Friday, May 13, 2022

From geology to quantum science to a healthy planet...

For your weekend... as I traditionallly do, here's a round-up of recent science news...


First, here's the latest CARTA conference - the Center for Anthropogeny (human origins) at UCSD. This one with talks having to do with the theme of "The Planet Altering Apes."


== Physical Science ==


The observation of the Higgs boson  at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has validated the last missing piece of the standard model (SM) of elementary particle physics.  The mass of the W boson, a mediator of the weak force between elementary particles, should be tightly constrained by the symmetries of the standard model of particle physics.  So… do recent results mean we have a problem here?


Wireless Sensors: Tiny Battery-Free Devices Float In The Wind Like Dandelion Seeds…” or a lot like the ‘localizer nanochips in Vernor Vinge’s great novel  A Deepness in the Sky.  


A new form of ice discovered, which forms at high-pressures: Shades of Kurt Vonnegut! Here’s ‘ice-ten’ or Ice-X!  Scientists speculate that it could be common on distant, water-rich exoplanets.


Asking the Ultimate Questions, Robert Laurence Kuhn’s recent presentation at the Institute of Art and ideas (IAI-UK), is posted on the Closer To Truth YouTube channel.



== The biologic world ==


States and cities have also begun to decriminalize psilocybin – the core of magic mushrooms - in general or for medicinal purposes, especially treatment of depression. 


The disturbing rise of bird flu; already more than 27 million birds have died or been slaughtered. Will we see a poultry vaccine?


Apparently fish can calculate....stingrays can perform simple addition and subtraction in the low digit range.


Forty to fifty percent of all animal species are actually parasites, including 300,000 different types of worms that parasitize vertebrates.


Interesting question: Why didn't our primitive ancestors get cavities?



== Insights into our planet ==


In Earth’s past, two gargantuan 'super-mountain' ranges may have fueled two of the biggest evolutionary boom times in our planet's history — the first appearance of complex cells roughly 2 billion years ago, and the Cambrian explosion of marine life 541 million years ago.  


Is Earth’s ‘solid’ inner core something like my fictional-hypothetical descriptions in Earth? If the material is ‘superionic,’ then the majority iron atoms might be 'solid' in the crystalline lattice structure, whereas the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules would diffuse through the medium, creating the liquid-like element.  


And in related matters, the top mineral form of the mantle is perovskites… which are still (since I wrote Earth) among the best high pressure/high temperature superconductors. So… is she alive? Way too soon to tell. But the traits (or potentialities) keep piling up!


Moving a bit outward toward Earth's mantle… “Earth is layered like an onion, with a thin outer crust, a thick viscous mantle, a fluid outer core, and a solid inner core. Within the mantle, there are two massive blob-like structures, roughly on opposite sides of the planet. The blobs, more formally referred to as Large Low-Shear-Velocity Provinces (LLSVPs), are each the size of a continent and 100 times taller than Mt. Everest. One is under the African continent, while the other is under the Pacific Ocean.”  Might this explain the unusual solidity of the African continent?


Meanwhile, fast melting Alpine permafrost may contribute to rising global temperatures.


There have been wonderful paleontologic finds at the Tanis site, in the Dakotas, which show many creatures exceptionally well-preserved who seem to have died suddenly the very day that asteroid ended the era of the dinosaurs. I look forward to the show - Dinosaurs: The Final Day with Sir David Attenborough, which was broadcast on BBC One. A version for the U.S. science series Nova on the PBS network will be broadcast later in the year.


And...an allegory of uncertainty


Four quantum physicists are in a car. Heisenberg is driving like he is in The Matrix. Schrödinger is in the front seat waving at the other cars. Einstein and Bohr are in the back arguing when they get pulled over. The officer asks Heisenberg, “do you know how fast you were going?”

“No, but we know exactly where we are,” Heisenberg replies.


The officer looks confused and says, “you were going 120 km/h!”


Heisenberg throws his arms up and cries, “Great! Now we’re lost!”


The officer looks over the car and asks Schrödinger if they have anything in the trunk.


“A cat,” Schrödinger replies.


