Barrel Strength

Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Some very clever people believe this

Jeffrey Sachs is the Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.

Climate change is the greatest of these environmental threats (though by far not the only one). Given the current trajectory of global fossil-fuel use, the planet’s temperature is likely to rise by 4-6 degrees Celsius above its pre-industrial level, an increase that would be catastrophic for food production, human health, and biodiversity; indeed, in many parts of the world, it would threaten communities’ survival. Governments have already agreed to keep warming below 2º Celsius but have yet to take decisive action toward creating a low-carbon energy system.

To which Duggan’s Dew replied: “The cancer has reached his brain”.

They know; you are transparent to them

Here is something that might interest you.

First an article on the amazing success of some highly successful hackers – likely the NSA – who have been undetected for 15 years, called “the Equation Group”.

“How omnipotent hackers tied to the NSA hid for 14 years and were found at last”.

Then, an article on the significance of part of what they did, which was to hack hard drives. Also courtesy of Ars Technica.

The significance of these hacks is to allow someone able to do it to become a “superuser”, thereby entitling him to modify, access, read or otherwise manipulate nay aspect of the computer’s functioning.

If you want to read the insanely clever way this can be done, I refer you to Jeroen Domburg’s blog, with 8 pages of incomprehensible (to me) technobabble.

Population Decline and Economics

George Friedman is a geostrategist, and he writes entertaining books: such as The Next Decade, and  the Next Hundred Years. Geostrategy looks at the  world from the perspective of how oceans and landmasses  interact with populations and states to shape how the world is controlled. You can pick his books up at airport booksellers, and they stimulate thought without commanding agreement, which for me is a compliment.

Friedman is, not incidentally, Hungarian by birth, which country has given us Edward Teller, John von Neumann, George Jonas, and a host of other geniuses and near-geniuses.

Culture, race, and religion are not the primary drivers in Friedman’s world view. His is a narrow but productive focus, comparable to that of an economist’s.

Consequently his latest piece is of interest, because he deals with the large implications of the ongoing world population crash – you hear me – crash. You may not have heard that the world population is in the process of crashing. It is. It is dealt with in many places, and I recommend David P. Goldman’s “How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is dying too)” for the facts, if not for Goldman’s gloomy interpretation of everything. (Goldman writes as “Spengler”, another notorious cultural pessimist).

Back to George Friedman, who is ever optimistic.

One of the key variables mitigating the problem of decreasing population would be continuing advances in technology to increase productivity. We can call this automation or robotics, but growths in individual working productivity have been occurring in all productive environments from the beginning of industrialization, and the rate of growth has been intensifying. Given the smooth and predictable decline in population, there is no reason to believe, at the very least, that GDP would not fall less than population. In other words, with a declining population in advanced industrial societies, even leaving immigration out as a factor, per capita GDP would be expected to grow.

Friedman’s second reason for optimism is that we would be moving into a world where capital was becoming more abundant relative to labour. Since the 1600s, or perhaps since the beginning of time, humans have been plentiful, capital scarce. He envisages a world where, as humans become ever scarcer, their relative value will rise.

The economist in me says that as humans become more valuable, they will tend to have more children, but this effect might be constrained by a comparable expense of raising them.

Friedman’s second prediction is that the distribution of wealth would change under conditions he envisages.

That would mean that in addition to rising per capita GDP, the actual distribution of wealth would shift. We are currently in a period where the accumulation of wealth has shifted dramatically into fewer hands, and the gap between the upper-middle class and the middle class has also widened. If the cost of money declined and the price of labor increased, the wide disparities would shift, and the historical logic of industrial capitalism would be, if not turned on its head, certainly reformulated.

Friedman says we might head into a period where wealth became more evenly distributed, as humans became relatively scarcer to capital.

 

The argument I am making here is that population decline will significantly transform the functioning of economies, but in the advanced industrial world it will not represent a catastrophe — quite the contrary. Perhaps the most important change will be that where for the past 500 years bankers and financiers have held the upper hand, in a labor-scarce society having pools of labor to broker will be the key. I have no idea what that business model will look like, but I have no doubt that others will figure that out.

Friedman reminds us that we have to look beyond today’s crisis in Islam to the underlying changes driving the world. Another thinker in Friedman’s stable, Ian Morris,  put it this way:

New energy sources, technologies that erode the boundaries between mind and machine, and shifts toward living in virtual rather than physical spaces may all threaten — or promise — to make the 21st century the biggest rupture in human history, dwarfing the agricultural and industrial revolutions. A century from now, trying to find the right level of inequality for a fossil fuel society might seem as irrelevant as determining the right level of inequality for Neanderthals does today.

Ian Morris is the author of “Why the West Rules, for Now”. I recommend it highly.

IanMorris book

Essential Reading

Two items today for your attention. First, an article on the Islamic state in the Atlantic Magazine. It is rare that so much truth gets through the censorship – read ideological bias – of the liberal media. “What Isis really wants” by Graeme Wood. He says what I have been saying, that

  • The Islamic state is Islamic, not some perversion of Islam;
  • They engage in mass killings of Muslims and non-Muslims as a policy to rid the world of apostates and disbelievers;
  • Muslims are killed for such things as voting for secular governments, or wearing western clothes;
  • They believe in the strictest possible application of the whole of Shari’a;
  • The Islamic state has not distorted the sacred texts of Islam; it has enacted them;
  • Slavery and crucifixion are embraced without apology, as ordained by Islamic law;
  • With the establishment of the Caliphate, Islam is now justified in waging aggressive war to expand its territories.

Again, it is not what Wood writes that is so interesting, it is that it was published in a largely liberal US magazine.

