23 February 2023

Are we witnessing the emergence of Madman Xi?

 If reports that the Chinese government is considering sending lethal aid to Russia to help it continue its war of aggression in Ukraine are true, I would venture to say we are witnessing the biggest strategic mistake in Xi Jin Peng's career. China, throughout its history, has generally played the long game, biding time when invaders' strength was overwhelming, maintaining tense but nonetheless productive relationships with neighbors. In a long history there have been many setbacks and poor policy choices, of course, but in general Chinese leaders have done a better job of basing policy on their grandchildrens' interests rather than the immediate short term than have most nations' leaders. And the recent past is mostly exemplary of this generalization. But this move, if it's true, will be a foolish reversal. Xi may see Putin as an ally in its resistance to Western domination militarily and even to some extent economically, but if he looks beyond the immediate concerns, he should see that Russia is in danger of becoming a failed state, and has really nothing to offer China other than raw materials which it will probably get anyway in the long run. But engaging with them in their revanchist imperialist war thousands of miles to the West, in a region critical to Europe but of scant importance to China, will carry a huge cost in terms of debased trade relations and destabilization of a global order that has, for the most part, operated to their advantage since Tian An Men. Another area where he could be about to throw away China's future is Taiwan. It had seemed, until recently, that the sabre rattling was mostly just show: it seemed likely that the Chinese had correctly calculated that they would end up in control of Taiwan eventually anyway and triggering a crisis now would not serve anyone's interests. But there are at least hints that Xi has, like many "presidents for life" and other autocrats, become drunk on power and delusional, believing his own personal power can overcome the drawbacks, from a global power politics perspective, of the present situation. It is mania, delusion, and narcissism of individuals that have attained outsize power and stopped listening to the accurate information others are trying to bring to them that have caused most atrocities in human history. It certainly is what happened to Putin. Are we watching something similar unfolding in China's new Great Emperor? The whole world had better hope the hell not. 

21 February 2023

Criticizing Biden on the train crash!? Seriously!?

It's beyond my fortitude to respond to every stupid, mendacious, hypocritical and pro-fascist salvo from the ultra right that now controls one of the two political parties in our nation, so mostly I don't. But I've gotta say, it's rich that they're criticizing Biden for "visiting Ukraine instead of the train disaster in Ohio," when it has been entirely Republican administrations and legislatures that are responsible for gutting the regulation and subsidization of the US rail system that is the primary cause. Not to mention that Biden is showing real leadership on the international front, something that crony capitalist and grifter Trump certainly never did.

That said, a more robust Federal response is indeed called for. 

15 February 2023

Avoiding Bots on YouTube

For some folks, these comments will probably seem so obvious or naive as to be laughable, but there's a point. I ended my account on Facebook because I found that their algorithm actually causes dissension and pointless argument, and I lacked the energy or inclination to constantly monitor my reaction to things and edit what I read and responded to critically in real time. It became exhausting and the utility of the platform came to seem less and less worth it. 

YouTube, I contend, is different. I never use comments to argue with anyone, and I use "don't recommend" to filter out propaganda, so I don't see nearly as much of it. Plus there is really, really good and informative content on YouTube, which you can set it up so that it shows you that, and not a bunch of trivial or propagandistic nonsense, most of the time. An example: I am interested in the EV revolution, so when I saw a video from a channel called Tech Revolution that seemed to be touting the imminent introduction into North America of Chinese EVs from BYD, X Peng, Nio, and Ora, I watched with avid interest even though I was under the impression from other sources that none of these companies have plans to sell EVs in the US anytime soon. So I subscribed and liked, but I checked other sources and none of this seemed to be true. So I went back and looked. Turns out Tech Revolution is a pro-Russia anti-Ukraine troll channel that spreads various forms of disinformation about the Ukraine war, European energy crisis, etc. So I unsubscribed and clicked "don't recommend this channel." 

It's easier to cross check and eliminate bad content on YouTube than other social media platforms. And the architecture of the site makes it more difficult for it to be used as a mode of propaganda by bad actors. You do have to consciously avoid the "rabbit hole" tendency that all autobot algorithms will devolve into if you let them; but it is easier and more pleasant to do, I've found. Of course FB and YT are entirely different, but in the end, how and what you spend your internet time on is up to you. 

03 February 2023

Unemployment at lowest level in decades... BAD news?

What a strange world it is when the effective unemployment rate has hit its lowest point since 1969 and yet the Masters of the Universe through their bought and paid for media are telling us that this is a bad thing for the economy, and the Democratic president is widely thought of as having presided over a weak economy. Economic inequity is still a huge policy issue, don't get me wrong, but it's Alice in Wonderland not to recognize that Democratic policies have worked, and the economy is capable of strong growth with renewable energy infrastructure leading the way. Only death-wish delusion on the part of the Know Nothing and Fascist factions of the Republican Party is standing in the way. 

They're wearing their treason proud

Several observers have noted that several of the American Fascist cohort in the House have ditched their cheesy American flag pins for pins in the shape of an AR-15 assault rifle. At least their total treachery and disloyalty to the United States is now out in the open.