Category Archives: Uncategorized

Feeding Frenzy in the Echo Chamber, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Raúl Ilargi Meijer echoes the critique of the MSM made in “Breaking the Alternative Media’s Dependency on the Mainstream Media.” From Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

The best comment on the June 13 Jeff Sessions Senate testimony, and I’m sorry I forgot who made it, was that it looked like an episode of Seinfeld. A show about nothing. Still, an awful lot of voices tried to make it look like it was something life- and game-changing. It was not. Not anymore than Comey’s testimony was, at least not in the sense that those eager to have these testimonies take place would have liked it to be.

Comey shone more of an awkward light on himself rather than on Donald Trump, by admitting that he had leaked info on a private conversation with the president he served at the time. Not quite nothing, but very little to satisfy the anti-Trump crowd. It’s just that there’s so many in that crowd, and most in denial, that you wouldn’t know it unless you paid attention.

To cut to the chase of the issue, it’s no longer possible -or at least increasingly difficult- to find coverage in the US -and European- press of anything related to either Trump or Russia that doesn’t come solidly baked in a partisan opinionated sauce.

For instance, I have a Google News page, somewhat personalized, and I haven’t been able to open it for quite some time without the top news articles focusing on Trump and/or Russia, and all the ones at the very top are invariably from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, The Hill, Politico et al.

But I am not interested in those articles. These ‘news’ outlets -and you really must ask whether using the word ‘news’ is appropriate here- dislike anything Trump and Putin so much, for some reason, that all they do is write ‘stuff’ in a 24/7 staccato beat based on innuendo and allegations, quoted from anonymous sources that may or may not actually exist.

In the case of Russia, this attitude is many years old; in the case of Trump, it dates back to him announcing his candidacy. And that’s funny, because when you think back to who else was a GOP candidate, how can you not wonder if Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush would really have been better presidents than Trump? The Trump presidency is not an indictment of the man himself, but of the entire US political system.

To continue reading: Feeding Frenzy in the Echo Chamber

 

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What Might be Missing in the Muslim World? by Denis MacEoin

Religious fanaticism, Islamic or otherwise, does not coexist well with scientific inquiry and innovation. From Denis MacEoin at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Recently, Chinese, Japanese and other educators have found that rote learning and endless drills produce high achievers without creativity, originality, or the ability to think for themselves. Western academic standards of rationality and objectivity have been behind most of the West’s achievements.
  • “The campus has three mosques with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics.” — Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, commenting on Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, the second-best university among the 57 Muslim states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
  • The very thought that “Islamic science” has to be different from “Western science” suggests the need for a radically different way of thinking. Scientific method is scientific method and rationality is rationality, regardless of the religion practiced by individual scientists.

In April this year, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh ‘Ali Gomaa, told an interviewer what he meant as a flat statement of fact: that there are no female heart surgeons, as such work required strength and other capabilities that no woman possesses. He put it this way:

“You may have noticed that there is not a single female heart surgeon in the world… It’s amazing. It’s peculiar. Why do you think that there are none? Because it requires great physical effort — beyond what a woman is capable of. That’s in general. Along comes a woman who challenges this, and she succeeds in becoming a surgeon. But she is one woman among several million male surgeons.”

Now even a child could have carried out a simple Google search and realized that there are countless female surgeons and many female heart surgeons. It would not have taken long to find, for example, the US Association of Women Surgeons, which includes heart surgeons — and that would have settled his hash. But apparently deep-seated, pre-formed judgements about women’s abilities prevented Gomaa from using whatever powers of reasoning and intelligence he may possess.

Sadly, there often seems a profound absence of scientific probing within the Muslim world.

It seems reasonable to assume that levels of intelligence are pretty well the same around the world, regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation. As human beings, we share the same brainpower, just as we share all other physical functions. Mercifully, earlier views of racial inequality have in most places been replaced by a more fact-based understanding of human characteristics. Today, theories put forward in the last two centuries of a supposed “racial supremacy” of white people have been happily discarded. In democratic societies, white supremacists are universally loathed.

To continue reading: What Might be Missing in the Muslim World?

Jim Grant Explains the Gold Standard, by Ryan McMaken

Gold standards impose discipline on governments and their monetary systems, which is why governments and monetary mandarins hate the gold standard. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

Earlier this month in the Wall Street JournalJames Grant explored the latest academic attack on the gold standard — this time in the form of One Nation Under Gold by financial journalist James Ledbetter.

Not that the establishment economics profession needs another book trashing gold. Among the university- and government-employed PhDs who hand down their wisdom about economics from on high, few have anything but disdain for the yellow metal.

RELATED: “The United States of Insolvency” — An Interview with James Grant

Grant knows this all too well and notes:

As if to clinch the case against gold — and, necessarily, the case for the modern-day status quo — Mr. Ledbetter writes: “Of forty economists teaching at America’s most prestigious universities — including many who’ve advised or worked in Republican administrations — exactly zero responded favorably to a gold-standard question asked in 2012.” Perhaps so, but “zero” or thereabouts likewise describes the number of established economists who in 2005, ’06 and ’07 anticipated the coming of the biggest financial event of their professional lives. The economists mean no harm. But if, in unison, they arrive at the conclusion that tomorrow is Monday, a prudent person would check the calendar.

Nevertheless, the gold standard has a reputation for being dark and nefarious. It’s backward and limiting, and the sort of thing one ought to associate with crucifixion, as implied in William Jennings Bryan’s famous Cross of Gold speech.

But, as Grant sums things up, it’s not as complicated as all that:

What was the gold standard, exactly — this thing that the professors dismiss so airily today? A self-respecting member of the community of gold-standard nations defined its money as a weight of bullion. It allowed gold to enter and leave the country freely. It exchanged bank notes to gold, and vice versa, at a fixed and inviolable rate. The people, not the authorities, decided which form of money was best.

