Sunday, 27 September 2015

Journalists I read

This is my regular reading list: I'll add more detail on why I like these guys when I get round to it, but take it from me, if you want to know how the world really works, read these guys.


Taki Theodoracopulos



His spectator column the high life is probably the best column you can read on a week by week basis. The man exudes crass intellectualism and refined vulgarity. He can also write.  He also runs The American Conservative, which has a rather reasonable take on what America's role should be on the world stage.


Gary Brecher: The War Nerd



Best geopolitical analysis on the Internet, and like Taki, he can write! He now has a patron podcast, radio war nerd



George Friedman



Second best geopolitical analysis on the net





Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bernie Sanders - No Empire at the expense of the people

I can see strong parallels between the American and Roman elites who benefit from an international system which favours their military and economic hegemony at the expense of the middle classes which got them their initial military victories.  

In the case of Rome, Empire lead to the decline of the economic livelihood of small tenant farmers of the Italian peninsular as the Roman republic transformed into the slave based economy of the Roman empire, following victories against the Carthaginians, Gauls and Greeks. In the case of the United States, military victories against the Germans, Japanese and Russians have lead to a financial system dominated by the U.S. dollar where neoliberal economic policies favour free trade, deregulation and labour outsourcing to the detriment of the American working and middle classes.

As both Bernie and Trump are pointing out, the outsourcing of manufacturing and services jobs to low cost countries like China and India provides a short term economic gain for fortune 500s but creates a long term structural weakness in the American domestic economy. This the the true price of military victory: the hollowing out of the victor nations middle and working classes, which lead to the eventual decline of both the Roman empire.

I haven't done a great deal of "stitching" on this one, but I want you to look at some excerpts around current US economic policy and compare it to the economic policy of the Roman empire, once it moved from a free hold peasant farmer based economy to a slave based economy.


Bernie Sanders on the Late show with Stephen Colbert
Sanders and his host had a lengthy discussion on problems facing the U.S., calling it a "moral outrage that the top one-tenth of 1% today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and that 58% of all new income is going to the top 1%." He explained that, while he wanted an entrepreneurial society, Sanders didn't believe there could be one while so much economic power was in the hands of the ultra-wealthy.

Bernie Sanders is presenting himself as the champion of the middle class who is not in the pocket of the wall street financial elite, like "establishment" candidates, America's Neo-aristocracy: Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush



To what extent were economic factors to blame for the deterioration of the Roman Empire in the Third Century A.D?


After the second Punic war many new economic transformations began. During this time, many of the best agricultural lands in Italy were devastated. Many wealthy opportunists had profited during the war and were no longer inclined to finance small farmers. There were new possibilities for business of a less insecure and therefore more tempting nature. Contact with Carthage had opened the eyes of many greedy Romans to the profitability of scientifically managed large-scale agriculture. This combined with a new abundance of cheap land and slaves initiated two new economic developments. Men with money started to buy these huge areas of land, formed large estates, and set about working them for profit with the new cheap and plentiful supply of slave labour. Connected to this was the increasing tendency of small cultivating owners to choose not to resume their interrupted occupation or to even be driven to abandon their holdings. The only hope of halting this economic development lay in the political sphere but power was steadily passing into the hands of the very men who profited from this new system.
The growing number of provincial taxes brought into being a large class of investors whose speculations tended to generate substantial returns. This ever-expanding and highly important class known as the Knights (equites) had little care for the rapidly disappearing peasantry. Initially their main activity was to squeeze concessions from the Senate thereby meaning that for a time popular leaders were able to engage their support against the ruling nobility. However, selfish interests gradually became the guiding force and they joined with the senatorial nobles to form a party of property. In light of this it is hardly surprising that efforts to restore free peasants to Italian land were a failure. The main area of commerce in the latter days of the Republic was the slave trade and therefore Roman financiers were deeply interested in this. Any attempts to reform the system were normally met with hostility. 
Empire and budget deficits go hand in hand

The system fell into such disarray that that by 284 A.D, the condition of the small tenant farmer had generally become one of semi-servile dependence. His legal freedom became very limited and his economic position increasingly depended on the preservation of a holding often blighted by encroachments. If he left his land he would probably starve but if he stayed then he effectively be a serf. Legal changes later on made it the case that to be a colonus was to be attached to a specific plot of ground with which he himself was transferable. This change, however rational it may have been under the circumstances really only confirmed what a mess Rome had made of its economy and all this did was to effectively consummate agricultural stagnation by law.

