Punishing Putin’s Russia – the current oil crisis

I like some weird theories that highlight the roots of the current global crisis.

First, the current problems started with the resurgence of the American New Right (Project for New American Century a.k.a. the NeoCons), with their desire of returning US to global dominance and the understanding that it must be achieved through the control of global oil and direct American military involvement. Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and other oil-focused conflicts are a direct result of that policy – oil masked as “democracy”.

Second, the NeoCon agenda requires the defeating of rising superpower alternatives (US competitors), primarily China, Russia and EU. The EU has been challenged successfully and is currently being flooded by middle-eastern migrants from a region, which was stable prior to the involvement of US policy and the resulting negative consequences of “Arab spring”, which became not a drive towards freeing-up the Arab citizens and instead, becoming the source of destabilisation in many countries and resulting emigration (not “migration” as some would like to make us believe).

Third, The Russian crisis, started by themselves in Crimea, followed by Ukraine and the Malaysian airliner (shot down over Donbas) and now culminating in Russia’s involvement in Syria. The Russian resurgence to regional (not yet global) dominance has created a Western need for Russia to be punished and its leadership embarrassed until it loses the elections. As a primary resource producer, Russia’s budget is oil and gas dependent, so hitting its primary budgetary revenues will bring the country to its knees – no one can be a hero with empty bank coffers. This is not the first time – a few years ago Russia had major ambitions, and then the oil collapsed by half and the Russians went quiet. So, people know that Russia can be pushed into submission through the virtual “global markets”, which independently set the world commodity prices and Russia as a primary resource producer (seller) is required to accept externally imposed prices or… sell no oil. These international markets for money/commodities are:
– Virtual and distributed;
– Controlled by Western power (people and organisations);
– Un-destroyable with Putin’s bombers and navy (how can you bomb a distributed computer network?).

How is this “punishment of Russia” done?
ISIS and Syria are a threat to the Middle East, including the US-friendly oil states, which are dependent on continued US protection and military presence. Syria is close by and ISIS is occupying huge territories across previous “national borders”. The US makes a phone call to Saudi Arabia along the lines of “want protection from ISIS and Syria fall-out, then increase your oil production to lower world oil prices to hit Russia, which has no financial reserves”. Oversupply on world markets assures low price of oil and thus low revenues for oil-producing states. The Arabs, undoubtedly squirmed initially before their (UK educated) analysts understood the additional consequences (benefits to the Saudis):
– Low prices pose a challenge to the emerging Iranian production, whose economy and infrastructure is starved of investments, and low prices make it less economically viable (this price war is also a religious war between the two Gulf states);
– Low prices challenge other producers, most of whom have to exert massive efforts to produce “their” oil (bottom of oceans, deep drilling inland, etc.) – this means UK for example with its fixed 30 USD per barrel production costs deep underneath the North Sea;
– Low prices challenge the underdeveloped oil producers for whom oil is the main source of foreign currency (e.g. post-soviet states which are trying to establish themselves as independent states);
– Low prices challenge even internal US oil producers and, especially, US natural gas producers, who have to undertake sizeable expenses (in research and drilling) before gas flows from frakked rock layers 2000 metres underground.

As a sensible country, the Saudis have not spent all of their oil money on stupid megalomanian projects, so they should be able to survive longer than their competitors, especially post-Soviet oil-dependent states with simple economies, no secondary or tertiary industries. Simarly hurt will be the African and Central/South American oil producers.
All that is needed for the world to undergo a massive economic/oil earthquake is for oil to stay at 35USD per barrel for 2016 and most of 2017. Even 50USD will challenge many national budgets, which grew fat and lazy on 85 USD or more per barrel.

We are seeing a major global power play in action – the glut will lead to economic collapses or such major problems that current Saudi competitors will take many years to recover after the prices improve. What we see is a game of “who can withstand the pressure longer”. Of course, citizens and non-oil economics will suffer, but who cares about that?

