Saturday 23rd of October 2021

looking so righteous, without his concrete boots...
















We owe a debt to the most intelligent humans on the planet. 


"...a significant shift in racial thinking may be attributed to the encounter with a people whom William Dampier had earlier described as ‘the miserablest ... in the world’ devolves precisely upon the extent, and the perceived extremity, of this ‘miserableness’ (Dampier 1927 [1697]: 312). Dampier’s description was based on the ‘fact’ that, unlike ‘the great variety of savages’ he had encountered, the Australian Aborigines had ‘no Houses and skin Garments, Sheep, Poultry and Fruits of the Earth’ (Dampier 1927 [1697]: 312). What Dampier, and later many others, saw as the Aborigines’ utter lack of improvement and, most significantly, their failure to have cultivated the land, ensured their singular place in nineteenth century racial discourse. For, previously, racial differences among the world’s people had been understood within an ontology that, supporting the very assumption of human unity, defined and distinguished ‘the human’ exactly in its separation from, and capacity to rise above, nature…"

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We owe a debt to the most intelligent humans on the planet. 


Gus would argue that the lack of material culture, no houses, no garments, in the Aboriginal life was counteracted by a greater intellectual and philosophical understanding of place, to the point some people could call this spirituality, without religious stupidity nor the rigmarole of deceiving rituals that demand submission. What? No fruit of the earth? The Aussie wild figs are far more nutritious than the EU varieties! So one needs less of it… What? No (silting) dams to retain water? Aboriginal mapped out rivers and waterholes in songs and paintings... There were of course various nations and various tribes populating this isolated continent which to say the least did not offer much, unless one knew how to look — but all stood by nature, using fire and kangaroo skins in the colder months. But what’s the use of a house when one can sleep under the magic dome of stars and what is the use of garments when one is warm all year around under the tropics? Yes I know, the garment is an ornament that defines your superior or inferior status in the social order. You know what I mean. Nowadays, a businessman won’t be seen in punk attire. There is a code; a tie, a collar, a perfectly fitted suit like Blinken's — and a distinctive lapel insignia telling you’re an American or a Freemason can be used. The riffraff can be naked for all they care as long as the business in fig-leaves is profitable.


Now you understand why some people choose to walk the Larapinta trail...


Homo sapiens “rising above nature” has been a blight on the planet by our sheer numbers reaching proportion akin to a mouse plague in New South Wales, and by our social divisions, but we, in our "civilised world", are grateful for this material approach that covers our butts and places concrete above our heads, until some of it falls down. The Romans invented concrete and theirs was far more superior to the one we use today in our liquid cement. This was only due to a stroke of genius and the availability of a particular material. We forgot nature and became god’s creatures. 


Now, we argue about who is the most polluting “country” on the planet, in regard to CO2 emissions that include power supply and concrete. All the fingers are pointed towards China, because China’s emissions are twice the amount that of the USA…


Meanwhile, the amount of emissions from the Aboriginal people is a simple zero (o) or close to it, because under the gun and the cross, they’ve been forced to bear and adopt the superior ways of the English life and its repulsive racism — itself adjunct with more shit-making in colonial proportion to the surface of the land, plus bend to the missionary educative techniques that led to the recent discovery of children’s grave in Canada that had been hidden from the records. 


In regard to CO2 emissions, despite China indulging in building more coal power stations per year than there are in the US altogether, the true figure to consider is that of consumption and emission per capita...


In this truer comparison, Qatar is the most CO2 dirty country with a massive 38.6 tones of CO2 per person/year, followed by Curacao and New Caledonia. Meanwhile the USA stands a proud number 14th with 16 tons of CO2 by person/year.


China is 48th with 7.1 tons of CO2 per person/year. Australia stands way above with 17 tons —while the world emission average per person/year is 4.8 CO2 per person/year. 


India is at number 128, way below average at 1.9 tons of CO2 per person/year… And we, Aussie buggers, try to supply them with solar panels which they can’t eat, but apparently according to some (now dead) cartoonist they could eat lumps of coal… Blimey...



