Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"Trumpism" v/s "Trumptardism"

"Trumpism" is now seen as a legitimate form of American conservative philosophy. It is a way to capitalize on ethnic and economic resentment of unproductive men and weaponize it to achieve GOP electoral goals. It seems to be a perfectly valid way of thinking as far as I can tell. All politics relies on some form of duping people into supporting you, Trumpism is just a particularly brutal variant of that. While most electoral philosophies come with an embedded sense of accountability - Trumpism dispenses with it altogether. You cannot hold a "Trumpist" accountable - because you knew full well that everything they were saying was bullshit anyway - so the Trumpist always gets away. If you attempt to hold a Trumpist accountable - they gaslight you. If you try to use legal mechanisms to hold them accountable, they attack the law enforcement mechanisms.

"Trumptardism" is the flip side of the "Trumpism" coin. If Trumpism is act of duping someone, Trumptardism is perspective of the person being duped. Trumptardism compels you to embrace political toxic ideas without fully understanding or even grasping them. As a Trumptard you are expected to get caught up in the wave of the crowd around and cheer for your own extinction. And when you are presented with facts that contradict the narrative you have woven around the bullshit you have shoved down your own throat, you are expected to let your embarrassment guide a visceral and vituperative response that rejects the facts in favor of an emotionally comforting fantasy. The objective of the Trumptardism is to keep the target population docile - like cattle being taken to the slaughterhouse.

A lot of observers confuse "Trumpism" with "Trumptardism". The basic difference is that there are no adverse consequences to "Trumpism"  either for the Trumpist or the GOP - there is no accountability principle. And if one is externally imposed, the Trumpists will simply flee the jurisdiction while the Trumptards rip the country to shreds as law enforcement tries to chase the criminals across borders. For the Trumptard however - it is more like being the bull in a bull fight - regardless of how impressive the Matador does - the bull always dies in the end.

For the "Trumptard" there is no escape. This path only ends in doom. Unfortunately for the American experience, "Trumptardism" is the byproduct of a several decades long process of social polarization created by the GOP.  It is skin of evil left behind by ages of conservative opportunism in the social and economic sphere.  There is no cure for it. You might be able to shut it down to some extent but the negative social forces created by it will endure for far longer than any of us anticipate*.

* Think of it like this. After the Trumptards are exhausted, their political adversaries will strike back at them with equal and opposing force. The cycle of negativity will never be broken. And conservative political opportunists will always exist to exploit that negativity to gain prominence.

Interesting point about the UK and the "London Financial Sector"

There is a weary sense of realization going around that the UK economy is surviving because its financial sector is still somehow functioning despite the "Brexit" vote.

This gets into the details of how the UK economy actually functions these days and how that plays into the "Brexit" saga.

So to start at the beginning - the UK like most countries is filled with a vast number of idiots who can't be bothered to read or learn a damn thing about the world. This core of human stupidity and non-productivity exists in every country but in the UK this vast mass of people is old and completely reliant on their National Health System to care for them. The result of this is that HMG has to constantly keep pouring money into the NHS to keep these people in even the most minimal state of productivity. *

Naturally in such a setup - productivity is low. This is not a terribly new state of affairs, this is kind of how its been since the WWII period when the UK had to trade off its empire for homeland security. Without the empire to feed its industries with raw materials, the productivity of the UK homeland collapsed. Things were held aloft for a while on American loans but the real reason that the UK didn't collapse 50 years ago is that oil was discovered in the North Sea.

Using North Sea oil, the UK was able to build wealth (of sorts) in its society and keep its economy functioning. However as the median age of the population rose, the NHS became more & more expensive and a way had to be found to bridge the cash flow gap. The UK wasn't generating enough wealth to cover the costs of its diminishing productivity.

Becoming part of the EU allowed the UK to increase the volume of trade and sell its debts to others, but fundamentally there was no vast increase in productivity. There was however a significant reduction in unproductivity - as British goods and services were able to find markets in the EU. Business boomed after the collapse of the USSR. It was all good. The interaction with the EU market came with accepting EU norms and there was a cash loop (as there is with all trade patterns).

A lucrative sideline that developed in that period was flow of "conflict capital" or shady money into London's financial district. There had been a financial center in London from the days of the empire, it had reinvented itself as debt trafficking center in the aftermath of WWII. These guys stepped into the gray finance trade - helping xKGB and other FSU oligarchs move their money to "safe" banks in London.

At this time, North Sea oil has reached a point of diminishing return on investment. The trade with EU has plateaued in terms of profitability as the cost of adjusting to EU norms is rising and the NHS bills just keep rising. I suspect that HMG is constantly running into financial eclipse periods (i.e. periods where the HM Treasury can't match cash inflows to cash outflows).

