Fugit Inreparabile Tempus

The sands of the hour glass run out on Summer 2023.  The various grandchildren are back from their vacations and soon their world will be submerged into the confines of the classroom.  But for the next two weeks their parents will be scrambling to keep the kids busy while all of the various work schedules re-mesh after summer.

And at a time like this, grandparents can be really useful.  Camera Girl will be a veritable general.  She will wield a spatula like a baton, whipping up scrambled eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti and meatballs as the moment requires.  I will be more like the NCO trying to maintain order among the troops and where necessary preventing mayhem.  I will be more or less on duty for the duration.

I will try to provide content as best I can but without a doubt there will be some gaps on the site as is probably already apparent.  Well, in these dog days we all have to make do.  But there will be plenty of fascinating developments in the fall.  Most likely the world will be exploding in all directions and in all senses of the word by the end of September.

I think the days of the Silicon Valley miracle are coming to an end.  I think the next bust is upon us and among the casualties, most of the companies that have been providing news and entertainment content are going to disappear.

The interesting thing to see is who will be the survivors.  And right in the center of this trend is Elon Musk and his bet on X.  Can he make that bet pay off?  Not being any kind of technology maven, as far as I know, his chances are precisely 50/50.  But even the Googles and the Facebooks don’t have much better than those odds to survive long term.

The basis for our information economy hasn’t reached any stable equilibrium and all of these companies are to a certain extent monopolies that the surveillance state allows to exist.  What will happen in the future is completely indeterminate.  But for some reason Elon Musk seemed to think he could run one of these companies without the blessing of the feds.  Now whether he’s changed his mind about that or not is a question.  Free speech is a bold claim in 2023.  Can it actually exist in America?  That’s what everyone wants to know.

But almost as difficult to know is whether even fake news can make a profit anymore.  Do serfs really need the news?  And would they actually pay to read it?  It seems unlikely in the extreme.  But it’s an important question.  We’re all forced to pay for our cable bill and out of that we pay CNN and MSNBC to shovel horse manure through the copper and fiber-optic wires that run down our streets.  And they shoot it up to cell towers and bounce it off satellites.  But eventually when only Guatemalan and Congolese Americans are left will they be willing or even able to pay for a cable bill?  And why would they care what Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper has to tell them about Joe Biden or Dylan Mulvaney?

It just seems to me that all of this we see, YouTube and TikTok and Instagram and all the rest is ephemeral nonsense to be swept away along with virtual reality headsets and transgender influencers.  It’s all just absurd nonsense like flag pole sitters and gold fish eating college kids.  Pretty soon the reality of our national debt is going to hit home and then we’ll find out what we’re willing to spend money on.  The answer is probably bread and not much else.

But here at the end of the silly season I’ll enjoy the warmish weather and ignore the periodic sprinklings of volcanic ash that filter down from the mouth of Vesuvius.  I mean what are the odds?

Guest Contributor – TomD – 10JAN2023 – A Civil Engineering Perspective

Tom | Flickr


I’m a Civil Engineer specializing in structural for most of my career. For almost all in-ground concrete installations, the nature and strength of the subgrade is more important than the strength of the concrete. Subgrade means whatever the concrete is sitting on. In other words, no matter how strong the concrete or asphalt, it isn’t any stronger than what it is bearing on.

I’ve never been associated with residential work but in commercial, government,, etc. work, testing the subgrade is very important. It should be to you too. If you’re spending a lot of money on asphalt or concrete in a non-controlled environment, for your own sake. please call a local geotech outftit, explain your circumstance, and get a proposal.

If you’re spending couple to several 10’s of thousands, please spend a couple of hundred ensuring it doesn’t fail in a year or two.

Outcompeting The Left

Millennials aren’t patriots.  And they aren’t individualists.  They’re mostly sort of like grade-school children.  In fact, grade-school children that went to a really artsy-fartsy grade school.  There’s no way we are going to turn them into revolutionaries, ready to storm the barricades in search of liberty.  They don’t want liberty.  They want a latte.

