Ageless Ageing

So in China they find flint and stone tools that look to be 2.1 million years old. Dated by the remains of the regular magnetic shifts in the Earth’s poles in the particles of metals in the deposits ( a dating method that is brilliant in itself ), and in Israel they find human teeth 200,000 years old. While scholars now suggest humanity as we know it, did not arise from one single group on East Africa but is the result of children being born from the interaction of all the hominid groups across the whole of Africa over millenniums.

These ancients tribes could teach us everything we need to learn about immigration.

The Calm

It is a good thing in general that North Korea is making overtures, despite their history of lying and reneging on promises. The American Right will attribute this to Trump’s hard stance and threats and perfect unpredictability, which is hard even for a tyrant to deal with.

But actually without ever seeing any documents or hearing any meetings, which we will never see or hear, this is because China has aspirations and she is tidying up a problem that is now hindering her advances. If there is a peace it enormously helps China, whereas if there were to be a peace in Syria it helps her not a whit so she is standing on the sidelines letting thousands die.

We live in a world of ethical relativity and it is killing our political evolution.

China Just Keeps Winning

Empires have fallen throughout history. Looking at what we know and what we can dig up there are numerous reasons from invasion to degeneration. The latter is what we are witnessing today, although some people say ‘American Empire’ is not the right description as they have not gone around the world invading other countries and staying there. Others say it is still an Empire in all but name.

Degeneration comes in many guises but mainly you can pinpoint weak leaders and infighting. Rome lost its Republic to Octavian and the citizens from that moment onward were ‘managed’ – usually with free food and lots of games and all that corrupted Rome started with his later years. Judah fell as much from a bitter civil war as invasion from Rome. European empires fell because the countries became too poor not – lets be honest – because there was nothing left to take from the countries they rules.

The USA has lost its footing, its philosophy has been degraded by its very strength – commerce. The new Empire – China – is rising at its own pace. Its movies are as jingoistic as any that came out of Hollywood in the 1930s – 1950s. Its military grows, its citizens travel and invest and its history is becoming more known in the West.

Let’s Hear if for the Unexpected

North Korea is making overtures. For whatever reason. I suspect China is pulling the plug on them because they fully realise a missile pointing one way doesn’t take long to turn their way and Kim Jong Un doesn’t strike anyone as stable.

But Trump agreeing to meet with him has all the hallmarks of Ronald Reagan going to shake hands with the ‘evil empire’ and coming out smelling of roses because, what do you know, the sheriff won. Reagan has gone down in history as the man who broke America but won the Cold War.

Trumps’ followers must now be praying for the miracle that will sell them a second term in office. Peace on the Korean peninsular and a nuclear free zone. I just want to know what the Chinese are getting out of it.

Rattle That Sabre

So Syria has degenerated into a proxy war between a resurgent Russia and a nationalistic America. And to get back at a skirmish which resulted in the deaths of Russian soldiers Putin congratulates himself on having a whole new generation of stealth nuclear weaponry. Obviously military intelligence knew this so this announcement was for the benefit of the population, both Russian and not.

I am sure Russians are now feeling very proud just as the American were when the first US naval vessel equipped with a laser gun took to the waters. There was a saying that when the newspapers get to hear about a new weapon it is ten years old and the really new weapon is top secret and will be kept that way for a decade.

Putin also regrets the break up of the Soviet Empire. Nothing new there, the British Conservative Party pretty much regrets losing its Empire mostly because way too many of Victoria’s subject came to live in England. And America loves its ’empire of influence’  which China is now following with investment in its own seas and Africa. The movies coming out of China today remind me of the Hollywood films of the 40s and 50s.

It’s good to know nothing has changed in the last thousand years.

Which Planet to Vacation Upon?

I hear India is going to the Moon this coming year and Japan and China are both sending probes to various regions of the Moon. I also see japan is sending a probe to an unvisited asteroid and China is sending a probe to Mercury. Now I understand why the USA is reopening the Moon landing projects, it is being left behind.

Or is it? These technologies have all fed off each other and for the most part scientists, unlike politicians, are really good at sharing information (ok Newton is an exception) and learning how to do things. They are also hungry to get their pet projects funded and if they don’t get funding from their own countries they will go to where they can. In this regard they are a little like the artists who travelled to city-states in Italy and Greece to find patrons.

So go world, get those probes out there, get those landings penciled in the calendar. We need the knowledge. and try, my scientific friends, to keep the politicians out of it otherwise they will ensure you take war with you.

Technically Bankcrupt

If you, like me, have watched the paroxysms and ‘o’er vaulting’ the leaders of the world have been going through since the ‘banking crisis’ hit, from the outside you could be forgiven for wondering what exactly maintains this crisis. As countries slide down the scale of viability you could be forgiven for asking, just how much did the bankers lose?

