ZeroCOVID kills

“The fire in Urumqi, Xinjiang: the last screams of the residents who were burned to death, other residents could only stand by the window to watch, because everyone was locked at home.”


Originally tweeted by The Great Translation Movement 大翻译运动官方推号 (@TGTM_Official) on November 25, 2022.

According to state reports, 10 people were killed, and 9 were injured in a fire in the capitol city of China’s Uyghur region, Xinjiang.

Most of Xinjiang and its capitol city Ürümqi , has been under lockdown for more than 100 days. Victims likely spent their last 3 months largely confined to that building

Videos show lockdown measures delayed firefighters from getting to the victims screaming for help. Testing facilities blocked firefighters’ access.

Urumqi city authorities claim apartment residents were free to enter and leave, and that there were no barricades blocking the exits.

Urumqi’s fire chief blamed residents instead, saying “Some residents’ ability to rescue themselves was too weak”

Protests erupted throughout China, some demanding the Xi step down. Most of the protesters were Han Chinese – the Uyghurs fear being sent to the prison camps.

Congratulations Firefly Aerospace!

Alpha Flight 2 launch

The commercial space company Firefly‘s ‘Alpha Flight 2: To The Black’ was successfully launched from Vandenberg space force base this morning at one minute past midnight.

This was the second attempt. Alpha Flight 1 was launched last September, but didn’t manage to reach orbit because one of the four first-stage engines shut down prematurely. The rocket kept going on three engines and managed to reach supersonic, but then tumbled out of control. It was intentionally destroyed by an explosive flight termination system.

According to Firefly, the problem was an electrical issue. But on the bright side, the rocket generated useful data during its 2 1/2 minutes of flight.

This year Firefly attempted to launch Alpha Flight 2 on Sept. 11, but controllers halted the countdown a minute before schedule due to a drop in the supply of the helium that was used to pressurize tanks. They ultimately scrubbed the launch.

Firefly then had to wait for the weather to get better before making a third attempt. On Sept. 30. The engines briefly ignited as the countdown reached zero, but the rocket went into “auto abort” at engine ignition.

Today Alpha launched smoothly and hit its marks as planned. The rocket’s two stages separated about 2.5 minutes after liftoff. The upper stage was inserted into an elliptical transfer orbit targeted to be 190 miles (300 kilometers) above Earth.

From’s Alpha Flight 2 to the Black page

According to Tim Dodd of , three payloads were deployed. All three payloads are tiny, each about the size of a loaf of bread.

Serenity, from the nonprofit organization Teachers in Space, was designed to collect a variety of data which will be shared with the educational community.

TechEdSat-15 (TES-15) is owned by NASA in coordination with San Jose State University in California. It features an “exo-brake” designed to help satellites leave their orbital perches more smoothly when their work is done.

Libre Space Foundation’s PicoBus will deploy 6 picosatellites into space to test the world’s first “fully free and open source telecommunications constellation.”

In November 2018 Firefly was selected by NASA for a Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract to “acquire end-to-end commercial payload services between the Earth and the lunar surface for NASA Headquarters’ Science, Human Exploration and Operations, and Space Technology Mission Directorates (SMD, HEOMD, and STMD).”

NASA also added Firefly to the VADR contract, “citing the need for a provider capable of launching payloads between 500 and 1,000 kilograms. “Firefly is the only launch vehicle provider in this grouping that has completed development and conducted its first test launch of their Alpha Launch Vehicle,” NASA stated in the procurement filing.”

Firefly hopes to be a player in the small-satellite launch industry that includes  Rocket Lab ,  Virgin Orbit and SpaceX .

The more the merrier!

[Also posted on my SubStack Site, Future So Bright ]

Rushdie the latest victim of oil-rich billionaires at war

Novelist Salman Rushdie

According to the BBC:

Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator and unable to speak after being stabbed on stage in the US, his agent says.

Andrew Wylie said that the author, 75, may lose one eye after the attack at an event in New York state.

Mr Rushdie went into hiding with police protection in the UK in 1988 after Iran’s top leader called for his murder over his novel, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims deemed blasphemous.

Police detained a suspect named as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey.

New York State Police said the suspect ran onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie and an interviewer at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state.

Mr Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and in the abdomen, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter.

“Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” his agent said.

No motive or charges have yet been confirmed by police, who are in the process of obtaining search warrants to examine a backpack and electronic devices found at the centre.

Police told a news conference that staff and audience members had pinned the attacker to the ground where he was arrested. A doctor in the audience gave Mr Rushdie first aid.

Some information about the alleged assassin, Hadi Matar: he is linked to Iranian extremism, born in the US of Lebanese descent and was living in NJ.

