Sunday, January 27, 2019
“Attenborough´s Life that Glows” is a brilliant nature documentary about bioluminescent creatures. I´m not sure how “informative” it really is, but it´s certainly aesthetically pleasing. With the help of specially developed cameras (c/o Martin Dohrn), Attenborough and his team have been able to film bioluminescent bacteria, worms, fish, squids and, of course, fireflies. Many of the creatures are borderline bizarre, and their collective displays are something to behold – almost like an aurora, but in the sea rather than the skies. The footage of dolphins swimming through glowing water might become a classic.
There is clearly still much to be discovered (if that interests you). Thus, a common species of earth worm found all over France turned out to be bioluminescent – nobody had noticed before, for the splendidly obvious reason that nobody had been digging for the worms at night without a flashlight (or at all)! Their ability to produce light was discovered purely by chance. Another weird scenario shown in this production is a species of predatory firefly that literally steals dying fireflies from spider webs, much to the chagrin of the spiders – the dying insects emits light to the bitter end, which makes it possible for the predatory species to see both them, the web and the spider, thereby not risking to get caught in the web herself.
I often wax philosophical watching documentaries like this (did bacteria develop bioluminescence before anyone else was around to actually see it?) and as usual, I find it difficult to believe that evolution is “blind” and “mechanical”. We´re dealing with some kind of force field here… Also, why go to outer space when the deep blue sea isn´t properly mapped yet?
With those comments, I close this little review!
“Attenborough and the Empire of the Ants” is a fascinating documentary about ants, narrated by none other than David Attenborough (at the ripe old age of 90). The scientific name of the featured ant species is never mentioned – they are simply referred to as “wood ants” and live in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland. What makes them sensational is that their colonies don´t wage “wars” against each other, something wood ant colonies otherwise do as a matter of course. Rather, the Jura anthills form a constantly expanding “super-colony” with millions of queens and even more worker-ants that all live at peace with each other. Indeed, very often, several queens can be found in a single anthill.
Attenborough claims that the ant queens are *not* genetically related to each other, which strikes me as odd - they are all of the same species, so why don´t the gene pools of the different lineages gradually mix as a result of swarming? If true, this would seem to disprove “Hamilton´s equation”, according to which animals should show altruism only towards their kin, although I suppose you could see the Jura ants as an unusual example of reciprocal altruism instead. Besides, the weird collectivism of the ants, where one colony functions as a virtual “super-organism”, has always challenged evolutionary biologists more used to selection on the individual level.
Later, Attenborough reveals another remarkable fact about the Jura ants: many of their colonies have dispensed with swarming altogether, the queens and winged males mating inside the colony instead, after which the queens simply form a new colony nearby. It was also interesting to note that the queens don´t seem to be in control of anything – rather, they are herded by the workers, which (somewhat flippantly) makes Attenborough say that the ants invented democracy!
“The Empire of the Ants” also hints at a possible evolutionary explanation for the super-colony. Usually, wood ant queens invade the nests of field ants, a different species altogether, and “enslave” them. Ironically, this makes the wood ants dependent on the existence of field ant colonies. The wood ant super-colony, by contrast, is no longer parasitical and can therefore expand deep into the Jura forests, including areas where no field ant has ever gone before. The documentary ends somewhat ominously by Attenborough claiming that we may be witnessing the first step in an ant “social conquest of Earth”.
On the web, I found the claim that all Argentine ants *all over the world* form one vast global super-colony, so who knows, maybe the “social conquest” has already happened, it´s just that Homo sapiens haven´t noticed this time neither…
I used to admire human “creative intelligence”. It´s what makes us different from animals (or “other animals”). Humans have cities, political unions between unrelated groups, division of labor, advanced architecture, agriculture, livestock herding, air conditioning, central heating, medicine and tools.
So do ants.
On the more negative side, humans also have slavery and wage wars.
So do ants.
And note that ants *in contrast to humans* evolved all these things without “creative intelligence”, apparently only based on instinct, genes and (perhaps) an impersonal élan vital. They did so millions of years before humans even existed, and their societies are much more stable than human polities.
So tell me again why humans are so bloody special? Is it because we aren´t matriarchal?
Well, we have art and music, I suppose. And some of us claim to have experienced the Divine. Perhaps that really is crucial. Let´s sincerely hope no ants start to sing hymns to the Six-Legged God, then…
Of course, atheists and modern painters cannot use the above argument.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
”Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda and the War on Terror” by Helen C Epstein is a shocking book about the regime of Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, with some excursions to neighboring Rwanda, governed by Paul Kagame, an old associate of Museveni. Both Museveni and Kagame are backed by the United States and “the international community”. The book was published in 2017.
According to the propaganda still touted by many Western media outlets, Museveni´s administration in Uganda, while of course not perfect, is nevertheless better than the African average. It´s less corrupted, less repressive, more free market oriented, even slightly feminist. Museveni is pictured as the savior of Uganda from the brutal dictatorships of Idi Amin and Milton Obote. Above all, Museveni is fighting Hutu genocidaires in Rwanda and the mysterious cult “the Lord´s Resistance Army” (LRA) in northern Uganda. In the same vein, Museveni´s allies in Rwanda, the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) are always pictured as the good liberal or slightly leftist guys fighting the already mentioned Hutu extremists. I readily admit that I used to believe all this myself once. Well, almost. It *was* difficult to believe that Paul Kagame in Rwanda did not rig the elections which gave him essentially all votes, especially since his tribe (the Tutsi) is a small minority hated by the majority Hutu…
Clearly, I didn´t know half of it.