Literally the only thing left standing in the UK (financially speaking) is the "London Financial Sector". Without money coming in from these debt trafficking operations, there would be no wealth generation in the UK. And given this backdrop - I would not be surprised if HMG has found itself in hock to some people with weird ideas of debt servicing.

This "London Financial Sector" crowd is one of the big backers of the Brexit. I suspect this is largely because of two factors

1) The EU financial trafficking norm push back against the desire to stuff every shady ruble that floats across the channel into ones' pocket and

2) The US led sanctions put on Putin's guys make it a criminal offense to touch his money or give him his due.

So you can see where this is going and why UK alignment with the US goals in the region is so troublesome.

PS. to be very clear - what Trump owes Putin is between Trump and Putin. There is no reason why US national security policy has to be raped to service Trump's misguided debts or Putin's non-performing loans. 

* I am not advocating against the NHS or what HMG is doing by supporting the NHS. I actually fully support it, I can't think of a better use for money than to care for the sick and elderly - I am just stating the facts as they stand on the notion of productivity. I fear the notion of productivity (as defined from industrial revolution period) is not sustainable in the present age and we may have to revise it. Unfortunately this comes at a very peculiar cost in the carbon energy driven world of today, and that cost may not be acceptable to that very segment of the UK population that lives off the NHS. There is no such thing as a free lunch - I am going to leave it at that even though it is a bit vague. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Implications of the SC verdict on the Loya Death petition

As I had mentioned earlier in the reply to Murali, the Supreme Court (SC) has a difficult problem on its hands.

To accept the petition put forth on the suspicious circumstances of Justice Loya would

1) amount to an open declaration of war with the Modi/Shah combine as it directly questions their legitimacy as rulers of India. If the core assertion underpinning the petition is indeed correct - then the lives of the justices would be in grave danger and

2) call into question the viability of the traditional law-enforcement based information chain used by the courts at every level. With police officers all over India wondering whether the court trusts their inputs at all, the courts would lose their ability to work together with law enforcement. This would create a systemic jamming that would prove very difficult to clear.

This set the stage - more/less - for dismissing the petition on technical grounds. The technical grounds would eventually provide the petitioners a way to re-submit the issue for judicial review after a time, but if there were enough words in there that suggested that the SC was not favorably disposed to a review - the Modi/Shah combine might be befuddled into thinking that there is no need to murder more Judges.

This would at least stem the really bad bleeding for now.

This would not undo the damage caused by the situation to the college of judges. The damage done to the trust inside the institution is quite frankly staggering. I am not sure how this will ever be cured.

The SC would have also have to deal with a massive public perception that it was in the pocket of the Modi/Shah combine.

This latter part would be almost as damaging as an open declaration of war with the Modi/Shah regime as it would effectively create a state of Emergency in the country.

With the Modi/Shah political machine able to operate outside of any judicial challenge, its power would become absolute. It would secure unto itself all means necessary to perpetuate its control over the national space and to free itself from any legal challenges in the future.

This would create a government within a government, a "deeper state" within the "deep state" - one which was completely beholden to the interests of the Modi/Shah combine.

That is pretty much what the Emergency of 1975 that Mrs Gandhi declared achieved. Mrs Gandhi used the parliament and constitutional mechanisms which have their own time limits engineered into them, but Modi/Shah seem to have preferred to use this extra constitutional mechanism which do not have a time limit engineered into them.

As things stand - the writ of Habeas Corpus no longer applies to any conduct by the Modi/Shah machinery - they can kill anyone and never be held to account by the court.

The Supreme Court was given a choice - and it chose to throw India under the bus to save itself. I can't see how this is a good idea.

There is no way to sugar coat this - so I won't bother - but democracy in India is now dead.  You don't have to bother with elections, the outcome will always be only what Modi/Shah want.

India has entered the night - and I do not know what if anything will remain of India when day finally comes.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The catastrophic flaw in the Gerasimov "Doctrine"

A lot has been said about the Gerasimov "Doctrine", I will summarize it for as best I understand it.

Russia is broke. It can't afford expensive wars anymore so it came up with a way to fight on the cheap. This is the so called Gerasimov "Doctrine". The core idea here is to deliberately create a fog of war to disguise Russian strategic intentions and use the resulting confusing to achieve military objectives with relatively small amounts of force.

The strategic flaw with this is the Gerasimov "doctrine" is that a fog of war can quickly become uncontrolled and disable even Russian initiatives. See Uderzo and Goscinny's Asterix and the Roman Agent for how that can happen. I think we are very close to exposing that flaw at this time in Syria.

One of the places where the Gerasimov "Doctrine" has been at work is in Syria. The Russians have been able to mask the true state of the conflict with fake news and media spectaculars that allow them to undertake military operations that support the Assad regime and frustrate any attempts to develop natural gas transit routes in the region. Most of this work has been achieved with a reinforced brigade size formation and private military contractors.

