The Blue Marble myth

Owen Benjamin explains how technology outruns the Big Lies:

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?

The last time anyone took a photograph from above low Earth orbit that showed an entire hemisphere (one side of a globe) was in 1972 during Apollo 17. NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites were designed to give a check-up of Earth’s health. By 2002, we finally had enough data to make a snap shot of the entire Earth. So we did. The hard part was creating a flat map of the Earth’s surface with four months’ of satellite data. Reto Stockli, now at the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology, did much of this work. Then we wrapped the flat map around a ball. My part was integrating the surface, clouds, and oceans to match people’s expectations of how Earth looks from space. That ball became the famous Blue Marble.

I was happy with it but had no idea how widespread it would become. We never thought it would become an icon. I certainly never thought that I would become “Mr. Blue Marble.”

We have since updated the base maps by increasing the resolution and, for 2004, we made a series of monthly maps.

Notice that ALL of the hemisphere photography we think we’ve seen has turned out to be nonexistent. It’s becoming clear that from the evolution fairy tale to the Blue Marble fraud to the dinosaur fraud and the satellite myth, the world is very, very different than we have been told it is. What is the point? To deceive you into serving Satan rather than God.

The satellite balloon technology also explains how the US can keep putting up satellites despite not having any rockets capable of sending up astronauts. I particularly enjoyed the video of the NASA satellite released by the Space Shuttle that was dangling from a wire.

Fake solar power

So much for the idea of powering your home with solar panels:

One valuable lesson has been learned from the California blackouts concerning the greens’ vaunted solar power.

People with solar panels fitted to their homes have long acted under the impression that these granted them some immunity to blackouts.  They now know better.  Those who went to the heavy expense of purchasing and installing solar panels are in the same situation as their neighbors: no light, no heat, no power.

How does this make sense?  If you’ve got a system that generates power all by itself, with no outside aid or assistance necessary, then it’s a sure thing that it’ll continue generating power even after the grid itself is shut down, right?

Ah, but we’re dealing here with corporate policy.  And when that enters the picture, then sense of any kind quickly departs the stage.

It turns out that solar panels do not supply power to the homes they are attached to.  Instead, they transmit power out into the grid itself.  A complex system of credits is employed to reimburse the homeowner.

Forget being reliant upon it; even being connected to a centralized system turns out to be a fatal flaw when the system collapses. But hey, at least they got a tax break for installing them, right?


The collapse of science

Illustrating once more that science is dependent upon technology rather than the other way around, a petty Python script bug may force the retraction of more than 100 published scientific studies:

Scientists in Hawaiʻi have uncovered a glitch in a piece of code that could have yielded incorrect results in over 100 published studies that cited the original paper.

The glitch caused results of a common chemistry computation to vary depending on the operating system used, causing discrepancies among Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. The researchers published the revelation and a debugged version of the script, which amounts to roughly 1,000 lines of code, on Tuesday in the journal Organic Letters.

“This simple glitch in the original script calls into question the conclusions of a significant number of papers on a wide range of topics in a way that cannot be easily resolved from published information because the operating system is rarely mentioned,” the new paper reads. “Authors who used these scripts should certainly double-check their results and any relevant conclusions using the modified scripts in the [supplementary information].”

Yuheng Luo, a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, discovered the glitch this summer when he was verifying the results of research conducted by chemistry professor Philip Williams on cyanobacteria. The aim of the project was to “try to find compounds that are effective against cancer,” Williams said.

To help understand how devastating this sort of thing could be for the profession and practice of science, consider the very frightening possibility that modern science increasingly relies upon the sort of people responsible for enhancing your user experience of Skype and manning Twitter “customer support”.


4GW goes geo-strategic

I’m not the only one who has noticed that the Yemeni drone attacks on Saudi Arabia have significantly changed the geo-strategic situation as well as the prospects for future war:

The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East, but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally.

On the morning of 14 September, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles – all cheap and unsophisticated compared to modern military aircraft – disabled half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and raised the world price of oil by 20 per cent.

This happened despite the Saudis spending $67.6bn (£54bn) on their defence budget last year, much of it on vastly expensive aircraft and air defence systems, which notably failed to stop the attack. The US defence budget stands at $750bn (£600.2bn), and its intelligence budget at $85bn (£68bn), but the US forces in the Gulf did not know what was happening until it was all over.

Excuses advanced for this failure include the drones flying too low to be detected and unfairly coming from a direction different from the one that might have been expected. Such explanations sound pathetic when set against the proud boasts of the arms manufacturers and military commanders about the effectiveness of their weapons systems.

