The Military instinct: The Human Race as Feral Dogs

As Washington bombs Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, and Syria, militarily threatens Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and China, sanctions Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Iran..one may wonder: Why?

Are wars about anything, or just wars? In modern times, a reason of sorts is thought decorous,  yes: Ruritania is threatening us, or  might, or does something wrong, or Ruritanians don’t think rightly about the gods. We must kill them. And yet everywhere in all times, almost miraculously, some reason for a war is found. It would seem that wars are not about anything, but just what we do.

Recently the collapse of the Soviet Union appeared to offer a prospect of extended peace. There seemed nothing left to fight about, at least on any scale.  Yet the United States quickly launched a half dozen wars of no necessity and threatened others. Why?

Because wars are what we do.

It may surprise many people to learn of evidence for a genetic foundation of human behavior. This should not be surprising. Dogs form packs, mark territory, and bark furiously at strange dogs. So, it seems, do people. An empire is just the result of these canine instincts..

Consider conservatives, as they are more relevant to the fighting of wars. (Liberals appear as genetically determined,)

Conservatives tend to be tribal, intensely loyal to their group–race, country, ethnicity, religious faith–which in national terms becomes patriotism.  They lack empathy. They see the world in terms of threats, conflict, and dominance. They favor capitalism and the Second Amendment, revere the military, speak of blood and soil, oppose taxation of themselves to give to the less fortunate.

An important point here is that these traits clump together, although there is no logical connection. For example, one might rationally favor ownership of guns as necessary to self-defense yet oppose having a large military as unnecessary. One might favor a large military in what appeared a dangerous world, yet favor extensive governmental charity as what one might see as common decency.

Yet this almost never happens. If you tell me that you oppose abortion, with confidence I can predict that you fit the description above of a conservative. If you tell me that you oppose the Second Amendment, I can be pretty sure that you favor abortion, acceptance of immigrants, marriage of homosexuals, and so on.

We all have access to the same information about the world, to the internet, the same books and newspapers, and we all live in very much the same society. Yet liberals and conservatives arrive at sharply differing conclusions from identical evidence. This suggests an innate predisposition.  

Soldiers invariably fit the conservative pattern, prizing loyalty to their units and to their country, seeing threats everywhere, and becoming alarmed easily. For example, if an ancient Russian prop-driven recon plane, technically a bomber in the Fifties, flies near England, fighters will leap into the air to intercept it, grrr, woof, though the idea that the Russians would send one ancient bird to bomb Britain is lunatic. It is very like dogs barking frantically at a passing pedestrian.

People in general seem designed to think about small groups, not countries of millions of people. It is impossible to think of, say, Russia as millions of individuals, especially when we have never seen even a single Russian. The almost invariable response is to compress a whole nation mentally into a sort of aggregate person. As I write, America is barking at North Korea, said to be a rogue state threatening several other countries. Countless men from the President through Congress to growling patriots in bars are saying angrily that “We can wipe North Korea of the face of the earth.” We’ll  show the bastards.

North Korea consists of twenty-five million people of whom perhaps fifty might want to attack anybody at all. The let’s-nukem men–almost always men, who are genetically more truculent than women, which is also true of dogs–think of the whole country as one pudgy man with a bad haircut. “We must punish North Korea” makes sense to them in these terms. Exactly why several million children in kindergarten need to be burned to death does not enter their minds.

A great deal of international behavior makes sense, or at least makes no sense but does it in a consistent manner, if you look at the history of empire. This too appears to be instinctive, and therefore presumably genetic. Throughout history men–again, always men–have formed armies and set out to conquer, usually at the price of unspeakable bloodshed, lands they didn’t need. Sometimes the plunder brought a degree of benefit, seldom commensurate with the cost, but often not.

Over and over and over,  one country conquers its neighbors, sometimes forming large empires but often small ones almost lost to history. Then a new one arises and bursts the bubble of the first. This is instinctual as a dog peeing on a hydrant. 

We see this now. The United States has no need for an empire of perhaps eight hundred military bases around the globe or to fight constant and exhausting wars for places it doesn’t need or even like. America has no need of Afghanistan, for example, and is there only to keep China out–that is, from the instinct for empire. Again, peeing on hydrants.

The lack of empathy usual in conservatives, in soldiers, appears all through military history, from the practice of putting cities to the sword to today’s indiscriminate bombing. It results from the tribal instinct. A fighter pilot will in time of peace be a good citizen, perhaps a good father, obey the laws and, should an earthquake occur, work tirelessly to save the trapped. Yet order him to bomb a crowded city in a country that has done nothing to deserve it–Baghdad, for example–and he will do it and pride himself on having done it.

The behavior is innate and immutable, unchanged over the millennia, but today we seem to need to pretend to decency. Militaries and “intelligence” agencies, the chief vessels of brutal behavior, have become very sensitive to revelations of what we now call “atrocities.” Actually atrocities are what militaries normally do. The norm now is to employ euphemistms–collateral damage-and to insist that atrocities are “isolated incidents.” Today governments, to maintain public support for the wars, or as least to discourage attention, carefully censors photos of disemboweled children or the CIA’s torture chambers. But the butchery continues as it did among stone-age savages. Pilots still bomb cities. The CIA tortures and probably enjoys it. Plus ca change, plus ca doesn’t.

There is a slight difference.  Militaries now know they are doing wrong, This is why soldiers become furious when persistently asked about atrocities. They would rather you not know. Yet the bombing continues and from the less politically careful conservatives come cries of, “Untie the hands of our soldiers,” and “Let the military do its job.”

It is innate. We do what we do because it is how we are.

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From Tex Mex to Mex Tech: A Study of Northern Inattention

In America two narratives about Mexico dominate. First, chiefly emanating from anti-immigrant ideologues who usually have never been here, holds that Mexicans have low IQs and cannot function at other than a primitive level. Breitbart News and something called Vdare are chief among these. They don’t quite expect to find all Mexicans either robbing banks or sleeping at the foot of cactuses win big hats and a burro, but they come close.

A Mexican software-engineering firm as conceived by Breitbart News The donkey is the brains of the operation as Mexicans do not have brains. Sigh. Some people need to get out more.

In stark contrast is what one hears from companies involved in high-tech fields. They speak of a large pool of Mexican engineers of high quality in everything from software to robotics. They hire them in droves. These are not assembly-line workers or even manufacturing engineers in traditional industries, such as cars. They are either in tech start-ups like Wizeline, below, or in software-development for big outfits like IBM, Intel, and Oracle, which have a large presence in Guadalajara. More on these in a later column.

The other day I want to Guadalajara to talk to Matt Pasarienski, of Wizeline, a software-services outfit based in San Francisco but with large and growing presence in Mexico. (Wizeline: “Intelligent Solutions, PPM Software, Services, and Chatbots”)

Pasarienski is a wiry, high-energy guy. One can imagine him as a kid in a garage in Silicon Valley, living on Cheetos and Jolt Cola and writing code for days without sleep. Undergrad at Berkeley, PhD in physics, University of Illinois.

Wizeline has two big buildings in the old Kodak facility on Mariana Otero, vast open rooms with rows of desks with screens, lots of young techy-looking people, cafeterias. The atmosphere reminded me of the SpaceX assembly floor in Hawthorne  but without the rockets.

Some Wizeliners. The formal dress is characteristic of techies everywhere.

Pasarienski speaks fast and cogently. “We have 200 (software) engineers and want to hire 1000 more. We now hire about 15-20 a month. They are good, speak English, and learn fast. Definitely good for a world-class enterprise.”

He mentions that Mexico graduates 13,000 software engineers a year, and sees the country as fertile ground for IT start-ups, for which Guadalajara is becoming a hub.

(Interstitial tidbit: Tesla recruiting Mexican robotics engineers.)

