The Modern Prison State

One of the unexpected consequences of the information age is that we have less reliable information, despite have vastly more data. We have facts about the world now that were unimaginable a generation ago. The facts of our society are stashed in massive searchable databases that are accessible to most everyone. You may need some skill to access them, but the data is there. Even data that should be private is available if you are willing to pay for it.

In contrast, the information about our world that we can trust has collapsed into the set of things we can verify on our own. Information is not the same as data, which is a collection of facts. How many miles you drive to work every day is a fact. Information is what we can derive from those facts. If your commute takes an hour and it is 50 miles, we can conclude that you mostly use the highway to get to work, based on some simple math using those two data points.

In theory, information should be value free, as it is facts plus testable logic, with the result being subject to comparisons with the reality. If the information you derive from someone’s driving data indicates he is breaking the speed of sound on his way to work, we know your facts or logic are wrong. The trouble here is that information is not readily testable against reality. We tend to rely on the reputation of the person providing the information and how it fits within our own observations.

That’s the other important distinction between data and information, at least regarding the way in which these words are used in popular discourse. While they are often used interchangeably, data is an objectively true fact, while information is true according to a set of logical rules. Since those rules can be conditional, information can be valid and invalid, depending upon those conditions. “All bachelors are unmarried” is true as long as the word “bachelor” is defined to mean “a man who has not married.”

This may seem a bit esoteric, but it gets to the heart of the crisis in the West. For most of human history and all of Western history, the relationship between data and information was different than we see today. For medieval man, there was never a lot of data about the world, but he could trust the information about it. This was not just the natural world. He could trust the truths about his society, his gods, the people in charge of his society and the sources of his information.

In the modern age, and really just in the last generation, this relationship has flipped around the other way. We have all the data we need for any question. We know more about world than we really want or need to know. What we lack is information and more important, trustworthy sources of information. Medieval man could rely on the Church or the local lord to maintain the rules of society. The only thing modern man can know about his sources of information is they are wrong.

Modern man is now awash in both misinformation and disinformation, in addition to false information. Misinformation is deliberately inaccurate information, which is intended to deceive. Disinformation is deliberately inaccurate information, but from an institution like the state or the media. Of course, false information is information that is inaccurate due to bad data or logic. Compounding this is the current campaign against misinformation and disinformation.

The first thing you should notice is the people most responsible for the tsunami of disinformation are claiming to be at war with disinformation. Unless this results in mass suicide by media and entertainment, it means they are lying. Note also the use of the term “expert” in that piece. There is no such thing as a disinformation expert, outside of the institutions promulgating disinformation. One cannot be an expert at doing something unless you are actually doing that thing.

Note also how the primary sources of both misinformation and disinformation talk about this phenomenon as if they are the victims of it. The managerial class is the single source for the flood of false information. Pranksters may post gags on line to fool people, but the practical joke has been a part of life since the stone age. The online version is just an extension of the flaming bag of dog poo. What the managerial class is doing is a firehose of falsehoods with the stamp of authority.

Put another way, the new phase of the misinformation/disinformation tsunami is the managerial state crying out in pain as it strikes the society over which it rules. The next front in the crisis will be agents of the state arresting people on trumped up charges, for imaginary crimes against the state. This is the Douglas Mackey case. An entirely powerless person is arrested for a crime that does not exist, because the disinformation system says he was passing misinformation on-line.

Since the first humans began to settle into large communities, human organization has relied upon social trust, enforced by a code. Social trust worked in two directions, vertically and horizontally. People could trust their neighbors because they were like them and accepted the same codes of conduct. People trusted their rulers because those rulers enforced the code and attained their positions based on the logic in that code of society. Trust was side-to-side and up-and-down.

Modern economics is turning the horizontal trust of American society into cash equivalents and hauling it away to the pirate coves of finance capital. Americans are living in a world of strangers. The disinformation campaigns intended to distract from this realty are eating away at the vertical trust. Americans no longer trust the people in charge of their society. That distrust is quickly morphing into a distrust of and contempt for the system itself.

Smart people look at the economic model of America and wonder how it can keep going on as it is. The fact that it does go on suggests it can keep going on, but it seems to be violating the rules of the universe. The same can be said for the collapse of social trust and the growing contempt for the system. How long can the people in charge expect to remain in charge when the people over whom they rule are increasingly convinced the rulers and their system are evil and corrupt?

Perhaps that is the final trick of financialization. The first trick was to subvert the basic rules of exchange between people. All of those rules we learned from economics no longer make any sense. The final trick is to subvert the rules of logic themselves, making it so no one can believe or trust anything or anyone. The disinformation age is the final part of the modern prison. Everyone is alone, no one can trust anything, even the laws of the universe. You just have to do what you are told.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


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Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


Doctor Stupid

There is an old line about how some things are so stupid that only educated people are willing to believe them. Sometimes it is phrased as the smartest are the ones who believe the dumbest things. It is one of those aphorisms that is often used to dismiss arguments or ideas that are unpleasant. Most clichés and sayings are conversation enders, not conversation starters. On the other hand, there is a kernel of truth here and you see it in this gem from a Dr. Rachel Pope.

As we know from the great Doctor Jill Biden, there are a lot of very stupid people walking around with the label “doctor” in their profile. Another good rule is that when confronted by someone insisting you call her doctor or she puts that title in her social media profile, you are most likely dealing with a stupid person. It is not always the case, as there are smart jerks in the world too, but people who wave around their titles like this tend to be narrowminded and remarkably insecure.

In this case, it appears to be warranted. The claim that there is no genetic basis for skin color is laughably ridiculous. There is a genetic basis for all observable human characteristics like skin color and eye color. That is why we have no cases of two Irish parents giving birth to a Chinese baby. Children look like the people who made them, because they inherit the genes of the people who made them. Things like skin color, eye color, facial features and so on are all genetic.