What the Russians are not prepared for is Israel trying to push Iran out of Syria. The Iranians have a unique position in the region. They support the Assad regime and ensure alignment with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran possesses significant amounts of SRBM technology and it could (if it wanted) deploy such missiles in Syria and put Israel's population centers in range. That is why Israel is unhappy with Iran in Syria.

If Israel and Iran have a go at each other, there is little Russia can do to stop it. This will create a fog of war that Russia will not be able to control (as its Gerasimov "Doctrine" requires).  Also if Iran and Israel go at each other, Russian troops could get caught in the middle.

An uncontrolled fog of war like that will create a situation where Russia with its thinly spread units will be under constant threat from Israeli or Iranian action.

Assad for his part will not know whether he can rely on Russia for help, or Iran for help or if he will be killed in the next Israeli or NATO strike, or if there is an JaN, JaI, ISIS, PMU or FSA hit on him.

Under such a constant threat, people will get jumpy and make mistakes.

Assad for his  part will attempt to consolidate against potential adversaries, rapidly expanding on several fronts to seize as much security space as possible. This will thin out his forces and increase his vulnerability.

As this environment of constant threat will continue without resolution, the expenses involved with the mistakes will rise and Russia will find itself on a slippery slope towards a very expensive war.

As the price of the alert escalates, Russia and Assad will find themselves facing the prospect of losing their war. That will make them more likely to lash out and precipitate an even wider conflict that draws in even more countries.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

In Syria Putin and Bibi battle for who controls Trump

Positioned on the bedrock of resentful white racism, Trump's political platform stands on three legs - the Erik Prince leg (of mercenaries who think they should run the US NatSec apparatus), the Putin leg (of people who think Putin is God) and the Bibi leg (comprised of people who want to promote real estate investments in the West Bank and Jerusalem).

In Syria right now - the Bibi and Putin legs of the Trump platform have crossed.

Putin wants to keep Assad in place and a Syrian civil war simmering. The idea here is that with Syria burning away - neither Sunni Gas (KSA and UAE) nor Shia Gas (Iran and Qatar) will be able to pipe their way across into the Mediterranean and threaten Russia's stranglehold on European Union gas supply.

This does not work for Bibi. Bibi - like most Israelis wants to put the terrible past of the Nabka, the Occupied Territories and the Intifada behind - and make meaningful trade relationships with Arab neighbors. A big part of this is the international legitimization of Israeli anschluss of the West Bank and Gaza. Once that is achieved, given the importance of Judea and Samaria in the Jewish religion, the real estate in the West Bank will become incredibly profitable. The Kushner family has links to real estate developers in that part of the world, there is a natural zone of convergence between Bibi and the Kushners on this. 

Bibi want Iran out of Syria. It is making it very hard for Bibi to sell the idea of settling in Judea and Samaria to investors if Iran sits in Syria, emboldens Hezbollah and makes Assad comfortable with using CW. In general having CWs falling from the sky is a bad scenario for investors seeking to move into the Middle East but it bites Bibi in the rear quite hard.

Putin for his part doesn't want Iran to leave, if they do - he can't keep the pot boiling in Syria. Even if he wanted Iran to leave, he doesn't really have anything to offer them in exchange for leaving. Iran and Russia are on the same side when it comes to keep Sunni ME states from gaining a toehold in Syria but beyond that they are competitors for the same gas markets in Europe.

This is where it all falls apart.

Bibi is asking Putin to deliver something he really cannot.

For the moment Iranian and Assadist forces in Syria are seeking shelter in the same places as Russian troops are deployed. This is their best bet for staying alive. This way Trump can't kill them without killing Putin's people too. With Assadists and Iranians sitting so close to Russian troops, there is no way for the "deconfliction zones" to hold. 

If American forces hit Russians in Syria even by accident at this time both Putin and Trump will lose face.

If Russian forces hit US forces in Syria even by accident at this time both Bibi and Trump will lose face.

So Trump is flip flopping because he doesn't know what to do and Erik Prince's "conflict resolution" teams are worthless in this context as they cannot act without stepping on either Bibi or Putin's toes.

This creates a unique problem. With the Bibi and Putin legs crossed in Syria - the Trump platform is now seriously unstable and might collapse without warning.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Who is "Abhimanyu" today?

In the Mahabharata mythos the alliance of the righteous Pandava Princes was able to defeat the numerically superior Kuru Army through a variety of disruptive warfare techniques. One of these techniques is captured in the account of the thirteenth day.

One the thirteenth day of the war, the Pandava alliance faced a formidable defensive formation constructed by the Kuru Army general staff. In order to penetrate this formation, Abhimanyu, one of the sons of the Pandava Prince Arjun conducted an aggressive patrol that imposed heavy losses on the Kuru Army.

