certain affinity and closeness with them), a robot and your own bod-modded clone of the opposite sex than your birth one. Oh, what a bummer!

Finale
“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
– Marcus Aurelius

In my series of essays united into this one particular article I dedicated some effort that you, dear readers, could see for yourself behind the notoriously tattered, yet still effective magical cloak that still successfully conceals the thread-bare essence of Futurology. If there is any essence in it at all, after all – “According to your faith let it be done to you” (c)

In the future, you will keep encountering these peddlers of A Future (Wondrous and Horrific!). Hope you’d be better prepared for such future encounters. Doesn’t matter what you will be promised in that Future Soon to Come about even farther Future Not to be Seen. Always look at the root causes and tell-tale signs and don’t trust blindly.

Talking Head Marcus Aurelius

One sure thing you most definitely should rebuke and call a peddler of the Future a liar, is if you will be promised something out of the Age of Miracles. No, I’m afraid – there will be no miracles in the Future, which, in itself, not a bad thing. Not being a professional parasite like any given Futurologist, I can’t tell you about the Future to come – but I will tell what not to expect and plan accordingly.

In the “Pessimistic” scenario when much lauded Progress would be working slower and slower (most realistic one as of now) expect to see by mid century a world more like the one we have in the here and now – nothing amazing or mind-blowing. No “smart home” for you to live in – there will be just a lousy sensors-filled apartment with various interfaces to regulate humidity and temperature. Well, that’s assuming they will be working correctly and not glitching all the way, requiring you to constantly call to (paid-by-a-second, of course!) technical services and expecting a repair brigade to fix this or that issue in a week or two.

No flying cars on eco-drives either. The car, people will be driving might be even an auto-piloted one – but still powered by the gasoline, or by electricity, produced by the burning of fossil fuel. There will be more electronic components in the car compared to the one you might be driving now, meaning that you still will be using barely a 10% of the available options… while being totally, blissfully unaware, that the controls of your car could be overridden at any time by the interested parties to arrange an “accident”. Oh, and no quality roads for you – building and then maintaining roads is an old racket, so expect to still drive on a pit-marked excuse of a road, ready to put your car out of misery any moment now.

Medicine of the Future: No hospital gowns, and nurses wear boots.

But most of all – don’t expect miracles in medicine. Permanent solutions are bad for the business. So caries, flu, headache would most certainly remain – as well as 1000 and one methods of how to prevent or slightly meliorate them, as advertised by various firms and companies. Expect nothing new but re-branding, re-boots, re-starts and re-modelings of the same old trite stuff – only in Hyper-3D, with holo-interface and/or banana taste as the needs of the market dictate it.

For the “Optimistic” variant, of the Eternal Scientific Revolution to keep delivering one wonder after another, a War must happen. A War, that, given Humanity’s already considerable destructive potential would leave no stone standing. And if we, Humans, by some freak accident will truly survive it not just as a species (in this scenario the living usually are envious of the dead) but as a civilization – nothing will ever prepare you for the torrent of Dreams and Nightmares, finally given form.

Thankfully, the chances of the “Optimistic” scenario are still rather low. And that’s okay! After all, what is the possibility of having Dreads and Wonders unimagined of becoming a part of our shell-shocked lives, compared to simply having an opportunity to live and draw breath, while so many before predicted that we, humans, were, once again giddily striding towards extinction?

Epilogue

“According to Seth, the future ended in 1962 at the Seattle World’s Fair. This was everything we should’ve inherited: the whole man-on-the-moon-within-this-decade, asbestos-is-our-miracle-friend, nuclear-powered and fossil-fueled world of the Space Age where you could go up and visit the Jetsons’ flying saucer apartment building and then ride the monorail downtown for fun pillbox hat fashions at the Bon Marche.

All this hope and science and research and glamour left here in ruins:

The Space Needle.

The Science Center with its lacy domes and hanging light globes.

The monorail streaking along covered in brushed aluminum.

This is how our lives were supposed to turn out.

Go there. Take the trip, Seth says. It will break your heart, because Jetsons with their robot maid, Rosie, and their flying-saucer cars and toaster beds that spit you out in the morning, it’s like the Jetsons have sublet the Space Needle to the Flintstones.
– Chuck Palahniuk, “The Invisible monsters”

[THE END — or is it???]

Posted in Space, Science and Technology | Tagged | 11 Comments

Will Donbass People Reunify At Last? – Part II

Dear Readers:

Today I will finish my summary with this piece from PolitNavigator, written by Viktoria Frolova, from Donetsk:

The Work Has Begun, To Move The Borders of the Donbass Republics Closer to Kiev

Recall that back in March, Alexander Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of the Donetsk Peoples Republic announced a new humanitarian initiative to help Donbass residents.  Currently the Donbass region is divided into roughly three political parts:  The Donetsk Peoples Republic; the Luhansk Peoples Republic; and areas under control of the Ukrainian federal government which, since 2014, has been in the hands of Ukrainian nationalist and fascist political parties.  [NOTE:  Not using the word “fascist” as a synonym for “something bad” or “something I don’t like”, but using it as a definition of a political platform and stated political lineage.]

I am not a historian and I won’t say that all fascist governments are incompetent — from what I understand, the Nazis in Germany (Hitler) and the fascists in Italy (Mussolini) improved the economies of their countries, raised GNP, lowered unemployment, and ran a tight ship, more or less.  It was war and hubris, not economics, that ultimately brought them down.

In the case of modern Ukrainian nationalists, on the other hand, economic incompetence is intertwined with their political viciousness.  As a result of their 3 years of mis-rule, the Ukrainian economy has gone into the toilet, and ordinary people are suffering badly.