The gold standard was a hard task master, all right. You couldn’t devalue your way out of trouble. You couldn’t run up a big domestic budget deficit. The central bank of a gold-standard country (if there was a central bank) was charged with preserving the convertibility of the currency and, in a pinch, serving as lender of last resort to needy commercial banks. Growth, employment and price stability took their own course. And if, in a financial panic or a business-cycle downturn, gold fled the country, it was the duty of the central bank to establish a rate of interest that called the metal home. In the throes of a crisis, interest rates would likely go up, not down.

To continue reading: Jim Grant Explains the Gold Standard

Were Confederate Generals Traitors? By Walter E. Williams

The American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention settled the question of whether states could secede. They could, until President Lincoln upended the settled answer. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

My “Rewriting American History” column of a fortnight ago, about the dismantling of Confederate monuments, generated considerable mail. Some argued there should not be statues honoring traitors such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, who fought against the Union. Victors of wars get to write the history, and the history they write often does not reflect the facts. Let’s look at some of the facts and ask: Did the South have a right to secede from the Union? If it did, we can’t label Confederate generals as traitors.

Article 1 of the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the war between the Colonies and Great Britain, held “New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States.” Representatives of these states came together in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a constitution and form a union.

During the ratification debates, Virginia’s delegates said, “The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” The ratification documents of New York and Rhode Island expressed similar sentiments.

At the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” rejected it. The minutes from the debate paraphrased his opinion: “A union of the states containing such an ingredient (would) provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”

To continue reading: Were Confederate Generals Traitors?

He Said That? 9/28/17

From Isaac Newton (1643-1727), English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, inventor, theologian and natural philosopher, cited in Rules for methodizing the Apocalypse, Rule 9, from a manuscript published in The Religion of Isaac Newton by Frank E. Manuel (1974):

Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.

 

Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars . . . ? by Eric Peters

Cars powered by compressed natural gas are, when all factors are taken into consideration, a lot “greener” than electric vehicles. They’re no longer sold because they aren’t a hybrid or electric, although CNG is clean, cheap, and abundant. From Eric Peters at theburningplatform.com:

It’s interesting to speculate about why solutions that would have actually worked – which did work –  seem to always just kind of .  . .   go away. 

Not the fabled 100 MPG carburetor. That probably never existed.

But how about cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)?

They did exist. And – much more interesting – they worked

Several car companies – including GM and Ford  – offered them, briefly, back in the late 1990s. Including CNG-powered versions of their full-size sedans (the Impala and Crown Victoria, respectively) with room for six and a V8 engine under the hood.

Beats hell out of a four cylinder hybrid.

And not just 0-60.

These CNG-powered cars didn’t cost a fortune – which made their economics much more sensible than most hybrids (and all electric cars).

They didn’t have functional gimps, either – and thus, were practical. Most could operate on either CNG or gasoline, so no worries about running out of CNG (as opposed to battery charge) and being stuck.

No range anxiety. No hours-long waits to refuel.

Even the infrastructure to provide for CNG refueling is already largely in place in most urban and suburban areas, because natural gas lines are already in place. If your home has a gas furnace or gas appliances you could also refuel a CNG-powered vehicle at home – and in minutes, not hours.

Massive government subsidies are not required. Not for the vehicles, not for the infrastructure/refueling facilities. As opposed to what would be absolutely necessary in order to make electric cars as mass-production vehicles functionally viable and leaving aside all the other considerations. Billions would have to be mulcted from taxpayers to erect a vast network of high-voltage “fast” chargers along the highways and secondary roads in order to keep hundreds of thousands – potentially, millions – of electric cars ambulatory.

To continue reading: Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars . . . ?

China Suffers “Delusion” like 1980s Japan, Faces Long Stagnation, by Wolf Richter

With everything going on in Illinois, Puerto Rico, Greece, Italy, and Spain, among others, it’s easy to take your off the Chinese ball. China is not in danger of imminent default, but the country is in for a long stretch of Japanese-style stagnation. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Sudden Financial Meltdown is less likely.

The Chinese government has the situation under control and will do whatever it takes to keep it under control — that’s in essence what Premier Li Keqiang said today in a speech at the World Economic Forum in the Chinese city of Dalian.

“We are fully capable of achieving the main economic targets for the full year,” Li said. The mandated growth rate this year is 6.5%.

“Currently, China also faces many difficulties and challenges, but we are fully prepared,” he said, according to Reuters. He said this because everyone from the IMF and the New York Fed on down has been pointing at and fretting about the debt powder keg that China keeps filling with ever more volatile compounds.

“There are indeed some risks in the financial sector, but we are able to uphold the bottom line of no systemic risks,” he said. “We are fully capable of preventing various risks and making sure economic operations will be within a reasonable range.”

So the powder keg isn’t going to blow up. As ever more debt is added, the government is pursuing the shift to a consumer-driven economy, while trying to tamp down on excess and outdated capacity in some select industries such as steel and coal. These cuts, Li said, would continue.

“No development is the biggest risk for China,” he said, so China wants to “sustain medium- to high-speed economic growth over the long term.” But given the size of China’s economy, it “will not be easy.” In other words, come hell or high water, credit creation will continue in order to maintain this mandated growth.

So when will this powder keg blow up?

It might not blow up; China might be able to prevent that kind of event, and it is less likely that China will melt down financially despite its terrific credit expansion, and there are no signs of an immediate crisis. But China, like Japan in the 1980s, is suffering from a “delusion” about how to fix its economic problems.

To continue reading: China Suffers “Delusion” like 1980s Japan, Faces Long Stagnation