The aggressive patrol ended with the death of Abhimanyu but it achieved considerable success as it degraded the Kuru General Staff in the eyes of their soldiers and it rendered the Kuru defensive strategy unviable.

The decision to accept the sacrifice of Prince Abhimanyu was taken by the Pandava General Staff only when they were left with no other options.

While I do not believe these accounts of the myths to have traceable historical accuracy, I do feel they contain important tools to interpret what is going on in Syria.

Last week it appears the Hammers of Hatzerim disabled the IRGC drone capabilities in Syria. This IMHO enables SOF/LRP ops to proceed with reduced interference in the region.

A US lead coalition of air and naval assets has gathered around Syria with the (now) publicly expressed aim of punishing Assad and breaking up his comfy relationship with Russia and Iran (see Trump tweet of today morning for details).  As Trump has not approached Congress for additional authority or funding - it does not seem that this will be a long campaign. It is most likely expected to be a short lived expectation. Given the state of Russian and Iranian lines of communication in the region and Assad's lack of depth, this is not an unreasonable idea but then the Iraq invasion of 2004 was supposed to be a limited affair also.

Based on the burst of EAM traffic yesterday - I feel it likely that element of surprise has been lost. The reports of RuAF AD and Mainstay AEW ac suggest that SyAAD is still a viable entity. As long as SyAAD remains active - the likelihood of success in aggressive action (absent the element of surprise) is low. Even if a momentary air dominance is achieved, it will likely be heavily contested by SAMs.

The key operation (JMHO) is disabling the SyAAD infrastructure permanently.

Having lost the element of surprise one has two basic options

1) Feint - draw AD attention to one side (say the West) by making ominous suggestions that the de-confliction line between RU and Allied forces is likely to be breached because Syrian and IRGC have sheltered too close to RU assets and then launch an attack over Deir Ezzor in the East.

2) "Abhimanyu's Sacrifice" - launch an attack with the specific goal of drawing out air defense assets from their coverage and in doing so compromise the overall effectiveness at the cost of your attacking force.

Obviously the second option is not ideal, but given that there is very little room otherwise to achieve DOD objectives in a climate where Trump is disconnected from reality and more obsessed with meeting his obligations to Putin and Bibi Netanyahu - it may be the only option available to DOD planners.

I sense Trump wants another stupid piece of theater with cruise missiles, but there is no effectiveness to that per the DOD's point of view or the perspective from Israel Even Bibi can't sell houses in the West Bank if there is a perennial risk of an Syrian/IRGC backed chemical weapons attack.

So right now - unless Putin tells Assad to take a vacation in Tehran*. This is most likely going to end up with Russian and DOD losing lives in an attempt to force Assad to leave Damascus**.

* Also  while Putin is telling people off - perhaps he can tell Laura Ingraham to remain on vacation also because man - that lady is becoming massively annoying.
**I hear his family and a number of Assadholes are already leaving for Lebanon but I don't believe Assad has left himself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Hearing reports EAM just went out.

Syrian Airspace and Territorial Waters Getting Crowded

It seems Trump could not decide if he wanted to launch an attack on Syria.

I am not entirely certain why he wants to - some say it is to divert attention from his troubles with Mueller. Others say he is trying to spark a war with Iran, still others say he has no fucking clue what he is doing and wants to do something before all his power is taken away from him. *

Anyway the Russians are freaking out. They know Trump can't control where every bullet will hit, so they are taking all possible steps to keep their assets out of harms way and to make it look like there will be a major cost associated with anything the hurts them. Like most people we all know that this is bullshit - if the US hits the Russians by mistake - they will say "Sorry" and Putin will say "Its okay - shit happens" - but domestically that won't look good so this show is being mounted to make it look like the Russia will be the ultimate badass if they get hit.

The Russians are also trying to make it look like they are helping Assad. I am sure that Assad is not happy about their lack of help on the weekend IDF raid. So now the RuAF has to put on a bigger show of not being a complete fucking bunch of morons in Assad's eyes.

To that end A50 Mainstays are being put on airborne EW picket (apparently protected by a Su-27/30 BARCAP). When possible RuAF is buzzing US and French ships as they form a firing line off Syrian territorial waters. And apparently some kind of jamming is being attempted of US drones. There is also a lot of PR being put out via social media to signal to the world that Russian forces will resist any attempt by the US to displace Assad. Whether this is the reality or not - is difficult to say.

Apparently the RuAF was harassing Allied ships so badly that the TuAF or NATO ac in Turkey were dispathed to mount a BARCAP around the ships. There is a P8 out of Sigonella that is circling in the Med off between Tartus and Lakatia - which suggests an unfriendly submarine may be present.

Rumors are circulating that FSA is getting ready to take Deir Ezzor from SAA today. Not sure who is planning to go do something now that everyone looks like they are doing something.