The officer opens the trunk and yells, “This cat is dead!”


Schrödinger angrily replies, “Well it is now.”


Bohr says, “on the bright side, a moment ago we didn’t have a position, speed, or a cat. Now we have all three!”


Fed up, the officer says, “I just want to know how many of you I need to bring back to the station!”


“Roll dice for it?” Einstein asks.


heh.


Now back to your regularly scheduled 21st Century crises...


Friday, May 06, 2022

Ripping off masks... and a powerful (if dry) way to pop the lie-bubble

I'll get to a potent meme (below) that shreds one of the clichés most-shared by both left and right. And shredding it will help one against the other. But first...

In Earth - and differently in Existence - I speculated on ways that 'ownership transparency' might solve many of the crimes and contradictions of feral capitalism, without resorting to anti-market socialism. Defenders of capitalism are hypocrites if they talk about free and competitive markets while excusing secrecy that blinds 99% of market participants. They should be the first to demand world transparency of who owns what.

So am I glad that the Ukraine war is causing the U.S., U.K and even Switzerland to rip veils off some of the shell corporations that own all those seized yachts and so much property in London, New York, Paris etc.? Well, yeah. Sure. But watch our own aristos scramble to make sure this remains only about Russian Oligarchs. I'll be shocked if truly broad reforms happen.

It's gonna take a lot more than Ukraine. Possibly even a "Helvetian War."

Thomas Piketty elaborates: "Let’s say it straight away: it is time to imagine a new type of sanction focused on the oligarchs who have prospered thanks to the regime in question. This will require the establishment of an international financial register, which will not be to the liking of western fortunes, whose interests are much more closely linked to those of the Russian and Chinese oligarchs than is sometimes claimed. However, it is at this price that western countries will succeed in winning the political and moral battle against the autocracies and in demonstrating to the world that the resounding speeches on democracy and justice are not simply empty words."


== Again, the one thing that would transform the world almost instantly ==

Transparency of property and ownership would likely make competitive markets work vastly better while slashing the parasitive effects of all sorts of cheating and (likely) reduce effective tax rates on honest citizens, worldwide. But it is the sort of reform that seems unlikely in the near future.

It may not happen till tumbrels are rolling through the streets, alas.

But there is one thing -- one action by one leader -- that could transform America and the world, overnight. You've seen it proposed here time and again. Jobee could do it all by himself, not even needing Congress.

Maybe he is hoping Putin will do it for him.

Only now the topic I promised. A potent meme that shreds one of the clichés most-shared by both left and right. And shredding it will help one against the other.


== The boring stuff – deficits and how each party tries to ‘stimulate’ the economy – actually matters! ==

 

As I show in Polemical Judo, Democratic Party pols are seldom smart enough to use powerful memes like this one -- that Biden and the dems have actually reduced the federal deficit for the first time since Obama. 


Not only that, but Democratic Administrations are always* more fiscally responsible than GOP ones.  While caring far more for the poor, oppressed and workers… and science and the planet… and rights for women and minorities... they also reduce, rather than lay heavier debt burdens upon our children.  

 

Is that really, really hard for you to parse in your head?  


We are so used to each party’s clichés, such as Republican-hypocritical demands for fiscal prudence, while spilling tsunamis of red ink, opening America’s carotid arteries for greedy suction by aristocrats… and the almost equally-dumb obsession of the far-left called “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT.)

In fact, honest Keynesians are the only adults in the room, running deficits to effectively help the working class during rough patches… then paying down debt in the resulting good times. Clinton did it. So did Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom…. the list goes on. Not just this round, but every round, as I showed here:  

 

‘So Do Outcomes Matter More than Rhetoric?’ 

 

This matters! Because there are two large groups we must draw into the Union side in this especially hazardous phase of the U.S. Civil War. And both of these groups are needed by the only coalition that stands a chance of saving the republic, civilization, planet and posterity. 

 

First, the frippy sanctimony-preeners of the left need to grow up and learn (as AOC, Bernie, Liz and Stacey know) the meaning of the word ‘coalition.’ One keeps hoping the next news item will snap the poseurs out of their ritual chants of “Biden is Republican-lite!”  


