Understand, Predict, Innovate Judiciously or Die: Why The Maya Collapsed

May 12, 2021

Civilizations are dynamically technological, or they are not, and fall, like a cyclist trying to stand on just two wheels without moving. It is actually worse than that: the man-made ecology, the bicycle civilization is riding, is always changing, as the civilization depletes whatever it is standing on.

And the more successful it is, the more it gets depleted. It is not just a question of limits to growth in general, but of a collapse of the particular type of growth which brought success… so far. When old growth is sick and exhausted, one has to get a divorce, and change growth model. Staying faithful to an ecology one has killed, brings only more killing.

The change from the Latin-Roman Catholic civilization to the Latin-Frankish civilization which succeeded it was primarily a change of growth model: the basic law, the spirit of Roman Republican law, was unchanged. The Franks adopted a superior growth model (religious tolerance, no more slavery).

Eurasia and the “West” provide many examples of this, changing growth models in a smart way.

The Maya provide a warning of what happens when one succumbs to hubris while lacking long duration smarts. The Maya did not understand, predict, and innovate in a timely manner, and one adopted an erroneous growth model. By the Eight Century, around 750 CE, Mayan society had thrived for more than 2,000 years. The population was at an all-time high: high-tech mapping suggests that at least 10 million people may have lived within the Maya Lowlands alone. 40 major new stone buildings were built every year (it used to be 10, it would fall back to zero after 900 CE). Mayans were experts in astronomy, mathematics, architecture, with a complex language of written symbols. The city-state of Tikal comprised more than 61,000 stone buildings.

Then a megadrought struck. It was the worst drought in 7,000 years, it lasted two centuries. That megadrought was partly a consequence of human, Mayan, activity (greenhouse warming plus deforestation so drastic fundamental some raw materials were gone). Devastating wars of cities against cities, rebellions, killing of the incompetent elites, and the burning of cities followed. Population collapsed. Less than 200 years later, the core of the Maya civilization (the southern lowlands) was no more (most of the rest would progressively go down in the next two centuries). A civilization that had stretched across southern Mexico and Central America was nearly completely gone (the Conquistadores would meet its haggard remnants). 

The Mayan collapse was not caused by invasion (Toltec influence or not)… whereas Athens, Rome, Constantinople and the Xi Xia fell partly, mostly, or completely, from invasion, the Mayan collapse is a study in self-generated devastation. 

There are a number of theories to explain what happened to the Maya. However, from my point  of view it is possible to gather all these theories in just a single one. The Mayan collapse was greatly an implosion of a highly technological society from ecological collapse with population, war and hubris loss of control as triggers: the social and religious implosions are consequences of the technological implosion. 

Graph from Professor Kennett, expert of the subject. Several things from it. Around 200 CE there was a first drought, and a first collapse. It is imaginable that the causes were the same, and that the absence of books and a strong intellectual class led to a repeat. When the late classic collapse started the drought was not that bad and just reflected poorly from the wet 2 centuries prior. However, the wars and the ecological devastation this relative difficulty caused made the situation way worse. Then the terrible drought after 1000 CE prevented any recovery.

There is evidence that the fall of Rome shares some of the elements of the Maya collapse. Let me repeat this slowly: the Mayan ecological collapse started before the full impact of the mega drought. It was obviously caused by a population explosion in combination with mismanagement. Europe would experience something similar around 1300 CE. A few decades before 1300 CE, there were a few severe winters (foreshock of the Little Ice Age). Meanwhile, the European population was exploding, severely stressing the ecology. Forests disappeared… The governments took ferocious countermeasures, banning people from some mountainous regions to limit erosion and deforestation. When the Little Ice Age struck, followed by the Plague of 1348 CE, half of the population was killed, but society itself, give or take a few roasted noble families, and a few thousands peasants butchered, survived intact.  

Rome is another case of ecological implosion: clearly the metal mining of Rome collapsed a full century before the empire started to collapse socially, financially, militarily, and into barracks’ emperors anarchy. We know that metal mining went down first by studying traces of metal in Greenland ice cores. Rome high tech society was extremely dependent upon metals. No more metal, no more economy, currency, military… or even roofs (!) 

Often triumphant technology causes the conditions for its own failure. 

The Mayan irrigation system was gigantic. It used special materials. The Maya’s home was a tough environment plagued by droughts: what is called a seasonal desert. The land that they farmed was often porous limestone, rocky terrain with massive wetlands. How did they manage to feed their huge population? It is estimated that the population may have been above 18 millions… Well Mayans used the swamps, next to which their cities were located. About 40% of the Yucatán Peninsula is swamp today. The Maya mucked out the ditches, and tossed the soil onto the adjacent land, creating elevated fields which would kept the root systems of their crops above the waterlogged soil, while allowing access to the irrigation water. They also drained some land outright. That irrigated land is hundreds of kilometers across. Sixty or so cities each with a population of 60,000 to 70,000, sprouted during two centuries of abnormally wet weather, setting the Maya for a fall. 

On satellite pics forests around Mayan sites look discoloured. On the ground remnants of orchards and edible plants are still in abundance.

Mayan lands are now a sea of green forest. However, by 700 CE the Maya had completely run out of their main construction trees. It has been suggested that massive deforestation helped cause a megadrought. When the elites proved they had no solution but war of all against all, devastation followed.

The Mayan megadrought was caused mostly by human ecological devastation. 

Not all megadroughts are that way. Across the Mediterranean and west Asia, the effects of the 4.2-3.9 ka BP megadrought included synchronous collapse of the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, the Old Kingdom in Egypt and Early Bronze Age settlements in Anatolia, the Aegean and the Levant. That megadought left marks all over, including in Alaska and the Yukon. There was an estimated 30-50% reduction in precipitation delivered by the Mediterranean westerlies in the eastern hemisphere, where they provide for dry-farming and irrigation agriculture across the Aegean, Levant, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Iran. There was a synchronous disruptions for the Indian Summer Monsoon. That was clearly a larger scale disaster where the human influence is not obvious… keeping in mind that a greenhouse caused by the rise of human agriculture, and herding which may have prevented what would have been otherwise significant cooling, 8,000 Before Present.

***

Agriculture Can Cause Ecological Devastation:

… This is something that the promoters of agriculture as a panacea keep on forgetting. Plants interact with the atmosphere and the climate. Large dark plants—such as dense tropical forest—absorb a lot of energy from the Sun. At the same time, they prevent much evaporation, thanks to their shade: a tropical forest is darker than a cathedral. Tropical forests restitute the sun energy, and the moisture, in the evening, making warm moist air rise high; it falls back as rain. 

Lighter colored plants (crops and dry yellow grasses like wheat) reflect some, and sometimes most energy. They act like snow, rising the albedo of the land, sending back sunlight energy to space. 

When a forest is replaced by thinner, less massive and less shady, lighter colored plants, the land reflects more sunlight, which cools the atmosphere (because the ground does not warm up, filling up with sun energy to give it back later). Cool air sinks, while water vapor needs to rise and condense to create a rainstorm. Without warm, unstable air rising into the atmosphere, rainstorms became less common. 

The lack of rain helps raise temperatures on land. When energy from the Sun reaches the ground directly, it either bakes the ground or it causes water to evaporate from the soil or transpire from plants. With forests producing less moisture and croplands holding less water, droughts deepened as more and more of the Sun’s energy heated the ground. Thus deforestation makes  droughts worse, and may even create a desert. An excellent example is an Hawaiian island which was deprived of its forest, and is now a baked red piece of land with low bushes, Kaho’olawe. 

In ancient times, the Maya had practiced good forestry management. They were not allowed to cut down the sacred groves. That changed during the Late Classic period with the adventures of Jasaw Chan K’awiil. The Tikal Maya had been defeated and had fallen to second-rate status prior to his ascendancy. Jasaw Chan K’awiil led an army to the competing city, Calakmul, captured its ruler, bound him, brought him back and sacrificed him. There was plenty of instability at the times, including the rise of ferocious warrior queens; one queen built the longest plastered white road going north among orchards and cornfields… to enable her army to go defeat a rising northern city, Chichen Itza.

In any case, Tikal had a one century hiatus characterized with neighboring competing cities having plenty of warrior-queens (at least ten). So agriculture can cause devastation and women can mean trouble… Queen Bathilde of the Franks outlawed slavery, successfully, not because she was weak, but because she was stronger than the (male) Chinese emperors who tried the same. Some of the pseudo-“woke” may be be rendered too awake from this essay….

Nice Quetzal hat… Maya Holy Snake Lord known as Lady K’abel who ruled El Perú-Waka’, a city-state one hundred kilometers west of Tikal…. for more than 20 years with her husband, King K’inich Bahlam II. She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title “Kaloomte,” translated as “Supreme Warrior,” higher in authority than her husband, the king. This representation is not a figment of imagination: we have actually ceramic figurines of her!… And much documentation besides. The exact chronology of what happened is not fully clear yet, but plenty enough for the theme of this essay!

After these wars between cities, the Maya rebuilt the city of Tikal in a way never seen before. They began building huge temples that required considerable resources, especially large, straight trees whose wood could withstand the weight of tons of stone. Their choices were limited to two types of strong trees.

Jasaw Chan K’awiil tapped into their sacred groves to do this. The stands of virgin timber were more than 200 years old in some areas. After building a few of the temples, the Maya ran out of timber from the Manilkara zapota (sapodilla) tree. That wood is easy to work, until it dries up and becomes very strong. It’s denser than water. Then they switched to an inferior tree —Haematoxylon campechianum, logwood or inkwood — which is found in swamps. This had adverse consequences on the maintenance or expansion of the irrigation system.

Tikal’s irrigation system was high tech. It contained at least eight large dams, the largest with 75,000 tons of water, was used as a causeway linking two parts of the city. Dams were equipped with filtration sand boxes, to produce clean water. The quartz sand is not found in the Tikal area; it was imported from more than 30 kilometers away.

How permanent was the change the Mayan civilization at its apogee inflicted on Yucatan? Climatologist Ben Cook from NASA compared climate conditions during the late Mayan era with conditions during the early colonial era (1500-1650 CE), when land use was at a minimum and forests had regrown over Central America. The warming and drying trend had disappeared. 

