"Progress is sometimes a regress in disguise. Like in the Futurama episode where Bender finds a phone booth: "Now I don't need to carry my phone with me all the time!""
Pasauli drīz gaida kārtējais lielais karš. Discuss.
"[H]aving an analytical thinking style and being non-religious – that tend to correlate with accepting the scientific consensus, but this is the first time that researchers have systematically studied people’s open-ended reasoning about controversial scientific topics. The results show that for many people, there are certain issues for which the truth is less about facts and more about faith and identity.
[T]he most common justifications people gave for their positions on the controversial issues were to simply re-state or qualify their belief – what the researchers called a non-justification, which made up 34 per cent of all responses. Among the actual justifications, the most common kind, making up 33 per cent of all responses, was to cite evidence – a promising result. However, 20 per cent of justifications were subjective and involved making a reference to one’s cultural identity, personal experience or fallacious reasoning."
"The next war, if that ever comes, will not cross the border but [target] strategically important sites in the interior. The war will be started by small groups of people already smuggled in. That is why we have to take care of the law as well as…national defense," he wrote.
“ГРУ – это на самом деле большой наркокартель”
Turns out the Amish make a distinction between using something and owning it. The Old Order won’t own a pickup truck, but they will ride in one. They won’t get a license, purchase an automobile, pay insurance, and become dependent on the automobile and the industrial-car complex, but they will call a taxi.
What about post-modern innovations like credit cards? A few Amish got them, presumably for their businesses at first. But over time the bishops noticed problems of overspending, and the resultant crippling interest rates. Farmers got into debt, which impacted not only them but the community since their families had to help them recover (that’s what community and families are for). So, after a trial period, the elders ruled against credit cards.
One Amish-man told me that the problem with phones, pagers, and PDAs (yes he knew about them) was that “you got messages rather than conversations.” That’s about as an accurate summation of our times as any.
(..) But the bishops also noticed that the cell phone was so small it could be kept hidden, which was a concern for a people dedicated to discouraging individualism. Ten years ago when I was editing Wired I sent Howard Rheingold to investigate the Amish take on cell phones. His report published in January 1999 makes it clear that the Amish had not decided on cell phones yet. Ten years later they are still deciding, still trying it out. This is how the Amish determine whether technology works for them. Rather than employ the precautionary principle, which says, unless you can prove there is no harm, don’t use new technology, the Amish rely on the enthusiasm of Amish early adopters to try stuff out until they prove harm.
For being off the grid, without TV, internet, or books, the Amish are perplexingly well-informed. There’s not much I could tell them that they didn’t know about, and already had an opinion on. And surprisingly, there’s not much new that at least one person in their church has not tried to use. The typical adoption pattern went like this:
Ivan is an Amish alpha-geek. He is always the first to try a new gadget or technique. He gets in his head that the new flowbitzmodulator would be really useful. He comes up with a justification of how it fits into the Amish orientation. So he goes to his bishop with this proposal: “I like to try this out.” Bishop says to Ivan, “Okay Ivan, do whatever you want with this. But you have to be ready to give it up, if we decide it is not helping you or hurting others.” So Ivan acquires the tech and ramps it up, while his neighbors, family, and bishops watch intently. They weigh the benefits and drawbacks. What is it doing to the community? Cell phone use in the Amish began that way. According to anecdote, the first Amish alpha geeks to request permission to use cell phones were two ministers who were also contractors. The bishops were reluctant to give permission but suggested a compromise: keep the cell phones in the vans of the drivers. The van would be a mobile phone shanty. Then the community would watch the contractors. It seemed to work so others early adopters picked it up. But still at any time, even years later, the bishops can say no.
(..) They all recognize the line keeps moving, but a line must remain. My impression is that the Amish are living about 50 years behind us. They don’t adopt everything new but what new technology they do embrace, they take up about half a century after everyone else does. By that time, the benefits and costs are clear, the technology stable, and it is cheap.