This very same economic conundrum is affecting the United States: there is the same misalignment between the interests of the financial-military industrial complex and the middle class that there was in the Roman Empire.

Here is an excerpt from a ZeroHedge article on the economic policy decisions the United States has made over the last half century:



The Unlikely Rise Of Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders


Although the economy successfully created a broad path to the middle class, it was inefficient. Persistent inflation became a serious issue. To address inflation, President Carter implemented a series of supply side measures designed to improve the efficiency of the economy. These included the deregulation of financial services and transportation. He also appointed Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve Chairman; he implemented a “hard money” monetary policy. President Reagan took Carter’s reforms and expanded them further, leading to additional deregulation and globalization.
The good news was that the policies brought inflation under control. The problem was the broad path to the middle class in the developed world was dramatically narrowed. To now survive in the labor force, workers needed to rapidly adapt to new technologies and methods and compete on a global scale. Those who could were greatly rewarded; those who could not were left behind.


This chart shows the share of total income captured by the top 10% of income earners and inflation as measured by CPI. As the data shows, when this share is above 42%, inflation tends to be non-existent. When the top 10% share is below 42%, the CPI average is 5.3%. Inequality isn’t necessarily the cause of low inflation, but deregulation and globalization, which are effective against inflation, tend to cause increasing income inequality.
This led to a conflict between domestic and foreign policy. Containing inflation was a key domestic goal, but widening income differentials weakened the average household’s ability to consume, which undermined the reserve currency role of the superpower. The way the U.S. resolved this conundrum was through debt.
Using debt to address the requirements of providing the reserve currency was never going to be a permanent solution to the problem of running a domestic economy and meeting the requirements of global hegemony. However, as long as credit was widely available, the political situation was manageable. The financial crisis of 2008 has made it clear that the debt option is no longer viable. And, to a great extent, the election of 2016 should be about answering these two questions:
  1. Should the U.S. continue to act as global hegemon, which includes providing the reserve currency?
  2. If the answer to 1. is yes, then how should the economy be restructured in order to fulfill the hegemon role in a sustainable fashion?






Saturday, 29 November 2014

Analytical engines will breath life into your online identity

I've wanted to write something about data for a long time, as I work in big data & data analytics for a living. My thinking has come together around real-time decisioning systems so I am going to throw an idea out and see if it gains traction.

We are reaching the point where something exciting is going to happen to the 'data profile' we all have online. It is about to start making decisions for itself. Your digital self is about to start buying, selling, booking and ordering for you.

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self image.
It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Imagine this: 
I get home from work, a pizza is delivered as I arrive, which is great as I've had a long day and I want to pig out on something unhealthy. The thing is I didn't order the pizza, neither did I receive a real-time personalised offer for a pizza. The system made an offer to my online digital self, and my digital self determined that yes I will take it. This in turn means now my digital self is generating its own behaviour by making decisions for me, making it as alive as my arm is.
Yes that's right - your online profile: all of the data you provide about yourself and all of the behaviour that is recorded in your photo's comments, blog posts etc. is about to start thinking for you.

I specialise in designing systems that build a '360 degree view' of customers and prospects for my clients. I take data from internal systems, external providers and peoples online social profile such as facebook to gain a deep understanding about who they are. Next I help my clients use this knowledge to improve their capabilities in Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Product development. 

There are a lot of interesting things happening in this space around the personalisation of products and marketing offers to a specific individual. What that means is I take the '360 view' of a person and tailor a set of products that are best suited to them, determine the marketing approach for reaching out to them and personalising the customer service they receive.