Judging by this book and its scholarly sources, Museveni is not much better than Amin and Obote, only smarter at rising “democratic” Potemkin villages and promoting them to a gullible Western audience. Uganda is really a one-party state with rigged elections and widespread repression against the political opposition. The ruling party, the NRM, is civilian in name only, actual power in the state being in the hands of the military and the secret service. As for being less corrupted than other African nations…well, no, not really. Museveni and his cronies systematically steal millions of dollars in aid money, take hefty bribes from foreign companies, and loot the national treasury (most of Uganda´s civil service is financed by the World Bank and other foreign donors). While the NRM is officially anti-tribalist, most political conflicts in Uganda seem to revolve around ethnic affiliation. Museveni comes from the southern Hima tribe, which is related to the Tutsi in Rwanda, thus explaining why the Ugandan leader is so adamant in his support for Kagame and the RPF. He is simply aiding his ethnic cousins across the ex-colonial borders. Museveni´s two main domestic targets are the Baganda, the erstwhile dominant ethnic group in Uganda, and the northern tribes, who backed Amin and Obote (both northerners themselves). The northern Acholi have been subjected to repression of near genocidal proportions by the NRA or UPDF (the Ugandan army). Sorting out who´s who in the many-sided Ugandan conflict isn´t always easy, one reason being the propensity of the NRA to carry out false flag operations by attacking civilians dressed in the uniforms of their enemies…
Museveni was originally a Marxist firebrand, but seems to have flip-flopped even before the Cold War properly ended. Shortly after taking power in 1986, Museveni became a prime US asset in Central and East Africa, even being invited to Ronald Reagan´s private ranch in California. The Tutsi RPF, then still in exile in Uganda, were also trained in the United States. Interestingly, RPF leader Paul Kagame was trained in the art of “psy-ops” (propaganda), something he has put to good use after becoming acting Rwandese leader in 1994. Museveni has intervened militarily in Rwanda (through his RPF proxies), the Congo (alongside the RPF), South Sudan (through the SPLA of John Garang, an old friend from his Marxist days) and even Somalia, always with the full knowledge and backing of the United States. In Somalia and Sudan the fight was against Islamists, making Museveni´s Uganda part of the US-led War on Terror (in the Ugandan-Sudanese border regions, the NRA also fought Joseph Kony´s bizarre cult LRA).
In Rwanda, the Ugandan-backed RPF supposedly stopped the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in which hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were brutally murdered in a matter of months by extremist Hutu militias. Epstein believes that the RPF killed almost as many Hutus in “revenge”, many of them innocent civilians, and that the Hutu had good reasons to fear the return of the Tutsi to power, the Tutsi being the traditional aristocracy of Rwanda which for centuries treated the Hutu as virtual slaves. Most sensationally, Epstein claims that the airplane of Rwandese Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down, not by Hutu extremists critical of the president´s concessions to the RPF, but by the RPF themselves. If so, the RPF had no intention of sharing power with Habyarimana – note also that it was this assassination which triggered the genocidal violence in the country.
Uganda and the RPF then invaded the Congo, overthrowing Mobutu Sese Seko, an old US ally who had become a nuisance after the end of the Cold War, replacing him with ex-Marxist and ex-petty warlord Laurent Kabila, destroying the democratic opposition to Mobutu in the process. Uganda and the RPF looted the mineral riches of eastern Congo, hotly coveted in the West, while supporting various marauding militias with a taste for murder, rape and plunder. Literally millions of people have been killed in the Congolese war, a war originally triggered by the Ugandan-RPF invasion of the country in 1996-97.
Finally, some observations of my own. During the 1990´s, even radical leftists swallowed the Museveni-Kagame psy-ops. Many Trotskyists supported the RPF when it invaded Rwanda and overthrew the “pro-Western” Hutu regime and its extremist militias. Well, the Hutu regime was pro-French and pro-Belgian, but since the RPF were pro-American, I have to say that the “anti-imperialist” angle feels somewhat moot. Another leftist argument in favor of the RPF was that they were multi-ethnic and tried to stop the anti-Tutsi genocide. One particularly dogmatic Trotskyist group in the UK argued that the RPF had both Tutsi, Hutu and Twa in its leadership. Since the Twa were Pygmies living in the rain forests, that would indeed be sensational – I would love to shake the hand of this Pygmy commander of the “Revolutionary” Patriotic Front! Even more leftists supported Kabila, apparently in the belief that they were witnessing a genuine socialist revolution (led by an old comrade of Che Guevara, to boot), rather than a CIA-Uganda-Tutsi psy-op/black-op of *major* proportions. To give the devil his due, Kabila later broke with his Ugandan and Tutsi patrons, instead accepting aid from “leftist” regimes in Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, so I suppose the local anti-imperialistas were on somewhat firmer ground here…
As for myself, I used to believe all the above (except the “Twa” and “socialist revolution” stuff – I argued it was a democratic revolution), so reading “Another Fine Mess” wasn´t a very pleasant experience. I probably won´t take leftists seriously ever again after this! That being said, I have to say that Epstein sounds awfully naïve in some parts of her book. I happen to think the old fox (or was it hare) Museveni is right about Western-style democracy not working in Africa due to the fissiparous nature of tribalism. That may be a self-serving truth, but it´s a truth nevertheless (it´s also a truth honored only in the breach by Museveni, whose political party is just as tribalist as those of his mostly banned opponents). Also, Epstein´s criticism of the War on Terror is absurd – should the West simply accept that Sudan or Egypt falls to the Muslim Brotherhood and even worse groups? The only alternative to using proxies such as Museveni (or some altogether nicer guys, say the YPG in northern Syria) is to send hundreds of thousands of American troops to the Middle East or darkest Africa for an indefinite time…
“Another Fine Mess” isn´t a pretty story, and unfortunately I don´t think the future of Africa will be any better. In fact, I strongly suspect that we´ve only seen the dress rehearsal for the *really* brutal conflicts of the future. Let´s just hope we don´t have to take sides in those ones…
Vi tar givetvis KRAFTIGT avstånd från denna sajt, men jag tänker länka till den ändå. DN alias Telefonplans-Pravda hamnar snett...igen.
DN och Mehmet Kaplan
Friday, January 25, 2019
I never reviewed Roger Stone´s book on the Trump campaign, and I don´t have the time to do so now, but for the record: Trump should fire Mueller and end this ridiculous charade now! Nobody collaborated with the Russians, period. This is simply the Hillary Clinton campaign refusing to accept the election results...