Meanwhile, Aboriginal people suffer from our mistakes and our belittling of them. They know nature. They knew nature. They knew the ancestors were going back into the landscape instead of us going to heaven to be praised for our last confessions of having done crap, including silly wars and adulteries… Absolution is easy. Fixing crap is hard work. The best way to live is not to do crap in "multiple” (boy I hate this word used in such a way meaning several or plenty) of it. We should be ashamed, but we keep smiling or busy ourselves like flies in a glass jar through the fog of human imbecility at fixing things by making more mess ups…


The decades following the 1960s were and still are the pits for modern cement making… Since the invention of cement pumping in 1927, by German engineers Max Giese and Fritz Hull, too much water is often use in the mix. Oh yeah! The more water, the more cement flows!!! woohoo!!!! Pump baby pump!!! The romans were more intelligent than this, though they killed themselves by using lead pipes in their refined water works. The Aboriginal people knew how and when to catch fish… 


Modern cement making shall have as little as possible water, just enough for the cement to react with, plus a bit of surface wetting to prevent the water evaporating. Seawater is an enemy of modern cements. It corrodes the steel bars, like arthritis corrodes your knee joints... This is why they, “the concrete people”, use washed sand or preferably river sand. The Romans loved seawater in their mix… Wow!!! So what’s the Roman secret to make "a single stone mass, impregnable to the waves and every day stronger".... It took 2000 years to crack it for the scientists. Actually, this was the length of time it took to ask the question: “Why is Roman cement still holding after 2000 years while ours farts-out in less than 50. Silly and so simple… But the answer needed some complex chemical study:


In earlier work, Jackson and colleagues reported some of the unusual chemistry of Roman concrete, such as the presence of a rare mineral known as aluminium tobermorite. For the new study, the scientists took samples of Roman harbour concrete to the Advanced Light Source, an X-ray synchrotron at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, and mapped out the location of minerals in the samples.

The researchers found a silicate mineral called phillipsite, which is common in volcanic rocks, with crystals of aluminium tobermorite growing from it. Tobermorite seems to have grown from the phillipsite when seawater, which is packed with calcium and silica, washed through the concrete, turning it more alkaline. . “It's a very rare occurrence in the Earth,” Jackson says, such crystallization has only been seen in places such as the Surtsey volcano in Iceland. As tobermorite grows, it may strengthen the concrete because its long, plate-like crystals allow the material to flex rather than shatter as it bends.

Applying ancient knowledge

Modern concrete-makers could learn from the ancient Romans’ knowledge, says Nele De Belie, a materials engineer at Ghent University in Belgium. She and her colleagues have used materials such as fly ash, produced during the burning of coal, to give concrete ‘self-healing’ properties, whereby the material closes up cracks after they form. Fly ash is similar to the volcanic ash that Romans used in their mix.


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Fly ash comes from burning coal in power stations… and we can’t wait for a volcano to blow some up… Meanwhile our pollution of various formats, including CO2, is destroying the quality of the surface of the planet. Already, the Anthropocene has created more tonnage of concrete than there is biota…


We’re nuts. Concrete nuts. Mind you, some people deserve some concrete boots… or at least someone’s boot aimed at their behind (see picture at top)...



CO2 emissions...

Fact check: Is China the main climate change culprit?


China currently releases more carbon emissions than any other country — leading many to believe it bears the greatest responsibility for climate change. However, the situation is more complex than it seems.


The accusations keep cropping up when it comes to the debate around climate change: "China is the biggest destroyer of the planet," "China is the worst country in terms of pollution," "China is to blame." But what role does China actually play in climate change?

Since 2008, China has topped the annual list of being the largest emitters of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), according to Our World in Data, an online scientific publication that Oxford University contributes to. In 2019, China emitted 10.2 billion metric tons of CO2 — nearly twice as much as the United States (5.3 billion metric tons) — representing nearly 28% of global emissions.


But net emissions alone are not enough to blame China for climate change. "If you look at only one number, you're only getting one side of the story," says Shyla Raghav, vice president of climate change at Conservation International, an environmental organization headquartered in the United States.

CO2 emissions per capita paint a different picture

To get more insight, it's worth looking at carbon dioxide emissions per capita. When combining 2019 data from the Global Carbon Project and Our World in Data, numerous states from the Caribbean and the Persian Gulf top the list. In 14th place is the US, with just over 16 tons of CO2 per capita. China emits less than half of that per capita, tallying 7.1 tons, putting the country in 48th place.


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As June 2021 comes to a close, the US just finished bombing militia units, part of the Iraqi government’s military forces, along its border with Syria. The US mission against these forces deployed against a resurgent ISIS (banned in Russia) is, supposedly, in response to attacks on US forces in Iraq.