However the Mayan civilization had not recovered its splendor: after 1200 CE and until the Conquistadores appeared, it was a shadow of its former self, the population being perhaps just a tenth of what it used to be… But it was not for lack of aggressivity: a severe and vast ambush was set by Mayans for the Conquistadores who had to flee back to their boats… And the last free Mayan city, Nojpeten, would fall only in 1697. Some have suggested that the remaining Maya went to the coast, where the Spanish found them. It is fascinating to see that the Mayan civilization couldn’t get restarted: the numerous giant cities were gone for good. But this is often the case of civilizational collapses…

What probably happened is that the Mayan way of life was a huge system which needed a technological know-how which had been acquired during millennia, and then was lost. A broken system can’t be reinstated overnight: the system may have been elaborated over centuries (the case of Rome, Athens)… or even millennia: the case of Mesopotamia, Egypt… And the MesoAmerican civilizations. 

Moreover books are important, as they store information, and not just the concept of the proverbial wheel. This has long been known: when Rome annihilated Carthage, all Punic books were destroyed. Except one: a treaty on agriculture. And indeed the Romans would make Africa a Roman granary, the region became more productive than it would be until the arrival of French. 

The Greek dark ages after the adventures of the Trojan War lasted 4 centuries. However, Western Europe and China have proven quite collapse resistant, probably for having cultural systems smarter than most, thanks to all the books… and aware of collapse, thus keen to take resistant measures. For example when the “First” Qin emperor ordered books to be destroyed, especially of the 100 philosophical schools, many Chinese knew what to do: they copied and buried the books. 

In the 1970s, most Maya scholars concluded that the demise of the Classic Period Lowland Maya was the result of complex systems interactions. Another way to put it is that a civilization has a mind of its own

A civilization doesn’t truly collapse until its culture and know-how have been eradicated. In the case of the Maya remnants of the culture survived (they still knew how to write codices)… but what did not survive was how and why to make Yucatan work, as it did at the apex of civilization.

Could the Maya have prevented their collapse? Some will shake their heads and observe that Mayans would have had to understand science we are barely establishing now pertaining to drought and deforestation. Some of the conclusions above have a fair amount of guesswork, philosophy and modelling, and a few obstinate ones would disagree. However, this guesswork, this philosophy was done in Europe in 1300 CE, and a terminal ecological crisis avoided.

So let me tell a personal anecdote: the philosophical method rises the personal and anecdotal to the general and systemic. When I was in Africa I saw municipal authorities cut a number of magnificent trees. Apparently, inspired by a devious sense of esthetics, they had decided an immense plaza looked even better by making it more desolate. I was shocked, and revolted. How could Senegalese, in a country that was obviously desiccating, cut trees which provided shade, cooling and moisture? Tropical trees can have these huge, incredible thick oily leaves which block sunlight. For me it was glaring that this policy favored desertification, and I had seen many examples of it around Senegal already, so I viewed it as a systemic policy symbolizing a perverse mentality. I was ten years old. So if a ten year old can figure out, that cutting trees dries the climate, and causes a desert, no wonder more ancient Mayans protected sacred groves. And then the question becomes how come Tikal changed ecological policy? The answer is the war mood and the hubris it brings: flushed by taking enormous risks defeating their enemies, Tikal leaders kept on taking risks, this time with the ecology, flaunting, to themselves and others, their covenant with god(s). 

Human reality works that way: exaggerated behavior, thanks to hubris and provocation, fail, fix it, fly again. This is how humanity learns… in a tribal setting. Civilizations can also learn that way. In the best places of Eurasia, like the Fertile Crescent, the Latium, India, China. In such places of Eurasia, the collapse of one civilization taught others nearby: this is the story of the Middle East where civilizations kept on crashing and rising again, until the double headed shock of Islam, followed by the Mongols (after that it was pretty much all the way down)…

But it’s not how all civilizations can learn. A civilization can become such an immensely complicated systems, that, once broken, it can’t be readily reconstituted... Such is the sad story of the Maya.

Patrice Ayme

Direct Democracy Made Rome, The Middle Ages, More Inventive

May 9, 2021

Roman engineering is still amazing: the Pantheon in Rome is still the largest unreinforced concrete building. We are still trying to duplicate Roman concrete, some varieties of which were much more energy efficient to make, could settle under water, etc… CO2 is massively produced by concrete making, and a big problem as we decarbonize our energy production. After the Roman state collapsed, buildings got built in a more ephemeral manner…

Ian Miller responded:
In fairness, one of the better ones used a pozzolan from Vesuvius (and burnt lime) so in a sense Vesuvius did much of the heating. Another interesting one was the testa, effectively from heated kaolin, but unlike the clay cements we use, it only had to be heated to 600 degrees C (and with added burnt lime.)

Roman engineering was not the only engineering around: for centuries, the Romans purchased their better weapons among the Gauls, who had superior metallurgy.

In either case, the (relative) superior inventiveness was caused by (relatively superior) direct democracy. That may surprise: Rome is not known for its direct democracy… And it was a strange one, as it reflected the addition of further “tribes”, over the centuries, to those which founded the city itself. So older tribes had priority in voting in the so-called “Centuriate Assembly”… which was actually the National Assembly of the “Populus Romanus”.

Rome was known for its inventiveness in engineering, and it generally happened because some Roman soldier or more typically, an officer, had a bright idea, which quickly went up the chain of command. Other bright ideas were debated politically, sometimes for centuries, sometimes in the fiercest fashion (say taxation of the hyper wealthy and confiscation of said wealth by the Ager Publicus, the public agricultural lands). This makes obvious that debates were intense and their interest beyond any suspicion.

The cathedral and the Brunelleschi dome at sunset, Florence Italy. The balcony at the very top is around one hundred meters in circumference (personal estimate), and the dome is 115 meters high. It was begun in 1296 CE. The Republic invented bonds to finance itself and its army…

The situation changed completely during the empire. Emperors started to pay inventors to NOT divulge their inventions. The idea was that machines took away employment. The reality was that emperors did not want a dynamic society. The most terrible consequence was that the barbarians caught up, or even surpassed, Roman military engineering, with the otherwise incomprehensible results that tiny Germanic bands came to defeat the empire on the battlefield… another cause, tied in directly to the lack of direct democracy in the Late Empire, is that Roman armies were then smaller than at the apex of the Republic, when the Roman population was less than a tenth of what it was in the Late empire… Emperors and their attending plutocrats did not want the proverbial, levée en masse, the mass national military conscription, which would have toppled them… And which had been the rule already under king Servius Tullius, (assassinated 535 BCE) a generation before the formal inception of the Roman Republic…

Fast forward six centuries and now the great leader of the Franks, mother to three kings, queen Bathilde, fierce and absolute regent of the Frankish empire in 657 CE, outlaws slave trading when said slaves reside in Francia, thus are “Franks”. That demolished the Roman latifundia system (giant agribusinesses manned by slaves) which had risen its ugly head towards the end of the Roman Republic, helping to kill it (form the powers it conferred to the plutocrats who owned it). next thing which happened is that Gallic metallurgy, already second to none, became even better. Combined with mechanical advantage (replacing the waning slave workforce), it brought hydraulic hammers, which were then used to give metallic skeletons to great buildings (for example cathedrals and domes.

To build the Duomo in Florence, architect Brunelleschi came up with an impressively complicated design that featured two domes, one on top of the other, using a special herringbone brick pattern. he also used an system of internal iron chains that ringed the outer dome like the metal rings on a barrel to help evenly distribute the weight. Up until that point the only option to make such a dome was to using flying buttresses, a Frankish invention (Italy was part of the Frankish empire, now rebaptized the “Renovated Roman Empire” since 800 CE). The same method was used in Frankish cathedrals, especially after they bulged out and threatened to collapse (see Amiens).

Florence was a resurgence of People Power, as it became a republic in the middle of the Middle Ages. One of many in Italy. The Franks had been favorable to Republics: Venice was one of them, and the spawn of Roman refugees from the Hunnic and Germanic invasions. Charlemagne put it under his wing, but did not subdue her, in spite of the fact she had a gigantic fleet the rest of the empire sorely depended upon.

The Feudal system itself was both a degenerescence of empire, but also a resurgence of local democracy: the Roman empire was united by the Roman army, and communications, plus some basic laws in common, and enough tax base redistribution to keep the army fed, trained and equipped… But otherwise it was pretty much a galaxy of cities… When Caesar invade Gallia Comida (Long Haired Gaul), it has 60 states… the exact same number, in exactly the same region as it would have, a millennium later…

When people talk about Western Europe, and they ponder what made it different, they should pay more attention to the local democracy character it long possessed, and how it generate technological innovation.

Why it failed in Rome has to do with the absence of a revered, endogenous intellectual class. Greece had it, and Rome imported brains from Greece. Higher thoughts are different from engineering, but neither of them can live without the other, and progress, as they must, in always degenerating ecological circumstances…

Patrice Ayme

A Democracy Is A Republic, And Reciprocally!

May 8, 2021

Many US citizens feel it is a mark of sophisticated scholarship to distinguish between “Republic” and “Democracy”. That’s conventional, very American, wrong and perverse.

Intelligence is the appropriate exercise of discrimination. “Proper” comes from property. It means a topological distinction, a logic of place distinction, can be made. If a distinction cannot be made, and still one insists to claim it must be made and it is something deep, that spawns confusion, and disinformation… and if one is confused, and misinformed, one cannot exert command and control, let alone will and power. Hence the powers that be have interest to promote hair that one cannot split, to mentally weaken those who would have the impertinence to rise above their dismal condition. Hence the claimed contrast between Republic and Democracy, which rests on flaunting ignorance, and making it the deepest virtue.

When one complains about some anti-democratic features, such as Nancy Pelosi’s iron rule of the Democratic Party (since before the Iraq invasion, when she was ranking member of the Intelligence Committee; that was nearly 20 years ago!)… or more generally, if one bemoans “democracy” through a few “representatives”, an objection is often made: we live in a Republic, not a Democracy. This sort of mumbo jumbo is very old, coming all the way back to Aristotle (at least). It is as if nobody had looked at the basic organization of the Athenian democracy at its apogee.

