To Depart

WeChat Image_20180109180746

Here are a few photos of Panama City, with the cell phone and touched up.

Tomorrow I fly to Cartagena, Colombia, for five days or forever. I might stay there or not. I have a few other irons in the fire.

Either way I’m following the omen I saw on a Chinese guy’s shirt at the airport:

“Go Somewhere New” (cities, not necessarily countries).

WeChat Image_20180109180753

WeChat Image_20180109180736

Jose Lindo, the bike maintainer. This was the bike I rode from Los Angeles.

WeChat Image_20180109180729

WeChat Image_20180109180832

WeChat Image_20180109180707

 

Big Picture

58bde4d04dd811ac69bc4b2bce13cf18

Yahoo in Spanish is trying to push this photo as the real thing. It looks very cartoony, very CGI. And there is absolutely no indication of the “oblate spheroid” idea. As I’ve said before, the globe earth model falls apart because 1) there is missing curvature everywhere; 2) the night sky is not chaotic and 3) NASA lies about everything.

However, the flat earth model cannot explain the vertical plunge of the sun over the horizon at the equator. Nor can the flat earth explain why we cannot see the sun at all times, however distant. The only way the flat earth model works is if the sun is not a physical object and is, instead, being projected or rendered, allowing for multiple and layered perspectives depending on distance.

The more accurate model may be the Matrix model, based on the movie trilogy that contains more truth than all holy books combined, I think. This model allows for the code that holds our universe together to peter out at the margins, and perhaps even links physicality to consciousness: so no, a tree falling in the woods with no one around might not make a noise.There might not even be a tree. At least that is the idea for reality beyond the Ice Wall.

The first episode of the fourth season of Black Mirror is fascinating. It seems like a spoof of Star Trek, but there is much more going on.

The USS Callister becomes a metaphor for this world: that it is a bubble existence constructed with layers of code, and that there is no “god” in the benevolent sense of the word but rather a psychopathic “coder.” Of course, it could also be that the creator was hacked, and that we are living within the hack.

In the show, the crew stage a kind of well-justified mutiny, discovering that they are just avatars being tortured and manipulated for the amusement of the coder.

I still have not figured out the “Big Picture” although that is my ultimate aim. But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the coder of our world – the “hacker” to be more precise – is indeed a psychopathic and jealous sadist, reincarnating good people into insects and so forth (as depicted in the show).

Let us assume that this hacker is doing everything possible to suppress human potential, and to poison the future. What, if anything, is to be done? Can technology overcome this tyranny? Or do we have the power within our own DNA, within our own code, to pop the bubble and break free?

Roundabout Endorsement

low-carb-foods-1296x728

CNN just slammed the “ketogenic” diet, which I take as an endorsement.

The way CNN critiqued it is by depicting its most extreme version, in which people reduce carbs to next to nothing. Of course, that’s not smart.

In reality the keto diet is probably the best and healthiest one, especially if beef and pork are discarded.

CNN is mainstream news, which would defend the mainstream diet at myplate.gov and other absurdities.

The standard, mainstream American diet (and in the West) includes grains as the most important element: the base of the pyramid. Bread, pasta, cereal – all of which spike insulin and represent among the worst things you can put into your mouth. All of that is a recent invention, by the way (the paleos are right on that score) and yet mainstream media and nutritionists tout grains as vital to health.

CNN listed the Mediterranean diet as the best, which is certainly better than fast-food eating, but which is still not ideal. Just visit Spain, Italy, and Greece to witness obesity and the decline of health in middle age. This is not the optimal diet.

In a “Keto 2.0″ or Keto Lite” diet, absolutely no change needs to be made other than discarding, or greatly avoiding, grains and their processed products. That alone will allow the body to burn fat and run at a higher level of energy.

The only downside of Keto is is someone pushes the concept to the extreme (as some people do). There is no need to become a food jihadist. Still, the broad concepts of Keto, its basic arguments, remain the best.

