Music

This page has several hours of YouTube videos of peaceful and serene music distributed over several playlists. Click on “continue reading” to show all playlists. Single click on a playlist to start playing. After that, double click on the playlist to make it full screen. Double click again to change it back. Several of the Continue reading »

Oil: Primary Energy Source for the Human Social CAS

On the “About” page of her blog site, Our Finite World, Gail Tverberg writes:

In early 2007, Gail decided to devote full-time to issues related to oil shortages, and other shortages, and their impact on the economy.

She explains in one sentence what she is about – a researcher and writer on the relationship between material shortages, particularly oil, and the economy. A sharp focus like this is usually the sign of a sharp mind. At the same time, she confirms our intuition that the issues around oil are a full time job, validating our decision to largely avoid the topic. Now that we share her interest in the context of networks or CASs, we will pick up the topic by distilling her latest essay, Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network.

This essay becomes the first on the energy aspect of our new series on complex adaptive systems (CAS: The Operative Principle Behind Everything). In extracts that we quote from her essay any emphasis will be ours unless otherwise noted.

Why You Need Bees

A recent phenomenon of rising concern is the die-off of honey bee colonies. The problem is placed in perspective by this delightful TED talk (15:57 minutes) by biologist Marla Spivak.

Our particular interest apart from the nature of the bee colony itself is the connectedness of a range of factors that converge in this problem. We explain why you should care.

Sam Collins – July 2014

  • Short-term:
    • defensive waiting on how market handles DOW 17,000
  • Midterm:
    • bullish
  • Long-term:
    • the long-term trend is bullish

Jeopardy Question: This Body of Water Determines the Fate of the Modern Day Anasazi

The answer is Lake Mead and the civilization that is about to disappear like the Anasazi is Las Vegas and its profligate life style.  We were motivated to write this essay, partly because it is a piece in the puzzle of a larger theme that we have begun on complex adaptive systems (CAS: The Operative Principle Behind Everything) and partly by this article from Zero Hedge: Las Vegas Is “Screwed”; The Water Situation “Is As Bad As You Can Imagine”. We first look at a few facts about Las Vegas. Then we look at Lake Mead and its importance to the region. Finally we look at the present state of affairs and Las Vegas’ future.

The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet

By George Friedman

In February 1968, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a general offensive in Vietnam during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. From mid-1966 onward, the North Vietnamese had found themselves under increasing pressure from American and South Vietnamese forces. They were far from defeated, but they were weakening and the likelihood of their military victory was receding. The North Vietnamese decided to reverse the course of the war militarily and politically by marshaling available forces, retaining only limited reserves and going on the offensive throughout South Vietnam.

The attack had three strategic purposes. First, the North Vietnamese wanted to trigger a general uprising against the Americans and the South Vietnamese government. Second, they wanted to move the insurgency to the next stage by seizing and holding significant territory and resisting counterattack. And third, they wanted to destabilize their enemy psychologically by demonstrating that intelligence reports indicating their increasing weakness were wrong. They also wanted to impose casualties on the Americans at an unprecedented rate. The American metric in the war was the body count; increasing the body count dramatically would therefore create a crisis of confidence in the U.S. public and within the military and intelligence community.

CAS: The Operative Principle Behind Everything

under construction

We first encountered complex adaptive systems (CASs) when doing graduate work in computer science. When our interests moved to economies and markets, the fact that these were CASs was always in the back of our mind. Recently it occurred to us that a/the fundamental property of a CAS is its internal energy in both quantity and structure, how this energy is acquired and how it is used. The acquisition of energy in an appropriate form is a necessary condition for the survival and growth of a CAS. Consequently we began to rethink CASs from the viewpoint of their inputs.

Very recently, several articles have come to our attention that seem related from our new perspective. It’s quite wonderful how a new line of thinking turns everything we encounter into a “nail” for it hammer out. We see a path forward that applies CASs to a diverse range of topics that have engaged our interest – some we have written about and many not even touched.

This inaugural essay will act as a table of contents to the series much like the one on socialism that we have been developing (Socialism: One of the Two Great Destructive Forces of the Twenty-first Century). The first step is to develop a definition of a CAS that we can begin from. A very cursory look at the literature suggest possibly several essays or chapters leading to a concise and sufficiently abstract representation of what a CAS is that it will have the widespread generality required to encompass our physical world. The notion of energy will have to be abstracted as part of this initial research or a close follow-on. We may then begin to analyze the classes of global problems that are gaining global prominence.

