Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

The Way: ITER, CERN

March 12, 2014

There are only two fundamental, independent sources of energy: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. All other energy “sources” are derivative of those two.

The distance between the world’s two most expensive science experiments, ITER and CERN, is less than 300 kilometers. Both powered by French nuclear energy. Discuss.

Fission nuclear energy powers the Earth (magnetic shield, plate tectonic, continental drift, subduction, volcanism).

Fusion nuclear energy powers the Sun (and thus the biosphere, past and future). (Thus those who hate “nuclear” should go see a shrink, and I’m here to help them before they hurt someone. )

Sol, A Yellow Dwarf Star: Hot, Not Cuddly

Sol, A Yellow Dwarf Star: Hot, Not Cuddly

The center of the Sun is submitted to enormous pressure (340 million times atmospheric pressure), and a temperature of ten million degrees Kelvins. That‘s too hot, that is, too violent for atoms: shocks tear electrons from nuclei, and make an electron gas mixed with a gas of nuclei, that’s called a plasma.

Nuclei, each equipped with a positively charged proton, repel each other electrically.

[Sol is actually brighter than 85% of stars in the Milky Way; it’s actually white; the atmosphere scatters the blue component of light, making it look yellow from Earth’s surface!]

600 million tons of the Sun’s hydrogen fuse, converting 5 million tons to energy, each second.

The enormous pressure and heat mean that hydrogen nuclei are packed up close together, and are extremely agitated, with gigantic kinetic energy. So, sometimes, two protons crash into each other head on, and the violence of the collision overwhelms the electric repulsion.

At very short range the nuclear force is attractive. It overwhelms all other forces, and the two protons stick together. This happens more readily if two electrically neutral neutrons join in, as they contribute their attractiveness, and none of the electric repulsion.

British physicists Aston and Eddington suggested in the 1920s that the sun got its power from fusing Hydrogen into Helium. Indeed adding the mass of two heavy hydrogen nuclei (each with one proton and one neutron) is more than that of the Helium nucleus they fuse into. The difference is released as energy, according to the famous Poincare’(-Einstein) E = mcc formula.

Synthesis of the Elements in Stars“, published in 1957 by the extremely famous astrophysicists Margaret Burbidge, Geoffrey Burbidge, William Fowler and Fred Hoyle, demonstrated convincingly that most elements in the universe had been synthesized by nuclear reactions inside stars. Heavy elements, such as iron, had been produced by the dramatic explosions of supernova.

As I have argued in H Fusion Or Bust, we desperately need nuclear energy, as our main energy system, burning fossils, is both running out and poisoning the entire biosphere, killing already an unbelievably unnoticed  several million people a year (soon to be dozens of millions a year, dead). Unfortunately, millions of retards are goose stepping behind well organized, and well paid fossil fuel propagandists, and doing nothing about it, while they howl about nuclear energy.

One angle of attack for reducing pollution is to build Thorium-U233 fission plants. Such reactors have lots of advantage, including the fact be made before and have unproblematic waste. (What’s less easy is to scale them up economically, because it was not done before; India and China have massive programs.)

Thermonuclear fusion has been mastered in bombs, using the dirty trick of using the fantastic temperature and pressure of an exploding Plutonium fission “pit”. That would allow to explode bombs as powerful as 100 Megaton of TNT, or more, enough to bust or deviate a large comet or asteroid.

Some adore the facile joke of saying thermonuclear fusion has been the energy of the future, and always will be. It’s idiotic: it took 7 centuries between the invention of gun powder in China and the first (hydrogen!) internal combustion engine, a succession of explosions (early 19C, Switzerland).

There are two main approaches for inducing fusion: shock, and heat (like in an H bomb), using lasers. This approach is pursued in the Bay Area and Bordeaux. It tends to be military financed, as it simulates H bombs, and lasers are irresistible to real men.

The other approach is the Tokamak (abbreviation of Russian for TOroidal Chamber MAKgnetic). France, as usual in the last three millennia, is at the forefront of the effort to create new technology.  The French already built no less than four tokamaks, and their Tore Supra has enlightened us all with phenomena never seen before. It found OVNIs (Objet Volants Non Identifies)

OVNI Inside Thermonuclear Plasma.

OVNI Inside Thermonuclear Plasma.

[Tore Supra, Cadarache.]

France has few natural resources, but the will to produce a lot of ideas. She is adamant to make nuclear fusion work. As the New Yorker puts it:

if all goes according to plan, the most complex machine ever built will be switched on in an Alpine forest in the South of France. The machine, called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, will stand a hundred feet tall, and it will weigh twenty-three thousand tons—more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower. At its core, densely packed high-precision equipment will encase a cavernous vacuum chamber, in which a super-hot cloud of heavy hydrogen will rotate faster than the speed of sound, twisting like a strand of DNA as it circulates. The cloud will be scorched by electric current (a surge so forceful that it will make lightning seem like a tiny arc of static electricity), and bombarded by concentrated waves of radiation. Beams of uncharged particles—the energy in them so great it could vaporize a car in seconds—will pour into the chamber, adding tremendous heat. In this way, the circulating hydrogen will become ionized, and achieve temperatures exceeding two hundred million degrees Celsius—more than ten times as hot as the sun at its blazing core.”

ITER will the hottest phenomenon in the Solar System, ever.

Like the sun, the cloud will go nuclear. The zooming hydrogen atoms, in a state of extreme kinetic excitement, will slam into one another, fusing to form a new element—helium—and with each atomic coupling explosive energy will be released: intense heat, gamma rays, X rays, a torrential flux of fast-moving neutrons propelled in every direction. There isn’t a physical substance that could contain such a thing. Metals, plastics, ceramics, concrete, even pure diamond—all would be obliterated on contact, and so the machine will hold the superheated cloud in a “magnetic bottle,” using the largest system of superconducting magnets in the world. Just feet from the reactor’s core, the magnets will be cooled to two hundred and sixty-nine degrees below zero, nearly the temperature of deep space. Caught in the grip of their titanic forces, the artificial earthbound sun will be suspended, under tremendous pressure, in the pristine nothingness of ITER’s vacuum interior.

No one knows ITER’s true cost, which may be incalculable, but estimates have been rising steadily, and a conservative figure rests at twenty billion dollars—a sum that makes ITER the most expensive scientific instrument on Earth. But if it is truly possible to bottle up a star, and to do so economically, the technology could solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years, and help save the planet from environmental catastrophe. Hydrogen, a primordial element, is the most abundant atom in the universe, a potential fuel that poses little risk of scarcity. Eventually, physicists hope, commercial reactors modelled on ITER will be built, too—generating terawatts of power with no carbon, virtually no pollution, and scant radioactive waste. The reactor would run on no more than seawater and lithium. It would never melt down. It would realize a yearning, as old as the story of Prometheus, to bring the light of the heavens to Earth, and bend it to humanity’s will. ITER, in Latin, means “the way.”.

The main road to the ITER construction site from Aix-en-Provence, where I had booked a room, is the A51 highway. The drive is about half an hour, winding north past farmland and the sun-glittered Durance River. Just about every form of energy is in evidence nearby, from hydroelectric dams to floating solar panels. Seams of lignite, a soft brownish coal, run beneath the soil in Provence, but the deposits have become too expensive to mine. Several miles from Aix, a large coal plant, with a chimney that climbs hundreds of feet into the sky, is being converted to burn biomass—leaves, branches, and agricultural debris.

Actually the chimney is 300 meters tall, and not just a symbol of pollution, but a real health problem when there is no mistral and a temperature inversion. When there is mistral, the pollution can head towards Rome. ITER is up the Durance valley. At its source, my daughter was born. Up the nearby Rhone valley, nuclear power reactor parks have the added touch of giant windmills on site while atomic powered Very High Speed trains zoom by (in case, somehow, power goes down, the mistral is supposed to help, as it already did, 1,000 years ago).

In 1997 the JET (Joint European Torus) based in England, produced about as much power through fusion as what put in. So controlled thermonuclear fusion is not a dream. The reactor instantaneously overheated, within a second, and had to be shut down.

Meanwhile in Cadarache, the French tokamak Tore Supra succeeded to confine thermonuclear plasma for more than 6 minutes (by opposition to just one second in JET). Tore Supra could do this as the world’s only tokamak with supraconducting magnets to generate long term magnetic fields. Tore Supra’s walls were built of pure carbon, same as the nose of the space shuttle. It looked like a good guess: carbon has the highest solid temperature (it sublimates directly).

Plasmas are occasionally unstable: look at the picture of the Sun above, complete with explosions, and prominences hundreds of thousands of kilometers long. In a reactor, everything can be perfect for long minutes, and then suddenly all goes to hell without a hand-basket, and the plasma comes in contact with the walls, photo-abrading, tearing carbons away, and prying some of the strongest materials on Earth with forces of hundreds of tons, as if they were made of cardboard:

French Reactor Torn By Thermonuclear Plasma

French Reactor Torn By Thermonuclear Plasma

[Inside Tore Supra, Cadarache, next to ITER.]

The forces that can be unleashed in a thermonuclear reactor are of the order of the largest rockets ever launched (and even several times that in ITER).  The French nuclear safety authority forced the ITER organization to make the reactor’s floor twice stronger than it wanted it to be (the Princeton tokamak jumped in the air).

Not touching the walls is part of the Plasma Facing Material problem (PFM). The plasma, once loaded with tritium, then would have combined to create radioactive carbures. So the French scientists discovered that carbon, in appearance the best candidate for PFM had to be given up.

JET has been rebuilt as a forerunner of ITER, it is now relined with Beryllium . The results have been excellent, and ITER will go directly to such a lining. (Baby ITER, JET will be reloaded with radioactive, easy to fuse, Tritium within two years.)

French Physics Nobel, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes said of controlled nuclear fusion, “We say that we will put the sun into a box. The idea is pretty. The problem is, we don’t know how to make the box.”

The problem is obvious: the highest temperature a solid can sustain is less than 5000 Kelvins at room temperature. The plasma is 40,000 times hotter.

The box has to be electromagnetic. And it has to be perfect, and require mathematics beyond what we can master (mathematics break through allowed the long term containment in Tore Supra). Can it be done? It better be. There is no other option.

Except war. But Putin, the world’s most powerful dictator, already thought of that one.

Putin, of course, is a self-satisfied, vicious idiot with a short alpha man inferiority complex. This shows that the present dominant political system, electing “leaders” every now and then, is, itself, idiotic. The invasion of Ukraine could lead, indeed, to a world war, under some scenarios. Scenarios under which the “West” would act perfectly, let it be said in passing (in 1939, France and Britain, by declaring war to Hitler, acted perfectly… later the war went badly, but that’s another subject).

Idiocy is not just deplorable, it’s a moral problem. In the USA, one meets people raging against France all the time. That makes them morally inferior, and such people were gung ho for invading Iraq.

Basically, anything the USA can do, France can do. No exception. France is the only state capable of this, in the world (even Great Britain buy part of its strategic nuclear deterrent in the USA; France makes its own, and its arguably as limber as the USA’s).

This goes a long way to explain anti-French racism in the USA: here is a Socialist country that does just as well, does not that prove being a slave to Wall Street is pointless? France socialist? Not only the Parti Socialiste holds most elected offices, state spending in France is 57% of GDP (the highest in Europe with Denmark, but Denmark can’t make war around the world).

What the millions of little American minds who rage against France are truly raging again is anything that could hurt their master, plutocracy.