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/04/health/keto-worst-diet-2018/index.html

 

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/04/health/keto-worst-diet-2018/index.html

Global Propaganda Complex

netflix-tools-670x335

Netflix falls so neatly into the usual mythology that there must be something more going on here. Netflix, I am convinced, is just another shell organization, a front organization that straddles corporate and intelligence structures. Netflix is in 190 countries, almost as many as are registered in the UN’s General Assembly (193).

Predictably, the corporate founding myth is this: One dude gets pissed off about being fined 40 bucks by Blockbuster for a late DVD return of Apollo 13. So he approaches his friend. The two dudes launch a DVD rent-by-mail business.

Ah, yes, the “California garage” meme that we saw in Apple, ran by front-man Steve Jobs. This is a West Coast version of the “dorm room” meme that sees the birth of another front-man organization, Facebook.

So in a few short years Netflix has outpaced all entertainment companies to produce 126 original series and countless other comedy specials, sports documentaries, etc… Many of these original series are complex and expensive productions, involving costly actors.

There is is no way Netflix can pull off being a profitable company or even one that is commercially viable. And so its official, declared long-term debt is 21.9 billion. That’s a huge sum, larger than the national GDP of many countries. And this debt is going up, not down. Netflix can still secure loans… Yes, because it’s not really a normal company.

Netflix advances global consumerism, materialism, and narcissism. Netflix reinforces the prevailing scientific paradigms about how the world supposedly works, recycling NASA-tard ideas. Netflix provides plenty of predictive programming about how technology will continue to move in a trans-humanist direction.

The political thrillers on Netflix (there are many) throw a few bones to conspiracy theorists, but they ultimately portray Washington as a bastion of “freedom and democracy” that still manifests the ideals of the early republic.

In conclusion, Netflix is more of an off-books operation, ultimately unaccountable to the financial and economic “laws” that supposedly govern.

Panama Extradites

Mexico's former Quintana Roo state Gov. Roberto Borge, center, is escorted to a waiting plane in Panama City, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Panama extradited the fugitive Mexican ex-governor wanted on corruption charges after holding him in custody for more than six months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Mexico’s former Quintana Roo state Gov. Roberto Borge, center, is escorted to a waiting plane in Panama City, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Panama extradited the fugitive Mexican ex-governor wanted on corruption charges after holding him in custody for more than six months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

The best photos are from AP and published by the daily mail (linked below).

The past has caught up to Mr. Borge… Apparently to extradite someone requires a small army of security, attorneys on both sides, officers of the law, doctors and nurses, etcetera. There are 21 people surrounding Mr. Borge.

Below, the “extradited face” of Mr. Borge. When are people going to learn? Not only to avoid temptation but also to avoid running to countries that are happy to extradite. Besides, Mr. Borge could have lived like a sultan anonymously in Mexico City with a fake IFE card. These guys, they have no imagination.

In this photo released by the Panama Foreign Ministry, Mexico's former Quintana Roo state Gov. Roberto Borge looks over his shoulder as he is escorted onto a Mexican plane in Panama City, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Panama extradited the fugitive Mexican ex-governor wanted on corruption charges after holding him in custody for more than six months. (Efren Giron/Panama Foreign Ministry via AP)

In this photo released by the Panama Foreign Ministry, Mexico’s former Quintana Roo state Gov. Roberto Borge looks over his shoulder as he is escorted onto a Mexican plane in Panama City, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Panama extradited the fugitive Mexican ex-governor wanted on corruption charges after holding him in custody for more than six months. (Efren Giron/Panama Foreign Ministry via AP)

The media has a long history of producing and reproducing the memes of “the mug shot” and in recent decades, “the perp walk.” It’s time to add “the extradition moment” to this menu.

Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-5236731/Panama-extradites-Mexican-ex-governor-accused-corruption.html

The Munchies Factor

images lays-classic

If I were a hedge fund guy, I would buy and sell stocks of junk food – particularly potato chips – according to the winds of change regarding federal policy towards marijuana. When the feds crack down, junk food sales probably fall, Freakanomics style. That would be the logic. In the real world, federal policy on marijuana probably does not matter; few people take it seriously.

Amazingly, the Trump administration is still running around – Reefer Madness style – thinking that marijuana is a “drug” of some kind. It’s just a plant, not even remotely comparable to the power and toxicity of real drugs like crystal meth and heroin.