In the past I have always viewed a 360 degree view of a person as a lifeless collection of facts, a reflection of life but not living. My thinking is changing. Your online digital self is in a primitive state right now but it is emerging. It will become an organism coupled to your flesh and blood self. 


Here's my argument:

A number of services are now moving to data driven real time decisioning. As an example, I design systems that make a marketing offer specifically based around your profile: where you live, your taste in music, how much you earn, how old you are.... and determine the best offer to make you. But you still make the decision as to whether to accept that offer.

But if you think about it, as this technology improves, these real-time decisioning engines will be so advanced and have so much data that they will know what decision you will make. 

At the moment I use this technology to help my clients sell. The next step is to help consumers by designing a decisioning agent to buy goods and services for them. Currently your personal data is stored all over the web in different forms. A 360 degree view cloud based offering could consolidate all your information for you and allow different decisioning engines to access it based on your preferences for sharing your information.

You will train buyer agents using your private personal data to make the best decisions that can be made for you. The great thing about this approach is it makes your data profile work for you, empowering you as an individual. The more comprehensive your online profile is, the better the decisions your decisioning agent can make on your behalf. The personalised marketing agent will use the limited data you make available to it to present an offer to your personal buying agent, which will use your complete data profile to evaluate the offer.

Going back to the Pizza example above. I will set up by decisioning agent to buy me dinner when I'm heading home from work. By tracking my GPS location it will know when I have got on the bus to go home. It will also know what I've been eating during the week, what I like to eat on a week day, what's good for me to eat, what deals are going on and what my budget is. It will use all that information to make an educated guess as to what I want to eat. If I don't like it's decision I can retrain it or buy a better decisioning agent.


Empowering the Individual:

I believe that many of the concerns we all have about the amount of data corporations store about us stem from the lack of control we have over how the data is collected and how it is used. By allowing individuals to build their own single consolidated profile of themselves and maintain the level of access external parties have to the data, the current information asymmetries are corrected and the individual is empowered. 

The Individual will now have a clear understanding of how their data rich profile is used to add value to their own lives and not just to a corporation's bottom lines.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Franco-British Empire - Alternative History



What would have happened if the French and British had combined forces after world war II? It isn't as far fetched as it sounds.

I believe that a combined Franco-British empire with American financial support could have staved off decolonisation and communism whilst maintaining peace and stability in the middle east and, more importantly its colonies would now be independent healthy, wealthy, well-educated countries instead of the poverty, war and corruption ridden wastelands that has been left behind after the departure of empire.
The sun never seats on the Franco-British Empire


A Franco-Anglican union was first proposed during World War II, to try and keep the French fighting the Germans.

Anyway why didn't it happen? Here's the first attempt - WWII:


They first tried to combine when the Germans took Paris in WWII, de Gaul loved the idea. But the French under Pétain decided Vichy France was a better proposition.

Churchill and de Gaul loved the idea

Reynaud supporter Charles de Gaulle had arrived in London earlier that day, however, and Monnet told him about the proposed union.[1] De Gaulle convinced Churchill that "some dramatic move was essential to give Reynaud the support which he needed to keep his Government in the war".[2] 
The final "Declaration of union" approved by the British War Cabinet stated that[1]
France and Great Britain shall no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union. The constitution of the Union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial and economic policies. Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain, every British subject will become a citizen of France.
However not all French agreed, leading to a German controlled Vichy France winning out:

Other French leaders were less enthusiastic, however. At the 5 p.m. cabinet meeting, many called it a British "last minute plan" to steal its colonies, and said that "be[ing] a Nazi province" was preferable to becoming a British dominionPhilippe Pétain, a leader of the pro-armistice group, called union "fusion with a corpse". While President Albert Lebrun and some others were supportive, the cabinet's opposition stunned Reynaud. He resigned that evening without taking a formal vote on the union or an armistice, and later called the failure of the union the "greatest disappointment of my political career".[1]

Second attempt - The Suez crisis (1956)

The second attempt was during the Suez crisis, when the British and French combined forces to take back the Suez canal from Egypt, but Eisenhower pulled the plug on it by threatening the withdrawal of American loans to Britain. This lead to the end of the British and French empires.