Among many other things, Wizeline builds chatbots, roughly software that can intelligently answer questions, either by classic keyboard chat or voice, about products and services. These might, for example, replace the customer-service operators in Mumbai whose accent you cannot understand. This is definitely artificial intelligence, which means that you need real intelligence to figure out how to do it.  

Wizeline is not close to unique in hiring local engineers. Bloomberg:As global automakers pour billions of dollars into their Mexican factories, Marcos Perez is trying to make sure the nation’s future goes beyond assembly lines. The head of product development at Ford Motor’s Mexico unit, Perez has helped the company almost triple its local engineering staff, to nearly 1,000, since 2010. “

Says Pasarienski, “There is a fundamental difference between tech–what we are doing–and traditional manufacturing. To manufacture cars you need a billion-dollar factory, and engineers with a lot of experience. The factory belongs to a company outside of Mexico, which repatriates the profits.

“In what we are doing, AI, nobody has twenty years of experience because the field hasn’t existed that long. We can jump to the head of the line.”

Many tech-oriented people see things this way.  I talked to Andreas Kraemer  of MItaventures, a venture-capital firm looking to fund start-ups in Mexico.  He too wants to tap into local talent. From the website: “Cross-border tech innovation: We see Mexico as the innovation bridge between Latin America and Silicon Valley. We believe there are emerging opportunities for tech startup successes between these regions”

The foregoing is corporate-speak, yes, but bear in mind that these men and countless others are hard-headed, very savvy tech-and-finance guys. They don’t do racial ideology. They do can-we-do-it and will-it-work. And what’s the bottom line.

Pasarienski gives an interesting rationale for Mexico as start-up territory. “It used to be that kids doing a startup lived in a house and built the start-up in the garage. Today things are so expensive in California that they would have to live in the garage. The cost of living eats up more capital than most people have. Mexico is much cheaper, both for rent and paying engineers,”

Actually, technical talent is visible to anyone who lives here in all manner of things. But the ideologues saying how stupid Mexicans are don’t live here. The leaders tend to be talking heads of the Manhattan-DC corridor and, to my certain knowledge, many have written for years of this country’s hopeless primitivism without bothering to visit. I think we call this “fake news.”

The Chiapas, Mexican Navy

Jane’s: “While designated as Oaxaca-class vessels, a type designed by the Mexican Navy, the new OPVs are actually improved derivatives of this class, featuring several modifications, including a bulbous bow and a BAE Systems Bofors Mk.3 57 mm main gun.”  Jane is not a girl. Jane’s is probably the world’s leading military magazine.

Further saith Jane’s: “Constructed at the Naval Shipyard (ASTIMAR) N°20 in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas is the first of four OPVs that were ordered as part of the SEMAR 2013-2018 plan. The second, ARM Hidalgo (PO 166), has already been launched and is expected to be commissioned in 2017, while construction of the third ship has already started in Salina Cruz.”

Finally–this has nothing to do with startups in Mexico, but I find it irresistible:

Wired.  HOW 4 MEXICAN IMMIGRANT KIDS AND THEIR CHEAP ROBOT BEAT MIT

The robot. a tethered underwater manipulator. Built  on a very low budget and a lot of spare parts. Ugly as refried sin. Worked.

Interesting story, this, from 2004with here a gee-whizzy slightly lengthy video. Interpret it as you will.  In short, four illegals in a lousy high school in Phoenix entered a university-level contest to build an underwater robot. They won. I won’t recap it lengthily here, but follow the links if interested. This was not a softball contest.  The judges were heavyweights in submersible design from the US Navy and the petroleum industry.

The team. I am often told buy the racialists that anything intelligent done by Mexicans is done only by the white ones. Well, I concede. These kids do look positively Nordic. Swedes is my guess. When they won, the MIT team had the grace to give them a standing ovation. (The book on the contest, Spare Parts, is a good read.)

 The Mastretta MXT, designed and built entirely in Mexico. 0-60 mph, 4.9 sec, tops out at 150, sort of $60K.  The company then died in some corporate dispute.

The British automotive show Top Gear, having made snotty remarks about the very idea of the Mexicans making a sports car, received a great deal of flack,  and so a staffer to test drive it in Mexico. He noted that first cars in a country were usually cheap family boxes and that it was unusual to go straight to a sports car. He concluded that it was  a decent enough car despite some fixable teething problems.

Aaagh. Enough. The point here for anyone interested in the United States and its neighbor is that a lot of growth in tech ffelds is going on here which businessmen have most assuredly noticed. This has not gotten through to the recorded messages who write for Breitbart and its metastases.

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A Vet Remembers: A Bad Mood, a Six-Pack, and a Typewriter

This column is on lactation and isn’t going to write a damned word until half-October. People are talking about some Vietnam series by Ken Burns, I think it is .I saw the original, so I’ll pass. But if we want opinions, I’ll contribute from long ago.

Harper’s, December, 1980

I begin to weary of the stories about veterans that are now in vogue with the newspapers, the stories that dissect the veteran’s psyche as if prying apart a laboratory frog — patronizing stories written by style-section reporters who know all there is to know about chocolate mousse, ladies’ fashions, and the wonderful desserts that can be made with simple jello. I weary of seeing veterans analyzed and diagnosed and explained by people who share nothing with veterans, by people who, one feels intuitively, would regard it as a harrowing experience to be alone in a backyard. Week after week the mousse authorities tell us what is wrong with the veteran. The veteran is badly in need of adjustment, they say — lacks balance, needs fine tuning to whatever it is in society that one should be attuned to. What we have here, all agree, with omniscience and veiled condescension, is a victim: The press loves a victim. The veteran has bad dreams, say the jello writers, is alienated, may be hostile, doesn’t socialize well — isn’t, to be frank, quite right in the head.

But perhaps it is the veteran’s head to be right or wrong in, and maybe it makes a difference what memories are in the head. For the jello writers the war was a moral fable on Channel Four, a struggle hinging on Nixon and Joan Baez and the inequities of this or that. I can’t be sure. The veterans seem to have missed the war by having been away in Vietnam at the time and do not understand the combat as it raged in the internecine cocktail parties of Georgetown.

Still, to me Vietnam was not what it was to the jello writers, not a ventilation of pious simplisms, not the latest literary interpretation of the domino theory. It left me memories the fashion writers can’t imagine. It was the slums of Truong Minh Ky, where dogs’ heads floated in pools of green water and three-inch roaches droned in sweltering back-alley rooms and I was happy. Washington knows nothing of hot, whore-rich, beery Truong Minh Ky. I remember riding the bomb boats up the Mekong to Phnom Penh, with the devilish brown river closing in like a vise and rockets shrieking from the dim jungle to burst against the sandbagged wheelhouse, and crouching below the waterline between the diesel tanks. The mousse authorities do not remember this. I remember the villa on Monivong in Phnom Penh, with Sedlacek, the balding Australian hippie, and Naoki, the crazy freelance combat photographer, and Zoco, the Frenchman, when the night jumped and flickered with the boom of artillery and we listened to Mancini on shortwave and watched Nara dance. Washington’s elite do not know Nara. They know much of politicians and of furniture.

If I try to explain what Vietnam meant to me — I haven’t for years, and never will again — they grow uneasy at my intensity. “My God,” their eyes say, “he sounds as though he liked it over there. Something in the experience clearly snapped an anchoring ligament in his mind and left him with odd cravings, a perverse view of life — nothing dangerous, of course, but… The war did that to them,” they say. “War is hell.”

Well, yes, they may have something there. When you have seen a peasant mother screaming over several pounds of bright red mush that, thanks to God and a Chicom 107, is no longer precisely herchild, you see that Sherman may have been on to something. When you have eaten fish with Khmer troops in charred Cambodian battlefields, where the heat beats down like a soft rubber truncheon and a wretched stink comes from shallow graves, no particular leap of imagination is necessary to notice that war is no paradise. I cannot say that the jello writers are wrong in their understanding of war. But somehow I don’t like hearing pieties about the war from these sleek, wise people who never saw it.