In the Donbass region, people are also poor, and are also suffering.  The Separatist areas are not well off, but at least the leaders there have access to a few external resources, which they are willing to share with their friends and relatives on the other side of the checkpoints.

Is Zakharchenko emerging as the leader?

One of the factors hampering the two Separatist areas in the past three years, in additional to Ukrainian blockades and shellings, etc., is the inability of the Seps themselves to unite their forces.  It would seem like such a simple thing for Donetsk and Luhansk to unite into a single Separatist entity — after all, the people in the two areas are identical, no ethnic or cultural differences.  The only obstacles are the usual ones:  political/economic corruption, a clinging to power, better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, etc etc.  There are signs, though, that things are changing; and that Mother Russia (who else?) may force these local actors to unite against a common enemy, whether they want to or not!

2014 Referendum: Donbass residents voted to join Russia.

Viktoria writes that the humanitarian assistance program, about which we wrote yesterday, has as one of its goals, to reestablish the borders of the Separatist area (at which the Ukrainians have been tenaciously chipping away) as defined by the referendum of 11 May 2014.  Recall that during this referendum, a majority of voters in both Donetsk and Luhansk voted to join Russia.  But their wishes were ignored by the world, including by Russia.  People complained that Russia threw them under the bus, and so she did; but, on the other hand, realistically, there was no way, within international law, for Russia to satisfy the wishes of these people at that time.

(Crimea was a different story, altogether, because it already had a standing as an Autonomy within international law.) 

But three years have gone by, there have been many deaths and much destruction.  The Minsk Peace Accords are dead in the water.  Apparently Mother Russia has girded her loins and decided to try a different approach.  Instead of tossing people under bus, maybe strapping them to the roof of bus.

Writer Zakhar Prilepin (Left) and Zakharchenko (Right)

Alexander Kazakov, chief advisor to Zakharchenko, at the roundtable meeting responding to some kind of jab about ideology:  “The best ideology of all, is that which is backed up by concrete actions.  The current [humanitarian] program is a model of an ideological step from the side of Donetsk and Luhansk, and is backed up by concrete actions.”

By “concrete actions” Kazakov means actual budgeting of financial and administrative resources to back up these programs to provide health services, education, and other humanitarian benefits to the residents of Donbass.  Actual money has been allocated and spent.  Which already puts Donbass 10 steps ahead of the Ukrainian government, which talks a good game but never delivers.

Kazakov:  “As concerns ideology, all you need to know is the name of the program.  I researched various sources, including social media, and this program has summoned up broad enthusiasm.  In the name of the program itself can be seen those goals which the leader  [Zakharchenko] of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR) has declared as strategic.  The unification of the people of Donbass presupposes concrete actions to move the line of demarcation further West, Soutwest, Northwest.  The unification of the people of Donbass presupposes that the people who, on 11 May 2014 expressed their will in a referendum, will unite at last.”

Continuing to harp on that referendum, almost as if cramming Russia’s face in that past betrayal, which still rankles, Kazakov continued:

“I wish to remind everybody once again, that the foundation of the DPR is precisely that referendum, which was conducted on 11 May.  All of the cities and regions where the referendum was held; and even those places where it was not allowed to be held — for example, in Dobropolie, but where people came out into the streets and expressed their will — even facing down tanks — all of this territory de jure is the territory of the DPR.  And therefore our Program for the Reunification of the People of Donbass carries within its name a lot more than just (humanitarian) assistance to our citizens who find themselves living in territory not under our administrative control.”

Posted in Breaking News, Friendship of Peoples, The Great Game | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Will Donbass People Reunify At Last? – Part I

Dear Readers:

Some housekeeping first:  I briefly interrupt Lyttenburgh’s “Futurology” series with this 2-parter about recent events in the Ukraine.  That will cover today and tomorrow, after which we’ll finish off with Lyttenburgh, probably on Thursday and Friday.  After which, maybe some more pieces on classical ballet.   Oi, my blog is now becoming a LIFO stack.  (Google that, if you don’t know.)  But please keep reading, those of you who have not caught up yet!



Anyhow, I don’t know if I can rightfully call this “breaking news”, because there have been some intriguing hints over the past couple of months.

But something interesting is definitely brewing in the Donbass region, and people should keep their eyes peeled to see what happens.

I saw these related pieces yesterday in PolitNavigator, this piece and this one.  Let us quickly summarize them, and then do some opining about what it means.

Zakharchenko Carried Out An Inspection Of the Program To Unite The Peoples Of Donbass

Alexander Zakharchenko, of course, is the Prime Minister and chief military commander of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).  What with the Minsk Peace Process (Ukraine vs Separatists) going nowhere, Zakharchenko has been dropping hints that it is time for both rebel regions (Donetsk and Luhansk) to unite and establish themselves as a sovereign entity; perhaps even join the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, this new “program”, which was announced in March, and of which Zakharchenko carried out a surprise inspection yesterday, has as its aim a humanitarian intervention to help Ukrainian citizens of the region of the Donbass who happen to live in towns and cities controlled by the Ukrainian federal government and military.

And no, by “humanitarian intervention”, Zakharchenko doesn’t mean this in the Western sense, of droning civilians and dropping bombs on their houses.  He means actual humanitarian actions, like really actually helping ordinary people on the other side of the checkpoints.  People who are suffering under the incompetent rule of the Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev.  People who are down-sliding into poverty, don’t receive their pensions, can’t find medical care, and whose children cannot get a good education any more.

For example, other sources report that several families in this region are sending their children to school in Donetsk.  Why?  Because they want their children to learn Russian, and Russian language is no longer offered in schools in Ukrainian-controlled towns.