”When Prophecy Fails” by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter is a classical study of an apocalyptic sect and the supporters´ reactions to the failure of its prophecies. The book was first published in 1958. On the basis of historical material, the authors suspected that apocalyptic movements often became *more active* after their prophecies about impending doom had been disconfirmed. However, there was no way of actually proving the theory – until the researchers discovered the Seekers, a small UFO sect based in a suburb of Chicago, which predicted that the world as we know it would end on December 21, 1954. Festinger & Co directed some of their students to join the sect (i.e. to infiltrate it) in order to discover how the leaders and members would react when the apocalypse failed to materialize. Today, this kind of research method would probably be considered unethical. In the book, most personal and geographical information have been garbled to protect the identities of the sect members, but they were well known at the time, due to media interest in their prophecies. The leader and main ”channel” of the group, Dorothy Martin, is called Marian Keech in the narrative. Her chief sidekick, Charles Laughead, is called Dr Armstrong. A competing medium who played a certain role in the events, Rose Phillips, is referred to as Ella Lowell. ”Lake City” is obviously Chicago, ”Collegeville” is East Lansing (where Armstrong had a position at the university) and ”Steel City” is presumably Detroit.
The book is easy to read and the events described border the absurd and tragicomic. Already before the predicted apocalypse (a great flood which would destroy Chicago together with the central parts of North America), the Seekers had experienced their first ”great disappointment”. On December 18, an obvious prankster called the Martin residence and informed her that a UFO would land in her own backyard later the same day, presumably to pick up all the sect supporters. The hoaxer called himself Captain Video, the name of a character from a popular science fiction TV show! Yet, Martin´s supporters gathered outside her house, sincerely hoping to be rescued by the space ship. When the UFO failed to materialize, the sect members watched ”Captain Video” on TV, trying to find coded messages in the show about what to do next… After a supposed psychic message from the aliens, the group gathered outside the Martin residence again throughout the night, once again expecting a space ship to pick them up. Nothing happened this time either.
Festinger´s undercover observers weren´t disappointed by the reactions of Martin, Laughead and the Seekers after December 21 came and went without any floods or aliens. Instead of losing faith, they simply reinterpreted the aborted prophecy (the aliens had called off the whole thing due to the ”light” spread by the Seekers) and, just as predicted by Festinger, became *more* active in trying to convert people to their little UFO religion. They even invited people to gather outside Martin´s house on Christmas Eve (200 interested outsiders showed up), promising that this time, there would be a UFO landing for sure. Before the failed apocalypse, the Seekers had been a semi-secret group which rarely talked to the press and seldom tried to win new converts. After the failure, by contrast, they were more than eager to talk to reporters, including hostile ones, and never turned down anyone who asked for information – most peoples showing interest in the UFO group were teenagers, many of whom were ”interested” only ironically. (The pranksters constantly plaguing the group were also teens or college students.) Many of the sect members had quit their jobs, got rid of money and other possessions, and experienced conflicts with their families as a result of their belief in the imminent end of the world. Armstrong had been fired from the University of Michigan, and the local police and PTA in the Chicago suburb where Martin was living had made systematic attempts to stop her from proselytizing. Add to this the ridicule in the media. Armstrong explicitly told one of the undercover researchers that he *had* to believe in the message since he lost so much and no turning back was possible. The will to believe was strong, and this explains the bizarre fact that the Seekers went on the offensive after their predictions had been disconfirmed – one way to deal with the cognitive dissonance is to convert the rest of the world to your perspective (including your reinterpretations of the failed prophecies). The Armstrong family, now under Rose Phillips´ influence, awaited another UFO landing about five months later – again, nothing happened. As for Martin, she eventually moved to Peru, then to California, and until the end of her days continued to issue channeled messages from the space brothers, often with apocalyptic overtones.
What struck me most when reading ”When Prophecy Fails” was that the Seekers wasn´t an outright cult. Rather, we are dealing with a somewhat looser structure of extremely gullible honest-to-God people. Martin clearly believed in her ability to receive messages from the aliens through automatic writing, while Armstrong had been drawn into the flying saucer milieu after a long meeting with George Adamski, whose tall tales he swallowed hook, line and sinker. Both leaders were so desperate for ”orders” from higher intelligences that they often assumed that high schoolers or college kids who came to visit the Martin residence were in fact ”space men”. They also mistook one of Festinger´s undercover research assistants for an alien! Authority within the group wasn´t entirely clear. While Martin was the main channel, she was temporarily challenged by an ordinary rank and file member who suddenly began to channel ”the Creator”, who was said to be higher than ”Sananda” (Martin´s alien spirit-guide). Armstrong and some other supporters of the sect also accepted the revelations coming through Rose Phillips, who wasn´t even a member and seemed mildly skeptical of the doomsday prophecies. Two or three members of the group were probably skeptical to all or most of the happenings, yet were never purged. Note also how easy it was for the researchers to gain access to the group. There is clearly much more to unpack here…
Of course, what makes ”When Prophecy Fails” really disturbing is that it may shed some light on other religions the holy scriptures of which contain failed prophecies. Guess which ones? ”When Prophecy Fails” also raises questions about political movements, or indeed entire civilizations, which see *their* expectations disconfirmed. However, since Marxism, open border globalism or the Western Idea of Progress usually don´t have an absolute cut off date for when the Messiah will arrive, it takes longer for the cognitive dissonance to work itself out. Still, it´s interesting to reflect on the similarities between us ”rational people” and Dorothy Martin´s little UFO sect in Lake City 70 years ago…
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Den här artikeln är låst, och jag tänker i vart fall inte låsa upp den. Jag reagerar dock lite på rubriken. 2015 skrev Wolodarski en närmast notorisk artikel med rubriken "Sverige har aldrig varit tryggare". Nu säger han istället "Vakna Sverige, världen omkring oss skälver".
Jag undrar om Wolodarski (som *ibland* har markerat något slags självständigt tänkande) äntligen har vaknat upp, eller om han helt enkelt bara är orolig för att sossarna skall dra hans Uber-taxi i långbänk...
Men...men...konspirationer finns ju inte i västerländska demokratier...det är en myt...det är bara extremister och KONSPIRATIONSTEORETIKER som tror på konspirationer...
Om det inte har gått typ 70 år eller så. Då blir det safe att snacka om dem.
Sanningen om Palme-mordet...när? 2050?
