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This is a very strange thing. In decades of exposure to Chinese people and in nearly 20 years of living in China, I still cannot understand this nor have I found anyone who can explain it to me. I will provide first a bit of background.

It’s no secret that Chinese factories still turn out a large volume of lower-quality goods, although these are not always done the way we would imagine. There are no Chinese salesmen coming to the US to offer Wal-Mart cheap, throwaway frying pans. In real life, Wal-Mart, with its massive purchasing power, sets in advance the technical standards for every product appearing on its shelves. They decide the quality of the metal, the coatings, the fasteners, the quality of the paper for the packaging, everything, then they travel to China to find a factory to produce that specific item at the lowest cost. And they will beat a factory on the head with a stick for a reduction of half a cent. So, for most of the Chinese junk you see in the supermarkets, don’t blame “China”; blame Wal-Mart or others similar. Factories in China are in business to produce whatever a customer wants and will pay for.

Having said that, there is still a remainder of low-quality goods being made by low-quality factories hiring low-quality people. I suppose that’s life. Maybe it exists in every country, though Germany might be an exception.

At the top end, China can produce goods of any kind to the highest standards necessary. Almost all the famous European luxury brands have their products made in China, including LV and Mercedes-Benz, and the quality is outstanding. So there are indeed factories in China that can make truly excellent products, second to none.

Chinese factories make wings for Airbus. I think we can assume the manufacturing standards for these are a bit higher than for the frying pans at Wal-Mart. As well, China designed and manufactured its own moon lander and Mars lander, and they worked flawlessly. Even if you want to pretend that China “stole” the IP for the landers from the US – which they didn’t – looking at a blueprint and actually landing and roving around on the moon, are two very different things.

So, Chinese factories are a very large mixed bag that can produce almost anything to (apparently) almost any quality standard necessary. And in all of this, there is no particular “buyer beware” caution. Generally, you get what you pay for; higher quality means higher costs and higher prices. No secrets there.

But it is in this that I find a strange disease I cannot understand. I will explain.

In a leather shop in Haining we have a long discussion with the owner to make a leather jacket. We settle on all the details, the price, the timing, and all goes well. The jacket is produced on time, and it is lovely. Beautiful leather, nicely crafted, great stitching, all the cute little pockets. Everything is as it should be, and the jacket wasn’t cheap; many thousands of RMB to produce what was wanted. But the owner thought he would save one dollar and use a really cheap zipper that breaks after a week, and the lovely new jacket is useless until someone replaces the zipper.

We have a lovely new pair of shoes, custom-made, with very fine leather and immaculate craftsmanship. Also very expensive; several thousand RMB. But the owner decides to save ten cents and installs the cheapest pair of shoelaces he can buy. And of course they break the first time they are used so the new shoes are useless.

We have a pearl farm assemble a string of pearls that is remarkable for the matching of the colors and the quality of the pearls. Color is a difficult thing because hundreds of pearls can be almost – but not quite – the same exact color, so a good farm will sort through literally thousands of pearls to find 50 or 60 that are identical. And the pearls themselves are exquisitely round and flawless, the string again costing in the thousands. But the manager decides to save twenty-five cents and will install the cheapest clasp he can buy. And of course, it breaks after the second use.

I could go on, but you get the idea and you understand the problem. I have seen this in so many categories, where a very fine and expensive product is made to high standards and using the best materials, but where one or two small details are sacrificed that spoil everything. And it isn’t rational. Why, on a \$3,000 jacket, would you want to save \$1 on a zipper? Why, on a \$5,000 string of pearls, would you want to save 25 cents on a clasp? Why would you want to save ten cents on the shoelaces for a \$700 pair of shoes?

It is the irrationality that puzzles me. It makes no sense. In any product, we generally use a common quality standard for all components. We don’t pack costume jewelry in a \$50 box, and we don’t put a \$25,000 wristwatch in a Taco Bell paper bag. Except in China.

Because this seems widespread, or at least not uncommon, I categorise it as some kind of unnamed disease. I don’t think it’s contagious and I don’t believe it’s hereditary, but it isn’t exactly rare, and I am completely baffled as to the cause. The consequences are not fatal, but they are certainly annoying. I cannot fathom the thinking that must underly these actions and, as I said above, I haven’t found anyone who can explain this to me.

In the end, quality is in the details, but this concept seems to be missing in some portion of Chinese manufacturing. I have a suspicion this trait is related to what we might call ‘old mindset thinking’ from the nation’s poorer days. If so, I would expect this to change rapidly because the new generation is quite demanding on quality, and surprisingly (to me) unforgiving. A few years back, P&G in China made the mistake of surreptitiously degrading the quality of many of their products while leaving prices the same. Chinese consumers detected the degradation almost instantly and abandoned P&G in droves, flocking back to domestic products they felt offered better value. P&G have been struggling in China ever since. The honeymoon is certainly over for foreign companies in China and I believe the same unforgiving attitudes will now apply to domestic firms.

Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons).

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: China, China/America 
The Myth of American Competitive Supremacy

Americans boast incessantly about their competitiveness and the miracles of their predatory capitalist system, but on examination these claims appear to be mostly thoughtless jingoism that transmutes historical accidents into religion. If we examine the record, US companies have seldom been notably competitive. There is more than abundant evidence that their efforts are mostly directed to ensure an asymmetric playing field that permitted them to avoid confronting real competition. And, in very large part, major US corporations have succeeded not because of any competitive advantage but by pressure and threats emanating from the State Department and military. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman stated the truth quite accurately when he wrote, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas.”

Xerox was once almost the only manufacturer of photocopiers in the world. Kodak was once almost the world’s only maker of cameras and photo film; Where are Xerox and Kodak today? More recently, Motorola was the leading manufacturer of mobile phones; Where is Motorola today? US-based RCA Victor was one of the largest producers of TV sets in the world. Where can you buy an RCA TV set today? Where are the great Pan Am World Airways and Continental Airlines? Where are E.F. Hutton, General Foods, RCA, DEC, Compaq? Where are American Motors, Bethlehem Steel, Polaroid cameras, and so many more? Gone, because they couldn’t deal with effective competition.