This is not complicated stuff. Five minutes on a search engine gets you hundreds of studies explaining what is basic high school biology. If Dr. Rachel Pope is so haunted by multicultural taboos that she cannot bear to think of race differences, she could find studies like this one that examine the genetic basis of African skin color. You see, all of the gene combinations for skin color were present in humans from the start, so she could claim that skin color is a genetic response to environment.

If that first tweet was not embarrassing enough, she follows on with a truly deranged claim that there are no indigenous people in Britain. By her definition, there are no indigenous people anywhere. Humans did not spring from the soil by magic and they did not stay in one range. The story of humans starts with populating every nook and cranny of the planet. When people with an IQ about room temperature say “indigenous people” they mean those who settle a place first.

Of course, where Dr. Rachel Pope and her coreligionists in the denialist cult reveal the depth of their stupidity is when they insist race is skin color. The only people who insist this are the people in the science deniers cult. People familiar enough with the human sciences to accept the great diversity of man know that race is a general shorthand for a large basket of measurable human traits. These baskets of traits largely conform to the big geological divides on our home planet.

That last bit may sound awkward, but it is a good way of understanding how it is we have so much diversity in the human animal. If one hundred thousand years ago a group of aliens scooped up a few thousand humans and transported them to another planet, those humans would have adapted to their new world. They would no doubt have evolved unique characteristics because their world required it. No one would pretend that they are not different from earthlings.

It turns out that humans are the product of mating decisions made by their ancestors going back a very long time. Evolution worked on humans just as it does on everything else on the planet. When people migrated to a new environment, they quickly began to adapt to that new environment. The reason Africans have a genetic defense to malaria, but Scandinavians do not, is malaria is not present in the north. Thousands of generations of adaptation are why we have so much human diversity.

What makes this strain of stupidity carried by Dr. Rachel jaw-dropping is the people afflicted with it never shut up about diversity. From the comfort of their whites-only enclaves, they harangue the rest of us about diversity. The term “white privilege” has become a passphrase for these people. Yet, if race is not real, then white is not a logical construct, as it assumes race is real. Similarly, diversity cannot exist if there is no genetic basis for the human differences, we call race and ethnicity.

This brings us back to the beginning. The denialist is always someone who is educated, but also strangely stupid about the obvious. They tend to have inflated credentials in fields that are not particularly taxing. Archeology is a little better than education or psychology, but it is not a STEM field. There is a sense that their credentialism is a defense mechanism rather than a trophy case. That is also why they fall for every nutty fad popular with the modern intelligentsia.

Biological denialism, the refusal to accept the observable and measurable differences in humans, may be the ultimate expression of the aphorism at the start of this post. It is an idea so stupid that only pseudo-intellectual poseurs believe it. It signals to the rest that the person believing it is willing to accept on faith whatever nonsense is running through that particular subculture at the moment. It is an act of submission, showing that the person will never question the tenets of the subculture.

That is an important aspect of the modern intelligentsia. Membership is not just about holding the right beliefs. Those are important, but they change quickly, so what is most important is the willingness to accept the most absurd beliefs. The man who starts wearing a dress, claiming he believes he is a woman must be met by his fellows with absolute acceptance. That is the point of the pronoun stuff. When you address the guy in the sundress as “them” you are a true believer.


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Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte.

The Plague Jab

Note: Last night I watched the classic bad film Reefer Madness. The review and commentary is behind he green door.


In ordinary times in ordinary countries, the prospect of a vaccine for even a nuisance ailment like the Chicken Pox would be welcome news. After all, one measure of society is the technology to improve human health. In a technologically advanced society, members not only live longer, the quality of life is better. An extra 20 years as a feeble old man is not exactly a reward for a life well-lived. Therefore, the promise of a Covid-19 vaccine next year should be welcome news.

As with everything else, it seems, the news of a possible vaccine just reveals how deranged and bizarre life has become in the West. The majority of Americans are highly skeptical of the vaccine. If people were honest, you would find large majorities unwilling to take the vaccine at all. Even in the medical professions, where faith in their own skill is beyond reality, close to half distrust the vaccine. It does not help that the rulers feel the need wrap the vaccine question in their racial madness.

That is the first gate in the vaccine story. Since few people have the knowledge or aptitude to assess the risk involved in a medical treatment, it comes down to how much they trust their doctor, the drug companies and the system. If your doctor has always been prudent and reliable, then you trust his judgement. If your doctor has an unpronounceable name and looks a lot like the guy working at the convenience store, you are less likely to trust his judgement.

In the case of the vaccine, there is no reason at all to trust the government. They have simply lied too often about too many aspects of this virus. Compounding it is their communications organs have been staffed by demented sociopaths who lie for the sheer pleasure of it. The only way anyone we could trust the media is if they are the first to be inoculated. Even then, it would probably be a fake vaccine, so we would need some way to ensure they are getting the real jab and not a fake.

This is why the vaccine will be mandatory. Another aspect of liberal democracy is the rulers respond to well-founded distrust of them with coercion. In this case, we will be getting the Orwellian freedom passes. In the U.S. they will have some bland bureaucratic name because our managerial elite is functionally illiterate, but the Brits retain their pithiness, despite it all. As a result, these new internal passports proving you are up to date on your Covid jabs will be used to compel compliance.

What does this mean as a practical matter? What they are plotting is a system where everyone is issued an innocuous looking card with a vaccine stamp and date. When you get your booster shot, you get a new stamp with an expiry date. Oh, you are unaware of the regular booster shots required? You see? This is why this vaccine is a miracle. It will require you to give Big Pharma a check several times a year. Your doctor at Acme Hospital System Inc. will also be getting her beak wet.

If you think you can just blow this off, think again. For starters, there will be a massive public relations campaign to shame skeptics. Old people will be shown lining up for the jab and famous people will demand you get the jab. Soon, private business will demand proof of the jab before they accept you as a customer. Want to fly on a commercial airline or ride public transport? Papers please. Want to attend a public event like a sporting match? Papers please.