Maybe the looming reversal of Roe v. Wade will do it. But don’t hold your breath.

 

We ALSO absolutely must peel away the 10% - possibly even 20% - of Republicans who maintain at least a sliver of residual sanity. Why? Because the confederate/Red/Foxite/Trumpist/Kremlinite, anti-science and anti-fact treason party is in demographic collapse! If we can peel away just 10%, all their cheats, including gerrymandering, will fail!  

 

And that’s where the ‘fiscal responsibility’ thing comes in. It is a wedge you can pound in, to cleave off some of those ‘ostrich Republicans.’ 

 

Start by demanding a cash wager, whether Democratic Administrations always* prove to be far more fiscally responsible!

 

Picture your Tucker-hugger blinking in dismay when he realizes one of his cult’s core catechisms is proved – proved! – to be diametrically opposite to true, and he better admit it, or pay off on the bet.

 

All right. I know your lazy response, shrugging that ‘it’s hopeless to even talk to those people'... 


...and I am telling you now that – hopeless or not – it is your duty!  If just one in ten of you peel away just one… well…. 

 

Look up the old phrase: “All heaven rejoices when…”

 


Finally....

How Putin may seek an exit strategy to save face by declaring a “Mission Accomplished!” moment. Very cogent analysis. Also, this fellow is among the few who describes in detail how under GHW Bush a flock of western vultures - most of them Cheney family-connected - swarmed into Russia to help a hundred or so Soviet commissars snap up shares of sold-off state enterprises… 


...one of several reasons why I rank Bush Senior as unquestionably and by far the worst U.S. president of the 20th Century, who set the stage for our crisis ridden world.  Alas, the author of this piece gets a bit kooky toward the end. But the first half is worthwhile.



=====

 

* Sure, ‘always’ is a strong term. There are undoubtedly exceptions, though I know of none since 1980. So? Use the polemical power.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Wormholes, blackholes... and more!

Just returned from my first speaking tour in 2+ years. Vaxxed & masked in public areas but pretty relaxed holding small meetings with brilliant researchers at UIUC Champagne.

Only now... how about some science?

Let's start with a fabulous rundown by Peter Diamandis of the 5 top things we may learn from the newly-launched James Webb Space Telescope! And yes, I was a skeptic about this hugely complex machine. The fact that it appears to be... well... perfect suggests that maybe you ought to consider yourself a mamber of a fantastically competent civilization... whenever our anti-modernist cousins stop dragging at our ankles.

Strange things keep manifesting! (Ain't it cool?) Pairs and clusters of strands stretch for nearly 150 light-years in the galactic center region and are equally spaced. The bizarre structures are a few million years old and vary in appearance. Some of them resemble harp strings, waterfalls or even the rings around Saturn. But the true nature of the filaments remains elusive.


Giant radio galaxies are yet another mystery in a Universe full of mysteries. They consist of a host galaxy (that's the cluster of stars orbiting a galactic nucleus containing a supermassive black hole), as well as colossal jets and lobes that erupt forth from the galactic center. Now, an utterly humongous one has been found with radio lobes reaching 5 megaparsecs.  


The new Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) space telescope reveals wonders out there in ‘a new light.’  

An excellent article about why black holes appear to spin so fast - via conservation of angular momentum - that the edges of their ergosphere’s may approach the speed of light. 

And meta cosmological -- If the physics theory of cosmological coupling is correct, the expansion of the universe causes black holes to gain mass.


And even more meta! “spiderweb of wormholes could solve a fundamental “information paradox” first proposed by Stephen Hawking.” 


== And within our solar system ==


2020 XL5 is an Earth Trojan — an asteroid companion to Earth that orbits the Sun along the same path as our planet does, only 60 degrees ahead at L4. These are far more rare than the large numbers collected 60 degrees ahead or behind Jupiter. Over a kilometer wide, it is speculated as a potentially useful base (especially if the Type C asteroid contains volatiles like water)… but also as a place we ought to scan for “lurker” interstellar observation probes… as I describe in EXISTENCE. 