Boeing Aircraft would be gone today if not for the extensive subsidies it receives from the US government. It’s true that Airbus receives subsidies too, but Boeing is supported by billions in US military research grants against which it can apply much of its current expenses. Not so many years ago, IBM was the only manufacturer of office and home computers. Where can you buy an IBM computer today? GE was once the largest manufacturer of electric home appliances, lights and lighting fixtures. Where is GE today? Transformed into a financial company, beaten out of all consumer markets because it couldn’t compete. IBM defenders will tell you that the company willingly abandoned the PC market to focus on mainframe computers and information services, but no company abandons a profitable market. The truth is that IBM faced manufacturers who could produce PCs for a quarter of the cost, and were forced out of the business. GE defenders would make a similar claim, but GE couldn’t compete in the vast consumer markets and was driven out too.

The three major US auto manufacturers are in the same position. Chrysler has been bankrupt three times already, and survives today only because of Fiat having taken it over. The great General Motors went bankrupt, and was saved only by \$60 billion of cash injections from the US and Canadian governments – money which will never be recovered. And in spite of that, GM would have anyway disappeared from the earth if not for its sales in China – which are now three times GM’s sales in its own country; even Americans are refusing to purchase GM’s tired and dying brands. Only Ford has been able to keep its head above water, and then only just. We could produce a list of hundreds of US companies who thought they were great until they faced some real “competition”, and then rapidly disappeared. It’s true there are business failures in every country, but other countries don’t boast about their God-given omnipotence and their world-beating competitive supremacy.

Along similar lines, the Americans have never forgiven the Europeans and Russians for producing supersonic passenger aircraft after all US attempts failed. And they are unlikely to forgive China and Russia for the deployment of working hypersonic missiles when all domestic attempts have failed.

And then we have the genuine mythology of Alexander Graham Bell who didn’t invent the telephone, Thomas Edison who, by his own admission, never invented anything – including the light bulb, the Wright Brothers who were never the first to have powered flight, and the great Albert Einstein who plagiarized everything he published. The list is very long.

Descriptions of American ingenuity and competitiveness were never accurate or valid, but mere jingoism fabricated by Bernays’ adherents to further promote the self-serving mythology of virtuous American capitalism. The truth is that the large US companies thrived on only brute force, heavily supported by their own government to limit competition both domestically and abroad. The US government and military have always existed primarily to browbeat other nations and economies into submission, to help US corporations obtain unfair trade deals, exclusive access to resources and markets, effectively colonising and subjugating much of the world. American business has seldom been able to compete when placed on an equal footing with other competitors because the US business model works only on a “take it by force” basis. Kodak, Xerox, and so many other American icons disappeared when the playing field did indeed become level.

We need only look at the US domestic market to see the truth of this. When Japanese and German automobiles were finally permitted into the US market on equal terms, the American auto firms mostly entered a long slide to bankruptcy – because they couldn’t compete. Almost every computer and electronic device sold in the US today is a foreign brand because Americans couldn’t compete when the playing field was level. Motorola’s crappy phones were a great success until Nokia and others entered the US market. Harley-Davidson exists only because of a 50% import tax on competing motorcycles; Ford Motors would also be in bankruptcy if not for the heavy protectionist tax on light trucks. The American mobile phone companies and ISPs would disappear into the bankruptcy courts within a year if foreign firms were permitted into the market. Cisco Systems, the grand American Internet infrastructure champion, would within three months be reduced to assembling Playstations for Sony if Huawei were given free access to the US market. The story is the same for countless American firms that were once dominant in their home market but quickly disappeared when protectionist trade tariffs and duties were eliminated and foreign products could enter the US on fair or equal terms. The dominant US firms surviving today are able to do so due mostly to rampant protectionism and oligopolies created by the US government to ensure their survival.

The same is true in foreign markets. Few American companies have been able to survive in other countries, other than the fast-food chains. Most recently, Domino’s Pizza is leaving Italy with its tail between its legs after ten years of failure, blaming the bankruptcy on COVID. But there is a long string of American failures preceding this; E-Bay and Home Depot left China in tears a few years ago. Uber’s China business was taken over by Didi, and there are many more. Those American firms that have survived, have done so primarily by purchasing domestic brands and using that distribution system to support their foreign market entries, and most of those have succeeded only due to astonishing criminality in their foreign joint ventures.

 
• Category: Economics, History • Tags: China/America, Silicon Valley, Technology 

I don’t know if Americans were ever fiscally responsible, if they ever had a time when saving was valued, where you didn’t borrow for consumption, and where low-quality throwaway goods and products were avoided, but if they did experience such a period in their history, it was brief. Twenty years before Elmer Wheeler’s discovery of sizzle, Bernays and his friends had already instilled the equally important concept of spending tomorrow’s money today. The process began with Layaway plans, then moved to ‘Pay as you Go’, ‘No money Down’, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’, and other easy credit schemes. Television ads displayed beautiful people enjoying their new home and car, kitchen appliances and furniture, TV, clothing and vacations, and not having to pay for them today. The marketers hired Bernays’ psychologists to create a tactical plan to change American values from saving to perpetual consumption, and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. US marketers conceived and created a ‘throw-away’ society, where appearance was more important than substance, where quality was sacrificed for fashion. US automakers changed the entire external appearance of their models each year, converting transportation into fashion accessory with advertising campaigns that made people ashamed of driving last year’s car. This is so true that since the 1950s, one of the largest ‘fashion events’ of the year was the unveiling by American auto manufacturers of their new models. There was never any attention paid to engineering or quality; it was all superficial consumerism.

Most Americans are too young to realise that their throwaway society is a recent development. It was not so long ago that quality and durability were important characteristics of any purchase, because people weren’t rich enough to buy shoddy products requiring repeated replacement. Consumer goods were meant to last a lifetime – and many did. Many toys were expected to last for generations, and often did. As a child, I played with toys that were handed down from my grandfather. Early in his marriage, my father purchased a set of kitchen pots for my mother, for which he paid nearly two month’s salary. My mother died at 91 years of age, and those pots still looked as new as when they were purchased. It was Bernays and his marketing people, the evangelisers of capitalism, who found a better way to make more money faster. Rather than selling you one good item and losing you as a customer forever (since it would never need replacement), they began lowering the quality, making and selling increasingly cheaper products that would soon fail and require replacement. This way, American manufacturers would have high profits and permanent repeat customers from a wasteful disposable society.

American manufacturers had developed the processes of large-scale mass production to serve the nation’s war machine, but after the war these massive factories would remain mostly idle. The solution of Lippman and Bernays was to engineer one of the greatest shifts in social values the world has ever seen, by re-defining the concept of “need” in the public mind to coincide with every product American factories could make. They employed their wartime propaganda methods to indoctrinate the American people with a need to purchase everything possible, in their pursuit of “a higher living standard”.

