I think I’d prefer a 1-day starship. Then I’d have it by next Tuesday.
I think I’d prefer a 1-day starship. Then I’d have it by next Tuesday.
Found a thing called ifttt – If this, then that. It glues interweb thingies together.
So far, I set up a task to mirror all my Google+ posts to my Facebook wall. I set up a task to automatically add any item I star in Google Reader to Instapaper. I set up a task to text my phone when the forecast calls for rain. Those were all found task recipes that were on the site.
The previous post is my first attempt at creating brand new tasks. If I share something with a note in Reader, then it should appear here on Perfidy. However, if it just posts anything I share at all, then I’ll have to start over.
Interesting tool, check it out.
[wik]: Okay, it just posts anything I share. Not so good.
[alsø wik]: Tried another way. Better in that it only picks up things I share with a note, but I can’t use the note for the blog post title like I can if I’m pulling from reader. Hmmn.
[alsø alsø wik]: Tried to do it via email, which does allow me to control the title, and which ones would go here to Perfidy; but it trashes all links because it’s taking the plain text of the message body. Which doesn’t work.
[Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?]: Well, I can get a standard title, like, “From the feed” or something, and have the comment appear in the body of the post. Which works well enough. Still have the problem of it posting everything I share, which is more than I want to go here.
[See the løveli lakes]: Very frustrating. You can trigger off starred, liked and shared items. But only shared items have access to the comment. Ick. And using a standard feed as a trigger buries the comment in with all the other text, and you can’t control the post title at all.
[The wøndërful telephøne system]: So, if I change my sharing behavior – that will affect two people, and not greatly. I can cope with that. But I still have the mildly annoying issue of using the comment field either as post title, or as post content, but not both. Using the shared item’s title as the post title is awkward, because I can’t control the length or formatting – for example, Instapundit always has titles in all caps. (Shouting at the world since 2001!)
But using a standard title, like “From the feed” gives the reader no clue as to the content, and funny (or at least mildly amusing) titles are kind of a thing for blogs and Perfidy. But if I use it for that, I’m left with just a link in the body of the post. I can’t actually comment on the thing I’m linking to.
I think I’m leaning toward using the comment for actually commenting.
[And mäni interesting furry animals]: The thing that will annoy me is the repetitive, “From the feed” titles.
Now this makes more sense than a barrel full of sensible stuff. People have been arguing about how those crazy Egyptians built the pyramids for, literally, thousands of years. Now some French dude thinks he’s got it sussed out:
A radical new idea has recently been presented by Jean-Pierre Houdin, a French architect who has devoted the last seven years of his life to making detailed computer models of the Great Pyramid. Using start-of-the-art 3-D software developed by Dassault Systemes, combined with an initial suggestion of Henri Houdin, his engineer father, the architect has concluded that a ramp was indeed used to raise the blocks to the top, and that the ramp still exists–inside the pyramid!
The theory suggests that for the bottom third of the pyramid, the blocks were hauled up a straight, external ramp. This ramp was far shorter than the one needed to reach the top, and was made of limestone blocks, slightly smaller than those used to build the bottom third of the pyramid. As the bottom of the pyramid was being built via the external ramp, a second ramp was being built, inside the pyramid, on which the blocks for the top two-thirds of the pyramid would be hauled. The internal ramp, according to Houdin, begins at the bottom, is about 6 feet wide, and has a grade of approximately 7 percent. This ramp was put into use after the lower third of the pyramid was completed and the external ramp had served its purpose.
The design of the internal ramp was partially determined by the design of the interior of the pyramid. Hemienu knew all about the problems encountered by Pharaoh Sneferu, his and Khufu’s father. Sneferu had considerable difficulty building a suitable pyramid for his burial, and ended up having to construct three at sites south of Giza! The first, at Meidum, may have had structural problems and was never used. His second, at Dashur–known as the Bent Pyramid because the slope of its sides changes midway up–developed cracks in the walls of its burial chamber. Huge cedar logs from Lebanon had to be wedged between the walls to keep the pyramid from collapsing inward, but it too was abandoned. There must have been a mad scramble to complete Sneferu’s third and successful pyramid, the distinctively colored Red Pyramid at Dashur, before the aging ruler died.
Well, yeah. And, he’s got the evidence:
A microgravimetric survey done in the 80s revealed what looks like a blocky spiral on the inside of the pyramid. Pretty cool. Read the whole thing, here.
NPR is doing a top 100 sf novels OF ALL TIME! list. (hat tip, Isegoria and Scalzi.) I have my favorites – the perennial favorite post here at perfidy is the top five list post – but of the books actually on the selection list, if I just had to choose, I’d pick these today:
For a lot of the books on the NPR list, I would have chosen a different book by the author, but that’s just me being picky.
What really startled me, though, was the vastness of the list that I had not read:
Well, I guess I have some reading to do.
Getting passports for the whole family will cost $850. Escape will be expensive.
I hear that there’s some debt shenanigans going on. If I weren’t so appallingly cynical, I’d be shocked at the apparent inability of politicians and professional economists and Wall Street pimps to understand what’s happening. I mean, it’s pretty simple, as Reddit demonstrated the other day.
