Links July 2018

July 12, 2018

The drought which persisted from May to June has ended. It is raining and I’m writing down a few thoughts which may be published on the blog. I’m aware that everything written down is questionable, nothing is absolute knowledge.

Can there be any absolute knowledge? Strong leaders, beaming of confidence, pretend to know the solution to every ill. But they are guessing like everyone else. They may succeed or fail, may be admired, pitied, or hated, may end up as billionaires or prison inmates.

I use several mental models to understand whats going on around me. One is evolution by natural selection. Which is of course evolution by random mutation and adaptability. And even that is not the whole story, Jay Gold and other dissident biologists suggested important amendments. Natural selection is of course multileveled, adaptation at one level of the hierarchy is influenced by selections at other levels (cooperation between individuals at the lower level impacts competition between groups at the higher level for example).

Viewing everything what is going on as various interacting nonlinear systems is another mental model. This is not simply causality with various causal chains going on in parallel, no, everything is connected with and influenced by everything. Forces (which can also be represented as vectors) are sometimes adding up but most times modulating each other with nonlinear amplification curves. Network theory, probability theory, chaos theory have become the tools to vaguely understand what is clearly impossible to grasp in its whole complexity with the mere 86 billion neuronal cells in our brain.

Which brings us to neurology, the third mental model which I use to make sense of my surrounding; I wrote about that already several times, here only a few cue words: Our senses are limited, (visible light for instance is just a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum). Our comprehension is limited (Quantum mechanics, Standard Model). Hebb’s axiom (cells that fire together wire together), brain plasticity, pattern recognition, brain waves synchronizing sub-networks, synapses as versatile OpAmps, astrocytes, excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, hippocampus memory formation, hypothalamus to pituitary gland, and a thousand more things which could be discussed and explained (or guessed).

If one has nothing else to do.

Ruminating about the limitations of our mind is a humbling experience. Life is and will possibly forever remain a mystery, no matter what strife we take to advance our technological toys. Which is a comforting idea, because it leaves the possibility open, that nature (Mother Earth, Gaia), after having watched for ages patiently our foolish attempts and pursuits, will one day cleanup the mess and rectify everything with one powerful stroke.

Feline news:


Environmental news:

Persistent droughts in the US Southwest, India, all of the Middle East, and many other places around the world are a preview of what’s ahead in the decades to come. A shift to hotter, drier weather will change vegetation, reduce agricultural yields and food security, and cause conflicts and wars over diminished resources.

Global studies by the World Wildlife Fund suggest that a 3.2 percent rise in temperatures would put 78 percent of amphibians, 67 percent of mammals, 60 percent of plants, 55 percent of reptiles and 47 percent of birds at risk of extinction if they fail to find a new, cooler habitat.
https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060086059 About depleted aquifers in California and a looming global food crisis.
http://news.trust.org//item/20180705000101-gwp0x/ India’s water crisis.
https://metamag.org/2018/07/03/dams-and-dykes-narrowly-beat-farm-pollution-to-top-spot-on-list-of-threats-to-rivers-and-lakes/ This has been predicted since 30 years, and now, as environmental data clearly and undeniably confirm the predictions, hydropower dams are still built and hydropower is advertised as “clean energy.”
http://news.trust.org/item/20180614150010-558s9/ Intensive farming doesn’t end hunger. Nothing new, except that finally even Reuters reports about it.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weeds-are-winning-in-the-war-against-herbicide-resistance/ If the weeds win indeed, maybe people will stop spraying poison onto fields, orchards, and gardens. Fingers crossed.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/20/the-public-value-of-forests-as-carbon-reserves/ Plant more forests, and leave the existing ones alone.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/26/campaign-of-illusions-where-the-zero-cut-movement-to-save-the-national-forests-went-wrong/ The Zero Cut Movement needs to join Deep Green Resistance.

Economic news:

https://wolfstreet.com/2018/06/02/visa-goes-down-in-the-uk-chaos-ensues-cash-is-suddenly-king/ Cash is still king.
https://www.aol.com/article/finance/2018/06/17/wall-street-experts-are-crying-foul-on-an-overlooked-yet-dangerous-signal-that-a-market-meltdown-is-near/23460930/ Record levels of debt everywhere.
http://www.atimes.com/article/chinese-official-warns-of-financial-war-with-us/?utm This could end globalization and the global financial system.

Media and technology news:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/27/cens-j27.html The fifth estate.
https://www.localfutures.org/how-smartphones-are-heating-up-the-planet/ About the environmental impact of smartphones.

Imperial news:

https://godsandradicals.org/2018/06/14/is-the-revolution-your-religion/ This blogger deserves some publicity.
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-coming-collapse/ Another Chris Hedge tirade, one may be tempted to think. But go straight to the last two paragraphs and read them twice…
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/25/reti-j25.html Why should US-citizens be entitled to retire? The social contract is broken and everybody is on her/his own.