“Bernays began the process of selling not so much products as emotion itself. In psychologically linking the act of consumption to feeling free, happy, empowered, and confident, he tied notions of identity and self to items that could be purchased.” This was the true birth of consumerism, and why it existed (and exists) only in the US. America evolved into a ‘shop-until-you-drop’ throwaway economy, based on easy credit and superficiality. In a few decades, Americans went from ‘thrift’ to ‘spendthrift’.

Few people have any idea of the extreme, almost fanatical, extent to which Bernays’ consumption virus succeeded in infecting the American population, having long passed the point where it can be deemed pathological. As one measure, that of shopping mall space per capita, Germany has 2.7 sq ft per person, Japan has 3.9 and the UK has 5. For every American shopper there are 24 sq ft of mall. The so-called “American Dream” evolved from this massive psychological abuse, and is why the American search for a higher standard of living manifests itself in mere useless purchase and consumption. The US economy, dependent for 75% of its life on consumer spending, is an entirely artificial construct that could never have existed without the greed, immorality and twisted psychological principles of Bernays and his “elite few”. Americans have now defined this bizarre consumption standard as the default position of all mankind’s economies, which they are now aggressively trying to inflict on China as ‘best practices’ and the will of God.

In his book ‘The Affluent Society’, Galbraith so wisely noted that US consumer demand was contrived and not natural. P & G is widely noted today for their unusual marketing model that enjoys a mostly artificial product demand driven by propaganda and supported by massive advertising spending, twice that of any other firm in the world. It is not a secret, and is acknowledged even among P & G executives, that the firm’s sales would within months fall by perhaps 70% if the advertising flood were terminated. As one author noted, “There is a very direct correlation between demand for a product and the marketing expense in synthesizing that demand.” The propagandists representing the elite owners of US industrial production recognised early on that contrived demand and consumption were a royal road to riches for them, and that they held the key to infecting Americans with a consumption virus. They eventually penetrated not only the homes but the school systems, to the extent that today Americans are taught from kindergarten that consumption is king. In this model, industrial production cannot increase without a corresponding increase in consumer demand, which means Americans must be moved to increasingly desire more products and spend increasingly more money to obtain them, which meant not only marketing and advertising but the development of consumer credit. Since Americans would not always have enough money today to purchase today’s new products, they were increasingly encouraged to borrow and spend tomorrow’s money. In a PBS program series, the narrator boasted that “One of the most wondrous inventions of the age was consumer credit. Before 1920, the average worker couldn’t borrow money. By 1929, “buy now, pay later” had become a way of life”. This is virtually the entire picture of the US economy today, consisting of the production and purchase of unnecessary and increasingly lower-quality products, the sales of which are stoked by ever-increasing advertising expense and the fiction of brand value, all financed on credit.

 
• Category: Culture/Society, Economics • Tags: Advertising, China, Consumerism 

The US has one of the most deeply-ingrained nationalistic ideologies of any nation. Accompanying the grand mass hysterias of patriotism and freedom, one of the most pervasive links in the ideological chain that creates the American sense of identity is a belief in “The American Dream”, an imaginary ideal that offers a rags-to-riches path to prosperity. In this mythical universe, all opportunity is equally available to every citizen, in a land where even those with no credentials, education or experience can accumulate untold riches and even rise to become the president of the country. In this context, America is a fantastic utopian myth promoted by the propaganda machine as an idealistic Shangri-la concept of opportunity and hope, where even the most disadvantaged have a fair chance at wealth and fame.

Americans almost universally believe they are unique in this regard, the US virtually defining itself as the land of opportunity, but this has always been a delusion. While it may be true that the US has accumulated comparatively more wealthy individuals than other nations, and which status has been broadcast to the world as evidence of virtue, this is much more an indictment of the predatory and anti-social nature of American-style capitalism than of equity and opportunity. It is true that the uniquely predatory form of American capitalism will create some kinds of opportunities that do not exist in other countries, but we can develop a very strong argument that those kinds should not be permitted to exist. Let’s not erase 2008 from our memories too soon. Moreover, there have been precious few large personal fortunes created in the US that were not accompanied by the commitment of even greater crimes, and the executives of a great many US multinationals from the Rockefeller’s United Fruit Company and Standard Oil to Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart should have faced trial and been executed for crimes against humanity.

The US does indeed have a large number of billionaires, but this is directly offset by the vast decline of the middle class and the huge and increasing number of impoverished. The elite 1%, the bankers and industrialists who control the government, forced legislation that freed them from taxes and regulation to permit that free accumulation of wealth. The fact that other Western nations have fewer of the extreme rich is also directly offset by their corresponding lack of poverty. One need only examine the data on income inequality to realise that opportunity in America is increasingly reserved for the privileged few and that the masses are not only excluded by design but are being plundered by that same privileged few.

As with almost every other American claim of supremacy, the few examples offered of anything are virtually the only examples that exist. Americans will proudly point to a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffett as evidence of the truth of their conviction, but Gates (William H. Gates III) was third-generation old money whose family was connected at the highest levels and not, as the myth would have it, an unknown computer geek who dropped out of Harvard and struck gold with a good idea. In any case, Gates and Buffett are two individuals of 300 million, and the brutal truth that seems to escape the consciousness of Americans is that these two accumulated their wealth while tens of millions of others were losing their homes and jobs. Americans will point proudly to Apple, with its accumulated offshore profits of \$300 billion as evidence of America’s limitless possibilities, but are apparently unable to see the millions living in tent cities and sleeping in the sewers of Las Vegas as one inevitable result of the accumulation of that same \$300 billion. And they are also unable to see the criminality of firms like Foxconn in China who produce those Apple products in what are essentially forced-labor concentration camps. The rich in every nation do not become rich because they are smarter, but by taking advantage and almost always by brutalising those less fortunate.