Economic Miracle of Christmas (revisited)

Note: the original post was written in 2009, but then got corrupted in a server crash

Everyone receives Xmas promotional brochures from chain stores, local shops, big retail units, filled with hundreds of “unique” and “one-time”offers without which a citizen of the developed world cannot exist, be happy, provide others with happiness. We are indoctrinated to buy these products for ourselves, kids, family and friends, as if Christmas was measured through the value (not usefulness) of a particular paper-wrapped box, bottle or piece of cloth. As a result Christmas is going the way of modern weddings, where couples make their wishes known to (no, not the family) a retail outlet that compiles the “wedding gift list” so that wedding-goers can contribute to a perfect beginning by buying what the couple most needs: 17 spoons, 12 forks (5 were bought by Aunty M who could only afford five) and a soup bowl. No more finding 5 irons and 7 toasters – everything is organised to maxismise the effectiveness of every cent, kopeyka!

I wonder whether this new Christmas paradigm is a result of capitalism’s persistent strength (backed by the consumerist ideology) or the collapse of religion and the social nature of “holidays” that stem from the destruction of interpersonal bonds. Christmas without gifts, or with a single/simple one per person, is much different to the orgasmic (but short-lived) shopping frenzy and gift-unwrapping craze, that occur these days around millions of cut-down trees that begin their death many days before Dec 24th and keep-on-dying as we “celebrate” a miracle with immense quantities of food, alcohol and destroy our minds with crappy TV that keeps showing useless shows to the brainwashed and over-fed popluation of the mindless?
The extremes are fascinating – celebration of life with dead trees, piety with copious amounts of food, modesty through spending thousands on gifts, humility through the arrogance of buying people gifts they don’t need. We have found a way to run away from the much needed “period of family bonding” and turned into an ultimate capitalist fake: showing our “love” through junk, finding every opportunity to escape deep and meaningful conversations, learning about each other, strenghtening inter family bonds, helping and supporting those in need.

Admittedly, the next event will be less product oriented as no one has invented too many justifications for product purchasing on New Year’s Eve, but within a month and a half (Feb 14th) we will all rush out to show our love in the most Capitalistic of ways: by buying “red stuff”, “sexy stuff”, “love stuff”. Maybe, it is our fault, as we have fogotten what a true human-human bond is like, and now we seek to cover-up our incompetencies by flooding those close to us with useless gifts? Afterall, it is much easier to give a car to a kid once a year than to show love, compassion and attention (often in the greatest deficit) every day for 365 in a row? Somewhere, some time ago, we’ve been taught that a single gift can make up months of neglect or even evil. Should we blame it on the corporations, pushing forth their culture and ideologuy of consumerist happiness or should we look deep within ourselves and root out OUR weaknesses that misguide us into buying…things?

The future of ISIS (short and bloody)

France’s response to the Paris massacre should be defined as lukewarm at best. Several fighter-bombers dropped some ordnance on a few locations, where the ISIS idiots have been sheltering. France is now placing a lot of importance on “returning to life as usual” as a major form of resisting ISIS. Is this because the Christmas shopping period is coming up? Where is the big punch, the overwhelming response, the shock&awe?

While “boots on the ground” are now unrealistic and would provide ISIS fighters with an opportunity to fulfil their greatest desire of fighting the American devils on middle-eastern soil, the world does have other response mechanisms. Ones that would provide the crazy extremists with what they desire – death (their own). And, lots of it.

Question 1: Where is Curtis LeMay, when you need a crazy general from Strategic Air Command, quoted as: “I’ll tell you what war is about, you’ve got to kill people, and when you’ve killed enough they stop fighting.” Simple. It cannot be 20 aircraft bombing some targets on a large territory. The challenge is to undertake a sustained, effective and overwhelming campaign, which will prevent ISIS from renewing its resource base. Ergo: destroy their assets faster than they can replenish them. This requires a coalition effort or just an angry US with 2 aircraft carriers in the region and some strategic bombers flying long-range missions (are they still based in UK?).

airborne death

Question 2 (resulting from the above): Don’t you think that Saddam is now vindicated in his strategies? Remember when US invaded Iraq and Saddam started burning oil fields? A cool strategy of “denial”, that will work against ISIS as well, seeing that the terrorists are earning an estimated 50 million USD per week from sales of oil. That in turn means that they have unlimited money for buying weapons, equipment, food, etc. Did you notice that the Toyota pickups they always use, have been getting newer and better? Who is the Toyota dealer for Iraq?