The Amish are steadily adopting technology — at their pace. They are slow geeks. As one Amish man told Howard Rheingold, “We don’t want to stop progress, we just want to slow it down,” But their manner of slow adoption is instructive.
1) They are selective. They know how to say “no” and are not afraid to refuse new things. They ban more than they adopt.
2) They evaluate new things by experience instead of by theory. They let the early adopters get their jollies by pioneering new stuff under watchful eyes.
3) They have criteria by which to select choices: technologies must enhance family and community and distance themselves from the outside world.
4) The choices are not individual, but communal. The community shapes and enforces technological direction.
"Your brain is an existence proof that 20W is sufficient for a full human-level general intelligence. Einstein is no more energy intensive than a village idiot."
"Someone in the Soviet leadership realized that the general secretary was going off the rails"
"Mr. Andropov knew what Mr. Kissinger did not: Mr. Brezhnev had developed an addiction to sleeping pills that, combined with alcohol, was undermining his ability to think straight. Mr. Andropov learned of the addiction weeks before the war in the Middle East but refused to intervene. Mr. Brezhnev’s erratic behavior during the war convinced Mr. Andropov of the dangers of inaction."
“The Russians are adept at identifying Ukrainian positions by their electrometric signatures,” Army Col. Liam Collins wrote in the August issue of Army Magazine.
“In one tactic, soldiers receive texts telling them they are ‘surrounded and abandoned.’ Minutes later, their families receive a text stating, ‘Your son is killed in action,’ which often prompts a call or text to the soldiers. Minutes later, soldiers receive another message telling them to ‘retreat and live,’ followed by an artillery strike to the location where a large group of cellphones was detected.”
"Nixon was suffering from mental illness and taking daily medication without a prescription. He was under heavy stress from the Watergate scandal. Schlesinger (Secretary of Defence) ordered military not to react to orders from the White House unless he cleared them first. Nixon ordered bombing raids that were silently canceled by Kissinger."
A hacker army has systematically undermined practically every sector of Ukraine: media, finance, transportation, military, politics, energy. Wave after wave of intrusions have deleted data, destroyed computers, and in some cases paralyzed organizations’ most basic functions. “You can’t really find a space in Ukraine where there hasn’t been an attack,” says Kenneth Geers, a NATO ambassador who focuses on cybersecurity.
But many global cybersecurity analysts have a much larger theory about the endgame of Ukraine’s hacking epidemic: They believe Russia is using the country as a cyberwar testing ground—a laboratory for perfecting new forms of global online combat.
[..] The infection had triggered the same boot-record overwrite technique to brick the machines just as staffers were working to prepare a morning TV news bulletin ahead of the country’s local elections.( ... tālāk ... )
"Our maximum lifespan may not have changed much, if at all."
"But the EU's own bailout entrenched Russia's position in the Cypriot financial system, when it forced Russian and other savers to convert 47.5 percent of all deposits above €100,000 into bank shares in what was called a 'bail-in.'
"The EU unintentionally handed over Bank of Cyprus [to the Russians]," Demetriades said.
"They thought they were cleaning up Cyprus from dirty money, but now it looks like they made things worse," he said.
The effect of the bailout was "very ironic, almost surrealistic," Michel Koutouzis, a French criminologist, who previously worked for the EU and UN, also told EUobserver.
"It made Russian capital stronger because Cypriot banks now needed that money more than ever," he said.
That, in turn, gave Russian oligarchs the power to call the shots, he added. "'If you don't do as I say, then tomorrow I'll withdraw a billion, or two billion, from your bank' - that's how it works," Koutouzis said."
"Rimšēvičs was among those who oversaw the creation of the Latvian banking sector in the 1990s, says Valery Kargin, co-founder of one of the oldest banks, Parex Banka. An important institution in those days, Parex had high-level Russian connections, including with Vladimir Putin before he was president, Kargin says."