I see only a few possibilities:
It seems to me that each of the three groups most responsible for our current predicament fits one of those descriptions. I will allow that there is some possibility of overlap…
I’d say that reading the economic news is like watching a train derailing, except that you can’t exactly watch a train derailing from the inside, so its not a perfect analogy. I have this terrible sense that inexorable doom is coming toward us. You look at the similarities between the first great depression and our current situation (banking crisis, pause, soveriegn debt crisis… who will be the Creditanstalt for our times?). You look at the results of debasing the currency in Imperial Rome, in pre-Industrial England, in dozens of countries from Weimar Germany to Zombabwe in the last century and wonder how we can be different, except in scale. You look at the disingenuousness of the economic statistics – Q1 revised down to .4% growth? G is a component of GDP. Take that out, subtract that from next to zero, and what do you have? And let’s not mention the unemployment numbers.
In this environment, people like Ron Paul are made to look like the crazed radical for pointing out the obvious. Well, maybe the food, gold, ammo approach is less unreasonable and paranoid than it once was.
We received an email here in our sekrit underground bunker from a concerned reader. Someone out there in the wild internets had mentioned pepper-infused Vodka, and perfidy. Now, it may seem obvious that these things go together like two things that go really well together. And you’d be right in thinking that. But our concerned reader was unable to find the actual posts.
Given my staggeringly efficient search skills, locating the posts in question was in no way a problem. In fact, if you’re interested in putting spicy and boozy in the same place, just look here:
But what was really horrifying was that this website has not mentioned Vodka – not even once, glancingly – since four years ago yesterday.
Well, VODKA VODKA VODKA VODKA VODKA VODKA VODKA!
There. That’s better.
Things haven’t been the same since Minister Johno stopped posting.
Discovered Locklin on Science a little while ago, and I’ve been trolling through his archives. Found several gems – Spotting Vaporware, Nano Nonsense, The Airship: An Aesthetic Appreciation, The Atlantic: Tool of the Oligarchy, To Learn About the Future, Study the Past, How Hackers Ruin Everything With Computers, and finally, A Peregrination on the Nature of Money. That’s a lot of links, but I commend all of them to you.
The Amish don’t get Autism. This goes into the whole vaccination/autism thing, about which I am undecided. I probably lean towards vaccination.
Homeless Planets may be common. I thought homelessness never appeared in the media unless there was a Republican in the White House. Some catastrophists have speculated that Saturn and its moons were homeless, until captured by our Sun. It is interesting that several planets have almost identical axial tilts.
According to NASA’s SOHO, a bright comet, most likely from the Kreutz family of comets, which was discovered by amateur astronomer Sergey Shurpakov, slammed into the sun, but as it dove into it a coronal mass ejection blasted out. There is no correlation between the strike and the solar eruption; it was just a coincidence.
I guarantee it was not a coincidence. As the comet comes in from the outskirts of the Solar System, it will be moving into a differently charged regime. That is why comets have tails. This was an electrical connection between the comet and the sun, and this isn’t the only time that this has happened. There’s a whole bunch of EU comet articles here.
Comet theory of North American extinctions coming under fire. Shame, it was a cool theory.
Looks like there is a link between cosmic rays and cloud cover, modulated by solar activity. This, if true, would invalidate most of the AGW we’ve had shoved down our throats for the last decade or so.
In an ESA report last month the high-resolution of the Herschel space observatory produced another surprise, “The filaments are huge, stretching for tens of light years through space and Herschel has shown that newly-born stars are often found in the densest parts of them… Such filaments in interstellar clouds have been glimpsed before by other infrared satellites, but they have never been seen clearly enough to have their widths measured. Now, Herschel has shown that, regardless of the length or density of a filament, the width is always roughly the same. “This is a very big surprise,” says Doris Arzoumanian, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/IRFU, the lead author on the paper describing this work. Together with Philippe André from the same institute and other colleagues, she analyzed 90 filaments and found they were all about 0.3 light years across, or about 20,000 times the distance of Earth from the Sun. This consistency of the widths demands an explanation.”
So what is the favored conventional explanation? What else but “sonic booms” generated by “exploding stars!” But where are these exploding stars? And explosions should impose some degree of radial curvature on these filaments. But what we see is more like the tortuous paths of cloud-to-cloud lightning bolts. For that is what they are, in fact, on a cosmic scale.
The ‘father’ of plasma cosmology, Hannes Alfvén, wrote in 1986, “That parallel currents attract each other was known already at the times of Ampere. It is easy to understand that in a plasma, currents should have a tendency to collect to filaments. In 1934, it was explicitly stated by Bennett that this should lead to the formation of a pinch. The problem which led him to the discovery was that the magnetic storm producing medium (solar wind with present terminology) was not flowing out uniformly from the Sun. Hence, it was a problem in cosmic physics which led to the introduction of the pinch effect…
However, to most astrophysicists it is an unknown phenomenon. Indeed, important fields of research, e.g., the treatment of the state in interstellar regions, including the formation of stars, are still based on a neglect of Bennett’s discovery more than half a century ago… present-day students in astrophysics hear nothing about it.” [Emphasis added]
The constant width over vast distances is due to the current flowing along the Birkeland filaments, each filament constituting a part of a larger electric circuit. And in a circuit the current must be the same in the whole filament although the current density can vary in the filament due to the electromagnetic pinch effect. Therefore the electromagnetic scavenging effect on matter from the molecular cloud, called Marklund convection, is constant along each current filament, which simply explains the consistency of widths of the filaments. The stars form as plasmoids in the Bennett-pinches, also known in plasma labs on Earth as Z-pinches.