US forces in Iraq serve in that country without authorization, are in fact there illegally and have been ordered, over a year ago to leave by a vote of the Iraqi parliament.

Attacks on US forces there continue to be in retaliation for the killing of Iranian General Soleimani, on a diplomatic mission to Iraq and of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the hero of Iraq’s war against ISIS.

The killings were done at the order of disgraced former US President Donald Trump who was responding to a request from Israel.

Let us also note that Iran, in direct retaliation, destroyed America’s largest base in Iraq with missiles the US was unable to intercept, missiles whose accuracy astounded the world.

This is just one minor gaff for the US. The impending Saudi defeat in Yemen, in a war two consecutive American administrations participated “secretly,” only makes things worse. Helping Saudi Arabia in a terror bombing war against civilians is bad enough but, from out outset, we all knew Saudi Arabia would lose and the US would eventually be blamed, not just for not winning the war but for pushing Saudi Arabia into it in the first place.

The huge credibility issue for the US will continue to be Syria. As long as Syria remains branded as a rogue state, the “rope-a-dope” war the US pretends to fight against ISIS will never be questioned.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this week’s bombing attacks on Iraq’s militias along the Syria border is hardly retaliation for anything. To any adept observer it is simply a continuation of the US of the US Air Force as an arm of ISIS.

How many times have we seen it?

  • The Syrian Arab Army advances on an ISIS stronghold.
  • US emergency resupply operations begin, water, food, medical equipment and weapons are ferried in to ISIS units.
  • Then ISIS leaders are flown to safety, to their training bases in US occupied al Tanf or to Hasakah or even Idlib.
  • Then, on occasion after occasion, there is a gas attack. Not once, not twice but nearly a dozen times, sometimes real poison gas, sometimes smoke machines and kidnapped kids bashed around by White Helmet “crisis actors.”

America’s Forgotten ISIS Oil Empire

Oh, we don’t want to forget this one. An estimated 12,000 to 20,000 oil tankers serviced ISIS until Russian Aerospace Forces entered the war. The parades of tankers were often four abreast and up to 100 miles long, making up the largest physical feature on earth visible from the moon without a telescope.

The US with all their drones and spy satellites never saw them. Special Forces and Navy SEALs never saw them as well. But then, where do you get 12,000 trucks, mostly Peterbilt and Kenworth, now strewn as rusted wreckage across swaths of Syria and Iraq? We know.

These trucks used to deliver fuel to gas stations across the US until they were purchased by contractors for the US Department of Defense, taken to the Port of Houston, and shipped to Jordan.

One might, as an aside, also ask how ISIS got 10,000 Toyota Tundra trucks, all modified as “technical” to carry heavy weapons. They are also strewn across Syria and Iraq.

While sanctions successfully block food and fuel from Syria, food and fuel needed to make up for shortfalls as Syria’s domestic supplies of both are stolen by the US, entire shiploads of military vehicles manage to sail the high seas with impunity, as though ISIS were a great naval power.

We are thus forced to make another point as well. How did 300,000 foreign fighters from China, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Europe get to Syria?

You can’t enter Turkey without a passport, visa and health certificate. Jordan is closed “tighter than a tick.” You can’t walk from Saudi Arabia unless you are a camel?

Moreover, no single Islamic male, or group of males, is allowed to pass though any airport, almost any airport on the planet, without passing a security interview or even detention.

Simply put, if you are an ISIS recruit, you just can’t get to Syria or Iraq whatsoever, not on foot, not by bus, not by ship and certainly not on an aircraft yet 300,000 did.

There are only 3 organizations in the world capable of tackling that issue. They are the CIA, the Mossad and MI6.

Iraqi Oil

While we discuss oil, it is time we look at exactly how much oil we are talking about. Syria has oil, for sure, but nothing like Iraq. The Kirkuk Oil Field in Iraq is the largest in the world, capable of producing light sweet crude in unfathomable amounts.

It was this oil field, north of Baghdad, that produced the vast majority of the stolen oil that moved through Turkey and into the Baku-Ceyhan Israeli owned pipeline.

When one is running 20,000 trucks with stolen oil, one might think they are impossible to hide. The diesel fuel alone to power the trucks or feeding 20,000 drivers, consider the logistics of this?

Then, how do you get from Kirkuk to Western markets? From the UK Independent:

Russia has unveiled what it describes as proof that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family have benefited from the illegal smuggling of oil from ISIS-held territory.