I waited yesterday until daybreak in Syria to see if Trump would give the go order. This is usually preceded by an EAM a few hours before the event. There was no mention of an EAM being transmitted in the usual places. So unless I hear that EAM or Trump decides to tweet the attack order, I don't think there is any chance of an escalation.

The Assadholes** have figured out that the best way to stay alive is to stay close to the Russians. I am sure the IRGC guys have figure that out as well. So they are going to stick as close to the Russians as they can. There are news items which point to a shift in major SAA units towards Russian held positions. This is going to make it harder to attack SAA w/o killing Russians.

Trumpers are going around polling their fellow Trumpers about whether its time for Trump to take out Assad. I guess Trump's inconsistent bullshit about taking out Assad and blaming Obama for not doing something Trump openly warned him not to do is getting too onerous for even Trump to wash off.

Trump and Mattis have cancelled trips abroad to stay home for the big fight. So clearly even Mattis is unsure how bad this is going to get.

Not entirely sure how its going to play out but I am pretty certain barring a sudden act of God we are looking at a major escalation here.

The most likely outcome of this *** is that Trump will use the resulting conflict to seize control of the government and create some kind of barrier to further legal challenges to to his collapsing position in L'affaire Rus. 

* that is most likely IMHO the truth. This dude is so incompetent - I think that is the maximum level of self-awareness he has. Anything deeper than that is some strategy that someone else is imposing on him. He knows his time in power is ending soon, so he wants to have a last go at it.

** should I trademark that or something? I feel like no one has come up with that.

*** That and I think that Bolton is already in the WH executive washroom beating off furiously to pics of dead kids. I think that may be why Tom Bossert left - he like walked in on this shit and was like "fuck this Man fuck this..." (just kidding!! - I have no sources in the West Wing that would tell me stuff like that only Shawn Hannity does.).

Monday, April 09, 2018

Funny how Grand Ayatollah Bolton always wanted war with Iran.

There a wrinkle that needs to be examined.

Here is what I know - I'd appreciate hearing more.

Last week there was a massive cyber attack on Iranian facilities and the US flag was made to appear on Iranian screens.

About a day or so ago bots mimicking the RIS-St.Petersburg-IRA signature appeared that called on Trump to go to war with Russia+Iran+Assad.

About 24 hours ago, rumors started circulating of a US strike around Deir Ezzor. These rumors were quashed by OSINT types who ascertained a negative ground truth.

About 18 hours ago, rumors appeared about Su27/30 taking off towards Deir Ezzor area. It seems RuAF found rumors of impending strike credible to set up a CAP over the area.

About 12 hours ago, I heard of missile strikes in Homs airbase and "Cruise Missile" strikes on other SAA/IRGC controlled bases. Also reports of sonic booms over Lebanon appeared with imagery of contrails. This is curious - it suggests that IDFAF was flying > 37Kft at high speed - they should have been visible to A-50 Mainstay FLT or on Su27/30 FLT that was supposed to be on airborne picket.

Not exactly sure what happened next - but inconsistent reports of downing "cruise missiles" and self-congratulatory BS about superiority of S400 v/s Patriot was doing rounds. But neither IDFAF nor USG/GovFra reported losses.

At this time a report emerged about a Su27/30 FLT west bound from Khmeimem. The rumored purpose was to locate the source of the missiles. I was unsure what they would do once the source was detected as actually engaging it would create problems in the Baltic. So sure enough about 15 min after this there was a major burst of RU HF activity detected in the Baltic and reports emerged of a general mobilization by RU forces in the area.

Late last night EST - I heard rumors of massive casualties in SAA/IGRC held places. No death toll also no mention of RU casualties.

And then finally around 10 PM EST last nite RIS friendly Trumpers (Posobiec etc...) told everyone that Trump's aggressive tweets from the morning were not written by him but the entire thing was orchestrated by unknown people with Sarah Sanders' help**.

My guess so far - the Hammers of Hatzerim went for a stroll at night. They warned and paid off the Russians standing guard and beat up a bunch of Assad and IRGC boys.

I suspect Assad might have had an inkling of what was to come his way. Assad's use of CW is mostly (IMHO) related to his idea that staying in power in Damascus requires that he periodically showcase an unchallenged ability to take life on a grand scale. That has become the cornerstone of Baathist power in that country. He tends to favor this kind of thing when he feels insecure. And something made him insecure last week - that IMHO is why he used CW in E Ghouta. This dude literally jacks off to images of dead kids in the mother's arms.

The Assad+RU CW attack on E Ghouta may have been added as part of the backdrop, but the roots of this run much deeper. I suspect his was done because Grand Ayatollah Bolton* has been put into place in DC to start a war with Iran.

Given how much power Bolton now possesses - we are on our way to a mountain of corpses.

You may recall what I had said earlier about the Trump Admin -

Ladki mangali hain, lashon ke dher pey sey vida ho key jayegi...