There were, of course, veterans and veterans. Some hated the war, some didn’t. Some went around the bend down in IV Corps, where leeches dropped softly down collars like green sausages and death erupted unexpected from the ungodly foliage. To men in the elite groups — the Seals, Special Forces, Recondos, and Lurps who spent years in the Khmer bush, low to the ground where the ants bit hard — the war was a game with stakes high enough to engage their attention. They liked to play.

To many of us there, the war was the best time of our lives, almost the only time. We loved it because in those days we were alive, life was intense, the pungent hours passed fast over the central event of the age and the howling jets appeased the terrible boredom of existence. Psychologists, high priests of the mean, say that boredom is a symptom of maladjustment; maybe, but boredom has been around longer than psychologists have.

The jello writers would say we are mad to remember fondly anything about Nixon’s war that Kennedy started. They do not remember the shuddering flight of a helicopter high over glowing green jungle that spread beneath us like a frozen sea. They never made the low runs a foot above treetops along paths that led like rivers through branches clawing at the skids, never peered down into murky clearings and bubbling swamps of sucking snake-ridden muck. They do not remember monsoon mornings in the highlands where dragons of mist twisted in the valleys, coiling lazily on themselves, puffing up and swallowing whole villages in their dank breath. The mousse men do not remember driving before dawn to Red Beach, when the headlights in the blackness caught ghostly shapes, maybe VC, thin yellow men mushroom-headed in the night, bicycling along the alien roads. As nearly as I can tell, jello writers do not remember anything.

Then it was over. The veterans came home. Suddenly the world seemed to stop dead in the water. Suddenly the slant-eyed hookers were gone, and the gunships and the wild drunken nights in places that the jello writers can’t imagine. Suddenly the veterans were among soft, proper people who knew nothing of what they had done and what they had seen, and who, truth be told, didn’t much like them.

Nor did some of us much like the people at home — though it was not at first a conscious distaste. Men came home with wounds and terrible memories and dead friends to be greeted by that squalling she-ass of Tom Hayden’s, to find a country that, having sent them to Viet Nam, now viewed them as criminals for having been there. Slowly, to more men than will admit to it, the thought came: “These are the people I fought for?” And so we lost a country.

We looked around us with new eyes and saw that, in a sense the mousse people could never understand, we had lost even our dignity. I remember a marine corporal at Bethesda Naval Hospital who, while his wounds healed, had to run errands for the nurses, last year’s co-eds. “A hell of a bust,” he said with the military’s sardonic economy of language. “Machine gunner to messenger boy.”

It wasn’t exactly that we didn’t fit. Rather, we saw what there was to fit with — and recoiled. We sought jobs, but found offices where countless bureaucrats shuffled papers at long rows of desks, like battery hens awaiting the laying urge, their bellies billowing over their belts. Some of us joined them but some, in different ways, fled. A gunship pilot of my acquaintance took to the law, and to drink, and spent five years discovering that he really wanted to be in Rhodesia. Others went back into the death-in-the-bushes outfits, where the hard old rules still held. I drifted across Asia, Mexico, Wyoming, hitchhiking and sleeping in ditches until I learned that aberrant behavior, when written about, is literature.

The jello writers were quickly upon us. We were morose, they said, sullen. We acted strangely at parties, sat silently in corners and watched with noncommittal stares. Mentally, said the fashion experts, we hadn’t made the trip home.

It didn’t occur to them that we just had nothing to say about jello. Desserts mean little to men who have lain in dark rifle pits over Happy Valley in rainy season, watching mortar flares tremble in low-lying clouds that flickered like the face of God, while in the nervous evening safeties clicked off along the wire and amtracs rumbled into alert idles, coughing and waiting.

Once, after the GIs had left Saigon, I came out of a bar on Cach Mang and saw a veteran with a sign on his jacket: VIET NAM: IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THERE, SHUT THE FUCK UP. Maybe, just maybe, he had something.

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Fred Takes Month Off: Earth Wobbles in Orbit, Kingdoms Fall

This sublime column will be on vacation until about October 15 from sheer exhaustion. The wells of libel and sedition are not without limits and, having run dry, must replenish themselves from the slow flow of bile’s aquifers. At the end of this respite, FOE will take Weighty Decisions, but for the moment there are books I have not red and red wine I have not drunk, the accumulation of which could shift the gravitational balance of the cosmos. I must attend to these matters. Fred, out.

I apologize for the gibberish that afflicted this week’s effort. A software failure.

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DACA Dies, Sort Of: Right Wing Flaps Wildly: Our Precious Bodily Fluids Safe

OK,immigration, the ongoing soap opera. Let’s start with week’s logical disaster: The Dreamers, 800,000 artfully named Latinos who were brought over as children, sometimes as children of thirty-five. Under something called DACA, a sort of almost amnesty, they had work permits. They were working. Yes, doing their part as Americans: paying taxes to buy bombs to kill children in Syria. Now, says Trump, at least to the extent that it is possible to know what Trump says, they are illegal. Breitbart News Vdare and suchlike are orgasmic.  No amnesty for these criminals! Now they can be deported.  This of course embodies the fascinating notion that a child of two can commit a federal crime, but never mind.

See the brilliance? Now the Dreamers don’t pay taxes. This puts a heavier  burden on ordinary patriotic Americans, who wouldn’t pay taxes either if they could figure out how not to, to buy bombs to kill the Syrian children. So 800,000 Dreamers fall into the unemployable underclass. Many have never been to Mexico.

Which brings up an interesting point.  An American and an American citizen ar not the same thing at all. An American is someone raised in America, who has absorbed our language, ways of thought, our culture. who has lived the streets of Brooklyn or bare feet and BB guns in Alabama or the wackiness of coastal California, who has hitchhiked the big roads and watched Superman jump out the window and been to high school dances and watched the cheerleaders at  basketball games twirling and chanting, “Ricky, Ricky, he’s our man, if he ca’t do it nobody can!” There are many Americas, but that is what they all are: Amrica.

By contrast, an American citizen is someone who has a certain piece of paper. You can get it by being born in the US but if (improbably) you were adopted by a Mongolian couple and raised in Ulan Bator, you would be an American citizen but not an American. If you are born and raised in Britain, you can become an American citizen, but not an American. It can’t be done.  Nor just the accent but the body language, the slight lordliness, the lack of cultural reference, would be an dead giveaway.

I could easily get Mexican citizenship, but would anyone at all think me a Mexican?

This morning (September 21) here in Mexico my wife and I as usual listened to the news (Notisistema) over coffee.  It seems the country is gearing up to receive such Dreamers as are deported, specifically to provide scholarships to universities, find jobs for them as English teachers, and provide them with lessons in Spanish–a language many do not speak.

A Dreamer raised in the US is an American, though not a citizen. If I met him in a bar in Bangkok, after two words I would say, “Ah! A Yank!”

“Yeah. Bakersfield.”

OK, we will now think about immigration in general. The level of debate is embarrassingly stupid  even by the elevated standards of Washington–not to mention fraudulent, disguisedly self-serving, hypocritical, and nuttier than Aunt Samantha’s prize fruitcake that she used to pour rum on.

We will start with fraud.

From the anti-immigrant sites, as for example Breitbart News, I learn that immigration is a plot of malignant Lefties, foul commie-homo-hippy-prevert-Jews, who hate America, who want to import millions and millions of Mexicans, who are stupid, filthy, shiftless, and criminal, to destroy the United States. Yes. No man can doubt it. 

Except…except…why are the Republicans, siege howitzers of  patriotism, presumably conservative, tap dancing away from the issue like anthrax while supporting immigration with their left hands? All sorts of anti-immigrant things could be done, but Republicans do none of them. So why is it the so why is it the hippy-homo-prevert etceteras? Why no Republican action?