Before decolonisation commenced everything came to a head at Suez in 1956. The Suez crisis occurred when Egyptian president Nasser nationalised the Suez canal. Without the revenue stream of the canal as well as the subsidised shipping tariffs the British Empire was doomed. So the French and British hatched a plan to take back the canal with Britain's middle eastern proxy force, Israel, contributing most of the man power.

In September 1956, due to a common foe during the Suez Crisis, an Anglo-French Task Force was created. French Prime Minister Guy Mollet proposed a union between the United Kingdom and the French Union with Elizabeth II as head of state and a common citizenship. As an alternative, Mollet proposed that France join the Commonwealth. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden rejected both proposals and France went on to join the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community and strengthened the Franco-German cooperation.[3][4]

British and French attach Egypt to 'liberate' the Suez canal.
Israel provided most of the manpower

Why didn't it happen? Britain was heavily in debt to the USA. Eisenhower was worried that Eisenhower Soviets would gain the upper hand in the middle east if he didn't reign the Franco-British-Israeli axis in. Eisenhower threatened to recall American financial aid to the British that was being used to rebuild Britain's economy after WWII devastation if they did not immediately pull out of Egypt. His main concern was that the Arabs would side with the Russians in the cold war if he didn't reign in 'the western imperialists'. 
Richard Nixon wrote in the 1980s, “I talked to Eisenhower about Suez;
he told me it was his major foreign policy mistake.”

Face with Eisenhower's financial aid threat, the English wimped out and the French instead cozied up to the Germans, signing the Treaty of Rome in 1957 which lead to the eventual creation of a German dominated European Union. Britain on the other hand has been in a state of decline ever since.

Wait a minute, Israel was a British pawn??

YES. See the state of Israel owed its existence to the British wanting manpower to defend the Suez canal.. that was the main reason for the Balfor declaration.. but you wont hear about that in History class:
I myself had not previously thought of Zionism as much more than a sentimental fantasy. But Sykes soon persuaded me that, from the purely British point of view, a prosperous Jewish population in Palestine, owning its inception and its opportunity of development to British policy, might be an invaluable asset as a defence of the Suez Canal against attack from the north and as a station on the future air routes to the east....
Amery had entered a similar thought into his diary on July 26, 1928: "Our ultimate end is clearly to make Palestine the centre of a western influence, using the Jews as we have used the Scots, to carry the English ideal through the Middle East and not merely to make an artificial oriental Hebrew enclave in an oriental country."

Third and final attempt, before the treaty of Rome: 'Plan G' Inviting Europe to join the British Commonwealth

At a time when Germany and France, together with Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, were planning for what later became the European Union, and newly independent African countries were joining the Commonwealth, new ideas were floated to prevent Britain from becoming isolated in economic affairs. British trade with the Commonwealth was four times larger than trade with Europe. The British government under Prime Minister Anthony Eden considered in 1956-57 a "plan G" to create a European free trade zone while also protecting the favoured status of the Commonwealth.[19][20][21] Britain also considered inviting Scandinavian and other European countries to join the Commonwealth so it would become a major economic common market. At one point in October 1956 Eden and French Prime Minister Guy Mollet discussed having France join the Commonwealth. Nothing came of any of the proposals.[22]

What could a Franco-British Empire have achieved?

  • Prevention of decolonisation of British & French Empires. A combined British and French war machine controlling the Suez canal and financially supported by the Americans could have held nationalist movements and communists in check, preventing the need to decolonise. 
  • Former British colonies would have been better off: The British always planned to give colonies dominion status once they reached a level of political and economic development. If you look at what happened to British colonies once they left the empire, war and poverty overcame most.
  • Prevention of French military defeat to in its former colonies. The British had already defeated an insurgency in Indo-China during the Malayan emergency. Their help in south east asia probably would have helped turn the tied against the communists in the Vietnam war. The same goes for Algeria.
  • Prevention of German political and financial takeover of Europe.  After Suez, French plans for Union with Britain were dashed as was plan G, which was to bring western Europe into the commonwealth. This lead to France signing the treaty of Rome, leading to the EEC which was followed by the EU and ultimately to German domination of Europe.
  • A more stable world order, especially in the middle-east. The Americans have done a rather terrible job at maintaining world order since the fall of the Soviet Union. They just don't get it. Do I think the Sykes–Picot Agreement would have done a better job of maintaining peace in the middle east than the current Israeli-Saudi Arabia-USA axis? YES.




