North Korea a worry because of the question of Face

Although I don’t think for a minute that Pyonyang will launch any nukes the tense situation is still a worry. Since South Korea, and gradually the rest of the world, is treating North Korea’s threats as a bellicose joke and basically ignoring them the leadership in the North risk being regarded as a joke if they don’t back up their threats with some fairly serious action. It would seem that the old game of threats, back down and rewards to the North is not going to be played any more. Therefore, if the North does nothing its leadership will lose face in a big way. Loss of face is a big deal to Koreans as it is to other Asians and to many people generally. This very fact ensures that the situation will remain dangerous.

Human knowledge centered entirely on the material world

It is a sad thing that our species focuses entirely on material things. Apart from the claims of various religions all actual knowledge (especially scientific) looks at only the things we can see, touch, feel and hear. While there may be no way of knowing if such a material world is all there is it would seem more than possible that there may be other worlds that we simply cannot connect with using our human senses. While there have been, thus far, no absolutely provable examples of spiritual life it would seem likely that many things exist, in one form or another, quite apart from our scientifically established world.

War on the Korean peninsula?

Although Kim Jong Un and the rest of the North Korean leadership are probably delusional, they also possess a cold rationality in making assessments. Undoubtedly they realise that the USA simply cannot  economically afford another major war at present without triggering an American, and hence worldwide depression. Although they are massively expanding the quality and quantity of their nuclear arsenal and delivery missiles I am sure this is there doomsday card. It is a backstop against the total defeat of their regime. However, I am equally sure they will not use their nuclear weapons in any first strike.

They probably calculate that neither China nor Russia will help or even defend them. Nevertheless, it is likely they could launch a major conventional attack on South Korea without the U.S. even considering a nuclear response. Given the size of the opposing military forces it is likely that the North would be able to complete a conquest of the South this way. Basically, the USA would be totally hamstrung. To use nuclear weapons would be to invite the unthinkable. To defeat North Korea’s military with conventional forces would devastate the USA’s economy and that of the rest of the world. It appears to me that the North Korean leadership realise full well all of the chips on the table in this nasty game of poker. It is apparent that they will do anything to avoid their regime being overthrown.

Without China offering to step in and defend South Korea against the North Kim Jong Un’s strategy could well succeed. What would China do? That is the $64 question. If they sit on their hands as they did with Syria then the two Korea’s are likely to be united by force under the control of North Korea?

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Climate Change – a joke or a horrid tipping point:

Dustcover Brownout back 2012Tornadoes of any strength were very rarely experienced outside of tornado alley in the USA. Sure, there were odd whirly whirlys elsewhere and maybe a solid twister once every ten years outside of that chosen territory. However, last week we had 20 people killed by a tornado in Bangladesh and several serious injuries by another one in N.E. Victoria, Australia. The rational mind may suspect that human intervention on global warming etc has come too late and that we are approaching tipping point. Much as I would like to offer comfort and hope, I cannot without lying. No matter how bad things may seem now, worse is surely to come!

Greed + Stupidity = End

While the debate around climate change rages (amidst cyclones, droughts, hurricanes etc.) that is only one aspect of the forthcoming disaster. The global capitalistic order has allowed, even encouraged, the pillage of the earth in the name of profits. No taxes are paid by corporations (or a pathetic amount) for their collateral damage caused to populations, the environment, other species or the rapid depletion of finite resources, such as phosphorous, the major ingredient in many fertilisers and most of which comes from Africa.

There are some eminent scientists and economists who are arguing for rapid change in our economic, world structure. One suggested 2020 as a deadline. However, a person has to be naïve or excessively optimistic to imagine that the rich and greedy (or even the not-so-rich but greedy) will ever change their spots in time. It is no accident that this site has the name it does. I fear we all are facing a situation where the instruction in face of possible direct nuclear attack still applies. Bend over and kiss your arse goodbye. It will take the greatest miracle we have ever seen to avert the coming disaster. Don’t hold your breath too long. If you do you might expire before the apocalypse happens1

China – unbridled capitalism with opaque agendas

China is constantly on the economic march with the excesses of capitalism showing up everywhere. Yet this is a state with many opaque agendas and strict controls over the freedom of its population. The Chinese government is keen to use many tricks to gain what it wants. It tries to increase its territory and power by constantly reiterated definition. The addition of disputed islands to the covers of its passports is one such example.

A more famous and serious one is the labelling of Taiwan as a breakaway province. The Chinese government desires the rest of the world to see its distortion of history in the same way it does. After the communists won the civil war in 1949 and the nationalists fled to Taiwan the Republic of China was reduced to a rump. Taiwan, in fact, was the rump of the Republic of China. Therefore, mainland China broke away from the Republic of China (Taiwan). It would be more correct to call China a breakaway province of Taiwan than the other way round. The Chinese government want to alter the world’s thinking by incorrect use of definition. It wants to possess Taiwan and uses definition as one means of increasing its influence and spurious claims.

Historically, Taiwan was never an integral part of China. The original inhabitants were not even Chinese. They were native peoples more akin to the Malay racial group. The second group of inhabitants were the Dutch who arrived at the end of the sixteenth century. It was only in the last 300 years or so that large numbers of Chinese people settled in Taiwan.

If China were to become genuinely democratic and possessed equal living and social standards to those in Taiwan many of the citizens of Taiwan may well be content to reunite with the mainland. However, as things are there are no valid reasons for China to attempt to coerce such a reunification.

Australia, world’s highest tobacco taxes.

Australia now has, almost certainly, the highest tobacco prices in the entire world. While no one is suggesting that smoking is healthy or not a health risk there are many factors at play here. The Australian government is evidently intent on making poorer people choose between smoking and eating. Unfortunately there will be considerable numbers of people who continue to smoke while their children go hungry and without shoes. I am sure that organised crime is switching its attention from indian hemp and other soft drugs to tobacco. The government is obviously oblivious to these considerations.

Then there are the mentally ill. The vast majority of these people smoke and find it impossible to quit without exacerbating their illness. These are also people who tend to be very low income earners or dependent on welfare. The social consequences of massively higher tobacco taxes has obviously not been considered by the Australian government. From increased crime to greater levels of psychiatric disturbance in the community the dire results of these thoughtless snap decisions are growing in the dark.

There is little evidence that financially destroying smokers causes greater numbers to quit. Other countries (such as Taiwan) that are increasingly banning smoking in public areas, yet do not find it necessary to hugely raise tobacco taxes, would seem to have at least as high, if not a higher, rate of quitters.

Lastly, it is self evident that the Australian government is hypocritical about smoking. On the one hand they are demanding that smokers quit or face utter poverty, so say for concern about their health. Yet on the other hand the government certainly does not want people to live much beyond the retirement age. I for one do want to live long enough to get dementia and be plonked in a nursing home (although I suspect that governments of the future will just give such people lethal injections). It may be cute to be trendy but the Australian government has now crossed the bounds of logic and good sense. Unfortunately, the other political groups are not at all concerned about this. This dictatorial and unwise attitude thus cannot be stopped at the ballot box.

The new global food crisis

The one thing that has been overlooked in the debate about climate change is the impending food crisis. With floods or droughts now becoming the norm there is going to be a huge food shortage in the immediate future. Millions will probably die. Wars are more likely to be fought over water and food than oil.