Another example of raging idiocy is directed at CERN. OK, CERN is an abbreviation from the French, and the Large Hadron Collider is mostly below France and fed by French nuclear power, so it’s related to the preceding.

Critics of CERN claim it could swallow the Earth, thus demonstrating their lack of education. Ironically, they probably read that on the Internet. And CERN invented the World Wide Web.

CERN Inventing World Wide Web, 1989.

CERN Inventing World Wide Web, 1989.

Would CERN haters become less hateful if they read on the Internet that CERN invented the WWW? Not sure. Idiocy is fungible. If it’s not this, it will be the other thing.

There is no solution to the mayhem caused by burning fossil fuels, except nuclear energy. No solution, except war. But Putin, the dictator of the world’s largest petrostate is already a pawn for that system of thought.

Patrice Aymé

H Fusion Or Bust

February 13, 2014

We are quickly running out of resources. This is what the economics of fracking means. Fracking is profitable, precisely because we are past peak conventional oil and gas (there is nothing conventional about high Arctic gas, tar sands, and extracting deep oil below kilometers of ocean as off Brazil).

The problem with peak oil is general. We are past peak zillions of crucial materials, including copper and fertilizers (most fertilizer reserves, worldwide are in Morocco, under the determined French nuclear imperial umbrella, with Washington back-up).

This collapse of all resources has a solution, a dramatic solution, and only one, the solution the Romans were incapable, unwilling to conceive. For the good and simple reason they did not even understand that one could understand why the “world was getting old” as they used to moan.

Fusing Ideas To Progress Always Saves Civilization As Resources Die

Fusing Ideas To Progress Always Saves Civilization As Resources Die

Our situation is the same, but it’s degenerating even faster, as we enjoy a planetary demographic boom without precedent, and a splurge of waste also never imaginable before. For their vacations, a few days, people jet around the world. Just because they can. Is that the call for self destruction? An appeal to the mysterious god of war and apocalypse?

Yet. Energy is the one and only solution. Ever more energy. (Ever more Absolute Worth Energy, more exactly.)

Solar is useful (yada yada), and will work very well in areas not controlled by Al Qaeda (like North Africa, once it has been thoroughly cleansed).

Wind works, sort of, but the giant investment may turn out silly in the long run (although winds are augmenting now that the melting of the poles is gathering speed, in the very long run, if the poles warm up enormously, winds will die down).

That leaves us with conservation. Yet, as the climate belts switch north, many regions that have now plenty of water will go dry, and require desalination and, or long distance transportation of water, thus augmenting energy spending. An example? The South-West of the USA.

Geothermal will not work on a massive scale. Just as fracking, it causes earthquakes. Oh, and fracking at this point in the USA releases enormous quantities of methane, accelerating the greenhouse.

Coal kills directly two millions a year already (without counting how much it kills indirectly through climate change). Chinese coal is filling California’s Napa Valley vineyards with mercury (I guess Californian excess goes around and comes around as a fine mist of Hg…).

However, coal is used more and more: look at nuclearly correct Germany. Or coal is used obdurately: look at Denmark. Denmark is a paragon of ecological correctness… yet is building a new giant coal plant.

To save the planet, one is left with nuclear. Either new fission technologies (say Thorium techs), or… thermonuclear fusion.

The old joke about fusion is that it’s the fuel of the future, and always will be. However, that’s making fun of the scientific process itself. Understanding is progressing ever more, and results are following.

After decades of unexpected discoveries that were blocking the way to controlled thermonuclear fusion, it is entirely possible that only details may have to be figured out pretty soon.

For example a purely theoretical mathematical breakthrough, a few years back, allowed the existing French thermonuclear device at Cadarache to achieve confinement of the thermonuclear plasma for more than 6 minutes.

Next to that machine is now build the giant International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). ITER is expected to produce ten times the energy put in.

The Joint European Torus (JET) in England has been rebuilt, in ITER style, and the preliminary results are allowing to build ITER directly in (what was supposed to be) stage 2.

In 1997 the Joint European Torus (JET) released 16 megawatts of power from fusion, from using 24 megawatts-worth of heat.

ITER is involved with building new materials, to resist thermonuclear fire. If those work, they may profit the Korean national program, which, although part of ITER is also planning a production style reactor very soon after ITER turns on.

Thus it’s entirely possible that magnetic confinement fusion could become energy profitable within 15 years or so.

Meanwhile the proudly called NIL (National Ignition Laboratory) has succeeded to get in November 2013, twice more thermonuclear fusion energy out of one pellet of Deuterium-Tritium fuel than was put in (by lasers).

The NIL lasers compressed the thermonuclear fuel at three times the pressure and five times what exists (we think) at the center of the sun (where thermonuclear fusion is raging). They improved the efficiency by spending more energy heating up the fuel before compressing.

In a thermonuclear bomb, the thermonuclear fuel is compressed similarly with X rays from a fission-fusion “pit”. Who said nukes were useless.

And yes we need to colonize Mars (be it only because we mess up Earth, and always need to go “meta”). But we will do this only with fusion (there is a scheme to make fusion propulsion by using a technique half way between magnetic clinching, and the ITER and NIL styles.

Who need this?… will whine those who want to feed the poor and build their roofs. Do they know how much energy is needed to feed, quench the thirst, bathe, and shelter eight billions? Lots. We still don’t know how to reproduce Roman cement, but that will save a huge amount of energy.

No way out, but science, ever more science.

That’s the old fashion way, the most human way.

Because, of course, as the old resources run out, just like the Romans did not do, we need, having used lots of brains, to replace the old with the new born. Born from our minds.

This is exactly what happened with Rome. The economy of the empire of the Franks, the Imperium Francorum, rested on new engineering: wind mills, water mills, heavy ploughs (capable of digging deep into the fat land of the wet north), new energy (draft collars), and hundreds of new bioengineered species (horses, oxen, hundreds of species of new vegetable, especially protein rich beans). It was an amazing tech revolution. By 1000 CE, the Franks had surpassed Rome, and had the highest energy usage, per capita.

The Frankish tech revolution was paralleled, nearly as spectacularly  in the Far East. New rice cultivars allowed the population to boom. (Originating in Vietnam, they quickly spread-out). China introduced new technologies, such as paper money (having not enough precious metals).

Our similar situation knows an urgency not found before, though. It’s not a question of imperial collapse, or not, but of planetary collapse, or not. So go fusion, go.

Otherwise, well, even older gods will come to dominate. Those presiding the arena of evolution. The survivors incarnate the epigenetics. But there again, fusion will come in handy.

Patrice Aymé

Future Economics Was Seen Before

December 1, 2013

Paul Krugman says in “New Thinking…”: “We’ve had a couple of centuries of economic thought at this point, and quite a few smart people doing the thinking.”

Excuse me: economics was named and conceptualized by Xenophon, 24 centuries ago. Differently from physics, that was practiced only partly and primitively, economics was already highly advanced, 25 centuries ago.

For example, the 200 trireme Athenian Navy that later defeated the monster Persian plutocracy was built, at huge ecological cost, with a public-private partnership system.

Adam Smith himself went to learn his stuff at the feet of French “physiocrats” who flourished 240 years ago (the head of that school was the top surgeon in France).

As I have argued, the sort of public-private government sponsored technologically progressing economy we need today was fully, and self-consciously, in command of France in 1600. Hence Henri IV’s slogan “workers ought to have a chicken in every pot”. A cursory inspection of history show that, from dams in Yemen, thousands of years ago, to the Roman army building roads, to Caesar’ draining the swamps to the construction of China or Europe’s canal systems in the Middle Ages, the biggest picture, in economics, is from the government.

At this point there is plenty of evidence that, in the USA, government disfunctionality is bringing the real economy down.

The main actors and agents in today’s economics originated in government. Look at, say lasers. They were made possible by Kastler’s discovery of Optical Pumping in the Normale Sup lab 100% financed by the French government.

More recently, the same lab, still funded 100% by the French government, found how to count photons, without destroying them (that was also rewarded with a Nobel). Nothing that interests private, for profit entrepreneurs, today, but, no doubt, one of the pillars of the future sci-fi economy.

Economics will continue to be dismal as long as we don’t focus on the scientific understanding of growth and innovation.

Imperial Rome went down because of a deliberate effort against elite innovation; leaving the field to be dominated by simple generals such as Diocletian… Instead of the top-notch intellectuals the best regimes throughout history surrounded themselves with.

In physics one studies, to start with, friction-less trains of mass zero, to teach basic dynamics. Similarly fans of economic theory as taught in USA schools say that economics is like other sciences: economics starts with simplified, basic formulas.

They opine that basic market theory assumes that goods are available as needed to be purchased by consumers with “perfect knowledge.” As one advances to higher-level classes, one learns the corrections for effect of advertising, imperfect knowledge, and externalities such as polluting air and water.

Nice. And that’s indeed what is taught as “economics” in the USA and all and any organization that advocates the economic system thriving in the USA (complete with a for-profit, “marketplace“, Obamacare).

But this is all wrong.

Reducing economics to the market’s inner guts, assumes a plutophile vision of economics. It assumes that economics is all about, and only about, the “free market”. But there is no such a thing. A market is never “free”. What looks “free” is actually government regulated. Even ‘deregulation’ is government regulated.

What looked like financial deregulation under Clinton was actually the regulation of providing the largest financial actors with a number of advantages on smaller actors and over the rest of the socioeconomy.  

Even more fundamentally, giant economies, such as the Inca empire, or (a large part of) Late Rome did without free market, and thrived. Economically (that Rome thrive economically until overrun by savages is a recent and surprising discovery in 21 C archeology).

Stalin’s “free-market”-free economy thrived enough to vanquish Hitler. Nazi economists were so sure of the superiority of their free market, they thought there was no way it would not take more than a few months to destroy the “command and control” USSR. That illusion did not survive contact with Soviet made and conceived T34 tanks. To add injury to insult, the Soviets were then able to out-produce the Nazi style free market.

The UK and the USA used a command and control economic model similar to the one used by the Soviets to out-produce the Nazis. Mass production concentrated on very few types, decided from above. The USA effort was headed by a young Canadian economist, Galbraith.

Nowadays, the People’s Republic of China’s economy, which uses a lot of command and control of the economy, has been persistently doing much better economically than the “free market” West.

So “economics” is a much larger subject than just what American economists call the “free market”.

That the biggest picture, in economics, is from the government is the perspective that eludes persistently American economists. In economy, God is not the market. God is the (hopefully democratic) government.

If the government is democratic, most people will profit from the economy beyond mere subsistence, and so more minds will partake in the society, making the civilization smarter. A virtuous circle of involvement.

And what economic science ought to guide the government? Not the free market, assuredly, as this is the creature of the government. The government needs to be guided by real, all-encompassing economic science.

What could be a proper foundation for the whole science of economics? Energy. Just as in physics. Just as what is desperately in need of regulation now. See fracking, and the just uncovered fact it’s about 50% of USA greenhouse emissions right now.

Of course that will tell Obama nothing: he is not really the guy governing right now. It’s rather the creature down below that is governing, a magma of a few thousands plutocrats with crocodilian aspirations. They govern the jungle that feed them, complete with economists perched on the highest branches, eying the scraps left by the kills they gorge on. 