In 594 BCE, Solon, appointed Athen’s premier archon, imposed economic and constitutional reforms to give each free resident of Attica a political function. Citizens now had the equal right to address anyone (isegoria) free of Political Correctness (Parrhesia). Before that only the aristocracy ruled, forming the cavalry, which was the army. However, following the example of Argos, Greek city-states switched to the hoplite army, which was made of the upper middle class (wealthy enough for serious military training). That was literally putting Power (KRATIA) in the hand of the People (DEMOS). So the drive towards democracy started with that military innovation (which was going to last until the establishment of the Feudal Order in the Tenth Century, 16 centuries later! (When the Frankish army defeated the Muslim invasion at Poitier, the Franks fought on the foot as one gigantic phalanx, Greek, style, probably the largest phalanx ever, against the Muslim horse… The Frankish cavalry came into play later.) 

Jeff Robinson: 

Most states are a democracy, but our federal government is a republic. There is a difference and it was set up that way for a very important reason. The Electoral College makes the US a Republic. Without the Electoral College there would not be a fair representation of all the states. All states have different resources, interests, and climates that must be represented for the USA to work as a country.

Patrice’s answer: Have you looked at the organization of the Athenian democracy? It is full of elements, assemblies and executive committees, most of them not one man-one vote. And for excellent reasons. The US Electoral College had a functional Roman equivalent (not all tribes were represented the same, as they voted according to chronological order… squared! Old ones were voting first, and with more weight…)

Here is the Constitution of the Athenian Democracy. It is nearly as complicated as the constitution of Rome (which added amusing meta-override features such as “Augurs”… no doubt to make Rome more cautious than Athens. So Roman law ruled over Rome for 28 centuries and counting Frankish rule used Roman law, meta administered by the modifications of the LEX SALICA, including religious tolerance, equal inheritance and the outlawing of slavery; but the basic point was that Roman law was law under the Frankish empire, the “Renovated Roman empire”, and, from there, Western Europe and now the world. Athens arguably failed in part from hubris, which the Roman constitution was better at keeping in check!

Rome was a Republic, not a Democracy: this is what people say, but I do not understand it. Or, rather, I understand that they did not look at the organogram of Rome. Res Publica: Public Thing. Res Publica is non committal semantics.  A public thing could be whatever, maybe even the coaqula maxima, the Roman sewer system (still in use). Inspected in detail, that Roman Res Publica was immensely complex. 

Even Cicero, once a Consul, and a particularly regalian Consul, at that, too harsh and dictatorial even for Julius Caesar, discovered late in life that the function of Augur, whom he had been elected to, was actually even more powerful than that of a Consul (an augur could stop, or start, wars, and did not have to explain why to anybody: birds told him so).

Rome was actually partly a direct democracy. People voted laws directly. It is not a bartender (AOC) or a wealthy political heiress (Nancy Pelosi), or plutocrats more or less in the shadows who voted, but individuals from We The People, directly. Ancient historians loved to pontificate that Roma had a “mixed constitution”… at least so it was said, because of regal elements (the great power of the Consuls)… However Athens also had regalian elements. They differ slightly from those of Rome… However, when the aristocratic golden youth and Socrates’ boyfriend Alcibiades decided to go attack, invade and occupy Syracuse, pretty much nobody could stop him (except at the least moment his command was removed and a superstitious imbecile was chosen to replace Alcibiades). There is no such extravaganza of personal hubristic power to such an astounding instance in the entire history of Rome [1]. When Caesar started his war in Gaul, it was actually not his war: the Helvetiae had invaded and Rome was asked to stop them. Then one thing led to another, but the command of Caesar was always well motivated by the long term interest of the Roman Republic (and Caesar’s conquest of Gaul by the spirit of Roman Republican law endures to this day, in a civilizational sense!)

The Roman Republic sank into a century of civil war… But that was precisely a war between the Populares (We The People) and the Optimates (the plutocrats). In other words, a war between what democracy had been created for (reducing inequality, see Solon), and what democracy had been created against (the oligarchs, aka the “aristocrats”). Interestingly, the root of noble, nobilis, is an abbreviation from gnobilis, from gnoscere (come to know), from the Proto Indo-European root “gno”, to know. So for Rome the hereditary oligarchs were those in the know, whereas for the Greeks they were the best (that’s “Optimates” translated back in Latin).

Thus the Roman Republican civil war was between rising inequality due to globalization eschewing the localization of Roman law and the Populists (“Populares”) 

After Augustus made his regressive revolution, the Power To the People aspect of the Res Publica was definitely on its way out… By then the oligarchic-plutocratic-military system was so powerful that no even barbarian invasion could destroy it. Instead, the plutocratic system incorporated the barbarians: nothing symbolizes this better than the fanatical catholic emperor Theodosius I winning the battle of Frigidus against the Frank Arbogast and his anti-Christian Western Roman army, in September 394 CE: the Goths did most of the work. 

Ever since the mood set by Aristotle has kept on going: monarchy is best, and that spirit has kept on contaminating the Republic, ever since generations of progressives have tried to restart the Republic. 

While he was financing the war for the independence of America, Louis XVI was told by an adviser: “But Sire, you are creating a Republic!” Louis gave it a gallic shrug. Where does “public” comes from? From the Old Latin poplicus “pertaining to the people,” from populus “people”.

In other words, “Republic” and “People Power” are broadly speaking the same thing.

Attempts have been made recently, in the French Republic and the British quasi-Republic, to restart an idea from Greece: establish assemblies chosen by lot to study issues. The advantage of this is that we get ideas from people who are less influenced by lobbyists than professional “representatives”. The results have been interesting.

A Democracy Is A Republic, And Reciprocally! Making a distinction between Democracy and Republic is often made by those who claim that the US should not be a democracy… because, according to these skeptics of democracy, the USA would be a different creature, a republic. Tellingly, in France, the other initial modern Republic, a distinction between “Republic” and “Democracy” is considered to be much ado about nothing, the theme of this essay..

In any case we are in a position, thanks to technological advances to not just copy Athenian and Roman constitutions, but to go further, inspired by their spirits.

Patrice Ayme

Affordable Care Act Neither Affordable Nor Caring.

May 7, 2021

Inflation is measured in contrived ways, mostly to undercount it where it really hurts. Hence the housing and educational crises in the USA (and also in Europe: when France, and the rest of Europe, “deindustrialize”, this is caused, in part by the collapse of the educational system relative to Asia).

In the USA, healthcare inflation is gigantic. Somebody commenting Paul Krugman in the New York Times noticed:

Joe Arena from Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey wrote:

For the love of God, healthcare prices have been going up above and beyond the rate of inflation (5-6% per year), and a family insurance plan that cost $7,000 annually (just in premiums, excl. out of pocket) in 2000 now costs over $20,000 in 2021. Has anyone’s wages tripled in that span? Nope. How is there not more anger over this? Even from corporate America, who has to pay employer sponsored insurance…I would have expected a major call from them to solve the issue yet nothing. Why isn’t this discussed more???

I replied and Paul published my comment right away (!):

Healthcare price inflation is not discussed anymore, because Obamacare is venerated, and the official name of Obamacare is the “Affordable Care Act”. Those who do not understand that healthcare has become “Affordable” would be suspect, because they would systematically pretend to not understand  that Obamacare saved the US. Fortunately, most “Democrats” see that Obama has made healthcare “Affordable”, and thus without inflation. 

The real reality is completely different: the problem of basic healthcare in the USA is that it is all too much for profit, whereas it should be viewed 100% as a human right. Thus US healthcare costs 50% more than in comparable countries in Europe. Those 50% are pure profit for the few and the greediest. Once Obamacare was passed, US life expectancy went down. My brother in law died from a heart attack in a parking lot, because the first hospital he drove to refused to treat him at 2am. They had implanted a stent a few weeks before, but he was very poor. He died on his way to a less greedy hospital in cold Anchorage. 

Obamacare, or then Obama’s policies, were a disaster for US life expectancy. I am a registered Democrat but not one who lies to me and others. That the average Dem leader refuses to admit the truth shows they are not… democrats. They are DINOs, Democrats In Name Only, laughing loud all their way to the bank.

The problem with democracy in the US in particular, and the West in general has been that it will only progress if ideas progress, and that requires perceiving real reality.

I keep falling across philosophers singing the praises of Aristotle. Aristotle himself was aware of the problem of reality: he sent students to make an inventory of living species (there was a lot of confusion from myths and fossils). However in practical philosophy, politics, Aristotle was sure of himself: the universe was organized by a supreme being, the great fascist in the sky.

Aristotle said the Macedonian king Philip II of Macedon was good. It was a false problem to believe Philip was bad. Then Aristotle had to flee Athens to save his life.
Later Aristotle’s friend Antipater became the installer of tyranny in Athens, and ordered the execution of Demosthenes. Demosthenes said: “The easiest thing in the world is self-deceit; for every man believes what he wishes, though the reality is often different.”[Third Olynthiac, section 19 (349 BCE). ]
Demosthenes: “Whatever shall be to the advantage of all, may that prevail!”
Speech against Philip II of Macedon (351 BCE)
Why do we insist upon listening to Aristotle, as he contributed, perhaps more than anybody else, including Antipater, or even Philip, in destroying democracy? Aristotle had the power, the mental power to tell his friends, Philip, Alexander, Antipater, Craterus, how advantageous democracy was.
Aristotle probably could have persuaded them: Alexander was notoriously ambivalent about what to do with democracy and freedom, and did not want to use force against Athens.
However, Aristotle was much less in doubt: he called Demosthenes a politician. In truth Demosthenes was an advocate of democracy, and Aristotle a good friend to his best friends, the Macedonian tyrants, many of whom he had taught himself in person.

One of his friend, a fellow who was not too bright, was sent to arrest Demosthenes, who had taken refuge on an island off invaded Athens. The friend had been mandated by the fascist Macedonians who occupied Athens. The not so bright fellow conversed with the philosopher, who, knowing he faced torture before execution, thanks to the executor of Aristotle’s will, Antipater, was carrying poison. Demosthenes took the poison. Aristotle had been dead a couple of years, by then, but this was his greatest victory, the victory of monarchy over democracy.