Thursday, 2 October 2014

Cloud data an extension of the Self

What if we represent our online profile / data as an extension of ourself? Able to carry out actions as well as be mined for marketing insights?

Amazon is building machine learning algorithms which suggest items a customer would like to purchase, google is building AI / algorithms to suggest search answers before a customer even searches for them. I think from a smartphone perspective we need to talk in terms of 'assisted decision making' and 'augmented reality'. The smart phone & individuals online presence (the sum of their customer data) form a symbiotic relationship with the individual, both suggesting activities and connections as well as advising on the best way to execute on a task being carried out


More to come.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Religions explained


Update: A few people have commented that my post erroneously states that Islam is older than Mohammad. I would argue Islam is older than Mohammad. Have you ever wondered why Islam and Arianism are so similar? All Mohammad did is rebrand Arianism after Constantine outlawed it three hundred years earlier.


Here is a map showing the dominant branch of religions across Europe and the middle east. In the Good old days of the Roman Empire these were all one religion. So how did these splits come about? 

Blue - Roman Catholic
Purple - Protestant
Red - Eastern Orthodox
Light Green - Sunni Islam
Dark Green - Shi'i Islam

Like most things it had much more to do with power politics then religious ideals. The first point I would make is that up until the 4th century, Christianity and Islam were the same religion.

If I was to blame one person it would be Constantine the Great. He single handedly created most of the conflicts due to a couple of bad decisions:
  1. The Council of Nicea (lead to all the Crusades, Jihad)
  2. Founding Constantinople and splitting the Empire (lead to East vs West divide)

Constantine made some bad calls


First off, here's some maps showing the main events. I describe why each religion was founded in more detail below the maps.

First off, the Empire stops growing and decides to consolidate.

Germans teach the Romans a lesson at Teutoberg Forest in 9 AD.
The Roman Empire stops growing.



Constantine splits Roman Empire into East and West. This went on to become the
Roman Catholic - Eastern Orthodox split. He also enforced the doctrine of the Trinity and outlawed
Arianism. This Annoyed Muhammad and Arabs in general three hundred years later. 
Here's another talking point for those of you more familiar with history: 
Ever wonder why Arianism and Islam are so similar?


Arabs teach the Byzantine Greeks a lesson, both on how to fight and what
Monotheism is. Arab's not massive fans of the Trinity. Again Constantine messes up.

Arabs get into a fight over who's boss of the new Empire. Sunni's win. Persians
hijack the Shiite cause to retain their territorial and political independence.


East - West Schism leads to Roman Catholic - Eastern Orthodox divide. Basically
boils down to The Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of  Constantinople getting in a
pissing contest. Culminates in the Cold War.

30 years war between protestants and Catholics in 17th century.
Essentially Teutoberg Forest Round 2


Detailed Explanation of main events

  • The First Council of Nicea in 325 AD Christianity split from Arianism/Islam The Council enforced the doctrine of the Trinity across the Roman Empire which lead to the ideological split between Christianity and Islam. The reason for the Council was that Roman Emperor Constantine wanted to enforce one religious doctrine across the Empire, in order to ideologically unify the Empire's citizens. The main ideological issue is the nature of Jesus with Christians arguing Jesus is God (as part of Trinity) whereas Muslims argue Jesus was just a Prophet.

    So next time someone talks about the 'Clash of Civilizations' just remember it all came down to one council in Turkey 17 centuries ago.