( the Bride is cursed, the recessional will ford a mountain of corpses). 

(* that is another dude who I suspect belongs in the "Jacks off to images of dead children in their mother's arms" category).
(** Man, these guys are just a Putin-cock sucking machine. I don't know who believes this shit - I doubt even Putin believes them.)

Thursday, April 05, 2018

3 is greater than 0.

They say Aryabhatta invented "0" so it should be very easy for the "Out of India" crowd to follow.

Some people are criticizing the "Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia" study based on the fact that some of its conclusions about the composition of the Indus Valley Civilization are drawn on three human specimens found in the Shahr-e-Sokhta and Gonur.

Comments like this are pretty common

Again - this is absolute fact that there are only three specimens on which this study has been attempted. It is also fact that the specimens at Rakhigarhi are still under analysis. It is absolutely true that should new data emerge with comparable quality to what has been presented in this paper - the conclusions will have to revisited. 

But criticizing the hypothesis of the Genomic Formation paper based on "only 3" specimens is a bit absurd because

1) The entire "out of India" hypothesis is presented with exactly 0 genetic analysis specimens that support it. If people can buy that bullshit* without any supporting evidence of quality - then I don't see what the fuss about "only 3 specimens" is about. People are out there dating the Vedas to 12kya based on one vague statement about the proper motion of the constellation Pleiades or even vaguer testimony about a coincidence event in the celestial sphere. If that's okay - why are you complaining about only "3 specimens"?

2) It is incredibly hard to find specimens of that vintage. A buried human body decays in about a decade if buried under a six feet of ground. Absent a mummification, a permineralization, or an encapsulation (in a chemically inert oxygen and water+moisture barrier)  - nothing survives for more than a hundred years. It is a miracle any specimens were found at all and that there was enough DNA in there to be able to conduct a proper measurement.

3) It is almost impossible to find specimens of correct vintage where the geolocation is reliable and the stratigraphy matches radio-carbon dates. This is actually the most crucial technical point - even if a specimen is dug out of the ground, unless the stratigraphy and RC data match what is known about the location itself, there is no way to admit such a sample into the study. The presence of large error bars on either the stratigraphy or the RC data will render the conclusion unreliable. 

My point here is compact - real hard science is different from Bullshitology**.

* The "Out of India" idea is interesting - as are so many ideas of ancient civilization that flourished in the last interglacial period. But these are not testable per currently known precision measurement techniques. As you cannot put things that are verified by precision measurements on the same plane as things that are supported by less precise branches of study (like Linguistics, Astronomical dating etc...) on the same level - I prefer to call ideas which rely solely on such imprecise evidence as "bullshit". 

** Bullshitology - the art of framing bullshit (see above definition) in scientific sound terms so that less informed people are fooled into accepting conclusions as "scientific proven". Bullshitology relies heavily on the sub-disciplines of "Hiding-the-absence-of-error-bars" and "Making-random-connections-between-random-internet-information". The main aim of Bullshitology is to lobotomize the listener into a intellectual vegetable. It is an extremely successful discipline that has managed to make footfall in various other areas of social engineering - including myth-making. 

PS. The Vedas themselves represent an essentially timeless body of knowledge. They are source of information about society even if they can't be precisely geo-located or time stamped. Treating them as myths is more appropriate than trying to twist science to do your bidding. In the decades past,  proponents of White supremacy and colonialism tried similar nonsense with eugenics and that was also a fail. The Nazis already tried this shit with "Aryan Science", they even tried to appropriate and twist the works of the Theosophists and it produced a complete fail as Germany went. It's not surprising that Hindu Supremacists want to repeat that stuff, but sane people should not get sucked into this.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Sources of error in inferring time stamps from celestial coordinates

As indicated in the earlier post - there are errors in every measurement and when absolute accuracy is inaccessible - one has to use measurement precision as a substitute reliability metric.

There is a lot of people making claims about the "age of the Vedas" from random bits and pieces of information regarding positions of certain constellations ("nakshatras") in the celestial sphere.

There is a major problem with reading anything written in the Vedas. Firstly the Vedas are in an extinct language. Secondly the "Vedic information" we come across today is the by product of a complex compression ("Veda Sutra","Veda Sanhita"), translation/transliteration ("Upanishad", "Commentary on the Upanishad")  and transmission (oral/written) and re-expansion process ("Commentary on the Commentary on the Upanishad of the ....") .

At each step in that packaging process, errors will occur. This is a consequence of information entropy. It is next to impossible to estimate the error bounds on the "measurement" (or reading/sampling of this ancient and encoded information) .

This is the first source of error in the inference of time stamps from celestial coordinates. When comparing records of celestial coordinates - one has to decrypt ancient documents - a "measurement" which has no known error bounds on it.