Debate is ongoing about whether it was the Iranians or the Houthis who carried out the attack, the likely answer being a combination of the two, but perhaps with Iran orchestrating the operation and supplying the equipment. But over-focus on responsibility diverts attention from a much more important development: a middle ranking power like Iran, under sanctions and with limited resources and expertise, acting alone or through allies, has inflicted crippling damage on theoretically much better-armed Saudi Arabia which is supposedly defended by the US, the world’s greatest military super-power.

This is potentially very good news for humanity, in much the same way and for much the same reason that Minutemen defeating British regulars with cheap, readily-available musketry was good news. Historian Carroll Quigley observed that the democratization of weaponry tended to expand human freedom, while the monopolization of it tended to reduce it.

Today, it is the common man who has to fear the SWAT raid or the drone strike ordered by the rich and powerful. Tomorrow, the rich and the powerful will be every bit as vulnerable to the common man who is wronged by their actions.


Big Brother in America

So much for the Land of the Free propaganda. Only the Chinese and the British are as spied upon as Americans:

CNN HQ-host Atlanta was the US city to make the top ten list, with 15.56 cameras per thousand residents. Cities in China dominated the top 10 ten, with 8/10 spots. Cities in China averaged 39.93 to 168.03 cameras per thousand residents. London, England, was No. 6 on the list with 68.40 cameras per thousand residents.

The five other US cities on the top 50 most surveilled places in the world were all Democratic party bastions, including Chicago No. 13 with 13.06 cameras per thousand residents; Washington, DC, No. 28 with 5.61 cameras per thousand residents; San Francisco No. 38 with 3.07 cameras per thousand residents; San Diego No. 42 with 2.48 cameras per thousand residents, and Boston No. 46 with 2.23 cameras per thousand residents.

Kenneth Johnson, former Chicago Police Department commander of the Englewood district, told the New York Times last year that residents shouldn’t be worried about their privacy because the cameras are in public places. “This isn’t a secret. This isn’t an Orwellian ‘Big Brother.’”

Atlanta Sgt. John Chafee told Route Fifty that surveillance cameras “play a vital role” in keeping the public safe and the city is expected to expand its more than 7,800 cameras in the next several years.

Cameras keep the public safe? Despite the cameras, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington DC are all in the top twenty cities with the highest murder rates in the USA. They’ll need to produce a better excuse for erecting the American Panopticon.


They are coming for the geniuses

Jack Baruth addresses the ongoing cultural defenestration of Richard Stallman:

The idea of truly free software given to the world for humanitarian purposes would not exist without Stallman. He was the only person who ever had the thought. Which means it is more radical than calculus, heavier-than-air flight, the theory of relativity, or the atomic bomb. It took someone with Stallman’s particular blend of Promethean IQ and mentally handicapped social skills to push it all the way to reality. You live in Richard Stallman’s world, whether you like it or not. He has had more influence on how we communicate in 2019 than any other single human being currently living. Any sane society would consider him a national treasure of greater importance than Fort Knox, to be cherished and protected accordingly.

Naturally, our society has decided to crucify him. A young woman with an axe to grind has instigated a lynch mob through an astoundingly ill-conceived and illogical bit of emotionally dependent rhetoric:

There are so many things wrong with what Richard Stallman said I hardly know where to begin…

She totally can’t even!

There is nothing I have seen a man in tech do that a woman could not. What’s more, the woman would probably be less egotistical and more team-oriented about it.

This is how you know the author is a mental child. Any of us “could do” many things. I could have written any song, novel, or movie screenplay that has appeared between 1982 and now. Except I didn’t. The Egyptians could have invented the airplane and the laser and the K-cup coffee maker, but they didn’t. Only children deal in potential. Adults deal in reality.

Also, I hate to tell her this, and its embarrassing that I should be the one to lecture an MIT graduate on this, but teams are for normies, for neurotypicals, for trash people who can’t retain multiple levels of variable dereferencing in their heads while coding. Teams do not accomplish, and have never accomplished, anything of genuine intellectual value.

The history of scientific progress is a history of individuals. Yes, you need a “team” to actually assemble the atomic bomb or the Intel Itanium or a commercial software product. You don’t need a team to conceive it and do the mental heavy lifting. The effective IQ of a team is the same as the lowest IQ in the team; the productivity of the team is a minor percentage of the productivity you could get from its smartest member working alone. Every once in a while you will see one brilliant person be inspired by another brilliant person in the near vicinity. This happens once for every hundred million times a “team” crushes the abilities of its members.

Richard Stallman is, by all normal human standards, a complete lunatic. He also happens to be a genuine genius. And more to the point, by every sane human standard, Richard Stallman has done nothing wrong. While I think his postulations concerning possible defenses of Marvin Minsky’s alleged behavior are both a) incorrect and b) irrelevant, there is nothing remotely questionable or surprising about his formulating and expressing them.