"Any Soviet who went abroad, even in those final years of the USSR, would have been “of interest” to the KGB security apparatus, says Arnolds Babris, a top Latvian intelligence official from 1995 to 2002. Rimšēvičs bristles when asked if he’d needed any KGB ties to get to the U.S. He says he won the coveted place on the basis of his top grades and a good command of English."
"Valery Kargin was one of a handful of well-connected Latvian businessmen who made their fortune offering financial services in the early ’90s. Kargin co-founded Parex as a foreign exchange office in Riga after obtaining a license from authorities in Moscow in the months before the Soviet Union fell apart. He set up its headquarters in the building housing the Latvian branch of the Soviet Bank of Industrial Construction, or Promstroybank."
"As the Parex saga shows, there was a Wild West quality to Latvia’s banking landscape in those days. And Rimšēvičs was at the center of it. He was “one of the creators and curators of the current banking system, including the supervision,” Kargin says. The Financial and Capital Market Commission, which regulates Latvian banks, wasn’t established until 2001, the year Rimšēvičs became the central bank’s governor. Before then, regulation fell to the central bank. Since then, the governor and the finance minister jointly nominate the FCMC chairman, who is subject to parliamentary confirmation." [Starp citu, līdzīgi kā ar FKTK vadītāju, uz Noziedzīgi iegūtu līdzekļu legalizācijas novēršanas dienesta (Kontroles dienesta) priekšnieka amatu nominē Ģenerālprokurors.]
"In the early years, Parex’s Russian connections extended to Putin, then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg. Kargin says the future Russian president personally authorized permission for Parex to open an office in Russia’s second-biggest city. Kargin also says that Putin’s now-deceased mentor in St. Petersburg, then-Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, was on friendly terms with Kargin and his Parex partner, Viktor Krasovitsky. In 1997, threatened with corruption charges, Sobchak fled to Paris, whisked away in an aircraft that had been chartered with the help of Putin, who was by then an aide to President Boris Yeltsin. In 1998, two years before he died under suspicious circumstances, Sobchak traveled to Latvia to attend a lavish party at Krasovitsky’s seaside villa, says Sobchak’s widow, Lyudmila Narusova, who went with him." [Starp citu, kāpēc izskanēja ziņas par Putina meitu kontiem Latvijas bankās? Tikai sagadīšanās.]
Yeltsin: "You have to keep in mind that we are a great power"
Yeltsin: "I have another question, Bill. Please understand me correctly. Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion."
Demonstrācijai, dziesma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAiOjxk
"Bullough predicts that the next big thing will be poor countries selling ambassadorships. If you become ambassador to the Court of St James for some tiny island that you've never even visited, you have diplomatic immunity. Or you can offshore your embryo, as some enterprising Chinese officials now do. The husband fertilises the wife's egg, and they implant it in a Japanese woman, who gives birth to their child in Japan. The child has a Japanese passport, a chunk of the family money is transferred to his Japanese account, and now the family has somewhere to flee to, just in case."
The [Bretton Woods] system didn’t consider the owner of money to be the only person with a say in what happened to it. According to the carefully crafted rules, the nations that created and guaranteed the value of money had rights to that money, too. They restricted the rights of money-owners in the interests of everybody else. At Bretton Woods, the allies – desperate to avoid a repeat of the horrors of the inter-war depression and the second world war – decided that, when it came to international trade, society’s rights trumped those of money-owners.
All this is hard to imagine for anyone who has only experienced the world since the 1980s, because the system now is so different. Money flows ceaselessly between countries, nosing out investment opportunities in China, Brazil, Russia or wherever. If a currency is overvalued, investors sense the weakness and gang up on it like sharks around a sickly whale. In times of global crisis, the money retreats into the safety of gold or US government bonds. In boom times, it pumps up share prices elsewhere in its restless quest for a good return. These waves of liquid capital have such power that they can wash away all but the strongest governments. The prolonged speculative attacks on the euro, the rouble or the pound, which have been such a feature of the past few decades, would have been impossible under the Bretton Woods system, which was specifically designed to stop them happening.( ... tālāk ... )
"[S]perm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50 percent over the past four decades. (They judged data from the rest of the world to be insufficient to draw conclusions from, but there are studies suggesting that the trend could be worldwide.) That is to say: We are producing half the sperm our grandfathers did. We are half as fertile."