This Japanese “Kiai Master” claims to have the supernatural ability to fend off physical attacks. Look what happens when he is challenged by a real MMA fighter…
Blasted. James Randi gets to keep his 1 million dollars…again!
What the heck is wrong with science? Or is it science reporting which is to blame for this absurdity? Of course this isn´t an "evolutionary throwback" but the result of inbreeding and rank neglect. When science becomes like National Enquirer, something´s gone very wrong...
Saturday, January 19, 2019
“Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America” is a book by Barbara Ehrenreich, a honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest left-wing organization in the United States. (The Swedish translation has the title “Gilla läget: Hur allt gick åt helvete med positivt tänkande” – which in English would be “Cheer Up: How Everything Went Straight to Hell with Positive Thinking”)
The book takes the reader on a journey through the enchanting but ultimately disappointing world of “positive thinking”. Ehrenreich considers it to be a racket or borderline racket, intimately connected with neo-liberal capitalism spinning out of control. She is of course right, although the book has a certain tendency to paint “positive thinking” as the cause of our present predicament, rather than just its ideological reflection.
Somewhat surprisingly, Ehrenreich reaches the conclusion that positive thinking wasn´t originally associated with expansive American capitalism, rather, the original philosophy of the young republic was more on the Calvinist side: joyless, judgmental, workaholic, even depressive. At the very least, it caused depression among many people. Positive thinking was a reaction against Calvinism (or perhaps folk Calvinism or pop Calvinism). In its original formulation as New Thought (late 19th century), positive thinking was explicitly religious and equally explicitly opposed to the “traditional” view of God. Instead, God was seen as completely loving, non-judgmental and benevolent. By various spiritual techniques, the boundless love and energy of the Divine could be accessed and manifested as health, success and money in the life of the individual believer. Still today, much of positive thinking is dressed in Christian garb, in the form of the “prosperity gospel” and various mega-churches. The New Age version is represented by the bestselling book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. Even New Thought and its old cousin Christian Science still exist.
Positive thinking has spread further, however, and now exists in secular and “scientific” versions. As American businesses downsize their workforces and strip the remainder of their benefits or high pay checks, positive thinking has become almost mandatory for many employees as a kind of control mechanism or brainwashing. The unemployed are also subject to indoctrination in positive thinking, as are the managers themselves. Or perhaps the latter simply brainwash themselves? Ehrenreich points out that the difference between a corporate manager, a charismatic religious preacher and a motivational speaker has become blurred in neo-liberal capitalism. They seem almost interchangeable. The most bizarre example of positive thinking mentioned in the book is the subculture around breast cancer victims, who are apparently led to believe that they can survive (or at least survive longer) by constantly thinking positive thoughts. Ehrenreich is a survivor of breast cancer herself, and her odyssey through “cancerland” is one of the most disturbing things I read lately! Another weird chapter in the book deals with the author´s surreal attempts to interview Martin Seligman, the main proponent of “positive psychology”.
My own experiences with positive thinking are, thankfully, less extreme. When I was unemployed, I had to go to mandatory classes for the unemployed (otherwise, no benefits!) where we “learned” such fantastic skills as, well, positive thinking and took Myers-Briggs personality tests. Still, no hard feelings – it was good ethnography to get an insight into the latest fads and illusions of the privileged middle & chattering classes. Or, as they say: Cheer up, it might never happen!
Ehrenreich points out in one of the last chapters that, contrary to received moderno-American wisdom, negative thinking might actually be a good thing. Or, to be more precise, “defensive pessismism” and a kind of hardnosed realism. Such people might even live longer than the over-optimistic types, since the latter might take larger risks and hence die younger (I also wonder how many get nervous breakdowns when they realize that the cosmos isn´t going to deliver the goods, after all). Likewise, people with a realistic appreciation of their place in the social hierarchy might actually be happier than optimistic people who think they are more popular than they really are. Ultimately, Ehrenreich´s proposal is to join the political fight for a better America, by which she presumably means a more “Social Democratic” one. She claims that we can have a lot of fun on the way.
“Bright-sided” was published in 2009. Today, the author would probably have included chapters on both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump is the ostensible author of several self-help books (usually starring a certain Donald J Trump as the main character), but he was also sharply attacked for his “negative”, “dark” and “dystopian” portrayal of the state of the Union in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton´s campaign was – according to rumor at least – a virtual hive of positive thinking, mindfulness meditation and see-no-evil-hear-no-evil. We all know how the presidential race ended, don´t we?
Yes, we do need more defensive pessimism and hardnosed realism. Otherwise, we might all end up “bright-sided”…
|Not a wolf|
“I think I´m an animal” is a documentary (available at YouTube) about Therians or Therian Otherkin, an absurd subculture in the United States. It consists of mostly young people who, with an apparent straight face, claim to be animals. Of the Therians featured, most say they are wolves, but there is also one African leopard and a raccoon.
I admit that “I think I´m an animal” put my more tolerant sides to the test, and that they probably didn´t pass. These kids *are* hard to take seriously, and their bewildered parents are sometimes even more cringey. In fact, one of the parents looks more wolf-like than her supposed wolf son! I think it´s obvious that we´re dealing with some kind of weird coping mechanism. One of the “wolves” is diagnosed with Asperger´s syndrome, the “raccoon” is probably also autistic, and the “leopard” seems to be an internal gay refugee from the Bible belt. Indeed, three of the Therians interviewed live in a polyamorous homosexual relationship! Thus, we have homosexuality, autism, polyamory and youth all wrapped into one package. Somehow, these problems strike me as very human (and very “White middle class”) and rather far removed from the feral realm of wolf packs and leopards, or even raccoons…
On the positive side, I suppose it´s fair to say that Otherkin do have a lot of fun! The scene from the bowling hall, where the Therians team up with even crazier Furries, is already a classic. Very occasionally, a more spiritual side of the phenomenon is hinted at. One of the wolfkin have parents who are into Neo-Shamanism, and a British Therian says she can channel her wolf side and seems to treat it as a possessing spirit of some sort. Judging by Lupa´s book “A Field Guide to Otherkin”, which I reviewed elsewhere on this blog, there seems to be a certain overlap between the Otherkin and Neo-Pagan milieux, which may be the only way in which this particular subculture can claim *any* form of respectability. Nobody takes teenagers with “species dysmorphia” seriously, while a Neo-Shaman in touch with wolf spirits may perhaps be seen as being on a spiritual path…
I linked to this production in an earlier blog post, so here I simply present a nice photo of an African leopard (the real one). It will be interesting to see what the people interviewed in “I think I´m an animal” will be ten years from now. Here´s a guess: the world will move on to other fads.