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Henri IV used the word “laboureurs” (from the Roman word, laborare, to work). That, of course gave the English “laborers”, and “labor”. So, three centuries before Henry Ford, Henri argued that workers ought to be paid enough to be well fed. Something denied to 50 million citizens of the USA (many of them working, see preceding essay). Today.

Real Economics

August 30, 2013

Real macroeconomics ought to set its field of study correctly. It’s not nation-states anymore. We are living on a small Earth. Condensing Mercury vapor from burning Chinese coal poisons our food. Facts cognizable by all, such as Assad dropping napalm on a school in Alep (BBC, 8/26/13) devour moral systems, making anti-war weaklings into accomplices of crimes against humanity.

The house in eco (oikos) -nomy is now the entire planet, the full arena of human activity. Such is the macro stage. Nothing smaller will do.

Now that the stage is determined, what’s the “nomy” in eco-nomy about? Nemein is “manage“, related to “mane” (hand). Manage what? People, their work, the entire planet, recently on fire:

Yosemite Rim Fire: Bad Economics At Work

Yosemite Rim Fire: Bad Economics At Work

[Energy Unleashed, Men Overwhelmed; 95% of California Visible Above; On Day 5 Of Rim Fire, only 2,000 firemen were fighting it, because another 6,000 professional firemen were employed on other Californian wildfires! Some can be seen above. San Francisco Bay is the gaping grey crocodile jaw full west (left!) of the Rim Fire]

The number one object of economy ought to be energy: what we need, how much of it, to do what, and at which ecological cost. So economics has to be refounded around the idea of energy.

Once one has refounded economy theory around energy, one gets a bonus. One has to remember that well channeled energy does work. So work, that is employment, is a natural attachment to energy focused economics.

Monetary considerations are tied to the fractional reserve system at this point. That’s what conventional economists do. They might as well do the economics of angels on a pinhead.

It’s not that money is purely imaginary, but it’s a convention. If all loans were recalled in all banks, one will find that there has been 30 times more money lent that there was to be lent from what the banks really owned (that’s what 3% reserve in USA banks mean).

Money, as it presently exist, is an artificial construct that exists only thanks to its government back-up. That is, money is backed-up by the established order, its “justice system”, taxmen, police, army. But that order is flimsy when the entire biosphere is wobbling, the forests are burning, and acidifying seas are rising, thanks to human activity.

To just worry about monetary policy is like worrying about a weltering bush because the giant, multimillennial sequoia across the clearing, just caught fire. As has been happening in Yosemite National Park for two weeks.

Think about the Yosemite Rim Fire, burning trees that existed before Rome: if that kind of disaster, a direct consequence of human activity, is not incorporated in economics, the very concept of economics, as used today, is a contradiction with what it was meant to be.

Economics then just becomes a way to employ thousands of sophists singing together about the beauty of the established order. But there is no beauty when the planet is on fire.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Notes: 1) The objection above is analogous to the one Socrates made against education and politics in Athens. I propose a remedy, Socrates did not. The remedy to Socrates’ complaint was the rise of democratic meritocratic institutions within the state (Rome started this).

2) The present fractional reserve system (“frac”) is artificial, and rests on the state. This is nothing new. Most of the currency used under Rome had an official value, imposed by the state, much superior to that of the precious metals the coins contained. The Tang dynasty in China, in the seventh century used paper money, with a value also imposed by the state (in both cases the cause was the dearth of precious metals).

I propose to use Absolute Worth Energy as a (much less arbitrary) currency. Anyway,

3) Economics was invented as a concept by Xenophon, a hyper intellectual, part of Socrates’ school. Scholars are getting the notion that much of macroeconomics’ foundations are too uncertain to be anything but a matter of philosophical debate.

See in the New York Times What Is Economics Good For? The authors are philosophy professors, one of them chairperson at Duke university. Extracts:

“A student who graduates with a degree in economics leaves college with a bachelor of‘science’, but possesses nothing so firm as the student of the real world processes of chemistry or even agriculture.

… Over time, the question of why economics has not (yet) qualified as a science has become an obsession among theorists, including philosophers of science like us.

It’s easy to understand why economics might be mistaken for science. It uses quantitative expression in mathematics and the succinct statement of its theories in axioms and derived “theorems,” so economics looks a lot like the models of science we are familiar with from physics. Its approach to economic outcomes — determined from the choices of a large number of “atomic” individuals — recalls the way atomic theory explains chemical reactions. Economics employs partial differential equations like those in a Black-Scholes account of derivatives markets, equations that look remarkably like ones familiar from physics. The trouble with economics is that it lacks the most important of science’s characteristics — a record of improvement in predictive range and accuracy.

Moreover, many economists don’t seem troubled when they make predictions that go wrong. Readers of Paul Krugman and other like-minded commentators are familiar with their repeated complaints about the refusal of economists to revise their theories in the face of recalcitrant facts…What is economics up to if it isn’t interested enough in predictive success to adjust its theories the way a science does when its predictions go wrong?

Unlike the physical world, the domain of economics includes a wide range of social “constructions” — institutions like markets and objects like currency and stock shares — that even when idealized don’t behave uniformly. They are made up of unrecognized but artificial conventions that people persistently change and even destroy in ways that no social scientist can really anticipate. We can exploit gravity, but we can’t change it or destroy it. No one can say the same for the socially constructed causes and effects of our choices that economics deals with.

…no one can predict the direction of scientific discovery and its technological application. That was Popper’s key insight… scientific paradigm shifts seem to come almost out of nowhere. As the rate of acceleration of innovation increases, the prospects of an economic theory that tames the economy’s most powerful forces must diminish…”

This brings us back to Yosemite’s Rim Fire (I run there all the time, loving the giant trees). Why did that happen? Well, the Forest Service took days to bring the big planes dumping ninety tons of fire retardant at each pass.

Why? Sequestration. Another bright ‘economic’ idea from Obama’s bankster friendly cabinet. Ignorant little greedsters hide behind ‘economic’ theories that advance banksterism, thus their future personal earnings, sequoias be damned.

Sequestration caused huge cuts in many parts of the Federal Budget of the USA. Including fire fighting (the Forest service was literally running out of money to fight fires, before the Rim Fire, explaining its slow reaction; it had $50 million left for the year, for the whole USA; the Rim Fire will cost several times that!).

And, of course, the most significant victim of sequestration is deep science, the very engine of humanity.

Although the location and nature of revolutionary thinking is hard to predict, it’s easy to predict that, by financing enough students of revolutionary thinking, one will get breakthroughs.

***

Some facts on Yosemite Rim Fire after 14 days: aerial tankers flight time: 14,500 hours. 15,000 tons of liquids dropped by aircraft on fire, most of it red fire retardant laden with chemicals. Uncontrolled fire edge: 100 miles (160 kilometers), controlled edge: 66 miles (90 kilometers), bulldozer lines: 106 miles (170 kilometers).

Economic Tech Wreck

July 25, 2013

Paul Krugman: “Both Steve Benen and Ed Kilgore get annoyed at fellow journalists complaining that there aren’t any “new ideas” in Obama’s latest. But why should there be?

It was clear early on that this was a crisis very much in the mold of previous financial crises.”

Well, sort of, but not really. True, the USA population had filled up to the rim in subprime mortgages, and could not afford anymore. True, the USA population ignore both mathematics and the fact that big bankers can conspire, big time (in jacking up interest rates after mortgages had been acquired: ARMs; or through securitization, selling lies to the unawares; or by hyper leveraging themselves against all of society through financial derivatives). Result? A Great Depression, probably the greatest of them all.

Comparing Two Great Depressions

Comparing Two Great Depressions

What triggered the crisis, though was a spectacular rise in the price of oil. People suddenly had to choose between paying for the house, or fueling the car. As the USA is car dependent, it was not really a choice: without a functioning car, there is no getting to work, or even food, let alone school.

Moreover, ever since, in spite of frantic fracking, the price of oil has stayed high in the USA, depression or not. California gets most of its oil from Texas now. It’s back to the past. Except for one important detail: all of this oil is fracked oil.

Now please observe that the world economy, and world food production, let alone trade, is completely oil dependent. Without oil, the world population would quickly collapse by 90%.

We do not have an acceptable mass energy replacement. We are in the situation of Europe (and Japan!) in 1300 CE: dependent upon a waning asset (then, wood, which was used for everything; although England switched to coal then).

So what’s the idea? The big idea is always missing from the loud economists who dominate the USA, and, thus, the world in general: they view the economy as just about money flow. According to them, if money flows, everything is fine (never mind all the money goes to the .1%!).

This was basically the reasoning Roman emperors wanted their economists to believe, and advocate, too. So I sent the following to Krugman who published it right away:

“What is new in present day economics is the possibilities new technologies offer that were not within reach before, and the problems old technologies are causing, as they become waning assets.

We are living in a science-fiction world, highly dependent on technology. Not to realize this is a lethal condition.”

To this, John from Hartford replied:

“I’m not sure this is true. If you look at the period in the 20’s and 30’s when people like Keynes were evolving their theories the world was being flooded with new technologies like radio, mass ownership of automobiles, silent/sound movies, aircraft, proto computers, etc. etc. which were probably greater in their affects than those were currently undergoing. What was much more important was that it was a period of intense global economic disruption which essentially provided real life laboratories for examining and testing economic hypotheses. And back then the consequences of economic mismanagement really were lethal on a scale we’ve never experienced since.”

In turn I answered to this very conventional reply with more of my advanced details (a condensed version of which was published by the NYT):

John: I do not dispute that the flood of new technologies getting in everyday life in the 1930s was not higher. Right now such a flood is very high in China. Yet, the technological flow has been deliberately slowed down in the West by a plutocratic conspiracy (as happened in Rome, when the government consciously paid inventors to NOT develop their inventions).

As I have explained in the past, plutocrats hate disruptive technologies. New technology introduces new ideas (witness the so called “Arab Spring”). It’s only natural to apply the “new ideas” mood to the established (plutocratic) order, as plutocrats and plutophiles, correctly, fear.

An example of technology not deployed is single payer health care in the USA (Germany introduced one more than 150 years ago!). Instead Obama introduced a new technology, Obamacare, friendly to plutocrats like the old one, but with even more subsidies from taxpayers. (For what the word “technology” means, see the comments.)

I just said the possibilities of higher technological disruption exists now… and that’s a good thing. And that proper economics, well done, would look into disrupting for the best the established economic order. At the governmental level (and not, as is done now, just at the Bill Gates level!… Bill Gates is financing new nuclear technologies.).

To claim, as Hartford John does, that “the consequences of economic mismanagement really were lethal on a scale we’ve never experienced since” is saying that devastating the entire machinery of the biosphere on a planetary scale is not “economic mismanagement”.

As I have long argued, we are in much more global danger now than in the 1930s. Fascism in Europe and Japan in the 1930s was a man-made disaster. Now we have much greater disasters waiting in the wings, driven not by human maniacs, but by physics, such a methane belch (that could turn overnight global warming into global heating!). ‘Massive methane eruptions’ is not a question of “if”, but WHEN.

Massive methane belching is actually already happening, in my not so humble opinion. How else to explain that the North Siberian sea route (“North East Passage”) is already now open for business? The topography makes it possible for much more methane to erupt there than in the North West passage… as observed!

(An interesting aside is that Total is investing many billions in a gas liquefaction  plant along the Siberian shore, obviously expecting the melting of the ice to accelerate! The idea is to send the liquefied… methane to China; Putin said it was OK with him, and he would remove the Gazprom monopoly…)

More prosaically, the ROI (Return On Investment) of fossil fuels is going badly, and the search for new mass energy is reaching emergency levels (however new energy technologies cannot be invented from one decade to the next!)