He had a fake ID in the name of Hassan Mughniyah. Mughniyah was killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

Mughniyah was a close ally of Qasem Soleimani, who commanded the Quds force, a sub-branch of the Iranian revolutionary Guard. Soleimani was killed by a US drone in Iraq in 2020 on orders from then US President Donald Trump. Investigators found photos showing Qasem Soleimani on Hadi Matar’s mobile phone.

Soleimani’s death was a significant loss for Iran and for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Lebanon has been at the forefront of a very long running war between the Wahhabi monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite revolutionary Iran. Both states want to impose their version of Islamic Sharia law on Muslims and everyone else on the planet. They fight this war via their official and unofficial militias. In Lebanon, Saudi supports Sunni militias (mostly) in Tripoli. Iran supports Hezbollah and is allied with Syrian Alawites.

Saudi has long tried to weaken Iran-backed Hezbollah. This led to an odd incident where Saudi royals sort-of-kidnapped long-time Saudi ally Lebanese Prime minister Saad Hariri in order to pressure Hariri to oust Hezbollah from Lebanon. This was followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE calling its citizens to withdraw themselves and their money from Lebanon.

Despite Saudi support of 9/11 and their links to many terrorist attacks around the world, our government and diplomatic corps believe that we & the KSA are allies. Iran believes this too.

Our assassination of a Saudi/Al Qaida militia leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was a signal to Iran that there’s trouble in the US / Saudi alliance. They would see this as a good time to strike against us.

That’s NOT to say that the assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri or Soleimani was a bad thing. A show of weakness invites more attacks, not fewer. The fact that we did not name Saudi as being responsible for the 9/11 attacks or punish them in any way left American allies vulnerable to Saudi-funded Salafist attacks for decades.

But when we do strike back, we need to acknowledge that there will be a response. The horrific attack against Rushdie is proof — we should have been paying more attention to protecting possible targets in this long-running war between oil-rich billionaires.

Why don’t people want to work?

Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”

According to Reuters, “U.S. worker productivity in the second quarter fell at its steepest pace on an annual basis since 1948 when the Labor Department began tracking it” Growth in unit labor costs have accelerated, which means wage pressures will keep inflation going. Nonfarm productivity (the hourly output per worker) has been on a fast downward slide.

Employers are having real difficulty filling open positions. This is unprecedented, something that’s never happened coming out of a recession. The GOP-allied media blames Biden. And the welfare state.

The incentives that we’ve constructed in this country over a long period of time, to be fair, but accelerating recently have a very specific effect. Those policies reward people who don’t want a job and they punish people who do want a job. What they do is they degrade work. They strip it of its inherent meaning. And that’s a problem in a country that is running out of things that have inherent meaning. They’re telling you that your religion means nothing. Your patriotism means nothing. Your family means nothing. Now they’re telling you your work means nothing? What does mean anything? And how long can a society continue that doesn’t have meaning and that doesn’t revere work?

Tucker Carlson, Fox News

The Democrat-allied media, replacing the word “lockdowns” with “the pandemic”, blames employers and work in general:

The pandemic changed the way people view work. Many are rethinking what work means and how they spend their time … Employers are reporting difficulty filling open positions, something that’s never happened coming out of a recession. Many blame the extra $300 a week in unemployment insurance included in federal COVID-19 relief bills. More than two dozen states, including Arizona, agree and declined the extra money.

Statistics and anecdotal evidence, however, suggest more is at play. Americans are less interested in holding any job. They want a quality job.

Like the worldwide lockdowns, this employment situation is unprecedented. So, it makes sense to believe that one unprecedented event (lockdowns) would lead to many others.

In prisons and POW camps, lockdowns and social distancing were used to intimate prisoners and torture them into submission. The goal was to make them cooperative and institutionalized. In March 2020, in the name of ‘fighting COVID’, our governments created a worldwide POW camp. When the whole world becomes a prison, there is no Great Escape. Unless you wanted to swim to Sweden.

Previously productive cities like NYC ground to a halt. Bustling streets were emptied for months. Small businesses were destroyed. The people who owned them and worked for them were told that they were ‘non-essential’ — like prisoners, a burden to the taxpayer. When these cities finally ‘opened up’, restrictions still remained. Many couldn’t work or enter certain areas without showing their vaccine ‘papers’.

Mid-afternoon in Midtown, NYC (April 27, 2020)

The point of prison lockdowns is to enforce compliance. That was also the point of the government / media’s fear campaigns. Compliance.

Shuttered, ruined businesses, NYC (April 27, 2020)

… the state may actively want to instill fear in the population, thereby contributing to the making of mass hysteria. Illustrating this point is the leakage of an internal paper of the German Department of the Interior during the first weeks of the COVID-19 crisis. In the paper, the state experts recommended that the government should instill fear in the German population.

