Archive for November, 2009

No drama means more of the same blah blah.

November 30, 2009

 

Each individual African average 500 kilograms of CO2 per year. The average French, six tons. The average American creates 24 tons of CO2 per year (yes, 4 times the French). That could be somehow excusable if the average American lived better. But, clearly the average American is living less well than the average Frenchman, when all is considered, from schools to health care, to vacation, social net, income, debt level, and even, now, unemployment. So to whom do these other 18 tons of CO2 profit in the USA?

Obama is going to Copenhagen, but just for the beginning, showing himself for the planet to admire, and will not stay, when everything is decided during this CO2 conference. The other 66 heads of states will be left to their own instruments, digesting the humiliation inflicted to them by the US president.

Also Obama, in a further subtle insult and obfuscation, grandly announced that the USA would reduce CO2 emissions by 17% from 2005. Nobody else on Earth measures from 2005. But the American president is special, he thinks different. Everybody else measures CO2 levels from 1990. Island states have demanded that the CO2 emissions be reduced by at least 40% from 1990 levels (they do not like drowning, and they are drowning under an accelerating sea level rise, year after year).

Germany has agreed to those CO2 reduction numbers. France and the rest of the European Union may be able to achieve something like this. But the USA augmented its emissions by 10% to 12% between 1990 and 2005. So what Obama is really talking about is more like a 5% to 7% reduction from the CO2 levels. It’s all the more grotesque, since the USA has the capability, and the interest to do much more (but not so for the small oligarchy Obama and the top democrats seem to depend from).

Europe, including Great Britain, has suggested a tax on financial transactions. The British talked about reducing "socially useless" activities. Indeed. I have proposed such a financial transaction tax on my blog, years ago. There are many deep reasons for it. One of the reasons is to create a speed limit on financial transactions. The cause of that speed limit would be the same as the cause for having the speed of light in physics. Namely the necessity to distinguish between cause and effect.

In other words, some of the reasons for having such a tax are much deeper than those usually found at the conceptual level familiar to economists. The financial transaction tax is necessary, otherwise the financial universe will keep on making no sense.

The transaction tax would help reduce the world of transactions that make no economic sense, and bring desperately needed income for the state. But Summers and Geithner, representing Wall Street as usual are against it, and they are Obama’s handlers. Obama does not care what they say, they are his handlers.

Meanwhile Obama is going to tell Karzai in Afghanistan that it will be different next time. In other words, Obama wants us to believe that he believes that Afghanistan is not "too big to fail". A reminder is in order: the Obama administration sent the money of the poor to the rich who had destroyed the economy, because we were told that those rich were "too big too fail".

Having sent too much of the money to rescue those who had caused the disaster, and to reinstitute them in their commanding positions, and give them enough to play same as they did before, Obama could not send enough to the real economy. So the real economy is going to tank again as the skyrocketing unemployment start to take its toll. (Global unemployment, U6 is already at 17.5%, versus 25% at the top of the Great Depression.) The crisis is not finished, because big banks make profits only with (government) rigged trades, instead of making them honestly, the old fashion way, by earning them from irrigating the real economy. So soon the economy will fold again, while "No Drama Obama" is unable to enact the necessary drama to make things move, in the right direction (hint: it is not towards Afghanistan, with its secret "black" prison violating international, and U.S., law)

Hence the USA will crawl along until it becomes blatant, even to those submitted to heavy American plutocratic propaganda, that the European Union got it right: a bit more central planning and honesty is what the doctor ordered.

Meanwhile China and Europe have interest to comfort the USA in the error of its ways, and let it simmer in its Middle Age time warp.

Which other country use the same unit system as the Roman empire? The USA. A lot of this country has become firmly stuck in what worked, and will never work again.

And so on.

Advertisements

Transmissibility and lethality.

November 29, 2009

GENTLENESS MAKES FOR CONTAGION, FACILITATING HOLOCAUSTS.

In a nutshell: There is, in epidemiology, a complementarity principle between transmissibility and lethality. It explains the change of lethality of the Black Plague and the present flu epidemics. One can extend this observation of complementarity to systems of thought, and deduce from it the necessity of vaccinating against some religions and some forms of corruption.

***

COMPLEMENTARITY PRINCIPLE IN EPIDEMIOLOGY:

In 1348 CE, the "Black Plague" swept Europe, killing between 40% and 60% of the population. It was long considered to be the bubonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. But there are many problems with this interpretation, and the known facts fit better some sort of viral hemorrhagic fever.

Some diseases are known in Africa, such as Ebola, an hemorrhagic virus, which are hard to transmit: infected people show symptoms before they can infect the next potential victims. Whereas, after infection, the Black Plague killed in 4 to 8 days, and was highly contagious during its silent phase (mysteriously it showed up under 3 different forms).

In general, there is a balance between transmissibility and lethality: an agent that is highly lethal will be hard to transmit, so little prone to a pandemic.

Conversely, the new "Porcine" flu, A H1N1, has been extremely contagious, and not very dangerous… So far. (Although, because of the nature of the surface of the virus, it attacks deeper in the lungs than the usual flu.)

Such an infectious agent as AH1N1, which is easy to get, and not too dangerous, can afford to become much more deadly. More exactly, if a more deadly mutation occurs to such an agent, there is a high probability that the agent will stay as contagious, or nearly as contagious as before (contagion depending most probably upon dozens of other genetic surface characteristics of the agent). That was the clear danger with AH1N1, and with any agent that is rather innocuous, and highly contagious, while not far removed from very deadly forms.

The extremely deadly pandemics of Hong Kong flu in the 1950s and the so called Spanish flu of 1918 (which killed 40 millions) were apparently H1N1 (with supplementary mutations, relative to the present form). Unfortunately, the health authorities did not explain this clearly. Such a mutation, D222G, has appeared, and it killed at least one otherwise perfectly healthy 26 year old French male, in a few hours.

So let’s say to make the reasoning computable, that the Black Plague killed 50% of Europe, and that 50% of the survivors caught the disease. Those survivors were immunized (whatever the disease was). The remaining 25% had never come into contact with the disease (to prevent contagion, travel was forbidden, and many cities and villages had no cases of the "Black Plague"). Hence, in the future, the density of the population that the infectious agent could spread into was just a fourth of what it was previously. Hence, one can suppose the agent could propagate if, and only, if each human carrier could survive four times longer. By then, there was a much higher probability that the immune system of the carrier had kicked in gear, and the human carrier would survive.

Hence the Black Plague agent could survive if and only if it mutated into a form that was more than four times less lethal (using simplistic math). And this is what was observed. Thus a milder form of the Plague affected Europe for centuries, with waves of epidemics, but never again as viciously as the one of 1348. As the centuries passed, and population rebounded, the infectious agent could become more lethal again (hence the more ferocious plague that made the young Newton flee to the family farm, around 1660, to contemplate falling apples, while watching the moon in the distance).

***

COMPLEMENTARITY PRINCIPLE IN MORAL SYSTEMS:

So much for biology. An interest of new science is that it provides new models that can be used far from their original realm (Einstein, by the way, was an expert at doing this within physics, and that means that many concepts that he considered fully demonstrated were not so, they were just analogies; but analogies are main tools of philosophy). This is actually one of the main ways of creating new philosophy: by grabbing scientific models, and applying them elsewhere.

So is there a moral philosophy to be extracted from this biological phenomenon of complementarity, as above? Well, there is. If a system of thought is highly contagious, and seems rather innocuous while related to extremely deadly forms, it could also mutate in a very deadly way, while staying highly contagious.

This is what happened with Nazism. There had been, for centuries, deadly, but not that deadly "anti-Semitism" (mostly meaning anti-Judaism), in Europe, and especially Germany. The old deadly Christian anti-Judaism had been rekindled by Luther. It looked innocuous enough to those who were not intellectually rigorous, so it was highly contagious (in other words, German intellectuals and artists did not fight it as much as they should have). people would say Christianism was about love, so if the impotent Luther raged about Jews, it got to be right somehow, but it did not matter, because Luther had no divisions. Well, Hitler had hundreds of divisions, and the poison reinforced by Luther was in all the mind, including that of Hitler (who, it is true also admired Islam, another religion which hates the Jews, to an amazingly grotesque extent).

Then this latent German racism mutated in Africa: in Namibia, Goering, father of Goering, governor of Namibia, organized a holocaust of the "racially inferior natives" (if the Jews were inferior, why not the African bushmen?). So global racism came out as a strong deadly, but localized, racial theory, and most Germans came to accept it (because the virus of conformism to peer pressure and discipline had long been spread by the Prussian army, and the schools subservient to it). Racism was then applied to the French and their African troops, and the long despised and hated "Slaves" ("Slavs") to the East. This global racism became white hot as the German empire lost World War One. From rage (a further mutation).

Of course Muslim fundamentalism is a case in point too: on the surface it’s innocuous, and thus highly contagious. Even Obama promoted it in Cairo (as all presidents of the USA have done since Roosevelt in 1945). Supposedly that is one of the reason why he received the Nobel Prize. Why would one want to vaccinate against Muslim fundamentalism? Simply because it is closely related to extremely lethal religions.

Indeed Islam was obtained by a succession of mutations from Judaism and Christianism. Judaism and Christianism have killed millions. Indeed fanatical Judaism brought the destruction of a semi independent Judea under Rome, causing a war that killed a million around 70 CE, and was both a civil war among Jews, plus a war against Rome. Christianism, a religion imposed by the fascist, particularly bloody and homicidal emperor Constantine, is, of course, probably the most lethal religion that ever was. It even single handedly caused the Dark Ages, by burning all libraries, making a self described "war against the philosophers", killing intellectuals, all heretics (purified by fire, as Christ recommended), killing many Jews, closing schools, forcing all free thinkers out of the empire, etc…

So one wants to vaccinate against highly infectious agents that look innocuous enough. Unregulated Wall Street is a recent example. For nearly a century, the exactions of Wall Street (behind Hitler) and U.S. Big Oil (also behind Hitler; for example, Texaco is how Hitler’s Franco puppet conquered Spain) profited the general American population, and thus were viewed with benign neglect. Wall Street was deadly to Europeans, profitable to Americans (for example, Wall Street created IG Farben, which created Zyklon B, the gas that killed millions of European civilians, from racial hatred). But Europe has survived, become somewhat immune to Wall Street, and now Wall Street is reduced to blatant maneuvering, front and center (instead of hiding behind Hitler and Stalin; yes, some Wall Street titans got decorated by both devils).

***

Thus what is gentle enough to be highly contagious, if related to deadly form, should be vaccinated against when there is still time. History and biology concur.

PA

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

A Carbon Treaty Is A Win-Win For Everybody.

November 26, 2009

 

(Even Wall Street, but nothing is ever perfect…)

Is Obama warming up?

***

I was preparing a robust document about American deranged policy in Afghanistan, when it was announced that, to quote the New York Times, three hours ago: "At the international climate summit meeting in Copenhagen next month, Mr. Obama will tell the delegates that the United States intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050…"

My approach to Obama is stick and carrot. At this point, it’s going to be carrot, since this sudden volte face about going to Copenhagen represents a laudable effort on his part to try to get out of the encroaching senility of American politics. The American policy relative to climate change has made even less sense than taking part in a civil war between depraved primitives in Afghanistan.

That U.S. policy, so far, is that of the ostrich, head firmly planted in the sand, but even an ostrich would not take that increasing heat.

Believing that burning 400 million years of carbon is a lethal situation ought to make economic sense, especially for American patriots. The USA has a gigantic scientific machine (still) at its disposal. By refusing to exert it on devising technological solutions to climate change, it has been forced it to stay stuck in bed, wasting its magnificent bode and eager mind. Instead, if the USA harnessed that gigantic scientific machine, and then hooked it up to legal constraints for improving technology, the USA would gain economic advantage. It is economics 101.

The main argument against the CARBON BUILD-UP is that, whatever the exact amount of the probability, the risk is too high. I called that the CO2 WAGER.

For a different perspective, here is a little vivifying memo for Obama, about the CARBON BUILD-UP. I was asked kindly by the blog "Learning From Dogs" to answer the following questions:

1. Is mankind having an effect on the atmosphere of this planet which will be harmful?

2. Is there any room for error in your answer to Q.1.?

3. CO2 levels in the atmosphere are higher than has ever been known by science.  Is that a correct statement?

4. Are the activities of mankind causing the increasing levels of acidification in the oceans of the planet?

5. Are the activities of mankind causing the rising sea levels of the planet’s oceans?

6. Is man-made global warming happening: yes; no; unclear?

7. Is there a rational argument for assuming global warming will threaten mankind’s existence on the planet?

***

 

Here are my answers:

1. Is mankind having an effect on the atmosphere of this planet which will be harmful?

Two degrees Celsius warming globally, planet wide, in the average, may mean twenty degrees Celsius warming at the poles, on current trends, extended linearly Thus Alaska would become  tropical. Amazingly, not only did it happen before, but it seems to be the Earth preferred climate.   Our present BIOSPHERE is not adapted to this though: crocodiles could swim to tropical Alaska, but where are all temperate and polar fauna and flora going to go?

2. Is there any room for error in your answer to Q.1.?

Not really: when the plane is going to hit the mountain, it does not matter whehter it is going a few degrees higher or a few degrees lower. The observed fact is that the poles are warming ten times faster than the rest of the planet.

Of course, when one tries to do refined science, one wants to mitigate raw data by a bit of theory. Thus, for example, more ice piles up in the dead center of Antarctica, because the air there, being a bit less frigid, can carry more water. Some people have argued that this effect would compensate by the melting at the edges of the icecaps. But actually the melting of the icecaps has accelerated from .45 mm per year to .75 mm per year in the last two years.

Indeed, aside from the piling up of more ice at the South Pole, from the warming, all other non linear effects induced by the warming ought to make the situation ever worse, quicker.

3. CO2 levels in the atmosphere are higher than has ever been known by science.  Is that a correct statement?

We use to know this for the last 800,000 years, by studying old air in ice cores.

Now new methods study various isotopes of various biological remains (for example Foraminifera fossils, and can be extended hundreds of millions of years.