We can easily create an almost perfect analogy to the American dream: “All Americans have the opportunity to learn to fly. Not in an airplane, but like Superman, cruising through the air on mystical superpowers.” Of course, if we examine the landscape, we find precious few individuals who seem to have taken advantage of this great opportunity, but this lack of evidence in no way invalidates our premise. In precisely the same fashion we can claim that all Americans have the opportunity to become rich and successful. Again, when we examine the landscape, we find precious few individuals who have actually managed this, but again the lack of evidence does not serve to invalidate our premise. Of course, the entire argument is just nonsense. The success of Warren Buffett is indicative of nothing but one fortunate and talented individual who was in the right places at the right times and who is remarkable only for his rarity. We have a few Elon Musks and others like him, but again this is indicative of nothing. If the American dream as stated is real, we need at least many tens of millions of individuals who have achieved some reasonable measure of this dream. But they don’t exist, and the reason they don’t exist is that the entire narrative of the American dream is a fraud.

While the US government, controlled by its bankers and financiers, its multinational corporate elite and the FED, has been working for decades to eviscerate the middle and lower classes and to effect a continuous and massive transfer of wealth to the top 1%, the bottom 99% have been singing the praises of the ‘democratic’ capitalist system that has been progressively abused to facilitate this transfer. In truth and reality, they are praising the very components of their system that are dragging them further into poverty with each passing year. I can think of no greater tribute to the power of propaganda than for a nation of increasingly impoverished, uneducated and unemployed to not only be blinded to the deliberate manufacture of their own misfortune, but to worship the system that permitted it and venerate the individuals who caused it.

It is noteworthy that religion plays a significant supporting role in the propagation of this fraud. The simplistic and simple-minded American versions of Christianity, with their two-dimensional and heavily moralistic view of the world, encourage a belief in the eventual triumph of virtue, hard work of course being characteristic of virtue and success being one measure of its practice. In this context and under this indoctrination it is perfectly plausible that the blame for one’s failure to ‘succeed’ should be attributed to one’s own shortcomings, and indeed it is seen as whining to blame the system rather than ourselves for our lack of progress. The entire myth, the foundation of the American Dream, is that US-style capitalism will automatically enrich anyone who works hard, filling individuals with an illusory hope that seldom comes to fruition while encouraging them to blame themselves when they fail.

 

If we were to try to identify one point in US history where superficiality took root in America, it might well be a speech by an American salesman named Elmer Wheeler who in 1937 coined the now-famous maxim of “Don’t sell the steak – sell the sizzle!”. For those who don’t know, the sizzle is the sound made by a steak when it is first tossed onto a hot barbeque. His idea had merit. Looking at a photo of a steak or listening to a radio commercial about steaks would be unlikely to generate much immediate purchasing response, but hearing that sound might well recall fond memories and persuade shoppers to head for the supermarket. His theory was that it isn’t the simple product that generates a purchase but rather our emotional response to some element of that product.

Of course, it was American Jews who more or less created marketing, and Bernays’ advertising wizards were not slow to adapt Wheeler’s advice to virtually every product in existence. But, as with most things American, they didn’t know when to quit, and carried the process far past the end. It soon occurred to American businessmen that if people were buying the sizzle there was no need to provide the steak. It may come as a surprise to many people, especially Americans, but it was American companies, not Chinese, that created fake products and flooded the nation and the world with them. Since customers wanted the ‘sizzle’ of leather in their cars and on their sofas, anything vaguely resembling leather would suffice. It was Americans who created fake leather, wood, metal, glass, fake wool and linen, fake virgin olive oil and, eventually, fake people. The list is almost endless. Any natural product that could possibly be counterfeited – but nevertheless sold as the real thing – was produced and sold.

And it was primarily the conflux of sizzle and credit that led companies and marketers to create the propaganda of the American Dream; not the dream where you succeed, but the dream where you have the appearance of success. After all, borrowing money to purchase a fake leather sofa to show off to your neighbors is almost as good as actually having the money in the bank to purchase the real thing. And this is what the marketers marketed. The focus on providing consumers with increasingly less steak and more sizzle, along with the fake materials purchased on credit, eventually resulted in what we call superficiality, a term that describes Americans as perfectly as any other.

It is interesting to watch the continuing development of this process today. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that Starbucks offers some of the worst coffee on the planet, which is natural since it was designed to suit American tastes. But you may be surprised to learn that Starbucks is no longer selling coffee; they are now selling “experiences”. The marketers and advertisers, aided and abetted by the propagandists and their Freudian background, have concluded that there is an even better way to loot bank accounts than offering fake goods on credit. In their view, shops once sold commodities (coffee beans), then became ‘service firms’ (coffee shops) where the commodity was standardised and the distinguishing consumer attraction was the quality of service. Inherent in that shift was the degrading of the commodity – which was expensive – and replacing it with ‘service’ which cost nothing but an artificial smile. They have now moved to a new level where we sacrifice both the commodity and the service, and replace both with “an experience”.

The propagandists and marketers, the offspring of Lippman and Bernays, are spending enormous sums of money on psychologists and psychiatrists to fathom precisely what it is about going to a Starbucks or a Wal-Mart that can create a positive emotional response. Yes, I know. I almost choked writing that sentence, but these people are serious. They want to identify the stimulus and to then fabricate the circumstances in an attempt to provoke that response. If successful, the fake commodity and fake service can disappear to be replaced by a fake emotional experience that you will treasure and one day excitedly relate to your grandchildren. It is all a false reality created with contrived experiences that are not real, but Americans are already on international speaking tours proselytising the new marketing approach. And it’s all fake, in the same way that most of America is fake. In the US, marketing is built on lies just as is virtually all else in the nation. It is interesting to watch Americans promoting this new view; they are unable to recognise that any part of their new bible contrasts with reality, and react with offense when Europeans tell them “You Americans are all about image instead of reality. Everything about you is fake and superficial. You people are living in a cliché.”

It is true that sitting in a coffee shop in Vienna or at a sidewalk cafe in Rome can be a treasured experience, a result generated by dozens or perhaps even hundreds of charming small details that combine to create a genuine appreciation of one of life’s little pleasures. But these wonderful small experiences cannot be fabricated and still generate a pleasure of life, except perhaps for Americans who appear to have lost entirely the ability to distinguish the sizzle from the steak and to whom the only genuine reality is superficial. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting one’s customers to have a good experience, but the American attitude toward creating these is not genuine or sincere; it is cheap, fake, and artificial, a psycho-induced emotional response to a fake reality. Instead of trying to understand how to give customers a real, genuine, pleasant experience as they would receive in Vienna or Rome, the Americans are spending millions trying to understand how to fabricate in their customers the artificial “feelings” of an experience without actually giving them anything. One needs to wonder what the hell Americans think about, what goes on in those minds. And again, if anybody needs an “experience” so badly they have to go to a Starbucks or a Wal-Mart to find it, what they really need is a life.