Large-scale liquid on Mars existed much longer than suspected, according to this Caltech report. Martian salt deposits are often found in shallow depressions, sometimes perched above much larger craters that are devoid of the deposits. MRO data showing shallow salt plains above craters suggests that some wet patches endured rather late, as recently as 2.3 billion years ago. Some of these deposits are on terrain that's a billion years younger than the ground the Perseverance Rover is rolling across right now.


The European Space Agency said that its Solar Orbiter – which was launched in 2020 on a mission to study the sun – quite by accident passed through this comet’s tail in late 2021. While within the tail, one of the sensors aboard Solar Orbiter measured particles that were definitively from the comet and not the solar wind. It detected ions of oxygen, carbon, molecular nitrogen, and molecules of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and possibly water. Visible light images can hint at the rate at which the comet is ejecting dust, while the ultraviolet images can give the water production rate.


Three prominent features on the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth – the farthest planetary body ever explored, by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft – now have official names. Proposed by the New Horizons team and approved by the International Astronomical Union, the names follow a theme set by "Arrokoth" itself, which means "sky" in the Powhatan/Algonquin Native American language.


Ice roofed worlds might be a majority of all life worlds. Tidal heating is foremost, but also radioactivity and a weird effect of serpentine rocks relaxing slowly into a lower energy structure!


Ah, balmy Venus: “Venus, our closest planetary neighbor, is called Earth's twin because of the similarity in size and density of both planets. Otherwise, the planets differ radically… While previous studies suggested Venus might have once been covered in oceans, new research has found the opposite: Venus has likely never been able to support oceans.” Any water clouds that did form fled to the night side, where they did not reflect sunlight (albedo) but did trap in heat. So the place never cooled down.

Still, oceans may yet come to Venus!  See how in my novella “The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss”! On my website and in Best of David Brin stories… my top stuff! 

Scientists have identified what appears to be a small chunk of the moon – possibly blasted off it by an impact 100,000 years ago. Kamo`oalewa is one of Earth’s quasi-satellites, a category of asteroid that orbits the Sun passing frequently by Earth. Also a perfect place for an alien observation post! 


An interesting theory about the origin of Earth’s water: the solar wind - charged particles from the Sun largely made of hydrogen ions - created water on the surface of dust grains carried on asteroids that smashed into the Earth during the early days of the Solar System, helping to explain how lighter isotopes and hydrogen complemented water arriving from early comets and carbonaceous chondrites.  It also suggests “astronauts may be able to process fresh supplies of water straight from the dust on a planet's surface, such as the Moon."

At 100 km across, comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB) is the largest comet ever discovered by far, and it is active, even though farther from the sun than the planet Uranus. The size of comet BB and its distance from the sun suggests that the vaporizing ice forming the coma is dominated by carbon monoxide.  To understand this better, you might go to my doctoral dissertation. Or else the best look at these objects… a novel… Heart of the Comet!


The solar system’s strangest moon? Saturn's IapetusWell… after Titan of course. Tropical-balmy beach resort Titan. Ahhhh! Yet, read about the curious, unexplained features of Iapetus.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Romanticism & Resentment: Great for art! Terrible for running a civilization

My romantic soul agrees with this vivid howl! (From Robert A. Heinlein's Glory Road.) 


How vivid, and don't we all... at least in part... agree?


And yet, this plaint by a Heinlein character -- a scarred Vietnam vet and sci fi fan -- also exemplifies the lethal Problem of Romanticism, in which arty emotionalism gets all the mighty propaganda! Propaganda just like Heinlein's passage (though seldom as eloquent.) 


Let me put it as a bald assertion. Romanticism may be one of the most-central aspects of being human... and not always for the better.


From the Punic Wars all the way to modern Hollywood flicks, romanticism has spent centuries propelling rage and demonization in all parties, in all human conflicts, making calm negotiation next to impossible. (Admit it. Some of your own passion is about “MY kind of people are virtuous and those opposing my kind are inherently and by type morally deficient!”)


Oh, let's also admit from the start how addicting righteousness can be! Yes, it must have been reinforced during evolution because of the passion and forcefulness it supplies, during the struggles each generation faced, across the last half a million years. So reinforced that it can be hard even to notice.