and we worry about car pollution

Question 3: Where is SOCOM when you really need them? US special Operations Command has proven itself as a hyper-effective tool for the elimination of Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so why not shift their efforts and capabilities to a new target? In all types of ideological movements, the secret to their defeat is to attack the leadership – those who put stupid ideas into heads of idiots and then tell those frenzied idiots to go and do crazy shit. So, as SOCOM already did in Afghanistan, you go after the ISIS leadership with surgical drone strikes and targeted assassinations. As an illegitimate non-state pretentious wannabe, ISIS leadership are not state leaders, so they will not find protection under international law. Good. Their morning coffee and cigarette on a balcony will now be done with a though that a drone could be just over the horizon.

cool badges on their arms

Question 4: will Anonymous help the various governments by providing vital digital data about ISIS’s online operations. This cooperating would be unprecedented and, undoubtedly, short-lived as the hackers and Western governments have only ISIS in common. Nonetheless, ISIS digital operations would be a source of good targeting data – imagine an ISIS leader talking online and that data passed to a circling American bomber with a nice 500kg “gift” to be dropped on THAT particlar “internet location”. If the hackers could wipe out more accounts, steal money from the rabid crazies, that would be even cooler.

Question 5: when will European governments shift their security policies to preventative detentions, targeted removals of individuals with proven links but against whom no “binding in court” information can be acquired? What about stripping of nationalities from extremists and kicking them back to the sand dunes that house ISIS? Is anyone deluding themselves that Europe will NOT go towards deportations? The current softness towards migrants is a temporary thing, trust me.

All we need is some political courage.

Brexit, bremail, brebotage

So, once the Brits managed to prevent Scotland from departing their own happy Union (barely!), their confidence boosted by such success has led them to the next logical step – taking the UK and swimming away from the EU. You’d think they would have learned from the Scots, where business and economics (staying in UK) won with national patriotism (departure and creating an Arab-styled oil state with its own currency and immediate large international debt).

The UK right wingers have managed to introduce the notion of departing the EU, and many observers across the continent are paying serious attention to the idea. Brexit is now on everyone’s mind as if it was a rational choice (it is not!!), seeing that:
– EU migrants are economically contributing to UKs pathetic economic growth as employees;
– EU migrants are starting new businesses in UK;
– UK companies have become integrated into the EUs economic system and are dependent on un-tariffed exchange (look at the trucking industry having migrated to France to save to taxes and fuel);
– UKs financial system works within the EU network;
– UK citizens travel freely as tourists and migrants themselves (with the export of jobs to Asia that is, of course “not happenning” in the production sector of UK);
– What will be left in terms of financial linkages will be the Russians, Indians and Chinese (and THAT will sit well with the right wing voters – more parts of London to speak Russian ;p) or maybe the Arabas will buy more sections of City?;
– Migrants will return to being from one area – previous colonies (that will make the old boys in Parliament feel good, nostalgic, able to understand again the demographics of their country);
– I also wonder who will do the nasty jobs that EU migrants currently do? The lazy unemployed yobos and their 300kg “women” from outskirts of Brummy, Manchester, Glasgow or Bradford?
So, we might expect that, at the end, economic rationalities will prevail, although the result will be close – 46-54 or similar.

I am leaning more in the direction of Bremail – political blackmail by UK, with the UK using its exit potential to win what it needs in the short political cycle of the next elections:
– Restricting immigration from all areas (good idea – Italy’s current problems are a good example of bad solutions, whereas Australia solved the problem);
– Gaining more support in controlling migration across the continent (very good idea – look at the nightmare at Calais);
– Kicking out migrants who have not found a job in 6 months after arrival (logical – why would they consume resources from an economy to which they do not belong nor to which did they never contributed);
– Preventing the transfer of funds to dependents of migrants that are not in the UK (although here, UK retirees should be worried, as in the future even their retirement funds might not be allowed to be sent abroad, as an economy-saving measure, so no more life in Spain or Italy);
– Saving millions in UK contributions to a failing EU, and thus having more funds left for important projects (like giving Brummy yobos coupla hundrd quid for booze and fags);