But millennials will someday soon be the majority of voters in this country.  So even if they don’t believe in what we believe in we can get them to follow us if we can outcompete the woke option.  “What the hell is photog talking about?” you’re probably saying to yourself.  Let me explain.

Currently Silicon Valley is almost entirely composed of woke companies that have been telling millennials for twenty years that they are not only smart but also good.  Google famously had a motto “Don’t be Evil.”  Facebook, Twitter and all the other social sites spend half of their time just banning anyone who won’t acknowledge the need to worship the cult of pronouns.  Undoubtedly that sort of mean girl social selection activity has a definite demographic cohort that will relish that environment.  We call them Karens.  And right now, they seem to be the dominant life-form on planet Earth.  But as powerful as they are, I think there is a very large chunk of the millennial population that would like something more interesting to look at and talk about than Karen’s latest battle against accidental misgendering.

So how hard could it be to come up with a site that’s more interesting than that.  Look at what Substack has recently done.  They provide a platform for (among other things) journalists who are too normal to survive in the woke media environment.  Guys as liberal as Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi were hurled into the outer darkness by the likes of Rolling Stone and The Intercept because they thought that journalism should be factual.  Not unbiased mind you, but just not completely fake.  Now they’re making more money than they did previously by committing actual journalism and providing a service to readers who are tired of being lied to.

Other social sites have slowly begun to appear to compete head-to-head with the likes of YouTube and Facebook.  Rumble, Gab and BitChute are tiny players but they provide a service that isn’t available from YouTube.  The market for their product is growing and will continue to do so.  And it is attracting people with deeper pockets like Peter Thiele.

These are the beginnings of competition.  They barely register on Big Tech’s radar.  But that will change.  Better product will draw customers.  And honestly the entertainment value of Facebook and Twitter is pretty low.  I can easily imagine someone monetizing the audience that exists for reality-based news and entertainment.  It will happen and when it does it will attract more than just a right-wing audience.  It will attract everyone except for the left-wing ideologues.  A good example of that is the recent news that Greg Gutfeld was now the “King of Late-Night Comedy.”  Greg Gutfeld isn’t a conservative.  But he’s a libertarian who doesn’t alienate the conservatives who enjoy his humor.  He is vague enough about his own personal beliefs that Trump fans and normies think of him as their guy.  And that’s good enough.  I’d like it better if there were an even more right-wing guy who came on after Gutfeld on Fox News.  Someone a little more edgy but it’s a beginning.  If Fox News were smart, they’d give the Babylon Bee guys their own show too.  Of course, they currently have a YouTube channel of their own but I wouldn’t be surprised if YouTube eventually shut them down.  They’re that funny I assume they’ll be considered a threat.

And that’s my point.  The Left has become “all fake all the time.”  In the long run that becomes quite boring.  It can be outcompeted in a marketplace of ideas.  So, all we need to do is create that marketplace and let reality do the rest.

The Country Leading the World Into a Nuclear Power Future – Finland?

Apparently the Finns have taken a decisive step toward making nuclear power the basis for their electric energy generating capability right through the next century.  The Finns have done the work to not only move into the next generation of nuclear power plant design but they are currently building the first modern large scale long term (permanent) repository for spent fuel rods.

If only Americans were as realistic and logical, especially all those global warming kooks who want to get away from fossil fuels but are too stupid to realize we already have the technology that will replace fossil fuels in the future.



Trump Gives Google and Amazon a Thumb in the Eye

It’s just a drop in the bucket but it shows that these are the two tech giants that most offend the President.  Hopefully it’s only the beginning of a process to rein them in.  The author of the article says breaking up Amazon and Google is a bad idea.  I totally disagree.  Breaking them into a thousand pieces is a wonderful idea.

More Trouble for Google

Hat tip to Vox Day for excerpting an exciting article by Sara Carter.  It seems another Google insider has handed over almost a thousand pages of documents to the DOJ exposing how the company’s algorithms discriminate against conservative entities.  This directly contradicts testimony made in front of Congress by Google upper management.  Apparently Project Veritas is going to reveal the former insider’s identity today.  Things are definitely moving in the right direction.  I wonder if there is any limit on the size of the fine that can be levied against Google.  ONE TRILLION DOLLARS !!!!!  sounds about right.  Full disclosure, I was holding my pinky at the corner of my mouth as I typed that.  Eat your heart out Dr. Evil.