It is correct that, for the last 15 million years, according to the latest (2009) research, CO2 concentration were limited to 300 parts per million volume (except for possible transient peaks; extreme volcanism can rise and lower CO2 quickly).

During the warmest geological eras CO2 was much higher, though. Those eras were much more extensive than the glaciated periods. and therein our tragedy: the planet as Homo has always known it was a glaciated planet. The climate has drastically cooled since shortly before the disappearance of the dinosaurs (See my TRAPPED IN SUPER TRAPS ). We are threatening turn back the heat of 100 million years ago, in 100 years.

4. Are the activities of mankind causing the increasing levels of acidification in the oceans of the planet?

Half of the increased, "anthropogenic" CO2, so far, has gone in the ocean, some reacting with water to make carbonic acid. The latest research suggests that plankton will start dissolving by 2100. A lot of CO2 was just dissolved, as in a carbonated soda, (e.g. Perrier), and may, and, most likely, will, come out if warmed up and shaken. This is now happening in the Antarctic ocean, which has been warming, while wind speed increased (hence more waves, and more shaking of the man-made Perrier… Actually Perrier is also man-made, just that way, by injecting more source CO2…)

5. Are the activities of mankind causing the rising sea levels of the planet’s oceans?

The ocean has been warming up, and thus it expands. The expansion is accelerating. There are evidence from diverse sources, including satellites, that the giant icecaps of Greenland and Antarctica are, overall, melting. Since some Antarctic temperatures have gone up 4.5 degree Celsius, if one ascribes that spectacular rise in temperature to man, as all the evidence points out to, then so it is.

6. Is man-made global warming happening: yes; no; unclear?

Some people have used disingenuous tricks with the temperature graphs, to pretend that the Earth has been cooling in the last decade. They typically start a straight line at a high point. A slowing down of the warming is arguable, short term, but it may be attributable to the coolest sun in a century, as I explained in SUN COOLING, STILL THE ICE WAS MELTING . If anything, it is to be feared that the warming will considerably accelerate in the next few years, as the sun becomes more normal.

There is also a subtle phenomenon at play, well known to physicists.

The warming is just a degree of freedom of the system in which increased energy is flowing, as the lowest part of the atmosphere warms. Warming can involve the oceans, or the ground itself. When one looks at the temperature gradient in the latter, by digging holes and measuring the temperature gradient, the signs of irresistible warming are blatant.

As the warming proceeds, something new happens: new dimensions open up, in which energy can flow. Thus, paradoxically, some effects that were blatant before can become less so, as the new sinks for the increasing energy open up. In particular, such effects could slow down the apparent warming, as they suck up the energy (this is how people cool by sweating: the heat energy is diverted towards evaporating water).

So looking only at a thermometer to gauge climate change is a mistake. So far, the temperature rise in the temperate and tropical areas has been tiny, but the effects in the polar areas, where the refrigerators and sun shades of the planet are, have been tremendous .If, and when those get demolished, all hell will break lose: the entire planet will become tropical, deserts will extend, continents will desiccate in the present tropics.

7. Is there a rational argument for assuming global warming will threaten mankind’s existence on the planet?

The problem is more global carbon than global warming per se. Global carbon threatens an imminent collapse of the food chain in the ocean. This has happened before, and was caused by volcanoes (which belch SO2 and CO2).

Mankind’s ongoing existence will then become a military problem, the revelation of a victor after most of humankind dies. Indeed, as the biosphere collapses, nuclear world war has a high probability of occurring.

The apparition of a victor is by no means certain. As the defeat of Britain and France in May-June 1940 showed, and the victory at Midway confirmed, one- time extraordinary events, not easily reproducible in war games, do happen in real war. So it is not clear that civilization will survive. For civilization to survive, the capacity to progress technologically has to be preserved, because we can’t go back, having destroyed the support system for the old technologies (and, if we destroy enough species, even a return to the Paleolithic will not insure the survival of the species, because there will be nothing to hunt).

In any case, if the Earth switches to its hot mode, it is clear that billions of people will die. Political leaders informed of this, and neglecting that forecast become accomplices of this incoming holocaust.

There is no choice. So Obama is right to go to Copenhagen, and he better come back with a drastic accord. Not only the planet, and mankind, but even the prosaic economic superiority of the USA will greatly profit. Short term.

Indeed the USA is not just the Saudi Arabia of poisonous coal, but also the Saudi Arabia of wind, and, even better, the Saudi Arabia of sun. God is probably American, so we may as well milk it.

Patrice Ayme

Bonded To Wall Street.

November 23, 2009

 

THE COLLAPSE OF UNENDING SUMMERS.

The unflappable Larry Summers, Obama’s evil adviser, the Obama administration’s highest-ranking economist, has spoken again. We had Bush, with his "Mission Accomplished", now we have Summers, and he is accomplishing his mission:

clip_image002[4]

(Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Barring the Great Depression, this is an unprecedented catastrophe, for the people, and an incomparable success, for Wall Street, and Obama is directly responsible. Hiding behind the Bush does not hold water anymore, because he, and his Summers are doing nothing to stop the disaster for the people, and the windfall, for Wall Street.

Patronizes Summers: “It may be desirable to have a given amount of work shared among more people. But that’s not as desirable as expanding the total amount of work.” True. But look at the graph. Congress and the administration do not seem willing to spend enough on stimulating the real economy to change that graph.

What is going on? Oh, simply just as a body cannot work if blood does not circulate, a free economy cannot work if capital does not circulate. What happened to capital? It is not circulating in the real economy. Where did it go?

The Bank Of England (BOE) just came out with a scathing report on the cruel and slightly demented shenanigans of Summers and his ilk. It’s entitled "BANKING ON THE STATE".

Says the BOE in November 2009: "…the scale of intervention to support the banks in the UK, US and the euro-area during the current crisis [is baffling]. This totals over $14 trillion or almost a quarter of global GDP. It dwarfs any previous state support of the banking system. These interventions have been as imaginative as they are large, including liquidity and capital injections, debt guarantees, deposit insurance and asset purchase.

The costs of this intervention is already being felt. As in the Middle Ages, perceived risks from lending to the state are larger than to some corporations. The price of default insurance is higher for some G7 governments than for McDonalds or the Campbell Soup Company.

Yet there is one key difference between the situation today and that in the Middle Ages. Then, the biggest risk to the banks was from the sovereign. Today, perhaps the biggest risk to the sovereign comes from the banks. Causality has reversed."

Causality has reversed? What else has reversed? Democracy? Let’s put in a few clear words what the BOE is saying: the greatest risk to the "sovereign", Obama, is from the banks. Obama is not really the sovereign, he just plays one on TV. In truth, he is at risk, he is a scared rabbit, and he sure talks like one (see below).

The bankers are now sovereign, says the BOE. In other words, we have devolved since the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, the sovereigns, representing the peoples, ordered the bankers around. Now, it’s the other way.

Unelected individuals, of proven incompetence, the connected bankers, representing only themselves, are ordering everybody else around.

Socrates pointed out that electing someone did not make that someone competent, and therein the problem with Athenian democracy.

So Athens’ fledgling democracy, just recovering from a holocaust of its own hubristic making, where half of its population had died in a horrendously incompetently led war, had Socrates summarily executed. Interestingly, the war had started because the Athenian oligarchy stole some considerable amount of capital. Socrates, full of contempt, made the point that the haughty integrity of his philosophical superiority was worth more than his life.

(This lousy attempt at hiding the short coming of democracy, Athenian style, did not bear fruit, because next Macedonia submitted Greece, and after defeating that fascist regime with the help of Rome, 2 centuries later, Rome’s plutocracy turned on its democratic allies and submitted them in turn to its imperial power. Athens would have to wait for the European Union, 24 centuries later, to know democracy and freedom again!)

Now, what the Bank Of England is saying is that BANKERS, WHO ARE UNELECTED and have demonstrated cosmic INCOMPETENCE, RULE. People, where is your democracy? Inside Summers’ ample pants?

The workings of the Obama administration are becoming ever more of the same old same old. Strong forces explain this.

First of all, the past has shown up again, with the same crew in control, the Goldman Sachs/Rubin/Summers/Geithner crowd. Ironically, many voted for Obama, and against Clinton, precisely because they felt that the Clintons had compromised themselves with the Rich (this is also a pun: Holder, Obama’s Attorney General, forgave Mr. Rich, a multi-billionaire, in the last hours of Clinton. That was for massive tax evasion, and fleeing to the canton of Zug, south of Zurich. As long as the Riches kept on sending their riches to the Clinton crowd, they were exonerated by the Clinton crowd, for not paying gigantic taxes they owed to the U.S. Treasury; it all makes sense: the republic has become the private garden of the Rich. So Rich built Clinton’s library.)

Remember that under Clinton, the "Banking Act of 1933" was dismantled, under Summers’ competent plutocratic hands. That made the crazy world of derivatives fully open to all the capital big banks could lay their hands on (some capital came from individuals, some came at 5 am in the morning, secretly, from the Fed, the central bank of the USA, by the billions, that is why the Fed does not want the people to look at its books. Ron Paul is trying to change this.)

Simultaneously, Clinton and his genius of a treasury secretary, Summers, were saving money for the next republican administration to spend, letting the direction-less economy go whichever direction Wall Street wanted it to go. Mr. Obama is kindly repeating the same scheme, maybe with President Palin’s administration in mind, next.

Indeed, fast forward to November 2009. Paul Krugman said it very kindly, so I am just going to quote him, because I do not feel as kind:

"President Obama and his inner circle have been intimidated by scare stories from Wall Street.

Consider the contrast between what Mr. Obama’s advisers were saying on the eve of his inauguration, and what he himself is saying now.

In December 2008 Lawrence Summers, soon to become the administration’s highest-ranking economist, called for decisive action. “Many experts,” he warned, “believe that unemployment could reach 10 percent by the end of next year.” In the face of that prospect, he continued, “doing too little poses a greater threat than doing too much.”

Ten months later unemployment reached 10.2 percent, suggesting that despite his warning the administration hadn’t done enough to create jobs. You might have expected, then, a determination to do more.

But in a recent interview with Fox News, the president sounded diffident and nervous about his economic policy. He spoke vaguely about possible tax incentives for job creation. But “it is important though to recognize,” he went on, “that if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.”

What? Huh?

Most economists I talk to believe that the big risk to recovery comes from the inadequacy of government efforts: the stimulus was too small, and it will fade out next year, while high unemployment is undermining both consumer and business confidence.

Now, it’s politically difficult for the Obama administration to enact a full-scale second stimulus. Still, he should be trying to push through as much aid to the economy as possible. And remember, Mr. Obama has the bully pulpit; it’s his job to persuade America to do what needs to be done. "

Apparently, once again, what Mr. Obama thinks needs to be done, is to give free rein and domination to his handlers on Wall Street.

This is really pathetic for the USA, and grandiose for Obama. By comparison, the governments of China, Germany and France are really governing their economies: they saw the writing on the wall of climate change, and they are driving their economies that way, towards renewables and conservation. Germany intends to be 40% below 1990 CO2 emissions by 2020. France has a huge number of projects in various states of implementation or planning (some all the way to 2030). China intends to become number one in renewables, ahead of Germany, it grandly announced, throwing down the gauntlet.

What China, Germany, France, the EU, and many others are doing is change one can believe in.

Once again, here is the change we can see in the USA:
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over.

clip_image001

(Bureau of Labor Statistics; graph goes from 1999 on the left to 2009, on the right. Somehow, it refuses to copy correctly from the BLS.)

The beginning of the rise in unemployment above, in 2001, can be attributed to the effect of the Clinton-Summers policy, just prior (as you can see, sort of, it’s 50%, because it rose from about 4% to 6%!).

The colossal rise on the right is the fruit of the Bush-Geithner policy. After all, Geithner, ex associate of Summers, was head of the New York Fed, thus "overviewed" what the nuts on Wall Street were doing (supposedly overviewing independently, that is). Anyway, Obama selected those worthies, Summers and Geithner, and transferred national assets to private individuals without counterparties (that’s acquisition of national riches, mafia style). Hence the sudden rise at the very right of the graph: the national economy, starved of capital, is suddenly out of gas.

To give free reins to imaginary bond vigilantes is the old change that was already seen under Clinton, when Wall Street increased power by leaps and bonds (bonding the U.S. government to Wall Street that is). So now Clinton is immensely rich, several times richer than the immensely rich Tony Blair, the invader of Iraq, who had certified Iraq was going to nuke us.

In a way, this clinging to the past is understandable: the USA had it good, and many of its leaders imagine that, by clinging desperately to old tricks, they will have it good some more. So, as the world tries to change for the better, the USA tries to change for the older, and that is the worse, as far as the rest of the world is concerned.

So what is this bond market problem? First there are short bonds (also called "bills"), and then there are long term bonds. There ought to be no contradiction between rewarding savers, by having higher short term rates, and low long term bond yields. Indeed, this has long been going on in the Eurozone.

All the problems in the USA arise from considerable leaks of capital in the extraneous dimension of crazy “derivatives”, thus robbing the real economy of energy. The Obama administration obviously does not want to understand this. Because, if it did, it could kiss Wall Street campaign contributions, and future lucrative speech compensations, good bye. Nor is it part of conventional economic theory, being a new development (Summers’ nefarious work, under Clinton, is only a decade old, and the economy exploded last year).

Wall Street makes money from sending as much capital as possible to the fake casino in the sky of derivatives. But capital, even leveraged capital, is finite, so Wall Street wants to divert as little capital as possible to Main Street, which it sees as a losing proposition. This is Wall Street’s first reason to have its servants expressing itself thus, against spending on the real economy. Wall Street’s position regarding the evolution of the society of the USA, although overall respecting its obsession with profits, is new and forward looking.

For the real economy, Wall street has its servants in China, making stuff. Wall Street does not want real people in a real economy, and thus with real power, really close to home.