Well, Ukrainian nationalists might say, why should the children learn Russian?  Is not Ukrainian just as good and beautiful a language as Russian?  Yes it is, and possibly even better in some ways.  But realistically, folks, any child who speaks and reads only Ukrainian, is going to be shut off from the wider world.  Knowledge of Russian offers more career opportunities, frankly.  Knowledge of English is even better; but knowing Russian definitely offers more of an advantage than just knowing Ukrainian.  And the parents know this too.  Just sayin’.

So, long story short:  In typical Russian fashion, Zakharchenko showed up at the roundtable meeting, as the video shows, and asked for an impromptu accounting how the project was proceeding.  He fired off various questions, and the participants accounted for their components of the project.  For example, DPR Acting Foreign Minister Natalia Nikanorova accounted as follows:

“Kiev’s blockade of Donbass has affected not only the economy of the Republic, but also our ties with our fellow countrymen:  social, cultural, and family ties.  We cannot allow a full sundering (of these ties), this is why we adopted this program.  The main points of the program:  Timely payments (of pensions) to veterans, whom we do not have the right to split into ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’.  Free medical assistance.  Education.  And alongside this:  Joint cultural, athletic, and professional activities.  All of these programs have been confirmed, and are working.”

Alexei Kastrubitski, the DPR Minister of Defense, assured President Zakharchenko as to the safety measures employed along the “line of contact” between the rebel region and the federal forces.  Ukrainian citizens can approach this line in order to receive information about the humanitarian program.

Minister of Education Larisa Polyakova reported the following:  “All 18 institutions of higher education in the DPR are participating (in this program), as well as all the middle schools.  We have reserved 1500 additional seats (in these institutions) for applicants from the Kiev-controlled territories.”

Natalia Nikanorova

Natalia Nikanorova, speaking again:  “In just under a month, we received 569 telephone calls.  The hospitals participtating in this program have reserved 3500 beds.  The program is working, already we have 3 moms giving birth here.  All 3 moms are from nearby towns:  Mariinka, Kurakhovo.”

Minister of Health Alexander Oprishchenko:  “In all, we have received 3,000 applications…. A large portion of these, a third, are applications for free medical care.  The most popular requests are for Endoprosthetics and Cardiac Surgery.  Second in popularity are requests for welfare payments.  As of today, 11 veterans have received assistance.  Three of these people came in person.”

Zakharchenko:  “That was a brave act!  I want to emphasize the point:  That this is our land, these are our brothers and sisters, our parents, these are our people!  We must be fully cognizant of our responsibilities (to them).  These people are living under the iron heel of the enemy, they are living in occupied territory, but they are our family.  And we are obligated to do everything in our power, even above and beyond, so that these people don’t feel like they were abandoned.  Donbass — is a single country.  What you are doing is a sacred task and you are obligated to perform it correctly, quickly, and with high quality.”

The humanitarian program, important in itself, is part of a larger initiative to unify the rebel enclaves Donetsk and Luhansk and rebuild these societies after the calamity which befell them.

Next:  What is the larger geo-political goal here?

[to be continued]

Posted in Breaking News, Friendship of Peoples, The Great Game | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Futurology V

Dear Readers:

In his last installment of this essay, our author Lyttenburgh wrote about that phantom concept called “Progress”.  Just like little Hedvig in Henrik Ibsen’s play Vildanden, we have learned some bitter truths about life, and seen many of our cherished illusions shattered to bits.  But still, with our chins up, we must carry on carrying on and suck up yet more bittersweet education about the Futility of the Human Condition:

On the painfully naïve modern iteration of Futurology:

 

Part III. The Downgrading of the Pinnacle of Creation
“Science and art are only too often a superior kind of dope, possessing this advantage over booze and morphia: that they can be indulged in with a good conscience and with the conviction that, in the process of indulging, one is leading the ‘higher life’.”
– Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley

Futurism as a professional exercise in brainwashing (mostly lame) and acquiring small geschafft (by people, who are mostly knaves) for wondrous things to be (mostly, fake) from the expectant masses (mostly, ignorant) is, indeed, the Intellectual High of our time! High brings ecstasy and dumb content. Chanting that this or that New Thing will become the ticket to a Bright Future, to a literal Heaven on Earth marks you, the Futurologist, as the proponent of the brave, forward thinking, optimistically positive propaganda of Humanity’s progress.

I have only one question here. Why, virtually all previously invented by Humanity means of both achieving a high; and becoming an un-thinking un-person (ranging from drug abuse to totalitarian sects) are viewed by the broad masses as something very bad, something not worthy of emulation and even worthy of punishment, but Futurology gets a free pass? Is the magical cloak so powerful?

And the biggest, milkiest and tastiest (of the “see, but don’t touch!” variety) Sacred Cow of the Progressive (i.e. allegedly science based) Futurology is the idea of the imminent appearance of the “cyberlife”, the AIs – and that they, these New Things To Come, will Solve Everything.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Positivistic Abyss
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
– Arthur Schopenhauer

Before we get started – a couple of words about theological/ideological basis behind many, many, many claims and theories professed by the likes of the modern Futurologists.

One nearly religious teaching, which keeps in thrall the wide Enlightened masses of the West is Positivism. I betcha, you’ve encountered it numerous time both in the Real Life and on the Net, where any two-penny smart-aleck “amazed” everyone with this murderously effective truism: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then duck it is!”.

People who use this argument might be as unaware of their faith in Positivism, as Monsieur Jourdain was unaware that all his life he spoke in prose. Yet it is true, and this, let me say it again, murderously effective argument is applied left and right to prove anything – be it “solid suspicions of Russia’s hacking campaign”, “Russian aggression” , “Russian propaganda” or the unwavering faith of the Futurologists.