  • Sunni and Shi'i Split in 656 AD Sunni split from Shiite
    Originated from Arab infighting over who was the rightful successor to Muhammad. The Sunni's beat the Shiites at the battle of The Camel which is why most of the Muslim world is Sunni. The Shiite's set up shop in Persia, modern day Iran and Iraq.

    So next time you hear about the conflict in Iraq between ISIS and the Shi'ite dominated government or you wonder why Saddam fought Iran, remember it all started 14 centuries ago.

  • The East–West Schism in the 11th century Roman Catholic split from Eastern Orthodox
    Simply put, the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople got into a pissing contest, resulting in them ex-communicating each other. It lead to the split of Christianity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    This in turn was due to an earlier decision by Emperor Constantine to split the Roman Empire into a Latin dominated Western Empire and a Greek Dominated Eastern (Byzantine) Empire, with no clear 'supreme leader'

    So next time you hear about East vs West, Cold War rivalry, think back to when it all began, 10 centuries ago, or 17 centuries ago.Constantine has a lot to Answer for.

  • Protestant reformation in the 15th century Protestant split from Roman Catholic
    Surprise, surprise another power struggle. Between authority of Pope and western Kings. Basically all of the Germanic speaking nations converted to Protestantism while all the Romantic speaking nations stuck with the Pope. Makes sense when you think about how the Germans were never conquered by the Romans.

    In fact, the Protestant / Catholic split really dates back to The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, when the German tribes (ancestors of English, Germans, Dutch etc.) destroyed three Roman legions and prevented the Roman Empire from conquering greater Germany.

    So next time you here about 'Hitler's war', remember this all started 20 centuries ago! Arguably France (the dominant Latin power) and Germany (dominant Germanic power) fought a number of wars (WW1, WW2 for example) over which language Europe would speak. They settled on the middle ground language of English a mongrel combination of the two.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

Social engineering and brain computer interfaces

One of the discussions that I feel is important for us to have is how we will overcome the 'social inertia' around a set organism hierarchy in this brave new world we are entering.
My own personal pet causes, are David Pearce's abolition of suffering and ending factory farming, but I differ on how I would implement it. David argues we should all become vegetarians and therefore end the need for slaughterhouses. But this also ends the need for a large percentage of our farm animals. Pigs if given a choice may prefer the butchers knife to non-existence.
What I feel is important is developing brain computer interfaces (BCI) for not only ourselves, but also for our domestic animals. There is a large untapped reservoir of thought capacity within our cows, pigs and sheep which we should utilise. Not only that but it would make our domestic animals too valuable as knowledge workers for us to slaughter them!




The next step (unless you are a die hard Kurzweilai) is genetic engineering in conjunction with BCI with weak AI supporting subsystems. Things get rather hazy after this point, the binding problem comes into play etc... I would rather focus on the near term as we can use our shared morals / ethics (which we as members of western society share 99% of, lets face it) to evaluate an incremental change.
One proposed change which has received a heated response is around the gender ratio that is best for society. We have been manipulating the gender ratio's of our domesticated animals for millennia (for instance, most bulls are killed as they don't produce any milk) so I think it is fair to evaluate what is best for human society.
There are many science fiction stories which do a good job of presenting an all female, or female dominated society. One of my favourites is 'Houston, Houston, Do You Read?' By James Tiptree, Jr, which is the pen name of Alice Hastings Bradley. She didn't want the publicity of being a female SCI FI writer and so chose a male pseudonym to write about an all female future society (no the irony isn't lost on me).



Any way.... getting to the point... Yes I have been waffling on for quite some time.. this is going somewhere people! In the book the astronauts learn that all men have died out and there rescue party is from an all woman society who have no intention of reintroducing men, which could challenge to current ruling elite. The men are to be studied and eliminated.
I would argue that it isn't so much about what society is right or wrong - but rather - how can you change society without facing severe 'blowback' from the incumbent elite who will stand to lose from the change you wish to implement? Regardless of whether you want to increase human potential through genetic engineering (eugenics), increase the participation of biomass in society (BCI for animals) or even the removal of men from society (I would argue that once artificial wombs come online the all female argument is diluted substantially). How can we make the big changes without the mass violence that normally comes hand in hand (think the social revolution occurred in tandem with industrialisation).
Finally, the book below by the woman Sci Fi writer pretending to be a man about a future society where men have been eradicated is a great read!!