One of the most obvious sources of evidence of the ingrained superficiality that pervades America today is fruit and vegetable production. There are almost no fruits and few vegetables produced in the US today that have any taste, and there are almost no Americans who know what good fruit tastes like. The reason explains much about the American mentality. US growers wanted to eliminate the natural blemishes that occur on most fruits, so these were cross-bred through many generations to produce a cosmetically-perfect appearance. Next, sporadic and uneven ripening was inconvenient and expensive since pickers would have to return for many days over a month or more to pick all the fruit, so growers cross-bred the fruit to ripen as nearly as possible on the same day. Next, tenderness and delicacy were a problem because fruits are often damaged during packing and transportation, so the growers cross-bred the fruits for toughness and hardiness. It’s no secret they succeeded. You can take an apple in an American supermarket and throw it against a concrete wall, with the only damage being to the wall. Then, they wanted to standardise the sizes, so they cross-bred for size consistency, after which shelf life was a problem. Natural fruits will last at best only a few days before they begin to spoil, so growers cross-bred fruits that could be picked green and would last for months. Finally, they cross-bred for artificial color.

 

Americans and Automobiles: Capitalism and Propaganda

One of the grand parts of American mythology revolves around what is called “America’s Love Affair With the Automobile”, presented as an exciting if a bit quirky personal expression of independent and freedom-loving America, where inexpensive mass transportation failed to evolve due to Americans’ individuality and desire for freedom. But this historical narrative is wrong. Today’s US ‘car culture’ was the result of a massive conspiracy contrived by the auto and oil oligarchs and, like the consumer society, imposed on an unsuspecting nation through deceit and propaganda. Most of the truth has been deleted from the historical record and replaced with a ‘feel-good’ fairytale. After trashing the mass transit systems, the automakers led by GM produced a wide array of mythical narratives to justify and praise the transportation system they had created.

Some Background

This story begins, as do many others similar, in the early 1900s, when the US was busy industrialising, when mass public transportation consisting of trains and trams was filling much of the nation’s needs. Autos were of course rapidly evolving at the same time, but gasoline-powered transportation, whether by private auto or mass transit, was on its way out. Almost all of the nation’s local and inter-city train transport was electric, and electric automobiles were rapidly gaining ground over their gas-powered rivals. By 1900, nearly 40% of all US cars were electric, and were so popular that New York City had a fleet of electric taxis.

Early electric cars outperformed their gas competitors and people liked them because they didn’t have the smell, noise, or vibration of gasoline cars, were easier to operate, and didn’t require cranking or gear changing. The NYT noted that women especially preferred them for the absence of smoke and smelly fumes, especially when refueling.[1][2] It appeared a certainty that electric vehicles were the wave of the future, but then within only about three years the transportation landscape irreversibly changed and electric vehicles, like the dinosaurs, suffered a fatal climate change and died.

General Motors is a Serial Killer:

Felony Murder Number One

At that time, General Motors and the major oil companies were facing a multiple crisis. The auto market had already been saturated and sales growth so anemic that in 1921 alone GM lost more than \$65 million and was well on its way to the cemetery, oil company revenues and profits sharing this dismal future. GM and its friends realised their only hope for salvation was to eliminate their one rival – mass public transit, and hatched a plan that would forever change the course of the US economy, its transportation, culture, and society itself. One hundred years ago General Motors, John Rockefeller, and a few close friends, using very large sums of money and every form of deception, coercion and intimidation short of murder, singlehandedly killed the US electric auto and train industry, buying up and destroying the rolling stock of almost 1,000 US railroads and tramways so it could sell them gasoline-engined vehicles instead, and virtually killing off mass public transit at the same time.[3]

According to the company’s own files, GM created a special secret division charged with the task of exterminating mass transit and replacing it with gasoline-powered propulsion, eliminating all traces of electric vehicles. At the time, GM was an enormously powerful firm, possessing great financial leverage with the banking systems and therefore over the railways which required bank financing and support. They threatened each railroad with a complete withdrawal of all lucrative freight business unless the rail company replaced its electric locomotives with GM’s gasoline-powered units. By every manner of extortion, they attempted to force local transit systems to abandon electric trams and purchase GM’s gasoline-powered buses. According to US Justice Department records, GM executives visited the banks used by the various railways, offering them millions in additional deposits and other rewards in exchange for delivering financial threats to their rail clients to persuade them to abandon their electric systems and convert to gas-powered GM vehicles. GM’s threat to these banks was to withdraw all deposits if they refused to cooperate.[4]

In each case where this conspiracy was successful and local tramways converted to gasoline buses, GM not only bought and crushed the electric vehicles, but tore out all the tracks and redistributed the rights of way so that it would have been virtually impossible to ever rebuild these systems. In cases where their efforts failed, GM formed numerous holding companies with its invisible friends and attempted to purchase and convert the railways themselves. According to FBI files, in cases where rail systems could not be bought, GM bought the rail officials instead, bribing them with large sums of cash, gifts of new cars, and the use of threats and extortion in a surprisingly uninhibited manner. GM also sponsored and financed corrupt officials in countless municipal elections, who would then vote for the sale of their local electric rail system to GM. Most of this was done in the name of a holding company named National City Lines, which was jointly owned by GM, Standard Oil and Firestone Tire. In each case where these rail systems converted from electric to gas, they experienced a rapid and large decline in revenue, since passengers abandoned the slow and foul-smelling gasoline buses and purchased autos instead – which was part of the plan.

One stumbling block remained in that many local electric tramway systems were owned by the regional electric utility company, using their own surplus electricity for public transport systems, and here GM had no leverage. To eliminate this blockage, GM and its invisible people lobbied, bribed and extorted the nation’s elected politicians to pass new legislation that prohibited ‘regulated’ electrical utility companies from operating ‘unregulated’ businesses like the electric tramway and train systems. This cute legislative trick forced the utility companies to put all their electric train systems up for sale, all of which were immediately purchased by GM and its holding companies, and trashed. With these efforts and more, within three years, GM dismantled almost all of the 1,000 electric railroads and tramways in the US, having purchased and crushed for scrap metal their entire rolling stock, and replaced it with GM-made gasoline-powered units.[5] And so, for the first time, General Motors killed the electric car.