Europe knew a comparable situation twice: in the Late Roman empire, and then around 1300 CE. In the former case, civilization nearly crashed. In the latter case, European governments took successful, but drastic, measures (yet population collapsed by 2/3).

The only obvious new, potentially massive, technology we have is nuclear energy. By “nuclear energy” I mean all imaginable fission (there are about 100 of these) and fusion technologies. some will scoff. Yet, by 1330 CE, England had switched to coal to such an extent that Edward III’s government had to pass laws against coal, to limit the pollution of London.

This energy independence may help to explain that ‘England” was winning the war against “France” (for want of a better word) for a century… (Until the southern French developed the world’s first field artillery.) The abundance of coal with high ROI certainly explains the economic ascendency of England for the next six centuries… Until the age of oil. Oil with high ROI was in the USA, Arabia, and Mesopotamia.

Right now, many of the conventional, ignorant ecologists are certainly culprit not just of the impending ecological collapse, but also of the present depression. Jim Hansen, the ex-NASA scientist who did more than anybody else to provide the world with catastrophic insight on the degradation of the biosphere, shares this opinion:

“Can renewable energies provide all of society’s energy needs in the foreseeable future? It is conceivable in a few places, such as New Zealand and Norway. But suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy…

I think the only hope we have of phasing down emissions and getting to the middle of the century with a much lower level of fossil fuel emissions — which is what we will have to do if we want young people to have a future — we’re going to have to have alternatives and at this time nuclear seems to be the best candidate.”

Screaming against first generation, 1950s nuclear reactors, as those in Japan is entirely justified. The Japanese reactors use French-made recycled MOX for fuel. But for that, they are time-wraps. Let alone carefully installed in the way of a 30 meters (100′) tsunami… that had already happened 12 centuries before.

By now Fourth and Fifth, super-safe, super-efficient fission reactors should have been massively deployed. But the research was carefully not funded, because the reigning political class is fossil fuel fueled.

Survival, not just the economy, is all about energy.  

Patrice Ayme.

GASSING EARTH: Tipping Point Passed!

June 29, 2013

CO2: NOT JUST HOT AIR ECONOMICS.

Warning: The essay below demonstrates, from published official data, that NON LINEAR EFFECTS are now ACCELERATING the CO2 greenhouse. This is no theory, but data that I observe. This is the major tipping point experts feared. It’s here, now. Weirdly I am the first to observe this catastrophic evidence. 

We are making war to the biosphere. We are trying to kill it (biocide?). Gassing Earth with CO2. Calling this atrocity “climate change” is more than a silly euphemism. It’s disinformation.

True information: the bath is heating up. Here is the global heat content of the ocean, incomparably greater than that of the atmosphere.

Global Warming Is Accelerating

Global Warming Is Accelerating

Self satisfied frogs croak happily in the simmering heat until they croak for good. Speaking of the stupid, loud and mosquito inclined, a deafening chorus from all over richly rewarded pseudo-science has recently claimed that global warming had stalled, or that the climate was less susceptible” to increasing CO2 than previously thought.

The graph above shows that those people are either paid too much, or as stupid as the frogs they mimic so well. Unable to deny the greenhouse, they focus suddenly on atmospheric heat content, as if that was the main problem (it’s not, by a very long shot!)

One can see, in the graph above, that the global heat content of the biosphere is clearly not just augmenting, but doing so faster than ever.

Another remark of mine of TREMENDOUS importance, and you read here first. Look at the graph above carefully. And then look at the CO2 graph below, just as carefully. Compare the graphs. What do you see? The horror! The HEAT CONTENT GRAPH accelerates FASTER after 1990 than the CO2 GRAPH!!!!

Thus there is now evidence that NON LINEAR EFFECTS ARE GETTING IN GEAR. Heat is increasing faster than CO2 now! Tipping points have been passed, the heat is growing by ITSELF, beyond human input.

Non Linear HORROR: CO2 Augmenting SLOWER Than Global Biospheric Heat Content!

Non Linear HORROR: CO2 Augmenting SLOWER Than Global Biospheric Heat Content!

[Technical math remark, consecutive to readers’ misunderstanding: I have a math background as one high as one can get; so, obviously I am not making the grotesque mistake of comparing the overall slopes, as the scale of the y-axes are arbitrary. What I am doing is more subtle, and that maybe why the NON LINEAR TIPPING POINT was not noticed before: I was trained as a research mathematician, not as a cloud watcher.

I am not comparing the overall slopes of one graph with the other, but the changes of slope after 1990, of one graph relative to the other. The global ocean heat content graph clearly accelerates so much after 1990 that it adopts a steeper trendline; one does not have such a feature on the CO2 graph. So one can say, supposing that the latter drives the former (that sounds intellectually fair), that it has been driving it much more since 1990. End of the high school level mathematical analysis. More details & answers to objections can be found in the comments!] 

So fossil burning is launching the avalanche, but the avalanche is also growing by itself, that’s what comparing the three graphs above shows.

OK, now for some elementary school math. The mass of the top 2000 meters of the ocean is 2 (total oceanic surface relative to continental surface) x 200 (mass of 2000 meters of water relative to atmosphere) = 400 times that of the atmosphere. The excess heat injected since 1990 in the upper 2000 meters of oceans is roughly equivalent to one billion times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb (personal computation). Yes, the inflection point when non linear amplification of CO2 started was in 1990 (look at the first graph ).

The core economic issue of our time is the alarming CO2 curve. That CO2 curve is threatening to become an exponential. CO2 is augmenting by (nearly) 1% a year. CO2 concentration has reached 400 parts per million. If one takes into account all industrially made greenhouse gases, it’s more like 450 ppm in CO2 equivalence, beyond the point where most of Antarctica’s ice shield is stable.

Thus the CO2 curve is also the core survival issue of our time. Every day, the deep oceans are getting warmer, more acidic (the CO2 gets in the sea, turning it to a soda), and lose oxygen. Every day, the deepest currents are absorbing the new energy, modifying themselves. Any day, Antarctica could start melting, big time:

Giant Regions Of Antarctica Are Below Sea Level

Giant Regions Of Antarctica Are Below Sea Level

The brownish and yellow parts are the WAIS, the West Antarctica Ice Shield’s bed, and are all below sea level, and are why the WAIS will disintegrate.

Areas more than 200 meters BELOW SEA LEVEL in East Antarctica are indicated by blue shading. Notice that a lot of east Antarctica, where the sub sea level basins are, have their margins well north of 70 degrees (and actually just north of the south polar circle).

(Extracted from: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/sun-cooling-ice-melting/)

Some idiots out there have pointed at the fact that atmospheric heat is not going up drastically, in the last decades. Of course. That means the energy is spilling in other dimensions. If those idiots had taken a physics class, they would know that this effect is similar to a well known phenomenon: as ice melts, the water in which it sits stays at zero degree (Celsius, only Americans use crazily obsolete units).

This general change of the biosphere, throughout dimensions so far unsuspected, is due to a generalization of the equipartition theorem:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/the-equipartition-of-energy-theorem-should-be-applied-for-climate-change-and-predicts-wild-fluctuations-of-temperatures/

At any point, any day, formidable non linear mechanisms independent of man, caused by the effects of the CO2 increase, could get in gear. That they did not happen yet is as reassuring as jumping from a gigantic cliff, without a parachute, and then gloating that everything is fine so far.

For example enormous, sudden releases of methane hydrates causing tsunamis (accelerating considerably the greenhouse, as methane is twenty to a hundred time more of a greenhouse gas). https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/terminal-problem-final-solution/

A slow-down of the sun has bought up some time, in the last decade (see again the very long: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/sun-cooling-ice-melting/.)

Most of the carbon found in coal has been buried for hundreds of millions of years. Extracting, and throwing  it up in the air, in ever greater quantities, is sheer insanity. This has got to stop. That is the main problem with fracking for gas; not that it makes water flammable, but that it pollutes with CO2. Although fracked gas (CH4) produces half the carbon for an equal amount of energy, that’s still an awful lot of carbon!

Advocating fracking-for-gas as a way to kill coal, short term, is tenable. But then fusion research ought to be massively financed, to make sure fracking-for-gas is really short term. Yet the $600,000 for fusion propulsion at NASA, while Elon Musk the well connected Neanderthal, gets billions, just for looking good, and dishonorable Sen. Feinstein’s whining about ITER, demonstrate that fracking forever, without fusion, is the real agenda!

Managing the planet correctly is real macro-economics. It is much more real economics than the shenanigans of some central bankers, or the dementia of unregulated shadow banking (which is just as big as official banking, 67 trillion dollars, nota bene).

The new Obama plan ought to be a war on coal. Right now, about ten billion tons of CO2 from coal are pumped in the atmosphere, each year. Better a war on coal now, rather the alternative. The alternative is world war, or worse. About CO2 pollution and energy.

This is not just a fancy vision of an apocalyptic future. It is also a sober assessment of an awful past. Around 1300 CE, sextuple trouble hit Europe: a population crisis, an energy crisis, a construction material crisis, a food crisis, an ecological crisis, and a climate crisis. All those aspects were entangled in one huge crisis .

Within a generation, France and Britain, until then part of the same polity, had exploded in a very complicated, but extremely lethal civil war, that was to last nearly five centuries. A terrible plague assaulted Europe (from Yersinia Pestis, a 2000 French study showed in all of 20 samples). The plague itself was related to the preceding, as bad climatic and military conditions in the two years preceding it, favored overcrowding of rats and humans alike. (Tremendous research on how the Black Death occured as early as 1348 CE, and great progress was made, leading to control of many diseases. Yet, the tricky causal triangle between fleas, rats, and plague was discovered only around 1900!)

In a few years, the population of the European continent had been cut by more than two-thirds. Greenlanders, assaulted by plague, climate cooling, and Inuits, died off.

Yet, countries such as France and Germany took effective ecological counter-measures of preservations of forests (thus saving commodities, construction, energy, soils, etc.).  Western Europe did not go the way of the Mayas because of vigorous. scientifically minded governmental counter-attack.

Instead, Europe chose then what we have to chose now. New technology was relentlessly pursued. By 1300 CE, pollution from burning geological coal was so acute in London that regulations were passed to reduce it. Edward III, grandson of French king Philippe IV Le Bel, and official launcher of the “100 Year war”(-that lasted in truth 478 years, as I said above) actually regulated coal trading, allowing the exportation of coal to the parts of France he controlled. Within two centuries, coal would be mined under the sea in Scotland.

No doubt all this would have worked better, the calamitous Fourteenth Century would not have been as calamitous, had superior technology, and careful management thereof, had arrived earlier. It could have arrived earlier.

In Roman Britannia, the usage of coal had been ubiquitous (even down the social scale). The tech was lost for nearly a millennium after the legions evacuated in 400 CE. Superior tech would have allowed to avoid the overcrowding that killed so many during the Black Death (relatively few nobles died, as they lived large).

The proximal reasons why Greco-Roman civilization collapsed are complicated, and are all entangled. Although the story started with plutocracy blossoming, it ended, four centuries later, with technology failing in so many dimensions that civilization could not be sustained anymore.