The answers are not clear because whilst the bankers did lose thousands of millions what we are told is that banks have money to lend but won’t lend it, in other words that this crisis is driven by the sentiment of financial advisers extraordinary. That Europe cannot dig itself out of the hole this lack of trust has created without China and America, that America has had to hock its children for the next twenty years to maintain its commercial clout, that Turkey is in better shape financially than the UK.

The bankers did not lose enough money to force countries into bankruptcy. And no mere sentiment would ever be allowed to threaten and entire continent. What seems to have happened, and what is really reprehensible, is that governments, in their entirety, promoted prosperity as the beneficiary of capitalism by spending money that did not exist.

Governments artificially inflated GDP for two decades creating artificial prosperity.  Hubris we will all be paying for if we are lucky, with reduced wealth for a generation and if we are unlucky in wars over vital resources. Parliaments are vulnerable because of this and the men and women who lead us to it, along with their baking sons and daughters, should be on trial.

Expedient Recognition

This week the British Government recognised along with a good many other countries, the Libyan opposition as the legitimate leadership. At the same time the British Government says nothing about aspirations around the world of small peoples who are not rebelling against their own leadership because actually, it is not their own. Why do we not argue with the Chinese about Tibet and why do we not argue with the Turks about Armenia?

Actually I am sure we want to. I am sure diplomatic communiques discuss tensions around the world and the British Government takes stock and watches emerging situations. It is an object lesson to everyone to note that despite the Libyan involvement in  mass murder and despite sanctions, as long as he was powerful the British Government talked, dealt and traded with Gaddafi waiting for their moment to get rid of him through his own people’s revolution or his eventual death whichever came sooner.

The ways in which Governments deal with each other contains so much hypocrisy it could almost be described as a sin. Trade means more than people’s lives. Brutal suppression as in Zimbabwe where minimal trade is involved elicits no armed response or even a helping hand to those trying to bring down Mugabe through the mechanics of politics.

China must be forgiven for believing that as long as she pays them well, she can get away with anything with the British Government.

One Step Forward

We take for granted the inexorable march of scientific inquiry with which we have grown up (my generation and the two before me). There have been in history huge forces which have stifled inquiry.

In the sixth century BCE and for some three hundred years after, Greeks developed a mathematics than enabled them to chart the stars, work out that the earth was round  and even (through a mistake that cancelled itself out in the equation) get close to its actual circumference. As Carl Sagan suggested in his seminal series  Cosmos, if they had not been ignored by the emerging merchant classes and desires of empire resulting ultimately in  invasion by the might of Rome, the twentieth century might have been the century we launched the first inter-stellar space ships.

The Christian Church with its insistence on the sanctity of the human body would not even allow the rudimentary brain surgery practiced by the Egyptians who knew trepanning (they even found one mummy with a plate in its head suggesting they attempted radical brain surgery or their wives threw their dishes really hard!)

The Chinese were  making water clocks two thousand years ago before their Emperors became paranoid.

Scientific advancement has been stopped by the most ludicrous of things, human foibles, and today we use the excuse that there isn’t the money to afford the experiments. How many thousands of years are we losing today for that excuse.

Nonsense

There are many assumptions that come to us in our education because a close reading is not given to the facts even as we know them. And let’s face it when the protagonists have been dead two thousand years it is hard to know what we know. For example would it interest you to know that eight hundred years ago the people who thought the Earth was flat would have been looked upon by educated people in the same way scientists and modern thinkers think of people desperately trying to deny evolution today.

The fact is that the proof (albeit luckily discovered) that the Earth was 24,000 miles round was found in 300 BCE.

Around about the same time or slightly earlier middle eastern thinkers had discovered the Moon controlled the cycle of time and come up with close to a 365 day year, though their leap year to keep up was every nineteen years. Whenever the Olympic circus begins I always sort of wish we have kept the nineteen year leap year.

Clocks were invented by the Chinese almost two thousand years ago. In fact to think that somehow people were standing still and not thinking much over the last ten thousand years is to misunderstand human  beings. People were experimenting long before experimental method was created. They were simply not being systematic. So the Romans knew what crude oil was they did not have a use for it.

In the past many people have hit upon accurate ideas they have just not been the ones listened to, their knowledge was lost or other countries rose and conquered theirs and disregarded their findings.

China

I see that China is considering a new law to be discussed this April to outlaw the killing and eating of cats and dogs.

“We are proposing that all dog and cat eating should be banned because it is causing many social problems,” said Chang Jiwen, a law professor at the Chinese Academy.

I have always had a desire to visit the far East and China because some of their philosophy is fascinating but I have never gone because of their intense abuse of animals. It isn’t a judgmental thing; Europe intensely abuses animals and those it doesn’t abuse it has already wiped out. It was just because I could not bear to see the animals in the markets or pass the restaurants advertising them to eat.

If this does become law because the middle classes are becoming owners of dogs and can see all that people lose by slaughtering mindlessly, if will be a remarkable turn-around. Now all we have to wait for, is people not killing animals because the animals are precious in and of themselves and not just because they are of use to people.

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