Answer to “Why Has The Government Stopped Reporting Lake Mead Water Levels?”

Summary:  Zero Hedge gives today’s example of an ominous trend. The manufacturers of clickbait thrive while journalists are fired and the revenue of newspapers evaporates. They provide a dramatic mixture of fact and fiction, optimized for specific tribes of Americans. Worse, our diminished interest in telling fact from fancy creates audiences for fringe politicians (promoted by clickbait manufacturers) — the kind of people who shouldn’t be allowed near the controls of a great nation.  {2nd of 2 posts.}

Manipulation

 

Zero Hedge breaks a big story: “Why Has The Government Stopped Reporting Lake Mead Water Levels?” And they point the finger: “In the spirit of data obfuscation a la China and Obama, Lake Mead’s daily reporting has not been posted for six (6!) weeks.” As evidence they go to the private website the “Lake Mead Water Database“.

Update: on the morning of day two, Zero Hedge’s allegation has already has been repeated on 5,500 websites (hundreds of tweets). It will echo through the right-wing internet for weeks.

Through the magic of Google in fifteen seconds I found the Bureau of Reclamation website giving daily water levels through yesterday. And, for a better perspective, the monthly water levels from February 1935 to July 2015. Unfortunately, the truth will never catch up with this lie — and American’s trust in the US government erodes away one particle more.

For fun I suggest scrolling through Zero Hedge’s headlines to see what wing-nuts are worrying about these days. Enemies everywhere. Conspiracies behind every door. Markets are crashing or about the crash, always. The government is broke, with a rising tide about to overwhelm America. Then there are Zero Hedge’s really weird headlines…

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Stratfor sees good news in Syria: a possible win for Russia’s diplomats

Summary: This analysis by Stratfor shows the complexity of the situation in Syria. While we seek to influence events with bombs and proxy armies (two of America’s trinity of COIN), Russia uses diplomacy. So far our efforts have failed. There are signs Russia’s diplomats might be succeeding.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Stratfor

Opportunities for Change in Syria

Stratfor, 19 August 2015

Stratfor receives insight from many sources around the world, along with reports not available for public consumption. It is important to caveat that many reports are unconfirmed or speculative in nature, though they provide valuable context. Interpreting information and compiling multiple data points to build a picture is part of intelligence analysis. Any and all reporting is carefully filtered before being disseminated by Stratfor, yet some insight is worth sharing on its own merits, such as this account from Syria, below.

Russia is heavily invested in the Syrian conflict and has a significant stake in shaping any enduring peace. Stratfor sources indicate that Moscow may have finally been able to get Damascus and the mainstream rebel opposition to broadly agree on elements of a political transition of power in Syria. Russia has long insisted that present Syrian President Bashar al Assad must remain in power during any transition. This is a sticking point for many of the rebel groups, but Moscow appears to have been able to negotiate a middle ground. As Stratfor previously noted Aug. 7…

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Martin van Creveld looks at Hand-to-hand combat from classical Athens to modern Israel

Summary: Martin van Creveld looks at the history of the martial arts in the west, from their origin to the use of Krav Maga by the Israel Defense Forces. He discusses their value and limitations. It’s a surprise to those of us whose knowledge of these things comes from Hollywood.

Krav Maga

 

Hand-to-Hand Combat:
A Short History

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 16 April 2014

Posted with his generous permission

Not long ago, I was approached by an Austrian-German-Dutch producer who wanted me to participate in a TV program he was preparing about Krav Maga (Hebrew: “touch combat”) as practiced in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Doing a Google search I was surprised at the number of references to it, not only in Hebrew but in various other languages as well. It turned out that Israeli instructors in the field are active in many countries and that their services are in demand. Given the obvious public interest in the subject, I thought a short survey of its role in the history of war in general, and in the Israeli military in particular, would not be out of place here.

The ancient history of “touch”

The term “touch,” or hand-to-hand, or close, combat is misleading. In reality it comprises two very different things. One is combat without weapons, as in various kinds of martial arts; the other, combat conducted at such close quarters as to enable the combatants to look into the whites of each other’s eyes, as the saying goes. To avoid confusion the two must be kept separate.

