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Cassandra is Dead. Long Live Cassandra!

 After the fall of Troy, Cassandra was taken as Agamemnon's "pallake" (concubine) and taken to Mycenae where she was killed by Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife. The destiny of prophetesses is never so bright, especially when they turn out to have been right. Something similar, although fortunately much less tragic, is happening to the Cassandra blog, censored on Facebook by the powers that be. So, I guess it is time to call it quits. But Cassandra is not dead! She will return in some form.  On March 2, 2011, I started the blog that I titled "Cassandra's Legacy." 10 years later, the blog had accumulated 974 posts, 332 followers, and more than 5 million visualizations (5289.929). Recently, the blog had stabilized at around 2,000-3,000 views per day. A small blog, by all means, but I always had the sensation that it was not without an impact on the nebulous constellation of the people, high up, whom we call "the powers that be." It is a story that reminds me the legend that George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq in 2003 after he had learned about peak oil. Reasonably, it can't be but a legend, but are we sure? After all, the people who take decision are not smarter than us, just way richer. And they can misunderstand things just like we all do. Of course, their blunders make much more noise.  And so, it may well be that many things that we are seeing around us have a logic. For sure, a certain kind of message cannot be eliminated simply by ignoring it [More]

Eco-fascism and Overpopulation

 A post by Jacopo Simonetta  "Eco-fascist" is the usual insult directed at anyone who dares to mention overpopulation. This is funny to me because, as far as I know, fascists are usually concerned with denatality, race purity and similar morbid fantasies, but not with overpopulation who is just about the number of persons and not about skin color and so on.Here, I will not go back over the purely demographic aspects of the issue to which several posts have already been devoted (on "Effetto Cassandra" and on "Apocalottimismo", both in Italian).  Instead, I would like to talk about this singular cultural taboo, characteristic (though not exclusive) of industrial civilization.To begin with.To understand what we are talking about, let us consider that today there are almost 8 billion of us with a growth rate of about 80 million per year, it means 220,000 per day, over 9000 per hour, 75 per second.  This means an estimated human mass of about 400 million tons.  The world's average human population density is 55 people per square kilometer (excluding Antarctica), which means a square of not much over one hundred steps per side per head.  In Italy we are about 200 per square kilometer, which means half a hectare per person, but if we consider only the agricultural surface the square becomes only 40 steps per side (about 2000 square meters).However, the number of people is only one of the factors involved because we use livestock, fields, industrial [More]

Eco-fascism: an insult against those who propose that overpopulation is a major problem

 A post by Jacopo Simonetta  "Eco-fascist" is the usual insult directed at anyone who dares to mention overpopulation. This is funny to me because, as far as I know, fascists are usually concerned with denatality, race purity and similar morbid fantasies, but not with overpopulation who is just about the number of persons and not about skin color and so on.Here, I will not go back over the purely demographic aspects of the issue to which several posts have already been devoted (on "Effetto Cassandra" and on "Apocalottimismo", both in Italian).  Instead, I would like to talk about this singular cultural taboo, characteristic (though not exclusive) of industrial civilization.To begin with.To understand what we are talking about, let us consider that today there are almost 8 billion of us with a growth rate of about 80 million per year, it means 220,000 per day, over 9000 per hour, 75 per second.  This means an estimated human mass of about 400 million tons.  The world's average human population density is 55 people per square kilometer (excluding Antarctica), which means a square of not much over one hundred steps per side per head.  In Italy we are about 200 per square kilometer, which means half a hectare per person, but if we consider only the agricultural surface the square becomes only 40 steps per side (about 2000 square meters).However, the number of people is only one of the factors involved because we use livestock, fields, industrial [More]

Another Victim of the Covid: The Collapse of the Christian Church

 Christmas of 1914: soldiers from opposite sides met in a friendly manner across the front line. For a short time, the Christian message of love managed to overcome the message of hate that came from national governments. It was just a brief moment for a deed that surely didn't go unpunished, later on. But it was highlighting a deep contradiction that was prefiguring the final collapse of the church, but that would take another century or so. It is coming now.   Sometimes, life is like watching the long needle of an old mechanical watch. No matter how carefully you eye it, it doesn't seem to move -- time seems to be frozen. Then, you look at something else, and when your glance is back to the watch, the needle has moved. Time has passed, and that moment will never come back. Sometimes, you have the same sensation with history. For a long time, everything seems to be frozen and nothing changes then, suddenly, everything has changed and the world is a different one. It has happened in this 2020 that, suddenly, changed everything, and the world of one year ago will never come back.I already noted how some institutions have been shattered at their foundations by the COVID crisis of 2020. One was the university, destroyed by the sudden discovery that it was an expensive machine that produced nothing useful for the state. Another illustrious victim is starting to crumble: it is the Church. Primarily, the Catholic Church in its claims of universality, but all [More]