Leopards, by contrast, will remain leopardic.
Leopards, by contrast, will remain leopardic.
Friday, January 18, 2019
OK, har jag förstått det här rätt. SAP, MP, C och L vill alltså stoppa SD genom att kombinera ökad invandring med fler nedskärningar och högre hyror? Är det riktigt uppfattat? Och detta kommer att stoppa SD...hur?
Så Greta Thunberg har Aspergers syndrom? OK, då kan vi väl sluta ta henne på allvar från och med nu. Jag menar, alla vet ju att "den globala uppvärmningen" bara är en kinesisk konspiration. Dessutom är det *bra* med global uppvärmning, jag menar, då skulle man ju kunna odla dadlar och kokosnötter i Kanada och Lappland. Och när all jävla is smälter kan vi äntligen komma åt guldet och diamanterna som helt enkelt bara MÅSTE finnas i Antarktis. Dessutom slipper vi se fula hoppande fåglar som pingviner eller s k albatrosser (egentligen måsar med gigantism). Överlag anser vi, Frihetliga Fronten för Tillväxt och Globalism, att 16-åriga tjejer bör hållas utanför politiken.
Jimmie Åkesson har rätt. Annie Lööfs kavaj har faktiskt en annan färgnyans än Jimmies slips. Ashtar Command Book Blog behövs om sanningen skall fram! :-0
Sunday, January 13, 2019
This will be a somewhat disjointed blog post about a visit to Slovakia. I don´t even remember the year I visited the country. Maybe it was 20 years ago. Maybe even earlier. I stayed for over a week in a Slovak-Polish border region known as Spis (pronounced Spish). Most of the time, I cruised the local churches and cathedrals, marveling at the Byzantine Revival architecture, listened to the strange tall tales about the medieval Carthusian monastery, and other such strange pastimes which I found worthwhile in my insufficiently misspent youth. A funny detail: some of the teenagers standing in line outside the Levoca cathedral, a tourist hub of some standing, were smoking pot! I suppose their youth really was misspent…
A large proportion of the population of Spis turned out to be Gypsy. I don´t remember the exact figure. Perhaps it was around 15%. Perhaps even somewhat more. So I decided to query my Slovak informants (one of whom spoke English) about the Gypsy problematique. Back in the days, I knew next to nothing about Gypsies over and above the obvious, and with a few exceptions, I had only encountered Finnish Gypsies, whose culture and even appearance was strikingly different from those in Slovakia. At the time, I had no idea that the Roma were an extremely heterogeneous group, really a cluster of several different “peoples” than a single one. I haven´t done any further research on Slovak Gypsies since, so I present this observations completely raw, as recollected by an innocent naïf over 20 years ago.
The Gypsies in Spis are dark-skinned and vaguely Indian-looking. I´m not sure which dialect of Romani they speak – perhaps Vlax Romani, since Slovak political parties have published election information in that language (yes, really). The Gypsies in the cities speak relatively good Slovak and use Slovak when communicating with other Gypsies. The Gypsies in the “settlements” (in the countryside) speak Slovak with a heavy “foreign” accent when encountering Slovaks, but Romani within their own group. (In Bratislava, the national capital of Slovakia, I also saw Gypsies speaking Slovak-with-a-strange-accent amongst themselves. I´m not sure if the accent was Romani or Hungarian! Many Gypsies in southern Slovakia would have at least a working knowledge of Hungarian.)
The small Spis town I visited was 100% segregated, with Gypsies living in a separate part of the town. Also, the Gypsy neighborhood was really divided into two. The houses in the “better” part were of worse quality than the Slovak houses, and probably built by the inhabitants themselves, but still tolerable. These were the Gypsies who had seasonal employment at road constructions in Germany or Austria. In other words, they had some money to spend. In the bad part, people lived *literally* on Third World level, in dwellings reminding me of the slums in South America or Africa. These were the unemployed Gypsies. Seeing this level of destitution in a European nation was…weird. Weird and shocking.
Later, I met a Catholic priest (let´s call him Pavel) who told me the following. As an outspoken anti-Communist, the Czechoslovak Communist regime decided to punish him with a kind of de facto internal exile. They made him priest of a parish in a Gypsy settlement somewhere in northern Slovakia! I don´t remember if it was Spis or some other region. Since “Whites” (Slovaks call themselves “Whites” in relation to Gypsies, who are “Blacks”) and Gypsies don´t particularly like each other, this was intended as some kind of cruel and unusual punishment. However, Pavel managed to get by with relative ease. The local Gypsies, while mostly indifferent to the Catholic Church, regard clergymen with superstitious awe. The priest (called “rasha”) is seen as a conduit of supernatural power. This explains why Gypsies insist on baptizing their children. Otherwise, they virtually never show up at the services. However, they believe that rasha has the ability to lift Gypsy curses, and therefore visit the priest whenever some family conflict has been resolved and the (supernaturally binding) curses pronounced during it needs to be dispensed with! Pavel had no idea what to do in situations like these, and simply improvised…
Pavel clearly didn´t like the Gypsies. He believed very strongly that the Roma want to live like they do, and that their situation had nothing to do with poverty, per se. He also claimed that they were thieves by cultural commandment. The Gypsies in the region supposedly had a tradition known as “the first theft” – a boy had to prove himself to his father by stealing something from the gadjos (the Gentiles or non-Gypsies). This explained the incredibly high amount of incarcerated Gypsy teenagers in the region. Somewhat surprisingly for an “anti-ziganist”, Pavel actually believed that the first theft should be de-criminalized! It would substantially lower the number of youth delinquency center inmates… Either Pavel or another Catholic priest also claimed that the Gypsies had a bizarre tradition that Jesus had given them permission to steal, after a Gypsy had stolen one of the nails from the cross of Christ but been pardoned by him! (This legend also exists in a “negative” version – that Gypsies are forever cursed to wander the Earth due to their theft of said nail. In Spis, this idea is said to exist among Gypsies in a positive form.) I have no idea of knowing whether any of this is true, or a gadjo urban legend.