Easy. Because the  immigration business is a Day-glo con, a galactic-size black hole  of hypocrisy so thick you could lube a diesel with it. Everybody is lying, swindling,  and pulling rings.

 

Breitbart thinks–this sentence is already doubtful, but we will forge ahead with it–that de-legalizing Dreamers is great because now thy can be deported. Except they probably won’t be. Most will stay in the US and work off the books until somebody re-legalizes therm. Which seems likely. Anyway, if the 800,000 Dreamers were deported, they would come to 1.4% of America’s 57,000,000 Latinos. Oorah. That will  save our precious bodily fluids.

Yeesh. The Right won’t let Dreamers work, and the Left makes sure they don’t get deported. Bipartisan idiocy. Don’t say that Americans can’t work together. Meanwhile Trump, the first President to elevate Brownian motion to a policy position, says he will give Congress six months to come up with legislation that does the same thing DACA did. This is nuts

Consider conservatives, if any. A cynic–I don’t know any of those–might notice two kinds of conservative, money conservatives, and arm-waving conservatives. The money conservatives want cheap Mexicans, and wars so they can sell bombs, and overseas factories, and price-fixing and no taxes. They are no more patriotic than Rachel Maddow is female.

The arm-waning conservatives hoot and squall about the surging brown tide and its genetic effects on apple pie and the Boy Scouts and we–eeeeek–have to  Do Something urgently. But:

They aren’t against immigration either!

Nor is Trump.

Don’t think so?  Ponder: There is a current federal freaking law against hiring illegal aliens, which Trump could enforce since he controls DOJ, and it carries heavy penalties.

So why doesn’t the National Cockatoo enforce this law? Think of CEOs led from offices in handcuffs, stuffed into Leavenworth to get in touch with their feminine side. Human-resources mugwumps too. The owner of the corner gas station. They are all hiring illegals, and they know they are. The first arrest would result in a lot of CEOs looking deeply into extradition law. Why doesn’t it happen? Easy.

Because our bottle-blonde Metternich has no intention of doing anything about immigration. You think he’s crazy or something?

See, the Donald knows, anyone enjoying neural parity with possums knows: Threaten major rice bowls–e.g., big businesses–and they will hand you your head on a platter.  Don’t even think about shutting down ConAgra. On the other hand, arresting Pedro when he tries to renew his driver’s license is safe.

If the grrr-woofs really wanted to deport illegals, which they apparently do not, they could sweep up loads of them easily.  Everyone knows where they are. Try California’s agricultural sector. Check out the construction industry in Washington DC, the heart of all darkness. See if you can find a white guy nailing up siding, or a white construction worker. Or black. If you can, put him in a glass case. The Smithsonian will probably be interested.

Yeah, yeah, I know. The employers with their hundreds of illegals say, “We, poor things that we are, just have no way of knowing who is illegal.” OK, let  me get this. You are running a meat-packing plant, and seventy-five men show up looking for work. They are brown, sure, but lots of people are, especially in summer. Nothing suspicious there.

You hire them, because you see no reason to think they might be Mexicans, or illegal, right? No tell-tale signs, no hints. They don’t have papers but, hey, maybe they forgot them somewhere. Anyway you wouldn’t want to stereotype. You can’t just ask them if they are illegal because they speak only Spanish.

Can anyone take this seriously?

Not all is lost, though. The anti-immigration folk holler and jump up and down about something called eVerify. It’s an electronic  way to keep from determining whether an applicant is legal. The idea is that the employer, who has a strong incentive not to detect illegals because he wants cheap labor, will check on illegals who have a strong incentive not to be detected because they want to work. I’m sure you sense the practicality in this. 

It gets balmier. Nothing in this morass makes sense. Except in terms of money. America builds factories in Mexico, then discovers with horror that these factories are…in Mexico. Characteristically when you put something somewhere, that’s where it is.

In the US, while money conservatives hire Meskins with wild abandon, the arm-waving ones shriek that them Meskins is taking American jobs. How the hell does a Meskin takes an American job? Hold a gun to his head and say, “Geeve me zee shoffel or I blow your brines out”?

The obvious solution: Gun control.

You see the high moral principle in action here. It is safe to blame Paco for trying to destroy America. He can’t fight back. He answered an ad from an American auto factory in Durango, thus displaying malign intent. Paco has a pretty wife, two nice kids, hopes to pay off the mortgage one day, likes barbecue and a couple of beers on the weekend. A venomous enemy. 

Ah, but attack Ford or Chevy or whoever put the factory in Mexico? Oh no. These can hire more lawyers than Trump has brain cells–this would be at least three lawyers–and, again, he isn’t crazy.

Here we come to a standout, glowing, gorgeous lunacy in a field groaning under lunacy: the notion that America will, or can, deport huge numbers of people. Glance at the numbers. Call eight years a hundred months for arithmetical convenience. A President would have to deport 8,000 Dreamers a month, and Donald is already way behind. Getting rid of 12,000,000 illegals in two years as promised by Donald would mean 500,000 a month for 24 months, or 125,000 a month for 96 months. Do you seriously think  this is going to happen? Can we make a large bet? 

If you have fifty million or so Latinos who are not going to go away, might it not be a good idea to think about how to assimilate them, get along with them, get them to pay taxes to blow up Syrian children? Breitbart and related sites never say a word about assimilation but just try to stir up antagonism between white and Latino. They think this is patriotism. I have my doubts.

Why won’t much deportation happen? Because the Democrats are against it, the Republicans are against it when nobody is looking, Chicago, California, and New York are against it, a dozen large businesses are very against it, the media are against it, the Loon Left is against it, academia is against it, the Latinos are not behaving badly enough, and the Millennials don’t give a damn.

Finally,  we have The Wall. More accurately, we seem not to have it. This phantasm shows no inclination to spring into being. It is a useful gnaw-toy to keep various fringes out of mischief. Almost everybody seems, surreptitiously or otherwise, to be avoiding building it. Yes, we have Ann Coulter the Manhattan Steam Whistle howling like a  lonely train through the mountains. “The Waaalllll…We need the Waaalllll….” Yeah well. But the Republicans just can’t seem to get there somehow, and they control Congress. When they don’t, I guess the Dems will build the rascal. Don’t you?

Conclusion: Latinos in America are a done deal. Good idea, bad idea, disaster, or doesn’t much matter–it’s still done. No epic population shifts impend. Breitbart can bark from under the sofa, but the Latinos are in America to stay. If this isn’t so, tell me why it isn’t so. Get used to it. There is no other choice.

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Thoughts from Below the Rio Bravo: A Preliminary to Going into Hiding

To understand of many Mexican attitudes toward the United States and immigration, you have to go back to the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, of which most Americans have never heard. The United States attacked Mexico in a war of  territorial acquisition, occupied Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona, and drove south to conquer Mexico City. It did it because it could.

The attitude of Americans who have heard of the war is usually, “Get over it.” Mexicans have not gotten over it. People get over things they have done to others more easily than they get over things others have done to them.  Tell Americans to “get over” Nine-Eleven, or Jews to get over Germany.

There is in Guadalajara a large and prominent monument to Los Niños Heroes, the adolescent cadets who marched out to defend Chapultepec as the Americans conquered Mexico City, much as the VMI cadets tried to defend Virginia in the Civil War. Countless Mexican towns have a street called Niños Heroes. They remember.

The base of the monument to Los Niñoes Heroes in Guadalajara. It reads, “Died for their country.” You know, like Iwo Jima and all.

This does not make for a keen appreciation of the Exceptional Nation. Nor does memory of the conquest arouse sympathy about immigration–or, as Mexicans see it, emigration. It explains the occasionally heard phrase, “La Reconquista.”