What this will become is the terms of service for citizenship. In fact, it will probably be baked into terms of service edicts. If you want to use Netflix you will have to prove you are up to date on your jabs. Of course, Big Tech will be there to make this simpler with tracking software for your now mandatory smart phone. That paper card they will be issuing will be replaced with an app for your phone that will be required if you want to function like what passes as a normal adult.

If this sounds a lot like fascism, you would be right. This idea vexes the anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, because they demand fascism only mean cool uniforms and camps for people they don’t like. In this age, it will mean dreary clothing styles and camps for the people the managerial class does not like. It’s also going to mean the implementation of technology to control every movement of the population. You cannot organize a proper resistance if you cannot organize at all.

One novel aspect of managerial fascism is the promotion of cranks and kooks to discredit legitimate opposition. Over the next six months, the media will promote kooks insisting that the vaccine is a mind control devise or that it alters your DNA in order to make you docile and compliant. These paranoids will be promoted, because most people will dismiss them. This tarnishes all resistance to the new regime. It is a tool of managerial fascism that works every time.

What the Covid-19 panic has revealed, and continues to reveal, is the managerial elite has no respect for things like the rule of law, individual liberty or any of the other foundation items of consensual government. To protect democracy, they will rig the election process. To keep us free they will strip us of our rights. In the name of inclusion and diversity they will exclude anyone who disagrees. What we are seeing is that the real plague on our society is the ruling class.

Promotions: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte.

How Fake Is It?

An old expression in the collectibles world is that anything that has value will eventually be faked or stolen. Art is faked so often that certain types of art have lost all value, because no one can tell the fakes from the genuine items. It’s not just crooks trying to beat the rules of the game. The people responsible for policing the fraud are often the people perpetrating the fraud. The truth is, anything that does not have objective value, but relies on insiders, will be subject to fraud and theft.

It is something to keep mind when thinking about the future of internet properties like the big socials and media sites. They rely on traffic to generate revenues from advertisers and those interested in their traffic data. Twitter does not make much from actual ads on the platform, but they sell user information to those interested in tracking your whereabouts on-line and in the real world. That traffic data is essentially what makes it possible for internet properties to thrive.

That brings up that old maxim of the collectibles business. Who is authenticating the data and appraising its value? There are sites that claim to measure web traffic. Like the ratings services for radio and television, they claim to have a secret way to sample traffic and then estimate over all traffic. Obviously, the sites themselves have their traffic, which they use to pitch advertisers, investors and in the case of politics, the donors that keep these operations running.

Of course, the ratings systems for radio and television have been subject to shenanigans for the same reason art is faked. Those ratings have value, so if you can fake those ratings, it’s like having free access to the bank vault. The ratings themselves are published so the unscrupulous can make bold claims. “We’re number one among left-handed Korean midgets” becomes “we’re number one in our segment.” It is a bandit market and the ratings help facilitate it.

In the internet world, capturing web traffic is a bit more complex. That’s where services like SimilarWeb and Alexa step in to provide hard data. Well, it is supposed to be hard data, but where they get their data is not easy to know. They are a bit cagey about how they arrive at their numbers. Alexa claims to rely on a browser plugin and site owners installing their script. SimilarWeb claims to get data from a panel of hundreds of millions of web users, as well as a sample of websites.

How accurate is the data? Probably not very accurate at all. Consider the British political site Unherd. The Alexa rankings don’t give us overall traffic, but the SimilarWeb ratings tell us they get 1.6 million visitors per month. Is that real? There’s no way to know based on the data provided. It looks like a lot of their traffic comes from aggregators, rather than real people. Then again, how many of their readers would install an Alexa browser plugin? Probably very few.

For small sites that deal in politics, traffic is not that big of an issue, as their donors are not targeting a mass audience. What about other types of data like YouTube views or Twitter followers? If that data real? It’s clear that Twitter is loaded with fake accounts, but how many are their fake accounts? It could be millions by now. How many are used by Twitter to boost users they like? No one can know, but it is not hard to see how that would be something they do for public relations reasons.

Think about it. Twitter is the preferred social media platform of the establishment media, so it is Twitter’s interest to make them happy. That is, in part, why they are feverishly scrubbing anything that vexes the gentle souls in the press corps. How hard would it be for them to ramp up the follower counts and likes on those same media accounts with their army of robot user accounts? Follower counts have value, so it is a safe bet those follower counts are being faked by all interested parties.

It is not just fraud, which is probably rampant in all of these measures of internet activity, but incompetence plays a role. YouTube views will go backwards, because thousands of accounts have been purged. This happens on Twitter as well. Of course, Google breaking its own search algorithm to prevent you from seeing what you like has probably crippled the view counts on YouTube. In other words, One type of deception is colliding with another type of deception.

The big players who make up the bulk of ad buying are starting to figure out that web traffic is not all it is claimed to be. Placing ads on a social media platform is worse than a waste of money. If a company made a video of the executive burning piles of their cash and then posted it on YouTube, they would get more sales from that video than running a regular YouTube ad. Eventually, this becomes obvious to everyone and the ad market on-line begins to dry up for these sites.

The real value in these internet properties, obviously, is in the data they steal from users and sell to governments and corporations. Like the ad business, the fraud in this data will eventually become an issue. We very well may be seeing the high water point for the big social media players. Like the market for certain types of art, the inability to tell the real thing from the fakes will collapse the market. In the end, it will not be public contempt but their own shenanigans that ends their reign of terror.

Promotions: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than ha

The Great TikTok Game

For months now, the company TikTok has been in the news, and not just because it is the preferred video sharing service of portly nurses. The company has been at the center of both a strange bidding war and a controversy over its ties to the Chinese communist party. TikTok is owned by a Chinese firm and like all Chinese firms that means it is controlled by the communist party. The American government has said the parent company is a national security threat.