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Malaysia Airlines MH17 - Shot down by Donetsk Republic separatists



Here's the culprit. Operators already offed as part of coverup


Rebels showing off their hardware before attack


Separatists are trying to cover their tracks by getting the hardware out of Ukraine

Buk being transported back to Russia with two missiles missing




Why did the tragedy occur? system too easy to use


The missiles are straightforward to operate and work as stand-alone weapons — they can function outside of a sophisticated networked air defence system.


The system cannot tell the difference between civilian and military-type aircraft based on their transponder signatures alone. In order to tell the difference between targets, it would need to be interfaced with other weapons systems that can work off of additional information.

"When Proxy Wars go Wrong"


Lot's of blame to go round, depending on your point of view:
  • Ukraine escalating conflict against separatists including airstrikes and armour attacks with tacit American support.
  • Separatists operating advanced hardware without the right training (not trained to visually confirm whether plane is civilian or military)
  • Russia tacitly supporting, providing expertise for operation of Buk, but not the requisite level of training.

What happens now? 

The Russian Separatists are attempting to cover it up, and have probably killed the Buk operators to hide their tracks. It may also give the Ukraine government an opportunity to intensify air attacks against separatists due to reduced air defences.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Russo-German Alliance?

Russia and Germany are getting cosy, America will not be happy! This means it might try stoke up the flames in the Ukraine......




Vladimir Putin at a German-Russian official function: 
“We value the accumulated potential of Russian-German relations and the high level of trade and economic cooperation. Germany, one of the European Union leaders, is our most important partner in enhancing peace, global and regional security.”


Are they speaking Russian or German? German I think
Putin speaks German nearly as good as Russian.. he worked in East Germany. His kids go to school in Germany.. Merkel speaks fluent Russian... and where did Angela grow up? Soviet controlled East Germany. Victoria Nuland ain't screwing this one up with no NGO’s.



From Gavekal Dragonomics:
I would contend that we are seeing a decisive shift in the political character of Eurasia. History tells us that long wars have tended to be fought between maritime empires and continental empires. Think of Athens vs. Sparta, Carthage vs. Rome or Britain vs. Napoleonic France. The last big fight was between the US and the Soviet Union ended in favor of the maritime empire. As a result, since 1989 we have lived in an order ultimately run by the US military. But after some unpleasantness playing the role of global policeman, that maritime empire is in retreat.


"The question will not only be how did “we” come to lose Asia and the Middle East, but also “our” most reliable and pliable ally—Europe."




When you have senior State Department types caught dead-on saying "F*@k the EU." which essentially means "F*@k Germany" as it runs the place well...   Forgive me for the invoking image of Vicky Nuland wearing a wife-beater, but at some point the battered partner needs to find new shelter. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

German media rift with USA over Ukraine, Russia

What's with the mainstream German press presenting a different opinion on the Ukraine to the US? Are they worried about getting their gas taps turned off, or is it more that they realise Russo-German trade and technology transfers will do more for Germany in the long term than it's military alliance with the US?

German Official Says It Was Wrong to Make Ukraine Pick Between EU and Russia





Sure, there are all sorts of 'questionable' things going on that the US may or may not be linked to, such as having US blackwater mercenaries being transported to fight Russian 'separatists' in UN helicopters:


Oh, and the fact that Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter has just joined the board of directors of Ukraine's largest gas company



But this is just standard power elite practices that have always existed... what I'm interested in is German's rationale. Grown a conscience? Unlikely.

Russian gas in exchange for German manufactured goods along with German foreign investment and technology transfers to Russia is far too valuable to both countries to allow them to sign up to the US lead sanctions programme. The press releases above will be aimed at keeping the German public anti-sanctions by pointing out the mirky American influence:


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Crimea, Ukraine and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The current crisis in Ukraine can easily be explained with historical maps

The pro European area was part of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Basically that's all the old Russians (now referred to as Ukrainians) who got conquered by the Poles.