Throw in the drumbeat from racialist sites to the effect that Mexicans are stupid, filthy, criminal, and parasitic, and Trump’s asserting that they are rapists and what all, which resonates in Mexico as Hillary’s Deplorables speech did in Middle America. And of course there was the bombardment of Veracruz, of which Americans have never heard, and  Pershing’s Incursion, and Washington’s history of attacks, invasion, installation of dictators in Latin America and support for others.

For Mexico, as for most of the world, the US is not the shining city on a hill that it thinks it is. Over and over it attacks other countries and invariably is surprised when they don’t like it. Note that America and its vassals in Europe kill huge numbers of people in Muslim cities,  yet express outrage when Muslims kill people in their countries.

In America, conservatives will erupt in fury on reading the foregoing. Well, bully for them. The behavior of Mexicans  is determined by their history and what they think, not by what others think they ought to think.

These days, people often want a philosophical framework to justify their aggression. Among the better educated of Mexico, emigration is sometimes intellectualized by saying that flows of population have occurred all through history, Rome and such. These flows, they say, are inevitable and perhaps favored by Divine Providence. They don’t quite say, “Get over it.”

This reasoning is self-serving. If twenty million Haitians swam ashore in Veracruz, Mexicans would not regard it as a natural and inevitable flow. Note, though, that the Mexican inevitable-flow  theory precisely parallels the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which held that that America’s expansion across the continent was inevitable.  It was an early form of American Exceptionalism, the idea that America is special and need not follow norms of decent behavior. Now it seems that Manifest Destiny is reversible. This notion too will anger many Americans, but then, the invasion of Mexico angered many Mexicans.

American attitudes toward Latinos, chiefly contempt, do not get a rousing welcome here. Americans both north and south of the border tend to see Mexicans only as gardeners, waiters, maids and, here, a few English-speaking doctors. Typically they have no idea of the lands between the Rio Bravo and Tierra del Fuego. They have not been there, do not speak or read Spanish. Americans, increasingly losing their own intellectual tradition,  are unaware that Latin America has its own rich intellectual history going back for centuries. Fortifying this blankness is the charming view that Latinos are stupid and so, obviously, cannot have an intellectual anything. This annoys Mexicans.

Latin America has in fact produced a great many writers of the first rank, not ot mention philosophy, architecture, and music. Pick a few: Vargas Llosa, Garcia Marquez, Juan Rulfo, Pablo Neruda, Borges, Ortega y Gasset, Octavio Paz, Carlos Monsivais, Mario Benedetti, on and on. I didn’t know most of them either, but my wife Violeta, a Mexicana, does.  All of this ties in with the literature and art of Spain, the mother country, just as ours does with that of England. There is a major civilization down here, despite the views of internet louts.

While there is much discussion of immigrants in the US, it consists mostly of ideology, of impractical hostility on the Right and moral preening on the Left. Neither seems to have much interest in knowing what it is talking about.

For example, the illegals, a source of horror, are mostly not diseased, drug-dealing rapists with drooping IQs and psychopathic murderousness.  This will come as a disappointment to many. Actually, come in flavors. They are not one thing.

At the negative end are the MS 13 types, tattooed killers. These could profitably be taken up in a helicopter and allowed to come down independently.  Then you have the kid brought over at age two and who now, at nineteen, speaks perfect California English and horrible Spanish and thinks he is an American, never having been to Mexico. You have the guys who come for two, three, four years, save money, and return to Mexico to buy a house for their families.

You have our friend Rosa, I will call her, who came over illegally after high school, worked dirt jobs, found free English lessons, went briefly on welfare, and finally worked her way up to be head of food-services at a high school. (Incidentally, it annoys her that her kids do not speak Spanish, but, she says in flawless English, this is America, what do you expect. Many immigrants favor bilingual schooling so that their children can learn Spanish.) Anyway, after a few years she went to whoever you go to, said she wanted legal residence, was told she had to pay back the welfare, did, and is now a permanent resident in in line for citizenship if Trump doesn’t stop her.

Finally you have those illegals who live permanently on welfare and never learn English. When Rosa speaks of them, she sounds like Breitbart News: “I work. I pay taxes. Who do these damned….”

Now permit me once more to infuriate conservatives. It is a service. It will keep their blood flowing briskly: Consider Eduardo and Maria, Salvadorans living in San Salvador in a dirt-floored cinderblock hut. They have little money, not because they are stupid or lazy but because there are no jobs. Their two kids cry at night because they are hungry. Their only hope, they decide, is for Eduardo to try to get to the US, a ballsy and dangerous idea, send money back, and try to figure out how to get Maria and the kids into the US.

So he and Maria scrimp and do without–more without–and lean on relatives to get the money for a pollero to get him across the US border should he get that far. Eduardo sets off hitchhiking, which he has never done, up Central America to the Mexican border where the police or los maras are likely to beat and rob him. Mexico enforces its immigration laws more vigorously than does the US.  He rides the Train of Death, well named, to the US frontier, where he doesn’t know anybody or anything and, if he is not robbed, finds himself in a country whose language he does not speak. Somehow he gets to Kentucky, picks tobacco, and sends money back.

It is not an undertaking for someone who has feathers for balls.

Yes, it is illegal. No, it is not good for the United States. Yes, immigration should be stopped. But–if you were Eduardo, which would matter more to you, your wife and children, or some law in a remote country where, in any event, a lot of people want you to come and work? What would you do? Would it not be irresponsible not to do it?

I will now go into hiding.

 

Request to readers: I would appreciate being in touch with someone familiar with industry in Mexico, especially robotics, engineering, and aerospace. I do not need to quote anyone by name, but would like the information, and do not now have press credentials, so cannot just call and ask. jetpossum-readers@yahoo.com  Please put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion. Thanks.

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To the Barricades! : We Will At Least Be Less Bored

Katie, bar the ever-lovin’ door. Compromise seems a forlorn hope in today’s strange version of America. Anger runs too deep. All that is left is to choose sides. We will then see whether the country sinks—continues sinking–into a Soviet future already largely upon us, or we see armed mobs battling in the streets.

Does this sound crazy? I don’t think so. The hostility is beyond anything I have seen in what has become a depressingly long life. In the media, on the web, anger seethes. Countries both civilized and not have plunged into bloodshed over as little. Think of Sunnis and Shias, Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, Spanish and Basques.

In America, friends talk carefully to each other because they want to remain friends. Armed mobs take to the streets, blocking highways, shouting down speakers, burning cities, looting malls, playing the Knockout Game, organizing huge demonstrations. Things are far worse than in the upheavals of the Sixties. That rebellion, now receding from living memory, had a concrete and attainable goal: preventing young men from being forced to fight in a remote war in which they had no stake. When the draft ended, so did the riots.

Today’s hatreds are not about anything in particular. They are about everything in general, and thus irresolvable. The white insurrectionists seem to be adolescents of thirty-five, gripped by the strange immaturity that so many have noticed, angry at a world that they mistake for their parents. The blacks are furious because they somehow do not succeed in modern society. Their opposition, the Deplorables, feel drowned in everything they detest and fear. No peace is possible except by political coercion or conflict in the streets.

Half the country, led by New York, wants to control, and does control, everything of importance to the other half. Everything is decided remotely: what your children learn in school, what you can’t say to them because they might tell their teachers; who you have to hire, with whom you have to associate, what religious practices are permitted, whether you can have a Christmas tree in the town square or sing carols on the public streets, whether you can defend yourself and your family. New York versus the Deplorables. The city holds the high cards.

Bitter conflicts force the taking of sides, often with people one does not like. For example, I think Trump is a horse’s ass, dangerous, naive, uninformed, and a thoroughgoing damned fool. I detest the KKK (which barely exists, but never mind) and disagree with the Alt-Right on many things. Yet when I look at the other side, the armed bands, the censorship, thought control, indoctrination, the re-writing of history, their media arm, the identity politics, the push for control, control, control—I think,“I’ll take Trump—gack–and certainly the Deplorables.” And of course if violence comes, it’s one or the other. You can’t reason with a mob armed with lengths of rebar.