== NOT a good basis for policy, in a complex world ==


Emerging from the voluptuous high of romanticism is hard, but not quite impossible, as we’ve shown during the last 200 years of gradually augmenting… maturity.


In fact, as one who lost nearly all of his cousin family lines to one of the most romantic of all vile movements, let me thank God that the romantic soul is having its hands peeled off of policy at long last, after 10,000 years of wretched fear-drenched rage, in which every generation's tribes called their rivals subhuman, deserving only death, like the Tharks of Mars, Tolkien's orcs, the Trojans that Achilles slew in heaps...


...or the Black folks who Confederate romantics enslaved as sub-human and Jews slaughtered in millions by romantics playing Wagner...


...and successively masses of robots... then clones... then masked storm troopers who George Lucas mowed down to our delight since, naturally, none of their kind had mothers to mourn them?


== We need romanticism, at our core! Only... ==


Here's a pretty basic question.  Look at Heinlein's list of great adventures his character longed for. Now tell us which of them  would be even a scintilla as good a place to raise a family as this tawdry, fouled up mess of a world he was complaining about.  Oh, it's tawdry and messed up, all right. But largely by the ways it has failed to move away from the kinds of brutal, even sadistic adventure-zones that were rampant both in fiction and across nearly all of human history. 


But there are equally many ways that we have started leaving all of that behind!  And your long, comfortable lives, free of most anguish, pain and death while staring at the flat screens of these palantir miracle devices, kind of suggest our change of path was the right course.


At long last we are giving policy over to the part of us that does fair argument and science and the freedom of even despised minorities to speak and demand we LOOK at them with compassion and respect!


That transformation is not complete - by far - and it may yet fail! But we are close - so close - to exiling 'romance’ from daylight activities of fact-based policy, sending that part of us instead over to the realm where it belongs. NOT the daylight hours of invention, argument and negotiated progress... 


...but to the campfire hours of moonlight and stars dancing overhead - or the couch or movie theater or pulpy novel - when... YES!... we can unleash that wild, romantic spirit. Those hours when we still need to bay at Luna or Barsoom, to relish garish adventures and quests against dragons...


...or to scan a million black squiggles on pressed vegetable pages, or glowing from a kindled screen, and let those incantations draw us into the voluptuous, subjective roar of which Heinlein speaks!


I make such incantations! I craft good ones. (You'll enjoy them!) 


But no. 


That side of us should never again be given the tiller of nations or policy. (As crazy people at all political wings are right now demanding that we do!) 


The daytime halls of policy and science and truth-seeking and negotiation... and yes, even revising even our most passionate biases - that's when and where we must (it is long past time) at last grow up.


== Recovery from authoritarian regimes ==


Here's an amazingly cogent and well-parsed theory for how authoritarian regimes often transition to democracy after a long reign by an autocrat who is both repressive and good at effective rulership and development. It reminds me of Asimov’s ‘psychohistory’ riff on strong vs. weak emperors vs. strong vs. weak generals. In fact, this article strikes me as a much more cogent psychohistorical contribution than any of the recently popular “historical cycles” bilge that’s been going around. Income, Democracy, and Leader Turnover, by Daniel Treisman


“Abstract:  While some believe that economic development prompts democratization, others contend that both result from distant historical causes. Using the most comprehensive estimates of national income available, I show that development is associated with more democratic government—but mostly in the medium run (10 to 20 years). This is because higher income tends to induce breakthroughs to more democratic politics only after an incumbent dictator leaves office. And in the short run, faster economic growth increases the ruler's survival odds. Leader turnover appears to matter because of selection: In authoritarian states, reformist leaders tend to either democratize or lose power relatively quickly, so long-serving leaders are rarely reformers. Autocrats also become less activist after their first year in office. This logic helps explain why dictators, concerned only to prolong their rule, often inadvertently prepare their countries for jumps to democracy after they leave the scene.”


Certainly Singapore and South Korea followed this model. Did Pinochet? Iran’s Shah is hard to fit here, except to put him in the category of “less strong than he thought he was.” So. Can we hope this will be legacy of some of today’s world strongmen?