Basically, rising plutocracy (2C BCE)  led to political fascism (1C CE), that led to intellectual fascism (2C), which in turn led all sorts of technological stagnations or reversals (monetary, ecological, resources, military), and from there massive command economy and theocracy (300 CE) was called on, and then religious terror, anti-intellectualism and mental retardation (starting under emperor Jovian in 363 CE).

Many of these tipping points and causal chains are relevant today. However the situation is different in the sense that not only is history is going much faster, but, on the hopeful side, the world is still endowed with well armed, grimly determined republics (say France). Thus plutocracy may not win this time, as it did under the Gracchi brothers’ Roman republic. Indeed, we can now use meta arguments the Gracchi could not use, namely point at the fact that, ultimately, not only did plutocracy made society unfair, but the Republic collapsed, and so did civilization.

However, some causal chains, similar to those that undid Rome, are being activated presently.

One of them is the technological gradient between civilization and savages. Or, rather, the disappearance thereof. Bear with me a moment here.

Shortly after 300 CE, the Roman empire, in a reversal of hostilities, called onto the Salian Franks to become the shock troops of the empire. For years, the Franks had raided rivers of the empire, Viking style, and Constantine had fought them. Then suddenly, the Franks were at Constantine’s side, conquering the entire empire. And, astoundingly, by 400 CE, the Franks were put in charge of the defense of the entire North-West corner of Romanitas. Although, even more incredibly, the Franks had staged a long succession of coups and civil wars, against what they viewed as excessive Christianity, promoting a succession of secular Roman puppets to fight the central government.

What happened? Why did Christianized Romans put in charge their natural enemy, the Salian Frank Confederation? Simple: the Franks had better weapons, and better military capability. The Romans determined that, if you can’t beat them, you should join them. (Another, secondary reason, had to do with the Franks being more republican than the Byzantine court; Romans nostalgic with the republic, and secularism, and they were many, could only see the youth of Rome in those Frankish farmers).

What’s the connection with the CO2 rampage?

The only way for the most economically advanced countries to stay advanced is, first, by staying technologically advanced. Thus by researching, developing, and imposing worldwide, advanced technologies.  That can only work when those advanced technologies are necessary, and sustainable, that is, moral. As sustainability is the definition of  morality.

As I have long advocated, Obama is going to use his executive power by, hopefully, imposing new technology to stay on top. Not just on top of the problem, but on top of the world. Finally (Welcome to the executive branch, Mr. President!) With executive orders. Four years late. Execute, or be executed. After all, pollution to the extent we are exposed with CO2, is a form of execution. (Obama should have done the same with health care, as I also advocated more than 4 years ago).

The sorry collapse of the Greco-Romans, all entangled as they were with slavery (thus lower tech) caused some physical damage to the planet. Forests in Dauphiné are still showing subtle scars from Roman over-exploitation (mostly from mining). No big deal: South East France is heavily forested.

However what we are doing now with CO2, and other industrial greenhouse gases, is the big deal. The lifetime of CO2 in the combined air-ocean system is counted in many millennia. Projections show that we have already done enough to modify the climate enough to prevent a glaciation in the next 50,000 years . The mind reels.

So we are in life-and-death race to develop a long term, massive, survivable energy source. And there is just one; that of the sun, itself, thermonuclear fusion. Sun in a bottle. Feasible, but only if dozens of billions of economic activity are directed towards fundamental research labs (see note). Let’s not do like the Romans, and rest on yesteryear technology, until it’s so late, that nothing can be done anymore.

Einstein used to say that he knew the Fourth World War would be fought with sticks and stones. Error my dear Albert. The way things are going, the Fourth World War will be fought by scorpions and dragonflies.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Note: let’s not be too passive, even if the outlook is sunny. Some are sure to whine that “solar energy” can do it all; what they mean is the passive reception, on Earth of part of Sol’s enormous thermonuclear output. Well, yes, they are talking about thermonuclear fusion, but may not know it (?) Passive solar has a great future. However its usage is bound to stay unimportant in space (!), high latitudes, and, more worryingly, in regions with high precipitations  (the greenhouse is going to get very wet in places!).

Why Europe Lays Supine

May 1, 2013

Abstract: The crisis in Europe is now worse than in the 1930s, in major countries such as Britain, or Spain. So how come, differently from the 1930s, revolutions are not wrecking the streets? The aging of the population does not explain all the torpor. Nor does the fact that Europe suffers from globalization, also known as ‘free trade’, and plutocrats make sure that the Plebs is not aware of what ails them, or even, that they suffer at all: the wealthiest profit from the unfolding catastrophe.

A  most subtle psychological mechanism is at work: Europe already tried something very bold, very virtuous, axed on the sustainable and, not only did it backfire, but it proved… completely unsustainable. A disabling injury joined by an insult to reason itself: no wonder Europeans feel too depressed to do anything about anything anymore.

Why No Panic Yet?

Why No Panic Yet?

***

EUROPEAN PLUTOCRACY: SUBJACENT TO MUCH.

I was reading newly published  conversations of Hitler with his generals. Marshall Edwin Rommel and Hitler, in May 1943, discussed the dislike that “plutocrats” (yes, “plutocrats”, that’s the word they used) had for any social tendencies found in Nazism. In particular Hitler expressed the revulsion he felt in Rome, in 1938, for Italian plutocrats, and the triple game they played, through their control of the military, and double faced diplomacy with Britain, playing everybody against everybody.

Italian plutocracy did not come out whole from WWII. A republic was installed, with a slightly modified version of the French revolutionary flag. The daughter of the king, the one that Hitler gave his arm to, in 1938, died in an extermination camp, victim of an allied bombing…

Fast forward to May 2013, 70 years later. The Dutch are hysterical with joy: they just nominated a new plutocrat to head the Netherlands, William-Alexander, worth at least 300 million dollars. His wife is particularly popular. She is doubly plutocratic; barely twenty year old, before even having an economy degree, she was an investment banker in Argentina and New York (the biggest banks made like bandits from Argentinean default); she is the daughter of another plutocrat, a minister of the dictator Videla (famous for having tortured, before assassinating them, more than 30,000 people).

The hysterical Dutch wear orange. My Mom asked me why. I did not know, but I was correctly suspicious. It turns out that William-Alexander’s family used to rule, more than six centuries ago, the city of Orange… In Provence, France. Unfortunately, for the plutocrats, France is now a republic, sort of, so the followers of William-Alexander are reduced to waving orange flags, instead of waging terror in Orange, as they used to. Of course, Orange was built as one the free cities of the Roman republic, and only later was stolen by the ancestors of William-Alexander.

Kleptocracy or plutocracy? The latter is more general than the former.

I visited a 17 centuries old cathedral, the Saint Sauveur cathedral in Aix en Provence, four centuries older than Islam. Part of the cathedral was built even before Constantine became emperor. Then Constantine, a major plutocrat, if there ever was one, greatly thanks to fiscal measures, imposed Catholicism… The breathing of millennia endows our minds beyond this Earth.

Christianity, like Islam, was instrumentalized. The Saud family is trying to pose as the guardian of pure and hard Islam, but it violates the very foundation of Islam according to Muhammad, zakat (basically an anonymous voluntary tax the pious rich are supposed to impose on themselves, a command of the Qur’an). The Saudis know that they thrive, as long as people think in a way that revere them on top.

***

WHO COMMANDS MAKE CIVILIZATIONS MORE OR LESS POTENT & CREATIVE:

That the free are more motivated was already pointed out by Herodotus (see the last essay). What makes the minds of civilizations? Sometimes the oligarchy fabricates thoroughly the minds of the Plebs. Such robots show little mental creativity, even when they are requested to have some.

Indeed, even where they are allowed to be mentally creative, they will tend to be afraid of crossing scarlet walls across the mental landscape. This explains why the Roman empire lost much of its mental creativity, once it became a dictatorship. Even in the arts of war: the adoption of new weaponry in the first seven centuries of the Roman military dictatorship was roughly zero, in sharp contrast with the Roman Republic’s constant introduction of new weapons (although Constantinople introduced a crucial new weapon, Grecian Fire, the Seventh Century equivalent of the nuclear bomb).

Sometimes the oligarchy is ejected by a new, larger oligarchy, or several variants, in quick succession: this happened in England in the 17C.  Sometimes the revolt is even larger, encompassing much of the middle class: that’s what happened in France in 1789. The American Revolution was still something else, as it was more of a civil war.

Who leads is who gives the minds to the commons. If only a few lead, little mind is to be had. The wider the leadership, the more mind for the commons. This explains why the French republic of 1792 was able to defeat the coalition of all European plutocracies that tried to crush her, including Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia. French research in new high explosives and superior artillery was crucial in defeating the invading Prussian army at Valmy in September 1792 (same story as Captain napoleon’s artillery defeated the British at Toulon, a few weeks later).

***

WHY EUROPE TOLERATES AUSTERITY:

The lack of vision in Europe is, colossal. And not just from the leaders, but also from the Plebs. But how come is austerity still proceeding apace? Why, as jobs are dying, not enough people are screaming for work? Is it just because the more people are out of work, the more stabilizers of the welfare state are at work?

The control of the EU by right wingers is still a fact, except, in appearance, for the French Socialists (but most elected socialists are right wingers in disguise). Many European leaders are tied to Wall Street.

This explains why Mario Draghi, ex-partner at Goldman Sachs, is still practicing the strong Euro policy (that takes away millions of European jobs; the Euro ought to be half the value it’s at, right now). That favors his masters on the other side of the ocean.

All these facts are known, but why no truly massive demonstrations? In May 1968, just because the state was too authoritarian, all of France went on strike, for a month (something similar happened in Czechoslovakia, and, in the USA, and LBJ declined to be candidate to the presidency again).

OK, people are older now, their anger hormones less in control.

Yet another fact is at work.  Europe made a giant effort, 25 years ago. Europe had two visions: the free market, “libre concurrence”, and ecology. Both visions have failed. The free market, it turns out mostly meant that banks were free to exploit the consumers and the states, and that plutocrats could live, tax-free, more powerful every year.

Many of those on the deep left said:”we told you so!” But even them have run out of critical steam. Indeed, they wanted to help the Third World, desperately. Now the Third World is helping itself with second, third, and actually, all servings. So what are European progressives going to say? Take jobs away from the Vietnamese, give them back to the French, who are paid twenty times more? Do they want to exploit the Third World, like the colonialists they used to criticize?

Sustainable energy is an even more painful subject, a wreck of European hopes and struggles. Ecological virtue has made European disadvantage even worse. Huge investments and efforts were engaged, great hopes raised, to curb the rise of the CO2. The rest of the world, led by the USA, refused to collaborate.
Thus, that vision has been a disaster. First, industrial production was delocalized in places that did not mind using the cheapest energy. Hence the global CO2 production was in no way impacted.

Secondly, European sanctions against energy production hobbled European industrial production and enabled those others, led by the USA, to get immense economic advantages, while the seas and temperatures rose, and Europe economic advantage sank.

British electricity prices have tripled in less than ten years. Even Germany, right now, having decided to get out of old fashion nuclear energy is finding the going tough, increasingly intolerably expensive. The French have wrecked their car industry by imposing tough CO2 standards.

Overall, because of Euro (and pound!) over-evaluation, the European economy has become uncompetitive (in spite of the German ‘success’, which is more appearance than reality).

Result? Now the Europeans are scared of any new vision, embarking in the many new ventures that really getting out of austerity would entail, lest something even worse comes about. They  suffer from a subconscious feeling that they did something uncomprehendingly, immensely bad, by showing too much initiative. Hence a dreadful determination to not go grandiose again. And thus the willing, collective wearing of the hair shirts.