After the fall of Communism, it seems that there are two prominent “Whites” in every Roma “settlement”. One is the priest. The other is the bar-owner. Thus, there is a White-owned bar or saloon in every Gypsy settlement. The barman functions as an informal banker, and presumably also as a kind of middle-man between the Gypsies and the proper authorities. The social problems are even worse than under Communism, when the Gypsies had (usually lowly) jobs in industry. Today, many are unemployed or forced to work abroad. The traditional Gypsy trades, which included master-builders, artisans and entertainers, have either disappeared or been taken over by gadjos. This leaves the Gypsies in a marginalized position, to a large extent due to their fear of “assimilation”. Thus, many Gypsies in Spis refuse to send their kids to Slovak public schools, since they fear that this will turn them into Slovaks (which may indeed be the goal of Slovak schooling).
Many mysteries of Romanihood can be explained if this conscious and systematic separatism is kept in mind. I naively asked my informants why the Gypsies, who form a substantial portion of the Spis electorate, don´t form their own political party, since this would almost guarantee them the balance of power in the Spis regional parliament. My question was met with incredulous smiles… (For the record, two Roma political parties *did* exist in Slovakia at the time, but they were both very small. Their story is a strange one, too, but that´s for another time.) Another obvious question is why the bar-owner or banker is White. Why can´t the Gypsies simply take over the rum trade – and the banking – themselves? *Some* of them do have money, and it only takes a few rich guys to control the entire operation, especially if most others are underprivileged. My guess is that the Gypsies are split into different clans and sub-clans, making it downright impossible to unite them. Also, they have to both keep majority society at arm´s length *and* reach some kind of pragmatic accommodation with it. Both goals are kept by *not* voting in elections, except maybe sometimes for Slovak parties, and the second goal is kept by having two White brokers in the village (the priest and the bar-owner).
End of story.
Is this true? If so, my ancestors were even better than I expected! The remains of an ancient lost civilizations have also been found in the Brazilian jungle, btw. It also struck me that perhaps we can use this lidar technology to find Bigfoot...?
Bright Insight is further out on the fringe than Graham Hancock (although probably less so than ´Oumuamua Guy or the people who believe in the Blue Avians) and this clip contains statements that almost made me fell from my chair...but I´m going to link to it anyway because of the Young Dryas Impact Event presentation, which I strongly suspect is true.
But the Western Idea of Progress is true, right? We are the crown of creation, right? The most important part of the universe, right?
That´s where you´re wrong, kiddo...
But the Western Idea of Progress is true, right? We are the crown of creation, right? The most important part of the universe, right?
That´s where you´re wrong, kiddo...
Saturday, January 12, 2019
There is a new proposal concerning Atlantis and its location going viral just now. The new theory is popularized by Bright Insight at YouTube, but was originally proposed by George S Alexander and Natalis Rosen. Their website is called Visiting Atlantis and an entire documentary about their discovery is available at the Gaia Network (unfortunately, not for free).
According to this scenario, Atlantis is identical to the Richat Structure, a peculiar geological formation in Mauretania, also known as the Eye of the Sahara or the Eye of Africa. I´m not sure if I buy this, since Mauretania is a landlocked country rather than an island, but the Richat is a weird formation in any case. Perhaps it proves that the Earth is ALIVE and sometimes plays pranks on us, crop circle style?
”White Wolves: Ghosts of the Arctic” is a somewhat scary documentary about the wildlife of Ellesmere Island, a Canadian territory in the Arctic Sea only 1,000 km from the North Pole. The human population of the island is only about 200 people, but wildlife seems to be thriving despite the hard climatic conditions. The main part of this production, signed Ivo Nörenberg and Oliver Goetzl, deals with the Arctic wolf or White wolf, a subspecies of the Grey wolf found in the North American High Arctic. We also get to meet muskoxen, Arctic foxes and Arctic hares. Birds shown include jaegers (skuas).
The lives of Arctic wolves are brutal, and I´m almost tempted to say that “wolf is wolf to other wolves”. The flocks are fiercely territorial, but also competitive, and make frequent incursions into each other´s respective areas. Wolves attack and destroy the dens of other wolves, killing and eating the pups in the process. They also attack strays which accidentally or otherwise find themselves on the wrong side of the territorial divides. Yes, we get to see all this intra-wolf killing in the documentary. So you assumed animals never attack other animals of the same species? Think again, sonny! No Kropotkinesque mutual aid here.
Personally, I admit that ”Ghosts of the Arctic” made me wax philosophical on more than one occasion. If you are an atheist-materialist, this is the only world that exists. You may whine about it all you like, but the universe (and the High Arctic) don´t give a damn. And if you´re a Neo-Pagan, I suppose you have to "relate" to these "magical creatures". Or something.
Coming soon to a neighborhood near you – hungry cannibalistic wolves. Happy hunting…
Tulsi Gabbard har just deklarerat att hon tänker ställa upp i det amerikanska presidentvalet. Eller rättare sagt demokraternas primärval. Enligt Wiki är hon samoan och Krishna-troende! Hon skulle bli en väldigt exotisk amerikansk president om hon blev vald. Kanske för exotisk? Jag trodde hon skulle vänta till 2024 innan hon gjorde ett försök, men det här kanske är förpostfäktningen...
“Varför tigger romer?” (Why do the Roma beg?) is a controversial book by Stanislav Emirov, a priest in the Calvinist Church in Sweden. Roma or Romani people is the “official” designation of the ethnic group (or perhaps cluster of groups) popularly known as Gypsies. Many Gypsies from Romania and Bulgaria regularly travel to Sweden in order to beg in the streets and on the commuter trains. Most are strictly speaking illegal aliens, but the police do nothing since the Swedish establishment doesn´t care. Emirov has interviewed beggars, former beggars, and Roma activists in an attempt to understand the underlying problems. His book contains material from several European nations, although the emphasis is on Sweden.