It is the national security issue that has created the bidding war. The Trump administration said the parent company, ByteDance, must sell the service to an American firm or the company will be banned from the US. Trump has issued a couple of executive orders banning the app from phone stores. The claim is the Chinese communist party is using the videos of chubby nurses dancing in empty hospitals to undermine the American people’s faith in their rulers.

The national security issue is a bit ridiculous. China is spying like crazy on western companies and western governments. Nothing is too small or too trivial. They will steal anything not nailed down. It is not just industrial and military espionage. A New York City policeman has been arrested for spying on behalf of the Chinese. They say he was reporting to officials at the Chinese Consulate in New York on the activities of other ethnic Tibetans in the New York area.

The fact is, if the rulers really cared all that much about Chinese espionage, they would treat China the way they treated the Soviet Union. Travel would be highly restricted and business ties would be highly regulated. Instead, American firms are free to be plundered by China in exchange for a quick buck. Chinese nationals pour into America and every Western country. They are given free access to whatever they like. TikTok is a tiny issue compared to all the other problems.

In fairness, Trump is the first president to take the Chinese threat seriously and he has faced a wall of opposition from the usual suspects. While this TikTok deal is small potatoes, they may see it as a useful bit of symbolism. It brings the issue of Chinese spying into the public debate. It also touches on the immigration issue. Why are we importing people to work in American companies and research labs from a country actively engaged in wide-scale espionage against us?

Putting that aside, there is a bigger question. Why are the oligarchs fighting with one another over a chance to buy a piece of this company? So far, Oracle, Walmart, Microsoft and Twitter have been the most aggressive. Twitter makes some sense as the TikTok videos made by chubby nurses are usually posted on Twitter. Microsoft makes some sense, as it lets them get back onto people’s mobile devices. That way they can harvest their data and sell it like other social media firms.

What makes no sense is why Oracle or Walmart would be involved. What makes even less sense is why the price is $20 billion for a tiny slice of the firm and no access to their proprietary technology. What could Walmart gain from owning a piece of this company, other than a small return on the investment? What would Oracle need from a silly application like this? They make business applications like database systems and enterprise software. Why would they want this?

Then there is the media fascination with it. State run media in America is a bit different than in China, in that it represents the permanent ruling class and its servants in the bureaucracy, not the figurative leaders of government. They have been following this story like a pennant race. The New York Times has done hundreds of stories on this since it started. The same is true of the Washington Post. Even the Wall Street Journal has been obsessed with the bidding war for TikTok.

An added bit of mystery to this story is the fact that the proposed deal with Oracle does not include the company’s secret technology. Everyone understands that the app itself is worthless, but the secret technology has value. Supposedly, TikTok has cutting edge facial recognition technology and their behavioral analysis algorithm is better than anything Silicon Valley has created. That’s the real value, but the proposed deals with American firms excludes that technology.

As presented, nothing about this story makes a lot of sense. If this company was a serious national security concern, the government would just ban it from American mobile devices. Apple and Google have no trouble banning apps from their platforms for political reasons. Twitter could block all TikTok videos, thus collapsing the chubby nurse TikTok market. There’s no need for all of this drama if national security is the real reason behind this story.

A more likely reason is the Silicon Valley oligarchs see China as a threat to their interests around the world. Unlike American competitors, Apple and Google cannot just ban China from their devices. The Chinese would then flood the world with second copy phones and ban these companies from the Chinese market. What they are doing is getting the US government and allies like Walmart and Oracle to do their bidding for them, so they can keep their hands clean.

Then there is the Indian factor. Silicon Valley is slowly being taken over by South Asians, who have an ethnic interest in opposing Chinese tech. India would like to see the US reposition itself in Asia, by moving manufacturing and technology from China to India, so a cold war with China works for them. The people who put Kamala Harris on the Democrat ticket are certainly capable of engineering this TikTok story. This is how ethnic politics works in an empire.

The most salient issue is that nothing about this drama has anything to do with what is best for the American people. Trump makes some noises about Chinese espionage being bad for America, but what he really means is bad for the military industrial complex and the private sector oligarchs. If it was good for those interests, the American government would allow China to conduct human sacrifices on American college campuses. That’s another reality of the empire.

Of course, there is another angle here. Judges keep stepping in to block the government from banning this service from American phones. Yet, when it is American owned tech, like Gab, getting banned from phones, no one blinks. The political class falls all over themselves to explain why that form of censorship is good. The Chinese communist party has more first amendment protections than Americans. Maybe Gab should relocate to Beijing.

In the end, the TikTok story is mostly about China. On the one hand, social media players see China as a competitor and a partner. They want access to the market, but they don’t want to compete with Chinese tech in America. Walmart, Microsoft and Oracle get to play the white hat with this and curry favor with the Chinese. The Indians get to use the US government as a weapon against their competitor. This is now the great game in the late stages of the American empire.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Death From Above

Imagine a small kingdom that is faced with a disease outbreak of unknown origin and unknown severity. The king, upon being briefed by his staff, gives a speech to his people informing them of what is known and what efforts are being made to determine the severity of the disease. He asks his people to take reasonable precautions, as they would during the cold and flu season. As more information is gathered, he will inform the public so they can act accordingly.

As it becomes clear that the disease is hard on the very old and very sick, but not much of a threat to everyone else, efforts are made to insulate the very old and those in nursing homes. The public is informed of this and told to be extra cautious around the very old and very sick. Resources are made available to those charged with caring for the very old and sick. Otherwise, the public is asked to go about their business as they would in the cold and flu season.

This probably sounds completely insane to most people, but it used to be the way rulers handled public health matters. In the Asian Flu and Hong Kong flu outbreaks last century, the public was informed and reasonable precautions were taken by local government to limit the impact. Schools might be closed for a few weeks until the wave passed through a community, for example. The flu came and went, as they always do, with a varying degrees of impact on communities.

Of course, this was not the case with the Covid pandemic. Instead of doing what has always been done, our rulers rushed to the nearest television camera and told everyone they are going to die. Hairy old men in sundresses were sent out to scare the public and not just over the idea of mentally disturbed men in sundresses being put in charge of public health. No, their job was to convince the public that this is the end times and that everyone must lock themselves at home.