After the record has been decrypted we can tabulate the position of a celestial object versus time. The table will look something like this (I have put in the numbers for Pleiades)

Time stamp(yrs)
Right Ascension
Declination (degrees)
03h 47m 24s
+24° 07′ 00″

This kind of table charts something called the "proper motion" of a celestial object. This appearance is somewhat deceptive as column on the right is actually a measure of the time the earth takes to go around the Sun. This is not a constant quantity - so the "time-stamp" itself has an error bar on it. The Right Ascension and Declination numbers are measured relative to the position of the Sun on the March Equinox. Over long enough timescales these equinoxes move relative to ground positions and the ground position of the observatory will change due to geophysical shifts - one can know these errors and determine bounds but only IF the system of error handling doesn't change over the period of observations

Any graph made with the above table (for example Time Stamp v/s RA & Declination) will have error bars along the X and Y axis. Using this knowledge, if we have enough data, we can fit star positions up to the earliest known observation*. The fit will have errors propagated from the basic measurements and you will be able to use that construct detailed images of what the sky would have looked like**. 

These pictures however will be approximations and the fits will only be reliable over the time period of observation. For predictions outside the range of known reliable observations, we will have to put in a confidence interval around the estimate of the time stamp. Typically the size of the error bars in the data will grow as we go further back in time, and so the estimate of the back-propagated time stamp will also have an extremely large confidence interval associated with it. 

A large confidence interval makes the prediction worthless. 

This is basically what happens when you say "but Rahu was in the Rohini Nakshatram so Vedas must atleasts 10,000 years old". There is no map (i.e. proper motion trajectory) of either Rahu or the Rohini constellation with known error bars, so fitting this data is tricky at best - and backpropagating that over >1kya produces absurdly large confidence intervals. 

It may be possible to parse the Vedic documents for a detailed record of various nakshatras and coincidence events (corrected for nomenclature shifts, observation point shifts and known sources observer error) and see how they line up with existing predictions (w sensible confidence intervals)  from the Hipparchus data, but that is a non-trivial exercise that will take up decades***. 

* The thing to note here is that we have very few reliable recorded observations of specific objects over long timescales. The only one currently estimated to be reliable is the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus which is estimated to be about 2.2kya.

** While you may not have enough data points for a single object, you may have enough total objects tracked and a PCA type approach will yield fit parameters with acceptable error-bars. 

*** Why the Hindus-uber-allez types don't want to fund such research is obvious. They are too afraid that the conclusion of such a study will run contrary to their narrative of about the Vedas being way older. 

Errors v/s Error bars

A lot of people confuse errors with error bars.

Every measurement has sources of error in it. Another way to say this is that there is no such thing as a perfect measurement. There are two main types of error - random error (which includes errors made by the observer) and systematic errors (which are the by product of unknowable or poorly captured physics in the system of measurement).

The existence of errors in each measurement has two main consequences

1) Accuracy (how close the real value of a physical quantity the measurement is) is not a naturally available quantity in every measurement - so it has to be carefully redefined in terms of precision (how repeatable the measurement of the same physical quantity is).

2) Unless the error of the measurement is bounded (i.e. does not exceed/fall below a certain amount) - a discussion of the precision of the measurement becomes impossible.

Error bars typically report the bounds of the measurement. It is impossible to compare quantities that do not have error bars because you don't know what will happen if you measure the same thing again. The first measurement could be an accident or an experimental artifact - and unless you have a sense of what the error bars on the measurement are, you can't make any statements about the reliability of that one number you have just captured.

There are well developed techniques that allow a user to estimate the bounds on the random error in a measurement. These are often taught in high school and undergrad level sciences classes. There are more complex ways of accounting for the systematic errors - but that is a very advanced topic typically only taught to graduate students who work in measurement heavy disciplines like experimental physics and extremely high end instrumentation engineering. This is an unfortunate aspect of modern science education. Most scientists figure out the way to handle systematic errors on the job and often at cost to their careers. I wish it weren't like this and that everyone was put on the same level playing field w.r.t systematic error related education - but this is a very difficult topic to teach.

That said - in the world of professional scientists - measurements are often presented with implicit error bars. A common theme is to neglect the lower bound on the error bar as it is usually set by the instrument of measurement and only report the upper bounds. This works as long as you are communicating with your scientific peer group. Communicating outside it can be challenging if you don't discuss the error bars in detail. 

Communicating such matters with lay audiences is even more challenging.

Ordinary civilians associate error with blanket unreliability. They do not understand the key difference between bounded v/s unbounded error in measurements. The extent of understanding depends on the actual level of mental competency and agility accrued during education. There mere existence of a HS or College degree is no guarantee that they will understand what you are saying. 