And, Bosnian pyramids.
And Zero Hedge dips into weird science: Earthquakes and Weird Atmospheric effects. Strange phenomena have been associated with earthquakes since the classical era, but seem to be largely dismissed nowadays.
The Dominion of Canada wonders what will happen if the US economy really tanks.
I haven’t listened to this yet, but I will tonight. Apparently the BBC has unearthed a coup plot in the US from the 1930s.
A new book claims that the Roswell aliens were a Soviet Hoax. It’s discussed in this piece at NPR, down in the “highlights” section. This is the interesting part:
On flying discs and conspiracy theories
“The UFO craze began in the summer of 1947. Several months later, the G2 intelligence, which was the Army intelligence corps at the time, spent an enormous amount of time and treasure seeking out two former Third Reich aerospace designers named Walter and Reimar Horten who had allegedly created [a] flying disc. … American intelligence agents fanned out across Europe seeking the Horton brothers to find out if, in fact, they had made this flying disc.
“The idea behind it remains, why? Why were they looking for a flying disc? And conspiracy theorists have had their hands on this declassified file for over a decade now, and they say it proves that this flying disc came from outer space. If you read the documents, the takeaway that I found fascinating was that at the end of it, the Army admits finding the Horten brothers, and that the Horten brothers admitted their contact with the Russians and that’s where the file ends. Everything after that is classified.”
On why Area 51 is actually classified, according to a source
“The Horten brothers were involved in the flying disc crash in New Mexico. And that is from a single source. … There was an unusual moment where that source became very upset and told me things that were stunning that’s almost impossible to believe at first read. And that is that a flying disc really did crash in New Mexico and it was transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and then in 1951 it was transferred to Area 51, which is why the base is called Area 51. And the stunning part of the reveal is that my source, who I absolutely believe and worked with for 18 months on this, was one of the engineers who received the equipment and he also received the people who were in the craft.
“The people were, according to the source, were child-sized pilots, and there’s a lot of debate about how old they were. He believes they were 13, although other people believe they may have been older. But this is a firsthand witness to this, and I made a decision to write about this in the very end of the book, after I take the traditional journalist form of telling you everything in the third person, I switch and I kind of lean into the reader and I say, ‘Look, this is not why Area 51 is classified to the point where no one in the government will admit it exists. The reason is because what one man told me.’ And then using the first person, I tell you what I was told. And there’s no doubt that people are going to be upset, alarmed and skeptical of this information, but I absolutely believe the veracity of my source, and I believe it was important that I put this information out there because it is the tip of a very big iceberg.”
On the Soviet human experiments her source told her about
“The child-sized aviators in this craft [that crashed in New Mexico] were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, and it was a warning shot over President Truman’s bow, so to speak. In 1947, when this would have originally happened, the Soviets did not yet have the nuclear bomb, and Stalin and Truman were locked in horns with one another, and Stalin couldn’t compete in nuclear weaponry yet, but he certainly could compete in the world of black propaganda — and that was his aim, according to my source. …
“What is firsthand information is that he worked with these bodies [of the pilots] and he was an eyewitness to the horror of seeing them and working with them. Where they actually came from is obviously the subject of debate. But if you look at the timeline with Josef Mengele, he left Auschwitz in January of 1945 and disappeared for a while, and the suggestion by the source is that Mengele had already cut his losses with the Third Reich at that point and was working with Stalin.”
On why the Soviets would have undertaken such a hoax
“The plan, according to my source, was to create panic in the United States with this belief that a UFO had landed with aliens inside of it. And one of the most interesting documents is the second CIA director, Walter Bedell Smith, memos back and forth to the National Security Council talking about how the fear is that the Soviets could make a hoax against America involving a UFO and overload our early air-defense warning system, making America vulnerable to an attack.”
Untimely Meditations has a this, on the idea that things will only get worse. A basic rundown of the obvious threats, and a pleasant read.
Fjordman posts at Gates of Vienna on preparing for Ragnarok. Well, if there’s one thing I’m ready for, it’s Ragnarok. Dinner tonight, not so much – but I’ve got Ragnarok covered.
According to the French writer Guillaume Faye, for the first time humanity as a whole is threatened by a cataclysmic crisis that is likely to begin in the decade before 2020 — a crisis provoked by degradation of the ecosystems and geopolitical contests for scarce resources like agricultural land, oil, and above all water; by the fragility of an international economic order based on speculation and the massive indebtedness of democratic states; by the return of epidemics; by the rise of terrorism and nuclear proliferation; by the growing aggressiveness of Islam’s world offensive; and by the dramatic aging of European populations, whose below replacement-level birth rates are confronted with rapidly growing masses of young people in the dysfunctional countries of the global South, coupled with mass migrations to the North.