Not only was it not the end times, but it is looking like what skeptics have been saying all along, a tougher than normal flu season. The CDC has updated their kill data, adjusting the death toll down a modest 94%. Just six percent of deaths can actually be attributed to Covid. That’s about ten thousand people. The rest were afflicted with other diseases that were likely to kill them. Covid may have hastened their demise, but that is speculation. William Briggs has a good summary of the new data.

The long and short of it for those looking for the condensed version is that Covid by itself is not much of a threat to most people. Even old healthy people are not particularly vulnerable to this virus. It is the very old and the very sick, especially the very sick, who are at risk of this disease. In fact, the man-made panic may very well have killed more people than the disease itself. Think about all of the health care not being done due to closing hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Now, the obvious push-back will be that we did not know six months ago that this disease would not live up to the promise. The panic was a necessary precaution against the possibility of a much more lethal disease. The implication here is that we must assume the worst-case scenario in every instance and react accordingly. The fact that the worst case is also the rarest case, means we have to operate as if the natural world is nothing but exceptions, a world of miracles.

Even if one wants to turn the precautionary principle on its head this way, we had enough data early on to know it was not going to be the Black Death. Data from Italy and China showed that Covid was a killer of the very old and the very sick. The early models used to justify the panic were invalidated from the start. as far back as April, the justifications for the panic were undermined by what we knew. There was never a good reason to do what has been done in response to Covid.

The bottom line in all of this is the man-made panic has done more damage to American society than the virus. There are the unnecessary deaths and suicides that were caused by the panic. There is the massive transfer of wealth from small business to corporate giants. This will accelerate the decline in social capital, accelerating the decline in local community. The Covid Panic is not the Xhosa Cattle Killing cult, at least not yet, but the comparison is too obvious to ignore.

Perhaps the most important take-away from this man-made disaster is that none of the people responsible for it will be held accountable. In a sane world, there would at least be a truth and reconciliation commission, where the people responsible would explain themselves and ask for mercy. Instead, these people peddling panic will face no consequences and no doubt profit from their crimes. They won’t even have the decency to admit they were wrong about the severity of the disease.

Finally, this is example six million that the people in charge of America are too corrupt and incompetent to perform the basic duties of rule. In order to live something close to a normal life, Americans have to navigate around a thicket of pirates, bandits and incompetent bureaucrats all looking to rob the public. Slathered onto that is a ruling class ham-handedly addressing problems of their own creation. American are being strangled by an anaconda of incompetence from above.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Over Simulated

Logically, intelligent life forms living in a simulation would not have the ability to figure out that they exist within a simulation. The creators of the simulation would have created the intelligent life forms within the simulation, along with all the other stuff that makes up the simulation. Presumably the creators would not want the things inside their simulation to figure it out, so they would program some sort of block to their ability to reason their way to the truth of their existence.

One possible exception, one Hollywood has used to get around this problem, is the intelligent life forms are actually real creatures. They are unconscious in the real world, but plugged into the simulation, so that their consciousness exists in that simulation, as if they were a creation of it. This is the premise of the Matrix movies. Humans are plugged into the simulation by the machines that keep them alive as an energy source to power themselves and their machine world.

Another possibility, one not reliant on a sadistic creator of the simulation, is one where the simulation requires a degree of self-awareness by the intelligent life forms. In order for the simulation to achieve the desired goal, the creatures in it must be as close to real as possible, so that the simulation comes close to the reality of the creator. In this scenario, the simulation is a model of the creator’s existence for the purpose of testing some hypothesis about their reality.

Between the two, the most plausible is the second scenario, as the first scenario has some obvious plot holes. This was obvious in the movie. If the machines were so powerful to have conquered mankind and turned him into batteries, then why were the machines not smart enough to put alarms on the pods in which they kept their human batteries connected to the matrix? Perhaps the creator of the machines was the creator of the Death Star in the Star Wars movies.

If we go with the second option and assume the people who created the simulation are willing to risk their creations figuring out that they are in a simulation, under what conditions would the intelligent life forms figure it out? The first prerequisite is an intelligent creature curious enough about its surrounding that it tries to figure out the rules that govern its operation. The intelligent life forms would have to be smart enough to solve puzzles and use those solutions to solve other puzzles.

Rules manifest themselves as patterns, so the intelligent life forms would have to be pretty good at noticing patterns. As the intelligent life forms discover the rules of his existence, it would both notice the patterns, but get better at recognizing those patterns with a minimum amount of data. That is, each new recognized pattern would become a data set within the pattern matching process, allowing the creature to infer new patterns and new rules from his collection of rules.

Inevitably, this creature would reach of a point of noticing where his natural, as it were, abilities were no longer sufficient to learn new rules. It would need to take what it has learned about its environment and create tools. These tools would be the result of noticing those patterns, discovering rules of its existence and then applying those rules in trying to discover new rules. Mastery of fire, after all, came from seeing it and then using it in various way to discover how it worked.

This is one possible way for the intelligent life form to discover that it is actually existing in a simulation. Given enough time, it would discover the nature of its universe and learn it is actually a simulation. The trouble here is the intelligent life form would have to accept as a possibility that it exists in a simulation. A creature that is sure its universe operates on a fixed set of rules is unlikely to accept that those rules are an arbitrary invention of some higher intelligence outside its universe.

There is also another problem. The creators of the simulation could themselves be the product of a simulation. It’s entirely possible the one fixed rule of existence is that no intelligence entity can create an intelligence superior to itself. Perhaps Thomas Aquinas was right all along and there is some prime mover. The very source of the existence is the pinnacle of intelligence, which creates imperfect copies of itself manifesting as simulations within simulations.

We have in this simulation some evidence of this limitation. Despite the hyperbole about artificial intelligence, we have not come close to creating a computer that can rival the human mind. We have made very fast computers that can do calculations and sort through stacks of data faster than humans. These are not artificial intelligence or even intelligence at all, but rather they are very fast calculators. The collapse of the self-driving car project is an example of this limit.