Verily, an important danger, as far as Wall Street is concerned, is that, if real people in the USA get real jobs, in a real economy, they may feel important, and will have their hands on some power, and they may try to disrupt the casino of derivatives in the sky that feed Wall Street so wonderfully, with diverted people’s money. So long term unemployment at 17.5% (for U6, a record) as we have now, viewed that way, is very good news, as far as Wall Street in concerned: the less jobs, the less power to the people. Maybe Wall Street and his Obama minions can reach sometimes soon the record long term unemployment of the Great Depression (which was around 25%: just another effort, Summers and Geithner can do it!)

Summers and Obama are preparing for their lucrative jobs tomorrow, telling that tale, that Wall Street and its bond vigilantes are the real economy, and how to foster it more, while couching it for the opposite of what it is.

What will "progressives" say when Obama gets $500,000 per speech, the way Clinton does, telling the world’s richest individuals how to put societies to sleep with lies about hope and change, while delivering more of the same deterioration?

Some will say that I mean, that Obama and Summers could not possibly be like that. But history has thousands of more egregious cases (remember that Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler were self described socialists, with the interests’ of their people at heart, and elected accordingly, in the case of Benito and Adolf; Stalin had fooled Lenin and Trotsky). When one has eliminated all other causes of people’s behavior, if horror is all what is left, horror is all what it is.

And so it goes, all the way to oblivion. Many cultures and societies have gone thus, following their oligarchies all the way down the path of extermination. Still, they do not go down without fighting: as trust gets violated, the economy, and then the society, stop functioning. The Maya, Greeks, or Romans knew massive civil wars, as trust got violated (Athens, a democracy, violated trust by confiscating the treasury set aside to fight Persia; after that it was all the way downhill to near annihilation of Athens, 40 years later; so the theft of trillions by Wall Street, with the help of its White House servants, may take decades before it brings down the USA into flame and gore).

It is entirely obvious that trust was violated by the Clinton-Bush-Obama Wall Street managed administration. But trust is how the economy works. Money represents trust, symbolically. Not more than that.

A sound economy is billions of trillions of contracts, all believed to be sound. That’s trust at work. When that belief evaporates, anything can happen: the German government’s behavior around 1923 is an example: that government claimed to be a republic, but it did plenty of things contrary to that, and contrary to what it professed, in general. Thus people came to realize they were led by liars. Trust evaporated. Result: hyperinflation, with prices of basic goods such as meat, changing drastically several times a day.

The corruption between sovereigns and bankers was in full swing by the time Francois I and Charles Quint were using bankers in Italy and Germany to multiply their power, with the present, still in force, fractional banking system, as they fought each other. Nowadays, it looks grotesque: Francois, the self proclaimed French, and Charles, the Bourguignon, were both native French speakers, born a few miles apart. Countless died, and the economies got on a war footing: that particular war between Spain and France lasted much more than a century.

Now the situation has reversed, as the report from the Bank Of England, "Banking On The State", points out. The bankers use the sovereigns, the likes of Obama, to multiply their power. The boss is not the old boss, he does not wear a crown, he hides in the shadows. For now.

Clearly, the republic is at risk. Its key functions are breaking down: see the financial violation of the purpose of the University Of California (set up to be a free public university, now with a $10,300 tuition for Californian students).

The economy is also at risk, because, meanwhile, the diversion of capital towards the fake world of derivatives has not been stopped, and the real economy gets no capital.

At this point, a solidly erroneous thought system is implanted in the USA, according to which the Rich are way too powerful and revered. When a thought system is that wrong, it takes drama to get out of it. So don’t expect "No Drama Obama" to go anywhere. Expect bigger checks from the likes of Goldman Sachs in the future, though, to the people who are taking the decisions now. A man has to take care of his family, when he can’t see any further.

It is difficult to think, even more difficult to revolt. It’s easier for oligarchs to follow the essence of Mr. Obama’s value system, navigating for oneself. This was the essence of Ayn Rand’s message. But only the small inner circle around Obama, and the plutocracy known as Wall Street can afford to do so. The rest will have to sink with USS America. This is navigation at its best, guided by Mr. Obama’s star. After me, the wreck.

The policies proposed by the White House depend upon the good pleasure of the plutocrats. I do not mean that this necessarily bad; they should be used, if they can be of any use. But the bottom line of an active economy should be deep intelligence, not the invisible hands of plutocrats who earn more by exiting the real world of the real economy of the USA, all together. After all, eco-nomy means house-MANAGEMENT.

So let’s manage. Just wrecking the real economy to save the plutocrats will not do, in the fullness of time.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

P/S: Ergo, the best policy is to have a measure of CENTRAL PLANNING, as China, France and Germany have. And that does not mean just getting out of carbon, but putting taxes on wall Street’s manipulations.

TRAPPED BY SUPER TRAPS

November 21, 2009

CO2 AND SO2 KILLED DINOSAURS. ARE WE NEXT?

***

In a nutshell: Contrarily to what is conveniently believed in the USA, the extinction of the dinosaurs was probably NOT caused by a giant impact from an asteroid, or comet. The impact was NOT explosive enough, not poisonous enough, nor cooling enough.

What killed the dinosaurs was super giant volcanism, a type that happens every 200 million years or so, the SUPER TRAPS. Super Traps correspond to catastrophic Earth core cooling events: giant burps from Vulcan itself. The most extravagant violence of the Deccan Super Traps 65 million years ago, happened within 300,000 years of the Yucatan impact (a sheer coincidence, as we will see). The fabulous extinction of 250 million years ago was caused by the even more gigantic Siberian Super Traps, and so on.

Super Traps offer a convenient model for the present greenhouse catastrophe. CARBON BURNING BEHAVES LIKE A MAN MADE SUPER TRAPS.

(No wonder that US scientists do not want super traps to have caused mass extinctions: it is not cool to be the bearer of extinction news, and attribute it to something that made their private and public sponsors rich!)

***

Introduction and abstract: SUPER TRAPS DID IT.

The disappearance of dinosaurs (and many related species) was NOT caused by an impact with a celestial body, I claim (although, clearly, that did not help!).

There was a sizable impact, true, around that time, but although it sadly caused the death of many, it is probably completely irrelevant to the total disappearance of so many species down to the last survivor, worldwide. How do you cool the planet for millions of years, with an object just a few miles across?

Well, you don’t. Still Earth cooled for millions of years afterwards.

The massive Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction, just as the even more massive Permian-Trias (P-T) extinction, and all other massive extinctions of the last half billion years, were caused by a super massive volcanic event, a super giant blob of magma erupting directly from the boundary of the core of planet Earth (“lava lamp” style).

Such events are rare, every 200 million years or so, and are causality related to the Earth’s dynamo (magnetic records show). We call such super giant eruptions SUPER TRAPS (by contrast to smaller traps, caused by smaller and shallower plumes of magma, such as the most recent one, the Columbia event of 15 million years ago; those smaller traps are too small for worldwide extinctions).

SUPER TRAPS kill worldwide, and durably, by hyper massive infusions of SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide) and CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). So they provide an excellent model for the present anthropogenic CARBON BURNING CATASTROPHE (also known by one of its effects, “Global Warming”).

SUPER TRAPS provide an excellent model for what would happen if one injected the atmosphere with enough SO2. That, unbelievably, some American scientists, apparently not satisfied with the CO2 their country injects already, propose to do. They think it’s “cool“. Time for them to learn something new, from the past.

The present behavior of mankind smacks of the disappearance of dinosaurs, and other superb species depicted below.

It’s taken for granted in the USA that a bolide which crashed in Yucatan, Chicxulub, caused it.

This is convenient, be it only because Chicxulub smacks of the typical act of God, and the USA loves to believe in God: God worship, God trusting beats going to school, any day, and being responsible of one’s acts.

As I will show, the convenience goes beyond divine intervention: to see what really happened during the Super Traps eruption is all too reminiscent of the present burning all-the-carbon-that-ever-was catastrophe. The Super Traps catastrophes force to study the same mechanisms that are at play presently, in what may soon turn into a man-made hell.

There is overwhelming evidence that the massive extinction was not caused by an impact. To start with, the mathematics of the explosion are against having enough power to cause such a massacre, from that brutal excavation alone. Instead, another explanation offers itself, and that one keeps on giving, because it explains even more spectacular extinctions.

How do we know that super volcanism, the VOLCANISM OF SUPER TRAPS, on an unimaginably violent scale, bubbling straight up from Earth’s core, is the culprit of MASS EXTINCTIONS?

As I will show, a super traps eruption is a biosphere nightmare and catastrophe that constitutes, in several ways, a model for the sort of biosphere destruction we are presently engaged in. WE ARE GETTING TRAPPED IN MAN MADE SUPER TRAPS…

The impact theory has turned to comedy. To make the impact work nevertheless, in spite of its puny aspect, the more it has become obvious that it does not work at all. Fast food for thought seems an American tendency, a resultant of a school system that favors consensus (the way of the gregarious lemming) rather than argument (the way of the creative thinker). To demolish the impact theory can be done in a single argument: explosive power. It came from below, not above. But a reminder first on the impact theory of the disappearance of dinosaurs and their colleagues.

***

THE IMPACT THEORY IN A FRIVOLOUS LIGHT:

In the USA, a while back, Walter Alvarez, a geologist at UC Berkeley, went to see his dad, physics Nobel Laureate Luis Alvarez, up at LBL on the hill, and asked him how he could prove that dinosaurs disappeared because they had been struck by an asteroid. Alvarez junior wanted a proof of impact. Alvarez senior suggested to look at iridium, an element rare in Earth’s crust, but frequent in meteorites, he said. Notice the concept of “Earth crust” (= “lithosphere”): our entire argument is going to be that Earth is not just a crust, something that escaped the unconditional partisans of the space rock impacting the neighborhood.

Sure enough, an iridium layer was found, about 65 million years old, when the dinosaurs and other most advanced life forms suddenly vanished, and so the Alvarez team proclaimed victory: a massive asteroid impact had caused it, they said. (But all they had truly found, a certain and significant discovery, was more iridium than normal, in a layer!)

Then geologists proceeded to look for a crater. One was conveniently found, of just the right age, or so it looked at the time, in the records of geologists working for oil companies, in Yucatan… in one of the world’s top tourist areas. The popularity of Yucatan among geologists richly endowed with grants, became undisputed. (There are more recent impacts in Siberia, possibly less popular because they are adorned with fewer coconut trees in winter, without nice hotels at the ready to provide the weary academics with rest and relaxation. Besides, they… caused no extinctions.)

The Yucatan crater, soon dubbed the Chicxulub crater, is located near the town of the same name. Conveniently, Chicxulub is the rough translation of the Mayan for “tail of the devil”. The crater is 180 kilometers (110 mi) in diameter, making Chicxulub one of the largest confirmed impact structures in the world; the impacting bolide that formed the crater was up to 10 km (6 mi) in diameter. So far, so good.

***

THE CHICXULUB BOLIDE THAT STRUCK YUCATAN:

clip_image001

clip_image002

Radar topography reveals the 180 kilometer (112 mi) diameter ring of the crater.

***

IRIDIUM: A PROOF WITH A GIANT LOOPHOLE:

Magnanimously, I will not insinuate that finding an impact in a tourist area is a measure of scientific bias. But to assume that an iridium layer can only be produced by a bolide is a grave logical mistake. Before deciding that something caused something else, one has to eliminate all other blatant alternative causes of that same something else. This, the Alvarez team did not do. It turns out that the Reunion volcano and the Hawai’i volcano both emit gases and dust enriched in hexafluoride of IRIDIUM.

These volcanoes are very special, especially the one of Reunion island, and we accuse it to be the real tail of the devil. Hawai’i is known as the Earth’s tallest mountain, relative to its basis (Hawai’i stands more than 10,000 meters above the sea floor it rises from) and the Reunion island is not far behind. Volcanically speaking, the Hawaiian volcano arises from a HOTSPOT (or “plume”). Hawai’i’s hotspot is smaller than the Reunion hotspot, geophysically and historically speaking. The Reunion hotspot gave rise to a volcanic ensemble that, viewed in its entirety, is probably the world’s most impressive, in the last 250 million years. It disintegrated part of India, and sliced right through a mid oceanic ridge. But there is more.

The Alvarez iridium rich layer, their proof of the importance of the bolide’s impact, is only a few centimeters thick around most of the planet, and upon that thin evidence, the elation of the partisans of the impact rested. When and where the Reunion super hotspot exploded in its maximal fury, the iridium rich layer is a METER THICK. On this observation alone, the case should already be closed: Reunion did it, not Chicxulub. But I will pursue, because many lessons are therein revealed. And many independent arguments will be made. Contemplating an eruption worth 1,000 to 10,000 Chicxulubs is instructive. Let’s contemplate:

clip_image003

The 1,200-m-thick exposed section through the Deccan basalt pile at Mahabaleshwar, Sahyadri (Western Ghats) region. Grand! Photo by Hetu Sheth.

The Deccan Super Traps are really, really big, and very thick: this is just a tini tiny sample… The present area of directly observable lava flows is estimated to be around 512,000 km2 (197,684 sq mi). That is about the size of California, and just a fraction of the total mayhem. Some lava flows are 800 kilometer long (they are the longest on Earth, and were created in a few days).

***

COULD CHICXULUB HAVE CAUSED THE EXTINCTION?

The Chicxulub bolide penetrated the earth, and transformed its kinetic energy into heat. It became gaseous, and the gas exploded with immense force. How much? Well, Chicxulub had a volume of roughly 400 cubic kilometers. Very generously, one can suppose that it volatilized ten times its own volume in Earth’s rock (assuming, once again generously, an impact at a maximal 40 kilometers per second). So one ends up with 4,000 cubic kilometers of disintegrated, volatized rock.

What the Chicxulub partisans claim is that these exploding 4,000 cubic kilometers of rock killed the dinosaurs, down to the last one. Of course, it would be an immense massacre, if it happened today, and most large animals would die. Most of humankind would die. But exterminating species is another matter entirely.

***

By the way, Chicxulub did not just kill the dinosaurs, supposing it did. It would have also killed all the Plesiosaurs, Pliosaurs, and Mosasaurs, which were highly successful sea reptiles:

clip_image004

(Typical Plesiosaurs on top, Pliosaur below, Mosasaur at the bottom.)