The bits that Poland owned speak Ukrainian, the other bits speak Russian. Ukrainian and Russian were once the same language. They diverged mainly because the people lived in different political entities.


All the protests and pro-EU stuff is from the part of the Country Poland used to own. Next look at the 2010 presidential election results. Yanukovych, pro-Russian president who had to flee for his life during the protests won the bits that speak Russian...


So Ukraine is another one of those made up countries, like Belgium. 

You get the gist

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Ukrainian protests - Russia vs West

The main cause of the conflict in the Ukraine is a choice it has to make, does it join the European Union, or the Eurasian Union (Russian led customs union). The European union has declared that the Ukraine cannot join both. The protestors on the street want the Ukraine to join the European union.





Russia is worried about the integration of Ukraine into the European union for two reasons:
1) It would effectively kill its Eurasian Union, the Ukraine's membership is pivotal.
2) It could lead to Ukrainian membership in NATO. The US has been pushing for this. This would threaten Russia's security.


For most of its history, the Ukraine was not a country. It was divided among the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth, Austrio-Hungarian Empire, Ottomans and Russians.


Crimea, a province of the Ukraine where ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych has fled to, contains a majority Russian population, and was gifted to the Ukraine in 1954. Remember the Ukraine was part of the USSR so this was more of a transfer of territory within sub-states, and no one ever conceived that the USSR would eventually break up, otherwise it would never have been gifted!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Will technology empower the individual or lead to our demise?

What does accelerating technological development mean for us as people? Will our voice still be heard? Or are we becoming mere drones in a civilisation sized hive mind?

On the one hand technology is freeing and allows us not to have to labour to do basic things and meet basic needs, it also reduces our individuality, hence our freedom and control over our own lives. Horkheimer and Adorno see this dialectic clearly:
Technology has changed human beings from children into persons. But all such progress of individuation has been at the expense of the individuality in whose name it took place, leaving behind nothing except individuals' determination to pursue their own purposes alone (Dialectic of Enlightenment p. 125). 
Cody Wilson created a blueprint for the first 3-D gun. He claims the project is aimed at reclaiming some sense of individual autonomy.
Cody Wilson: Well there's a guy named Michel Foucault. And I'd recommend that you read him some time. Really I see the battle as one of just trying to remain human and against you know massive forces, anonymous forces of discipline and control that we can't really understand. I don't think there's a massive conspiracy. But I do think the self is under siege and I think liberty itself is under siege...
A lot of people have commented on these impersonal forces, including Kevin Kelly in his great book -What Technology Wants. I think these massive forces Cody is touching on come from the Kevin Kelly's technium
Kelly focuses on human-technology relations and argues for the existence of technology as the emerging seventh kingdom of life on earth. What Technology Wants offers the anthropomorphic conception that technology is one giant force —the technium — which Kelly describes as "...a word to designate the greater, global, massively interconnected system of technology vibrating around us
Here's a couple of quotes from the book:
Look what is coming: Technology is stitching together all the minds of the living, wrapping the planet in a vibrating cloak of electronic nerves, entire continents of machines conversing with one another, the whole aggregation watching itself through a million cameras posted daily. How can this not stir that organ in us that is sensitive to something larger than ourselves?
Technology amplifies the mind's urge toward the unity of all thought, it accelerates the connections among all people, and it will populate the world with all conceivable ways of comprehending the infinite.
So not only is technology going to take your job, it could take your individuality as well.
In order to provent this, we need to clear understanding what individuality is. We need to understand what consciousness is and how it works.

Here's a great waking life excerpt on this from telescopic evolution:
So we can't just ignore the problem. We have to find room in our contemporary world view for persons with all that that entails; not just bodies, but persons. And that means trying to solve the problem of freedom, finding room for choice and responsibility, and trying to understand individuality.