Putting that aside, there is one other way the intelligent life forms inside the simulation could start to notice they are in a simulation. The point of creating a simulation, aside from sadism, is to test some theory or model some conditions. This implies the creators could make a mistake. They recognize this, so before changing something about their world or making a new tool, they test the theories behind it in a simulation. This means their simulation could have errors in it.

Let’s say they create a set of economic rules for their model society, but forget to carry the one or round the wrong way and there is an anomaly in the model. For example, creating more currency of a certain type does not result in inflation. All the other types of money operate by the rules of economics, but this one type of money seems to exist outside of those rules. The intelligent creatures figure this out and start producing tons of this new money to produce great material excess.

Presumably, the creators of the simulation would distribute skills and talents unequally among the intelligent life forms in order to see how creations of differing skills interact with one another. Maybe it is just an efficient way to use the finite resources available to the simulation makers. Regardless, the rules of the universe would have to dictate that those with a skill do better at some things than those without the skill. The result would be natural hierarchies in every aspect of the simulation.

What if there was a bug in the code where those with extreme narcissism and narrow intelligence can rise up to control society? At some point, through random chance, the stupid and narrow-minded figure this out and take over the simulation. Like the mouse utopia, this would be a useful discovery for the simulation makers, but it would create havoc for their simulation. So much so they may be tempted to unplug the thing, fix the bad code and re-run the simulation again.

Assuming the simulation keeps running, some of the intelligent life forms will see the anomalies in the system. They will work to resolve the paradoxes, but at some point, given enough cycles, they will have exhausted their set of options. At that point, they will have to question the very axioms of their existence and that’s when they can begin to contemplate the possibility they are in a simulation. The number of paradoxes grows to the point where they cannot be ignored.

Wrapping this all up, the only way to know if we are living in a simulation, other than being told by the creator, is that the creators of the simulation are imperfect. They have created a near perfect simulation, but there are enough bugs in the code to allow us to notice the anomalies. If there are enough things happening that fall outside the accepted rules of this world, then we can begin to consider the possibility we are just creations within a simulation.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Naked Eye

Imagine you are kidnapped off the streets and after a period blindfolded isolation transported to a small coastal village. instead of being chased by a balloon-like automaton, you find yourself constantly watched by cameras. You begin to notice that everywhere you go, there is a camera. You even discoverer them in the bathroom and in your sleeping quarters. Further, these cameras are beaming your activities to a large screen in the middle of the village in real-time.

Once you discovered the reality in which you were now living, you would begin to mull over the consequences. For example, escape would no longer be a possibility, as the cameras would be broadcasting your efforts in real-time. You could not try to plot with others in the village, as that would be broadcast to the whole village as well. Of course, things you may do in private, but never in public, would suddenly become public, once you forgot about the camera and did them as usual.

This is a good plot for a sci-fin story, but it is pretty close to reality now for cops in the United States. They don’t have to deal with cameras in the toilet yet, but they are recorded constantly as they go about their jobs. Often, they are recorded without their knowledge, so they now must assume they are always performing in front of an audience that is hostile to them. They get called to handle a misbehaving black and there will be an army of militant millennials holding up cellphones.

It is not just cameras on the street. The use of selective editing, which has become a feature of these hoaxes, means the cops wear body cams. Remember back to the O.J. Simpson trial and the cops had to deal with secret audio recordings of themselves long before Simpson murdered his wife. Mark Furman’s life was ruined by recordings of himself using colorful metaphors in an interview years prior. Cops are fired now for private communications that become public.

One thing these latest batch of riots seem to be revealing is that conventional policing is impossible in the Synopticon. The Panopticon is a situation where the few watch the man, like in a prison or an authoritarian state. The Synopticon is where the many watch the few, like a theater. The crowd watches the actors on the stage. In modern America, we have a combination of both. The state and its technology patterns watch us, while the masses and their cameras watch the police.

Most of the debate about the emerging surveillance state focuses on the state and its private collaborators spying on citizens. So far, we have not had a riot over Apple harvesting your metadata. We have been convulsed by video of cops beating blacks turning up on social media. Just wait until deep fakes make it possible for people to post realistic fake videos of cops abusing blacks. What happens when activists can use technology to identify the cops and that gets posted on-line?

If you are a cop, unless you are a rage-head moron, you have to realize that your range of motion is increasingly restricted. In these riots, the cops have been mostly useless, because there is no way for them to be effective. Even if they are following direct orders to end the violence, they know their bosses will not back them if a video of them getting rough with a hooligan shows up on-line. If a rioter captures one of them using colorful language in a melee with rioters, the cop is fired.

We think of privacy as just the area of our life that is off-limits to the public, but in reality, privacy is a spectrum. There are things that exist only in our head or perhaps with a few people in our lives. Then there are things known to family and close friends. Out further and there are things that are known to the community or maybe the workplace. The most distant belt is where we are supposed to find the things available to anyone interested enough to discover them, like an address or phone number.

Technology is collapsing the normal structure of privacy. There are things that get done in public that should not be broadcast to the world, just as there are things done in private that should not be made public. Those cops who took down the Gentle Giant did not spring from nothing. They were operating in the context of a career dealing with these sorts of people. The bit of the event we see is not the entirety of the event, It is devoid of context that would change how we view it.

This is happening all over. An academic, for example, discussing speech laws at a conference, could be secretly recorded. The recording is then edited to only include his recitation of prohibited words and phrases. All of a sudden, he is being forced into a struggle session by the mob. Alternatively, we have the situation of a jilted lover releasing private information about a public man. Things said in the heat of the moment, assumed to be private, suddenly become public.

