Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Novichok Spa Treatment

Over the past century chemical warfare has devolved from a strategically useless but technically effective way of ruin lots of people’s health to a politically potent but technically ineffectual way to play political games over alleged (but generally unproven) chemical weapons use. And this year even the political games have devolved into something rather worse than useless.  

You may or may not be a huge fan of poisoning lots of people but, let’s face it, chemical warfare has definitely fallen out of fashion. During World War I casualties from chemical attacks numbered somewhere around half a million. During World War II over a million people were killed using Zyklon B. Later, in 1988, Saddam Hussein’s forces used chemical weapons  (which were provided by the Americans) against the Kurds at Halabja, killing as many as 5000 of them and injuring perhaps twice as many. But since then alleged uses of chemical weapons have been largely political.

An example is the 2018 chemical warfare attack in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, which netted fewer than a hundred casualties and was highly likely (applying a contemporary Western standard of proof) a Western provocation against the Syrian government. To wit, the number of fake chemical attacks in Syria went down to zero immediately upon the death (be it murder or suicide) of James Le Mesurier, head of the fake humanitarian organization White Helmets. It was as if someone flipped a light switch!

The last two instances of alleged chemical attacks against individuals—Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK in 2018, and the Russian opposition blogger Sergei Navalny in 2020—killed zero people. The link between the two cases is the alleged use of a fabled Russian (though actually Soviet) battlefield chemical weapon Novichok, and it is rather tentative because no evidence of it has ever been presented to the public. Until proven otherwise, it would be wise to assume that the shenanigans around Novichok are as real as the late Le Mesurier’s antics in Syria.

The intended use of Novichok is to instantly kill everyone around. Since in neither instance did this happen, we are forced to consider whether someone had bothered to contrive a way to deliver Novichok in nonlethal, minuscule yet readily detectable doses. It is doubtful that this is physically possible; Novichok is an unstable gas that results from mixing two stable ingredients by detonating an artillery shell or a missile. And then there is another question worth pondering: Given all the perfectly reasonable and reliable ways to kill a person, why on Earth would anyone even bother to do that? Since no answer to this question is forthcoming, we should assume that Novichok is of the same nature as mythical creatures contrived to frighten little children into behaving.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Harder, Faster, Deeper!

’Tis the presidential election season in the US and so I feel the urge to write a token article about it. I generally try to stay off this topic because the US is not a democracy and it doesn’t matter who is president. Gilens and Page proved this in their landmark 2014study, sparing me the need to reargue the case here.

At this point certain people like to object that this is as it should be because the US is a republic, not a democracy. But then why bother with elections? For those who are keen on democracy, I would suggest that they study North Korea; theirs is a “democratic people’s republic.” Fixing the democracy problem would be required to earn a passing grade while making it a people’s republic (instead of an oligarchic republic as it is now) would be for extra credit.

I have been on hand to watch a long parade of presidential stooges, starting with “dim bulb” Ford and all the way to Trump, whose nicknames have ranged from “orange man” to “shit-gibbon.” Though this has been a waste of my time, perhaps I can be useful in putting your mind at ease. A lot of people are currently becoming overwrought over what is a quintessentially meaningless contest and I want to do what I can to lower their blood pressure and cortisol levels and allow them to live longer, happier, healthier lives.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Interview on Radio Voice America


Welcome back to Turning Hard Times into Good Times. I’m your host Jay Taylor. I’m really pleased to have with me once again Dmitry Orlov.

Dmitry was born and grew up in Leningrad, but has lived in the United States. He moved here in the mid-seventies. He has since gone back to Russia, where he is living now.

But Dmitry was an eyewitness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland between the eighties and mid-nineties. He is an engineer who has contributed to fields as diverse as high-energy Physics and Internet Security, as well as a leading Peak Oil theorist. He is the author of Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects (2008) and The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors' Toolkit (2013).

Welcome, Dmitry, and thank you so much for joining us again.

A: Great to be on your program again, Jay.

Q: It’s really good to hear your voice. I know we had you on [the program] back in 2014. It’s been a long time—way too long, as far as I’m concerned. In that discussion we talked about the five stages of collapse that you observed in the fall of the USSR. Could you review them really quickly, and compare them to what you are seeing, what you have witnessed and observed in the United States as you lived here, and of course in your post now in Russia.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Taxi Drivers Know Everything

It so happened that yesterday I was coming home in a taxi. The taxi driver, who looked like Bill Murray, turned out to be very talkative: during the trip, as often happens, we touched on all subjects, from the weather to blondes behind the wheel.

At some point, as background noise, there was some news read out on the radio. After the segment about the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, NordStream 2 and possible EU sanctions the taxi driver shook his head and said thoughtfully: “Yeah, mommy is stuck…”

“What mommy?” I inquired.

“What mommy?” asked the taxi driver. “That same one, Angela Merkel. You know why Navalny was surrendered to Germany? Let me explain.” And then, for a quarter of an hour, the taxi driver presented a coherent theory of what happened, worthy of study at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which answered all the questions that had been bothering me.

This is how it all came down.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

The Novichok Comedy Hour

Perhaps you’ve already heard the story; if not, here is the synopsis.

The Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had the leading Russian opposition candidate and Putin’s nemesis Alexei Navalny poisoned with an internationally banned battlefield chemical weapon Novichok. Navalny went into a coma and was airlifted in a German military jet to the Charité medical center in Germany, where German military medical experts found traces of Novichok on his body. For this heinous deed the collective West is regrouping and getting ready to impose more sanctions on Russia, perhaps preventing it from completing the NordStream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic, which would make Europe even more dependent on its natural gas instead of buying cheap and plentiful liquified natural gas from the US.

If reading the above has not insulted your intelligence, then, before you can feel properly insulted, there is quite a steep learning curve for you to climb, but I will do my best to help you surmount it. And if you do feel insulted, then the question is, Just how insulted are you? Because the amount of disdain, condescension, arrogance, indifference and sheer sneering contempt shown toward you by those who are pushing this fake narrative is so extreme that only one psychologically healthy response to it is possible; which is, to laugh at it—at all of it in its entirety, and then at all the individual pieces of it, each of which is funny on its own as a paragon of misguided, delusional stupidity.

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