This is why there is no explosion yet. And why the bought off right-wingers, the Barrosos, Rehn, Junkers,  German central bank head, and other austerians, keep on talking loud and strong. All the more as they have to disguise how wrong they were. And what better disguise for error than to keep on insisting that they were right?

And what of the USA? The sequester may bring a disaster: it’s pretty similar to what happened in Europe in the last few years.

When Roosevelt became president, he advocated to have no fear. Indeed one can hardly expand an economy when everybody is hiding below a rock.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Patrice Ayme

Fragile Earth Syndrome

February 19, 2013

Abstract: The Earth is already all too close from being getting all too hot, from its astronomical position at the interior edge of the Sun’s Habitable Zone.

The Greeks viewed Gaia, the Earth, as the Mother Goddess from whom all other gods sprang. Yet, discoveries they made later showed that this metaphysics was misleading. In truth, habitable planets, far from being all powerful, are confined to narrow zones around their stars (and these zones move, and are under continual threat, as I describe below):

Sun Like Stars Are Most Hospitable.


Vertically the masses, going up, the unit being the mass of the sun; as stars gets bigger, they get hotter, thus they change color, covering the entire black-body spectrum, from brown dwarves to blinding ultra violet hot “Blue Stragglers”.

Horizontally, the distance from the star; the graph gives only a rough idea of the notion of Habitable Zone; in truth the whole point of this essay is that Earth is at the edge of Sol’s Habitable Zone, within 1% of boiling; Habitable Zones narrow as the stars get smaller, and get much larger, far out, around bigger stars.

The life of Earth on the edge has got more dicey in the last 400 million years. Thus the risk of hyper warming is greater than in the Carboniferous Era. By pumping into the atmosphere the equivalent of 100 million tons of CO2, every single day, we are, literally, playing with fire. (A first counter-measure would be to outlaw, through regulations, those gases that warm up the air a lot, and are not indispensable; for example leaks in the pipelines of the USA allow 4% of the CH4 to escape!)
***

The two close calls by large space rocks were a reminder that this is a serious, not particularly friendly universe. Something to meditate carefully.

Those who play apprentice sorcerers with the climate and planetary ecology should pay attention.

For reasons having to do with the periodic table, the frequency of elements and the chemical characteristics of carbon, namely its ability to form many liaisons, it seems likely that life in the universe will have to resemble life on Earth. That is being water, carbon and oxygen based. (Believing that life does not have to be carbon-centric may sound cute, but it’s unreal.)

Thus the habitable zone is the zone around a star where it is neither to hot, nor too cold, and a planet can support water.

Not all stars can have an habitable zone: the greater the mass of a star, the more fiercely it burns. A star with five times the mass of the sun will typically have 625 times the luminosity of the sun.

Why? In small stars, the part of the core hot and dense enough to sustain thermonuclear fusion is relatively small. In large stars, it becomes enormous, and embraces much more of the thermonuclear fuel tank.

For Stars, Mass Is Everything.

For Stars, Mass Is Everything.

Thus, the larger the mass, the shorter the lifespan of the entire system orbiting the star. A star with 60 solar masses will shine only 3 million years before running out of hydrogen. At that point it will run hotter and hotter as it burns heavier elements until it explodes as a super nova. A star of five solar masses will live longer, but still only 100 million years or so. Long enough to make it a tourist destination, not long enough to evolve life (all the more as the habitable zone will migrate out fast, as the stellar furnace gets hotter, fast).

Even a star with only 50% larger mass than the Sun will live only three billion years. On Earth, after that duration, the first oxygen making organisms were appearing, and the atmosphere was going to change completely, from reducing to oxidizing. That would bring the “Snowball Earth” episodes, 600 million years ago, or so, when most of the planet froze, before enough CO2 could be generated to reach the appropriate greenhouse effect.

Clearly, for evolving advanced life, more than a billion years is needed. Thus planets with indigenous life will be restricted to red and yellow dwarves (the sun is one of the latter, with an estimated lifespan of ten billion years before turning ephemerally into a red giant).

The 2012 sci-fi (silly) movie “Battleship” has it right on that point: most of the habitability is found cuddling next to red dwarf stars, so that aliens would be blinded by our sunlight is likely. This also means that life out there has a good probability to have evolved in what, for us, would be rather dim circumstances. Indeed most stars are red dwarves and those are the longest living stars, easily going on for 15 billion years (they use their thermonuclear fuel conservatively).

Some red dwarves could have evolved life, in our Milky Way galaxy, when our sun, a mighty yellow dwarf, did not exist yet. Such stars, with their habitable planets, could still be around.

Being in the habitable zone is necessary for life, but it’s not sufficient.

For example, any planet orbiting too close to its star will lock its orbital rotation and its diurnal rotation (as the Moon has with the Earth). Thus the planet will have one side too hot for life, and the other too cold.

That means that when red dwarves become too small, their habitable zones, get too close, and would-be habitable planet lock down. (Venus, although 100 million kilometers from the Sun is nearly locked: it rotate on itself slower than it does around the Sun.)

The Earth is totally exceptional. She is endowed with a huge satellite that stabilizes her inclination on the orbital plane (Mars’ inclination on the elliptic varies wildly, causing wildly fluctuating super-seasons). This resulting, constant and mild inclination allows the poles to not get too cold, and the tropics, not too warm: it spreads the goodness of sunlight around.

Earth is also a mighty nuclear reactor, providing with the shield of a powerful magnetosphere (Venus does not have any, so its upper atmosphere is scorched by the solar wind), and plate tectonic (allowing for a complex recycling mechanism involving CO2 and long term climate stability).

The present, sort of official, habitability zone theory is 20 years old. It showed that Earth was within 5% of receiving too much warmth from her star. What has been found by the latest study is even more disturbing: Earth is within 1%, 1.5 million kilometers of inhabitability (5 times the Earth-Moon distance).

Earth is, astronomically, at risk of getting too hot, and of suffering a run-away greenhouse, as Venus did.

Long ago, Venus may have been in the habitable zone. However, general main sequence star theory, and observation, show that the Sun has warmed up. Its power output has increased by at least 25% since it got started. So the habitable zone in the Solar System has been slowly moving outward.

Why did the Earth cool over the last 100 million years, if the sun is slowly warming up? It probably has to do with non linear effects related to the geometry of the continents: the continents migrated north, and shallow tropical seas disappeared. The migration of land towards the north augmented the albedo of the Earth (as land stays frozen in summer more easily than sea, ice and snow keep reflecting more sunlight back to space, even then; that’s the core of the two centuries old glaciation theory).

So, as Earth should have warmed up, by a miracle, a sun shade, the glaciated North, was put in place, just in time!

Not all the coolness is due to ice and snow. Earth, before very recent human interference, had long been endowed with a cool climate. It seems that clouds make the difference (the effects clouds bring are too complex to be taken into account in computer programs of habitability at this point).
It’s a double edged sword. Water vapor may bring more clouds, but it is also a mighty greenhouse gas.

Still the point remains that all the objective data show that, our planet is not far, astronomically speaking, from a runaway greenhouse. By keeping on pumping a witches’ brew of greenhouse warming gases in the atmosphere, we are, literally playing with fire. Every day we add nearly 100 million tons, in CO2 alone, in our apparent urge to mimic Venus.

Pumping 450 million years of carbon into the air all of a sudden is not smart: Earth has had plate tectonics from the start, so much of this carbon was sequestered. Now we are freeing huge quantities of it… and in a geological, and biological, snap.

All other things being equal, the Earth is closer to inhabitability through warming than it was 400 million years ago (when the CO2 was very high). Having the same CO2 in the air as in the Carboniferous Era would result in a warmer planet.
To make things worse, there are no plausible technological fixes to too much CO2 in the atmosphere (with existing science and technology; and contrarily to disinformation from the fossil carbon burning fanatics).

In between the high- and low-mass stars lie stars similar to our own Sun. They make up about 15% percent of the stars in the galaxy. Such stars have reasonably-broad Habitable Zones, do not suffer from hard UV irradiation, have lifetimes of the order of 10 billion years. They are the best candidates for harboring planets with indigenous life.

Intriguingly, the three stars of the Alpha Centauri system may harbor life. The system is made of two main yellow dwarves, one slightly bigger, one slightly smaller than the sun. They come as close to each other as Saturn is from the Sun (not close enough to affect each other Habitable Zones directly).

A planet was just detected, grazing the .9 solar mass Alpha Centauri B. (We have the means to find out if the system supports life, but NASA and the Congress of the USA, shut down the projects, in an apparent fit of obscurantist anti-science rage; one of them called the Terrestrial Planet Finder; Alpha Centauri would be reachable with nuclear propulsion.)

The stability of orbits (hence of the Habitable Zones) in the Alpha Centauri system has been debated. Many a stellar system has been found where giant planets have progressively swept the entire system. And we are always one giant comet away from extinction. That could happen in 6 months. And we don’t know, because we are apparently not interested to find out. (Although the mightiest nuke could solve that problem, that would require some preparations.)

Life exists in the cosmos, everywhere, but it’s fragile. Everywhere. Including on so far invincible fortress Earth. Invincible, but still so fragile.

3,000 years after the Greeks elaborated their mythology, we find out that, contrarily to what they guessed, Earth is far from the mother of all what is divine. There are greater powers out there… The worst of them being, potentially, ourselves.

As a star goes up the main sequence, its Habitability Zone moves out. So we should be careful to think we can reconstitute the conditions of the Carboniferous Era, by pumping as much CO2 in the air as there was then, and prosper.

Everything indicates that we will punch straight trough.
***
Patrice Ayme

RADICAL BANKING FIX

April 9, 2012

BANKS ARE PUBLIC, MAKE THEM TRANSPARENT!

Why Are Banks Dealt With As If They Were Private? When They Are Not?

An Obvious Corruption Of The Constitution?

***

Abstract: I track the genesis of Fractional Reserve Banking, all the way down to imperial Rome (a full 14 centuries before Wikipedia has it, nota bene). Rome developed a serious money problem, a Fractional Reserve System, properly done, would have solved it. Instead Rome invented other useful institutions: central planing, feudalism, and a notional currency (a few centuries later the Song dynasty used another notional currency, paper money; Rome could afford the luxury of diluting more precious metals in copper coins).

A slight problem that our contemporary plutocrats have succeeded to hide, is that the power and advantage of Fractional Reserve Banking lays in the fact that it is state controlled. The state can change the money supply, as needed. Up or down. What the Roman Principate could not do. Rome had run out of money, unlike the Fed, or now, the ECB.

In this enormous power, notional currency, that is, fractional reserve, great opportunity, but also the risk of enormous corruption. China, which did not have enough silver and gold, used copper and paper currency. That led, after centuries, to a terrible inflation that destroyed the value of money (contributing to the fall of the Yuan dynasty). China soon became dependent upon Spanish provided South American silver.  

Thus it is no wonder that Big Banking has turned into organized crime, thanks to Fractional Reserve banking. Corrupting the state through money fabrication gifted to friends, is a not a new crime, as cybercrime is. But its extent is new (by the way, early American presidents feared this, and took strong measures against it; president Jackson, not a shrinking violet, called it its “proudest achievement“, on his deathbed).