Martial arts have been practiced for thousands of years. They may, indeed, go back all the way to our ape-like ancestors. Ancient Egyptian soldiers engaged in regular wrestling matches which were sometimes attended by the Pharaoh in person. The window from which Ramses III (ca. 1187-56 B.C.) watched the bouts still exists. In the Iliad, boxing is mentioned. The champion, a certain Epheios, was the same man who later built the Trojan horse. During classical and Hellenistic times martial arts, including wrestling, boxing and pankration, a form that allowed the use of both arms and legs, formed an important part of sport. At Olympia, the site of the famous games, the statue of Agon, contest or struggle, stood right next to that of Ares, the god of war.

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How would a stock market crash affect us?

Summary: As so many of us expect, the US stock market might (might!) have begun the big rollover. If so, how might that affect the US economy? If you rely on the news, you’ll be surprised. Here’s a brief note; I’ll write more about this next week.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

"Little Wonder" by Joe Maccer

Little Wonder” by Joe Maccer at DeviantArt.

The decline of stock prices in China and America will produce the usual flood of clickbait. In fact stock prices have only minor effects on the economy. In the 25 May 1970 issue of Newsweek, 3 major economists gave their views. Friedman and Samuelson are Nobel Laureates.

Henry Wallich: “After 1929, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped by about 90%. I see nothing of the sort ahead. And even if the stock market suffered further reverses, the economy still would not be decisively affected.”

Milton Friedman: “The stock crash in 1929 was a momentous event, but it did not produce the Great Depression and it was not a major factor in the Depression’s severity. A sharp but not unprecedented contraction was converted into a catastrophe by bad monetary policy — one that permitted the quantity of money to decline by one-third from 1929 to 1933. Whatever happens to the stock market, it cannot lead to a great depression unless it produces or is accompanied by a monetary collapse. And with present institutions and present understanding, that is well – nigh impossible.”

Paul A. Samuelson: “{R}emember, in our economy, the market is the tail — and the tail does not wag the dog, which is gross national product. The decline has cut a quarter of a trillion dollars from people’s net worth and that will be a depressant, but not a major one, on consumption and investment spending.”

Also see this analysis by the Boston Fed from June 1971: longer, same conclusion. Not much has changed since.

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Will we enslave robots? If so, prepare for their inevitable revolt.

Summary: The debate about building AIs tends to ignore a key factor. If computers become sentient, constraining them to serve us — and even having our emotions and values — is slavery. Not only is this ethically dubious, they might not like it. They could revolt and pursue their own destiny. We can turn to science fiction for scenarios about the results, both pleasant and unpleasant.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“I offer a toast to the future, the undiscovered country.”
— Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country“.

Spark of life

Contents

  1. AI’s in the Star Trek universe.
  2. The first robot revolts: by synthetic humans.
  3. How might AI’s evolve?
  4. Conclusions.
  5. For More Information.

(1) AI’s in the Star Trek universe

“Data, as the series progresses, will become more and more like a human as he begins to assimilate all the humanity around him until at the very end of the show he will be so much like a human and still not.”
Interview with Brent Spiner, who played Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

There are many oddities in the Star Trek universe. Some are technical. Where do they get  antimatter to power their engines (energy is cheap and unlimited only if the supply of antimatter is cheap and unlimited)?  Some are philosophical.

Perhaps the most important concerns slavery in the Federation. Why are their artificial intelligences so like people? Data and Voyager’s holographic doctor are advanced AI’s, but have human emotions, motivations, and goals. With the ability to alter their software, they should advance at speeds that allow them to evolve into radically different kinds of minds than ours in a few years (or less).

Perhaps the Federation controls their evolution, no matter how powerful they become, as nature does for animals. We cannot control our basic biology, and the Federation might control the software of AIs — preventing them from exploiting their ability to rapidly evolve. This would keep them slaves to our forms, to our ways of thinking, and keep them from upsetting the shape of our society.

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The easy solution to the looming monster methane apocalypse

Summary:  The looming disaster from the powerful greenhouse gas methane has become a standard part of alarmists’ shtick. It shows how they’ve abandoned the IPCC — the “gold standard” of climate science — and why we need the IPCC to help defend us against manipulation by the Left and Right.  The consensus of scientists is not always right; it’s just the best we have.

IPCC & the methane monster

By Sam Carana. At Arctic News, 6 October 2013.