Telling the truth to power, the possible truth to power, is the essence of democracy. But talking is not enough. But talking is not enough. One needs a society opened to listening. The case of the Affordable Care Act is typical: if one is for progress in the US, one is not supposed to criticize it, if one does not want to be called terrible names, and then cancelled.

Democracy is not just an institutional system. It has to be more than that. It has to be a mood connected to the open society. And what that society has to be the most open to is intelligent, tolerant debate.

Patrice Ayme

SQPR Axiom #1: FINITE SPEED QUANTUM INTERACTION

May 6, 2021

Philosophically speaking Newton: 

It is inconceivable that inanimate Matter should, without the Mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon, and affect other matter without mutual Contact…That Gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance thro’ a Vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it. Gravity must be caused by an Agent acting constantly according to certain laws; but whether this Agent be material or immaterial, I have left to the Consideration of my readers.[5]

— Isaac Newton, Letters to Bentley, 1692/3

Laplace did the obvious a century later: assume that gravity was a field propagating at a finite speed (18C) [1]. Next Poincaré realized that gravitational waves had to travel at the speed of light (1905 CE) [2]. 

The argument can be made that Quantum observations are actually Quantum INTERACTIONS. Bohr basically said this. Then (Popper-)Einstein counter-observed that if that were true, Quantum Interactions would be spooky instantaneous interactions at a distance.

Indeed.

As observed since (by many experimentalists).

This means that the “QUANTUM COLLAPSE” really happens. Conventional Quantum Theory has no description of it. It is just assumed to be INSTANTANEOUS, and that is ABSURD .

So, experimentally, there is such a notion as Quantum Collapse, and it goes faster than light. Now a simplistic, and erroneous, interpretative conclusion of Special Relativity, sauce Einstein, is that no interaction can go faster than light. The reasoning of Einstein is somewhat erroneous (he applies a formula which cannot be applied), but its strict conclusion has been enunciated as a divine principle since (although Einstein’s exact formulation was very careful, and he explicitly did not exclude absolutely the possibility of Faster Than Light, FTL). So the notion of no FLT has led physicists to not see that there is such a thing as a Quantum INTERACTION (since no interaction goes FLT, says the chorus of parrots, but something does, indeed, go FTL, then it’s not an interaction… while, their god, Einstein, himself called it an “interaction”).

Solution of this conceptual mess: pontificate that this Quantum interaction is happening at a finite speed. We already know it is much higher than the speed of light, by a multiple of 10^23.

That would seriously change the Standard Model, especially cosmologically.

A finite speed Quantum Interaction is the basic axiom of Sub Quantum Physical Reality.

Out of SQPR Dark Matter pops out effortlessly… but then Dark Matter becomes an emergent property modifying the ΛCDM Lambda Cold Dark Matter model of the universe… which is giving different local and global expansion speeds at this point….

All this can be tested experimentally. For example SQPR predicts Dark Matter, and Dark Matter is observed [4]. This being said, SQPR does not violently contradict known theories or experiments (whereas MOND, MOdified Newtonian Dynamics does), It basically conceptually curve Quantum Theory, which stays tangentially valid, just as conventional gravitation is tangentially valid relative to General Relativity…

Some may scoff about splitting hair with Quantum Physics: what is it relative to starvation in Niger for children with 12 brothers and sisters? Or relative to Dylan’s gutter poetry? But this sort of inquiry is fundamental to all thinking. Not only we learn about reality, but we also learn about how we think, because we learn about the errors of our most splendid predecessors, trying their best. Take the Uncertainty Principle: why should it be necessary? What is its proof? Well, turns out much of the “proof” is a whole system sort-of-proof: The Uncertainty Principle is true, because, if it were not our beautiful Standard Model would not work, but it does, so the UP has got to be true. It is a bit like saying that there are beautiful cathedrals in Mexico, and they resist earthquakes, therefore Bible-God exists.

In truth, as Einstein pointed out in the Einstein Podolsky Rosen paradox (EPR), it looks like one can know at a distance the momentum and position of an object. Well, it has long been demonstrated that we know those retrospectively. But what about directly? Could we contrive something? I have seen well known physicists chuckling, yet confusing the absence of mechanism, with a mechanism of absence. Same general concepts, different logical recipe.

Now finally some clever experimentalists have found ways around the Uncertainty Principle, well below the Standard Quantum Limit. This demonstrates that traditional Quantum Axiomatics may not be fundamental.

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] Laplace then found gravitational waves (the math is immediate). That did not please everybody…so he cancelled the waves from subsequent editions; Poincaré rolled them back out a century later (Einstein fanatics attribute erroneously the wave discovery to Einstein).

***

[2] If gravitation went at a different speed from light, once one has realized that inertial mass was convertible in (light) energy, one could make energy out of nothing (not that this would stop ΛCDM devotees.

***

[3] If two particles, A and B are entangled, acting on A will affect B without any cause penetrating the spacetime and phase space spheres around B. So the topology of spacetime and any phase space would be NON SEPARATED (non T2) in a dynamic way.

***

[4] As SQPR would be a gigantic advance, it contains many potential axiomatic universes. SQPR in its simplest form uses Euclidean distance in the Euclidean (2n+1) space in which n dimensional space time is embedded. An initial objection to pilot waves models has been that they would happen in “phase space” (the basic Hilbert space which is the arena of any Quantum experiment). SQPR can hijack that objection and turn it into a virtue: a more subtle approach than Euclidean distance would be to use a limit on the number of cycles the Quantum wave can undergo (that would reduce to creating an Euclidean distance limit for the most common frequencies; so this is more general than the most simplistic SQPR theory). That cycle limit would create energy limits on the Standard Model spacetime foam well before the Planck limit kicks in. It may be the problem with the Muon magnetic moment.

WHY AGING HAPPENS AND WHY WE MUST CURE IT

May 6, 2021

Abstract: Why exist for just a day? Why not exist for a million years? This is both a biological question and a philosophical one. Biologically, aging advantages, or makes possible, species found in dynamic environments, by augmenting their mutational rate, genetic or epigenetic. This cause of aging implies aging is not destiny, but a biological trick. Worse: aging is adverse to cultural inheritance which makes possible cultural species (which are the most advanced species). There is plenty of evidence that the shortness of human life encourages hubris, and other futile pursuits, including violence, genocide and generalized sadomasochism.

Conclusion: we could, and should cure aging, the ultimate disease

*** 

Aging as mileage which varies considerably:

Many view aging as unavoidable. But aging is no biological necessity. The lifespans of species are highly variable…the shortest lifespan of an animal is a day, with the Mayfly; the longest organism lives around 10^5 years. That’s a factor of 30 million, so clearly aging is a biological choice… aging is not a law of physics, but a biological trick, just one component of evolutionary success some species evolve into, more or less. Different species have different aging rates as a result of different evolutionary paths. For example, some lepidopterans can survive the winter, other butterflies do not even have a proboscis to extract nectar: unable to feed, they die within days. Thus, when pondering a species lifespan, one has to ponder their lifestyle. 

***

My theory: Aging is one way for a species to evolve fast (there are other ways, such as epigenetic control). So aging evolved as an adjuvant to some species. It was highly successful, thus it is ubiquitous. But there is no reason we should be condemned to it.

Aging is the fruit of selection. A short lifespan increases the evolutionary speed of a species, a longer lifespan decreases it. Thus if the ecological niche of a species is chaotic, the species will be forced to evolve very fast, and thus have a very short lifespan. Some species are in ecological niches which do not require change, because their ecological niche does not change (think mussels clinging to the rocks bathed by the same cold current for 50 million years). Other species are in a constantly changing environment. Lifespan balances between the time the individual of a species needs for its lifestyle and the evolutionary pressure the change of the niche it thrives in exerts [1]. 

Continual changement can come simply from being a small organism: it is inversely proportional to the physical size of a species. A tiny insect will be submitted to more viruses, viroids and other microbes than an elephant: each new genetic variation from another microbe will require that the tiny insect species adapt genetically, whereas elephants have, literally, thick skin (thus big species are less susceptible to infections, whereas small species, like birds get sick very easily and very fast). Thus it is necessary for small species to have a short generation time: short generations allow them to evolve quickly (although some insect species can live nearly 30 years, and many have variegated lifespans, depending whether they are queen bees or workers, etc.) An albatross, though, lives in an ecological niche which does not change and is relatively sterile (island bathed by UV). So there is no reason for albatrosses not to have a long lifespan…  

So lifespans depend upon the ecological niches animals live in. The more stable the niche, the less the pressure to evolve fast, and thus the species can well produce specimens with eternal life. This is exactly what is observed with trees. Some trees, self-cloning and extending themselves, can live 80,000 years. And not just aspens and eucalyptuses. Greenland sharks are known to live at least three centuries, and maybe five… They reach sexual maturity around 150 years old. Not much is happening in the icy depths.

And why would Wisdom the Leysan Albatross have a chick when she is at least 70? Well, it is not easy being an albatross, there is a stiff learning curve, which starts in sheltered lagoons, learning to fly with smart sharks in attendance for an easy meal, in water so shallow the cartigelanous devils have to partly drag themselves out of it to catch overgrown chicks which can flap their wings, but not really take off. 

Biologists say that Wisdom possesses a rare set of skills that have let her have a productive life soaring over the Pacific Ocean. She produced 36 chicks, starting in 1956 (when she was at least five years old). When she was first banded, in 1956, Dwight Eisenhower was in the middle of his two-term presidency. The biologist who banded her, Chandler Robbins died at 99 years of age. “I think that over the years, she’s definitely learned to avoid predators out in the ocean, and she’s learned to forage very efficiently and also maybe avoid plastic these days and potentially fishing vessels,” Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge biologist John Klavitter told National Public Radio in 2013. 

