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.
- Finland has 45 firearms per 100 people (3rd highest in the world)
A nation-state is like a fingerprint, it is unique. It is different from all others.
And to say it somehow doesn't matter is to say the nonsensical.
It ignores the obvious necessity of love of ones' own.
This is where I was born, this is who I was born to, this is who I love, this is who I hate.
"“You know why the Russians didn’t take Tbilisi in 2008?” Uhtegi asked me. “They were just up the road, 50 kilometers or so, and nothing was stopping them.”
Having spent many years in Georgia, I knew the answer to this one: because Georgians are crazy. Uhtegi barked a laugh. “Yes. Exactly. Georgians are crazy, and they would fight. The idea of this unwinnable asymmetric fight in Tbilisi was not so appealing to the Russians.”
He continued: “There are always these discussions. Like, yeah. The Russians can get to Tallinn in two days. ... Maybe. [The Estonian capital is about 125 miles from the Russian border.] But they can’t get all of Estonia in two days. They can get to Tallinn, and behind them, we will cut their communication lines and supplies lines and everything else.” That dead-eyed Baltic stare fixes me again. “They can get to Tallinn in two days. But they will die in Tallinn. And they know this. … They will get fire from every corner, at every step.”"
via watt. well worth a read in full
"Last year, China paid $260 billion importing chips—60% more than it spent on oil."
"Working with these units in Trojan Footprint, U.S. special operations forces simulated an operation to “clear the way” for a counteroffensive by NATO’s conventional military forces to liberate the Baltics from an invasion.
“I put a lot of stock in the deterrent effect of us being here,” Ferguson said. “Our constant presence in the Baltics sends a clear signal that we’re going to take any sort of shenanigans seriously. I think that’s an important message to send.”
The Special Forces commander paused, narrowed his eyes a touch, and added: “Going to war with America is no joke.”( ... tālāk ... )
“Silicon Valley fears a political solution to privacy. Internet Freedom and crypto offer an acceptable solution”
"Differences in climate made butter and milk a mark of otherness—unlike cheese which kept better in warmer climes. Since the presence of large, powerful cities and cultures in the far north is a relatively modern development, this linked any non-cheese dairy with inferior (or at least less powerful) groups.
Drinking milk wasn’t unknown in places such as Ancient Rome. But for similar reasons, it was linked with the country and lower classes. Until the age of refrigeration, very little fresh drinking milk was consumed in the Middle East. In Rome, due to the inevitability of spoilage, and because fresh milk was available only on farms, it was consumed mostly by the farmers’ children and by peasants who lived nearby, often with salted or sweetened bread. This led to fresh milk’s being widely regarded as a food of low status. Drinking milk was something that only crude, uneducated rural people did and was rare among adults of all social classes."
“The crux of the problem is that the field of artificial intelligence has not come to grips with the infinite complexity of language. Just as you can make infinitely many arithmetic equations by combining a few mathematical symbols and following a small set of rules, you can make infinitely many sentences by combining a modest set of words and a modest set of rules.
No matter how much data you have and how many patterns you discern, your data will never match the creativity of human beings or the fluidity of the real world. The universe of possible sentences is too complex.”
"The returns on (the right kind of) real estate have been so extraordinary that, according to some economists, real estate alone may account for essentially all of the increase in wealth concentration over the past half century."
"On complexity vs sophistication: During the cold war, a US company noticed the USSR had stolen the plans for a natural gas pipeline system, but not the software.
In response, the US introduced an integer overflow bug that was uptime dependent, and took something like 6 months to hit. The bug simultaneously cranked up the pumps and closed all the valves in the network.
It was known that the Soviet economy would crash in under a year without the ability to cheaply move natural gas, so they couldn’t test long enough to find this.
A year or so later, the DoD’s seismographs detected the largest non-nuclear explosion in human history.
The main impact wasn’t the explosion or the short-term economic damage. The main impact was that the USSR stopped trusting stolen software, which set them way further back, economically and militarily.
Arguably, that ~one line of code was infinitely more sophisticated than stuxnet."
"The truth is that domestication makes any animal dumb. You name the species — dogs, cats, cows, horses, sheep, pigs — human selection on “tameness” for thousands of years accumulates a wide array of traits, including floppier ears, shorter snouts, hair color variability and the like, most likely based on more basic inherited alterations in certain stem cell and stress hormone production patterns (see Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World, by Richard Francis, for a great read on all this). Different species show these external traits to different degrees. But the trait that ALL domesticated species demonstrate relative to their wild species is a smaller brain. I’d bet it’s happening with humans, too, but that’s just an observation for another day."
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