That deep fact puts the impact under water, logically speaking: the sea reptiles could endure colder temperatures, and they were protected from transient heat. Now the impact partisans argue that the dust of the impact, and the smoke of thousands of fires (started by re-entering incandescent material: tektites) caused a “nuclear winter”, and very cold temperatures. But the sea reptiles knew cold and dark (see picture above). Obviously something else decimated them to the last.

After the sea reptiles were exterminated, it took ten million years for sea mammals to re-enter the sea. Obviously, the condition of the sea was no good for very long. What could have caused badness to perpetuate itself for so long?

***

The Pterosaurs, the most accomplished fliers that ever were, also went extinct, at the same time as the dinosaurs and the sea reptiles:

clip_image006

Size comparison of the two known Quetzalcoatlus species and a human being. (Some have said Quetzalcoatlus was a bit smaller...)

By the way, such enormous sizes are completely impossible for birds. The Pterosaurs used evolutionary tricks the avian dinosaurs known as birds never stumbled upon (such as variable geometry inflatable surfaces). Thus the largest flying Pterosaurs were at least ten times heavier than the largest flying birds (maybe 25 times heavier).

How could such incredibly superior creatures disappear? Just one hit from a bolide? 4,000 cubic kilometers of rock thrown about in a minute did it? All around the planet? Down to the last eggs? For creatures who were, it seems, partly carrion eaters, as some birds of prey are nowadays? And why did the birds survive, with a great wealth of species preserved?

(After the dinosaurs were killed, there was an age of birds on land; meanwhile, carnivorous mammals entered the sea, now that the sea reptiles were gone: the first whales appeared within ten million years.)

***

WHAT KILLED THE DINOSAURS WAS THE COOLING OF THE CLIMATE, NOT THE BIG SPACE ROCK:

Now, of course, in the beginning, when the solar system was young, there were many enormous impacts. It is probable that life started several times on Mars, Earth and Venus, and got extinguished after giant impacts. And that life (bacteria) may have been thrown from one planet to another where a previous impact had extinguished it. One such impact, by a Mars sized planet, melted all of Earth, and the debris thrown in Earth orbit coalesced to form the Moon. Thereafter, Venusian or Martian life probably conquered Earth after it had cooled enough.

An impact with a big comet or asteroid could have caused a massive extinction: such objects can be 40 kilometers across, with 100 times the mass, and destruction of Chicxulub (the comet Hale-Bopp of 1997 had a diameter of at least 35 kms, and passed at 52 kilometers per second, giving it an explosive capability of 4.4 x 109 megatons, about 44 times the estimated energy of the K-T Chicxulub event).

Although apocalyptic, the Chicxulub bolide was in no way that enormous, that it could have wiped out all advanced life on Earth. And the fact is, the K-T extinction event wiped out only selected advanced animals, namely all those resembling dinosaurs.

Why? My answer: because dinosaurs were adapted to a warm tropical world

There were polar dinosaurs, when the poles were … warm, which they were until the end of the Cretaceous, precisely.

There is independent biological evidence, from closely looking at their respiratory systems, that dinosaurs did not have the advanced temperature regulation that birds (= avian dinosaurs) and mammals had (there were plenty of mammals under the “reign” of the dinosaurs, and they were evolving: antelopes differentiated before the end of the Cretaceous).

So the dinosaurs were not adapted to serious, even transient cooling. That’s why they died, and why mammals and birds, and animals that could burrow in mud or soil (turtles, snakes, crocs, lizards) did not.

***

DINOSAURS DID NOT LIKE IT COOL:

Because the fact is, around the time when the dinosaurs died, the climate cooled down very seriously. And not just at the poles.

clip_image008

Notice the COLLAPSE OF TEMPERATURE AT THE TIME WHEN DINOSAURS DISAPPEAR: IT’S THE FALL OFF THE GIANT PEAK ON THE LEFT (2/3 of the way into the “K”, “K” being for Cretaceous, from the German “Kreide” for chalk a translation of the French-Latin for chalk).

Now, of course, the partisans of the bolide impact then claimed that the bolide, which obviously did not roast most animals, fabricated a very violent winter (a sort of “nuclear winter”). The idea is that a lot of material was up in the air, obscuring the sun, and so it became very cold, etc…

Unfortunately for this simplistic little explanation, it does not explain why the sea dinosaurs got so cold they died off, just because of a cloud deck for a few months: the ocean has a millennial thermal inertia. (The ocean takes a 1,000 years to change temps drastically.)

Then the impact partisans went on a whole gymnastic to boost the damage they claimed the impact did, asserting that it struck in a very special place, which would have made a special cloud…

***

THE REAL CULPRIT OF THE DEMISE OF DINOSAURS. THE DECCAN SUPER TRAPS:

The word “Traps” means big layered rock, and is of Scandinavian origin. The Deccan Traps, one of the largest such “traps” formed between 60 and 68 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous era. The bulk of the volcanic events occurred at the Western Ghats (near Mumbai) some 65 million years ago. This series of extraordinary eruptions may have lasted fewer than 30,000 years in total (as paleomagnetism reveals).

Before the Deccan Traps region was reduced to its current size by erosion and the drift and partial disintegration of India, the original area covered by the lava flows of basalt was of the order of 1.5 million km², approximately half the size of modern India. On a depth of 3,000 meters. That’s around 5 million cubic kilometers. Or 1,000 times the total imaginable maximal ejecta from Chicxulub.

Now remember, the ejecta from Chicxulub, ten times the mass of the bolide itself, was mostly made of rock, some of it incandescent, capable of starting fires, thousands of kilometers away, after going ballistic through space. But some of the ejecta was just plain rock and dirt, at normal temperature (that’s how impacts throw bacteria from planet to planet).

In any case, the Chicxulub ejecta was just rock, and mostly Earth’s own lithospheric rock (surface rocks, in other words). No big deal, this Chicxulub: a big excavation, gone nuts.

The Deccan traps were something all together different. We are not just talking liquid rock. When a volcano erupts, few people and animals die swimming in lava flows.

The most lethal, and far ranging part of a volcanic eruption, pertains to its gases. The gases are what propel the lava; there are always plenty. What I claim is that the gases released in the Deccan Traps caused the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event (which included the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs). Chicxulub did not have such gases associated to itself. Not at all. The real devil, as everybody knows, smells of sulfur. Reunion has sulfur. The bolide had none.

***

CRAZY VOLCANIC GASES. EXAMPLE: THE LAKI ERUPTION IN ICELAND, SUMMER 1783.

During the Laki eruption, 15 cubic kilometers of lava came out of a meek 10 kilometers long fissure (now a few cute small lichen covered innocent looking cones can be observed along it). But gases, with a lot of sulfur therein, went all the way to Europe, hanging around ominously. The Laki produced up to an astounding 6 million tons of SO2 (Sulfur dioxide), per DAY. The temperatures went crazy in Europe: hot, then cold. For months.

Besides human industry and volcanoes, there are no sources of SO2 in nature. The excess mortality in Europe due to Laki seems to have been around 200,000 dead! From the gases. 200,000 dead from a small volcano thousands of kilometers away, having a small eruption.

The point is that the Deccan Traps were of a similar type to Laki, just way, way, worse. Iceland is above a hot spot, besides being astride the mid Atlantic ridge. Hawai’i is another example of hot spot. The Reunion hotspot is still something else.

***

EARTH’S VOLCANISM ABSTRACT:

Volcanism is how the Earth cools down. Cooling happens in four ways (my own classification):

a) Conventional volcanoes. (Typically magma formed from light elements in a subduction zone.)

b) Plate tectonics. (Plates are the outside, cooling part of giant convection cells of Earth’s mantle. The plates cool as they are exposed to the atmosphere and space.)

c) Hot spots. (Hot material coming up through the mantle, as in a lava lamp. examples: Hawai’i, Yellowstone, many island chains.)

d) Super hotspots. (Same as hot spots, just so big they come straight from Earth’s own core.)

Thus the earth functions just as a boiling pot of a very thick soup. In such a pot, there are two ways heat is conducted from the bottom to the top: convection cells, and big bubbles coming up, straight through the whole mess (a problem heating tomato sauce in a microwave oven). The Deccan traps are of the later type.

Convection = Plate tectonics, Big Bubbles = Hotspots. Hawai’i is a hotspot, so is Easter island, Juan Fernandez island, Tristan da Cunha island, Yellowstone, etc… The hotspots are deeper in origin than the convection cells of plate tectonics, and they tend not to move that much relative to each other: the plates move above them (as the Pacific plate above the Hawai’i hotspot, at about 7 centimeters per year towards the north west).

Differently from a cooking pot, the Earth has a triple insulation system.

The super hotspots are the way to cool the core, directly. We know this, because massive plumes giving rise to massive traps occur every 200 million years or so. They are associated to the earth dynamo, in the liquid outer core. After the dynamo has been so quiescent, that there had been no more magnetic field inversions for at least 30 million years.

Then the dynamo gets active again, with plenty of magnetic field inversions, and shortly after, a super hotspot, a super plume, is released. The head of such a superhot spot is around 500 kms across, and can rise at one meter per year, through the entire mantle.

When the Reunion superhot plume reached the Indian island-continent, it pushed it from below: it was as a giant balloon of extremely hot magma; being so hot that it was much less dense, it pushed up, according to Archimedes principle (= “hydrostasis”). India, a continent made of light, solid, rigid material, as continents are, resisted for a while, bulging up by a full kilometer into a giant dome, before the hot lava and gases of the super giant plume broke through it, and flooded half of the Indian subcontinent with the Deccan traps.

This is no mean feat, because the lithosphere below a continent can be up to 200 kilometers thick (it is unlikely that Chicxulub could have broken through it significantly: the Siberian impact described at the end of this essay penetrated by a mile, and fractured rock nine kms deep).

The so called “Shiva” destruction off shore in India may be related to the fact that there can be NO lithosphere in an oceanic plate (for example between the Cape Verde islands (another small hotspot) and the Caribbean, the raw mantle is directly exposed to the ocean…) Thus, as part of the super plume broke through the oceanic plate, it was a different job there, dismantling the Seychelles (or so it seems).

***

SUPER HOTSPOT CAUSES SUPER TRAPS, AND SUPER TRAPS CAUSE MASS EXTINCTIONS:

When a super trap erupts, it goes through a series of massive, brutal pulses of activity. The two main ones of the Deccan traps bracketed the K-T boundary (the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, when the extinctions occurred). During the main pulse, a layer as deep as an astounding 220 meters of thick lava came out within ten years (it seems: latest research, 2009). Some lava flows, the longest ever recorded, rushed east across all of India, and are at least 800 kilometers long.

Enormous amounts of deadly SO2 and CO2 gases pervaded the planet’s atmosphere, the former poisoning and acidifying everything, and occluding the sun, bringing a multi-year night, the second causing an enormous, lethal greenhouse, that quickly followed the volcanic winter, and filled up the ocean with carbonic acid (killing sea life).

Next, the gigantic basaltic lava beds reacted with the CO2 in the atmosphere, removing it, and the planet ended up with less of a CO2 greenhouse than before the traps, hence much cooler (over the next million years as the geological record shows). So it went: super cold, super hot, hyper acidic, long term cold. In a few years. Then repeat in the next pulse.

It’s a miracle birds and mammals survived. In the earlier Permian-Triassic extinction, caused by the even more gigantic Siberian traps, which covered maybe a third of the gigantic Eurasian continent with lava flows, at least 95% of animal species went extinct (250 million BP). Just as with the Deccan traps, there was a first massive traps eruption several million years before (more exactly 8 million years before).

There are many examples of this. Not just the disappearance of dinosaurs, and the extinctions 258 and 250 million years before the present. All traps coincide with extinction events, except the smallest and most recent of them all, the Columbia traps, which broke through the North American plate, 15 million years ago (this from the “Yellowstone” hotspot; some lava flows then went 100 kilometers, in one shot, though!)

The release of volcanic gases, particularly sulfur dioxide, during the formation of the traps, contributed to contemporary climate change. Data point to an average global fall in temperature of 2 °C during the eruptions. At least. Experiences with various volcanoes in the last two centuries show it could have been several times that.

The Tambora eruption in Indonesia in1815 caused the “year without a summer” of 1816, in Europe. Around Tambora, it was completely dark for four days. Tambora was of course teeny tiny and ridiculous relative to a traps event.

***

THE DESPAIR OF THE IMPACTISTS:

When it became clear that the Chicxulub bolide was too small to extinguish so much, those obsessed by impacts searched for another impact. Plenty of them were found, but none of them coincided with an extinction. Chicxulub was the only one of the sort. So they argued the ground at Chicxulub was special (lots of limestone, thus lots of CO2 thrown up in the air). Now two thirds of impacts will happen at sea, so maybe a big impact disappeared in a subduction zone… Hope erupts, eternal.

Because the Deccan Super Traps loomed ominously in their future, and the Siberian Super Traps loomed ever larger, those obsessed by impacts argued that the Yucatan impact somehow melted, or broke, the other side of the Earth, creating the Deccan Traps (as if volcanoes needed impacts!) This is beyond silly. The traps had started millions of years before (although at a slower pace). Besides, continental drift shows that Yucatan and India were very far from antipodal then (Yucatan was in the middle of the present day Atlantic, and India was above the Reunion island)!

A recent variant of this is to argue that the tortured sea bed off the remaining piece of the Deccan traps is actually a super gigantic impact crater (!). The impactists even gave it a name: Shiva! But it is not because something drastic happened that it is necessarily a super giant bolide, landing just where the largest volcanism on Earth had festered for millions of years. Common sense should put limits to cosmic conspiracy theories!

And this is to forget the power of the Reunion super hot spot: it destroyed part of the Indian continent, forcefully separating the Seychelles islands micro-continent (these islands are indeed half granitic, which means they are made of continental crust; the continent in between got torn apart, and swallowed by the super hotspot, which also distorted the local mid oceanic ridge, while giving rise to a whole succession of islands finishing with Maurice and Reunion).