Moscow defence ministry officials released satellite images they claim shows columns of tanker trucks loading with oil at an installation controlled by ISIS in Syria, before crossing the border into Turkey.

The Russian defence ministry also alleged that the same criminal networks which were smuggling oil into Turkey were also supplying weapons, equipment and training to Islamic State and other Islamist groups.

Then we have this from December 2015, Global Research:

According to Russian Television on December 25th, Russian intelligence has counted “up to 12,000” tanker trucks filled with oil “on the Turkish-Iraqi border,” and “the final destination remains to be Turkey.” In addition, some of those trucks are still heading into Turkey from Syria, but their number is “decreased” because Russia’s Syrian bombing campaign, which started on September 30th, has, ever since they began bombing the oil trucks on November 18th, destroyed “up to 2,000” of those trucks, that were in Syria heading into Turkey.

Here was the shocking admission that was made by the US Defense Department’s press-spokesman at his 18 November 2015 presentation, in which he voluntarily acknowledged that, throughout all of the 14 months during which the US had been bombing in Syria and in Iraq, the US hadn’t previously destroyed any of the tens of thousands of oil tank-trucks that had been transporting ISIS’s stolen oil out from Iraq and from Syria — the stolen-oil sales that bring $2B per year into ISIS coffers. 


In 1964 the US claimed North Vietnam had attacked American ships in the Tonkin Gulf. No one believed the US then and as investigations long since have proven the US fabricated the incident, the casus belli behind America’s biggest military debacle has long since been consigned to the “the whole thing never happened” file.

What else can be added to that file, the search for WMD’s after 9/11?

How about the mystery of Afghanistan, converting a drug free nation to the world’s largest opium, and later heroin supplier with an efficiency that would have wiped out COVID 19 in days.

What we know is this, the reputation and standing of the US as a force for peace or perhaps “international order” is based on the planet being overtaken with a pandemic of amnesia.


Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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architectural nature...


The New Urbanists (Nurbs) were always reluctant to get into the nitty-gritty of aesthetics because they knew that their adversaries, especially the mandarins of architecture entrenched in the elite grad schools, were eager to use that as a truncheon to beat them up. The elites endorsed only one style, Modernism, which was not actually so much a style as a method of applied sadomasochism on the grand scale, seeking to punish and purify Western Civ for the traumas of two world wars, capitalism, and cultural hegemony. Thus, all previous architectural history that led to that carnage was consigned to a garbage barge floated out of sight of land and scuttled.

The Nurbs, however, were very market-driven, meaning they cared about what, in the way of townscape and houses, actually appealed to people, that is, to human neurology and cognition. They wanted to please people where they lived, rather than punish and purify them. That tended to mean traditional design, the very thing that elites had anathemized. But the Nurbs stopped short of endorsing outright the systems of antiquity that actually specified the methods for organizing buildings so as to please the brain—say, the books of Vitruvius from classical Rome, or the update of that by the Florentine, Alberti, or even Asher Benjamin’s early 1800s pattern book, The American Builder’s Companion, which showed common carpenters how to build houses like Greek Temples. Instead, the Nurbs came up with some simple, practical codes for their projects, like the rule that porches had to be a minimum of six feet deep—because that’s what’s necessary to allow human bodies to move around porch furniture. 


So, by and by, along came the lonely figure of Nikos Salingaros, a mathematician down at the University of Texas, San Antonio, who was obsessed with the hideousness of the American built-scape and wanted desperately to help correct it. Salingaros latched onto Christopher Alexander, a precursor of, and godfather to, the New Urbanism movement, who had produced the highly influential book A Pattern Language back in the 1960s, which sought to explain to a bamboozled public how to make their daily environments more rewarding. Salingaros collaborated with Alexander in several book projects and eventually sought to compose an aesthetic code for building based on unlocking the mathematical secrets behind human cognition.

His work over many decades produced a concise book, modestly titled A Theory of Architecture (second edition from Vajra Books), in which he explains the fundamental proportioning relationships and hierarchies that will make buildings appear comprehensibly consistent with the laws of nature—and therefore let us feel better living among them. Take, for example, the matter of ornament. Ornament is one of the primary taboos of Modernism, which is to say it is absent from most of the buildings of our time. Its banishment derives partly from a stupid dogma that associates ornament with the great crimes of history (c.f., Adolf Loos, 1870-1933), and partly from the development of modern materials such as reinforced concrete, plate glass, and silicon gaskets that make ultra-sleek exteriors the great fetish of contemporary architecture.