Islamism: No Caliphate Here

When Mohammed created the religion/cult of Islam, he had no opposition in terms on theological (doctrinal), ideological, military or genealogical grounds. Nightwatch posted a short news update today (NightWatch 20140629):

The Caliphate. ISIL declared the restoration of the Caliphate, an Islamic State that includes all the territories ISIL has conquered. It called on all Muslims to pledge their allegiance. ISIL leader al-Baghdadi declared himself Caliph Ibrahim.

Comment: The Caliph is supposed to be the legitimate successor to Mohammed. There are many who would claim this title. This declaration will be challenged on theological, ideological, military and genealogical grounds.

Our emphasis is the basis for our contention that no Caliphate is possible in the near future if ever. The deep internal schism in Islam between Sunnis and Shias ensures that no single leader is likely to emerge that can unify the divided house. Military conquest of one side over the other would be a necessary first step. We believe that for all the missteps the US has made in affecting the balance of power in this onging war, they will try and prevent one side from gaining ascendancy.

This does not mean that the spread of Islam is not a threat to our Western cultures and societies. It means that the threat can more easily be contained if we manifest the political will to do so. Westerners fail to understand that once a Muslim owns territory anywhere, that territory is forever part of the future Caliphate. That includes the mosque in your neighborhood and the property of your Islamic neighbour next door.

Commentary

We asked our friend Paul Merkley to vet our short piece above. His valuable comments follow:

I don’t think you can say that Muhammad had no opposition, etc.. The whole thrust of his revelation is that it overturns the corrupted teaching of the Jews. It was the local Jewish community that brought to his attention the Jewish tradition —which at first he tried to co-opt by claiming that his message clearly fulfilled it, but then, having been, as Muslims recall “mocked” by the Jews, he proceeded to dismantle the Jewish teaching, keeping all of its key concepts, declaring everything from about Genesis 12 onward as fabrication. He did not intend that his teaching should be received as a free-floating new insight into everything but as the hidden truth – Islam — that had always been behind all Jewish and Christian scripture. Muslims are obliged to believe that the continuation of Judaism and Christianity amounts to a perverse defiance of Allah’s message, contained in the Qur’an. This explains the unforgiving malice of Muhammad and all his followers towards our faith and our civilization.

Otherwise, I am in full agreement with your analysis. I believe it would be madness to imagine that we have a dog in the race that is going on in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and beyond. Obama’s newly-announced policy of searching for democratic elements and assisting them is utter madness. .No one of the parties – Shia, Sunni, Kurds should be assisted by us. We must hope that the interfering outsiders – Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the other Middle East sheikhdoms – will checkmate each other – to our benefit. , Our entire policy should be to contain these demonic energies so that they waste themselves within the borders of Syria and Iraq.

Paul Merkley

The Geopolitics of Ramadan

We republish this essay from Stratfor because it informs about the Muslim psych and the eternal and terminal battle they wage against Kafirs or Infidels (that’s you by the way).

Summary

Ramadan for most people is a religious occasion when Muslims around the world fast from dawn until dusk. During this lunar month, the faithful also try to pray as much as possible and seek to maximize the practice of good deeds. However, Ramadan has a much less talked about geopolitical dimension.

GM Announces New Recall Strategy

With news of the latest GM recall (read: Three More GM Recalls Today: When Will It End? and GM adds three more recalls of more than 450K) covering more than 473,600 vehicles and 20 million in total this year, GM has developed a new recall policy. When a consumer buys any new GM vehicle, it will be recalled before it leaves the dealership and on every anniversary of the initial purchase for 10 years. This should eliminate most of the recall notices that the company has been forced to make. An official noted that they had considered recalling vehicle as soon as they left the production line and reserve the right to extent their recall policy to include this preemptive action.

Followup Gut Splitter

Two days after posting this, MarketWatch informs us: GM recalls another 7.6 million cars. It confounds us that GM can still sell cars! We’d short the stock as a bet on total management  incompetency in the company but we’re afraid that that this incompetence may be exceeded by the gullibility and ignorance manifest by the general public. The optimal strategy for the public would seem to be to own two different model GM vehicles from different model years. This will increase the odds of having at least one road-worthy GM vehicle at any time.

The United States Has Unfinished Business in Ukraine and Iraq

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By George Friedman

In recent weeks, some of the international system’s unfinished business has revealed itself. We have seen that Ukraine’s fate is not yet settled, and with that, neither is Russia’s relationship with the European Peninsula. In Iraq we learned that the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the creation of a new Iraqi political system did not answer the question of how the three parts of Iraq can live together. Geopolitical situations rarely resolve themselves neatly or permanently.

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