An albatross has to catch all sorts of living organisms at the surface of the sea (some unfortunately regurgitate plastics). Great frigates, another oceanic bird, fly for days, and nights, going to foraging zones (further away, due to human devastation). They soar and they glide in air currents, barely sleeping for weeks. The frigate birds sleep forty minutes a day during moments when they do not need to see where they are going. The fact they do not otherwise sleep shows that this ocean flying requires great skill, and great skill takes years to learn. While on land, frigate birds catch up with their sleep (13 hours a day!) 

Wisdom herself, attentive mom, at least seventy years old. She is quite tame and lives a few meters from a multistory human building. Gooney birds, as they are known, are remarkable in all ways. If one comes really too close, a foot or so away, and they don’t like it, they make a slamming sound with their beak.

Complicated lives with arduous learning implies that individuals who perpetuate the species are few, exceptional, hard to replace, thus they should live long. Hence some species of whales, such as the 100 tons Bowhead whale, live centuries.

Bowheads have complicated language. An advanced animal is an animal using sophisticated software, be it acquired instinctually, experimentally, or culturally. Advanced animals need time to acquire this advanced software, so they need to live long, and, because it’s hard to do, few individuals achieve it and thus they are precious, and have to live a long time so that the species can exist.

Hence a way for mentally advanced species to exist is to have a long life: it enables the animal to learn and teach others and especially youngsters, a lot. This is the power of culture: no need to experience everything, culture did it for us.

Cephalopods are smart, they learn instinctually and experimentally, but they are not equipped to learn culturally. This limits the sophistication of their behaviors, hence it prevents cephalopods from impacting its own ecological niche, and makes for a precarious existence. The species nevertheless exist, thanks to its short lifespan, which enables it to thrive, by constant adaptation.

In the more mentally advanced the species of the cultural type, aging has to balance between the time necessary for cultural discoveries, then transfer, and short generation span to enable the species to evolve fast (epi)genetically. Other species, some whales, some sharks, tortoises, do not have the pressure to evolve and so live centuries.

Living centuries will make the world more precious. Someone purchasing a property in Florida intending to retire there for the next two centuries will become a militant against sea level rise (limestone is porous, dams can’t hold the sea). Similarly, the odds in favor of nuclear war will decidedly look too high, and the same retiree will also become a militant for world peace. Thus, instead of having ways of thinking making a virtue of lives short, brutish and cruel, future centenarians will take a much longer view of the human condition. Eternal youth will make for a nicer human existence all around. The argument that perpetual youth would decrease the appreciation of the world and hedonism is contrary to observation. Borges pretended that a disease, aging, was a gift, to assuage his pain. But we can fight. Most diseases now are diseases caused by aging. Instead of fighting them one by one, we must fight their sponsor, aging. Many human follies are engaged precisely out of contempt for death, and as a distraction from the death sentence we are all getting, all too soon. Since 1900, life span doubled. Implanting 3 genes seems to rejuvenate neurons: hope to graduate from death!

Fixing aging is how to cure most diseases.

And it can be done. 

A paper published in Nature December 2, 2020, shows that neurons of the eye can be programmed to revert to a youthful state in which they reacquire their ability to resist injury and to regenerate. The authors’ findings shed light on mechanisms of ageing and point to a potent therapeutic target for age-related neuronal diseases.

By expressing three transcription factors, collectively called OSK, the authors found that they could erase “epigenetic noise” which corrupts the genetics of neurons; this enabled the authors to bring back neuronal youth. How this can happen is a mystery, and a big surprise, but it does happen, it’s an astounding new scientific experimental finding.

The authors found that OSK expression enhanced axon regrowth and cell survival in human neurons in vitro. The effects of OSK in people remain to be tested, but the existing results suggest that OSK is likely to reprogram brain neurons across species.

See “Sight restored by turning back the epigenetic clock“, Lu et Al., Nature December 2, 2020

The philosophical perspective in fighting the ultimate disease, aging, is not to be eternally old and ever more degenerate, and presenting this as a success. It is the exact opposite: to cure ageing will make us eternally young and regenerated (literally!) This will help us re-evaluate all values in a way more respectful of the gift of life and thought, and will enable humanity to graduate from a shorter and more brutish state of creeping degeneracy. 

And why do we want to progress? Why to want to cure the ills of the world? Is it not naive, sort of Christian, or straight out of the Vedas, when Vishnu tries to compel us to fight? Well, let me put it this way: not all human beings want to fight and improve things. At some point comes exhaustion, a sense of surrender. However, surrendering and doing not much more than a cow, is not in human nature. There will always be (hopefully!) many human beings who want to fight and improve things, because this is how humanity evolved, and what it evolved into: a force that goes (dixit Victor Hugo), for the best and the better. There is no better cause, at this point, to augment wisdom to do like Wisdom, and live, and think, much longer and thus much better.

Why do we want progress and long lives? Because our name is Wisdom, and wisdom comes only from long lives… If we don’t want to behave like animals anymore, we shouldn’t live like animals anymore.

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] Call the genetic variety of a species G; G varies linearly with time, from spontaneous mutations. Now G has to vary with the environment E. If E does not vary, G doesn’t have to vary, and generally will not. E itself generally consists of a narrow niche (say a tight range of temperatures for a corral species).

However, if E varies very fast (as it presently does with Global Heating), G will have to vary fast too. Now the human species generate its own E, and the greatest the human factor, the greater the dE/dt

Could The Nazis Have Won World War Two? (French version)

May 4, 2021

[Independent yet in English and related: When Did Nazi Commanders Realize The War Was Lost? September 3, 1939! Aside from the intrinsic historical interest, especially to those wise enough to realize that war creates history, and not just with the sword, there is a very important aspect to why Nazi Germany went to war: thanks to their hubris, and related general lack of intelligence, the Nazis miscalculated. Afterwards some of them tried to hide this error of their ways, by, basically, claiming they had just fought the war to lose it. This sort of sadomasochistic hubristic delirium is relevant today, as China’s Xi gives many of the hubristic indications Hitler himself gave prior to going completely crazy… When Xi, 67 years old, claims that reunification with Taiwan can’t wait another generation… In complete contrast to, say, Deng Xiaoping… who modestly said that disputes that only war could solve are “better left to wiser generations“. Just as Hitler, Xi underestimates the West…]

Non. Les Nazis perdent la guerre le 3 septembre 1939. Et ils le savent. Donc ensuite ils font n’importe quoi. La première difficulté avec la notion de victoire de l’Allemagne Nazie, c’est qu’elle est commandée par une poignée de chacals qui se disputent la viande (cf Roehm, Hess, etc.). En d’autres termes, ils ne sont pas très intelligents, ils préfèrent se droguer, et pas seulement de mots. Donc ils jettent dehors les Allemands les plus intelligents, comme les universitaires juifs. Les Nazis sont si bêtes qu’ils oublient que les Français, après 15 siècles de guerre, et ayant en particulier créé l’Allemagne d’abord, et l’Angleterre ensuite, sont féroces, et pas facilement effrayés. Il est peu probable qu’un petit groupe de gangsters haineux mal éduqués puisse conquérir le monde.

Bataille de Brody, 23-30 Juin 1941. 1,000 chars Nazis contre 3,000 Soviet. 300 chars Nazis détruits, 1,000 Soviets détruits. Comment gagner une guerre avec des pertes pareilles?

Néanmoins, quand la France et le Royaume Uni déclarent la guerre, les chefs Nazis sont suffisamment intelligents pour savoir qu’ils viennent de la perdre! Sans flotte, sans pétrole, sans matières premières nécessaires, avec beaucoup moins de chars, et d’alliés, que leurs adversaires, des empires géants dont l’enfant s’appelle l’Amérique…. Mais, par une suite d’événements miraculeux, une chance incroyable due en partie à des erreurs inconcevables du haut commandement français, les Nazis se retrouvent en face de Dunkerque, face à la première armée française qui les bloque pendant l’évacuation de 338,226 soldats d’élite. Au total 404,000 soldats britanniques sont évacués de divers ports français soumis aux attaques nazies .

Hitler avait donné l’ordre d’annihilation des forces alliées (directive 13). Les Nazis répandent alors la rumeur que c’est tout la faute de Goering que les soldats professionnels Anglais se sont échappés: les chacals Nazis commencent à se mordre entre eux.  Le 26 Février 1945, Hitler prétendit que Dunkerque fut un “geste sportif” pour inciter Churchill à la paix… En fait, les soldats allemands sont épuisés, il y des jours qu’ils ne dorment plus, grâce aux amphétamines dont ils sont bourrés (petit détail pas prévu par le commandement français). Leurs machines sont cassées.

Et les Français se battent bien, “comme des lions” (dixit Maréchal nazi Walter Von Reichenau) et la moitié de la Luftwaffe a été détruite. 2,668 aviateurs nazis sont morts au combat, la plupart des vétérans de la guerre d’Espagne, au combat depuis 4 ans et irremplaçables. 2,662 aviateurs nazis meurent ensuite pendant la bataille d’Angleterre.

En Mai-Juin 1940, plus de 1,000 chars allemands sont mis hors de combat (sur 2,600; la France perd 1,749 chars sur 4,071 engagés au combat). Les pertes totales de l’Axe sont 160,000 hommes. 

Lors des semaines suivantes, la Luftwaffe est réparée, puis à nouveau détruite dans le ciel anglais. Cette fois-ci les pilotes prisonniers ne sont pas récupérés… Ils ne seront jamais remplacés, et les Nazis n’ont pas assez de carburant pour bien entraîner leurs pilotes.

A partir de septembre, comme la Royal Navy est invincible, Hitler pense qu’il doit attaquer l’URSS, parce que, s’ il était Staline, il attaquerait … Ce n’est pas seulement que Hitler est un idiot (souvenons-nous)… C’est une réaction hubristique typique: à situation désespérée, solution désespérée… D’autant plus qu’Hitler n’a pas assez de pétrole: il avait attaqué la Pologne en partie pour le pétrole, mais Staline s’en est emparé….