This convergence of catastrophes will mark the transition from one era to another. The USA will most likely cease to be the leading world power by mid-century, perhaps cease to exist at all in its present form. The global center of power will then move back to Eurasia, where it has almost always been previously. The strongest power will probably be China or what Faye calls “Euro-Siberia” — a federated alliance between the peoples of Europe plus Russia. He doesn’t think this is literally the end of the world, merely the end of the world as we know it. Something new may arise from these events, since Europe is a civilization of metamorphosis.
Faye predicts two possibilities for European civilization over the coming century: regeneration based on a resurgence of ancestral values, or else disappearance. Europe, especially the western half of the Continent, is currently being invaded. This is coupled with an incredible masochism on the part of Europeans themselves. Only a terrifying crisis can awaken them, and war is the most merciless of selective forces; a people that abandons its will to power inevitably perishes. A “mental AIDS,” a virus of nihilism, has severely weakened their natural defenses. Consequently, Europeans have succumbed to self-extinction. The primary symptom of this is “xenophilia,” a systematic preference for the Other over the Self.
The current advanced state of decadence owes much to the secularization of Christian charity and its modern egalitarian offshoot, human rights. In the widest possible sense it was the same civilizational genius that gave the world the concepts of universal gravitation and universal human rights. After the unprecedented successes of the Scientific Revolution, post-Enlightenment Europeans fell so much in love with the power of their own ideas that they ultimately came to define their very existence as one big idea, hence the concept of an “idea nation” or “proposition nation” was born. The leaders of this were the Americans and the French, whose Revolutions in the late 1700s came to view their countries as universal republics. This ideal was not and could not be implemented at that time, but two centuries later, coupled with the rise of global communications, it won out over ethnic identification.
Faye believes that Europe now faces a danger unparalleled in its history and refuses to see it. It has been colonized by peoples from the South. This non-European invasion began in the 1960s and was largely self-engendered, by politicians contaminated with Marxist ideas, by an employer class greedy for cheap labor, and by Utopian humanitarian ideals or misplaced post-colonial guilt. Illegal immigrants/foreign colonizers are very rarely repatriated, but receive lavish social welfare benefits handed out to them by anti-white forces in control of the state:
A race war is foreseeable now in several European countries, a subterranean war that will be far more destructive than ‘terrorism.’ The White population is being displaced, a sort of genocide is being carried out against it with the complicity or the abstention of the ruling class, the media, and the politicians, for the ideology these collaborating elites uphold is infused with a pathological hatred of their own people and a morbid passion for miscegenation. The state’s utopian plan for ‘republican integration’ has nevertheless failed because it assumed peaceful coexistence between foreigners and natives, non-Whites and Whites, was possible in a single territory. Our rulers haven’t read Aristotle, who taught that no city can possibly be democratic and orderly if it isn’t ethnically homogeneous… European societies today are devolving into an unmanageable ethnic chaos.
I have to try to resist these thoughts, because I know I am fascinated by disaster scenarios. But as I look around, there are indications of all sorts of potential nastiness – economic and otherwise.
More for my own reference, but here’s a link to that post from a while back where a guy commented on Mangan’s about the real US government ideology, following a Moldbuggian sort of line. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth it.
Also, just read everything on Zero Hedge to get your mind in the right place for the coming econopocalypse. Just recently, they’ve had a few good ones: on attacking the Fed, on game over, on spinning out of control. Plus, there’s more! I really should stop reading ZH, it makes me sad.
Ironic to think that in the space of just five years, the US and Zimbabwe dollars could switch places at the top and bottom of the world currency rankings:
A week ago we presented the idea floated by once hyperinflationary Zimbabwe, oddly jeered by most, that the country is seeking to move to a gold-backed currency, adding, somewhat surrealistically, that the “days of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency are numbered.” And if anyone should know a hyperinflationary basket case, it’s Zimbabwe. Well, today this bizarre story just went fuller retard, after the country announced that it may exchange diamonds for gold “so that it can have a gold-backed currency, according to a recent proposal from the governor of Zimbabwe’s central bank.” Indeed we speculated previously why: “Zimbabwe, a country rich in natural resources, took so long to figure out that it was nothing but a puppet in the hands of western monetary interests.” Well, others are now getting this idea – Commodity Online reports that “The country is a resource hub: It sits on gold reserves worth trillions. It has the world’s second largest reserves of platinum, has got alluvial diamonds that can fetch the nation $2 billion annually and even boasts of chrome and coal deposits.” And since Zimbabwe is now fully on board this whole “pioneering” thing perhaps it should just go ahead and create the first diamond-platinum backed currency. Just don’t give China and Russia ideas about floating a new reserve currency that actually has real commodity backing. What’s that, you say? They are launching one soon? Oh well.
h/t Zero Hedge
From my pal Christian:
FAQ for my Students: The Rapture
Q: With the rapture coming, should I bother working on my final paper?