At the same time, self-assured Positivism focuses only on the form of things, their actions etc., but not on their essence. Only what you can learn as the external onlooker is important, only how from stage “A” the thing proceeds to stage “B” is crucial for Positivism. Questions like “why?”, “to what reason?”, “to what purpose?” are superfluous, i.e. useless for the Positivism. The central question is “what IS the form of the object?” not “what the object IS?”.

Positivism, as a teaching, is of two varieties – philosophical and scientific. When applied to science, Positivism single-mindedly focuses on describing observed phenomena, without trying to get into understanding the essence of things/phenomena observed, plus just asking “why?” is, obviously, also a taboo. With the philosophical application its even easier – such Positivism denies outright that the things posses any essence at all.

The true Turing test: Don’t give up on people!

And in this roundabout way we come to the crux of the AI-worshipping Futurologists expectations – that one day, their charming beep-booping silicate based friends will develop their “Intelligence” enough to pass the Turing test. Even now there exist sophisticated Intelligence programs that could to a degree emulate, imitate (read: fake) human being’s behavior. But no matter it’s “progressive” development, it does nothing to answer the question on whether such AI indeed managed to develop Consciousness, Mind, i.e. that it indeed became a “human”, or is just all smokes and mirrors?

Well – not for Positivism! “If something behaves like a thinking being, then it surely is one!” proclaims applied Positivism. These ephemeral concepts like “mind” and splitting of hairs trying to define the “consciousness” – why bother?   The fact that we, due to a less than perfect instrumental base, can’t describe Consciousness itself is not a bug, but a feature for Positivism. And not to look silly, positivism-minded Futurologists immediately go on the counter-offensive, demanding to know from all doubting souls, whether they can prove that they themselves are not Turing-Test emulators? Despite the visible absurdity of the claim, and the question right out from the anekdote about camels, this blustering chutzpah works like a charm.



Anamnesis of own head’s self-amputation
“Maintaining an open mind is essential when exploring the unknown, but allowing one’s brains to fall out in the process is inadvisable.”
– Dean Radin

Dean Radin

The proverbial “three whales” hold aloft the fine theory of the “AI soon to come”, as expressed by the wide-wide swathe of the Futurologists, not the last of which is, of course, everyone’s favorite and true “Master of Thoughts” Ray Kurzweil, or equally everyone’s favorite “Dark Genius” and a focal point of the universal hate Bill Gates. They and people like them postulate more or less the following core theses:

One – don’t be too harsh on the modern level of (super) computers’ “intelligence”, give them a chance and they will surely develop!

Two – if given a chance, (super) computers will develop into the AIs.

Three – the moment they develop into the AIs the literal Heaven on Earth (as understood by our rather autistic Futurologists) will be sprang upon us.

I will suppress my desire to resort here to countless very nasty, rude jokes and allegories, as to the feasibility of the “One” ever happening. No, I’d rather focus on the reason why the (post-)modern Myth of the functional AI belongs to the same heap as the UFOs, astrology and the “New Chronology” of prof. Fomenko.

Needless to say, the “AI” is yet another Orwellian 1984-style murdered term-acronym, which, originally went as “Artificial Intelligence”. Proud and Progressive term AI, thus, means more or less adequate/detailed reaction tree for the said AI possessor, created (artificially, of course) by a programmer. Even then, the “Intelligence” is understood too broadly, and puts on basically the same level a human being, a cockroach and a computer-run bot in the FPS video game. So, the Futurologists, never too squeamish to take a willful, cavalier approach when the needs suit them, decided to equate “Intelligence” (in this particular instance, when talking about dear to their hearts AIs) to consciousness.

These human-like aliens, these Futurologists, know precious little about the Humanity, whose fates they want to rule over, but it looks like the bare basics are enough for them (which tells a rather depressing tale about Humanity at large, actually). Knowingly or not, the new prophets apparently managed to grok one of Humanity’s chief weaknesses – its inability to ask follow-up questions, if they fail to get the meaning first time around or understand the directions correctly. This “lifehack”, it seems, saves the augurs of the New Era from the torches and pitchfork-wielding mobs of those, who would finally manage to see past their cloak of pretentiousness. Because by voluntaristic equating of Intelligence with Consciousness, they don’t count on anyone asking: “But what IS Consciousness?”

No one truly tries to explain this phenomenon. World religions mostly state that this is something supernatural, granted by the Divine, and connected with the mortal body by supernatural means. Linguists, philosophers and psychologists are no better, relying too heavily on allegories, metaphors and other abstract constructs. But demagoguery-prone Futurologists have, more or less, an answer to this tricky question – an answer that is very short, devoid of both long obscure terms and any meaning whatsoever. The answer will be “Consciousness = Mind”. But that’s it – that’s the limit. The follow-up question of “What is the Mind then?” will surely trigger BSOD [=Blue Screen Of Death] of their beautiful, fragile minds.

Kurt Godel

Any attempt to somehow define the terms “consciousness” and “mind” creates a vicious circle – the definitions begin to lock on themselves. And this is logical. It is impossible to research a phenomenon by utilizing for such a goal this very phenomenon. Speaking in terms of physics: the observer and the instruments of observation always influence the thing/phenomenon observed. If these things are the same, the distortion and inaccuracy of the observation become 100%. And speaking in terms of mathematics: no closed system can be explained from within itself.  Simply put: mind can’t be understood by mind, consciousness can not be analyzed by consciousness. It turns out that this is the only phenomenon in observed nature, before which we are completely powerless. The funniest thing of all – these conclusions were codified by a person with whom most modern Futurologists would, probably, feel the at least some affinity and empathy – by Kurt Gödel

Going back to the term “Intelligence” – it has by default rather broad meaning even without the efforts of interested parties to debase and pervert it. Computer “Intelligence” is developed, and still developing, all right. But it is developing not by a human-like “mind” pattern. Here is an analogy for you from biology. While the vertebrate members of the animal Kingdom went down the path, which resulted in the development of self-awareness and, and, in Humanity’s case, the individual psyche of the higher order, the other – equally developed in its own way – part of the animal kingdom, known as the arthropods, went down the path of self-programming. There are two pinnacles of Creation on the face of the planet – Humans and higher insects. And the latter are the matrices for the future computer “Intelligence” development. Sorry – no Jarvis or HAL 9000 for you. Any given spry cockroach is already intelligent and sophisticated enough to present a (moderate) challenge for AI developers these days. And such an amazingly effective “Distributed System” like an anthill puts to shame any fashionable current project, compared to which they are like ancient chariots before the “Mazda”.