The coolest and most impressive would be aggressive Brebotage – the UK using its strong position to sabotage the current Union. What could the UKs aims be?
– Scaring the Brussels bureaucracy out of its communist megalomania;
– Curtailing the legal and document creativity of the Brussels bureaucrats (Ministry of Silly Walks, A.D.2015);
– Reducing the control of Brussels over individual members (federalism);
– Returning control in important areas to individual governments (federalism again), when the EU is unable to provide effective leadership;
– Cleaning the Euro zone of stupid countries that drink wine and wait for tourists all day;
– Creating a migration policy that works (controls, logic, selection, integration, cooperation);
– Enhancing the EU security system (common defence finally? joint research and expenditures on EU products);
– Diversifying the energy networks;
– Adding political control over Brussels “thinkers”;

Of course, while internally, the UK conflict is about electoral politics with the far right ideologies gaining momentum, the overall image is one where Bismarckian Realpolitik is being brought back to the game of INTERNAL EU politics. What Putin did from the outside, fooling Brussels and making it look stupid, the UK is not doing from the inside.
The interesting question will be – IF Brexit succeeds, are its promoters ready for the consequences? The Chinese have an ancient curse: beware what you wish for.

Love your drone

For all the spooks out there: this is a fun “what if” article ;p
In recent months, national governments have increased the speed with which they are introducing controlling legislation, aimed at defining the rules related to drones. Of course, rules regulating private and business drone usage, as the governments themselves just loooove to send a drone to spy on you and/or fire a hellfire missile through your window.
So, we are now seeing rules being placed on drone operators – initially governments want people who fly them for business purposes to gain licences: show them that you can fly a drone for business reasons, pay a few thousand bucks and get your “droner licence”. Logical people will ask: what is the difference in flying a drone to spy on your girlfriend and flying it as a business. Answer: none. Flying a drone is flying a drone. It still has a camera and makes weird pictures of weird people doing weird things. But, if you are a business, then you have to pay your fee to the government for your right to do things, e.g. licence for whatever activity. It makes you think, how will Amazon do this, with Jeff Bezos’ idea for Amazon drone delivery?
The future of drones is amazing, as visible by the latest conferences and trade shows.

Genius scientists show us the next stages of drone developments (watch the video!!!!!!!!).

My wonder at government stupidity is stimulated by something else. Drones are a recent phenomenon, released to the public by overeager nerds.

I would understand the government desire to limit this technology, but, of course, it is impossible, as any toy store now carries technology recently used only by elite army units.

I would like to push the thought a bit further, in terms of what we as citizens can USE, and the government has little or no power to stop us. Ever seen this?

This is a 5000USD miniature JET ENGINE, used by model aircraft operators, to power their aircraft. It weighs 5.3 lbs (2.3kgs) and has thrust of 53lbs (23kgs) and can rotate up to 112 000RPM!!!!
THESE kind of aircraft…

In the late 1990s I had the pleasure of attending many miniature aircraft shows, where some truly crazy people flew some amazing aircraft. Amazing not just due to the chosen real aircraft, but also due to the size of the models.

I had some crazy evenings talking to similar crazies (you know who you are) about the idea, that this is way too dangerous. Cool but dangerous. The size and speed of these jet behemoths allows to ask one interesting question: when will someone use them for stupid reasons? You may ask: why would Marcin ponder such ridiculous notions? Answer: Dale Brown, a cool high-tech combat fiction author wrote about flying aircraft into buildings around the same time as did Tom Clancy. Both of them wrote many years before 9/11. The White House already has problems with amateurs flying drones to spy on Obama’s sex life. Enough examples?
Now, in those same creative 1990s, we talked about some other crazy stuff. Loooong before advanced flight simulators and commercial or even privately-available GPS. The idea was to take the existing technology and take it to the next step:
– Build a huge model (we loved the F14 Tomcat at the time);
– Buy the 2 jet engines needed to make the sucker go faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast;
– Install the standard flight system with its multi-band control unit;
– Add a second connection bandwidth;
– Install TWO cameras, that would feed the operator through the additional bandwidth.
– The Operator would have a helmet with stereo-vision installed, so that he could see “live” images;
Younger readers may laugh, at the “duh” (logical, today) nature of the ideas, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, none of this stuff existed. A decade before anyone thought of Occulus Rift, ELSA had the first 3D glasses (ELSA erazor III), which fluttered each eye to provide illusion of three-dimensionality.

So, the ideas were there, but no one took them to the next-next-next level.

To finish the article: take 25kgs of plastic aircraft, add 2 jet engines, advanced avionics and put some “boom” stuff into it. What do you get?