A: Yes. The odds are you will not be judged worthy of ascent to heaven, in which case your grades will still be a basis of judgment for rewards in this earthly sphere.
Q: What if my instructor is raptured?
A: None of our instructors bear much chance of being judged worthy. However, on the off chance your instructor is chosen, an army of unemployed secular Marxists is waiting to take his/her place.
Q: If my mother/father/grandfather/grandmother/favorite aunt/etc. is chosen, will I be excused from the final so that I may mourn his/her loss?
A: No. They have not died, but been granted eternal life, thus this does not count as a case of a death in the family.
Q: If my instructor is not raptured, is he really fit to judge me?
A: Yes, seeing as you were not raptured, you are still subject to the earthly judgment of the unsaved. If/when you are redeemed, a change of grade form will be automatically processed by heavenly authorities if they decide your grade was unfairly given by one of the damned.
Q: If my computer crashes and my printer breaks and there is no email on account of the rapture, will I be able to get an extension on the paper?
A: Everyone in tech and IT departments is of Satan’s party, so the internet, your computer, and your printer should continue to work the way they always have: sporadically.
Q: How will the rapture affect your curving, particularly if raptured students are exempt from final tests/papers?
A: Final grades are not curved, but students who are taken up in the rapture will be given incompletes, just in case.
He got it from here.
Devoted readers often send in grist for the Perfidy mill. In fact, the mail address for email submissions is now actually grist (at) perfidy (dot) org. So there.
First up is a book recommendation from Christian – The Limits of Democratization: Climate, Intelligence, and Resource Distribution. It seems very hbd-ish:
A central conclusion is that it is probably never possible to achieve the same level and quality of democracy in all countries of the world because of the impact of the two ultimate constraining factors (annual mean temperature and national IQ), which are outside conscious human control. We should learn to accept the fact that because of the evolved human diversity, we are bound to live in a world of many kinds of disparities, including inequalities in the quality of democracy and in the possibilities to enjoy similar political rights and civil liberties.
Also, it’s written by a Finn.
Next, from Minister Emeritus GeekLethal, there’s this:
And, from Mike, the predecessors of our future robot overlords.
Dad chimes in with a link to this Pew Research study, Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In little more than a century, the religious landscape of sub-Saharan Africa has changed dramatically. As of 1900, both Muslims and Christians were relatively small minorities in the region. The vast majority of people practiced traditional African religions, while adherents of Christianity and Islam combined made up less than a quarter of the population, according to historical estimates from the World Religion Database.
Since then, however, the number of Muslims living between the Sahara Desert and the Cape of Good Hope has increased more than 20-fold, rising from an estimated 11 million in 1900 to approximately 234 million in 2010. The number of Christians has grown even faster, soaring almost 70-fold from about 7 million to 470 million. Sub-Saharan Africa now is home to about one-in-five of all the Christians in the world (21%) and more than one-in-seven of the world’s Muslims (15%).
In addition, the 19-nation survey finds:
- Africans generally rank unemployment, crime and corruption as bigger problems than religious conflict. However, substantial numbers of people (including nearly six-in-ten Nigerians and Rwandans) say religious conflict is a very big problem in their country.
- The degree of concern about religious conflict varies from country to country but tracks closely with the degree of concern about ethnic conflict in many countries, suggesting that they are often related.
- Many Africans are concerned about religious extremism, including within their own faith. Indeed, many Muslims say they are more concerned about Muslim extremism than about Christian extremism, and Christians in four countries say they are more concerned about Christian extremism than about Muslim extremism.
- Neither Christianity nor Islam is growing significantly in sub-Saharan Africa at the expense of the other; there is virtually no net change in either direction through religious switching.
- At least half of all Christians in every country surveyed expect that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetime, while roughly 30% or more of Muslims expect to live to see the re-establishment of the caliphate, the golden age of Islamic rule.
- People who say violence against civilians in defense of one’s religion is rarely or never justified vastly outnumber those who say it is sometimes or often justified. But substantial minorities (20% or more) in many countries say violence against civilians in defense of one’s religion is sometimes or often justified.
- In most countries, at least half of Muslims say that women should not have the right to decide whether to wear a veil, saying instead that the decision should be up to society as a whole.
- Circumcision of girls (female genital cutting) is highest in the predominantly Muslim countries of Mali and Djibouti but is more common among Christians than among Muslims in Uganda.
- Majorities in almost every country say that Western music, movies and television have harmed morality in their nation. Yet majorities in most countries also say they personally like Western entertainment.
- In most countries, more than half of Christians believe in the prosperity gospel — that God will grant wealth and good health to people who have enough faith.
- By comparison with people in many other regions of the world, sub-Saharan Africans are much more optimistic that their lives will change for the better.
Finally, from anonymous, a link to a DVD you can buy and which will be sent to your home like in the olden days: Expendable.
… when Zimbabwe tells you to straighten the fuck out on the whole inflation/fiat currency thing.