The book feels disjointed and contradictory, more like a draft than a finished product. It´s peculiar in some ways. Emirov claims that the Calvinist Church has a special “team” aiding beggars in Stockholm, but their aid is never specified. Instead I get the impression that they served as the author´s intelligence operatives, mapping the beggar underworld. Emirov does come across as very critical, even hostile, to Gypsy culture which raises the question why the Roma wanted to talk to him (and his team) at all? Perhaps the author became progressively more skeptical to the Gypsies during his travels around Europe. “Varför tigger romer?” has been loudly denounced as “anti-ziganist” (i.e. anti-Gypsy) in the left-leaning parts of the Swedish media, while conservative daily Svenska Dagbladet has given it positive coverage.
Most controversially, Emirov reaches the conclusion that the Roma beg because they are Roma. Begging is one of the traditional Roma “trades”, and is always an option for any Roma who can´t get enough income from some other source. While begging is of course connected to poverty in most cases, other poor groups don´t beg, which to Emirov indicates that begging among the Roma is a culturally conditioned response to destitution. The fact that some Roma are rich but beg anyway also points to a cultural component. Emirov further argues that the Gypsies actually prefer poverty to assimilation. They obviously don´t *want* to be poor, but their hostility and paranoia towards majority society forces them to separate from it, both physically and mentally. To many Gypsies, any form of integration into, or accommodation with, non-Gypsy society is really assimilation and hence unclean by definition. Today, this separatist strategy has become dysfunctional: traditional Gypsy trades such as entertainment, peddling, horse-trading and certain handicrafts have either disappeared or been taken over by non-Gypsies. This forces separatist Gypsies to take up begging and other kinds of criminal activity.
But what should be done about the problem? Emirov advances several different perspectives on the problem of Roma begging, and these are not easily reconciled. When at his best libertarian-capitalist mood, Emirov proposes that begging is a trade like any other. Indeed, begging can be seen as a rational choice for some people. It can be compared to charities asking (begging!) people for a donation. The beggar simply eliminates the charitable institution as a middle-man, taking money directly from citizens in the street. This is also good for the giver, who thus gets some kind of choice in the matter of whom she should give to. Logically, Emirov should therefore call for the wholesale legalization of begging. However, he rather proposes that begging should be regulated by the state according to a quota system and that all beggars be forced to buy a license. The police will make sure that the regulations are followed by more frequent controls. The explicit purpose is to discourage Gypsies (who hate being regulated and registered) from begging, or entering the country at all. Emirov calls this the “nice way” in contrast to the “hard way”, which entails border controls of a more classical type.
However, in a later section, the author also proposes what he calls “the only right way”. This turns out to be a very peculiar “Austro-Marxist” proposal to give the Romani people status as an extra-territorial or non-territorial member-state of the European Union. All Roma (and presumably similar groups) around Europe should become “citizens” of this extra-territorial state, which would have representatives at different levels of the EU hierarchy. In this way, Emirov believes, the Gypsies will gradually become more positive towards the idea of integration. I consider this proposal to be unrealistic in the extreme, but above all, it´s faulty even on the basis of the author´s own premises. Thus, Emirov believes that Romanians and Bulgarians will remain racist towards the Gypsies for the foreseeable future. But if so, why should Romania and Bulgaria accept a non-territorial Gypsy political entity supported by Brussels on their territories? Further, Emirov claims that the only way to stop Gypsy begging without repression is to give them ample welfare payments. Apparently, 80% of all able-bodied Gypsies in Sweden are unemployed and hence live off the tax-payer. If so, the only way to stop Gypsies from the Balkans to beg, in Sweden or elsewhere, is to give *them* generous welfare payments, too. But what makes Emirov think that European tax-payers will accept such a solution? There are literally millions of Romani in Europe, and the Balkan republics are hardly the only places where you can find anti-ziganism.
The Gypsy cultural autonomy proposed by the author would simply become an enormous drain on the EU resources – or so it will seem to many EU citizens. The final objection is that even such an autonomous organization would probably be seen by the Roma themselves as a form of assimilation (perhaps the subtlest one yet). The initiative to form it, after all, comes from the unclean EU. It´s integrated into the EU´s structures. And Emirov says himself that “integration” is the ultimate goal, and on his own premises, this will be interpreted as racist “assimilation” by those whom it chiefly concern. Emirov´s liberal “pro-ziganist” opponents also have a problem, however. They really are integrationist, and have attacked “Varför tigger romer?” precisely for its “separatist” tendencies. I happen to agree with Emirov that opposition to majority society is strong among many Gypsies, guaranteeing that only small elite groups willing to interact with mainstream society will be attracted to the liberal perspective. I almost suspect that the welfare money is a way of hiding the fact that most Roma are still fundamentally Roma (for good or for worse).
As for Emirov, he closes his book by describing Moldova and Russia. Moldova is the only nation in Europe where the Romani population *does* intermarry to a relatively large degree with the majority, but the author sees this as a situation unlikely to be introduced anywhere else. In Russia, there is a truce or modus vivendi between Gypsies and Russians, the latter having a romantic picture of the former, something the former use to their advantage. Here the book ends, with the somewhat counter-intuitive statement that Putin´s Russia of all places might be the best place for the Romani people.
Despite everything, “Varför tigger romer?” is an interesting work, if seen as the journalistic report of one man. It does give a sneak peek into the world of beggars (including non-Gypsy ones). That being said, some of the author´s interpretations of Romani culture strike me as weird on the face of it (and I´m certainly no expert). Thus, why does Emirov constantly claim that Gypsies “can´t plan ahead”, “live from day to day”, and so on. His own book proves that those who beg *do* organize their work well in advance – as well they might. How else are they able to compete with all the non-Gypsy beggars? The same with those who form Gypsy associations in order to receive grant money from the state, and so on. Since Gypsies don’t like the prying eyes of unclean gadjos, has it never struck Emirov that the fatalistic and indifferent attitude towards life espoused by many of his interviewees is really a trick to make him, the annoying Calvinist busy-body, loose interest and go away?