Or hell, why not build a cruise missile, with one or two $5000 jet engines inside it?
Citizens, cherish your drones! A drone does more than your rifle, protected under some constitutions…
Nerds, enjoy the funnnnnnnnn!!!!
And, yes, I do enjoy being a “what if” doomsdayer 🙂

Mr/Miss, thank you, excuse me. Where is the politeness?

What happened to formal politeness in the 21st century? Why is everyone on a first name basis or expects/demands to be? Who forced upon us this myth of instant “friendship” and “zero distance” with people we don’t know or who serve us coffee or call from the blue to sell new mobile services? Even more with those at the workplace, for whom “instant pall-hood” has become a religion (don’t they have a LIFE outside the company walls/halls?)
I’m wondering whether it is (my) age talking or maybe a feeling of self-worth and pride from one’s achievements, but I started noticing that the (various) barriers between myself and the rest of the world are a very important part of life. I work hard to improve myself, advance, gain promotions, be recognised. And…to distance myself from (most) others.

First, there are the negative reasons for maintaining personal distance:
– Just because you know my details from your computer screen does not make us BFFs or pals or mates or druzya;
– Just because you are lonely and have no life, does not allow you to be on a first-name basis with anyone you meet (does anyone remember this term “first name basis”?);
– Just because you were badly educated and were not taught the difference between “friend” and “acquaintance” does not give you the right to hug me and use my first name;
– Just because you snuck your way into a job and now have an inferiority complex does not give you the right to demand use of first names in the workplace — employees might actually want to stay as far away from you as possible (Polacy – pamietacie termin “nie tykaj mnie”?);
But there are also positive ones for maintaining personal distance:
1. A boss is someone to be respected for his/her achievements and for formal position within the structure (it is difficult to utter “Vice President…Johnny);
2. Some people have so many formalised achievements (titles, etc), that it is grammatically impossible to refer to them in any informal manner and they deserve to be “titled”;
3. Some relationships require a distinction between you and the people above you, around you and below you, so that stupid (subjective) perceptions do not confuse the (objective) relationships;

And then there is culture, history and good upbringing. Mr, Sir, Madame, Mizz (Ms) indicate the true nature of a relationship (either subservient as was in the olden times or of distanced semi-equals today), and calls for using the individual’s surname WITHOUT crossing the familiarity border of “you” (ty) and/or first name. Those, are for family, people you know for many years and had frequent contact with and for…friends. And here lies a key issue for the Facebook, Twat (sorry Twitter), VK and mobile-texting generation: FRIENDS are few and far between – if have 5-6 friends by the time you are 40, you are a lucky person. Friends are people on whom you can count to help regardless of circumstances, who like (love?) you regardless of your inner demons and enemies and who can tolerate your behaviours and can pay your bail. Not the ACQUAINTANCES who are only interested in your money, adding you to their “like” lists or wanting to “borrow” your homework or people accidentally in a photo whom you then “tag”.

I recall an interesting explanation during a recent trip to Ukraine, which (regardless of its absolute correctness) summarises this issue of relationship “naming”: Andriej Viktorowich Zalevski (first name, name of father “otchestvo”, surname). As a stranger/lesser I am expected to refer to this imaginary person as “Gospodin Zalevski” (Mr. Z), after a few years I may be allowed to be more forward and talk with “Andriej Viktorowich” and a few more years down the road HE can propose to progress to a first name basis. To those around us, the mode of reference is a clear signal of our relationship and its length/depth.
As time goes by, I am more for the forceful return of such a system, as:
– I like to respect those who deserve respect (equal achievers, superior achievers, big bosses);
– I like to maintain distance between myself and strangers;
– I realy like to miantain distance between myself and other employees, who do not interest me whatsoever;
– Where people have formal titles or posts, they should be referred to (with the exception of post-soviets and their “upgrading” of intermediate titles, where vice-minister is “minister”—a post is a post!!);
– I see no reason to give (absolute)strangers and inferiors any ego boost, as they do not deserve it (otherwise they would be in one of the above categories).
Besides, in all cultures we find that it is easier to standoffishly insult a stranger while not losing any class. “You Sire, are a swine!” sounds much better and funnier (Anthony Bourdain offers some good examples!).