The impactists may say that the probability of Chicxulub coinciding with the Deccan Super Traps was low. But not that much. Let’s say a Chicxulub happens about twice every 100 million years nowadays (some may have happened, and be eaten in a subduction zone; besides we know of several giant impacts around 35 million years ago, in America and Siberia; one created Chesapeake Bay).

The worst pulse of the Deccan traps is roughly coincidental with the KT boundary, and was followed by the second most devastating pulse 300,000 years later. Chicxulub was also within 300,000 years of the largest Deccan pulse (supposedly).

The probability of a bolide impact happening during the Deccan traps is therefore 3%. Small, but not unbelievable. No other extinction was found sort-of coincidental with a bolide, all are simultaneous with super traps.

(And if one looks at the probability of a bolide impact during Super Traps (not just during an acute phase), it’s a minimum of 10%: ten million years for a Super Traps episode seems the rule. It’s higher if one observes that there were 4 bolide impacts in the last 100 million years, which is arguably the case; then the probability is as high as 40%!)

Before the K-T boundary, dinosaurs had been declining for a few million years (apparently the number of species would have been overestimated, because often the young looked very different from older individuals, and so were classified as different species; news from 2009).

The climate had been cooling (a cooling climate would have been devastating for dinosaurs, who had no time to evolve in warm blooded animals generating their own heat, as birds and mammals had evolved, over 180 million years).

The first, and smaller, Deccan pulse 2.5 million years earlier than Chicxulub (67.5 million years BP) has got to do with it: exposed lava beds absorb CO2. And enormous lava absorbs enormous CO2. The whole Deccan craziness was followed by a strong and persistent cooling, over millions of years, most probably for the same reason (absorption of CO2 by decomposing basalt beds).

***

Conclusion: LET’S NOT GET TRAPPED!

Whenever one discovers a truth, there is often a larger truth behind it. Going from the particular truth to the general one is the meta process, central to thinking, also known as abstraction. (I claim it is central to neurobiological thinking.)

It is true that the dinosaurs disappeared in a catastrophe. But that catastrophe is not a one-time event; it keeps on coming back, every 200 million years or so.

The model of the impact simply does not work. Besides, even it worked once, it would have to work each time the magnetic field reversals stayed quiescent for dozen of millions of years previously, an unimaginable causality, for those who don’t believe in miracles they do not need.

Moreover, we are engaged in a man-made ersatz mass extinction, led by Washington (the USA, and its leading factory, China, produce more than 40% of the man-made CO2).

This time the CO2 is indeed man-made, not caused by Vulcan. To make it more hellish, American technologists and self described “Super Freaks” have suggested to compensate the man-made CO2 greenhouse effect by a man-made SO2 cooling effect, exactly like the natural work of Vulcan. (They propose to inject billions of tons of SO2 in the stratosphere, because it will allow Americans to drive SUVs, and burn all their coal, since “the USA is the Saudi Arabia of coal”: clearly, God wanted it to be burned!)

Science is just common sense, on steroids, applied to the labyrinth of reality. We are living in a scientific society. Although some of the leadership clings to superstition, even the superstitious ones cannot ignore science. Science is about what is. It is also a method. That method consists in applying common sense to reproducible facts, and check the models one makes from said reproducible facts against observed phenomena.

We are working very hard right now. Most of the planet’s workers are hell bound to reproduce right away, right now, many of the conditions that extinguished dinosaurs, pterosaurs, pliosaurs, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, etc…

What kind of economy is that? This house (eco) is managed (nomy) poorly. But I would respectfully suggest we know enough to predict what is going to happen next, and it is useless to reproduce the same catastrophe before its time. We don’t need man-made super traps.

***

Patrice Ayme.

***

P/S 1: Institut Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), especially its paleomagnetic and tectonic units, have pushed for many of the ideas above about super plumes from paleomagnetism (most probably those units are the foremost in the world, and I say this although the Vincent Courtillot, who heads IPGP, professes to be skeptical of the anthropogenic CO2 greenhouse… I would not be surprised this has to do with some of the considerable, and considerably opaque financing of IPGP…But it is of good war, as one says. A careful listening to director Courtillot shows that he is so careful in what he says about the greenhouse, so anxious not to contradict it blatantly, that, obviously, he believes in it). Ever since the enormity of Siberian and Deccan Traps was known, and their coincidence with mass extinctions, many people, no doubt, drew the obvious conclusions.

Although I did arrive to the same conclusions independently about what really caused the disappearance of the dinosaurs, it was on more general principles (the purported impact was clearly insufficient in explosive power, poisoning potential, and long term, multi million year cooling capability).

P/S 2: Mr. Sheth (whose picture of the Deccan I used above) has claimed that the gigantic Deccan Super Traps would not be due to a super plume coming straight from the core. His arguments are unconvincing (they are contained within the data above, but he makes a bid deal about the fact that the Deccan Traps occurred over time). But, of course, super plumes or not, the volcanic events were large enough for a worldwide mass extinction (and the bolide was not).

P/S 3: Washington caused trouble before. The Chesapeake Bay impact crater was formed by a bolide that impacted the eastern shore of North America about 35 million years ago, in the late Eocene epoch. That crater is a mile deep (as deep as the grand Canyon), and about 100 kilometers across. Just as Chicxulub, it was revealed by oil geologists. There was a mass extinction around that time, as the temperature of the Earth fluctuated and cooled. That event came to be known as the “Grande Coupure” (French for Great Break, since French geologists discovered it).

Am I contradicting myself in these last few lines? Well, not really: the events 35 million years ago involved several impacts. There was an even larger impact in Popigai, Northern Siberia, plus another, again in Siberia, maybe one in Italy, and a secondary impact in America. Although complete guesswork at this point, it’s not impossible that Earth collided with a major comet then (the comet would have fragmented first maybe through a first low pass, as happened with Jupiter a few years back. Another possibility is a multiple body asteroid (those are frequent). Viewed the other way, this failed massive mass extinction proves the point about the K-T mass extinction not possibly being caused by just one 10kms body.

image

2 C IS TOO MUCH!

November 18, 2009

 

TO CLAIM 2 CELSIUS GLOBAL RISE IS SAFE IS BAD SCIENCE!

***

In a nutshell: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that the world is safe below a 2C rise. On the face of evidence, this statement is completely false. Safety means getting out of carbon ASAP, with reduction of 40% by 2020, as the island states have asked.

***

The IPCC has claimed that the rise of global temperatures would be dangerous if, and ONLY IF it exceeded two degrees Celsius. This is an obvious overestimate, as I am going to show. If what I am saying is true, the IPCC is actually doing a disservice and working hand in hand, unwittingly (or not!), with the polluter-destroyers.

My reasoning is very simple: the global temperature rise is estimated variously at between .4 and .75 degree Celsius, so far. The exact number does not matter. What matters is that the rise in the polar regions has been up to 5C. Yes, a FIVE degree Centigrades rise in some polar regions (both north and south, from Antarctica peninsula to north est Greenland) has already been observed.

Stop, and think, this is how science is done, and what science consists of. A global rise of roughly .5 Celsius  has led to a POLAR rise in temperature of TEN TIMES THAT. We have a POLAR HEAT MULTIPLIER effect of TEN. (OK,  some fine whine, object to the fine print; maybe only five times; even then, if the POLAR MULTIPLIER will change Polar temperatures only by a factor of 5, as some scientists suggested; it changes the drastic end result only be a factor of 2: half of drastic is still drastic!)

This Is Going To Get Much Much Worse. And Very Soon.

This Is Going To Get Much Much Worse. And Very Soon.

Question: what do you think will happen when the global temperature goes up two Celsius? Well, the polar temperature will go up proportionally to ten times two, which is TWENTY. Twenty degree Centigrades. That means one can expect melting in the middle of the Polar night.

Got it? OK, it’s a simplification, and a minimization, of course: plenty of non linear effects will kick in, as polar temperatures shoot up, like massive melting of the polar permafrost, releasing untold quantities of CO2 and CH4, plus warming of the superficial Arctic ocean, exploding gigantic amounts of methane clathrate hydrate deposits.

 

Les clathrates, énergie du futur ou bombe à retardement climatique ?

Methane Clathrate Hydrates
[© by Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften
IFM-GEOMAR 2002]

*

To tell you how serious a threat methane clathrates are: although the methane deposits were discovered by oilmen in the seventies, they were carefully avoided. Why? Because oil companies thought that, in case of the piercing of a major methane clathrate field, the bubbles rising through the sea could lower the density of the water enough to sink the drilling boat! (Some have wanted to explain the so called Bermuda Triangle that way; it is known that giant tsunamis, 100 feet tall, have been caused by methane clathrate eruptions in the Atlantic.)

 

 

Methane Clathrate Hydrate burning. (There maybe more buried below sea and permafrost than all other fossil carbon combined; oil, gas, coal, etc.)

*

So the so far linear rise of temperature at the poles, already intolerable, could turn into a quadratic, or cubic curve. In which case, a two degree rise globally could lead to 25 degree Celsius at the poles. This has happened before, more than 15 million years ago.

In any case, the IPCC is doing bad science: good science consists, first, in good observations. The grossest observation shows that, on present observed facts, a global two degree rise will make the poles TEMPERATE. This is what the grossest, first order science say. The rest is wishful thinking, bull, that is, politics.

A first effect would be a rise of the seas of 75 meters (yes, 250 feet). One meter would flood hundreds of millions of people (however, the White House, the central headquarters of the CO2 holocaust, is 54 feet above sea level, so will not drown first, as it deserves).

***

The poles, as long as they are really cold, as they are now, are the refrigerator, the sun shades, the air conditioning, and the air circulation system of the planet. Once the poles have melted, they will be broken, and the planet will jump in its HOT MODE. That it has not seen in 100 million years. The biosphere will, mostly, die.

This is the tragic truth. Yesterday’s holocaust will not be tomorrow holocaust. Yesterday’s holocaust was founded on the desperate nightmare of some people’s fathers, still immersed in tribalism, boosted by a misinterpretation of the theory of evolution (as Nietzsche had sort of pointed out, as he riled up against Darwin). Tomorrow’s holocaust will literally be global burning (global-burning = holo-caust) of some sort.

It is true that right now the colossal emissions of CO2 by developed countries are capped (in great part because of the colossal efforts of a few countries). But the USA is not cooperating. Islands nations have asked the developed ones to cut down 45% by 2020. It looks impossible, but it is totally doable, modulo some sacrifices.

Among the sacrifices, serious carbon tariffs on miscreants would be very effective (mis-creant = etymologically, those who believe wrongly: mis-believers). Tariffs are better than nuclear bombings. The connection? People, having to choose between drowning, starving, being parked like sick animals, and exacting revenge first, will exact revenge first. So it is.

Some will say: we have time. Oh, no. It is clearer and clearer that climate change can proceed at blinding speed. The very latest news (November 2009), from Canadian academics, is that the stepping into the glaciation of the Younger Dryas 12,500 years ago, took just a few months. Ireland (say) found itself, with the present climate of Svalbard (aka Spitsbergen), from one winter, to the next.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Annex:

Graph of emissions

 

Of course there are more than 5 billion people in developing nations, and the rich hides their consumption among their developing servants: a lot of the Chinese emissions are developed world emissions exported to China by crafty Washington, DC (for Washington, Diabolical Center? American politicians seem hell bound to occupy in world politics a place once owned by German politicians, several generations ago.)

“In one sense, the developed world owns a large fraction of the developing world’s emissions.” [John Finnegan, CSIRO.]

*

Before about 2002, global emissions grew by about 1% per year.

Then the rate increased to about 3% per year, the change coming mainly from a ramping up in China’s economic output, before falling slightly in 2008 as the global economy dipped towards the Great Recession.

Earth from space  

 

***

Final PROOF OF INCOMPLETENESS.

November 15, 2009

 

IT’S ALL IN THE MIND, AND THE MIND IS LOCALLY COUNTABLE, BUT THE UNIVERSE IS NOT.

***

In a nutshell: The discovery of a general theory of incompleteness, in the last century, is one of the greatest advance in civilization, 25 centuries in coming. It ought to have a gigantic impact on general human understanding, and action, greater than any other scientific theory, but it has failed to do so, so far, because it has stayed all too esoteric.

I give a new, neurological approach to incompleteness, designed in part to remedy this. Verily, mathematics is not out there, but thoroughly inside the mind (this contradicts Plato). Just as symbolic systems are limited, so is the mind, in the same exact way, it turns out (although the mind found a way out of this limitation). And the limit is countability. And that’s where incompleteness comes from.

***

Introduction and abstract:

Incompleteness is a common characteristic of all axiomatic systems (Turing demonstrated this by a variant of Cantor diagonalization). Therein a formidable weapon against human hubris. Too bad so few philosophers, and, a fortiori, politicians, have heard of it. (If the politician realized how incomplete his mind is, he may think enough before going out, and killing innocent people with robots, to the point that he may find other ways, like talking to people with the discourse that kills the conflict, rather than the babies.)

In any case, incompleteness has been hard to understand, because it is a major advance in understanding, and, as all such advances, it leaves the savage mind behind. New, and fresher generations will be exposed to incompleteness early, and find it as natural as zero. The concept zero. How? By finding, as usual, a natural approach to the existence of the new concept, and how to build a reproduction of it in one’s mind, hard wired from the start.

Indeed, Zero is, because zero does. Zero does what nothing else does, namely introduces nothingness into the computational realm (take that, Sartre! Initially the Babylonians, 3,000 years ago, just left an empty space for zero. Later they put various marks.)

This is how, and why, people find the concept of zero so natural, and many other basic mathematical concepts, so natural, although, well, they took the best minds millennia to develop. People find them natural, because the new concepts do natural, and helpful things. It took millennia to find the correct approach to zero. In the end, zero is an axiom. But, a very useful one. We are going to do the same thing for incompleteness in this essay, with a simple observation which has vast consequences, and will be taken as completely obvious in the future (just as zero is now obvious, except zero is more of a convention, and we are going to make an observation).

To make a new concept self obvious, one always has first to find the correct, that means the simplest and most elegant approach.