Donc Hitler attaque. Il vient de perdre presque toute sa force aéroportée en Crète. Et six semaines de printemps sec (il va s’embourber en automne). En plus Hitler attaque avec quelques milliers de tanks. Les Allemands ne savent pas que l’URSS a 35,000 tanks (c’est Hitler lui-même qui l’a dit, rajoutant que c’était simplement inconcevable). Y compris le “meilleur char du monde”, dixit général von Kleist, le T34, dont l’URSS produira 55,000… Plus exactement, le jour du déclenchement de Unternehmen Barbarossa, les Nazis n’ont que 444 chars Panzer IV, leurs chars lourds modernes. Les Soviétiques ont 1868 chars T34 et chars lourds KV, qui surclassent les meilleurs chars Nazis.

Tout ce bel effort hubristique s’embourbe quand la pluie s’amène, puis la lutte sauvage des Übermenschen s’est finalement gelée complètement quand le gel le plus sévère depuis longtemps a frappé, immobilisant les équipements allemands, y compris toute l’aviation nazie, avant de recevoir en pleine figure les 220,000 soldats d’élite de l’armée de Sibérie, skiant tranquilles, habitués comme ils sont, à des froids bien pires.

Dans sa rage hurlante, hubristique jusqu’au bout, acculé comme un rat roti, Hitler déclare la guerre aux USA (qui alimentent déjà le RU et l’URSS, histoire de jeter de l’huile sur le feu). Il avait perdu depuis longtemps. Quand Molotov, ministre des affaires étrangères de Staline, visite Berlin le 12 Novembre 1940, on lui dit que l’Angleterre est vaincue. Ensuite les sirènes hurlent, et Molotov est évacué dans un abri souterrain. Pendant que retentissaient les explosions des bombes, Molotov remarqua caustiquement qu’ils ne paraissaient pas si vaincu que cela. 

[English version someday maybe…]

Patrice Ayme

Capital, Civilization, War, Fascism, And Democracy

May 1, 2021

Capital is intrinsic to civilization: capital makes civilization possible, and, in turn, civilization feeds capital. Capital started with mates, family, friends, territory, flint, obsidian, furs, grains, dogs, etc. Our ancestors, twenty million years ago, already worked to amass capital. Cities could be defined as concentration of lodgings greater than sustainable before the Neolithic (the new stone, when herding and agriculture appeared in the most advanced populations).

The entity with the greatest capital has always been, in the last 5,000 years, the mightiest government, presently the USA. Followed by the People Republic of China. Communists often talk as if they opposed capital, but their leaders often muster more capital than their allegedly more capitalist opponents. It’s Stalin’s greater capital in… tanks which overwhelmed that other (and lesser!) capitalist, Adolf Hitler. Hitler recognized no German anticipated or even could comprehend, that Stalin had a capital of 35,000 tanks. That Franklin Delano Roosevelt had decided that the USA would have 24 Fleet Aircraft carriers was another major capitalist event, with long term consequences, as Japan would bitterly find out. Recently Biden, following Trump, having discovered that most electronic semiconductor integrated circuits were made in Asia, a minute flight time from thousands of Xi’s rockets, decided that it would be a good idea to make those in the good old USA (Trump had already obtained that Apple Inc. would make chips, and in the USA). 

However, war is also intrinsic to civilization, and may well be the fundamental reason why cities got built.

Even when not warring with nomads, civilizations compete: barred from the International Space Station (ISS), China just launched the core module of its own second space station. This sort of competition is of course excellent, and we are very grateful to “Communist” China for producing so much excellent science and technology. The USA would probably scoff at the Moon, but for China’s announced drive to establish itself there (the government of the CCP has not formally said so, but the top Chinese engineers let it be known).

In the past. Civilizations, besides each other, had another problem: nomads. In any case, they had to arm themselves. But it turns out too much of a good thing is not good for progress. 

Exponentials Everywhere:

“Capital” comes from “caput”, the head. Civilization, gathering large populations of people in cities, was made possible from, and necessary because of, the exponentiation of population.

The exponentiating population happened because of exponentiation of food production, thanks in turn to mass agriculture made possible by mass irrigation and other massive structures, which provided with many riches. Those, in turn were defended against scavenging nomads by mass armies (the nomads themselves often doubled as traders, who were indispensable, as they provided with otherwise inaccessible, indispensable goods from far away regions: obsidian, currency shells, metals, furs are examples).

It’s not just Quantum Physics, hence the world, which is entangled, but also all most significant human civilizational notions. Notice that I did not bother with explicitly mentioning religions above, as they are tentacular subsets of fascism.

Armies in turn are organized through command and control, to act as giant bodies with just one head. Naturally power runs in families and the children of commanders end up in command. Thus hierarchies of families ended on top of society. Religions they invented with fascist gods explained that the universe was organized according to fascist principles, very naturally, with a few jealous bloodthirsty maniacs on top. The large populations of civilization insured that they would stay on top of innovation, in particular with the best weapons, and would generally not be conquered by nomads (although there were exceptions, in particular the exposure of China to various invaders, the propensity of various Central Asian nomads to invade, such as the Huns-Avars-Mongols, and of course Islam, a particularly invasive ideology which the Turkish leadership found particularly profitable to adopt).

The gods and their servants adjudicated a morality where most found themselves in abject submission, because their very existence was a sin. Watch Incas sacrificing children: the massive usage of fascism to implement civilization was, and is, a worldwide phenomenon. It is not having an Eurasiatic bias to say this. Human sacrifices and slavery were ubiquitous in Africa, up to the Eighteenth Century. The Incas built a vast empire without the wheel, powerful draft animals, copper, bronze or iron working, coinage or a writing system. But they had fascism. The Inca empire could not have done without fascism.

Thus, fascism arose naturally, as a way to achieve civilization. But fascism is not natural to the human species. Human life may have been brutish and short, but it was not under fascism: human life had to be free for other humans, evolution did not anticipate the human condition to be anything, but a dialogue with nature. Hence, the human neurology of most of the population suffered: most humans did not live in conditions optimal for a full blossoming of their mental systems.

This implies that, if one could somehow tame fascism, one could create a mass society that would be smarter and more motivated to act progressively, rather than being passive, depressed and dumb.

Indeed, Rome, Athens, and quite a few other Greek city-states, found a way to mitigate fascism. They invented Demos-Kratia, People-Power. People voted directly, instead of being submitted to superiors. Laws were decided after direct debate insured by isegoria (everybody can address assemblies) and parrhesia (right of candor). 

Paradoxically that democratic revolution started for military reasons. Civilizations and their agricultural system need to be defended. That’s done with armies. Around 650 BCE, the Greek city-state of Argos on the Peloponnesian peninsula found a new military system. It replaced cavalry by hoplites. Hoplites were heavily armed foot soldiers with lances, swords, and shields. Warriors would protect each other with their shields. Hoplite formations, to be effective, needed extensive drilling, and the equipment was expensive. Thus hoplite armies were made of upper middle class citizens with plenty of time to practice. Cavalry had been even more expensive, only aristocrats could afford it. The switch from cavalry to hoplites enabled city-states to field much larger armies. Intact, disciplined hoplite formations could resist the charges of cavaliers. Thus hoplite upper middle class armies defeated aristocracies and took power. Around 550 BC, during the de facto quasi-Republican rule of king Servius Tullius, a universal levy of eligible (that is upper middle class) adult male citizens was instituted as Rome deliberately copied the Greek heavy armor hoplite army. (Two centuries later, fighting the obdurate mountain people, the Samnites, Rome abandoned the Greek phalanx by instituting smaller infantry units; the next big reform would be Marius, around 100 BCE, switching to a professional army… with catastrophic results; I like Marius, and he had no choice… still it was a catastrophe.)  

Democracy spearheaded by citizen-soldiers hoplite armies was enormously successful on the battlefield. The ancient Greeks suggested that was because citizen-soldiers fought for themselves instead of for a master. But there is more: Demos-Kratia was a better method, a scientific method to establish better truth, hence deeper motivation. Demos-Kratia is empowering in another way as people are free to be free.

However, Athens was conquered by the Macedonian tyrant Antipater in 322 BCE. Antipater had the resources of the entire Macedonian empire, all the way to India, and Athens had still not fully recovered from the Peloponnesian war (which had been fought against the Spartan Alliance, led by enslaving Sparta and financed by the Medes, the Persian empire). Antipater then transformed Athens into a plutocracy (only the wealthiest could vote)… Athens would not be really free for 23 centuries thereafter.

Whereas Athens confronted enormous and fanatical enemies, the Roman Republic’s democracy had a different fate. What happened to Rome is more troubling for us. The Republic kept its hubris in check, most of the time, growing slowly, cautiously, and mostly reactively (defending itself with gusto after being attacked, most of the time… or at least that’s how Roman historians present it… But there is a logic to it: clearly, Rome did not go on a rampage until after counter-striking the Carthaginian coalition). Rome never had to surrender. Her one crazy king, Tarquinius Superbus, was thrown out and defeated. “Sumptuary” laws and redistribution to the Ager Publicus limited the wealth and power of families strictly.

However, the horrendous war against Hannibal killed a lot of the best, brightest, most courageous and morally upright in the Roman elite. Those who had rented space in the fortified cities while Hannibal roamed the countryside dominated the post-war period. That was immediately followed by the Roman version of globalization. Indeed pushing back and defeating Carthage and its allies, left the Republic in control of most of the Mediterranean. Instead of imposing Roman law all over, the Republic opted for local self-management, making often alliances with local elites close to those Rome had just defeated. That sounded a good idea at the time.

So Rome left in place many local laws. That legal localization enabled many of the wealthiest Roman of the topmost classes (Senatorial and Equestrian) to evade the Roman barriers to exponential wealth: they just made their fortunes overseas, and then quickly came back and bought plenty of land illegally, managed by armies of imported slaves. This violence led to increasingly brutal plutocrats paying politicians (especially tribunes). Rome degenerated in a way similar to what is happening now, with holders of capital so wealthy they could also hold public opinion in their claws. Wealth got so great the wealthiest created a legion, and then entire armies. Civil war resulted. Optimates (=plutocrats; Sulla, Cicero) against Populares (Gracchi, Marius, Caesar). In the end an alliance was formed between the most powerful army and the plutocracy, led by Octavian/Augustus.

After this triumph of plutocracy, there was no looking back: the Roman power structure invented Catholicism, which became the state religion in the Fourth Century… Under the penalty of death (basically). 