From Zero Hedge:
Yes. Zimbabwe, the same place that two years ago sported a brand new crisp Z$100 trillion bill. What is just as odd is that this news comes less than a week after Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized US economic policies, saying that the paper currency created by the American government is taking a heavy toll on the global economy. While Zimbabwe, which now transacts almost exclusively in foreign currencies such as the USD and the South African Rand, is actively considering ways to return its own currency into circulation, the man who has up to now served as an inspiration and a role model to Ben Bernanke, Gideon Gono, said the country should consider adopting a gold-backed currency. “There is a need for us to begin thinking seriously and urgently about introducing a Gold-backed Zimbabwe currency which will not only stable but internationally acceptable,” he said in an interview with state media…
We wonder what took Zimbabwe, a country rich in natural resources, so long to figure out that it was nothing but a puppet in the hands of western monetary interests:
“The events of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis demand a new approach to self reliance and a stable mineral-backed currency and to me, Gold has proven over the years that it is a stable and most desired precious metal,” Gono said.
“Zimbabwe is sitting on trillions worth of gold-reserves and it is time we start thinking outside the box, for our survival and prosperity.”
Curiously, the same can be said for Russia, and, soon enough, after it will have bought every last resource and global extraction company, China.
By now it is far too clear that it is an “Onion” world out there. Will it be all that surprising if Zimbabwe is the first country, following its brief and painful detour into hyperinflation, to introduce a gold-backed currency?
Crazy. By the way, I got my own Z$100,000,000,000,000 note from Amazon not that long ago. I told my son that I was going to give him an allowance denominated in Zimbabwean dollars. He wasn’t amused.
In old cartoons, you’d often see a character beset by a moral dilemma have a little angel and demon appear, one over each shoulder to argue the merits of the case. For me, thinking about politics, I have three.
I have a little Aretae, a little Foseti, and a little Bruce Charlton. To me, at least, these three each represent an aspect of truth – the sort of truth that is not to be found in the mainstream. But they don’t exactly agree with each other.
I keep thinking that there’s some synthesis of all this. But maybe it’s nothing more complicated than economics should approach as much as possible what Aretae recommends, politics aim more toward Foseti, and that in the end it won’t really work unless the people believe in something, together.
Today is short post title day here at Perfidy, apparently. The M stands for Motorcycle Endorsement, the which I have added to my Driver’s License. I sold my motorcycle back in ’98, and hadn’t ridden since – but increasing gas prices, and the increasing size of my vehicles, has led me to the point where I can justify returning to the world of motorcycles on a purely economic basis. I work from home most days, but on the days that I do head in to the office, my commute is murderous – 70 miles each way, and half of that through some of the worst traffic our nation has to offer. It now costs over $120 to fill up the Suburban, and $70 for the X-Terra. Filling up the tank on a bike will cost less than $20.
Right now, it costs me about $200 in gas to get to work in a month. Switching to a bike will reduce that to about $30. That’s a not-insignificant savings. And if gas prices continue to rise, the savings will only get better! And, as an added bonus, I’ll be able to use the communist HOV lanes, and cut my commute time by about an hour.
So, that’s how I sold it to the wife.
I’m looking at getting something along this line:
But I wouldn’t be unhappy if Santa gave me one of these:
Yesterday was a happy day, for I am finally south of 230 pounds for the first time in well over a decade. That 230 had seemed for some little while now to be like the speed of light – something that can be approached but not exceeded. I’ve been as close as 230.5 a few times in the last couple months, but just couldn’t get any further.
I have blamed the stagnation on my wife, circumstances, children, cosmic rays, the Jews and always the never to be sufficiently damned herring eating Norwegians. But the was just one simple cause, really – lack of focus and consistency. So it was my fault, I guess. The last couple weeks I have been much more strict in my paleo diet, and I’ve started lifting again.
I have to say that even just a little into the new exercise regime, I am very pleased with it and the the results. I’ve combined the super-slow methodology that I was introduced to by Aretae with a collection of body-weight exercises, and it pretty much kicks my ass. Which is what you want in an exercise program.
The first day’s program was arms and shoulders. I was surprised at how much more difficult push-ups are done super-slow style can be. My arms are strongish, thanks to the six months of weight-lifting on machines I did last fall and winter. The push-ups gave me a nice burn there, but the next day I could feel everything around the big muscles hurting, and even more, I could feel the pain in my abs. I think this new program will be a lot more effective. The best thing about the You Are Your Own Gym book is that he gives you lots of ways to adjust the difficulty of the exercises, which makes it easy to adjust each exercise to hit the 90-second-to-exhaustion target for super slow.
For the next few months, I’m going to be doing about seven minutes of lifting a day, four times a week. I think this, along with a strict paleo diet, will get me down to an optimal body weight sometime in the Fall. I’m not sure exactly what that will be, exactly, because I’m not sure how much more muscle I’ll get; but I definitely want my body fat percentage down to at least 10.
For those who thought there was no way that bagpipes could possibly be more irritating: you are wrong. For those who think the opposite, you also are wrong:
Make sure you watch to the end for the big finish.
Interesting interview with sf author and singularitarian Vernor Vinge here.
Vernor Vinge: I see four or five concurrently active paths to the Singularity:
- Artificial Intelligence: We create superhuman artificial intelligence in computers.