Godel’s work on incompleteness was complicated in its details (because he imposed onto himself a minimalist setting, working only with integers).

Much less complicated is Cantor’s much more crucial breakthrough (reproduced below), and others’ work on incompleteness (Turing, Chaitin). Complication went down, as intelligence went up.  Therein this essay a new demonstration of incompleteness in mathematics, using the (author’s) neuromathematical approach (taken for granted here as a background, an admittedly unfair but necessary short cut).

***

NEUROLOGY IS MORE SOPHISTICATED THAN EXISTING LOGIC:

The neuromathematical approach claims that any mathematical theory is a neuronal geometry (you can call this an axiom, if you wish, but, one day it will be proven in the lab in minute detail, so it’s a conjecture, Tyranosopher’s conjecture). This goes much beyond the usual theory of neural networks, which has no geometry, and the simplest of topologies (mathematical semantics is used here, common readers can ignore it, or look up Wikipedia).

Neuronal geometry is given by a METRIC, itself given by the time it takes to process neuronal logic (see annex; dendrites, neuroglia, synapses, firing rates, and the finite speed of action potentials are involved in this delay in communication, hence in the distance function; neurological signal speed plays the role of the speed of light in physics, which is also the distance function).

The crucial point is that any neuronal geometry rests on a countable network. Hence it is clearly incomplete. This is the essence of my argument. One cannot make simpler than that.

Of course some will smirk that it cannot be that simple. How to generate the richness of mathematics (let alone poetry!) from this madly simple picture? Well the point is that it is not that simple, it’s an immensely complicated configuration space of very high dimension (from neurotransmitters), endowed with geometrodynamics (right there, it’s much more complex than General Relativity, a very simple geometrodynamics, with just 4 dimensions and a fixed topology).

The geometrodynamics allows each neuronal geometry to morph into a neurology next door, topologically inequivalent to it (with a different genus; so neurology is also endowed with a topologicodynamics, differently from the much poorer General Relativity, which is stuck with just one topology). This is how the space of all neuronal geometries can mimic (what Cantor called) the power of the continuum (see below).

***

THE IMPORTANCE OF INCOMPLETENESS:

The realization that Incompleteness Is A Non Compressible Feature Of Understanding has been a major philosophical and scientific advance (arguably the greatest, and not just of the twentieth century). It has been a new notion, so enormous that it surfaced slowly over 25 centuries (!). Only now have we reached a final understanding of what is going on.

In its modern version, due initially to Gödel, incompleteness showed up as the Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, which states that the theory of numbers includes undecidable propositions. So propositions exist that can neither be proven, nor disproven (this is similar to the parallel postulate being neither proven nor disproven from the other axioms of Euclid; it’s just saying there will always be the equivalent of the parallel postulate, propositions that can neither be proven, nor disproven, from any previous set of axioms, in any thought system.)

***

HOW THE GREEKS STUMBLED REPEATEDLY OVER INCOMPLETENESS: LIAR, IRRATIONALS, PARALLELS, ZERO.

Incompleteness is the opposite of the all knowing god, it shows that one such being could never be (that is why the Greeks had gods all over, probably, they were smart, they guessed the truth). The first inklings that something was amiss in the theory of human knowledge came from (first) the paradox of the liar. The paradox of the liar surfaces in self referential statements that make logic literally short circuits. An example of the liar paradox is the statement: "this sentence is false!" Indeed, if it is true, it is false, so it is false, but that is true, etc.

It sounds stupid to worry about such things, but it is not, when one tries to establish perfect logic as some Greeks, and later, philosophers in Paris around 1100 CE, tried to do (the philosophers in Paris, being also theologians, were trying to find the thinking of god, which had to be perfect, hence their great rigor).

The paradox of the liar resurfaced brutally in the heart of mathematics in 1900 after Friedrich Frege wrote down what he thought was perfect axiomatics for arithmetic. Bertrand Russell found the paradox of the liar just below Frege’s surface, causing a serious crisis (which is not fully resolved yet: when set theory is taught, what is taught is so called "naïve set theory", which ignores most serious problems, see annex, where it is revealed that the foundations of mathematics are rather fluid…).

Another way in which incompleteness appeared, a little while later, was with the apparition of irrational numbers (as they came to be known). The Greek mathematicians, building up on the work of their Babylonian and Egyptian predecessors, thought they had a full axiomatic of arithmetic, with just their pathetic little integers. They had connected that with their axiomatization of geometry, through the concept of length.

The Egyptians lined up their pyramids perfectly with the true north (within three-sixtieths of a degree), thus demonstrating they knew how to measure stuff. Geometry was used mostly to determine property extent, obviously important in the periodically flooded rich arable land of the Nile valley. It had come to be that numbers were used to measure length, and both concepts had been identified, through the concept of ratio of integers (giving fractions of a measuring unit).

Pythagoras, a Greek in Southern Italy, proved the theorem that the square of the hypotenuse was equal to the sum of the squares of the sides of the triangle. Soon after, he and his students found that the diagonal of a square of side one, whatever it was, was not the ratio of two integers. It could be calculated with an arbitrary precision, but the process was never ending.

The Greeks had thought that all numbers were "rational numbers", which supposedly made sense because they were… well, may be, not numbers that one could count on one’s fingers, the integers, but, at least, ratios of integers.

Thus the notion of rational number was incomplete, in the following sense. The Greeks had hoped that all and any length was a number, AND they had also hoped that any number was the ratio of two integers. That was a lot of hope they wanted to believe in. Suddenly the world was not something the Greeks mastered anymore.

If one made the esthetic decision that a number was always a ratio of integers, as the Greeks did initially, then, they found to their dismay that not all lengths were numbers. But then, if one made the decision that all and any length had to correspond to a "number", the notion of number had to be extended, beyond "ratio", to include all the hypotenuses of all and any triangle (thus the ir-ratio numbers). That was philosophically maddening, completely, well, irrational. Indeed then what was a number? Were there still other definitions extending further the notion of number? Where did these extensions stop? OK, so suppose, as the Greeks ended up doing, that any length was a number, and that so was any ratio of lengths.

According to this new definition, the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle, named pi, is a number. Could it be represented as a length obtained by Greek instruments, line and compass? If not, how to compute it?

Meanwhile the Greeks stumbled on the concept of zero. Instead of completing their mathematics in that direction, they passed the concept to the Indians (who, with a more numerically aggressive religion, friendly to big numbers, were not afraid to develop it, while using a more advanced notation perhaps following the Chinese).

Meanwhile the postulate was made by Euclid that one could NOT deduce from the rest of Euclid’s axioms whether one, and only one parallel to a given line passed by a given point exterior to it.

This so called "parallel postulate" nagged the Greeks, and everybody else, for 2,100 years (it was not as “self obvious” than the other axioms of Euclid, so people had a feeling that it ought to be a theorem, hence demonstrable form the “self obvious” axioms).

It should not have nagged all mathematicians for 2100 years, but it did. People tried, in vain, to prove the postulate (from the other axioms). Finally, starting in 1829 with Lobachevski, geometries were found that satisfied all of Euclid axioms, except the parallel postulate. (Exotic geometries were so scandalous that Gauss claimed he did not publish his research because he feared the "cries of the Beotians", the Beotians were peasants north of Athens known for being civilizational retards.)

Exotic geometries should have been obvious, as long as one had made the esthetic, not to say hedonistic, decision to make Euclidean geometry on a pillow, or a saddle, or a sphere…

Why to restrict oneself to a plane? Was the world flat? No, and the Greeks knew it was not, they even had measured the size of the Earth with great precision (so big was Earth’s size that Columbus was not believed when he said he could sail to China, because it was known that China was beyond the range of existing sail boats… But America was not, and the Vikings had traded ivory, and even timber, from there for 5 centuries…)

So it was irrational to restrict oneself to flat geometry (and Euclid’s predecessors knew this, but as the world veered into Macedonian fascist domination, full blown thinking became the enemy of the sovereign, and thus was forced to adopt a low profile: in a world where Gold Man Sacks, little men learn to be stupid servants).

***

 

NEW GEOMETRIC MODELS COMPLETED THE PICTURES:

In the meantime, "numbers" which, when multiplied by themselves gave a negative product, had been found to be useful to solve equations. Those "imaginary" numbers led to real solutions, and had many other esthetic advantages. For example any polynomial equation of degree n had exactly n roots (d’Alembert’s theorem). Very pretty, very handy. Finally a magnificent, trivial and beautiful interpretation of "imaginary" numbers was found (1806). That was more or less coincidental with the discovery by Faraday that a moving magnet created an electric current (1821).

A stupid journalist asked Faraday what was the use of that effect, to which the great man replied: "What is the use of a new born baby?" (1821.) Faraday law of induction is of course at the basis of all of the world’s industry now. Tellingly a madly rotating turbine in an electric power plant, or windmill, describes a geometry that exactly depicts imaginary numbers (Argand’s diagram, 1806). So an extension of the concept of number that would have driven the Greeks completely mad, at first sight, had a natural geometric description… Simply geometry was not just about the technology of line and compass. Now we have the technology of turbines, and, or Quantum Mechanics, and those are all about “imaginary” numbers, which are not imaginary anymore than turbines or Quantum Mechanics.

(Both turbines and Quantum have to do with electromagnetic waves, that’s their connection: the famous 2-slit experiment, in optics or electromagnetism, is also the basis of Quantum Mechanics,)

So the parallel postulate was solved by being more open to what one meant by geometry… In general understanding further is similar to what happened with the parallel postulate: suppose more stuff, to get richer abstractions, abstractions that can do more. The world is rich, a richer mind, correctly made, can model it better.

Then it turned out that pi, although calculable (its square being an infinite series of predictable rationals), was transcendental (that is, it was not the solution of a polynomial equation).

***

THEN CANTOR INVENTED THE CANTOR DIAGONALIZATION PROCESS:

Mathematicians massaged the Cantor diagonalization process for the  century that followed its establishment in Cantor’s mind, extracting juicy theorems and spectacular results from it (with generally trivial proofs, see annex). It is very simple.

Cantor supposed that all the real numbers could be counted like sheep, from top to bottom, and so he lined them across, developing each real number in its full decimal expansion horizontally. OK, the bottom was down to infinity. That gigantic array he obtained is also called a matrix.

Cantor ended visually with a gigantic matrix of integers, let’s call it the CANTOR MATRIX. Cantor labeled that gigantic matrix as R(n, m): R(n,m) being the mth integer in the decimal expansion of the nth real in the Cantor matrix.

Then Cantor built a real C by considering the diagonal R(n,n) of his giant Cantor matrix. He defined C by giving an algorithm for its decimal expansion, namely a way to compute C: the nth digit of C would be C(n) where C(n) would be R(n,n) plus a (perhaps variable, or not) non zero integer. To define things precisely, say: C(n) = R(n,n) + 1. In other words, the nth decimal of the made up number C can never be the nth decimal of… any number: at this point, the conclusion is obvious: C cannot exist. But let’s pound it, the way mathematicians like to do.

Indeed, since Cantor had supposed that the reals could be lined up like sheep, the number C ought to be in the list, as the kth (say) number. In other words: C = R(k). Hence we should have the nth digit of C, C(n), equal to the nth digit of R(k). But that is R(k,n). But C(n) was constructed to be R(n,n) + 1. In particular, C(k) is then both R(k,k) and R(k,k) +1. So, either 0 = 1, or the initial hypothesis at the root of the whole contraption, that it was possible to build the Cantor Matrix, containing all the integers, was FALSE.

A more intuitive way to look at the proof is this: suppose each number is viewed as a mountain range, each point in the decimal expansion being viewed as an altitude, anything between 0 and 9. A Cantor mountain range is made up, by modifying one of the heights of each mountain range at some point, and gluing all such modifications along to obtain a mountain range guaranteed to be different from all those lined up initially. This means that the Cantor modification is geometric in nature (height being a distance). As we will see neurology can do more, because it can not only make geometric changes, but topological ones (changing its genus with all sorts of surgery) .

What has exactly happened here, in this Cantor diagonalization trick? Well, I claim, something neurological happened.

***

FORMAL INCOMPLETENESS:

Now go forward another generation or two to Godel and Turing. Godel demonstrated that, as long as one had basic integers, with multiplication and addition, a sentence could be made that would say:"I am not demonstrable".

Turing generalized this, and Chaitin, generalizing in turn ideas of Leibnitz and Borel, found a probabilistic approach. Borel had observed that chance could not be defined, because, if it were, it won’t be chance anymore. This may sound too philosophical, but, remember, mathematics is about philosophy. Or, as I point out, neurophilosophy.

***

INCOMPLETENESS IS HOW WE REACH FOR THE STARS:

For 2,000 years, mathematicians were mystified by parallels, but all they had to do is look at any curved surface to realize that they were mystified erroneously: the problem was not what parallels did, or did not do, but how they should be defined. Same for the concept of numbers, same for the concept of chance.

The paradox of the liar was a big subject of (non trivial) reflection in the depth of the Middle Ages, between Paris and Oxford (circa 1100-1400 CE). It is still alive and well; Bertrand Russel used a variant of it to show that the axiomatics of mathematics were self contradictory (circa 1900). He considered the set B all of which elements are sets which are not elements of themselves. Now if B is an element of B, it is not an element of B. And if it is not an element of B, it is an element of B.

Godel used a variant of the liar argument.

OK, so what is the verdict? Can we progress by introducing much more powerful semantics and abstraction? What do I mean? Imaginary numbers were hard, until it was realized that they corresponded to rotations in the plane (Argand diagrams, rotating electric fields). Then that a number multiplied by itself could be minus became trivial. Similarly, curved geometry, irrational numbers, became obvious, once looked at the right way. This is the case for the zero, or negative numbers, everybody take those for granted.

Abstraction consists into forgetting the details, and concentrating on an essence, which becomes the new definition. Incompleteness is made to work in reverse.

Neurologically, abstraction corresponds to establishing a shorter, less energetically and less temporally costly neural network going more directly to the meat of the matter (don’t forget you are dealing with the mind of a killer ape, meat is where it’s at).