I see drugs as sitting on a spectrum. On the left side are caffeine and marijuana, which exist naturally, and on the right side the artificial, synthetic concoctions that cause real harm.

The weed charge is being led my Jeff Sessions, who may have drank too much Alabama moonshine growing up, especially the discount version distilled in old car radiators. That’s one theory to explain his flawed thinking: the idea that marijuana belongs in the same category as heroin.

There is something about adolescence that compels people to push the boundaries of convention. That’s why the legalization of marijuana actually leads to a fall in adolescent use of that weed.

Too much marijuana usage leads to couch potato syndrome, not crime. It’s probably not the healthiest thing to do. It’s smoking, after all. But if someone has glaucoma or cancer or an auto-immune disease, they should smoke a lot of weed.

The larger tragedy is that the federal government is about to waste time and resources on marijuana prosecutions. This continues the Nixonian legacy of Reefer Madness and the criminalization of personal behavior.

Perhaps the prison population is beginning to fall. That cannot happen in a hedge fund driven political system (with many prisons being private corporations). That would explain the new war on marijuana.

The only real supporters of a federal crackdown – besides the prison-industrial complex – are Blood-and-Soil christians, old testament authoritarians, and other boot-on-the-face right wingers.

This news item is a reminder that the Trump administration is a parody.

You either get the joke, or you do not.

 

 

Demographic Tides

central_america_map_855

For decades, Panama received Colombian immigrants because of the guerrilla war and ongoing narco-related crime.

Of course, some Colombians do not consider this as migration in the full sense of the word because Panama was originally a province of Colombia. Colombia’s terms for the construction of a US canal were tough, and so the US convinced locals in Panama to start their own country (the first “color revolution” of the 20th century?). That’s why Teddy Roosevelt said of the Canal Zone that “we stole it fair and square.”

Colombian immigration has fallen off, I think, now that Colombia is safer and growing economically.

Venezuelan elites have arrived instead, trying to protect their assets and lifestyle here in Panama. They have concentrated into elite neighborhoods like Costa de Este, a new high-rise development south of the airport on the beach. (But the beach here is pretty filthy because this city is a working port). Still, its a ritzy neighborhood with sushi, yoga, and all that jazz.

Venezuelan elites were the first wave. It seems that quite a few poorer Venezuelans have also arrived and work at whatever jobs they can find. Unlike the elites, this is not a family move; they usually arrived singly.

American “gringos” and Canadians are common in Panama, but not much more so than five years ago. Newly retired people are tending to go to Costa Rica, which has better beaches, and Ecuador, which is a lot cheaper than Panama.

I like Panama City, but this has the feel of a working port combined with a shopping mall. The only picturesque area is the Casco Viejo, the colonial Spanish section. Panama City is a place for business and banking. It’s a shoppers paradise for those thus inclined. It’s also a medical mecca for Latin Americans.

Panama City’s airport has outstanding international coverage, reaching many cities in the US and Canada, Europe, and of course perhaps the best Latin American coverage of any airport. It’s the Dubai effect – but this does not necessarily attract a lot of expats or retired people – some, but not as many as one might expect.

It is what it is.

Panama

WeChat Image_20180103181607

I arrived here after three years away and not much has changed. Everything is just as it was before, stubbornly so.

Long time readers might remember that I left when I was two, when my family was forced out during the ’64 uprising. I returned here in 2006, when I earned retroactive citizenship after the Canal Zone handover. Thereafter I cam here every year or two (until this last time). I stay in the same hotel, eat the same food at the same places, with the same waiters and waitresses, and run the same android loops.

This city changed most dramatically from 2009 – 2014. Now its Matrix is stable.

I was unaware that previous president Martinelli is now in a Florida prison, Noriega style. Panama wants to try him for illegal espionage and money laundering and whatever else they can pin on him, but the US wants him in Miami. Canada is rumored to have an indictment as well.

Martinelli’s mistake was leaving Europe to return to his Florida property to live like a sultan. Had he gone to Brazil or Cuba, none of this would be happening.