Can you even imagine Richard Stallman being courted and corrupted by Jeffrey Epstein? That not only stretches the bounds of credibility, it’s got the potential to be a hilarious comedy sketch.

Epstein: Hey, Richard, do you like to party? I know some nice girls who would like to meet you.

Stallman: I would not be happy at a party. Especially not if it’s raining. You have a big face. Do you have a parrot?

Epstein: Um, no….

Stallman: Go away! Go away now!

But this isn’t a comedy sketch, it is today’s ugly reality.

On September 16, 2019, Richard M. Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, resigned as president and from its board of directors.


A publisher, not a platform

Facebook is trying to spin federal law and be protected by it too:

Facebook has invoked its free speech right as a publisher, insisting its ability to smear users as extremists is protected – but its legal immunity thus far has rested on a law that protects platforms, not publishers. Which is it?

Facebook has declared it has the right, as a publisher, to exercise its own free speech and bar conservative political performance artist Laura Loomer from its platform. Even calling her a dangerous extremist is allowed under the First Amendment, because it’s merely an opinion, Facebook claims in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Loomer.

But Facebook has always defined itself as a tech company providing a platform for users’ speech in the past, a definition that has come to appear increasingly ridiculous in the era of widespread politically-motivated censorship. Now, the not-so-neutral content platform has redefined itself as a publisher, equipped with a whole new set of rights – but bereft of the protections that have kept it safe from legal repercussions in the past.

“Under well-established law, neither Facebook nor any other publisher can be liable for failing to publish someone else’s message,” Facebook’s motion to dismiss Loomer’s defamation suit reads, justifying its decision to ban her from the platform. It also points out that terms like “dangerous” or “promoting hate” cannot be factually verified and are thus constitutionally protected opinions for a publisher – while claiming it never applied either term to Loomer, despite banning her from its platform under its “dangerous individuals” policy.

Defining itself as a publisher opens Facebook up to lawsuits for defamation and other liability for the content users publish, something they were previously immunized against. All the lies, personal attacks, and smears launched by users going forward can now be laid at Facebook’s feet. That’s a Pandora’s box they might not want to open, legal analyst and radio host Lionel told RT.

Whatever they say – platform or publisher – their words will haunt them legally from now on.

Platforms like Twitter, Google, and – until now, apparently – Facebook are protected from the legal consequences of their users’ speech by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Facebook even makes reference to section 230 later in its motion, suggesting that it is trying to have its cake and eat it too.

As I have repeatedly pointed out, the legal departments of the SJW-converged tech companies are paper tigers. They are not at all accustomed to anyone standing up to them, they are riddled with diversity, and they are prone to flailing about dramatically and incoherently rather than articulating an internally consistent legal narrative.

Facebook cannot be both a platform and a publisher. Either it is a content-neutral platform or a publisher responsible for its content. In the Loomer case, it has clearly chosen to be a publisher and can now be held responsible for all the content it publishes.

On a not-completely-unrelated note, Indiegogo has announced new Terms of Use today.


The end of air supremacy

The Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia may mark a turning point in the 100-year history of air war:

Saudi Arabia spent billions to protect a kingdom built on oil but could not stop the suspected Iranian drone and missile attack, exposing gaps that even America’s most advanced weaponry failed to fill.

In addition to deciding whether that firepower should be turned on Iran in retaliation, the Saudis and their American allies must now figure out how to prevent a repeat of last weekend’s attack — or worse, such as an assault on the Saudis’ export facilities in the Persian Gulf or any of the desalination plants that supply drinking water.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked Wednesday on his way to Saudi Arabia how it was possible that the kingdom could have dropped its guard, failing to stop any of the low-flying cruise missiles or armed drones that struck the Abqaiq oil processing center — the largest of its kind in the world — and the Khurais oil field. Even the best air defenses sometimes fail, he replied….

Between 2014 and 2018, the Saudis ranked as the world’s No. 1 arms importer. In that period, they accounted for 22 percent of the United States’ global arms sales, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In recent years they have acquired some of America’s top-shelf weapons, including F-15 fighter aircraft, Apache attack helicopters and the Patriot air defense systems.

None of that made a difference last weekend in the face of an attack that exposed Saudi weaknesses that might seem obvious in retrospect.

The undeniable fact of the matter is that the US is well behind Russia and China with regards to unmanned air war due to its historical supremacy in conventional manned air warfare. Because the US has focused on defending against threats of the sort that it poses to others, neither it nor its allies are prepared for “unconventional” attacks that avoid those defenses.

This is the usual pattern of military history, wherein a long-standing advantage is circumvented by technological and tactical innovations that eliminate the utility of the advantage. Think about the way in which the German U-boat circumvented the British Navy’s control of the oceans or how Wellington’s refusal to give battle at any time and place that was not of his choosing negated the massive numerical advantage of the French forces occupying Spain.