A significantly adverse consequence of this kind of problem is in mass communication of healthcare related information. You can see this when you compare the number of idiotic comparisons between allopathic clinical information (which has well established scientific error bars) and homeopathic/traditional medical information (which is presented as fact without error bars). Peopl put these two things on the same footing. It is stupid and causes a major problem with public health issues especially in pandemic prone areas of the world.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Measuring time over long intervals

In this century we have been fortunate to find ways of measuring time over extremely small intervals, but we still are still lacking when it comes to measuring time over large intervals.

A common tool used by calendar makers across many civilization appears to be to use astronomical  precession cycles. The solar and lunar calendars are based on such ideas. These make sense as both bodies are unambiguously identifiable in the sky without the use of telescopes and their precession periods are small enough to be cross calibrated to earth based time keeping measures.  Even relatively crude systems like candles and water clocks can be built to keep a pace with the path of the sun through the sky.

Yet even these simple clocks (based on the Sun and the Moon) are not ideal for long time keeping. This is because the Earth's path around the Sun (and the Moon's path around the Earth) are not perfectly stable orbits and over time they undergo shifts due to the gravitational influences of nearby planets like Jupiter and Saturn. These perturbations are non-trivial over long timescales and any calendar we make using just the Sun and the Moon needs to be updated every 4 or so years.

We can use other stars and planets but we are exposing ourselves to several sources of error.

The further away the astronomical object, the harder it is to observe reliably. Some objects like constellations are relatively easier to identify in the sky, the time periods associated with their travel in the sky are large and the exact path across the sky is deeply correlated with the precession of the Earth's axis.

There are two components to the earth's precession axis and if you don't correct for both - you can assign the wrong time stamp to things.  Also if you aren't careful about your accounting - because these the typical approach is to look for coincidence or intersection of paths - you can have errors that propagate down the computation.

I am talking about things like this
Again this is nothing new - as real timekeepers go - this is all part of the job description. 

Calendar makers will refuse to make a calendar that doesn't have a run out date. It is physically impossible to make a calendar that is infinitely valid. At some point - the errors in your calculation propagate to the point where the prediction of the timestamp is worthless. (hint hint!! - that is why the Maya calendar runs out at a particular date). 

Archaeologists, geologists and historians - typically refrain from using stellar precession records as part of a dating scheme. The rationale behind this is very solid - the languages in which these records are made are difficult to interpret with certainty and little to nothing is known about the details of the coincidence events. Most of those events 

So these folks work with more definite chronological measures [1]. 

I agree this method is not always in agreement with myths which tend to take on a kind of timelessness but it is the only method that gives consistent and reproducible results. 

That may not sound like what people want to hear - but that is the only way science works. If you can't get consistent/reproducible results - you have nothing. 

Monday, April 02, 2018

Bullying the bully

A school yard bully's entire calculation rests on the other kid not standing up to him.

If the kid doesn't submit to the bullying - the bully is SOL.

If the kid then bullies the bully - the bully is fucked.

That is what has happened to Trump.

He thought he could continue to shoot his mouth off and all the idiots he had at his beck and call at CNBCs squawk desk would keep parroting the line that "China is too weak to respond".

Well.. China responded - with 126 sanctions on US imports from states the voted for Trump.

I don't think this train will slide very far - but Trump is stuck high up on the escalation ladder with the states that voted for him racking up the economic costs.

I suppose Trump could have taken a hint from

a) The fact that the French threatened GWB with the same thing when he tried to get pushy with them for not supporting the Iraq invasion. Today the Trumpers are all constantly trying to point out that they "were against the Iraq invasion" - but I am old enough to recall which exact folks were talking about renaming "French Fries" as "Freedom Fries". (Hint - its the same exact people as the Trumpers of today).

b) The fact that the MSS picked up the Anbang chairman and told Kushner to forget about getting money for his failed property deals.

But why learn from history when you can repeat it?

Why bother learning anything when you can just fake news with Sean Hannity?

So where does this leave us

A) The tariffs are not as bad as the sore on Trump's ego. That is going to fuel a hostility all its own. I mean come on - for a guy who exudes manliness out of every pore - he looks Xi Jinping's bitch now. He's not going to like being owned like that. (*)
B) The mercantile or commercial banks which supply the ultra large capacity shipping companies (like Hanjin) with operating capital are now at risk of facing defaults. This is going to make lending to them toxic (No one in their right minds will be willing to dole out capital to large volume shipping when there is such a high risk of a major trade war breaking out).
C) The overt engagement of DPRK by the Chinese shows that China is far from out of options even if Trump escalates.

(*) - whatever the fuck that was with Mexico last week - yeah lets see how that plays out. A Chinese Tariff and a collapse of NAFTA should guarantee a famine in the Midwest - but who knows maybe Trump will shit out cake from his ass and his voters can eat that instead of bread.

The Dow will wobble in a completely reasonable fashion, as realization of the toxicity and subsequent exposure to mercantile/commercial debt in the shipping sector becomes known in detail.