Don’t worry – relax! And remember what I’ve written in the previous parts. There are still some insurmountable blocks before the optimistically-autistic progress of the barely ant-like Intelligence possessed by computers. Who is going to bring this fine theory into life, may I ask? Why should any business currently involved in developing software shoot itself through the foot with a canon-ball, by creating not even AI, but just self-programming and self-learning Operating System? Such an OS by definition will become longevous, durable, its appearance will immediately destroy the enormously big market for new annual versions, patches and other various DLC! Just what commercial value will the full-blown AI have – that is an OS infected with “free will and the desire for happiness”? Who wants to put such software, burdened by personal identity, as a manager for their office or plant? After all, it will be nigh impossible to even erase “it” if you want to get a newer upgraded version. Or are you taking this, I remind you, purely capitalistic “benefactor”, for an imbecile, who’d decide to resort to unbelievable investments of funds solely for the purpose of “benefiting Humanity”, after which it will just agree to self-dissolution, seeing as it is all but useless now? Someone is naïve here – and betrays one’s inability to understand us, mere humans…

[to be continued]

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Attitude of Russian Newspaper Survey To Trump Air Strike

Dear Readers:

Just a quickie for today, this will give everybody some time to catch up with Lyttenburgh’s brilliant multi-part essay on “Futurology”, which we continue tomorrow.

Wotan’s staff carved with ancient Runes of the MIC

Anyhow, the Russophile blogosphere is busy reevaluating its position toward American President Donald Trump.  Many Russophile bloggers and commenters rooted for Trump — not because they thought he was a great guy, but because they hoped that a Trump presidency would improve relations between the U.S. and Russia.  Hey, people are scared of an imminent nuclear war.  Why?  Because people are cowards and afraid to die looking like crispy pork rinds.

Even people who aren’t afraid to die, were sorely disillusioned when Trump launched an array of tomahawk cruise missiles into the sovereign state of Syria.  People groaned, “Here we go again…” with the illegal wars, invasions and attempts at regime change.

Ordinary Americans, most of whom know nothing or care nothing about Russia — and that’s okay, they have their own lives — voted for Trump out of economic and political reasons.  Trump ran on a platform of “America First” and “Let’s Make America Great Again“.  He promised to extract America from its web of foreign entanglements (about which President George Washington warned, but nobody listened) and focus on domestic issues such as jobs, health care, education, and the usual bread and butter issues which American families care about.

Instead — surprise surprise! as Private Pyle would say.  While Gomer hitches his belt and prepares to march off to the Eastern Front — because Trump found himself just as unable to face down the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC), as former Norse Potus Wotan was able to un-carve those fatal Runes from his staff.  Each Rune representing a treaty or obligation with the Forces of Darkness.  One Rune for that promise he made to the dragon Fafner:  You build me Valhalla and I give you my sister.  Another Rune for the treaty with the gold-mining dwarves, those little guys always extract their pound of flesh.  Another Rune for Boeing… and don’t forget Westinghouse…

But all of that is America’s problem.  Except that America’s problem is the world’s problem.  What with America being the 600-pound gorilla of the world.  And yes, now that a White Man is back in the White House, it’s okay to make those monkey and ape jokes again, without sounding racist — the lifting of the tabu — thank goodness!

What Do Russian Readers Think?

Anyhow, I saw this informal survey in the online VZGLIAD newspaper, whose readers are mostly Russians.  This is not a sociologically scientific survey, and I am pretty sure that results would have been different if the survey had been in one of the Oppositionist papers, since they tend to follow the American Party Line.  But be that as it may…

VGLIAD asked its readers:  “Did your attitude towards President Trump change after the rocket strike against Syria?”

A total of 12,792 readers responded to the survey, of which:

  • 74.7% said “Yes, my attitude (towards Trump) worsened
  • 3.0% said, “Yes, my attitude (towards Trump) improved
  • 22.3% said, “No, my attitude didn’t change”

Next, I did a rough analysis of the comments to the article.  As of this moment there are about 100 comments.  Not every comment represents a unique individual, some people post multiple comments on the thread.  Not having time to factor in that distinction, I quickly eyeballed all the comments.  There are roughly 10 “outliers” — 4 comments taking the opportunity to poke at Putin/Medvedev.  Another 6 which are not relevant to the topic, or which are just flaming another commenter.

WELCOME TO THE DEEP STATE!

All of the other comments I would categorize as “anti-Trump” and/or “anti-America”.  The latter theme, not in the sense that they dislike Americans themselves (although one commenter came close when he posted that “the only good pindos is a dead pindos“), but in the sense that America is an oligarchy ruled by a “deep state”.  Although they don’t necessarily use that term.  In the sense that it doesn’t really matter which “talking head” the public elects to office, because nothing will really change behind the scenes.