A few people commented to me that Martinelli did more for Panama than any other local president in recent memory – but also that he stole more than the others.

Martinelli’s wife is running a supermarket chain in Panama? But his two sons are on the run? I will look into these rumors.

WeChat Image_20180103181619

On the List

el-morro-mexico-11

If anyone has Mexico City on the bucket list, it is also important to put “El Moro” on that same list. After all, it’s on the list of Bon Appetit’s 100 most important food experiences in the world. Or something like that.

The place is a holiday tradition. They pretty much serve only two items. First, they serve churros, shown below, deep fried and then rolled in a sugar-cinnamon mix. It’s a good break from a baseline healthy diet.

el-moro

Second, this place serves hot chocolate. But it is the Mecca of hot chocolate. People forget chocolate is an Aztec word. The stuff is indigenous to Mexico and brought back to Europe by the Spanish. Europeans from Belgium to Switzerland then launched their imitations.

images

El Moro serves several kinds, each with a different flavor, each slowly cooked up on a giant stove top by people who have worked here for decades. The four varieties of hot chocolate are Mexican, Spanish, French, and Swiss.

El Moro has been open every day since the Revolution, and usually 24 hours a day. I’m telling you, no one does chocolate better.

I took good photographs. While I figured out my over-exposure problem with the D300, I still have not figured out how to transfer photos to my laptop. It’s a different system than the D90.

Meantime, I went to the camera district and purchased, for just 100 dollars equivalent in pesos, a Pentax K1000 from the late 1970s – which I once had when I was a teenager. I also got black and white film and will eventually outfit a working darkroom once again.

WeChat Image_20180102144947

I will post tomorrow evening, after flying from Mexico City to Panama City.

Revisionist History

p04wypvw

The BBC published an article entitled “The Invention of Heterosexuality,” linked below, and it takes its argument too far. Its argument is that heterosexuality is a social construction.

Here is a quote:

“But heterosexuality has not always “just been there.” And there’s no reason to imagine it will always be.”

Of course, society and academics have attached certain meanings to the term “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” and developed multiple classifications, but the article attempts to shift the more enduring dichotomy of “male” and “female” to “procreative” and “non-procreative.”

This is another quote from the article:

“The line between heterosexuality and homosexuality isn’t just blurry, as some take Kinsey’s research to imply – it’s an invention, a myth, and an outdated one. Men and women will continue to have different-genital sex with each other until the human species is no more. But heterosexuality – as a social marker, as a way of life, as an identity – may well die out long before then.”

I’m not convinced by this argument. While the line between heterosexuality and homosexuality may be blurrier than many assume, these are still fundamentally distinct realms of sexual orientation. The article depicts heterosexuality as a complete invention, even as a fabrication, arising during the Industrial Revolution presumably.

Granted, in a modern, secular, and free society, people should have the right to live how they wish, without discrimination. In fact, the individual right to their own sexual life (among consenting adults, that is) is a natural right and should be defended. (One of the 101 reasons I am opposed to Christianity, in fact, along with the other Abrahamic curses, is because it violates individual sovereignty, and natural law, by dictating sexual behavior even among consenting adults).

However, this article seems to be part of an ideological and intellectual war on heterosexuality…

In reality, it is impossible to entirely separate heterosexual desire from the reproduction of the species. It remains true that probably about 75 – 80% of the population in any society (with a margin of overlap) has heterosexual desires: mentally, emotionally, and physically.

These desires are hard-wired into human genetics. Indeed, the article ignores the strong evidence for the genetic, biological factors influencing sexual orientation. Basically, the article is an example of post-modernism on steroids: absolutely everything is a social construction.

The article makes it seem that time and circumstance simply created the conditions whereby people were socialized into heterosexuality. The article presents heterosexuality as an economic, political, social and cultural accident.

I’m not convinced. The reproduction of mammals is organized along the complementary and binary forms “male” and “female.”

In summary, the article represents a small but significant attack on the human species in general, trying to wear away one of the basic realities that allows for survival and reproduction.

 

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170315-the-invention-of-heterosexuality