One may wonder why plutocracy increasingly triumphed after (say) the Third Punic war. That’s because the Third Punic War was a triumph of plutocracy. The Roman optimates (the plutocrats) did not like the power and increased democracy of Carthage. It was a very bad example, just when aristocrats such as the Gracchi and their friends and allies decided that the Roman equity-equality Republican system was broken, and had to be refurbished. Such a situation of aristocrats leading a People’s revolution had been seen before: king Sergius Tullius had instituted the basic Republican structures Rome needed. The Optimates prevailed (Carthago delenda est; Carthage is to be destroyed), and visited a holocaust on Carthage, an acto fmass evil. Now when one has committed one act of mass evil, it is easy to do the next.

Another Sergius Tullius could have turned things around. And one came: Julius Caesar. But he was assassinated when he had barely started his work… whereas Sergius Tullius was assassinated by Tarquinius after he had made his main reform, that of the army. In particular, Rome kept a professional army… Even when said army was insufficient in power, numbers and enthusiasm, to repeal the barbarians. Thus Rome, population sixty million or more, fell to hordes of at most 50,000 warriors. Why? Because the plutocrats in power in Rome feared, first of all, a popular army of We The People (as Rome had for its first five centuries or so).

And when Rome “fell”, Roman plutocracy did not really fall. Rome did not really fall, because it took centuries, and a queen such as Brunehilde, writing in perfect Latin in 600 CE to impose Roman law to millions of “Franks” can well be viewed as a Roman head of state… As Charlemagne would be proclaimed, two centuries after her. Rome did not really fall also because Roman plutocrats made alliances with the invading Germans, Alans (Iran) and Huns (Mongolia)…A good Fourth Century Roman potentate preferred a good alliance with the invaders, rather than befriending “We The People” (an example is Aetius, the last great Roman commander in the West before the horrendous reconquista under Justinian).

So I am saying that what is called WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) started with Rome and the best Greek city-states. And that was so true that it was not forgotten: by the Fifth Century, the Franks made educational reforms leveraging the church, and that was passed into stiff laws before the birth of Charlemagne. Also many of the Frankish reforms (shown by Lex Salica) were pro-equity and equality (equal mandatory inheritance among children, women not forgotten)… The outlawing of slavery (657 CE, queen Bathilde) was more of the (Democratic) drive towards equality…. And technological progress. Chinese emperors tried to cancel slavery a few times, but it did not stick. When Europeans visited China as soon as the Thirteenth Century, they were struck by the massive usage of human muscle power instead of mechanical advantage, for example to carry the trunks of giant trees.

Thus starting under the Franks, progressive traits of the early Roman Republic were recovered. The effort was not accidental, but conscious and deliberate: a great hope was what was then called the “Christian Republic”. Most of the historical documents may have had disappeared by then, but the essential was left, namely the collective memory of a more democratic past.

So why have the full democratic practices of 25 centuries ago not been recovered yet?

Indeed, we are still victims of the ideology which caused the fall of the Roman Republic, being told that we cannot have democracy. Instead we have representative oligarchy, a few hundred individuals enjoying extravagant powers.

One reason is an enormous inertia of moods and ideas. That can be better understood by looking at China, where the mood of “mandate from heavens” to designate the imperial system was established more than 22 centuries ago… and continues to this day. More basically, the elites in power have had interest to reinstitute as much fascism as they could get away with. For example, after eight centuries of (theoretically and formally) electing kings of the Franks, the king of the Franks decided he was king of France, and his job was hereditary (and a mandate not from We The People, but from the god; Charlemagne was already furious when the Pope pulled that trick on him… Charles wanted to be elected by the army, not god…).

Democracy, if and when one can make it work, is mightier than fascism… And this is because it is ethologically correct. Fascism is also ethologically correct but if, and only if, one is in combat. Thus fascist regimes are implicitly telling the people they subjugate that they are at war, and combat is engaged. 

The consequence of democracy is exponentiating intelligence. The consequence of fascism and its generalizations, oligarchism and “representative” pseudo-democracy, is the degenerescence into stupidity.

Our civilization is in an extremely delicate situation. It has to pilot several raging exponentials, just right, and they are technologically and scientifically dependent. If a civilization collapsed 10,000 years ago, the consequences were insignificant in the fullness of time. However, the destruction of civilization in the present circumstances could well condemn humanity, or what’s left of it, being unable to regain ever again the present level of wisdom and understanding. Cannibalism, though, would have a great future…

Patrice Ayme

Preaching Total Obedience By Submission To Supreme Irrationality

April 30, 2021

IF YOU OBEY FOLLY, YOU WILL ACCEPT ANYTHING, INCLUDING INFAMY

Politicians and policies are often insane. This is not accidental, but a method of control: accept to be ruled by folly, tyranny will be sweet, relatively speaking.

Pelosi, Speaker of the House, was standing next to Harris, Vice President of the world’s mightiest country. Both temples of reason were wearing masks. They have been vaccinated for four months with mRNA COVID vaccines of 95% efficiency. Even if one of the two had the virus and gave it to the other, nothing would happen. Of millions who got a vaccine authorized in the USA, nobody died of COVID passed the first ten days following inoculation. 

What are those two mighty potentates preaching then?

Are Pelosi and Harris preaching that the mRNA vaccines they received do not work? That would contradict the science they claim to follow (although neither of these mighty women did any scientific studies beyond what was mandatory in high school, they defeated Trump and his vaccines financing by claiming they and their obsessive masking had science on their side [1]). 

One has to understand that both are professional politicians and extremely wealthy and powerful creatures. They stand at the very top of the world’s pyramid of inequity, injustice and unequal distributions of powers. They don’t just stand at the top, they are the symbol of unequal power, and that the fate of humanity depends upon a few. 

Insanity rules. President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look on. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

And what do those two potentates show, and want us to learn? That they are completely insane. Yes, they want us to know of, and learn to respect their complete folly. Folly is the message and the new religion.

When the USA preferred to invade Iraq, kill a few million there, foster the Islamist State and prop up the price of oil to make fracking profitable, the US propaganda outfit known as the New York Times, especially its multiple prize winning Tom Friedman, rolled out the insanity argument, as something very serious.

The argument went this way: it made no sense to invade Iraq, and that is why this folly precisely made (meta) sense [2]. 

Why did it make no sense? That was conceded in the end, thanks to critique like yours truly, or the French government. All the arguments rolled by Biden or Bush were lies: there were no weapons of mass destruction, and the fiercely secular Saddam Hussein was Al Qaeda’s most determined enemy. 

That is why the New York Times seriously rolled out that meta-argument: once all countries realize that the US leadership was completely insane, and could engage in total war, just because it did not like a particular country, everybody will be so scared, they would obey the USA. That was an even more grotesque and war criminality ladden discourse that the one Athens made to the Mellians.

Athens: “…since you know as well as we do the right, as the world goes, is only in question between equal power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must…”.

USA under Bush-Biden-Tom Friedman-New York Times: “the strong has a duty to be insane, so the weak can be persuaded to quake in fear and do as they must…”

The praise of folly has long been a method of governance. Ancient religions are deliberately mad, to teach terror and submission by the very madness we are supposed to worship. If you revere maximal irrationality, you can’t think. If you can’t think, you can’t complain.

That was the whole idea of Christianism, and why Roman emperors imposed Catholicism carrying, if one objected to it, the penalty of a torturous death (edicts of Theodosius I, Gratian and Valentinian I, Roman emperors, circa 381 CE).

Christianism is full of irrationalities: God is almighty, but His Son dies on a cross; God tortures sinners, but He makes sin possible; Christianism is a religion of love, so it brandishes somebody being tortured to death to instill respect for love; God loves humanity so its preachers will burn you alive if you don’t obey them; and so on… 

The usual explanation for those irrationalities is that the ways of God are mysterious. 

That is itself a mystification. 

In truth, the message of Fourth Century imperial Roman Catholicism was the same as that of the leaders of the US attacking Iraq: we have the prerogative of irrationality, even on something as important as terrorizing humanity. Actually, you should be terrorized, because we are irrational… and lethally so.

There is plenty of evidence that elites have always used that trick of looking completely insane.

Once, as a child, I met a large male chimpanzee in the wild. He could have torn m to pieces in seconds. Instead, screaming as one thousand furies he ran to a rather small tree, and that already made no sense. He climbed to the top, howling bloody murder, moved its limbs in all sorts of ways, got the poor tree to oscillate in all directions close to the breaking point. That chimp looked like the most crazed creature in the universe. And that was exactly the message it wanted to convey. It was inhabited by a force out of any intelligibility. No sane predator would come in the general vicinity. I discovered later that this was a systemic method with chimps, one could call it a method of government of the jungle according to chimp. It explained why predators avoided them. Baboons tried the same method, of instilling respect by projecting obvious madness, even charging lions on the ground, when they could go up in the trees.

Exhibiting madness as a method of governance is how elites stay in place. When the Maya elites failed Mayan civilization, by proving unable to manage a megadrought, it no doubt used similar methods, by waging the logic of war instead of the logic of the environment. The vengeance of We The People was in the end terrible, and the elites were terminated in the most gory fashion (something similar happened during the Jacqueries of the Fourteenth Century, when plutocrats got roasted… and the mood of the balance of terror would extent through the French Revolution of 1789, four centuries later).

By wearing their masks, Harris and Pelosi say: yes our message is self-contradictory, the vaccines work, thus we wear masks; but it is the message of power; folly is what we call the truth, and if you are good, you will obey our irrationality by not even daring to observe it.

Meanwhile, Biden, unmasked in front of the two masked furies, was rewriting US history grotesquely.

Will they get away with it? The lurid power turgid insanity brings is a very bad example to give to the thermonuclear armed fascists around the world. We saw this in the 1930s. Be it in imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, Stalin’s USSR, the meta understanding the dictators made of the “democracies” was the same: they are weak, and they are afraid of our irrationality, they will submit if we act irrational enough.