It is my opinion that pieces of mathematics correspond to subsets of neuronal architecture (I should say neuroglial architecture, because glial cells, which make up 90% of the human brain, are involved). Any of subset of neuronal architecture is countable (actually, although large, it is finite, say involving a skeleton of at most a of a trillion trillions pieces of networks (yes, ten to the power 24), counting everything, even dendrites). So basically a mathematical reasoning is a neural network (a subset of all paths possible with a trillion trillions pieces). But the neural network can be changed in a non trivial way, TOPOLOGICALLY speaking (topology is the science of neighborhoods, forgetting about distance measured by number: distance gets measured only by the notion of neighborhood -literally, not by a number).

Although any given neural network is countable, it can readily morph into something completely different, geometrically, or topologically. [Neural] countability is next to the infinity of the continuum. According to me, this is the essence of Cantor diagonalization: any countable array gives rise to elements not in it.

And it is the essence of incompleteness: any mathematical theory is, by essence a COUNTABLE neural network, and thus misses most of math. Realized mathematics will always be of measure zero in the set of all possible mathematics.

Notice that the neural networks can vary geometrically (which is in a way what Cantor did), but can also do much more, because they can morph into some which are not topologically equivalent (and do this all the time, since their connectivity varies through new neuronal, axonal, dendritic and glial geometry).

Now, of course, if even any mathematical reasoning is that incomplete, a fortiori all and any reasoning. Thus the preceding result has impact on all knowledge and cognition.

***

LIAR AND NEUROLOGY:

And what of the paradox of the liar in all this? (Another version of it is: "The following sentence is true. The preceding sentence is false.")

Well, Russell solved it with his theory of "type", a hierarchy avoiding self reference. I think the solution is just to realize that neurology has a hierarchical organization that can be called "meta" (loosely corresponding to Russel’s hierarchy, or one founded by Von Neumann, which starts with the empty set, then the infinity, or inductive et axiom: if y is in it, so is y U {y}).

"Meta" enables abstraction. It basically consists, given a neuronal set S into a set of higher neurons, H, which, observing the quasi-simultaneity of some sorts of firings, draw the consequences, in the form of new axonal chains between S and H that short circuits the long axonal chains confined to S (this corresponds to the logician Alonso Church’s definition of abstraction).

Say neuron A, after a long chain of intermediaries, makes neuron Z fire always; then a neuron B appears that connects directly A and Z, shortening the axiomatic/program structure: such is the abstracting process, reproduced in mathematics by forgetting (some of) the details (of course, it is the same abstracting process which is used all over).

The liar paradox disappears in neurology, because neuromathematics eliminates self referential loops. These cannot happen (neuro)logically (neurons don’t short circuit, be it only because they cannot fire immediately again, let alone the fact that neurology sees no interest in close by, loopy circuitry).

***

INCOMPLETELY YOURS:

In any case, such is my resolution of incompleteness. All and any theory is countable, but the universe is not. And neither is the mind (thus the mathematics). The related liar’s problem is done with by the geometrodynamics.

Some will say: what sort of proof is that? But what is the proof of zero? Or the proof of irrationals? Or the proof of hyperbolic geometry? Of course, there is none, they are just choices, and then observations we make in life.

I realize this is incomplete, and (not yet) demonstrable in its entirety, but, as I was saying, all and any theory is incomplete…

***

Patrice Ayme

***

1) Annex on why neurology has intrinsic geometry: Generally, neurology is viewed as set of neural networks. Neural networks are almost trivial things: a directed graph with edge weights, and perhaps a "transfer function" at each vertex. The interesting content is in algorithms that progressively improve a solution to an inverse problem — calculating edge weights that result in desired couplings between input and output edges. The picture here goes completely beyond that, since NEUROLOGY BECOMES VARIABLE GEOMETRY, AND EVEN VARIABLE TOPOLOGY.

indeed, neuronal logic incorporates a temporal hierarchy, given by the time it takes to process the logic. Neurology, among other things, is logic + time delayed causality (notice the analogy with special relativity, and, or field theory, be it electrodynamics or gravitational, where a crucial point is delayed, hence local, causality).

Neuronal geometry is thus given by the time it takes for logical processes (neuronal firing and the propagation of signals down axonal-dentritic-glial chains is far from instantaneous, because not only are nerve impulses slow, but the signal is reprocessed along the way, with typically a glial cell’s foot interfering into each synapse, which is itself, all by itself, a geometrical computer).

*

2) Annex on how the debate progressed in Paris circa 1100 CE: The notions above address, and are an attempt at solving, once and for all, directly the debate between realism (Champeaux, Archdeacon of Paris, teacher of Abelard) versus nominalism (Roscelin, preceding teacher of Abelard), versus conceptualism (Abelard). Those thinkers, circa 1100 CE, all knew each other, and were busy going well beyond Aristotle’s metaphysical uselessness in the debate on "universals" (ideas). Champeaux thought "universals" were real, out there (a position started with Plato, I guess, where it made strictly no sense). Roscelin thought "universals" were all in the mind. Abelard was in between. The position above, neuromathematics, is that universals are real, but all in the mind. This is how the universe teaches us to become human. (BTW, this shows that the European thought system had gone well beyond the Greeks by 1100 CE, and thus was not dependent of getting reacquainted with the Greeks, contrarily to what is generally depicted. The argument can even be made that forgetting the forgettable details of Greek thought is exactly what the doctor ordered.)

*

Cantor diagonalization has many spectacular applications. For example, suppose we considered a number m, and then suppose we enumerated its properties: P(1) could be whether it is even, P(2) could be whether it is prime, P(3) could be whether it is normal, etc… Each property could be expressed by an expansion as a sequence of 0s and 1s, as is done in computer science. Then one could consider diagonals, and tweak them as Cantor did, getting properties not found in the original list. Conclusion: the properties of any given number are not countable. (That puts an ironical light on the physicists searching for a "theory of everything" and the believers who believe in just one got: they should take the diagonal of god, see what happens…)

*

The foundations of mathematics have proven to be a jungle: Many foundational systems have been elaborated (ZFC, MK, T-G, NBG, etc.), to try to have enough logical power to support the elaborated reasonings of some mathematicians (such as Grothendieck), or theories such as category and model theory, while avoiding paradoxes. The final word is not in, but the implicit morality modern mathematicians have extracted from it is that your foundation depends upon your construction, just as in the building industry. All foundations are local, only the mind is global.

THE CO2 WAGER.

November 12, 2009

 

DIFFERENTLY FROM PASCAL’S MALEVOLENT DEITY, CO2 IS REAL, YOU CAN BET ON IT.

Pascal, the mathematical genius and philosopher, is famous for his wager about the big man in the sky. Although the existence of God cannot be demonstrated through reason, Pascal argued that a person should bet as though God exists, because living in such a way has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. (It is found in note 233 of his Pensées, a posthumously published collection of notes made by Pascal in his last years.)

Basically Pascal said that there may be this all powerful presence up there, and if we do not believe in it, and it exists, we may be all destroyed, so we better believe. Moreover, if we believe, and the all powerful presence is just an illusion, we would become better anyway, by doing what this illusion asked us to do.

Pascal’s bet can be transposed, strategy for strategy, to the carbon catastrophe. However, differently from the God of the Parisians in the sixteenth century, carbon dioxide really exists. So the wager is much more real. It is not about existence, but about MALEVOLENCE. (Yes, philosophically speaking, it may feel funny that CO2 is accused of malevolence: without it the Earth would be a ball frozen at minus 14 degree Celsius; but the people who overproduce it now, and the main power behind that overproduction, or rather its leaders, can be accused of malevolence.)

What is it, to believe in the carbon catastrophe? It is to believe in the presence of overabundant CO2 and the malevolent, cataclysmic consequences thereof. We have to believe. Why? Because if we do not, and the malevolence arises in its full cataclysmic consequences, the following will happen:

1) The food chain in the oceans will collapse.

2) In the acidified oceans, now full of carbonic acid, photosynthetic animals which fabricate oxygen will dissolve, resulting in a considerable reduction of oxygen production in the biosphere. Global Warming is just a subset of what is going wrong from the cataclysmic increase of CO2. Learn.

3) Most species, unable to escape the rising heat, will disappear. Crocodiles will thrive in the archipelago of Northern Canada. Oh, by the way, most food production will collapse.

4) Sea level will rise by 75 meters, as Greenland and Antarctica completely melt (a process already started, satellite studies reveal).

Some of the consequences above are proximal: they will affect people living today. The latest lab studies show that the rate at which CO2 turns into carbonic acid in the ocean presently should make the resulting brew too acid for much oxygen making life by 2100 CE, in a generation. Already the rising heat of the water has robbed giant expanses of tropical oceans of enough oxygen to support life: these parts of the oceans are dead (sometimes all the way to a kilometer down).

So, if you do not believe in CO2, you make yourself accomplice of that HOLOCAUST. Now, of course, as the situation quickly deteriorates, many nations would take it very badly, and massive nuclear wars would wreck the planet, in the most efficient effort so far to reduce CO2 production. Morality as we have known it for thousands of years may completely collapse, and reintroducing cannibalism on an industrial basis, Aztec style (or worse) may become a no brainer.

On the other hand, if you do believe that having now a CO2 equivalent of 450 parts per million in volume (450 ppmv), greater than the maximum of 300 ppmv of the last 15 million years (latest science, fall 2009) will have cataclysmic consequences, what do you lose? Answer: nothing.

Life without carbon will be more virtuous. After all, burning carbon kills (mostly indirectly) millions a year, worldwide (mostly through pollution, although the oil wars, and preparing for them, is also costly in lives, be it only by diverting resources).

The part of the world economy that needs oil the most is air transportation (because oil has the highest energy density, short of nuclear power). But that can be solved, because algae based fuel is just a matter of technological and economic deployment: algae are wonderful, they absorb huge amounts of CO2 to produce their oil.

Some freakish American servants of the plutocracy have suggested to cool the planet by mimicking volcanoes. Volcanoes produce giant amounts of SO2 (sulfur dioxide, easily turned into SO4, sulfuric acid). It is a bit as if one "solved" a holocaust, by making another, killing all those who complained about the first one. As I will show in an accompanying essay, giant volcanic eruptions, the super traps, have caused massive extinctions (in particular the P-T and K-T extinctions, the former being the greatest, 250 million years ago, and the later having exterminated the dinosaurs).

Super traps eruptions are characterized by enormous production of deadly CO2 and SO2. That is the way they kill (most of) the biosphere. In other words, the American idiots who suggest to re-engineer the planet with sulfates want to recreate the super traps in all respects: complete with SO2, not just the CO2 we presently have.

It is better, wiser, more prudent and compassionate to believe that one should bet carbon burning is as malevolent as can be. So bet to boot carbon burning out, please.

Patrice Ayme

***

1) Addendum on SuperFreaks from the USA:

It is one of my contentions that it is Wall Street that contributed the most to the arrival of the Nazis, a splendid operation that brought worldwide Wall Street supremacy (the so called "American Century"). Now Wall Street and its servants want to bring MASS EXTINCTION. Proof? Read more:

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, in their new book, “SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” (William Morrow; $29.99), claim that, if, at any particular moment, things look bleak, it’s because people are seeing them the wrong way. “When the solution to a given problem doesn’t lie right before our eyes, it is easy to assume that no solution exists,” they write. “But history has shown again and again that such assumptions are wrong.”

What is right, though, is that Americans do not study history. Sure Levitt, sure Dubner: I guess, when the problem was Auschwitz, right before our eyes, it was better to believe in the solution the Nazis found: don’t talk about it, except, discreetly, as the "final solution".

Levitt and Dubner tell the horseshit story as a prelude to discussing climate change (the famous horseshit story is that there were too many horses in big cities, and horse dung was a major problem). “Just as equine activity once threatened to stomp out civilization, there is now a fear that human activity will do the same.” As usual, they claim, the anxiety is unwarranted. First, the global-warming threat has been exaggerated; there is uncertainty about how, exactly, the Earth will respond to rising CO2 levels, and uncertainty has “a nasty way of making us conjure up the very worst possibilities”. To this one should reply that there was uncertainty about how the Jewish race and the French republic would respond to Nazi politics. As it was, the Jews got exterminated, and the French republic declared world war.

Second, solutions are bound to present themselves, Levitt and Dubner boldly assert: “Technological fixes are often far simpler, and therefore cheaper, than the doomsayers could have imagined.” Yes, in the way of a simple technological fix, it took just a little world war to stomp out fascism and racism. Only 75 million killed, no sweat: the USA is now on top, so Levitt and Dubner love it. But if the USA had lost half of its population, the indecency of such a drift would be blatant to Americans (example: without the twentieth century wars, the population of Russia would be 300 millions, not just 140 millions as it is presently!)

Levitt and Dubner have in mind a very particular kind of “technological fix”. Wind turbines, solar cells, biofuels—these are all, in their view, more trouble than they’re worth. Such technologies are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, which is the wrong goal, they say. Cutting back is difficult and, finally, annoying. Who really wants to use less oil? This sounds, the malevolent pair writes, “like wearing sackcloth”. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to re-engineer the planet?

One scheme that Levitt and Dubner indeed endorse features a fleet of fibreglass boats equipped with machines that would increase the cloud cover over the oceans (talk about unreal). Another scheme calls for constructing a vast network of tubes for sucking cold water from the depths of the sea to the surface (great, so we will accelerate the release of methane from the depths). Far and away their favorite plan involves mimicking volcanoes.

During a major eruption directed explosively upwards, huge quantities—up to tens of millions of tons—of sulfur dioxide are shot into the very high atmosphere. Once aloft, the SO2 reacts to form droplets known as sulfate aerosols, which float around for months. These aerosols act like tiny mirrors, reflecting sunlight back into space. The result is a cooling effect of the stratosphere, troposphere and ground. In the year following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, average global temperatures fell, temporarily, by about one half of a degree Celsius (one degree Fahrenheit).