Wikipedia covers these facts in some detail, the only qualification being the claim that this is yet another irresponsible “conspiracy theory”. But, as usual, if we assume that everything Wikipedia claims as false is really true, we have quite an accurate picture. Worthy of note is that Wiki also floods the landscape with tons of irrelevant detail so as to smoke up the room so badly that we lose sight of the core issue – a standard Hasbara tactic.

The Real Beneficiaries of Democracy

 

Introduction

China has the world’s longest high-speed rail (HSR) network with some 38,000 kilometers in operation,[1] which comprises nearly 70% of all the world’s high-speed lines[2] and more than three times that of the entire European Union.[3] China has more than 2,500 high-speed trains in operation, more than all the rest of the world combined,[4] and it also has the fastest trains in operation anywhere,[5] with several generations now operating at speeds between 350 Km/h and 400 Km/h. Shanghai’s Maglev is still the fastest operating train in the world,[6] with sustained speeds of 430 Km/h. China’s rail system carries about 3.5 billion passengers per year, nearly 70% of these on high-speed trains. During the 40 days of China’s Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), passenger volume reached a peak of more than 400 million.

China’s High-Speed Rail Network
China’s High-Speed Rail Network

The Chinese government planned the HSR program in part to compress passenger travel on these dedicated tracks and free much of the slower existing rail system for freight, to remove trucks from the nation’s highways, thus lowering costs and in turn making highways safer for automobiles. The Shanghai-Nanjing route for example has 38 trains each way each day – carrying perhaps 150,000 passengers, which frees a huge amount of track time for freight. China’s high-speed trains have dramatically reduced the travel time between most major centers. Shanghai-Beijing is down from 12 hours to 4; Shanghai-Nanjing from 4 hours to 1; Wuhan to Guangzhou from 14 hours to only 3 hours.

There are always potential difficulties establishing routes due to the number of communities to serve and the consequent number of stops – which negate the advantage of high-speed trains. China seems to have arrived at an excellent solution. As an example, the 275 Km. route from Shanghai to Nanjing serves 6 communities between the two terminal stations, with some trains on this route travelling on an express basis and making no stops (1 hour), with others stopping at one or several cities on route, with different trains making different combinations of stops (1.5 hours). This has proven to be a convenient method to serve all cities on the route while still maintaining low average travel times.

Many of the statistics and other information available online on China’s (and other) train travel are inaccurate at best, one website claiming China in 2019 had 1.4 trillion train passengers. Even Statista is quite inaccurate, confusing test runs of experimental trains with regular operating speeds of scheduled rail.[7] France’s TGV is listed at its maximum one-time test speed of 575 Km/h, when it operates at only 300 Km/h. Statista has operating speeds wrong too, listing China’s Fuxing at 418 Km and Hexie at 486 Km/h, which normally operate at only 300 and 350 Km/h although they have proven capable of operating at these higher sustained speeds.

Train and Passenger Classes

China has three generations of high-speed trains in operation: G, D, and C. The G-trains are the fastest commercial-use high-speed trains in the world with speeds of 350 Km/h to 400 Km/h. The D-trains operate at 250 Km/h and the first-generation C at 200 Km/h. Below this, there are still the ‘normal’ trains with designations of Z, T, K, N and more. The Z, T and K trains run at 160 Km/h, 140 and 120. Slower trains are used for short rural trips where time is not so important.

These train alphabets are not nothing. I once took a G-train from Shanghai to Haining (the world-famous leather market), a trip of maybe 30 minutes if I recall correctly. I didn’t have a return ticket since I wasn’t certain of my return time, so I simply asked the wicket lady to put me on “the next train to Shanghai”. That was a big mistake. N-train. Ten kilometers per hour on the flat, much less uphill. That train stopped at every town, village, pig farm and strawberry patch on its way to Shanghai, and many times we had to pull off the track to permit a faster train to go by. Two and half hours to return home. I wondered why the ticket was so cheap. The kind of mistake you make only once.

I would note too that punctuality is a hallmark of Chinese transportation generally, this certainly applying to the HSR network. If the schedule states the departure time as 11:02, then at 11:02 the doors silently close and the train is moving. I’ve experienced a few departure delays, typically due to an arrival that is late, but usually by only 5 or 10 minutes. I don’t have available the percentage of on-time departures and arrivals but it must be in the high 90s.

These high-speed trains typically have cars that are First-Class, Second-Class and Business Class, and trains not dedicated to short runs have sleeper cars which are very clean and perfectly comfortable even in older trains, the later generations offering lovely duvets, a separate TV for each bunk, electrical outlets, lights, Wi-Fi. Regular sleepers have four bunks to a room while the highest grade has only two berths to a compartment, suitable for couples, and equipped with a sofa, a wardrobe, and private bathroom. Sleepers typically carry a 25% or 30% cost premium over regular seats.

Business Class

These offer a pleasant alternative to air travel for the typically rushed and pressurised one-day business trips, for example from Shanghai to Guangzhou or Hong Kong. We board our train in the evening after dinner, do a bit of work or watch TV, and awake at 7:00 AM downtown at our destination, with enough time for breakfast before our first meeting. On the return trip, we have a leisurely dinner with friends, board the train across the street, and awake at 7:00 AM back in Shanghai. With two full nights’ sleep, there is no jet lag and no residual fatigue.

Here are some typical ticket prices:

G-train

  • Beijing-Shanghai, 1,350 Kms; 350 Km/h (4 hours)
  • 2nd Class, 550 RMB (\$80)
  • 1st Class, 900 RMB (\$135)
  • Business Class, 1,700 (\$250)

D-Train

  • Kunming-Lijiang, 500 Kms; 250 Km/h (2 hours)
  • 2nd Class, 220 RMB (\$30)
  • 1st Class, 350 RMB (\$50)

C-Train

  • Beijing-Tianjin, 125 Kms; 200 Km/h (1 hour+)
  • 2nd Class, 55 RMB (\$8)
  • 1st Class, 90 RMB (\$13)

It’s almost impossible to compare train fares with the US because in China the fares vary only by distance and train type. Amtrak has a fare schedule that on first approach appears occult, apparently following the convoluted airline model of changing fares by time of departure and other secret paranormal factors, so a particular price could be almost anywhere. On some routes, twice the distance costs half the price. Still, they appear to be much higher than in China by a factor of perhaps 5 or more.