That rational interpretation of irrationality was the explicit computation of the Japanese High Command: irrationally attack the USA at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines, and the USA will be terrified into submission. The commander of the Japanese Navy, Marshall Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Harvard educated, thought that argument was crazy, and said so (!)… But when talking to people who think insanity is a method of government, calling an argument crazy is not enough to make them think, they believe it’s a compliment. So Yamamoto went along, until he was shot down by long range P38s in a deliberate execution, crashing into a steamy jungle (the US had cracked the Japanese codes).

The apparently insane attack, and rule, the US and the world, with their irrationality, and they believe the world will be terrified into submission, and their class will stay on top. Well, what happens if their irrationality is not enough of an example?

Worshipping flagrant insanity is the ultimate submission.. and the ultimate trap.

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] In truth obsessive masking masquerade caused megadeath as it persuaded people that masks were protective in close quarters, although they are not. Masks are micrometric, SARS-CoV2 is nanometric; a net made for tuna can’t catch plankton. Don’t ask Harris and Pelosi what a nanometer is… And do not even ask Fauci, who financed the virus lab in Wuhan to enhance ACE2 receptor function on Yunan bat coronaviruses…    

***

[2] Any logic makes sense only if it comes with a meta-logic. To make sense of sense, one needs meta-sense. This is the hard core (meta) conclusion of Twentieth Century (meta) logic, from famous theorems of Godel, Tarski, etc.

Greenhouse Crisis: No New Science, No Progress. Where Is The Science in Biden Climate Project? 

April 23, 2021

More than 174 billion dollars for electric cars does not impact the climate crisis. Yet it’s what the Biden genius is proposing. If anything, massive subsidies in electric vehicles make the ecological crisis worse: we would have to dig the entire planet for lithium all over, and it will not make a dent on overall CO2 production: digging requires CO2 production, oh Biden genius! (Instead, helping create a hydrogen infrastructure would be useful, all the more as much of the natural gas infrastructure can be repurposed that way; that was done in France in the distant past, for decades; 20% hydrogen mixed with CH4 works very well). 

The USA, as it does periodically, is displaying its future virtues in the matter of climate, giving the entire planet lessons. By now, everybody educated enough, and smart enough, and honest enough, should be able to understand that these US administration lessons are lessons in hypocrisy. Altogether, the US emitted more GreenHouses Gases, than all the jurisdictions which ever existed… Although China is now taking the lead, with one new coal plant a week or so; China installed 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity into operation in 2020; that’s roughly 30 large nuclear reactors equivalent in coal plants, in just one year: long live the Paris climate accord (for China to pollute as much as possible). 

This US virtue signalling is not just dishonest, but doubly dishonest, as usual: the emission of GreenHouse Gases (GHG) per capita has gone up in recent years in the US, from 16 tons up to a probable 18 tons in 2022. None of what Biden proposes will reduce this, as he refuses carbon taxes and carbon pricing, on a matter of principle. Not just this, but Biden proposes to cut the only leg carbon reduction rested on, innovation (by discouraging investments in new technology, by proposing the world’s highest capital gain taxes… Yes, the world’s highest… Above 55% in leading states…)

As it is right now, roughly 40% of emissions of CO2 are caused by 10% of humanity (Europe and North America). If there was a proverbial “equity”, worldwide, then CO2 emissions should be multiplied by ten (China is acting on this, and India rushing to follow… as is their right). Instead of wasting 174 billions on electric car, genius Biden should spend 174 billion dollars on (research in) thermonuclear fusion… That would enable to build a fusion production plant within a decade… Or then invest in 4th generation nuclear… or invest in an hydrogen economy. So why 174 billion on useless, polluting electric cars? Hey so that Biden friends can make money… This already happened under Obama. Friends, as early privileged private investors… Maybe AOC is on it? She liked those designer clothes… Surely Pelosi, that, we know for a fact is invested in the right stuff before companies go “public”…

By comparison, to the prospective emission of 18 tons of CO2 per person in the USA, France makes do with 5 (five) tons per capita. However, France paid a hefty price, in decreased GDP, lots of regressive taxation, and a chronic revolt (“Gilets Jaunes”, now discreetly cancelled by Facebook, the arbitrator of Thought on Earth). 

One can argue that the colossal increase of relative advantage in GDP per capita of the US relative to Europe has been caused by the advantage that enormous fracking brought to the US: the graphs are parallel

What else? Basically, the US gets its energy for free, while the Europeans have to perform like monkeys in a circus to get fuel (be nice to Saudis, be nice to Putin, be nice to the Americans, be nice to Chavez/Maduro, etc.) 

Biden scoffs all the way to the bank: fracking over 12 years of Obama-Trump has put the US ahead. Biden is ready to cash out. So Biden claims he will do great things about the climate… But without carbon tax nor carbon pricing, nor innovation. There will be giant subsidies for electric cars… One may as well subsidize lawn mowers. 

And where does the Lithium and other Rare Earths come from for all these batteries? China (see the one coal plant per week Xi climate plan, above). The Trump administration’s authorization of one lithium mine in Nevada (with approval of the local Native American government), brought three lawsuits: too much acid, too much water, to extract all this lithium. Better let the Chinese do it among Uighurs, in the Tarim Basin, we don’t want to pollute Nevada. And where does the electricity for electric cars come from? Fossil fuels, mostly. 

In super green California, sun and wind provided only 22% of the electric generation energy in 2019 (latest year). Notice the two words “electric generation”, they are crucial, each in its own way: exploring what they exactly mean will expose the gross lie: it’s mostly all smoke. Yet, California has made enormous efforts, and is basically the most energy efficient US state.

Coal is dying for reasons which have nothing to do with renewable energy, and that’s why coal died in Europe, well before the impact of wind and sun. Why are the US at 18 tons of CO2 per year per capita, and only 5 (five) tons in France?Because of the absence of major carbon taxes in the USA.

Digging a bit in the numbers of renewable energy is not readily done, because headline propaganda is very active, and people have little patience for the truth, which is rather catastrophic, and the opposite of headlines. 

If one looks at the total energy usage in California one realizes that electricity is just 15% of California energy consumption. Moreover, that electricity divides into 9% from electricity generated IN California, and 6%, imported from outside (a one million volt direct current line comes down from the states of Oregon and Washington, directly into Los Angeles. A similar line comes from the Hoover dam on the Colorado river in Nevada). 

California sun and wind is 22% of these 9% of total California energy made in California, as electricity. In other words, not even 2% of California total energy consumption is from renewable sun and wind! So much for the renewability of it all. Hot wind and smoke, all of it! In the same general mood of brazen fakery, private school addict governor Newsom of California announced today that the state regulators should evaluate phasing out all offensive rock oil production in the state by 2045 (California is one of the world top fossil fuel producing states).

As it is, even augmenting considerably renewables in say the South-West of the USA, which has plenty of sun and wind, changes nothing much to the GreenHouse Gases contribution: an enormous fossil fuel infrastructure has to be kept as a backup, for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, as happened in California last summer. If one built it, one will use it, this fossil fuel infrastructure, and as it is, it has to be used; there is not enough storage for the pitiful “renewable” production, especially with empty dams. 

To cut emissions of GHG seriously one has to replace fossil fuels by nuclear, fission or fusion (to reach places the sun doesn’t much, and there are many of those). Also, one has to do as Europe does, and institute huge carbon taxes. Ultimately, though, one has to have no illusion: the GHG crisis will require the mass deployment of new energy, nuclear and hydrogen (or hydrogen derived). One cannot pave the ground with solar panels, tear the landscape with transmission lines, and operate giant washing machines in the sky all over (windmills; the newest of which are taller than most skyscrapers). Only fundamental research in basic science will solve the planetary crisis of GreenHouse Gases. Innovation is key. 

Such misleading virtue signalling on the part of government is counterproductive, because it enables public opinion, its makers, and leaders to feel comfortable and think of other things. It reminds us of Catholic missions sent to better exterminate the Natives. But counterproduction is often what is exactly intended (I hope Machiavel covered that one).

Much of the “infrastructure program” of Biden targets “human infrastructure”, a laudable goal. But, once again, is it what is really intended? 

One should start with schools. The USA’s top schools used to be public (say in 1950). But now such schools are “defunded” (like the police) in the guise of “equality”. 

An indirect proof of that is the sight of politicians (including Biden and Obama, those loud “democrats”) getting their children in the most expensive private schools. In the same spirit of hypocrisy, public union teachers literally refuse to teach, while admonishing us for “accountability”. Some public teachers’ union leaders joined the fray by getting their children in… private schools [1]. 

What causes a dissonant cognitive mess in climate and infrastructure? Uncritical admission of irrealism in too much of the influential population. Biden talks the talk, but he walks in the opposite direction, while insisting he is going the right way. Media carefully don’t notice

Biden got the most votes than a US president ever got… followed by Trump. The difference in the number of votes was six millions… And of these six millions, 5.5 millions came from… California, this temple of hydrocarbons and plutocratic hypocrisy (where yours truly is located, in full view of San Francisco…) So basically, Biden is California, at this point: talking the talk, walking the other way. None of this is coincidental. The temple of hypocrisy voted for the great master of hypocrisy and dissonance…

Patrice Ayme

***

[1] The head of a California teachers union has been blasted as a hypocrite after he was caught dropping off his 2-year-old daughter at her private preschool, since Spring 2020 — despite saying it was unsafe for children to be back in classrooms. “Meet Matt Meyer. White man with dreads and president of the local teachers’ union. He’s been saying it is unsafe for *your kid* to be back at school, all the while dropping his kid off at private school,” a group known as Guerilla Momz said on Twitter.

Meyer, president of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, has fought for what he called the “gold standard” for the educators — saying the schools should only reopen to in-person learning when the teachers are vaccinated, among other criteria, KQED reported… Similar hypocrisy was demonstrated by the governor of California, who, while keeping public schools closed, sent his four children to private school. Hey, he can afford it; he owns eleven (11) companies, including a winery and a resort at the major olympic resort of Squaw Valley (soon not to be called “Squaw” because it reminds us that the natives were exterminated…)


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Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

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Patterns of Meaning

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Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

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Footnotes to Plato

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Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

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Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

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Defense Issues

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RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

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Writer, Editor, Berliner

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Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

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Patterns of Meaning

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Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

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Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

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