There is no principle in any of this. It is visceral. Animalic mobs of ill-bred semiliterates vandalize statues as eagerly as Muslims blowing up Buddhist monuments. This is war, of low intensity but still war. Culture war at first, but tending toward baseball-bat war. And the federal government sides with the vandals. So far the attacks not been answered, but a lot of the country is thinking, “Bring it on.” Conservatives are not creatures of the herd, and do not wave placards. But they too are armed.

The campaign highly orchestrated. The professional touch shows. The anger existed before Trump, and will exist after him, but he is being used by those who want to bring the Establishment, the Deep State, back into the White House.

Some time ago a fellow named Shicklgruber, a genius at marketing and cynical as Machiavelli, explained the technique for herding the public: Have a few simple ideas and repeat them over and over and over and over and over and over. Intellectuals, he said, want to make propaganda by offering complex ideas, and changing them frequently. This is because intellectuals become bored with simple ideas and want variety. Wrong, said Schick. Keep it simple and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.

The public is stupid, he said, few think, their ignorance is profound, even the intelligent are usually ignorant and emotional. They will believe anything if told often enough. It is like training dogs. (He proved extraordinarily successful at marketing, though his reputation was later somewhat tarnished, but that is another story.)

JewsarebloodsuckersJewsarebloodsuckersJewsarebloodsuckersTrumpisKGBTrumpisKGBTrumpisKGBWhiteisevilWhiteisevilWhiteisevilWhiteisevilRacismiseverywhereRacismiseverywhereRacismiseverywhereTrumkpisaNaziTrumkpisaNaziTrumkpisaNazi….

This this was wildly successful in a forgotten time and a remote place called Weimar.

Anyone who has worked in politics or journalism can see how the thing is being done. There was the invention of Russian hacking, Trump’s racism, his hostility to Jews, his admiration for “White Supremacists,” who do not exist, and all the rest. Saturation by the media is of course the backbone–that, and making sure that the public never hears anything contrary. For the same reason, you see the same commercial seven times during the Superbowl, TrumpisWhiteSupremacistTrumpisWhiteSupremacistTrumpisWhiteSupremacist.

This is vintage Schicklgruber, and bears out his contempt for the public. I confess to a certain admiration for a thing well done. When New York gets serious, it works wonders. Control the media, it seems, and you control America.

What New York wants of course is Pence in the White House, a cipher in the pockets of Wall Street, the arms racket, and big corporations. I do not say this in hopes that saying it will have any effect. Writing coumns seldom affects anything. Those who know what is going on already know, and the placard-wavers won’t read it.

Will New York impose a virulent political correctness–read “submission”–on the whole country? My guess is that it will. But conceivably  not. It badly misread the anger in the country that elected Trump. Perhaps it again makes the same miscalculation. We will find out when they impeach Trump.

As always, America’s racial catastrophe intrudes. Blacks demand–they always demand–removal of Confederate statues. Most can’t spell “Confederacy,” don’t know the dates of the Civil War, can’t name the three branches of government, have never read a book, but they demand. And demand. And demand. “Whah mah free stuff?” There is no solution, and nobody believes there is, but race is a battering ram for attacking the Deplorables.

Clearly the people at the top, in the editorial suites in Manhattan, at Goldman Sachs, at Lockheed-Martin, know what they are doing. They want Trump out so they can continue looting. From their point of view,the placard-carriers and ball-bat wielders are, merely useful idiots. It is an odd and amusing alliance. The useful idiots, Leftists all, apparently do not know that they are carrying water for the arms industry and international finance. 

The country, methinks, approaches a decision point. Aux armes, citoyens. Let the games begin.

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Heah Come Cognitive Dissonance! :Run Like Hell

We ashen-souled columnists, the galley slaves of journalism, are accustomed to abuse from web louts, though it makes us see humanity as having the charm one associates with the underside of a theater seat. We bear up manfully under this, perhaps in the company of Mr. Daniels of Tennessee. To be fair, we get a modicum of civil and intelligent comment.

The third category we see is CDA: Cognitive Dissonance Avoidance. The majority of men cannot abide anything they do not already think and,  when asked questions they would rather not contemplate, probably lock themselves in the bathroom until the screen goes blank. Herewith some of the most studiously avoided q questions.

The Police:  A cop sees a man strike a woman in the head with a piece of pipe and grab her purse. He tries to arrest the perp, who resists. The criminal is 19, muscular, and  weighs 220. What should the cop do?

Web louts avoid the question because all available answers involve violence and the louts, who hate the police while knowing nothing about them,  cannot afford to concede that violence by police can ever be legitimate. If they did, then many cases of alleged brutality  would become legitimate. So they duck and dodge. Classic CDA.

Second question: The perp is big, stoked on PCP, has a length of pipe, and does not want to go to jail. He attacks the cop. What should the cop do when attacked with a deadly weapon?

Note to web louts only: Do not natter stupidly about cops are thugs, you don’t like cops, they are racists, Fred is a fascist, and all the other excretions of negligible minds. Answer the question.

Intelligent design. For those unfamiliar with thes particular circus, intelligent Design–ID among the cognoscenti–is the theory or, as many would have it, observation–that some biological structures cannot have evolved because they are irreducibly complex, and therefore must have been designed. This does not mean excessively complex, but that the structures in question have too many parts all of which would have to appear at once or the structure would not function, and that the parts by themselves would have no value in survival. This is furiously denied by the Darwin claque.

If irreducible complexity does not exist, then any organism can in principle be traced backward, evolutionary step by evolutionary step, to nonliving matter. In practice of course this is impossible with entire organisms. With simple processes it should be doable.

Consider protein synthesis. This is a comparatively simple, well understood.  Why is it not irreducibly complex? How can it be simplified to a preceding evolutionary form? Can we reduce the number of nucleotides per codon from three to two, allowing coding for at most sixteen aminos? Can the sugar be eliminated from nucleotides? The phosphate?  Surely simplifying an already simple process should be only an exercise for grad students. Otherwise it would seem irrem—No! No!

Immigration.The presence of any Latinos at all in America is strongly opposed by racialist groups such as the Alt-Right. These encourage the belief that Latinos are stupid, filthy, criminal, and parasitic, and seek to prevent immigration. There are forty million legal Latinos in the country, mostly citizens, who are not going to leave and cannot be deported. While it can certainly be argued that the country would be better off without them, they exist and will remain. Question for the Alt-Right:

What policy do you recommend toward American citizens of Latino descent?

Encourage assimilation? Discourage it? Poisoning? In any case, how?

Those opposed to immigration strenuously avoid the question because having a policy would concede the legitimacy, or at least permanence,  of Latino-Americans. This they cannot bring themselves to do. If they did, they would likewise concede the inevitability of  intermarriage. Eeeeeeek!

Personally I sympathize with white nationalists and think mass immigration should not have been permitted. But I also that that it was, and we have to deal with what is, not what we might like.

Illegal immigrants: The roughly twelve million illegals pose another problem. It is arithmetically very unlikely that a statistically important number of illegals will be deported or leave. If ten thousand a month were deported during Trump’s maximum possible reign, this would come to almost a million, eight percent of the illegals and substantially less than two percent of the Latino population. Question for white nationalists: What policy do you recommend toward those illegals who do not leave?

They duck and dodge on this question too because having a policy on remaining illegals–probably most of them–would be to admit that some will remain, which they will not. Questions consequent to the first would arise, such as do we amnesty them–the Alt-Right would rather take slit its throat–so they can get real jobs, buy houses, and so on, or keep them as a permanent underclass until their children, citizens, make the question noot?

Open borders: People in favor of mass immigration never put a number on what they want, without which they become moral poseurs and feel-good artists. There are probably 700 million Indians, at least 300 million Latin Americans, all of Haiti, 500 million Africans, and many hundreds of millions of Indonesians, Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, and so on who would like to come to America. Question for pro-immigrationists: Specifically, how many immigrants do you want to accept? What upper limit do you  want?