Imperial conquest news:

John Chuckman wrote another rant about the United States:

Just to start, there is America’s widespread use of mercenary terrorists, people who pose as independent jihadi-types, in its efforts to destroy a number of legitimate governments it doesn’t like. Outfits like al Nusrah and IS serve effectively as American allies, having received everything – weapons, transportation, intelligence, and money – through dark channels under US control.

This murky world has many dark aspects, including hellish outfits like the Western government-supported White Helmets. They are ceaselessly proclaimed to be humanitarian, but they are known in fact to be affiliated with terrorist groups in Syria, having been investigated closely by a number of independent journalists.

They were involved inciting illegal US missile attacks against Syria by staging faked chemical weapons incidents and producing disinformation videos for public consumption. Earlier, they may well have staged real incidents, too. We know with certainty that there was an elaborate American effort some years ago to supply small amounts of chemical weapons to some terrorist outfits in Syria from the murdered Gaddafi’s stocks. Hillary Clinton ran that scheme.

And there was good old Hollywood giving a “documentary” about this crummy organization an Oscar. Perhaps some technicians in Hollywood supplied the White Helmets with the equipment, know-how, and props they use in making disinformation videos?

We’ve even had photographic proof of White Helmets using make-up on children who would be filmed as poison-gas victims. Of course, it is the same Hollywood which each year puts on a huge gala dinner to raise money for Israel’s army. And Israel is known to be one of the main supporters of Syria’s destruction.

All of the ugly stuff in Europe labelled as “international terror,” such terrible activity as in Paris for example, is in fact direct “blowback” from the US-Israeli-Saudi efforts in the Middle East, which are well supported covertly by France and Britain, the countries where it is easiest to carry out reprisals.

We have America’s Neocon Wars burning through the Middle East with at least two million killings and countless refugees over the last decade and a half. We have Europe almost destabilized by armies of refugees, fleeing from bombing and US-supported mercenaries, with America itself not willing to lift a finger to help.

“Full-spectrum dominance” has become a stated national purpose of the United States, a goal the German Wehrmacht might well have embraced.

America now conducts aggression across a huge front in many lands, bombing daily, somewhere or other.

We have the stunning establishment of a permanent US industrial-scale machinery for extrajudicial killing, absolutely no different in its legality or morals to what the old much-hated junta in Argentina did by “disappearing” people it did not like.

But while this is stunning to someone of my age and sensibilities, we see no reaction of any degree against such an unholy institution from inside the United States. No reaction by political leaders. No reaction by the public. No reaction by the press.

This, in my view, might be the most-convincing measure of what a vastly changed-for-the-worst place America is. Call someone a “terrorist,” which, after all, is not so very different from calling someone a “witch,” and it is perfectly okay to murder them with no evidence or charges or rights.

Of course, the entire concept of this kind of “witchery” has been adopted from calmly watching Israel’s grisly operations in de-legitimizing an entire people from whom they have taken everything, right down to their dignity as human beings.

US (plus US-influenced European) reaction to Israel’s small army of snipers shooting down thousands of unarmed people in Gaza, killing and permanently crippling them through the use of illegal dum-dum bullets has been appalling. If you ever wondered how something like the Holocaust could happen, here is your number-one contemporary lesson about the poisonous nature of human psychology intermingling with politics and power.

Remember the President of the United States, Donald Trump, telling the CIA not long ago, that it should decide who is killed by drones and missiles? The CIA as judge, jury, and executioner? The concept simply leaves anyone with either a sense of justice or morality gasping. But was there any great protest? Organized mass killing by a security agency now quietly operates in the background almost like some air-conditioning equipment switched on.

We had the breathtaking establishment of a US International Torture Gulag with a number of dark sites used for victims who were simply kidnapped right off the streets in foreign countries and shipped off, each one of them legally guilty of nothing. All secretly subject to torture by the psychopaths of the CIA. And then, we have one of the reputedly bloodiest practitioners appointed as head of the CIA by Trump.

It is a changed America indeed.

We now have the established, systematic abuse of the rights and privacy of US citizens, with practices and technology which make the old East German Stasi look amateurish. While Trump and others go on over gun ownership, all of the truly vital parts of the Bill of Rights are being gutted with each passing day. The FBI enjoys close to unlimited powers to interfere and spy and incite and play dirty tricks. The CIA now openly interferes in domestic matters, its head actually having spoken out on political matters several times, all in complete violation of its own charter. Does anyone protest?

At home in the United States, a galaxy of massive NSA super-computer dark sites now work around-the-clock against the rights Americans thought they had. And here is an outfit whose very product, vast files of recordings of the most intimate communications, endangers ultimately every aspect of American life, certainly including elections.

The work of the NSA creates powerful opportunities for everything from blackmail to intimidation, and, in my observation over time, when something becomes a real possibility, it eventually emerges as a reality. That’s just the way power and human psychology work.