- Digital Gaia: The worldwide network of embedded microprocessors, sensors, effectors, and localizers becomes a superhumanly intelligent entity.
- Internet Scenario: Humanity with its networks, computers, and databases becomes a superhuman being. (Bruce’s story “Maneki Neko” is a beautiful and subtle illustration of this possibility.)
- Intelligence Amplification: We enhance individual human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces.
- Biomedical: We directly increase our intelligence by improving the neurological function of our brains. (I regard this last item to be the weakest of the possibilities.)
AR is central to progress with possibilities (3) and (4).
If we humans want to keep our hand in the game, AR is an important thing to pursue.
Cool stuff, as you’d expect. But the most exciting thing for me is the news that there will be a new Vinge book out this year, a sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep called The Children of the Sky. Sweet.
The Instapundit has been thrashing the higher education bubble meme for this little while, most recently lining to a longish piece in New York Magazine, The University Has No Clothes. As you, Dear Reader, will be aware if you’ve been paying attention the Buckethead clan is homeschooling its youngins. So the idea of college and education and assorted issues is important to us. I have mixed feelings about college education. It is in theory capable of providing the sort of knowledge that simply cannot be gotten any other way. And we all like to think of it that way. But the reality is something more akin to a four to seven year long, savagely, offensively expensive binger with a light frosting of vocational training and (for the lucky or skilled) a creamy filling of consequence- and moral-free sex. At the end, you are tossed into the world with a credential of dubious and rapidly diminishing value and a mortgage for an expensive house you can’t live in or sell.
Now, I would be the last person on Earth to undervalue spending the better part of a decade drunk, high and nailing anything with a heart beat. But I managed accomplish exactly that with a bare minimum of debt by the simple expedient of not actually attending college. And of all the people I met in college, a fair number of them did graduate with debt ranging from inconvenient to crushing. And only one is actually doing anything remotely related to his degree, and of the rest very few are doing work that actually requires a college degree in even the most tenuous way. Did they get their, or their parent’s, worth of the money spent or borrowed? I have no sheepskin, but I am doing better financially than a large number of graduates from the small Ohio liberal arts school I attended. And I arguably had a lot more fun. Because when I was doing my real drinking, I never had to worry about midterms.
If I’m willing to keep my kids out of public schools to give them a better education, college is certainly up for discussion. Do I want to drop $200k (or more, hyperinflation depending) to allow my son, and equivalent or greater sums for three daughters to go on a four year bender in a world completely divorced from reality and end up unemployable?
I think I can think of better ways to spend the best part of a million dollars.
We’ve just recently hit a lot of fifty year milestones in space history. I’ve been somewhat surprised that a fairly wide spectrum of the public commentary has been negative on the long term effects of Apollo. I’ve personally felt for a long time that NASA’s entire existence from the late fifties until this very moment has been a hindrance to real progress in space exploration. And not merely despite its successes, but really largely because of them. While I haven’t been the only one saying this, it is gratifying to see that others are coming around. Rand Sindberg is the best example. (Oh, and not to suggest that this is a recent conversion for him – he’s thought this way for a long, long time. But he puts it well. Related, and also interesting is this piece from James Bennett.)
I was born a month before we first walked on the moon. When I was a boy my son’s age, we had a space station and the shuttle was on the horizon promising cheap access to space. Things seemed pretty cool, space-wise. Then we let the first US space station burn up, the shuttle turned into a hideously expensive, designed-by committee explodey thing, and the dream of space resolved into just that, a dream with no reality to it whatsoever.
So here I am, in my early forties. My son is eight, and we are again, maybe, seeing a rebirth of the dream of space. SpaceX has successfully flown the Falcon 9 and Dragon – which is, barring only some life support equipment, a vehicle capable of putting men in orbit for an less than a tenth the price of the shuttle. And they’ve announced that next year, they’ll be test flying the Falcon Heavy – which will put 50 tons into orbit at a price of $100 million. Two launches to get the throw weight of an Apollo-era Saturn V, at less than a $1000 a pound. This is big news. At those sorts of prices, much that wasn’t feasible becomes, well, feasible.
And better yet, there are others in the game. If SpaceX falls down, Rutan, Bezos, or someone else will likely be there to take up the slack. And everyone can fly to Bigelow’s space hotels.
I’ve been reading a lot of economic doom and gloom (thanks, Zero Hedge!) lately, and the prognosis is, so far as I can see, pretty solidly doomy and gloomy. It feels like we’ve moved away from everything that once made us kick ass, and embraced everything lame. The list is long…
But, even though we’ve lost huge chunks of the manufacturing sector, and most of our exports are raw materials, and we can’t even deliver pizza in under a half hour any more – the one bright spot in the last few decades has been the computer industry. And what makes me happy right now is that the people who did the best at that, and made the biggest piles of money, are using that money to reinvent the space program on their own terms.
Maybe we’ll have an Indian Summer before it all falls apart.