Nor is that crime unlawful as two of my smart interlocutors have pointed out. When a plutocratically minded Principate rises, it is careful to change the laws to suit its evil ends. A principate we have. Each time American media celebrates the “first lady” and “first family”, they celebrate the first man in Rome, the Princeps (as one says in Latin). Then Obama sends the first daughter to Mexico with a private army. At this point he implicitly tells the banksters: “I am one of yours! We are first! We own the world! welcome me in your arms! I need money!” It may not be conscious, but it is deliberate, at the subconscious level. Otherwise, why the outrage, when Angela Merkel herself flies not just in a common airline, but a low cost one?

However, differently from old Rome, and West County Men friendly England, France and the USA have WRITTEN constitutions. The first words in those Constitutions are the most important. There are six. Three in the USA, three in France. Those are clearly violated. (Could Obama understand that?)

The politicians, who have been in cahoots with the financiers, have been unwilling to turn against their accomplices (politicians get instantaneously punished, at least in financing: Obama, having raised his voice a bit against the financial conspiracy is running at 25% of the funding he got at the same point in 2008, when the banks thought he was in their pocket).

So, what to do? Very simple, having exposed the problem, one can actually roll out a solution. Democracy has to be transparent. Taxes are transparent, at least to the state. There is a reason to hide taxes from the public eye: income is a private matter, and so is spending… As long as they involve only private money.

However, if they involve credit, it is another matter entirely. Credit is the extension to private entities of public money. I will indeed argue that credit, when it involves banks enjoying the Fractional Reserve System, is actually PEOPLE money.

To keep CREDIT FROM THE PEOPLE clean and ethical, make that spending of PEOPLE money, public and transparent.

If not, it’s civilization itself, that will keep on going down the drain.

***

BANKING AND INTEREST:

They are different notions. The Islamist civilization evolved a very complex financial system, with most of the characteristics of Western banking… But without charging interest.

What’s a bank? Originally, it was an organization B that pooled otherwise unused capital, and then gave said capital to some other entity C that could make use of it. The capital was lent, and that means, that it was reimbursed slowly, according to the creditor C’s capability.

One may wonder why bank B would lend money.

For doing so, interest was invented. However, after a few generations of free interest rates, the Roman republic observed that interest made the rich richer. Interest was restricted to 10%, then 5%, and finally outlawed interest in 342 BCE (that’s not long after the writing of the Bible’s Old Testament, although at the time Rome knew nothing of the Jews). By contrast, the European Union has allowed recently money changers charge states of the Union interest over 30%.

Otherwise said, today’s Europeans are like the Romans of 26 centuries ago, before the Roman revolution, rather than as enlightened as those of 23 centuries ago… 

Abrahamist faith declared that banks would lend to co-religionists out of the goodness of their heart. Lending money to heathens and miscreants could be done against interest, a supplementary payment or tax, well in line with scripture.

Scripture mercifully envisioned the survival of miscreants, as long as they paid interest. Thus banks, complete with lending against interest, could exist. They were obviously private enterprises.

So far, so good. Then something happened that even the perverse writers of the Bible and Qur’an had not anticipated, even though, their delirium, they generally get all the angles covered.  

The Fractional Reserve System was created. The preceding link, to Wikipedia, does not go in the mathematical details. I have already explained in Fractional Reserve Gouging, and many other essays, that Fractional Reserve Banking (FRB) is intrinsically unjust, and an engine for constructing neo-feudalism.

***

The FULL HISTORY OF FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING STARTS WITH ROME:

American Wikipedia, as a faithful servant of New York finance, starts the history of Fractional Reserve Banking, FRB, with the Dutch: New York started as New Amsterdam, and the Netherlands, having been created by… France (to a great extent), then conquered England (!), inventing the highly leverage finance tied into the state that we observe now in the USA.

Immediately after inventing astronomical leverage, the hyperactive Netherlands turned against its creator, mightily arrogant France, the greatest land power… That is why highly leveraged finance had been invented, to start with: to give the Dutch armies power much beyond the tiny size of the Netherlands. That financial power went into an enormous Navy, soon duplicated in England, and the Bank Of England was created to finance it!

In truth it did not dawn on Wikipedia that FBR was a solution to a problem that was in full evidence in imperial Rome. Naturally enough, the solution was found in the Italian republics, a millennium after Rome only partly solved its financial quandary.   

To fully understand FRB, one has to go back to the Third Century of imperial Rome, the Third century of the Principate, which started with the Libyan Septimus Severus, imperator of the Illyricum armies (“Balkans”),  sending back the Praetorian Guard to its barracks, and becoming Princeps in its stead.

So it started well, but it ended with catastrophe: constant coups, “barrack emperors”, a massive plague killing much of the population… And a collapse of the financial system. There was basically not enough currency for the empire’s growing economy.

That was caused by a lack of precious metals. Rome used a three tiered system; copper, silver, gold (China had mostly only copper, making the currency impossible). Rome ran out of silver and gold. Five centuries later, the Franks got the precious metals, lots of silver, in newly conquered Eastern Europe, to feed their free market.

The Roman government reacted in two ways:

1) by creating a notional currency with a fictional relationship to the gold currency they kept on using (the latter was to stay in use in the Imperium Francorum/Romanum through the Middle Ages until 1,000 CE).

2) by setting up a government regulated barter system. That was a further step in the instauration of feudalism. By the way, such a system is basically in force between the West and the feudal lords of the Middle East, as many an enraged Muslim fundamentalist will tell you, while foaming at the mouth).

While doing this, the organization of the empire switched from the Principate to the Dominate (although I give references to Wikipedia, that does not mean I agree with all what’s there; it’s just a rough, and raw idea of the referred notion. In particular that article evoked that the “Western empire formally collapsed in 476 CE” is simply, and formally, false).

The switch to the Dominate corresponded, to some extend to the switch towards a command and control economy (paradoxically, there is no contradiction between the growth of command and control and the growth of plutocracy; plutocracy crowded out the free market, as did the dwindling technological options, due to the faltering of timely technological progress).

After 1,000 CE, as Western Europe, propelled by beans and other scientifico-technological advances, became richer than the Roman world had ever been, more determined efforts were made to reconstitute the Roman republic. The Franks had protected the reconstituted republics, such as Venice (after all the Imperium Francorum was supposed to be a republic, with elected heads of states). So:

3) Banking appeared fully, in an addition to the Roman system (1) money backed by the armed force of the government and 2) mandated state enterprises, above). The Italian republic created government bonds (to pay the armies), and Fractional Reserve Banking.

***

FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING AROSE WHEN…

Paper notes representing the precious minerals in the vaults of banks, were themselves traded. It was soon realized that this was identical to the main Roman monetary system of notional currency, and, that, just as in Rome more of these notes could be traded than the precious minerals they represented.  

So, instead of using fake precious coins as Rome did, the Middle Ages switched to promissory notes, paper money, and the like. Before soon, the governments, whose armies protected the bank vaults, came to use those notes as currency.

***

MAKING FRACTIONAL RESERVE BANKING CONSTITUTIONAL:

From the preceding, it is hopefully clear that banks, even private banks are actually STATE enterprises. All they have that is private is who manage and exploit them. But they are on a mandate from the state to create credit, that is, money.

Some will scream as they read this, and tell me that I understand nought. Yet, I do, and they don’t. There is total lack of understanding, true, but it’s on their part.  The only way to have really private banks is with no leverage, whatsover, and no back-up from the state. I would say that, when a big bank uses 97% leverage, it’s at least 97% people owned. (It’s more than 97% because of the back-up of the bank from the state.)

In 2008, the “Fed” would lend 50 billion dollar to Lehman Brothers in the morning. Every morning. The three top guys at Lehman walked away with 5 billion dollars between them, or so. The money was never recovered, nor do the fat cats want us to think of it this way. Your money is their money, end of the story.

Thus I believe that, as banks are actually public enterprises, they ought to be people controlled, instead of being milked by a few individuals who golf with the political chiefs. Instead of having bankers buy politicians, we should have the people, checking them both, under scrupulous laws.

How to do this? Make all and any bank transaction public, and pass laws to insure that any extension of credit from any bank is economically justified. Moreover use the Internet to publish the whole thing, so that everybody can have a look, check, and report to the government, if they spot any deviation between the official reasoning to support some investment, and the reality of what is going on.

***

BECAUSE BANKS ARE PEOPLE OWNED, THEY SHOULD BE PEOPLE CONTROLLED. That does not mean they should people managed. Air Traffic control, or the Army are people controlled, but they are not people managed (that was the point that eluded Plato and Socrates!)

The preamble of the Constitution of the USA is very clear. It starts with three words:

“We The PEOPLE”

(yes, in capital letters). It does not start with: we the politicians, we the bankers, we the plutocrats, we the conspirators of the United States of America, we the republicans, we the fat cats of America, we the free marketers (not to be confused with the three musketeers).

The French Constitution starts with “LIBERTY EQUALITY FRATERNITY”, not “Slavery Inequality Inequity”. Actually the Article Two of the French Constitution says the French government is “par le Peuple, pour le Peuple“. It is not a government by the bankers, for the bankers.

The bankers reply that they are somehow uniquely qualified, but their only apparent qualification is the greatest misallocation of capital, ever. And the fact they stayed out of jail or the scaffolds, while doing so, is also unique in history.

All other constitutions are a mix of the French or American ones, that is why fixing France and the USA is key. (Britannia does not know how to write, apparently, so it is hard to know what it is about, and that is why nations around the globe have inspired themselves from the French and American idea, from 1789, to sit down, and write a constitution).

***

NO DEMOCRACY, SAYS WALL STREET:

After I wrote a shorter version of the preceding paragraph in the Wall Street Journal’s comments, in an article which exposed president Obama’s love for a fat cat, Mr. Wolf, the head of UBS. Somebody working in the finance industry, John Crocker, replied scathingly that we you do not understand anything … certainly not banking. If you’d like to think you do … well, what color is the sky in the universe where you live? Banks should be “people controlled”? …  we do not live in a “Democracy” .. we live in a representative republic. And also one that happens to be based on free market principles… In many ways, the US Government is now more of a “criminal enterprise” than any bank has ever been. Only because the government itself decides what is “legal” or not, they will never be arrested. Yeah … bankers cultivate and form relationships with federal politicians … Why? They have to.”

I think the response is pretty telling. Fat cats on Wall Street see, in the preamble of the constitution of the USA: “We The Free market of America Have A Republic Where We Are Represented” Old Geezer Pilot on this site concurred:

It is not organized crime.

It is not even disorganized crime.

Because during the past 30 years, those banking operations and financial transactions have been made PERFECTLY LEGAL by our Congress. The best politicians money can buy.”

***

IGNORE THE CONSTITUTION, GET CIVIL WAR & NAZISM:

From above, one can see that Congress has strayed from the Constitution. The Constitution is about a “PEOPLE” regime. Unfortunately, when the Constitution of the USA was written, it was not thought to create a Constitutional Court. France has one, so now does Germany. Both courts have come out with interesting decisions the Supreme Court of the USA (SCOTUS) could never have come up with. SCOTUS has traditionally adopted a small role of pseudo Constitutional Court, but was unable to stop the multi-generational march to the American Civil War. That war was absolutely devastating. Scholars have revisited the number of dead. Upwards.

In New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll, the New York Times

For 110 years, the numbers stood as gospel: 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.

But new research shows that the numbers were far too low. By combing through newly digitized census data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000.