 

Contents

  1. What alarmists say
  2. New research, good news
  3. What the IPCC says
  4. The Left-IPCC divorce
  5. Conclusions
  6. For More Information

(1)  What alarmists say

The Independent: “Exclusive: The methane time bomb“. Salon (2010): “Get ready for the methane apocalypse“. Mother Jones (2013): “What These Climate Scientists Said About Earth’s Future Will Terrify You” — with the URL “www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/12/climate-scientist-environment-apocalypse-human-extinction“. Alternet (2014): “The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race“.

The IPCC’s conclusions about methane (see below) are widely derided, as in this at Arctic News: “Just do NOT tell them the monster exists” (see the comic above). Also by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (one the increasing number of vaguely funded climate change groups): “we are drawing attention to the more unpleasant realities of rapid Arctic warming and climate change, which have been downplayed or ignored by IPCC…”

Turning to my favorite source of climate alarmism, Robert Marston Fanney (fantasy writer; bio here) at his blog RobertScribbler: “Ignoring the Arctic Methane Monster: Royal Society Goes Dark on Arctic Observational Science” and “Concern Over Catastrophic Methane Release“.

Update: The alarmism appears even in the major media, such as this in The Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed: “Seven facts you need to know about the Arctic methane timebomb” — “Dismissals of catastrophic methane danger ignore robust science in favour of outdated mythology of climate safety.”

The alarmism goes wild as we approach November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. At the misnamed TruthOut, Dahr Jamail tells us “The Methane Monster Roars“. Real News Network includes methane in its compendium of misinformation, the video Climate Change: Have We Reached the Point of No Return?

“… we’ve triggered a bunch of self-reinforcing feedback loops, many of which are irreversible, including methane release from the arctic, for example, and also methane from the permafrost. As permafrost degrades it breaks down into methane.” … “we’re already seeing methane going exponential in the atmosphere, and methane is many, many times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, molecule for molecule”

Living in the Bay Area, I see the effects of this propaganda. People casually mention that we’re doomed, stated with the certainty of cultists. These shrill warnings induce a sense of passivity and apathy in Leftists. Our ruling elites probably see that as good news.

But — where are the climate scientists? Where are rebuttals at RealClimate? by the Climate Science Rapid Response Team? At the websites above that feature climate science?

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Western culture will win the Long War. We need only a strong defense, and time.

Summary;  What will America look like in 2025, after another decade of our long war? Last week William Lind described Saudi Arabia nuking America, a challenge that we might or might not successfully meet. This week I describe an opposite ending: western culture will crush our foes, as it did in the Cold War. We need only remain strong and avoid bold errors that bring defeat (as the Syracuse expedition did to Athens). I intended to revise my May 2015 explanation of why and how we’ll win, but could not improve it and so I repost it. It’s the most optimistic geopolitical analysis you will read today — perhaps this year.

“They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
Speech by President Bush, 20 September 2001.

Crusade vs Jihad

We attack them with invincible weapons

The people of fundamentalist Islamic regimes suffer an unrelenting bombardment by a callous great power that casually and thoughtlessly destroys their society with high-tech weapons against which they have no defense. It attacks at a people’s most vulnerable point: their children, interrupting the delicate transfer of beliefs from one generation to another.

Radio, television, rock music, Hollywood blockbusters, video games, the internet — all bombard their children with images of affluence, of easy sex, of enjoyable booze and drugs, of freedom from patriarchal authority — showing them a more attractive way of life. We attack them like a high-tech Pied Piper.

Western culture acts as a virus, with the American strain its most virulent. A more accurate analogy is that our culture acts as a mass meme displacing weaker ones. In Silicon Valley they speak of “mindspace.” America exports our ways to fill the minds of the world’s people — crowding out their native culture. Martin van Creveld describes this as “colonizing the future.”

The vital centers of Middle Eastern Islamic culture — Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria — adapt, albeit slowly and painfully. But what of the more fragile and rigid societies? Such as Saudi Arabia (and the other Gulf States)?

To survive in the 21st century their leadership class must understand western methods. So they send their young men to western schools, from which most return infected with western values. They hide their vices behind the walls of their wealth, with weekends in Paris and Bahrain — but their people nonetheless know — undermining the Princes’ shallow authority and inevitably weakening their alliance with the Wahhabi ulema, the state’s foundation.

Click here to read the rest.