“We should hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” said Hagai Levine, a lead author of the study. “And that is the possibility that we will become extinct.”
"Testosterone levels have also dropped precipitously [..]. One of the most significant markers of an organism's sex is something called anogenital distance (AGD)—the measurement between the anus and the genitals. Male AGD is typically twice the length of female, a much more dramatic difference than height or weight or musculature. Lower testosterone leads to a shorter AGD, and a measurement lower than the median correlates to a man being seven times as likely to be subfertile and gives him a greater likelihood of having undescended testicles, testicular tumors, and a smaller penis."
“What you are seeing in a number of systems, other developmental systems, is that the sex differences are shrinking,” Swan told me. Men are producing less sperm. They're also becoming less male.
"When a chemical affects your hormones, it's called an endocrine disruptor. And it turns out that many of the compounds used to make plastic soft and flexible (like phthalates) or to make them harder and stronger (like Bisphenol A, or BPA) are consummate endocrine disruptors. Phthalates and BPA, for example, mimic estrogen in the bloodstream. If you're a man with a lot of phthalates in his system, you'll produce less testosterone and fewer sperm. If exposed to phthalates in utero, a male fetus's reproductive system itself will be altered: He will develop to be less male."
"The problem is that these chemicals are everywhere. BPA can be found in water bottles and food containers and sales receipts. Phthalates are even more common: They are in the coatings of pills and nutritional supplements; they're used in gelling agents, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents. [..] The CDC determined that just about everyone in the United States has measurable levels of phthalates in his or her body—they're unavoidable."
"Over the past 20 years, there have been occasional attempts to limit the number of endocrine disruptors in circulation, but inevitably the fixes are insubstantial: one chemical removed in favor of another, which eventually turns out to have its own dangers. That was the case with BPA, which was partly replaced by Bisphenol S, which might be even worse for you. The chemical industry, unsurprisingly, has been resistant to the notion that the billions of dollars of revenue these products represent might also represent terrible damage to the human body, and have often followed the model of Big Tobacco and Big Oil—fighting regulation with lobbyists and funding their own studies that suggest their products are harmless."
"Anyone who’s in this community knows people who are worried that America is heading toward something like the Russian Revolution"
The book’s 400-odd pages of near-hysterical orotundity can roughly be broken down into the following sequence of propositions:
1) The democratic nation-state basically operates like a criminal cartel, forcing honest citizens to surrender large portions of their wealth to pay for stuff like roads and hospitals and schools.
2) The rise of the internet, and the advent of cryptocurrencies, will make it impossible for governments to intervene in private transactions and to tax incomes, thereby liberating individuals from the political protection racket of democracy.
3) The state will consequently become obsolete as a political entity.
4) Out of this wreckage will emerge a new global dispensation, in which a “cognitive elite” will rise to power and influence, as a class of sovereign individuals “commanding vastly greater resources” who will no longer be subject to the power of nation-states and will redesign governments to suit their ends.
Much of this wealth disparity comes from the fact that the top 10% of households own 84% of the stock market, which is up from 77% in the early-2000s.
The majority of middle-class wealth is tied to homes, as more than 60 percent of investible assets are in a primary residence. Stock ownership makes up less than 10 percent of total assets for the middle class. Crashing home values during the last crisis decimated wealth for this cohort, while the very rich have less than 8 percent of their wealth tied up in their primary residence.
Although the public didn’t know it at the time, by the early 1950s, VENONA broke the back of the vast Kremlin spy network in America. A few traitors were executed, others went to prison, while many more were surrounded in scandal for decades. Moscow’s espionage operations here would not recover—at least not until the era of Trump, when Kremlin agents seem to have wormed their way back into our power circles in a manner not seen in Washington since the 1940s.
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