China’s Maglev Trains

 

At the risk of appearing to be a shill, I think it is safe to say that China arguably has the best mobile phone service in the world, certainly second to none, while the US and Canada have arguably the worst, surely the most fragmented and dysfunctional, and certainly the most expensive. Let’s look at some details.

I’m uncertain about the US but, so far as I am aware, in Canada and many European countries, mobile phones can be purchased only from a telecom company, one of the more clever but clearly anti-social provisions in Western communications legislation. This gives the phone companies a truly ‘captive market’ in that, if you want a particular phone, you have no choice but to submit to all that company’s policies and to pay their demanded prices. A major difference in the communications landscape is that Chinese phone companies do not have a monopoly on the sale of mobile phones and are in fact minority sellers.

To buy a mobile phone in China, you go to any one of thousands of shops in your city, each selling hundreds of different brands and models of mobile phones, and negotiate the best price you can get for the phone you want. And you CAN negotiate: “There are three shops across the street selling this same phone. Either give me a better price (or a free expensive umbrella, or a nice stuffed animal), or I’ll go there instead.” Some Americans will recognise this as “competition”.

After you buy the phone, you buy a SIM card (about \$3.00), which contains your phone number, network connection authorisation, and some free air time. You insert the SIM card, turn on the phone, and begin making calls while still in the shop. That’s the whole process. Except for the SIM card, it’s the same as buying a toaster.

You can choose from various phone companies to provide service, but everything is pretty much the same and, while there are many various “usage plans”, you needn’t subscribe to them and can simply use your phone on a pay-as-you-go basis. Noteworthy is that in China you can change phone companies without changing your phone or your number. If you buy a new phone, you simply insert your old SIM card and everything is as it was. You can purchase a second (or third) SIM card and have different local numbers to use in different cities, if you want to do that.

For sure one of the best features is that the entire country is wired, even in remote locations. Some time back I was on holiday in Inner Mongolia and could happily send photos on WeChat while riding my camel in the desert. Given the extensiveness of wireless coverage, in more than 17 years in China I could count the number of dropped calls on the fingers of one hand. And it isn’t only China itself, but the entire Asian region that is seamlessly connected. I recently called a friend in Shanghai to invite him for lunch, and he said, “I can’t. I’m in Vietnam”.

If anyone from anywhere in the world calls me, the system knows where I am and my phone rings. I never have to think about service provider compatibility, roaming, and all the other restrictions that exist in Canada or the US. If I travel to Beijing, I receive a text message welcoming me and telling me my calls are now local calls. And in a sense, all mobile phone calls in China are ‘local’. The landline system still uses area codes, but the mobile phone system abandoned them decades ago and simply uses an 11-digit phone number, so calling anywhere in the country is the same. The system is so functionally useful that I cannot recall ever meeting anyone in China who had a personal or home land line.

The system also monitors abuses, presenting warning notices upon receiving a call from a number reported to belong to telemarketers or telephone scam operators. As well, the SMS system is used very effectively for some kinds of public notices like a simultaneous warning to 100 million citizens of an approaching typhoon.

Phone calls in China cost maybe \$0.01 per minute, and SMS messages are the same for sending; receiving is free. The typical monthly cost for a smart phone in China, including typical internet usage, is maybe \$15.00, compared to around \$100.00 in the US or Canada, and sometimes as much as \$200.00. Many young kids in China stream movies on their phones and can run up higher bills, but the \$15.00 cost is probably typical and maybe even high. I should add that in China the ‘basic phone bill’ includes all the ancillaries which are usually sold at extra cost in the West: caller ID, call-holding, and many others.

International calls have a special provision: I first dial a 5-digit number before the phone number I’m calling and that automatically places me on some kind of heavy discount basis. Perhaps other countries have this feature now, but I can speak to a friend halfway around the world for less than \$1.00 per hour.

Once on an extended trip to Canada I thought I’d buy a Canadian SIM card for my phone for the sake of convenience. That was a mistake. The phone company charged me \$30 for the SIM card and another \$30 as a “connection fee”. That last one rankled. In the days of land lines, the phone company had to send a man out to your house to physically connect your phone, so you paid a connection charge. But today there is no such thing as a ‘connection’. When you turn on your phone, the SIM card pings the tower and you’re connected. On my return to China, I discovered I’d lost my China SIM card; not a big deal but I didn’t want to lose my phone number. Happily, for 5 RMB (about \$0.75), the nice girl at China Mobile reprogrammed a new SIM card with my old number and life was normal again.

There is one other item I would raise that seems to be primarily an American phenomenon: dirty tricks. One such was Marriott Hotels a few years back using illegal frequency jammers to block guests’ Wi-Fi hotspots and other such devices, shutting them out from the Internet entirely, then charging them between \$250.00 and \$1,000.00 per device to connect to the hotel’s own wireless network. A Marriott spokesperson with the unlikely name of Gaylord Opryland, claimed it was only “a security precaution” to protect hotel guests from “rogue Wi-Fi hotspots”, and that the hotel used only “FCC-authorized equipment provided by well-known, reputable manufacturers”, i.e., the CIA. The claim apparently didn’t fly with the FCC who fined the hotel chain \$600,000 for the scam.[1][2] I suppose it’s possible this kind of thing happens in China too, but I have never heard of it.

I once had that experience on a cruise ship traveling from Shanghai to Tokyo. As soon as we boarded the ship, even while still in port, all signals disappeared and we had no choice but to pay the cruise line’s exorbitant fees to be able to use our own phones. I refused just on principle, but I discovered there was one small portion of one lower deck where the jamming wasn’t effective, and I could still communicate with Shanghai until we were more than 300 miles out of port. No idea how the signal could carry that far, but it did.

Also, there is something unreal about the mobile phone market in North America. I don’t know if I can define it well enough to make it sensible, but it has overtones (or undertones) of what appears to be some combination of religion and ‘national security’. It suggests there exists something intrinsically mystical or inherently menacing about mobile phones and thus the rapacious practices of the phone companies are disguised as necessities to save the country from unspecified evils. Yet a mobile phone is nothing but a toaster with a SIM card (minus the toaster part). The propaganda of greed.

 

This is the final Part 8 of a series titled ‘Propaganda and the Media’, the first 7 parts of which were published earlier, and available here:[1] The entire series will now be combined into an eBook in .pdf format, available on bluemoonofshanghai.com (in the books section).

This is primarily an article about lies, about the people who tell them, and about their methods of telling them. This essay, long as it is, is only a brief introduction to only a minor aspect of this subject.