The pandemic as the end of consumerism. Everything that's happening is happening because it had to happen

 These Medieval ladies look like fashion models. With their splendid dresses in silk brocade, they are showing off their wealth in an age, the 14th century, in which Europe was enjoying a certain degree of growth and prosperity. They couldn't have imagined that, one century later, Europe would plunge into a terrible age of witch hunts that would put women back to their place of child-making tools. It is the way history works, it never plans, it always reacts, sometimes ruthlessly. And all that happens had a reason to happen (above, miniature by Giovanni da Como, ca.1380) Can you tell me of at least one case in history where a society perceived a serious threat looming in the future and took action against it on the basis of data and rational arguments? With the best of goodwill, I can't. Societies react to threats using a primeval stimulus-reaction that may be aggressive or defensive, but that's almost never rational.Curiously, our society, that we call sometimes "The West" and at times the "Global Empire," was the first in history to have a chance to do something rational to avoid the destiny awaiting it much before the threat was clearly visible. It was in 1972 when the newly developed digital computers were coupled with a powerful analytical tool, "system dynamics." The result was the study called "The Limits to Growth" that foresaw how the gradual depletion of natural resources coupled with increasing pollution (that today we call "climate change") would cause [More]

The pandemic as a tool of history. Everything that's happening is happening because it had to happen

 These Medieval ladies look like fashion models. With their splendid dresses in silk brocade, they are showing off their wealth in an age, the 14th century, in which Europe was enjoying a certain degree of growth and prosperity. They couldn't have imagined that, one century later, Europe would plunge into a terrible age of witch hunts that would put women back to their place of child-making tools. It is the way history works, it never plans, it always reacts, sometimes ruthlessly. And all that happens had a reason to happen (above, miniature by Giovanni da Como, ca.1380) Can you tell me of at least one case in history where a society perceived a serious threat looming in the future and took action against it on the basis of data and rational arguments? With the best of goodwill, I can't. Societies react to threats using a primeval stimulus-reaction that may be aggressive or defensive, but that's almost never rational.Curiously, our society, that we call sometimes "The West" and at times the "Global Empire," was the first in history to have a chance to do something to avoid the destiny awaiting it much before the threat was clearly visible. It was in 1972 when the newly developed digital computers were coupled with a powerful analytical tool, "system dynamics." The result was the study called "The Limits to Growth" that foresaw how the gradual depletion of natural resources coupled with increasing pollution (that today we call "climate change") would cause the [More]

Everything that's happening is happening because it had to happen. The pandemic as a tool of history.

 These Medieval ladies look like fashion models. With their splendid dresses in silk brocade, they are showing off their wealth in an age, the 14th century, in which Europe was enjoying a certain degree of growth and prosperity. They couldn't have imagined that, one century later, Europe would plunge into a terrible age of witch hunts that would put women back to their place of child-making tools. It is the way history works, it never plans, it always reacts, sometimes ruthlessly. And all that happens had a reason to happen (above, miniature by Giovanni da Como, ca.1380) Can you tell me of at least one case in history where a society perceived a serious threat looming in the future and took action against it on the basis of data and rational arguments? With the best of goodwill, I can't. Societies react to threats using a primeval stimulus-reaction that may be aggressive or defensive, but that's almost never rational.Curiously, our society, that we call sometimes "The West" and at times the "Global Empire," was the first in history to develop tools for long term forecasting. It had a one-time chance to use these tools to do something to avoid the destiny awaiting it. It was in 1972 when the newly developed digital computers were coupled with a powerful analytical tool called "system dynamics." The result was the study called "The Limits to Growth" that foresaw how the gradual depletion of natural resources coupled with increasing pollution (that today we call [More]

In Praise of a Dying Empire: America, the Beautiful

When I was a young postdoc, I was staying with my wife in a small house in the suburbs of New York. We couldn't afford much in terms of furniture but, behind our bed, we had hung a big American flag. America gave me a job, a career, a language, a way of seeing the world, and much more. America the promise, America the land of the free, America the beautiful, America the wonderful. But is also true that, "For every nation is a specified term. When their time has come, then they will not remain behind an hour, nor will they precede it." Sūrat l-aʿrāf (The Heights), Verse (7:34).United States: An Obituaryby Richard HeinbergThe United States of America was problematic from the start. It was founded on genocide and slavery, and, while frequently congratulating itself on the rights and freedoms it granted its citizens, never managed to confront the demons in its past. The question would arise repeatedly, generation after generation: rights and freedoms for whom?...In short, we are living through the fall of a great power. With it will go a unique way of organizing the world. The symbolism of president Trump cowering in an underground bunker beneath the White House in late May couldn’t be plainer.It is reasonable to ask whether the United States will continue to exist as a unified nation for much longer. The federal government has become so incompetent as to be increasingly irrelevant to the solution of many pressing problems—and a new face in the White House may not change the [More]

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