Plagiolepis alluaudi

Ants.  If you look at mammalian brains, or even reptilian ones, you see enough neurons to believe that they can manage the animal. People have about 1350 cc of brain, some whales 5400.

But consider the above ant. There is hardly any ant there. Most of what there is of the little beast consists of legs, exoskeleton, thorax and abdomen and so on. It has virtually no nervous tissue, distributed or otherwise.

Yet it effortlessly manages six legs over broken terrain (ask a robotics engineer how easy this is) operates digestive organs and such, knows how to forage for food, dig nests, care for queen and young, manage sensory organs and interact with other ants.

All of this is flat weird. Question: How can so very, very little “brain” control such complex behavior? What, as we would say in today’s digital world,is the storage mechanism? The programming language?

When I have asked this question, the response has been “Oh, Fred, ants use a different system.” That is the question, not the answer. What is the explanation, if one exists?

This question involves no web louts pr evasive politics, but there does seem to be a desire to avoid saying that there is something going on that we do not understand.

Affirmative action: This was originally sold as a temporary measure to give blacks who did not quite meet the qualifications for a job to to begin working, whereupon–so the theory went–they would study hard and catch up.  Critics argue that blacks aren’t catching up, and indeed cannot, and that affirmative action is just another entitlement giveaway to keep them from burning cities. . Proponents deny this. Question: When, specifically, should affirmative action be dropped, and how will we know when we get there?

There may be good answers to all of these questions. Specific, concrete, non-evsi have answers. I wouldlike to hear them.

 

 

 

 

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Nuclear-Powered Cars, Tesla, Al Gore, Solar Power, Elon Musk, and More: A Broad Spectrum Column

OK, I’m trying to figure out cars. Especially the electric and nuclear-powered ones. Mostly the fizzing and fuming about how great electrics are, or maybe the end of civilization, seems political. Liberals love them because they will prevent pollution, end global warming, and maybe stop hair loss. Libertarians hate them because they associate them with clean air, federal subsidies, and Al Gore. If Al Gore came out in favor of sex, libertarians would stop reproducing.

Now, according to the excellent automotive columnist, Eric Peters, nobody wants e-cars because they cost too much, don’t go far enough before the battery dies, and take to long to refill. This all seems to be true. Now, anyway. (He also says cars will be boring when they all have the same quiet, tedious electric motors. He may have something. Would you buy a Harley if it just made a gentle soughing sound?)

But all these objections come down to the battery, no? If you could make the dratted thing go, say, six hundred miles on a charge, then after a long day’s driving on a road trip, you could plug during lunch, or overnight at the hotel and have a full tank in the morning.

Maybe the batteries will never get cheap enough. Maybe they will explode like Samsung telephones or hand grenades.The longest-lived I have heard of is Tesla’s barely-over-three hundred mile version, and somehow they never say three hundred miles of what kind of driving.

Still, if I were forced to drive a Tesla (I sure as hell wouldn’t buy one for $35K, and lots more for the big battery.) I wouldn’t notice the difference ninety-five percent of the time, if at all. Few of us often drive three hundred miles in a day.

Next, China. (This column is going to jump around some. Get used to it.). The Chinese are going hard into Duracell cars, both funny little ones and normal ones, but they have a different government and different problems. One problem is pollution. In Beijing, it is said, you can cut the air into blocks and build walls with them. Since much of China is densely urban, and lots of Chinese are getting middle class and want cars, this is pretty serious. At least if you like breathing. Anyway, they have loads of e-cars, from funny little sort-of cars to real ones.

A funny little electric car. Think of the Energizer bunny. Beats a motor scooter in a rain storm. China is neck-deep in all sizes and shapes. Including trucks. 

So next year, they say, they will introduce an $8K electric car that won’t be much of a car but perfectly adequate for commuting and going to malls. To get around the charge-time problem, they are making the battery removable. In the gas station, they pull out the dead battery, shove in another, and you are refueled in ten minutes. Mostly you wouldn’t do this because you wouldn’t drain the battery in a day and at night you would plug it in at home.

Wiley rascals, those orientals.

So where does the electricity come from? From all kinds of generating plants, I guess–now. But if it came from nuclear power plants, then you would have a nuclear-powered car. See? And you would have zero pollution of the air.

You would also have much less need of any petroleum derivative, such as gasoline,  for ground transportation. Aha!

Now, I don’t know what the Chinese government has in mind. Mysteriously, Xi does not call to seek my advice. I suppose he wants to demonstrate his independence. I do know, though, that Beijing worries because it doesn’t have oil of its own.  China depends on Mideastern oil which Washington, now in the pathologically aggressive last years of its empire, could cut off.

Further, China is the world leader in small nuclear reactors (the Nimble Dragon) packaged as local power sources. This critter will be about the size of a bus, fit on a truck, and produce less than 300 MW. it will be much cheaper than big ones, and not require the overkill of a big plant in a small city. You could charge a gret passel of cars with one. I don’t know whether the Chinese have thought of this. I will take bets, though.

We have now covered nuclear-powered cars. Onward to solar energy. Again, libertarians are against it, probably because Al Gore thinks it is a good idea. For entirely un-mysterious reasons, oil companies and electric utilities are against it. Me, I am for it. It is free, and doesn’t smell bad. (This really does have something to do with cars. Sort of. Wait.)

Here in Mexico, many people, including yours truly, use solar hot-water heaters.They work fine, almost always, and provide a tremendous savings on propanel, and pay for themselves in a year or two, depending on the exchange rate. A great idea, unless you sell propane.

Others here get their electricity from photovoltaic panels. These cost more and the payback time is longer, and there are various ways you can do it–tie into the electric grid, or go off grid with batteries. But they work.

Now we arrive, again, at Elon Musk. (All roads lead to Elon, even if you need to launch a spaceship.) He is now selling photovoltaic Elon Tiles, You put them on your entire roof, which he claims is not killer expensive. Considering that three or four panels a few feet square run entire houses here, a Musk roof might power an aircraft carrier.

Of course, you may not have an aircraft carrier.

Not too surprisingly, Mr. Musk suggests that you buy one of his Tesla electric cars and charge it with an Elon Tile roof, storing the current in  one of his battery packs, which he knows about because Teslas use batteries.

How well all of this will work, or parts of it, I don’t know. Maybe car batteries have peaked out and won’t get better, and electric cars will just be look-at-me toys for the over-moneyed. Maybe Elon Tiles won’t work for some reason I can’t think of. But if I were a gasoline company, or electric utility especially, I believe I believe I would look for an anxiety-management clinic.

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Milk-Bar Clausewitzes, Bean Curd Napoleons: In the Reign of Kaiser Don

Why do those inadequate little men in Washington and New York dream of new wars? Because the empire is near a tipping point.

Washington must either either start a war in Korea, or gets faced down by the North, its carriers ignored, its bombers “sending signals” and making “shows of force” without result. For the empire this is a loss of face and credibility, and an example to others that America can be challenged.

Iran has not caved to Washington’s threats and sanctions and clearly isn’t going to. Another strategic loss, a big one, unless–the hawks seem to think–remedied by a war. Iran wants to trade with Europe and Europe likes the idea. Worse, Iran is becoming a vital part of China’s aim to integrate Europe and Asia economically. To the empire this smelñls of death. The frightened grow desperate.

China shows no signs of backing down in the South China Sea. For Washington, it is either war now, when thinks it might win, or be overshadowed as China grows.

Russia has irrevocably gotten the Crimea, is quietly absorbing part of the Ukraine, and looks as if its side is going to win in Syria. Three humiliating setbacks for the empire. Loss of control of the Mideast would be a strategic disaster for Washington.