The new figure is already winning acceptance from scholars… A pre-eminent authority on the era, Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history. It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”

Well, it ought to have been a devastating lesson. What was the lesson? That, when one let festers an unconstitutional situation, an infection of civilization by infamy, gangrene sets in.  

However, the leaders of the USA, did not learn their lesson. When American plutocrats ran away with Hitler, Stalin and company, even president Franklin D. Roosevelt did not pay attention to the problem that “We The PEOPLE” was threatened with.

FDR may have talked loudly against Hitler, but he let American banks finance him, Wall Street organize its largest companies. And when it came to stopping Hitler, FDR never stopped encouraging the few fascist French collaborating with Hitler. (As the southern front was opened from Africa, and turned into a disaster for Hitler by Spring 1942, this was of great military import, as Churchill kept on pointing out.)

Companies such as IBM or Ford were allowed to collaborate with the Nazis throughout the war. That means they did not just kill European Jews, French, and the like, but also American GIs, and bomber crews. IBM had the monopoly of computing all over the Reich. That meant that the backbone of any serious organization in Hitlerland, from trains to directing fighters towards Allied aircraft, was Made In America.

What we are confronting now is exactly the same syndrome: banking is grossly violating the spirit of the Constitution, and the political leadership is out there, golfing with the miscreants.

Banking needs to be completely changed. Banking needs to made democratic. It was done with the military, it can be done for the money changers.

Better a look within the machine that fabricates money, rather than letting the crooks have it. Better a look than a crook.

***

NOT ONLY WILD BANKING DEVOURS DEMOCRACY, BUT CIVILIZATION ITSELF:

Yes, banking is devouring civilization. The capability of finding Earth like planets exists. Now. It is just a matter of placing in space a football sized telescope, and making a spectral analysis of small planets. Seeing a lot of methane would be an indicator of life. Seeing oxygen would prove photosynthesis is going on.

NASA and ESA had two such space telescopes, ready to go. NASA had its Terrestrial Planet Finder. Europe had its Darwin telescope. But the money was cut off. Why? Bankers. Not only they steal us, and they make us stupid, but they are making us blind. And they want us NOT to think of the grander poetry of another Earth. If we are too elevated, we may find them too base.

One has also to understand we have only one chance at advanced civilization. This is it. The technological tricks we have been using have depended on accessible oil, gas, and coal, for energy, and accessible metals, thanks to all that accessible energy.

When Rome could not access metals anymore, because they were too deep, and Rome did not have enough energy to get to them, it was a disaster. Roman armies could not build the weapons they needed, from lack of metals. Ultimately, around 660 CE, the Roman emperor decided to strip the metal from all the roofs of Rome, to get the metal needed to fight the Muslims. He went to Rome to oversee the operation.

Our situation would be worse: Rome depended on burning wood. we came to depend upon burning fossils. If the fossils are too deep, or hard to get to, or have been exhausted, we cannot wait for them to regrow. Forests can regrow, not fossils.

We have to use that opportunity we have now, to access higher magic (advanced forms of solar and nuclear energy, including fusion; maybe unanticipated forms such as vacuum energy, plus designing materials atom by atom).

If we do not, the world economy will hit dwindling resources. That could be as early as 2016.

The solution that will then impose itself will be war, and unimaginable forms of exploitation. Think Genghis Khan, with the caveat that Genghis was acting out of a mix of indignation, vengeance, opportunity, and the necessity to keep the 200,000 men Mongol army on a mission. Genghis Khan was not acting out of despair, because he was a cornered rat. Still, he caused terrible wars.

Now we have states, such as Israel, that reason like cornered rats, and fidget with their nuclear weapons, while mumbling about annihilation. Not a good symptom (as Gunter Grass rudely remarked).

In a way, we are threatened to all turn into cornered rats. If we let the bankers eat all the cheese, we sure will.

***

Patrice Ayme

Foolish Parrots, Exploding Gas.

March 30, 2012

Abstract: Stupidity may be irresistible, but if avoidable, it it is always immoral.

 Are middle class supporters of Obaromcare so naïve, that they betray their own class? Or are they just from the Middle Ages?

 Are CO2 deniers traitors to their fatherland? What is sure is that gas exploitation at the most extreme depth gives an opportunity to the French oil giant Total, after a few quakes, to explode the North Sea. Playing with Pluto, the god of the underground, can be enlightening.

***

FEUDALCARE?

 The Supreme Court Of the U.S. (SCOTUS) asked quite a few question about the ill fated Obaromcare, the Trojan Horse of the health care plutocracy, the pseudo-naïve attempt, by Obama, to implement the Heritage Foundation’s  prescription for the rich to take care of the poor (that was previously installed by Romney, in the state that he governed).

 Basically we have president Obama in the Supreme Court desperately defending Romney’s health care system. Pseudo leftists do not seem to have noticed the irony. Why not vote for Romney directly? Is not Obama himself, saying that Romney knows best?

 The Supreme Court forgot to ask the main question: why do you want to bring back feudalism? Or maybe SCOTUS was careful to forget asking the obvious. The right wingers want money for their lords, so they could not ask. The left wingers want their direct suzerain, Obama of Hawai’i, and other “liberal” lords to be pleased with them, so they did not ask either. They all want feudalism to come back.

 When private people are forced into contract with private entities, that’s called Feudalism. Indeed.

 Why did the French revolution happen? Why was the inventor of chemistry, the gentleman who discovered and named oxygen decapitated? Because he was a Fermier General. Fermiers Generaux were private individuals in charge of taxation. They brought in taxes, paid themselves (handsomely) in passing, and gave the proceeds to the government. They became very wealthy. (Lavoisier used his wealth to found his expensive lab, a sort of private CERN of the 18th century.)

 In the case of Obaromcare, a health tax is raised, and then given directly to private individuals or organizations. So it’s not really a tax, and they don’t call it a tax. It’s not a tax, because taxes are public things. It’s more like a tribute. It goes from the people to the Fermiers Generaux, and stay there.

 In Europe, there are health care taxes. In France those health care taxes go directly to Assurance Maladie, the French Medicare For All, they don’t go to some of the richest people in the world. Taxes are fine: they come from the public, they go to the public.

 But Obaromcare taxes go directly to those American plutocrats Obaromcare was organized around.

 True, the Heritage Foundation wants the time of hyper wealthy lords to come back. Is that good enough a reason, oh people of the pseudo left?  

 Another point: some of the naive have said that, should the individual stop being forced to purchase private (health) insurance, the premiums would skyrocket. The health plutocrats, anxious to enjoy Obaromcare, ASAP, have threatened the populus with that notion, and caused great alarm to their parrots on the, pseudo-left.

 Do the right honorable totally naive people really believe that anything else, except a colossal rise of premiums would happen? Could they show me where in Obaromcare this is excluded?

 Visualize the naivety: if all pay the hyper rich, all will have health insurance, they say, and they contently bleat. Why? Do they really think those who don’t have insurance now can afford it, but prefer to do without it?

 Obama, the objective ally of the health care plutocracy was careful to NOT set-up a public health insurance system to compete with the private health care lords. If he had set-up a tax to force everybody to pay for Medicare, that would have been constitutional: a tax, from the public, to the public. Not a tribute, from the serfs, to their lords.

 Last, and not least: why are so many so called self declared “liberals” goose stepping behind the ultra right wing plutocratic Heritage Foundation?  Do they have only a spinal cord? Or is that a spinal choir?

 Obaromcare would have been constitutional in the Middle Ages. Now we have republics. Paying taxes to the wealthiest is unlawful, in a republic.

 One wishes Obama could have learned some correct history at Punahou. However, I learned from one of his classmates and closest friends that this prestigious private school (tuition more than eighteen thousand dollars), covered all of European history, from the Ancient Greeks to World War Two, in just a year. Obviously no time to explain the socio-economic organization of the European Middle Ages, when the hyper rich took care of the health of the poor.

 This may explain why Obama appears not to know that he re-invented feudalism.

***

 CO2 TERRORISM?

 OK, feudalism we know, nothing new, last time it lasted eight centuries or so. Just a question of time. If it pleases Americans or Saudis to prostrate themselves to great lords, so be it.

 However, the collapse of the biosphere that threatens everybody, is another matter entirely.

 There is grotesque propaganda by the oil plutocrats in the USA that stuffing the atmosphere and ocean exponentially with all sorts of greenhouse poisons does not matter. Most Americans are not inclined to disagree with their masters, so they approve with the drunken enthusiasm of those inclined to please the mighty.

 (Notice the analogy with the blind approval of the simple for Obaromcare, just decried. To please the master, the poodle barks enthusiastically. His force is their force, or so they feel, thus they bark.)

 A question the self described “climate skeptics” have is: how do you know for sure? All right, we are never sure of anything, so it’s a trick question. We all use faith, and that’s the truth. However the faith we use is more or less well founded.

 I am going to fly to Rome, I have faith that the plane is well taken care of, that the pilots are not crazy, and know whatever situation they may encounter.

 The naivety of CO2 deniers knows no bounds. Deliberate naivety is bad faith.

 And the proof of their bad faith? CO2 deniers have been told there was no proof that going from 280 ppm CO2 to 460 ppm of CO2 equivalent gases was certainly a problem. Just don’t eat fish: it’s full of mercury from coal burning. Right. We have the highest rate of CO2 equivalent in more than 30 million years, all of a sudden, and what? We worry?

 The truth about the threat of climate change? Various components of the American defense establishment have “climate change” departments, and have already warned “climate change” is a major security threat to the USA. CIA, Pentagon, name it, they talk not just about climate change, but about the coming wars it will bring. “Climate change” is obviously the greatest security threat.

 So I would dare to propose that CO2 deniers are actually traitors to the fatherland, not just dim witted parrots trained by their greedy plutocratic masters.

***

 WE EXPLODE, YOU BURN:

 Will Total explode (part of) the North Sea? Ten years ago, Total basked in its technological superiority. It succeeded to exploit a very deep and very hot reservoir of “natural gas”, that is methane, CH4, the famous greenhouse gas that burns spontaneously in swamps. The reservoir was below 5,300 meters (3.5 miles) of very complicated rock, at the bottom of the ocean.

 The gas was mixed with acidic CO2, Hydrogen Sulfide, H2S, and light petroleum. The temperature was hundreds of degrees Celsius, the pressure an unbelievable 1,100 bars (one thousand one hundred times atmospheric pressure). Trouble surfaced in recent years: as the gas was extracted, the field imploded slowly, under the enormous pressure of surrounding rock. Quakes struck on the margins of the field. Finally Total, a month ago, started to lose control of an adjoining, disused well.

 So now methane is escaping. The 200 workers abandoned the giant platform, worth 8 billion Euros (more than 10 billion dollars). Sea and air exclusion zones were put in place. So far a strong wind is blowing the heavy methane away. Did I say there was still a flame on top, far above the gas?

 Some people in Aberdeen, Scotland, more than 200 kilometers away, are worried of a fuel air explosion… At the limit, under condition ideal to Pluto, with no wind for a few days, one could imagine a nuclear bomb strength explosion…

 This comes after the Chevron leak off Brazil. There is plenty of fossil fuel. But it’s going to cost too much. First, in environmental damage. Go smell the gas.

***

Patrice Ayme


SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

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

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

Learning from Dogs

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

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

Defending Scientism

SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

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

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

Learning from Dogs

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

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

Defending Scientism

SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

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

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

Learning from Dogs

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

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

Defending Scientism