Seriously, it doesn’t appear that the DOJ is going to need much more evidence to move forward.  It’s a matter of whether they have the will.  We shall see.


Guns, Germs and Steel – A Book Review

“Guns, Germs and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond is an extremely interesting book about what factors might be responsible for the varied trajectories that technological progress has taken in different times and places and by different peoples around the world.

Diamond reviews the history of the two most advanced civilizations found on Eurasia, namely the Far Eastern Kingdom of China and the Euro-Middle Eastern complex of cultures that succeeded from the Sumerians.  He catalogs the series innovations that occurred since the end of the Last Ice Age that catapulted humanity from the Stone Age to the Space Age in the space of 13,000 years.  Now this sounds like a long time but compare it to the hundreds of thousands of years in which the only progress was advances in stone spearhead technology.

Next, we are walked through the other civilizations that existed around the world.  We meet the new world cultures in mesoamerica and the andes.  We follow the Austronesians as they go from Taiwan to every island between Madagascar and Easter Island.  We meet the various peoples inhabiting sub-Saharan.  And we meet the Australian aborigines and the inhabitants of the New Guinea highlands.  And we watch as these primitive cultures collide with the modern Europeans.  And we see how the Guns, Germs and Steel of the title decimate these primitive cultures.

And finally, Diamond explains how the vicissitudes of geography are completely responsible for the difference between Albert Einstein and Yali the genius of the New Guinea highlands.  Apparently we are all exactly the same.  I know this because Mr. Diamond repeats it liberally throughout the text just in case you aren’t paying close attention.

And I will admit that many of the points are very persuasive.  It is quite interesting how the Austronesian people developed along entirely different technological trajectories depending on what were the resources of the various islands they ended up on.  So, those that ended up on New Zealand or Hawaii were able to progress to agricultural societies while those on wretched dots of land like the Chatham Islands barely clung to life as hunter gatherers.  And the great advantages of inhabitants of Eurasia are fairly convincing.  Being able to borrow from civilizations in all directions around you surely helped the people of Europe to advance rapidly.  But when at the end of the book he hunts for a reason as to why European culture was able to outperform the Chinese and other Asian cultures in the colonial period he rather weakly claims that the comparative isolation of Europe due to the fragmentation into peninsulas and islands was the reason.  To me this seems to be a case of blowing hot and cold.  Or possibly the Doctrine of the Three Bears.  This place is too isolated, this place is not isolated enough but this place is isolated just right!  Seems a bit weak.

Well anyway, I learned a good bit about early human civilization.  I also found out that the modern Japanese came from the Korean people.  But I’m not sure I really believe that the Australian Aborigines are really that close to their own space program.  But Mr Diamond thinks they are.  Good luck with that.

It’s a good book and highly interesting.  I recommend it if you can ignore the virtue signaling.


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The Economic Laws of Scientific Research by Terence Kealey: A Short(ish) Review (Part 1)

Now, during the week I toil on the engineering plantation so when I’m released from bondage every Friday the last thing I want to do is think (or read) about scientific research or the economic laws that govern it.  I want to read about galactic overlords or underlords or possibly space princesses in space bikinis.  When I’m feeling particularly engaged with reality I like to read about the local Galactic Overlord Trump skewering interplanetary morons from the failed newspaper The New York Times.  But someone I’ve known forever and who is extremely smart sent me this book and told me to read it.

Well, with all the good grace of a man walking to the gallows I acquiesced and read the damn thing.  So, I am shocked that I not only read this book but that I’m glad I did.

I do not recommend reading this book unless you’re interested in the financing of research and development.  Instead, let me tell you what this book says and why it’s interesting and important.  Then if it seems like something you want to delve into, have at it.

This first post will deal with the preliminaries.  The first substantial chapter is called Francis Bacon and Adam Smith.  Basically, he states that there is a dichotomy of opinion in the scientific world about how knowledge, technological innovation and economic growth are related.

Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) who was revered by the intelligentsia of his and following generations proposed the following model:

Government Funded Academic Research → Pure Science → Applied Science (or Technology) → Economic Growth

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) who wrote “The Wealth of Nations” is still revered today for his views on capitalism.  He disagreed with Bacon’s model (based on the evidence of innovation in his own time) and his model can be outlined as:


That Adam Smith is right and Francis Bacon is wrong is the premise of this book.  Kealey also gives some details about Bacon’s life that pretty conclusively prove that Bacon was the biggest tool of the Elizabethan era.  As Attorney General under Elizabeth I he apparently personally supervised the torture of defendants to elicit confessions.  He also back-stabbed his own patron Robert Earl of Essex when it was convenient.  Now your knowledge of classic Hollywood films of the thirties will remind you that Bette Davis and Errol Flynn were the eponymous stars of “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.”  Donald Crisp played Francis Bacon in this epic and history has obviously pronounced its verdict against Bacon with this casting.  So, I will say no more.

The last topic for this first post is the Chapter entitled, “Research and Development in Antiquity.”  I am sort of an antiquities fan.  All things roman and greek are of interest to me.  So I was surprised to find that this chapter opened my eyes to a way of looking at the difference between ancient and modern life.  I had often wondered that such intelligent and inquisitive peoples as the Greeks and Romans never moved past primitive muscle powered methods of life into something more dynamic like steam power.  After all, Alexandrian science of Ptolemaic Egypt had used steam power to propel toys for the king’s court.  Why had they never made the leap to using it to power more useful engines for industry or commerce?  I found the answer here.  They didn’t apply it because nobody wanted the application.  The Macedonian kings of Egypt and the Roman emperors after them employed these geniuses like Archimedes to build toys (or at best design war engines).  These royal patrons assembled the brightest minds of the age and lavishly funded their researches into everything from pure mathematical study to astronomy, physics and medicine.  They sponsored this research out of love of knowledge and vanity to out-compete their rival kingdoms.  But practical commercial applications were not desired.  Designing manufacturing improvements would merely displace slaves who tilled the fields and rowed the galleys and dug in the mines.  The king and emperor had more than enough slaves to make him as rich as anyone (even a god/emperor) could want to be.

This chapter demonstrated that technological innovation only occurred away from empires.  So, the earlier small city states of Phoenicia and old Greece were a hot bed of innovation.  Here were found merchant cities that traded with all the corners of the Mediterranean and invented the convenient alphabet rather than the sacred hieroglyphics and coined gold and silver as a way of spurring trade.  Ship building and navigation were important technologies and other innovations were learned from all corners of the sea.  The use of iron, improvements in the plow were learned during their trading activities.  And they were capitalistic states.  They were in the poorest of farming lands and they survived (and greatly prospered) by trade.  But as soon as Greece discovered its strength and consolidated into larger states and expanded into the larger world, slave labor became the answer to all its problems.  And once Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, the template for how an empire would be run was established.  From that point it was basically the same system as all the Fertile Crescent empires that had come before and innovation was a problem not a solution.  Plow your field, give a third to the temple, a third to the King and hope the new barbarians don’t burn the town down when they come through.   The Romans followed the same pattern.  Early independence and innovation (although much less ambitious than the Greeks) followed by imperial control of all facets of life with precious little need for innovation because of the realities of a slave labor economy.

I will quote from the last two paragraphs of the chapter to summarize.

“The empire collapsed not for a lack of Hellenistic science – there was plenty of that – but because it abandoned capitalism.  It was a plunder empire not a market empire.”

“The fall of the Graeco-Roman hegemony teaches that the government funding of academic science will not generate useful technology in the absence of an appropriate capitalist economy.”

This guy Kealey is pretty smart.  He answered something that’s puzzled me for many years.  Why those intelligent folks never invented the steam engine.  It also shows the fallacy of that Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses.”  The Romans would never have had automobiles.  But they would have had TV eventually.  It would keep the slaves happy.