Alas, this fetish has eliminated a primary method of organizing building facades in scaled, nested hierarchies of detail which repeat mathematical motifs from the smallest part to the whole and everything in between. For instance, in many neoclassical buildings, the triangular pediment over a window is a smaller version of the triangular pediment of a portico. The smaller is nested within the larger. The continuity allows for the visual processing of information. It coordinates the eye with the cognitive equipment in the brain. 

Notice, these relationships possess anthropomorphic qualities, meaning they express our humanness. In classical design, buildings and the details within them have that three-part character just as human bodies do: a base (foot), a shaft (the legs and torso), and a capital (head). A column on a Roman temple follows this pattern, but so does the organization of a window frame, which has a sill (base), a shaft (sashes), and a cap (lintel). Meanwhile, the entire building is composed with a base (foundation), a body (the chambers), and a roof.


It took the human race thousands of years to arrive at these methods for designing buildings, and then add untold refinements to their formulae, which amount to trade secrets—such as entasis, the slight bulging curve of a column that corrects for the visual illusion that a straight column appears concave. This is a mind-boggling level of sophistication when you consider that the ancients arrived at it without any organized science of neurology. This knowledge has been wiped away by a contemporary architectural establishment that generates fantastic levels of psychological distress in people with its alien forms and its pursuit of nothing better than a cruel fashionable novelty: the mythical “cutting edge” that confers status and prestige to those who pretend to dance on it.

The sum of all this is that we have the ability to bring buildings to life, or, more precisely, bring them into harmonious cooperation with our own lives, so that we can exist in surroundings that make sense to us, that resonate with the same physical laws of the universe that our brains and bodies do, allowing us to create everyday environments that are worth caring about. Salingaros’s book is rich with principles and arguments for the rehumanizing of our everyday world.


What will it take for us to apply these principles? Probably a traumatic set of economic events that compel us to decomplexify the way we run society. Those events are in the offing as we reckon with the effects of our declining fossil fuel mojo. That will also spell the end of a lot of cheap, modular, snap-together building materials and return us largely to materials found in nature that require a hierarchy of detailing just to stand up to gravity. Wait for it.



James Howard Kunstler is The American Conservative’s New Urbanism Fellow. He is the author of numerous books on urban geography and economics, including his recent work, Living in the Long Emergency: Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Follow New Urbs on Twitter for a feed dedicated to TAC’s coverage of cities, urbanism, and place.



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collapsing civilisation?...

So what could have gone wrong?

The Constructor magazine lists five major causes of failure in concrete buildings - mistakes by architects in the design process, wrong choice of materials, chemical attacks on concrete, external mechanical factors or poor construction techniques.

One factor which will need to be examined is the quality of the “pour.”

When concrete buildings are constructed a metal frame will be erected first and then liquid concrete is poured in, drying into a rock-hard material.


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As questions are being asked about the collapse of the Champlain Towers in Miami, would one be uncouth to parallel this sudden collapse with the shaky foundations of our civilisation? We know we have problems between our societies and within our societies. This is not new. Our present predicament is to know how deep the troubles are, what is creating the troubles and can we fix it before we destroy our way of life, while being asleep. Can we stop being bombastic and accuse the others?


Many experts and commentators have pushed opinions forward and the recent change of leadership in Washington should bring some hope... But hope isn't enough. With nasty dopes like Blinken replacing nasty dopes like John Bolton and the likes, we're in a race to the dirty bottom of the pond, in which the Chinese goldfishes want a piece of the weeds. Is there nothing we can do but carry on as usual? Have we pushed our luck too far?


Daily we try to answer this question by visiting various points of views, including that of Oswald Spengler who seriously predicted a shift of democracy towards a dictatorial "democracy" by 2000, as we have somehow observed with the wars on Saddam and other US exceptionalistic flag waving, plus the hardening of the Chinese position recently. Is a rogue wave going to swamp us all? Is conquer all the name of the game? Are we too late to fix the foundations of our human journey? Read from top. Meanwhile, having Julian Assange in a UK prison is a measure of the rot  our social values have... We should be ashamed, but this is not enough. We should let him free...


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History Bites Back

Trisha Morton-Thomas teams up with Elaine Crombie and Steven Oliver to bite back at negative social media comments.

It’s comical, self-aware, and not afraid to launch a rocket into taboo issues.


See the doco on demand...


See also: deaths in custody


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