The second essential reading will occupy the next article.

 

Ezra Levant on the media

Ezra was at his most gracious and reflective in this interview in the Post. He will not be silenced.

See the interview here.

He is correct in his appreciation that the Internet is undercutting the licenced broadcast media. If Sun News had started as a pure Internet operation, it might still be with us. But then only the fanatics – sorry, devoted conservatives – would find it. It would have been just like PJ Media, or Pat Condell, or Jihad Watch, or Barrel Strength.

Many people wonder why the CRTC did not licence SunTV on lower, more favourable channels, or make it mandatory for cable companies to carry, like CBC Newsworld, or the CTV equivalent, or APTN. That means that, whether you watched it or not, you would be subsidizing it at a fixed rate per subscriber per month, as the channels I just mentioned are. It would have required SunTV to join the ranks of licenced mendicants, called “broadcasters”, who appear before the CRTC and argue for their subsidies, and perpetuation of their licences.

Try to appreciate the irony. Let us use state regulation to cause the Canadian consumer forcibly to subsidize the expression of political views. Does that not sound like the mainstream media?

Can you imagine SunTV up before the CRTC pleading for a renewal of its licence, saying it was moderate, responsible, and worthy of an expensive legal privilege, such as mandatory carriage?

I can’t.

Barrel Strength supports a new foreign policy

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Hat tip to Rebel Yell for spotting this one.

The saga of which I sing today is a tale most remarkable: My song comes from Valhalla, the Hall of the Slain, where war-heroes go to their rest.   All those who have fallen in the fight, and borne wounds yet toiled unto death, from the beginning of the world, are come to the company of the great god Odin.

Indeed, at a time of troublesome tumult on the earth, there is even greater news from Valhalla: Men should know that Odin has decided that it is now time to win the War of the Fourteen Centuries.   That is, the War that began when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, 1378 years ago.   It is time, finally, for vengeance.  These are the ways of Odin, Lord of Valhalla.

“The War of 14 Centuries” has a certain ring to it.

Cameron hands gift to UKIP

Prime Minister David Cameron has signed a pact with Labour leader Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg pledging that all three of their parties will work together to tackled climate change.

The pledge, which has been brokered by a collection of green non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and lobby groups, such as Greenpeace, WWF and RSPB, commits the party leaders to agree “carbon budgets”, end the use of coal for power generation and “accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy”.

As the Bishop Hill Blog writes:

A better way of making their parties look as if they are completely out of touch and/or working to NGOs’ agendas is hard to imagine. That said, one of the pledges they make is to do away with coal-fired electricity generation. This may actually mean that the underlying message is “frack baby, frack”.

Dilbert on green energy

dilbertdogbert

Dogbert:

I’m writing fake press releases for imaginary new green energy technologies.  Scientists say that by 2040 you will be able to power your entire home with the breeze from your refrigerator door.

Dilbert:

How will I know which green energy breakthroughs are real?

Dogbert:

Seriously? You think there are real ones?

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When you read things like this, “Report suggests pumping sulfur pollution into air to prevent climate change”, you might wonder whether you are reading something from the Onion, a satirical fake. Alas no.

The next ice age is due from any time now. Our current interglacial – the time period from when the last of the ice sheets retreated to the far north – is about 10-12,000 years long, which is long by the standards of past interglacials. We might have another 1000 years of warmth left, or another 2000. But if past patterns hold up, we will not have another five thousand years of current warm temperatures. The ice sheets will return, and piddling little humans will learn who is in charge: not them.

I am waiting for the science fiction movie that features committed zealot [read “mad”] scientists under the direction of John Holdren  and at the behest of President Obama launch such a program, and voila!, ice age starts with a seven month winter in Toronto, and Toronto winters in New York City. Hollywood does not have the balls for that one.

I almost forgot: Sun News TV dead at 4 years old

Sun TV is about to shut down, I regret to say. But I could not find it, having  ceased subscribing to the tiers of cable services that carried it, and when I watched it on the Internet, I could not watch it for long. It served a useful political function; it is gone; I am sorry, but I am not forking over $100/month in cable fees for the privilege of being railed at by Ezra Levant, greatly though I admire his invective.

I encourage Sun TV types to consider the example of Pat Condell. Maybe it is time to “broadcast”, to “vlog”, from the upstairs room.

 

“Terror Suspect Converted to Islam for Jihad”

So reads the headline in the article today in the National Post, at page A6. The aptly named John Nuttall, who planned to slay hundreds  on Canada day at the BC Legislature Building in Victoria with bombs, said he converted to Islam to achieve “justice”.

I wanted jihad before I became a Muslim…I just wanted justice… When 9/11 happened, I became really interested in these people.”

The first thing I said when I converted is, ‘How do I worship my God?’ he says in the video. “And my second question was ‘Where is my gun? Let’s go do jihad'”.

It seems Mr. Nuttall correctly answered his first question ‘how do I worship my God’ by leaping directly into jihad. Islam looks to me to be the directest path for social misfits to engage in personal warfare against society, legitimated by God Himself.

In the meantime Prime Minister Harper demonstrated his sure touch in responding to the court judgment that said that a person could take the oath of citizenship with their niqab (face covering) on.

“Most Canadians will find it offensive for a person to hide their identity at the very time when they are joining the Canadian family. It’s not how we do it here,” he said.

According to the Posts’ John Ivison, it is all part of Harper’s attempt to sway Quebec voters to the Tories. It is my prediction that the Quebecois, because they are left-wing tribalists, will respond favourably to conservative anti-Islamic  measures, despite their not instinctively liking Canada’s most Protestant  Prime Minister since Lester Pearson.