I have a stupid reason for why I don’t post more often. I hope you are now asking yourself, “How stupid?” and not muttering, “And this is surprising how?” And that reason is this: I do not have the luxury of pursuing lengthy trains of thought. While individually, my wife, son, three daughters, dog, cat, work, natural catastrophes, neighbor kids and Global Warming may only interrupt me only occasionally; collectively they are derailing my lengthy trains o’ thought on average about every three milliseconds.
So the Grand Thoughts that I wish to think remain unthunk. Which pisses me off a little.
Because I feel that a lot of the stuff I think about is just this close to congealing into something more than a pile of unordered ramblings. I sense the outlines of order and coherence, but can’t get it down on paper, or pixels.
So, I am making a conscious decision to: a) stop leaving things in my feed reader in the now obviously futile hope that I will get back to them and write something about them; b) prune the feed reader so that I have less to obsessively read; c) read more books; and finally, d) post smaller bits as they occur to me.
In aid of d), there’s this: Aretae talks about immigration. Some of this has now been addressed in his comments, and he’s updated his post a little from when I read it this morning.
To lay it out Aretae-style, my thoughts went roughly like this:
Anywho, that’s my small thought for today.
[wik] And here is this amusing, if harsh, take on Libertarianism.
Here’s some stuff I’ve managed to read whilst being distracted by, among other things, being swamped at work, dealing with multiple family medical crises, a new(-ish) baby, and ennui.
To Dead Men’s Hollow, my wife’s band, on winning what is I believe their eighth Wammie award. The Wammies are the Washington area’s regional grammy-equivalent and this year they won for Best Bluegrass Recording for their album Angels’ Share.
Angels’ Share is Bluegrass Gospel, and its some good stuff. Strangely, they don’t seem to have any songs from the new album on their page, but you can hear snippets on the amazon page I linked above. You can download some older live recordings here, or listen to more stuff on the band’s myspace page.
My wife’s band is better than your wife’s band. Unless you’re Mike, Gavin, or Ari. In which case your wife’s band is my wife’s band.
The Instapundit linked to the top five worst hyperinflations of all time. The worst was in Hungary in 1946:
Highest monthly inflation: 13,600,000,000,000,000%
Prices doubled every: 15.6 hours
The worst case of hyperinflation ever recorded occurred in Hungary in the first half of 1946. By the midpoint of the year, Hungary’s highest denomination bill was the 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 (One Hundred Quintillion) pengo, compared to 1944s highest denomination, 1,000 pengo. At the height of Hungary’s inflation, the CATO study estimates that the daily inflation rate stood at 195 percent, with prices doubling approximately every 15.6 hours, coming out to a monthly inflation rate of 13.6 quadrillion percent.
The situation was so dire that the government adopted a special currency that was created explicitly for tax and postal payments and was adjusted each day via radio. The pengo was eventually replaced later that year in a currency revaluation, but it is estimated that when the currency was replaced in August 1946, the total of all Hungarian banknotes in circulation equaled the value of one one-thousandth of a US Dollar.
Holy devaluations, Batman! An entire currency worth a tenth of a cent. That just blows my mind. That and having a radio adjusted currency. Strangely, it sounds sort of science fictiony. Like, if you didn’t know how fucked up it is, it would sound cool.
I was surprised to see this at Breitbart’s Big Government site – in tone it’s more what I would expect from Mangan, Devin or Foseti.
Witness, Andrew Mellon:
Universally, democracy is being exalted.
Everywhere one turns, one hears of its virtues: how democracy ensures human rights, fosters prosperity and shepherds in modernity.
Yet democracy represents nothing more than the tyranny of the majority. In other words, contrary to the ideals of western liberalism, democracy does not ensure that the smallest minority, the individual is protected.
In the vast majority of circumstances, people free to choose their government get the government they desire. In Russia, the people have chosen again and again to elect KGB criminals. In Gaza, the people have chosen to elect either Hamas or Fatah, terrorist parties in perpetual war. Democracy does not a free society ensure. Even in America, citizens have not only allowed but encouraged the growth of a rapacious bureaucratic tyranny.
Wait, that last sentence was me. Mellon continues:
Democracy is merely a system of election – it is not inherently good as its results are entirely predicated on the voters themselves. Freedom-loving peoples will generally establish a political system to protect freedom. Those who prefer strict rule will devise a political order that squelches it.
This has obvious implications. But Mellon is speaking of Egypt.
I would argue that any Islamic society will refuse to establish a system grounded in property rights, individual liberty and free market principles because it is completely anathema to Islamic culture, history and religious tenets.
So why are doing the same despite our clear lack of Sharia? Finally, he wanders close to the point:
In our own nation which shifted from a Republic to a democracy (against the wishes of the Founders mind you), we have seen poor results. Even with a populace composed ostensibly of freedom-loving peoples, we have developed a social welfare state with crony capitalism, plunderous public unions, major slices of the private sector either outright or de facto nationalized and widespread wealth redistribution. When combined with political correctness, a chief component of cultural Marxism, our society in many respects has been rendered impotent.
Now all he needs to do is embrace the dark side and understand that Democracy is the cause of these tragic developments. It didn’t just allow them to happen, it didn’t create an environment where the malevolent could make them happen – it created our world.