And finally... 


I may have linked to this before. Here's Mark Twain blaming Sir Walter Scott's romanticism for the Civil War


"Then comes Sir Walter Scott with his enchantments, and by his single might checks this wave of progress, and even turns it back; sets the world in love with dreams and phantoms; with decayed and swinish forms of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the silliness and emptinesses, sham grandeurs, sham gauds, and sham chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society."


I knew I liked the fellow who crafted Huckleberry Finn, one of the finest and most noble of all fictional rascals.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Anticipating changes for the next few decades... and weeks

“The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ilya Prigogine was fond of saying that the future is not so much determined by what we do in the present as our image of the future determines what we do today.” So begins the latest missive of Noema Magazine.


The Near Future: The Pew Research Center’s annual Big Challenges Report top-features my musings on energy, local production/autonomy, transparency etc., along with other top seers, like the estimable Esther Dyson, Jamais Cascio, Amy Webb and Abigail deKosnick and many others. 


In this report, "Experts say the 'New Normal' in 2025 will be far more tech-driven, presenting more challenges" these pundits argue that changes resulting from disruptions from the pandemic are likely to worsen economic inequality, enhance the power of big tech firms, and multiply the spread of misinformation.

They also argue that changes have the potential to bring about new reforms aimed at ensuring greater social and racial equality and that tech advances have the power to enhance the quality of life for many.

Among the points I raise:

  • Advances in cost-effectiveness of sustainable energy supplies will be augmented by better storage systems. This will both reduce reliance on fossil fuels and allow cities and homes to be more autonomous.
  • Urban farming methods may move to industrial scale, allowing similar moves toward local autonomy (perhaps requiring a full decade or more to show significant impact). Meat use will decline for several reasons, ensuring some degree of food security, as well.
  • Local, small-scale, on-demand manufacturing may start to show effects in 2025. If all of the above take hold, there will be surplus oceanic shipping capacity across the planet. Some of it may be applied to ameliorate (not solve) acute water shortages. Innovative uses of such vessels may range all the way to those depicted in my novel ‘Earth.’
  • Full-scale diagnostic evaluations of diet, genes and microbiome will result in micro-biotic therapies and treatments. AI appraisals of other diagnostics will both advance detection of problems and become distributed to handheld devices cheaply available to all, even poor clinics.
  • Handheld devices will start to carry detection technologies that can appraise across the spectrum, allowing NGOs and even private parties to detect and report environmental problems.
  • Socially, this extension of citizen vision will go beyond the current trend of assigning accountability to police and other authorities. Despotisms will be empowered, as predicted in George Orwell's ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four.’ But democracies will also be empowered, as in my nonfiction book, ‘The Transparent Society.’
  • I give odds that tsunamis of revelation will crack the shields protecting many elites from disclosure of past and present torts and turpitudes. The Panama Papers and Epstein cases exhibit how fear propels many elites to combine efforts at repression. But only a few more cracks may cause the dike to collapse, revealing networks of blackmail. This is only partly technologically driven and hence is not guaranteed. If it does happen, there will be dangerous spasms by all sorts of elites, desperate to either retain status or evade consequences. (I wrote that before the panic-frenzy we are seeing by Vladimire Putin, whose best option is to spill the entire KGB file of blackmail he holds over western elites.) But if the fever runs its course, the more transparent world will be cleaner and better run.
  • Some of those elites have grown aware of the power of ninety years of Hollywood propaganda for individualism, criticism, diversity, suspicion of authority and appreciation of eccentricity. Counter-propaganda pushing older, more traditional approaches to authority and conformity are already emerging, and they have the advantage of resonating with ancient human fears. Much will depend upon this meme war.

Of course, much will also depend upon short-term resolution of current crises. If our systems remain undermined and sabotaged by incited civil strife and distrust of expertise, then all bets are off. 


== The pertinence (again) of transparency ==

When they hear the "T-word" so many dive into fretting about the spread of ‘surveillance technologies that will empower Big Brother.’ These fears are well-grounded, but also utterly myopic. I recall what Ulysses Grant said to Union generals who were in a froth over Robert E. Lee's next moves. 