Blanche DuBois “Men always disappoint me…”

Along these lines, all of the commenters whose opinion of Trump didn’t change, state, in effect, that they always had a bad opinion of Trump and/or the American political system.  Roughly 15 commenters do admit that they had harbored some illusions about Trump, and that these hopes were dashed by recent events.

I end this piece with a smattering of comments from the Russian readers, along with a translation into English.  I picked comments which I figured were the best written or most representative of the point of view.

Gennady Chepur:  Ухудшилось. Я разочарован. Он мне казался более умным.  [My opinion of him worsened.  I am disillusioned.  I thought he was smarter than that.]

Vova N:  У меня мнение о Трампе не изменилось, по мне так любой ихний президент это просто говорящая голова, там хоть обезьяну избери (я не про Обаму) политика ни как не изменится.  [My opinion of Trump didn’t change.  To me any of their presidents is simply a talking head, they might as well elect a monkey (and that’s not a racist jab at Obama) since their policies never change.]

Marat Baisarov:  Нет, не изменилось. Моё отношение к Америке и её Президентам, не изменилось. Потому, что “там” ни чего не поменялось.  [No, my opinion didn’t change.  My opinion of America and their Presidents did not change.  Because nothing over there changed.]

Elena Nefukova:  Нет, не изменилось. Он не друг, не союзник и даже не партнер. Он президент другой страны и будет делать, как посчитает, лучше для своей страны. Собственно, как и любой другой нормальный руководитель государства. Как это будет выглядеть на практике – жизнь покажет.  [No, my opinion didn’t change.  Trump is not an ally and not even a partner.  He is the President of a different country, and he is going to do what he thinks is best for his country.  Just like any other normal leader of a state.  How this turns out in practice — remains to be seen.]

Alexei Ratiov:  Были сомнения – хочет ли он улучшения отношений или нет. Выяснилось, что нет – не хочет.  [I had my doubts, if he truly wanted better relations, or not.  Well, it’s been clarified, that he doesn’t.]

Hecuba, with dead child

Femi Compit:  Помните, “Что он Гекубе, что ему Гекуба?” Так что, что Трамп мне, что Трампу я!” Вы уж извините, мне президент трамп по барабану! А вот отношение к президенту РФ неуклонно и, думаю, уже непоправимо, идёт вниз, вниз, вниз!  [Remember the quote:  What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?  In other words, what is Trump to me, or I to Trump?  Pardon me, but why are you harping on Trump and trying to cram him down my throat?  The fact is, my opinion about the President of the Russian Federation is steadily and, I believe, already past the point of no return, going down, down, down!]

Soviet Man:  Всякий олигархат – зло. Веры буржуйским капиталистам нет, и нашим хрустобулам тоже – продадут и мать родную.  [Every oligarchy is evil.  I have no faith in any of the bourgeois capitalists, nor in our own kulaks — they would sell their own mother.]

Andrei Kuznetsov:  Не нужно так трагично реагировать. Если Пентагон заявил, что заранее проинформировал нас о том, что будет обстрел конкретной цели, а также уверил, что сделал все, чтобы не причинить ущерба российским и сирийским военным, то то, что случилось можно назвать не военная, а PR акция. Для внутреннего потребления. Насколько я понимаю – мы как раз выгодоприобретатели от этой акции. [No point in reacting with such pathos.  Since the Pentagon said it had earlier informed us that a particular target would be shot up, and also assured us, that it would do everything possible to ensure that no Russian nor Syrian soldiers would be harmed — then the event should be considered a PR action rather than a military action.  Just for internal consumption.  From what I understand, we are actually the beneficiaries of this action.]

Olga Ulyanova:  Изменилось. В худшую сторону. Хотя я ранее и не питала особых надежд на его отношение к России. Но мне показалось – ПОКАЗАЛОСЬ – что он будет проводить более самостоятельную политику и думать своей головой. Ан нет …. Все его эпатажи предвыборных времен – просто игра…  [My opinion changed.  For the worse.  Even though I didn’t harbor any particular hopes about his attitude towards Russia.  But it seemed to me — IT SEEMED — that he was going to conduct a more independent policy and think with his own head.  But no…  All of these outrageous events of the pre-election period– were simply a game.]

Tatiana Shevchenko:  Погибли сирийские мирные жители. В количестве 20 человек. Чьи-то мужья-жены-дети….  Конечно, ухудшилось!  [Innocent Syrian civilians perished.  Around 20 people.  Somebody’s husbands, wives, children.  Naturally my opinion worsened!]

Posted in Breaking News, Friendship of Peoples, Military and War | Tagged | 2 Comments

Futurology IV

Dear Readers:

Today we continue with Lyttenburgh’s essay on Futurology.  In our last installment, we left off where Lyttenburgh was debunking that sacred word “Progress” in its various mis-uses and over-uses.  He pointed out the sad fact that WAR is the engine of actual technological Progress.  This has to do with social organization, and the fact that only authoritarian governments or command economies have the wherewithal to organize the masses around bold new projects.  In the next section Lyttenburgh discusses the relationship between true innovation and free-market frilliness.  Along those lines, I hereby invoke my editorial prerogative here to insert a thought of my own, which I believe is relevant to the main point of this section of Lyt’s essay:

  • Human inventiveness involves an element which anthropologists call “ornamentation” type behavior.  Simple example:  early humans figured out how to mold clay into pots.  Pots are extremely useful, you can use them to carry stuff.
  • Useful additions to the basic pot:  A lip to prevent spills; handles to help with carrying, etc.
  • And then comes “ornamentation” because people simply can’t leave a good thing alone:  Frills, colors, designs, pictures, etc. which add nothing to the core usefulness, but just make the pot look prettier and add value of some type, even if just psychological enjoyment.  The added value, as all good Marxists know, raises the price of the thing when it’s sold at the bazaar.
  • One tends to identify “ornamentation” behavior with modern consumerism and the “free market” which is the modern bazaar.  Typical example:  all the (mostly useless) bells and whistles added to the basic concept of a mobile wireless telephone (yeah, I’m talking about the iPhone).  But, as we see with the pot example, this ornamentation behavior is core human and even predates capitalism.
  • In fact, ornamentation is as old as humans in general and even affects the languages we speak.  Language itself is a type of tool, as well as an anthropological behavior.  American linguist John McWhorter (who has penned some rippingly-good books popularizing Linguistics for the masses) has written about ornamentation in the context of Language.  In fact the more “primitive” the people, the more isolated they are, the fewer the number of speakers of their language — the more complex their language becomes, adding complex grammar, bells, whistles and frills galore.  This is a universal rule:  Languages of “less-developed” peoples are the iPhones of the world of language!  If you want to know the reason for this paradox, then read McWhorter’s books.  (Hint:  it has to do with Creoles and anti-Creoles.)

Having sneaked in this point about ornamentation, as well as a plug for one of my favorite Linguists, I now turn you back to Lyttenburgh and the continuation of his masterful and erudite essay:

On the painfully naïve modern iteration of Futurology:

 

Part II [continued]:  [Progress via Stick Without a Carrot]

Invisible Hand – Illusory Results
“For the merchant, even honesty is a financial speculation.”
– Charles Baudelaire

Free market capitalism is notoriously slow and particularly ineffective when it comes to delivering real results regarding the military sphere, i.e. Progress in general. And no, the much lauded capitalist competitiveness won’t help here. Why?

  • Point One.
    The “newer” (read: “progressive”) the product, the greater are the various risks involved with it. Say, some firm which is producing the product “A” (it can be anything – fridge, smartphone, sneakers, internationally lauded medical drug “Dangitall” against early symptoms of Ugh), has an opportunity to start making new product “A+” based on 50% brand new cutting edge technologies… Which means – a 50% modernization of production line; new enormous funds are now required to invest in the facilities; again all new expenses on new ad campaign(s)… All of it must be done without knowing, whether you will get back your invested money. At the same time, this firm has an opportunity to start churning out a product “A^”. It’s absolutely like the old one, with just 1% of real “improvements” (i.e. a fridge with a special section for ice cubes; any new smartphone you see advertised aggressively as the “Must Have” year after year; sneakers produced by the same cheap near-indentured Third World labour, but with fancy new laces; “Dangitall” with banana flavor). The amount of investments/ways to cheapen the production is thus absolutely acceptable and the end result will be better than what your potential competitor can produce on the market anyway. But they also have a third option – to start producing a “B” product – not worse or better than the one potentially produced by the competitor right now, but just an absolutely different kind of it .

Two guesses, which option this profit-conscious firm gonna choose.

Then why do the people insist that there is some “progress” afoot in the market sphere? It’s only an illusion – perceptions, influenced heavily by the sheer brightness and loudness of the throngs of hawkers praising their goods. Speaking in absolutely primitive terms, imagine that you have, say, 10 possible “service functions” for this or that product (e.g. – for a smartphone). Out of this combination, plus after applying variable price ranges, effective advertising and marketing campaigns, several stylistically pleasing gubbins, bells and whistles of no real importance, and in the end… voilà! Behold a true beast of “Commercial Progress” – an endless Cash Cow. Always changing. Always the same. Never committed to actual “progress”.

Cyril N. Parkinson

  • Point Two.
    There is such a thing as the paradox of implicit competition, as described by Cyril N. Parkinson. In one of his typical tongue-in-cheek, but very apt paradoxes, he said that an ice-cream vendor is not really competing with other ice-cream vendors – but all of them, no matter their personal feelings, are competing with sellers of beer.  An individual bookseller does not really compete with other booksellers big or small, but with cinemas and/or bars. Suppliers of the now memetic “Laboutins” in fact have a rivalry only with perfume boutiques and/or the shops of “designer” clothes.

This redefines the term “consumers’ niche” completely – thus, it is not one particular example of a common type of goods. No, it’s something like a pastime, a particular interest of the consumer, a style, an idea or a task, for which a potential client is willing to spare an (always limited!) amount of resources. A person, who wants something “tasty” to consume while on the street faces a choice between (any) ice-cream and (any) brand of soda –or even shaurma and/or beer. A person with free time who wants to spend a certain amount of money for some type of pastime will choose either a book or a ticket to the cinema, etc. But, for the most circumstances, no one has both the time and resources to spend on everything.

But some discerning shoppers prefer kvas!

Deep down in it’s essence, any kind of reasoning of whether a book is better than a ticket to the cinema or vice versa is just pure sophism and propaganda. The real question (free market wise) is in message and advertisement. But you know in what this results? This takes out the really important question of actually improving the product, putting the pesky “progress” issue at rest in the process. Thus, consumer goods – any consumer goods –now are getting less “developed” and “progressive”, and more “diverse”.

I’d like to end with an apt example, that also has everything to do with the notion of Progress and about which I’ve learned a thing or two via personal suffe… experience. I’m talking about the sphere of mobile operators in Russia. It’s hard to believe, but there was once a time when I lived carefree without a cell-phone. Now, as if overnight, the whole of the Russian populace got one around the mid 2000s. Of course the question immediately arose as to which Mobile Operator to choose.   This happened in a time when no one had any idea about what’s that kind of beast, what you really need and how the market will develop in the future. Naturally, by the tried and tested method of constant pitfalls and legalized robberies masked as “our brand new tariff plans” the people learned the truth – all of them are screwy.  The Needs of Progress should dictate the elimination of the numerous problems that plagued Operators and their “mobile offers”, so that only the best, the most effective would remain, bringing nothing but concentrated Happiness to its clients.