The Land of the Mind-Controlled

The early history of mind control in the USA:

In 1951, Dulles hired a chemist to design and oversee a systematic search for the key to mind control. The man he chose, Sidney Gottlieb, was not part of the silver-spoon aristocracy from which most officers of the early CIA were recruited, but a 33-year-old Jew from an immigrant family who limped and stuttered. He also meditated, lived in a remote cabin without running water and rose before dawn to milk his goats.

Gottlieb wanted to use Detrick’s assets to propel his mind control project to new heights. He asked Dulles to negotiate an accord that would formalize the connection between the military and the CIA in this pursuit. Under the arrangement’s provisions, according to a later report, “CIA acquired the knowledge, skill, and facilities of the Army to develop biological weapons suited for CIA use.”

Taking advantage of this arrangement, Gottlieb created a hidden CIA enclave inside Camp Detrick. His handful of CIA chemists worked so closely with their comrades in the Special Operations Division that they became a single unit.

Some scientists outside the tight-knit group suspected what was happening. “Do you know what a ‘self-contained, off-the-shelf operation’ means?” one of them asked years later. “The CIA was running one in my lab. They were testing psychochemicals and running experiments in my labs and weren’t telling me.”

Gottlieb searched relentlessly for a way to blast away human minds so new ones could be implanted in their place. He tested an astonishing variety of drug combinations, often in conjunction with other torments like electroshock or sensory deprivation. In the United States, his victims were unwitting subjects at jails and hospitals, including a federal prison in Atlanta and an addiction research center in Lexington, Kentucky.

In Europe and East Asia, Gottlieb’s victims were prisoners in secret detention centers. One of those centers, built in the basement of a former villa in the German town of Kronberg, might have been the first secret CIA prison. While CIA scientists and their former Nazi comrades sat before a stone fireplace discussing the techniques of mind control, prisoners in basement cells were being prepared as subjects in brutal and sometimes fatal experiments.

These were the most gruesome experiments the U.S. government ever conducted on human beings. In one of the them, seven prisoners in Lexington, Kentucky, were given multiple doses of LSD for 77 days straight. In another, captured North Koreans were given depressant drugs, then dosed with potent stimulants and exposed to intense heat and electroshock while they were in the weakened state of transition. These experiments destroyed many minds and caused an unknown number of deaths. Many of the potions, pills and aerosols administered to victims were created at Detrick.

One of the most well-known victims of the MK-ULTRA experiments was Frank Olson. Olson was a CIA officer who had spent his entire career at Detrick and knew its deepest secrets. When he began musing about quitting the CIA, his comrades saw a security threat. Gottlieb summoned the team to a retreat and arranged for Olson to be drugged with LSD. A week later, Olson died in a plunge from a hotel window in New York. The CIA called it suicide. Olson’s family believes he was thrown from the window to prevent him from revealing what was brewing inside Camp Detrick.

A decade of intense experiments taught Gottlieb that there are indeed ways to destroy a human mind. He never, however, found a way to implant a new mind in the resulting void. The grail he sought eluded him. MK-ULTRA ended in failure in the early 1960s. “The conclusion from all these activities,” he admitted afterward, “was that it was very difficult to manipulate human behavior in this way.”

Turns out all they needed was a Like button and they could rely upon fake social pressure to do the rest.


As if they don’t

It was really rather stupid of the US government to imagine that public claims China was spying on consumers through their devices weren’t going to rebound hard on the US tech giants:

China has accused Apple of monitoring its users through spyware on its phones and computers.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today that the world should be wary about the US tech company because it had assisted Washington to spy on ordinary users as well as country leaders ‘for as long as 10 years’.

Beijing’s spokesperson made the allegation after the United States claimed Chinese company Huawei could be collecting intelligence for Beijing and urged its allies to block the firm from their 5G networks. Hua Chunying, a spokesperson from the Ministry, also accused American IT provider Cisco of secretly collecting information from its users through the firm’s devices. Hua said: ‘As early as 2014, Apple acknowledged in a statement to have extracted personal data including short messages, contact lists, pictures from its users’ mobile phones through a “back door” in its system.’

She added: ‘According to leaked information by project PRISM, American people barely have any personal privacy in data including their phone calls, communications, documents and voice recordings in front of US intelligence. In additional, leaders from 35 countries – including some of America’s most intimate allies – have had their phone calls monitored. Some of them have been monitored for as long as 10 years.’

Just wait until they start going after Facebook and Google. I really fail to see how “you don’t want to let them spy on you, you should let US keep spying on you” is likely to be a successful sales pitch.