Canada and other Western countries have what we call ‘anti-hate laws’, legislation intended to prevent the dissemination of hateful and racist accusations against another people, especially if they are likely to inspire negative or violent actions. Unfortunately, these laws, regulations, and newspaper editing appear to be applied in a less than equitable fashion, intended only to silence criticism of, and opposition to, Israel and the activities of the Jews, and never meant to apply to any other nation of people.

I don’t make that accusation carelessly. As a case in point, at about the time these laws were enacted, there was a book published titled “The Hajj”, which received some popular acclaim. I no longer recall much of the content, but one passage remains in my mind – a description of an Arab woman who, while admittedly attractive, was of such inferior and primitive stock that her infant was happy to lie in its bassinette, eating its own excrement. I recall thinking at the time that if that passage had been written about a Jew, there would have been hell to pay. But in the event, nobody raised a fuss and nothing happened, at least nothing that came to my attention. And from that point onward, I have never seen anything to change my original conviction that these laws were introduced by fierce Jewish lobbying pressure only to ensure that Jews – and only Jews – would not be subject to public criticism.

I believe I could stand on the steps of Canada’s Parliament Buildings or the US House of Congress, and yell out that Arabs are all insane terrorists, primitive nomads, sub-human animals who should be exterminated, and nothing much would happen. In fact, the racial biases in much of the West are such that I might receive for a medal. But once again, I doubt very much that any anti-hate laws would come out of the woodwork to defend the Arabs from my hateful tirades. We can conclude only that anti-hate legislation is intended to protect only Jews from criticism, while leaving the Jews free to trash any people with absolute impunity. And they do, relentlessly, every day. The Jews wanted the laws to protect them from criticism, but those laws don’t protect anyone from the Jews.

Of all the people in the world who should understand what it is like to be a nation without a home, to be set upon, to be driven from their homes, often with violence, to lose everything including their lives, it should be the Jews. But any suffering the Jews experienced could not be worse than the travesties they inflict every day upon the Palestinian people. The incredible injustices inflicted on the Palestinians are legion, and well-documented – including by the UN, Human Rights Watch and many other organisations. How can any thinking people – how can the Jews – defend such consistent and brutal, even savage, actions, against another people, while proclaiming their holiness and innocence to the world, while at the same time expecting the world to remember Jewish (and only Jewish) suffering? How can a people like the Jews, who want (and are pressing hard for) many countries to build ‘holocaust museums’ to commemorate their suffering, have in turn inflicted much greater injustices and suffering on other innocent peoples, and then disavow all of it and in fact mock it?

And now the entire world is repeating precisely the same mistakes it made about the Jews before and during the two World Wars – watching the denigration of entire nations of people, China especially, but others as well – recognising the illegality and dishonesty of it, the savage brutality, the injustice, the degradation, the humiliation, the poverty and hopelessness in some victim countries. And watching, and watching. Silently. Too cowardly to speak out. One of the more unfortunate aspects of this is that the Jews are strongly aided by Gentiles carrying out their agenda, Christian Zionists who foolishly don’t appreciate that they are also disposable, compradors who greatly assist in this enormous tragedy taking place but who will be discarded as Goyim when the job is done.

I would have to say that while I am aware of the past tragedies, I was not a part of them. While I can feel much compassion for the suffering and the loss of life, I myself have committed no wrongs – not against the Jews nor anyone else. And I deeply resent attempts to make me feel guilty for things that happened before I was born and over which I had no control. I resent anyone attempting to control my thinking, to make me timid and hesitant in my own opinions, to make me fear reprisal for speaking openly of my honest thoughts and feelings. Those are characteristics of a fascist police state, not of a free world. As I wrote earlier, I have no dislike for Jews. But I don’t expect my government to cower in fear of a powerful ethnic lobby and throw me in prison for my genuine personal thoughts or opinions. And perhaps even more to the point, I don’t expect my government to be cowardly and hypocritical on such an important issue, to the extent of telling me I am free to dislike Native Aboriginals, or Arabs, or the Chinese or Russians, but that the Jews are off limits – not because they’re God’s Chosen People but because they possess financial, media and extortion power.

The Basics of Control

There are only two nations in the world whose existence seems to be founded primarily on historical myths, and only two peoples where a false historical mythology seems to permeate every nook and cranny of the national psyche. These two are the US and the American people, and Israel and the Jews. For the Jews, this condition pertains not only to all historical events, but somehow to the fabric of daily life itself, where almost all reference to Jews, their activities, their nature, their social position, and even their intentions, comprise something resembling a Disney fairytale. In many instances, the experience is surreal.

Jews control, usually by ownership, sometimes by other means, virtually the entire mass and social media of much of the world, certainly in what we define as ‘The West’ but also deeply into the other continents. In many Jewish publications the Jews boast of their ownership and control of the media and Hollywood yet, if a Gentile dares to state the same facts, the invariable response is loud denial and vicious personal attacks that are often socially and financially fatal.

Most of Jewish history is buried, and most of that is buried very deeply, this circumstance abetted enormously by the Jews’ virtual control of all means of communication: the mass media, social media, Internet tools like Google and Wikipedia, the book publishers and much more. I have written often that the only value in free speech lies in having control of the microphone, but in our real world only the Jews have this to any appreciable extent and the remaining channels are rapidly being closed.

 

The photo is of today’s desktop on my computer. (It changes every day).

The picture is of part of The Milky Way, our home. But the startling thing is that (with a few exceptions) each of those little dots of light is not a star, but another galaxy. To see this through a large telescope and realise the vastness of the universe, is an awe-inspiring experience to say the least.

Astronomers, physicists and cosmologists today are busy producing theories about the origin of the universe, worrying themselves about the Big Bang and the subsequent creation of the elements. But there are two items they fail to address, that seem to me the most important of all:

1. The universe is supposed to be the sum total of all existence, everything that is. By definition, there is nothing beyond it. But we are told this universe is expanding more or less uniformly in all directions, apparently at the speed of light or thereabouts. Assuming this is true, I want to know INTO WHAT is the universe expanding?

2. Physicists are reaching decreasingly farther back into time, into “the origin of everything” in a manner of speaking, now apparently determining precisely what happened in the first second after the Big Bang. But I don’t much care what happened in the first second after the Big Bang. I want to know what happened in the LAST SECOND BEFORE the Big Bang.

Anyone?

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Astronomy 
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What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
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