Today, we see America’s piece-by-piece work to bend to its will, or destroy, international organizations such as the United Nations. It feels entitled to withhold or end legal treaty obligations such as dues to various UN agencies. And we actually see open, public intimidation of members just before a vote. Has there ever been a more intimidating and disgraceful spectacle than Nikki Haley and Donald Trump warning people about the consequences of their votes? That’s some support for democratic rights. But where is the protest?

America has a United Nations ambassador with such retrogressive and outlandish views that she might happily have “worked for the Fuhrer,” as the Germans used to say, had she been born a century earlier and in Germany. And she boldly punctuates all of her excesses with crass public statements any decent person should be ashamed of.

Yes, indeed, it is a changed America, one infinitely worse than in the past cited, and it has very little to do with Russian President Putin, beyond the fact that he is a target for a great deal of the aggression and hatred we see coming from America. Why? Simply because he is seen as opposing much of the American aggression and unbalanced insistence on its own exceptionality. He is not a saint, but at any given time in world political affairs, one must carefully choose ones battles and one must choose allegiances which don’t threaten peace and cherished values.

We have a US power establishment, utterly corrupted by money and unchallenged power, now playing the 21st century-version of the Ancient Regime in 18th century France before the Revolution.


Uncategorized news:

Jal Souza from Brazil writes:
It is not necessary to be adept at Candomblé, Umbanda, Quimbanda, to be graced by the great kings and queens of the occult, the impalpable. Lord Time teaches, just open the mind to what is shown, to appropriate what is good, to distribute love, justly. The spiritual is not capitalist, it is not for sale, understood only by who knows gratitude and inner peace.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-44660051/the-103-year-old-pianist This is not exactly what one would call news, but it is heartwarming to watch.
https://medium.com/s/futurehuman/survival-of-the-richest-9ef6cddd0cc1 Must read!

News from cat land:

The huge elderberry bush has grown higher than most of the trees. But it is dwarfed by the monumental fir tree which is now 20 meters high. The heirloom apple trees which I planted five years ago have also reached a respectable high and for the first time are full of fruits. Two young peach trees and several apple trees bear fruits for the first time. There will be plums but not as many as I hoped. 

The three oldest grapevines together with aggressively growing blackberries cover a significant part of the garden and shield the bushes and herbs below from the blistering sun. Supported by trellis and a big pergola they constitute arcades through which one can wander while casually plucking fruits, weeding, or planting. I pruned the vines in winter, though not as much as a professional grower would do, and they apparently like it that way and feel fine.

It will be a record harvest of grapes, peaches, apples, berries, and herbs. Only strawberries and camomile are a bit less than last year. The strawberries are attacked by slugs and other pests, the camomile got too much water. It’s difficult because each species has different needs, some like it wet, others dry, some like acidic, others basic soil, some like all the sunshine they can get, others like to grow in the shadows.

Over the years, the plants and I will find out, which place in the garden suits them best.

All grain on the adjacent field north of the garden was ruined by the drought. The farmer came with a combine harvester and curved around a bit only to give it up after a few minutes. His wife came an hour later with a mower to cut the few plants which were still standing and after that she turned up which a hay baler, but she did not get many bales.

A few days later the farmer appeared with a vacuum tanker and poured two full loads of raw (not composted) sewage sludge onto the field. He also applied chemical fertilizer. Fortunately it rained immediately after that so we neighbors weren’t bothered for too long by the stink.

One week later seeds were planted with a tractor mounted seeding machine but they don’t grow well. There are big patches of mud where nothing grows anymore, no grain, no weeds, no shrubs. It will take years till the soil recovers from this treatment – if it ever recovers.

How can people be that stupid and insensitive and disconnected from the natural world? The farmer and his wife look like normal persons. How can he make a living if he destroys the soil, basis of his financial existence? How can he afford the machines? Some are maybe rented or leased, but he has to pay for that too. And he has to pay for the seeds, only a few organic farmers here still save seeds.

I would love to be able to tell that this is an extreme example but I have seen several fields in the area which look like the one which I described.

All cats of the family are fine and they enjoy the summer. The animal asylum, where I volunteer, is completely overcrowded. Nearly every day tiny kittens are brought in, they are sweat and most of them swiftly find a home. Finding a family for the older cats though is difficult. Nobody wants an older cat, which could have some ailments, which is maybe disturbed and traumatized after being cruelly, heartlessly abandoned.

This is a no-kill shelter, nobody of us would ever consider to euthanize a pet which is not adopted after a certain amount of time. As it comes, most of the volunteers are fostering cats. Some have ten and more, 18 is the record. I refuse still, because I’m already fully occupied with the resident cats. If I would take in another feline, the time spent with it would mean less time for my old trusting cat companions. They would not like that.

Maybe I spend a few hours more in the animal shelter, the inmates there appreciate it. It is a good feeling to know, that one is needed.