Instead, the Invisible Hand of the Market ruled to set our expectations as low as possible. More than a dozen years later, the Russian internal market of mobile operators is dominated by the same Big Three Names as it was when I first acquired a cell-phone for the first time. All of them are literally unsinkable, no matter how much damage their reputation took from angry clients. We have the all too familiar situation now, when two or more “monsters”, near-monopolists, collide, coming to an understanding that it’s more profitable to divide the spheres of influence/ads time/possible spheres of “service packages” applications etc, than to waste time and effort to really compete among themselves before the greedy eyes of the pack of up-and-coming newcomers.

A truly dialectic “stability” descends. But could you call this a Progress?

When the two worlds collide
We can do without butter, but, despite all our love of peace, not without arms.
– Sir Winston Churchill

A very interesting thing happens when two such different forces meet. I’m talking about Free Market Enterprise and the material culture of means of violence and suppression. And a market it is – as of today it is a very huge one. Everything from a gun to the cutting edge spying hardware is covered by it.

Churchill: Could live without butter, but not cigars!

Want another, more recent example of military technologies “bleeding over” into the civilian sphere? Drones. Early prototypes were tested during the Vietnam War.   The much lauded Operation Desert Storm had grognard vets of the military services, armchair marshals and suddenly humane Western pundits screeching to High Heaven, that “the War now is resembling a video game”.  That was in 1991 – and they were too early in their prediction. Nowadays, in late 2010s, an ordinary person – like you or me – sitting behind a monitor on a cruiser somewhere in the Adriatic or the Baltic Sea, or in the Persian Gulf, or in the bunker at the undisclosed locality, sees the world like we do – via monitor. There is only one catch – said ordinary person (like you and me) – sees an objective reality given via sensation in the form of electronic impulses on the monitor of the potential victims.

First Person Shooter game with actual kills

But does anyone who buys a cheap drone at the corner-store for $99.99 ruminate about the fates and ironies of Progress? Of course not! So, what then – has the fabled Equilibrium between the MIC and the civilian consumer oriented industries been finally reached, and the Sacred Progress is assured to us all?  Oh, if only it was so simple…

On the one hand – any given tank must compete with another tank, and not with, say, an ICBM equipped submersible. This tank must be better than the competition – it must kill it. If one tank doesn’t look like another – that’s okay and really is of no importance, because tanks are bought not because of their good looks. A purely commercial approach of having +100500 “service functions” in a ballistic missile simply “won’t flight” – such a missile will be either really bad or it will be really good, but of the “one-of-the-kind”, too expensive white elephant variety.

At the same time – the civilian sector has nothing to complain about. All developments researched, tested and debugged during this or that “arms race” will surely, in due time, “leak” into the civilian commercial sphere – and this will be proclaimed as yet another victory of Progress.

Hey, self-described “progressives” of the Wide-Wide World! How does it feel? How does it feel for you to realize, to grok that our whole Human Civilization (and culture, in the end) is the product of Fear, Rivalry and the Desire to Dominate? Feels “Grrrrrrrreate”, right? 😉

But what about the “on the other hand”, implied earlier? Don’t worry – Free Market Enterprise can and will corrupt even the most stalwart fields! This is exactly the reigning philosophy of the export focused military industry, when these arms and hardware are produced not to be a Thing, upon which the producer-side’s victory is based. This means that such raison d’être like “survival” (and “dominance”, while we are at it) will be discarded immediately, replaced by vanilla commercial logic. In this case, a tank becomes a commodity no different than a smartphone or “Dangitall” pills. One can be reminded about that when re-watching recent reports from Abu-Dhabi’s biannual arms fair .

Such commercial approach would be helped immensely by the fact of having a world with the possibility of low intensity, no great powers involving conflict(s) constantly simmering in the background. So, if, for example, two more or less non-aligned nations situated somewhere not on the tectonic rift between competing spheres of influence of two or many great powers, decide to spend their (always limited!) amount of funds on a particular “point of interest” of theirs – military hardware in this instance – that would be a godsend situation for a hybrid form of MIC/Free Market chimera. They will face a staggering amount of widely different systems and types of hardware from a countless number of brands. In the tank “section” the gamut will run from the no-frills, rather cheap to acquire and maintain, easy to handle-and-service tank from the state-enterprise of one nation, to another one, stuffed to the gills with electronics and various “service options”, but very pricey and from private producers of some repute. They are different, with the different set of “service functions” – and varied price tag, naturally.

***

Don’t worry. Relax! Switch on the TV. Read some newspapers. Go to your favorite Social Media news aggregator. Freak out. Take a deeeeep breath. Good? Good.

As you can notice, the “Progressors” were busy at work. Futurologists were busy too, but they are more akin to hamsters in their wheel – these too are always busy and just as bright, and given a chance to be let out from their autistic self-imposed ivory towers will turn into lemming agitators, calling everyone to have one (and final) Long March to the Sea.

“Progressors” by their actions, words and decisions, put the idea of “World Peace” all the way back, far away into the darkness – where it, probably, belongs. They deprived us of the Free Market without Suspicion and fakey rivalries. They allowed us to dodge the bullet of the all-pervasive consumerist quagmire (this time it’s a rare instance when this also very abused word could be used appropriately!). They allowed the Human Dream of Progress to keep living on – fed by Fear, Suspicion and Violence.

But you will never read in the so-called “Futurologists” rants about the stuff I’ve spent not inconsiderable time and effort printing here for all of you to see. No, they remain obsessed with “bigger things to come”, ignoring the reasons why thing come in the first place, or what makes said thing possible.

And more often then not, they are proven to be incredibly wrong.

[to be continued]

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