Paraphrasing Grant: "Stop worrying over how despots will use light against us, and start talking about how to use light against despotism!"

First, ubiquitous cameras and facial recognition are only the beginning. Nothing will stop them and any such thought of ‘protecting’ citizens from being seen by elites (e.g. billionaires or the police) is stunningly absurd, as the cameras get smaller, better, faster, cheaper, more mobile and vastly more numerous every month. Moore’s Law to the nth degree

Yes, despotisms will benefit from this trend. And hence, the only thing that matters is to prevent despotism altogether. And only one thing ever did that!

In contrast, a free society will be able to apply the very same burgeoning technologies toward accountability. We are seeing them applied to end centuries of abuse by ‘bad-apple’ police who are thugs, while empowering the truly professional cops to do their jobs better.  

Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were saved by crude technologies of light in their days. And history shows that assertive vision by and for the citizenry is the only method that has ever increased freedom and – yes – some degree of privacy.




And finally...


A new type of digital asset - known as a non-fungible token (NFT) - has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online. “Blockchain technology allows the items to be publicly authenticated as one-of-a-kind, unlike traditional online objects which can be endlessly reproduced.”… “


 In October 2020, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile spent almost $67,000 on a 10-second video artwork that he could have watched for free online. Last week, he sold it for $6.6 million. The video by digital artist Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, was authenticated by blockchain, which serves as a digital signature to certify who owns it and that it is the original work.”



The post-covid luxury spending boom has begun. It’s already reshaping the economy.


A sealed copy of Super Mario 64 sells for $1.56M in record-breaking auction That record didn’t last long. In August 2021, a rare copy of Super Mario Bros. sells for $2 million, the most ever paid for a video game. Until the next time...


On the other hand, a once $2 million image of the world's first tweet recently resold for $245.000 That's volatility!  What NFTs fundamentally prove and what we've seen with election interference, Russian oligarch yachts and the stoopid-oligarchs subsidies of Fox 'News'... that the rich simply have too much money. Period.


And when that happens, as Adam Smith himself said, the first thing destroyed is flat-fair-creative-competitive enterprise.


====

====

====

Addendum on Ukraine:


Real time we are awed by several things. 

By the doughty endurance, courage and ingenuity of the Ukrainian people. 


By yet another example of the topmost lesson from 6000 years of history, that despotism leads to psychotic leader-delusion... in this case endangering all our lives as Ras*-Putin plummets into full panic mode.


That Russians have a long way to go, before they become capable of seeing through the Strongman Hallucination, a version of which also captivates a very large minority of (confederate) Americans. 


And much else. But right now this armchair-general wants to conclude with a couple of amateur military observations, in the wake of Russia's setbacks in the north and at sea:


First: "Ukraine says between 2,500 to 3,000 of its troops have been killed, compared to Russia's 19,000."


Even if the disparity is half as great, it relates to the RF's worst problem. Very soon their troops will be outnumbered in the field. True, most of the new Ukrainian units are recently trained infantry battalions. But they are highly motivated volunteers in truly vast numbers, while the RF has not even dared to call up reservists, yet. Astonishingly, the much larger and more militaristic invader may be outnumbered soon at the front.
The RF retains a huge advantage in mechanized units and artillery. They may yet use them with great effectiveness. But of late a flaw in standard RF Battalion Battle Groups has become clear.... very few mobile infantry patrol flanks to protect the tanks from lurking infantry groups armed with manpads.

Also, large numbers of infantry companies may lurk behind any major blitz-thrust, ready to do partisan tactics. Do not draw hasty conclusions from such thrusts.

Much depends on the weather. If things remain soggy, either the Uks will get time to emplace new units... or RF must rush to use roads and solid ground in narrow channels. There will be a lot of artillery, so dig in, Ukrainians.


=====
* "Ras" means 'prince" in Amharic/Ethiopian and is a root word for the Jamaican Rastafarianism. In this case it doubles as a comment on Putin's self-image and his similarity to a past figure he has emulated and should, all the way. Dance your way through this educational song!