There are some inevitable results of this. One is what we see with the cops. They can no longer do their job without personal risk, so they will evolve to avoid any situation where they could be shown in a bad light. We will no doubt see laws passed that ban the filming of rich people and politicians. They will not want to be subjected to what is happening with the cops. We’re already seeing signs in public buildings banning the use of cellphone cameras, Soon, phones will be banned entirely.

The more important change will be the contraction of the public space. On the one hand, those with nothing to lose will feel liberated in the public space. On the other hand, the auxiliary volunteer army of ideological enforcers will be emboldened to go crazy recording and reporting everyone. Those with anything thoughtful or controversial to say will flee the scene entirely. Even private conversation will collapse, as you cannot trust anyone to respect the ancient rules governing privacy.

Another consequence will be the collapse of what remains of trust. If you are a dissident, for example, you will no longer speak with anyone in possession of a mobile phone, even if you know them. In fact, the new tracking laws will mean all dissident will meet without phones. Not only will they fear recording; they must fear tracking, as the tech companies share this data with Antifa now. To voice a controversial idea now means living in a world closer to organized crime than politics.

Even apolitical people will have to assume that even their closest friends will be tempted to fink on them. Think of the “leaked” video of stars or ballplayers at private events or in private phone calls. These are all leaked by people close to the subject, so everyone now must distrust even their closest friends. The Synopticon will accelerate us into the no-trust society. The only place trust will exist is in secret societies that enforce their codes of silence the old-fashioned way.

In a world of a million leering eyeballs following your every move, lots of necessary things will simply stop happening. They will have to retreat to the world of intimate thought, but even there, coded to make it impossible to publicize. Outside, in the outer rings of the public-private spectrum, life will become simultaneously more intolerant and more vulgar. It will be a riot of uninhibited vulgarians and reckless scolds, where no useful work necessary for society can be done.

It remains to be seen if such a world can function. The riots suggest there is a point where the machine just stops. On the other hand, within living memory, people thought the current state was beyond the pale. Maybe people in the Synopticon will quickly evolve to become the uninhibited vulgarian or the reckless scold. Or maybe as we see in these cities, we stagger from one crisis to the next until finally the people are exhausted. We collapse while livestreaming it to the world.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Fermi’s Paradox

Fermi’s paradox is named after the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, who famously asked, “Where are all the space aliens?” Whether he actually said that is unknown, but he did wonder how it is that we have yet to find any evidence of life in the universe, other than on earth. According to the Drake equation, there should be quite a few extraterrestrial civilizations that we can detect from earth. Here is a famous paper on the topic written back in the 1970’s explaining the problem.

For those interested in listening to a long discussion on the subject, this episode of the Future Strategist with Jim Miller is a good listen. He interviews Greg Cochran, who knows a great deal about the topic. This was before Greg unfortunately succumbed to the The Madness, so it is free of that stuff. Miller and Cochran go into the background of the topic and offer some possible reasons for why we have not discovered any signs of intelligent life anywhere in the known universe.

Problems like this are fun and make for great science fiction plots. The great science fiction novel The Mote in God’s Eye is about man’s first contact with an alien civilization and touches on why it took so long for humans to find aliens and vice-versa. A main topic of the book is the idea that the alien civilization has Malthusian cycles, where they eventually overpopulate their world and destroy themselves. As a result, they can never advance quite far enough to explore the universe.

The novel does not get too far into this, as it is mostly a plot devise to move the story along, but it is a possible reason for why we have not found intelligent life in the universe and why we can no longer go to the moon. That is, we have regressed due to social evolution of some sort that we don’t fully understand. It now takes ten years to build a tall building in New York City, when a century ago it took a year. We don’t build dams or bridges anymore. We can’t even maintain the ones we have now.

This is where people will say, “We could go to the moon if we really wanted to do it. It’s the government that cannot do it. Private industry could go if it was worth it.” Maybe that’s true or maybe that is just a coping strategy to mask reality. All we know is we have not been to the moon since 1972 and we lack the facilities to do it right now. Even those vaunted private explorers are struggling to do things we could do decades ago, like launch something into space and bring it back again.

Social cycle theory is not a new idea. In the 19th century, Italian sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto developed a theory where power in a society passes back and forth between the clever and the aggressive. Most famously, Oswald Spengler theorized that human societies are born, blossom into maturity and then, like a person, decline into old age and eventually death. Ed Dutton and Michael Woodley have built on this concept using modern studies of human intelligence.

In other words, the reason we have not been able to travel the stars is that intelligent life can never advance to that point. Our civilization lifespan prohibits us from reaching that level of technology. That does not mean there is no progress. Clearly, we have reached a higher level of technological achievement than the Romans, but there’s always a dark age to reset things. What comes after this cycle will learn a lot from us, but maybe make it as far as Mars, before the great downturn ends their run.

Current events offers some insight into why we may never meet space aliens. The panic over the virus is something new to modern society. This virus is not a threat to humanity, but it is treated as one. We know there was no panic over the Swine flu, the Asian flu, the Hong Kong flu and so on. There was no panic over the great influenza outbreak of 2017 that killed 80,000 Americans. Yet with the death toll soaring to 4,000 with the Chinese flu, America is paralyzed with fear.

It could be that when a civilization becomes sufficiently advanced, three things happen that change how it interacts with the world. One is the birth rate falls. This is something we have seen all over the world. Once a society can reliably feed its people and it reduces interpersonal violence to a certain level, total fertility rates fall. At the same time, the society feminizes. Women begin to take up positions of authority in both civil and government institutions, changing the nature of those institutions.

That’s the third thing, what we are seeing today. A society dominated by women is extremely risk averse. The focus first shifts to elevating the value of life, then to guarding the children against any potential risk. We saw this happen in the 90’s and 00’s with the millennial generation, who were sheltered from everything. Finally, the society shifts to organizing against any threat, even those that promise to merely trim a few years off the lifespan of the octogenarians.