Continued control of Europe is absolutely vital. European governments have groveled but now even they grow restless with Washington’s sanction against Russia, and European businessmen want more trade eastward. Growing trade with Asia threatens to loosen Europe’s shackles. Washington cannot allow this.

When you have militarily stupid politicians listening to pathologically confident soldiers, trouble is likely. All of these people might reflect how seldom wars turn out as those starting them expect. Wars are always going to be quick and easy. Generals not infrequently advise against a war but, once it begins, they bark in unison. They seldom know what they are getting into. Note:

The American Civil War was expected to be over in an afternoon at First Manassas. Wrong, by four years and some 650,000 dead. 

Germans thought that World War I would be be a quick war of movement, over in a few weeks. Wrong by four years and fantastic slaughter, and was an entirely unexpected trench war of attrition ending in unconditional surrender. Not in the Powerpoint presentation.

When the Japanese Army urged attacking Pearl Harbor, their war aims did not include  two cities in radioactive rubble and GIs in the bars of Tokyo. That is what they got.

When the Wehrmacht invaded Poland, having GIs and the Red Army in Berlin must have been an undocumented feature. Very undocumented.

When the French re-invaded Vietnam after WWII, they did not expect les jaunes to crush them at Dien Bien Phu, end of war. Les Jaunes did.

When the Americans invaded Vietnam, having seen what had happened to the French, the thought did not occur that it might happen to them too. It did.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, having seen what happened to the US in a war against peasants, they did not expect to lose. They did.

When the Americans attacked Afghanistan, having seen what happened to the Soviets there, they did not expect to be fought to a slowly losing draw. They were.

When the Americans attacked Iraq, they did not expect to be bogged down in an interminable conflagration in the whole region. They are.

Is there a pattern here?

From the foregoing one might conclude that when grrr-bowwow-woofs start wars, they seldom foresee the nature of the war or its outcome. This is particularly true of military men, who seem to have little grasp of their profession. Whether anyone else could better predict does not matter. The generals do not.

Why? One reason is that war by its nature is not very predictable. Often the other side proves uncooperative, imaginative, and resourceful.  Another reason is that militaries inculcate unreasonable confidence in their own powers. Troops cannot be told that they are mediocre soldiers, and may lose, that their publics may not support the war, that the other side may prove superior. Consequently they are told, and tell themselves, that they are the best trained, best armed, most lethal force imaginable. They tell themselves that they have great fighting spirit–cran, bushido, oorah. If this is so, they think, how can they not win?

Just now, the usual damned fools in Washington and New York contemplate wars against Russia in Syria, China in the South China Sea, North Korea, Russia in the Ukraine, and Iran. All of these offer superb chances for disastrous and unexpected consequences.

An attack on North Korea will be called a “surgical strike.” “Surgical” is a PR  phrase implying that no civilians will be killed, that the war will be quick and cheap. You know, like Iraq, a cakewalk. This idea has little  relation to military reality. The assumptions will be that American intelligence actually knows where the North’s missiles and nukes are, that North Korea is too stupid to put them deep underground, that Kim Jong Un won’t respond with a massive attack on the South, that he doesn’t have aircraft that can carry a nuke for a short distance–to Seoul, say, or a carrier-battle group, or to the barracks of the 28,000 GIs in South Korea, that the North Korean infantry could not get into Seoul, thirty-five miles away, forcing the US to bomb the South Korean capital into rubble.

Them is a lot of assumptions. 

Similarly, we hear that the US military could devastate Iran. Today, “US military” means airplanes. American ground forces are small, not rapidly deployable and–if I may lapse into rural accuracy–pussified, obsessed with homosexuality, girls in combat, trans this and trans that, and racial and sexual quotas in the officer corps. The Pentagon has trouble finding recruits physically fit enough for combat arms.

Pregnant-and-girl simulator, forced on American troops by feminists. The intention obviously is to humiliate, and they have succeeded. The problem is, first, that we have troops willing to put up with this and second, and far worse, is that the generals, who know perfectly well the effects of this sort of thing, have let the military become the playground of feminists, homosexuals, transvestites, transgenders, single mothers, and so on. They value their careers over the military. 

Iranians are Muslims, not pansies and not afraid to die. They might not–I would say definitely will not–cave in to  bombing. They might close the Straits of Hormuz (“Damn, sir! I was sure we could blow up all those missiles they have on pickup trucks.”) They might launch dispersed infantry attacks into various surrounding countries. Getting them out would be a hell of  lot harder than letting them in.

In all of these contemplated wars, there is the belief in the Last Move: that is, that after the US defeats the Russian Air Force over Syria, which it could, Russia would throw up its hands, go home and do nothing–instead of, say, occupying the Caucasus, which it could. Always, always, the assumption is that the other side will behave as the bow-wow-woofs think it will.

People tend to think of countries as suprahuman entities with rational minds. We say, “Russia did this” or The US decided that….” Countries don’t decide anything. Men (usually) do. You know, McCain, Hillary, generals, delusional Neocons, and Trump, who is eerily similar to Kaiser Wilhelm, another stochastic military naif with a codpiece need. These massive egos are not well suited to backing down or conceding that they have made a mistake.

This egotism is important. Washington’s vanities could not accept being humiliated, not allow any country to show that resistance to America is possible.

Suppose that the Navy fired on a Chinese ship in the South China Sea, expecting Beijing to roll over as it would have thirty years ago–but it didn’t, instead leaving a carrier in flaming ruin. This is far from impossible. Carriers can be surprisingly fragile, and China has has focused resources specifically of defeating the American Navy in what it regards as its home waters. The American fleet has not fought a war since 1945. It doesn’t really know how well its weapons will work against their weapons.

The carrier Forrestal, 1967. A single Zuni ground-attack missile was fired accidentally, hitting a plane. A huge fire ensued, bombs cooked off, 134 men were killed, and the ship was devastated, out of service for a very long time. One five-inch missile.

Times have changed. Carriers today are useful only for bombing defenseless countries. Against serious opposition–Russia and China for example–they serve only as trip wires. The carrier itself does not amount to much, but if you cripple one, you are at war with the US. This is less scary than it used to be, which is dangerous in itself, but still not something one undertakes casually.

The following news story is worth reflection:

Surprise! Boo!  “The uninvited guest: Chinese sub pops up in middle of U.S. Navy exercise, leaving military chiefs red-faced”

“American military chiefs have been left dumbstruck by an undetected Chinese submarine popping up at the heart of a recent Pacific exercise and close to the vast U.S.S. Kitty Hawk – a 1,000ft supercarrier with 4,500 personnel on board.

“By the time it surfaced the 160ft Song Class diesel-electric attack submarine is understood to have sailed within viable range for launching torpedoes or missiles at the carrier.

According to senior Nato officials the incident caused consternation in the U.S. Navy.

The story clearly was not written by a student of submarines or carriers, but the incident occurred, ten years ago–and Chinese submarines are getting rapidly better.

Emotionally unable to walk away from a local defeat, Washington would have to double down, likely by bombing China. The consequences would be disastrous, unpredictable, perhaps nuclear. Things soldiers do not think about: revolution when the United States, already deeply divided with the middle and lower classes pushed to the wall financially, suffer the depression that would follow on ending commerce with America’s largest trading partner–China. The lower middle class, already pushed to the wall, having no savings, finds prices going way up at Walmart. Apple stores have no iPhones. Boeing loses Chinese orders, laying off thousands. This list could go on for many pages. The elderly will remember the civil unrest during Vietnam.

If the war remained conventional, the outcome might boil down to which population could best survive privation–the Chinese, only a generation or so removed from living hard, or America’s squealing millennials, looking for safe spaces. If the Pentagon destroyed the Three Gorges Dam, and killed several million people, China might go nuclear. Note that if a few well-placed nuclear bombs shut down food distribution in the US for even a month, people in the cities would be fighting for food on the third day, and eating each other on the fifth.

This, those absurd vanities and overgrown children in New York are playing with.

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