“Once you eliminate the moralism and the angst, the task of reversing global warming boils down to a straightforward engineering problem,” Levitt and Dubner write. All we need to do is figure out a way to shoot huge quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere on our own. This could be done, they say, by sending up an eighteen-mile-long hose: “For anyone who loves cheap and simple solutions, things don’t get much better.”

Those super freaks have forgotten that Anthropogenic Global Warming warms up only the lower troposphere, while it cools the stratosphere. In the mimicking-volcanoes scheme, the stratosphere is cooled even more, which may well have unforeseen consequences, such as augmenting ozone losses through cold chemistry (ozone blocks Ultra Violet light, which sterilizes life, all of life, including oxygen producing plankton, so actually the sulfate scheme would make a bad situation with the oceans worse…this remark is a world first, to my knowledge, by the way: differently from Levitt and Dubner, I am scientifically trained, math and physics.)

Neither Levitt, an economist, nor Dubner, a journalist, has any training in climate science—or, for that matter, in any science of any kind. It’s their contention that they don’t need it. The whole conceit behind “SuperFreakonomics” and, before that, “Freakonomics,” which sold some four million copies, is that a dispassionate, statistically minded thinker can find patterns and answers in the data that those who are emotionally invested in the material will have missed. (The subtitle of “Freakonomics,” published in 2005, is “A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.”)

Now, of course super freaking idiots do not need any background in anything, as long as they make money, and yield influence, because super freaking idiocy is better produced that way, knowing nothing about everything, and super proud of it: see Hitler and Heidegger (both of whom were super freaking thinking idiots). OK, this is violent language, but do not forget that the thought system pushed by Levitt and Dubner may cause the death of billions, making them an order of magnitude worse than the likes of Hitler and Heidegger. Shocking, but true. And by the way homicidal violence can only be vanquished by greater force.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2009/11/16/091116crbo_books_kolbert?currentPage=all#ixzz0WduzbRVr

2) Addendum on Pascal’s moral deficiency: I will not make here a wild attack on Pascal’s wager itself, since I just used it cynically… But let’s say that ethically speaking, some interpretation of it can be made that does not wash. Indeed Pascal’s deity is fundamentally malevolent (because if one does not believe in it, one gets to burn forever). So to believe the way Pascal does is to give in to malevolence.

Think, Or Sink.

November 9, 2009

 

CALIFORNIA, SINKING, CAN’T BE GOVERNED. THE USA, DREAMING, IS NOT FAR BEHIND.

Paul Krugman, in "Paranoia Strikes Deep (New York Times, Nov. 8), feels that the Californian global failure could propagate to the rest of the USA (part of his work in reproduced in the Annex below).

California used to be America’s America. California used to be the dream, the world’s dream, it’s turning into a nightmare, the world’s nightmare, where the hyper rich builds hyper yachts, and orders the government around to pay lower taxes, while the rest of society falls into a bottomless pothole.

When California elected one more republican disaster governor, the first, and defining move of that actor was to terminally gut California’s fiscal structure by removing a crucial tax on automobiles. As it turned out, that fiscal potholes was exactly big enough to have California sink into it in 2009. But never mind: the terminator-governor owned two dozen giant trucks for his own personal entertainment. Entertaining celebrities is big business in California. meanwhile, the gov and his republican cohorts gutted the budget of the University of California (whose Berkeley campus is one of the top three in the world, according to Shanghai).

California used to have the best school system in the USA, at a time when the USA had the top school system in the world. Now California has the worst school system in the USA, and the school system of the USA is in free fall. Some polls say that most Americans think that they used to share their lives with dinosaurs, and it sure increasingly looks that way.

How did California sink? Taxes (not enough). Expenses (too much of the extravagant, useless, feel-good, long term stupid type). I claim that the common cause of this has been the failure of the thinking process. Too much new Age, not enough Think Age.

Krugman does not analyze the causality behind the Californian mental collapse. That we will presently evoke.

Too many years were spent playing up the irrational side. They have led to poor schools, and an increasing inability to think enough to keep society on an optimal trajectory. Once that will is gone, where does the republic go? What holds it up?

The noblest and more characteristic function of human beings is thinking, and this rests on the capability and inclination to make logical arguments. But guess what? "To argue" is a sin in the USA, or at least so say the usage which is commonly made these days of the American language, something used all the time by Americans. it is as if, every day, Americans said to themselves, and others, that is bad to think.

So it is time to go back to the essentials, the exact opposite of what was instilled in recent decades. Those are taught at the age of two. Lesson number one at age two ought to be: thinking is good, and it rests on the capability of making cogent arguments.

The present government of the USA, went all out to save its "friends". Semantics matter; "friends" was the term used by Obama speaking of his self described "friends" Jamie Dimon, or Warren Buffet. So the government of the USA went all out to save its friends. The government did not bother to go through "Congress", the national assembly. The government of the USA saved the banksters, by throwing to them all the capital that could be found. Thus, there was not much more capital that could be borrowed, and the "stimulus", the capital to save the economy, was the object of a lengthy national debate, and came out much smaller. This enormous capital offered to banksters, as the rest of the economy was deprived of it is now paid at the cost of considerable unemployment.

In a way, feeding the most corrupt and incompetent bankers ever seen, and, so doing, starving the general economy was a sort of insanity of the leadership. This lamentable example, from the Federal government itself, does not help. Limbaugh or Beck, two showmen of the right, are not in power. Obama and his self described "friend", Jamie Dimon (Daemon?) are. And they have sunk the economy, forgetting that is the branch they sit on. how rational is that?

When California started to go down, Californians did not think that the abysmal decisions they were taking mattered, because, and they still think this, California could not, cannot go down.

So what to do? Try to explain to Americans what is happening to their country, and their minds. it is not easy: the hubris is considerable: the latest batch of Nobel Prizes, most of them "Americans" (born overseas, attracted by money).

Meanwhile, Europe has got to lead, in the realm of deep ideas, and correct emotions. After all, with its 18 trillion (real) dollar GDP, the European Union does not have to take orders from Washington, its wasting characteristics, and its decaying economy. It is ironical that France’s and Germany’s conservative governments are pursuing genuinely social policies, much more to the left, and much more to the right (in a good way) than the policies of the USA. It is also ironical that, although the preceding leadership of the USA violated international law (by using torture by ordering it from the top, something the Nazis never dare to do), it is the French leadership which is on trial, by French justice, for reasons American justice could never see (because American politicians are given immunity by their successors, one of the rare American traditions still in force).

***

Patrice Ayme

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

***

Annex. KRUGMAN’S FEAR OF CALIFORNIA DISEASE: "If the G.O.P. essentially shrinks down to a rump party across America, the country could become ungovernable in the midst of a continuing economic disaster… with the rise of Ronald Reagan: Republican politicians began to win elections in part by catering to the passions of the angry right.

Until recently, however, that catering mostly took the form of empty symbolism. Once elections were won, the issues that fired up the base almost always took a back seat to the economic concerns of the elite. Thus in 2004 George W. Bush ran on antiterrorism and “values,” only to announce, as soon as the election was behind him, that his first priority was changing Social Security.

But something snapped last year. Conservatives had long believed that history was on their side[…] After the Democratic sweep, however, extremists could no longer be fobbed off with promises of future glory.

In fact, the party of Limbaugh and Beck could well make major gains in the midterm elections […] they feed the base’s frenzy instead of trying to curb or channel it[…] So all the old restraints are gone. The Obama administration’s job-creation efforts have fallen short, so that unemployment is likely to stay disastrously high through next year and beyond. The banker-friendly bailout of Wall Street has angered voters, and might even let Republicans claim the mantle of economic populism. Conservatives may not have better ideas, but voters might support them out of sheer frustration… what has already happened in California could happen at the national level. In California, the G.O.P. has essentially shrunk down to a rump party with no interest in actually governing — but that rump remains big enough to prevent anyone else from dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis. If this happens to America as a whole, as it all too easily could, the country could become effectively ungovernable in the midst of an ongoing economic disaster.

The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America."

***

And bad for the planet, because what is bad for America, is bad for the planet.

***

Financially Metastatic, Philosophically Ignorant.

November 8, 2009

 

WHEN PIRATES ARE IN POWER, DOWN IS UP, AND ANYTHING GOES.

Something we have hammered for years. Paul Krugman points out that: "…Advanced economies actually grew faster in the era before modern finance took hold. There have been assertions that it was all about rebuilding from the war, or that the picture looks very different if you look at per capita real GDP, with some flat assertions that if you look at the numbers right growth has been better since 1980s.

Um, no.

Take the United States, which wasn’t damaged in the war. Take per capita real GDP. Give hostages by taking data from 1950 to 1980, which means including the 1980 recession, but stopping at 2007, so that the current slump isn’t included. Then here’s what you get:

Growth in per capita real GDP from 1950 to 1980: 2.2 percent per year
Growth in per capita real GDP from 1980 to 2007: 2.0 percent per year

Oh, and if we look at real median family income instead, we get:

Growth from 1950 to 1980: 2.3 percent per year
Growth from 1980 to 2007: 0.7 percent per year

Sorry: there’s no measure I can think of by which the U.S. economy has done better since 1980 than it did over an equivalent time span before 1980. It may be something you’ve heard, it may be something you’d like to believe, but it just didn’t happen."

And of course the GDP growth from 1980 on was polluted by the metastatic growth of financial sector piracy. By that token, the GDP of the Caribbean augmented enormously when the pirates took over in the seventeenth century: after all piracy and its innovations, like finance and its "innovations" are a form of frantic activity, and if one decides to measure that proudly instead of the rest, this can grow instead of the rest. For decades the pirates of the Caribbean played government against government, nation against nation, same as today with financial pirates. When the real economy of the Caribbean region fell apart, the governments finally took concerted action: laws were changed, justice was enforced, the pirates were arrested, and many were hanged.

That was nice. Now, what about getting the governments together, change the laws, and send some of the financial pirates to jail?

What some finance and economy professors and other critters serving the oligarchy claim not to understand is that the pathetically low growth of the median income proves that the financial sector sucked up way too much of financial capital. In the present, grotesquely undemocratic fractional banking system, it’s the banks themselves which create most of the money, and then, in an obvious conflict of interest, decide who gets the money. To stabilize this outrage through carefully tuned influence peddling, they then take political manipulators such as Rahm Emanuel, and give him quickly 16 million dollars in two years, so he would know, and let it be known, who the true masters are (then he can teach his friend Obama).

Democracy is clearly at bay. The financial sector is sucking most of mother’s milk of free economy, capital, become it controls, it has become the mother itself. But, fundamentally, whereas the economy needs shoemakers, it does not need financiers. finance ought to be just a trusty communication device between savers and entrepreneurs. so finance is servant of the economy, not its master. a fortiori, finance ought not to be the master of the democracy. but when finance is the greatest contributor to the democracy’s elected representatives, when finance is therefore buying itself a democracy, things have got out of control.

The "democratic" governor of New Jersey, Corzine, just thrown out by voters, used to be CEO of Goldman Sachs. His right hand man was Paulson (who succeeded Corzine as the next CEO of Goldman Sachs). Paulson, with Geithner (Obama treasury man), was the main architect of the Bush-Obama plan of sending all the disposable cash of the USA to the world’s richest men, so that they can stay in control. Why? because as long as the fat cats big bankers control all, the rotten politicians, already rich, and soon to be much more so, can stay on their future payrolls.

One cannot sweep things under the rug, and shrug that, if Americans want to stay oppressed by their plutocrats, and the oligarchy connected to them, that the business of the USA. A century ago something similar developed and the possessing elites were favorable to a big distraction, a mighty source of profits, and comforting for most of the worldwide oligarchic system (or so most oligarchies hoped at the time). That distraction came to be called the First World War. Socialists, in France and Germany (among other places) came to see it that way, and tried to stop the war, by calling for a strike instead. Jaures, prestigious leaders of the French socialists was assassinated, though, and the World War started a few days later. Although it is true that the fascist Prussian generals who decided to assault the world, had a mind of their own, the oligarchies in Europe, and especially in Germany, viewed the socialists as a greater danger than the nominal enemy.

An amusing proof of this is the defeat of France in May-June 1940. Although the Nazis lost 2,000 planes (!), their Luftwaffe was able to acquire control of the skies. How? The French had plenty of state of the art fighter planes, several hundreds of them, equal to the very best that the Nazis had, which were not engaged, at a time where every single supremacy fighter counted. They were not engaged, because they were not armed. They were not armed, because the political powers that be did not trust the workers with the heavy guns needed to arm the planes…

Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are obvious distractions. More damage is made to the strategic supremacy of the USA by the pathetic spectacle of the Wall Street government in Washington.

Obama has not decreased the military spending and augmented the adventurism in Afghanistan, hoping for a while that technology (drones) would replace ideas.

Let’s leave the final word to the Macroeconomics blog:

Just look at the red line of the “Not In Labor Force”:

That hasn’t happened, as I reproduce again in this chart:

The "Not In Labor Force" graph is worse:

This graph continues to accelerate in a near-parabolic rise since June.  In the history of the data available for this series, unfortunately only back to 1999, this has never before happened.

Our government, by choosing to protect the oligarchs and banksters instead of allowing the market to force the bad debt out into the open where it defaults has chosen to saddle our nation’s citizens with unconscionable and unsustainable debt loads, both at a government and personal level.  This was a critical error and, as I expected and predicted, it is now being reflected directly into the employment situation.

I would add this: it is not just a question of debt, a notion that strikes the future, and attacks the dollar, but of MISASSIGNEMENT OF CAPITAL. That, the latest notion, is why the unemployment rate is skyrocketing up, right now.

I have been saying this, I have been fulminating against this, much more than a year ago when the Geithner-Paulson plan, of saving Wall Street and losing democracy got enacted. Some day it will be known as the Bush-Obama strategy of Wall Street first. The Macroeconomics blog also shows that the latest GDP numbers are not what they look like: they actually mask a dramatic deterioration of the financial situations of individuals.

Can Obama back off? Well, first he would have to understand that there is a problem. But he can’t, because he does not have the philosophical background. It’s simple, though: if you save your financials when they got metastatic, you lose the patient. Does not matter how many health bills you pass.

Patrice Ayme

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/