I´m also surprised by the author´s claim that most Gypsies lack a religion! If so, they would be the only people (before the modern era) to do so, a sensational claim that surely calls for a more extensive discussion. My guess is that Emirov construes “religion” and “supernatural” very narrowly. I´ve been informed by a Catholic priest from Slovakia that while most Gypsies are indeed indifferent to the central tenets of Catholicism (except baptism), they do believe in curses and look upon the priest with considerable awe, in the belief that “rasha” is a conduit of supernatural power. Why isn´t this a kind of religion, I wonder?
With these, perhaps somewhat disjointed remarks, I close my review of “Varför tigger romer?”.
Friday, January 11, 2019
”Ancient Aliens Debunked” is a three-hour presentation by Chris White, scrutinizing many of the claims made in the History Channel series “Ancient Aliens”. White is backed by Michael Heiser, a somewhat free-wheeling Christian writer and Biblical scholar. The presentation (which is surprisingly well produced) is available for free on several YouTube channels. It´s not explicitly Christian, but such a perspective does shine through in the two last sections, which discuss the Flood and the Nephilim.
“Ancient Aliens” is an extremely popular TV series promoting the Ancient Astronaut Theory, according to which space aliens visited Earth in the past and decisively influenced human evolution and history. The “theory” was popularized by Erich von Däniken during the 1960´s and 1970´s. Däniken is indeed featured in the series, still going strong after all these years. Another prominent advocate, the late Zecharia Sitchin, is referenced. The series is narrated by Giorgio A Tsoukalos, a Swiss TV personality and probably a friend of Däniken´s (who is also a Swiss national).
I believed in the Ancient Astronaut Theory when I was about 12 years old, but today, I regard it as one of the more silly alternative theories. Essentially, its proponents travel around the world (usually the Third World), gasp at various ancient monuments, pronounce them “impossible” cuz reasons or something, and then draw the conclusions that aliens must be responsible. These speculations have been repeatedly and convincingly debunked ever since Däniken published his best-selling “Chariots of the Gods” back in 1968. Yet, here we go again: “Ancient Aliens” frequently features *literally the exact same silly arguments* as 50 years ago, which in my mind at least means that we´re dealing with deliberate ignoramuses. How many times must experts on Mayan iconography point out that the relief on Pakal´s tomb does not, repeat not, repeat not, show an ancient astronaut but Pakal´s death and journey to the underworld, and that its symbolism is well-known and consistent with other Mayan art from the period? There simply is no mystery there. According to “Ancient Aliens Debunked”, the rabbit hole goes even deeper. White believes that Ancient Astronaut theorists deliberately distort the evidence, making them charlatans and conmen rather than simpletons ignorant of archaeology. Clearly, I didn´t knew half of it…
The presentation speaks for itself, but a few sections stand out (at least they do to me). Thus, we finally learn what Ezekiel´s bizarre vision actually was – that one has long confused even myself (and perhaps a few Bible translators). It wasn´t a UFO-like object, but God´s chariot (the famed Merkabah) known from other Hebraic sources. It´s appearance is no mystery. But sure, I suppose some Däniken fan could claim that the chariot must have been powered by electricity and drawn by animal-human hybrids, so perhaps this won´t hurt the ancient alien scenario as much as White and Heiser hopes! Another good section deals with the Mahabharata, the claims about “vimanas” in particular. It turns out that the “vimanas” weren´t flying machines at all, but the palaces of the gods. They sure could fly, but they had no resemblance whatsoever either to modern human technology or to UFO observations. I could be wrong, but I don´t think anyone has reported seeing a hovering Vishnu temple in the night sky over New York (or New Delhi) lately! Even worse, the single best evidence for the existence of vimanas is a “channeled” text from the 1940´s, in other words a crude forgery, even apart from the fact that none of the contraptions shown in it are aerodynamic enough to take to the skies. (But, once again, I suppose you could argue that they must therefore have been powered by some unknown force, say Vril or Voor).
Another interesting section deals with “UFOs” in medieval art. In reality, we are dealing with anthropomorphic depictions of the sun and the moon, or simply with the Annunciation. This becomes clear if we put the “UFO” paintings in their proper historic and artistic contexts. I was somewhat disappointed to learn that none of the famed crystal skulls were authentic, not because I believe they are alien, but because it would be great fun if they were Mayan! And then there´s the Annunaki. It´s not entirely clear whether Zecheria Sitchin was a conscious fraud or simply a lovable old man stuck in his own delusions, but it seems that he literally couldn´t read ancient Sumerian! Heiser has debunked Sitchin before, indeed he has an entire website devoted to the subject. Essentially, nothing you ever read in Sitchin´s “Earth Chronicles” is true. Since the ancient Sumerians were an interesting and important civilization, I think Sitchin may have posthumously made them a real disservice by painting the entire field as crackpot.
The two sections which really stand out are the ones where the narrator´s Christian worldview slowly comes into focus. He accepts the reality of a world-wide flood – an idea I, as a newly minted Atlantomaniac, also find interesting and plausible. He even accepts the idea that angels may have mated with human females and given rise to the famed race of Giants. That one is much harder to believe! This, I think, is the Achilles Heel of this material: the ancient astronaut theorists might ask what is the *real* difference between angels and aliens? Note that White and, I suppose, Heiser believes that the “angels” weren´t spiritual or ethereal beings. They have solid bodies, can eat earthly food, and even look a lot like humans. They mated with humans by “changing their habitation”, an expression which the narrator believes refers to bodies. (I admit I never heard this intriguing idea before!) Thus, by discarding the angelic bodies and letting their spirits incarnate in fully human ditto, the Watchers became capable of begetting offspring with “our” women. The Nephilim or Giants were, of course, also physical creatures. It´s somewhat ironic that White believes in the most weird and extreme Biblical passage! That being said, I commend him for his honesty in laying all the cards on the table…including the wild cards.
Do we know everything about the human past? Of course not. We probably never will. However, the evidence to back the concrete claims of the Ancient Astronaut Theory simply isn´t there. Even apart from the whole thing feeling very very retro…