And finally, do you want to be forcefully “friendly” with people whom you consider to be complete and utter idiots? Especially at work 🙂
And, yes, I seem to favour high power-distance relationships.

Racism – idiots guide

During the last few months I had the opportunity of experiencing some attacks aimed at me, but utilising my nationality/background as the axis-of-assault. Racism, as we know it.
I was able to stop the initial reaction, familiar and natural to all, of a direct, brutal and physical assault – a standard, biological and violent response. Instead, I focused on analysing the underlying issues.
It took me a while to understand the deep, deeeeeep, issues. My negative reaction was not based on the (theoretically) fundamental assumption that “I = my nationality”. Instead, I understood that the attack on me:
– Focused on what I was doing at the time (e.g. was a negative reaction to my efficiency/innovativeness);
– Used my nationality as a focal point for optimising critique of my (not nationality but) efficiency/innovativeness;
My personal reactions were even more mixed – although the initial, biological reaction was enacted through the “nationality” perspective, I took some time to understand the true reality – bypassing my passport, I understood that the attack was on what I represented (modernity, progress, international rationality, global standards, quality).
Strangely, it was even more insulting, since: everything I was and did was perceived as the threat to an old/ancient/communist culture of laziness/do-nothingness, while my nationality was simply a TOOL of voicing such opposition.
So, my passport wasn’t important, but it helped to “prove” how useless I was as a challenger to “their” (pathetic, hopeless, ancient) reality. If I’d have been an alien, my “bluishness” or “brownness” or “double-headedness” would have been used. Hopeless losers have got no other vocabulary… Racism is the recourse of most loosers and idiots.

War with the War on Drugs

I’ve just seen the trailers for two new documentaries coming out in end of 2012, both focusing on the drug trade and its impact on our world.

For years I have been fascinated by the inability of large and powerful governments to stop the drug epidemic by doing two things:
1. Taking the battle to the source(s) of drugs, by operating officially or in clandestine manner right on the doorsteps of those producing drugs for export. The war on terror has show us how advanced technology and skilled operators on the ground can be very effective in extinguishing the enemy and reducing the impact of advanced “enemy” organisations through reducing their human asset pool. Afghanistan and Palestine show us, how a hellfire missile can change the balance of power.
2. Going after the drug as a biological material (this of course, does not relate to chemical drugs like speed). With the bio-genetic technology we have, there is no way that a determined government cannot develop a biological weapon (or genetic) aimed solely at the natural plants that produce our most potent drugs. Where is the virus that kills coca plants?
But then I realised (again and again) that the WAR must go on – no one in the governments needs a win on this issue, and by that I mean a win in terms of stopping the transmission of drugs across borders into developed western states. Without a drug problem epidemic, people will begin looking at the real underlying issues of poverty, as those that now “do drugs” and through that can be blamed for being useless or hurtful to wider society will begin asking: ok, we got no more drugs, we are clean, where are our jobs and medical services?
The same goes for agencies “battling the war”, that have sprung up in response to various governmental policies or have taken on new duties and thus received massive inflows of funding and resources. Agencies like the DEA do not want the “war” to end, as then they would have to close themselves down – the defenders have taken on a vested interest in the maintenance of the conflict. A one-time solution will yield a one-time bonus and then unemployment, while partial solutions will assure a steady, well-paid and prestigious job for life.
The politicians need a ghostly enemy, on whom many problems can be blamed and solutions need not be invented, especially that our modern-day politicians have no idea on how to deal with much simpler problems.
One interesting issue is: who cares about the citizens, suffering sheer hell in the hundreds of thousands? Who takes responsibility for defending those that cannot do it themselves?
The second one is worse: with the interweaving of interests (government, security, crime) all for the sake of “war on terror”, have we completely lost our ethical and moral compass an cannot focus on more than one strategic imperative, but must sacrifice all else in a desperate attempt at retaining our credibility?
The third relates to the increasing prison population, often cited as the emergence of modern-day slavery, used in various economic activities.
In a WAR, we need to “heroes”, “enemies”, there must be “effort” and “sacrifice” as well as “necessary spending”. Did I mention “civilian casualties”? Remember one interesting statistic about modern wars: before the 20th century 90% of all casualties in a war were the soldier; today 90% of the casualties are the civilians. The same in our “war on drugs”?