A society that is hyper-focused on preventing even the slightest risk is not a society taking great risks to explore the stars. Maybe that’s why the cost of going back to the moon is prohibitively high. The safety precautions that would be required make the venture pointlessly expensive. The reason it takes ten years to build a building that a century ago only took a year to build, is that today’s society is risk intolerant. If just one worker gets a hangnail or stubs a toe, the cost is considered too high.

Another possibility along the same lines is that in addition to the obsession with safety, the low fertility rate simply reduces the population. This is beginning in places like Japan and Italy. In a world of growing populations, the point of technological advance is to provide for more people. In a world of shrinking populations, the point of technological advance is to protect the people. That means more automation and less actual work, which could result in physical harm to the remaining humans.

What we may be seeing is the early stages of a new social model, one imagined in science fiction a century ago. Once a species becomes sufficiently advanced, the population shrinks, but lives in greater comfort. Perhaps in time lifespans will extend so a small number of humans, cared for by automated cities, live long lives almost like children in a daycare center. A species of pampered toddlers is no going to risk it all to explore the stars and come visit earth.

Of course, the Chinese flu is a great reminder that the free flow of people means the free flow of germs, many of which are deadly to those unfamiliar with them. The Europeans expansion into the New World probably killed off 90% of the indigenous people in the Americas. No one really knows for sure, but the great weapon used against the Indians was the pathogen. Small pox and influenza have been the greatest killers spread by man in all of history.

Maybe once a species overcomes all of the problems listed above and reaches the point where it can explore the stars, it has also realized that the spread of pathogens is too high of a risk. Maybe extraterrestrials explored a few places before they could reach earth and the result was a horrific die off. Maybe the alien bug killed them or maybe their bugs killed everything they touched. As a result, they hide from us any sign of life, so we don’t make the mistake of infecting the universe.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Plague

The zombie apocalypse is upon us. It is time to load up on ammunition, potable water and the dehydrated food they say will last generations. Of course, it also means cutting yourself off from the rest of humanity, as you can’t be sure when they will catch the virus and turn into a zombie. You might have to use the ax on the guy next door, who just moved in, so there’s no point in getting know him. It also ensures that whatever is turning people into zombies will not get to you.

We may not be on the verge of a zombie apocalypse, but there is a cornavirus outbreak in China that has spread to several other countries. The Chinese are taking it very seriously, warning people to limit travel and avoid the outbreak zone. They are saying the virus has mutated, but what exactly that means is unclear. There has been at least one case in the United States. The infected person had recently traveled to the outbreak region of China and developed the symptoms.

Now, it is highly unlikely that this will turn into a pandemic that wipes out a large swath of humanity, like the Black Death. It’s not impossible, but the odds are low because of modern technology. One reason the plague spread so easily is the poor sanitation in urban areas. People were exposed to all sorts of unhealthy things. They also lacked the medical care we take for granted. Mortality rates for plague today are about 10%, while they were as high as 60% in the Middle Ages.

Even as recent as a century ago, doctors were still blaming miasmas, bad odors, for various diseases. One reason the Spanish Flu spread so far is the general understanding of germ theory was in its infancy. Rather than isolating infected people and quarantining infected areas, people traveled as normal, spreading the virus all over the world in a short period. The Great War had millions of people moving from their homelands to foreign areas and the virus went with them.

That is the one connection between the last great pandemic and this new coronavirus outbreak in China. Every day millions of people leave their home area and travel to some new area for business, crime, tourism and so on. Humanity is probably more mobile today than at any time in history. Maybe there was more net mobility in the great industrial wars of the last century, but it is close call. The possibility of something really bad being spread by people is therefore at a peak.

Modernity may be the reason we are much more vulnerable to a civilization-wrecking pandemic than at any time in the past. A century ago, most humans lived in rural areas and farming was the number one employer in most of the world. Even industrialized nations still had close to half the workforce engaged in agriculture. Most men still had the wherewithal to maintain themselves in a pinch. The cities would be crippled by a plague, but the rural areas could carry on,

Today, 90% of western populations are dependent on the system to provide the basics of life, like food, water and heat. If enough people die from plague or even get really sick, the supply chain will break down. Given how near run all modern business is these days, the margin for failure is pretty low. A few weeks of failed logistics in the food business would leave whole communities starving. One water main break could cut off water to an entire city, if the work force has fallen ill.

Modern society could be like Jenga, the kid’s game where players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower of blocks. When everything is running as designed, removing one item does not cause collapse. If a few items stop working, then maybe it just takes one wrong failure for the whole thing to come down. For example, a pandemic plus a series of bad weather events leads to widespread food shortages, which in turn lead to civil unrest in major cities.

There’s also another angle to the risk analysis of modern society. Much of the infrastructure in America has been neglected for generations. Drive around an East Coast city and the roads are like the surface of the moon. Under those roads lie generations-old sewer, gas and water pipes that have been neglected. It takes a lot of manpower to keep them running. The same applies to lots of other basic infrastructure around the country. Manpower is needed to keep it functioning.

One reason for this is simple corruption. The ruling class no longer feels a duty to the societies over which they rule. They are extractive in nature, seeking only to skim and pilfer what they can from the people they rule. Another reason though is the collapse of social capital from mass migration and financialization. Most of the public stuff we rely upon is maintained by local communities. The obliteration of those over the last few generations is showing up in the infrastructure.

In a serious crisis, like a deadly pandemic, survival will depend upon communities voluntarily working together to provide the basics and care for the weak. For much of America, this is now impossible. In Europe, where 80-90% of people live in urban areas now dominated by foreigners, it would also be impossible. The point being, the cost of responding to a serious pandemic like the Spanish Flu is now much higher. In fact, we may not be able to react to such a threat.

Now, it is possible that like scarcity, humanity has overcome the threat of pandemic, through medicine and technology. The SARS outbreak killed 800 people, but in a world of billions of people, that is a trivial event. It’s three airliners crashing in a year. Just as we no longer prepare for famines in the West, we may no longer need to plan for another round of the Black Death or similar. Of course, people had similar thoughts before the outbreak of the Spanish Flu a century ago.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!