In order to spread fear, the paper endorsed three communication strategies. First, the state authorities should stress the breathing problems of COVID-19 patients because human beings have a primordial fear of death by suffocation, which can easily trigger panic.

Second, the experts emphasized that fear should also be instilled in children, even though there is next to no risk to children´s own health. However, children could get easily infected by meeting and playing with other children. According to the report, children should be told that when they infect their parents and grandparents in turn, they could suffer a distressful death at home. This communication advice intended to invoke anxiety and feelings of guilt. Instilling guilt is another measure used by governments to make the population more supportive. The recommended message instills fear of being responsible for infecting others who die a distressful death.

Third, the German government was advised to mention the possibility of unknown long-term irreversible health damage caused by a SARS-CoV-2 infection and the possibility of a sudden and unexpected death of people who were infected.

All these communication recommendations were intended to increase fear in the population. Fear, at the end, is an important foundation of a government’s power. As Henry H. Mencken put it: “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” The overreaction of government to a perceived threat then fosters anxiety.

It lies in the interests of a government to emphasize citizens’ vulnerability to external and internal threats, because the state´s legitimacy and power rest on the narrative that it protects its citizens against such dangers.

from ‘COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria’

It worked. But now we’re facing the unintended consequences of centralized, authoritarian actions.

The Democrats and the GOP were both responsible for the destruction these policies wrought on America. It’s not surprising that they’re looking to deflect the blame. But that won’t solve the problem. People are doing what they were forced to do. Complying. Expecting them to respond to their own needs and wants is too much to ask. They aren’t going back to work or being productive because no one has given them specific orders to do so. They’re waiting for their wardens to tell them what to do.

If governments want this compliant population to act in a certain way, they’re going to have to spell it out. Or mandate it.

Is anyone out there?

The Webb telescope shows us ever-more remote places, but there's no sign that anyone is looking back at us.   
SMACS 0723: Red arcs in the image trace light from galaxies in the very early Universe

Webb’s First Deep Field image shows us the thousands of galaxies that exist in a tiny, faraway sliver of the universe. Our own Milky Way Galaxy has an estimated 200–400 billion stars, with billions more planets circling them. That tiny, faraway sliver must also hold billions of planets. But there’s no sign that anyone is looking back at us.

Where are they?

The Fermi paradox has been asking this since the mid-1950’s. The scale of the universe and simple probability seem to indicate that intelligent life should be common. But, as far as we can tell, it’s not.

All life seeks to expand. We did this by colonizing new habitats on Earth. Many of us hope that in the future, we’ll go on to colonize our own galaxy, and, subsequently, the surrounding star system. Using technology that’s is almost within our reach, it would probably take us about five to fifty million years to colonize this galaxy. That seems kind of slow, but it’s a short time on the cosmological scale. If we could do it, why isn’t there evidence that someone else did it too?

Using ourselves as an example we should also note that we got to the moon and then, inexplicably, stopped and went back home. If other civilizations stalled in similar ways, they might not have travelled far. But at least we’ve sent probes out, like Voyagers 1 & 2. The least adventurous forms of intelligent life out there would also have left some evidence of their existence.

We might be Evolution’s side gig

One problem with our expectations is projection. We expect intelligent life to be like us in size, in chemical composition, communication methods. We expect them to be what we would like to be in the future. Maybe like the super-intelligent beings in Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ series, beings who look like us but are so much cooler, building powerful structures, ruling galaxies and all that. Unfortunately, our current bodies, ambitions and dreams might just be a short pit stop in the long road trip of evolution.

As Carl Sagan said: “We are the product of 4.5 billion years of fortuitous, slow biological evolution. There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped. Man is a transitional animal. He is not the climax of creation.”

Meat’s Dream

In his short story (and film, below) “They’re Made out of Meat”, Terry Bisson answers Fermi’s Paradox with a short fictional story about aliens who are looking to make First Contact with Earth.

Their constant probing reveals that humans are sentient meat. Since these aliens are machines, they’re horrified by this discovery. All-meat beings do not exist anywhere else in their Quadrant. And Sentient Meat is unheard of.

Officially, they’re required to welcome all sentient beings & multibeings to their fold, but they just can’t bear to deal with Sentient Meat. Fortunately, they know that meat can’t travel far.

“They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can’t live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.”

They decide to erase all records of contact and forget the whole thing.

Bisson is evasive about what type of machines these are, but since interstellar travel is their thing, they could be probably be on the level of the beings in Asimov’s Foundations, creating huge megastructures that can power ships that blast past the speed of light. They’d be Type II or III on the Kardashev scale, a method of measuring a civilization’s level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy it is able to use.

According to this scale, a Type III civilization possesses “energy at the scale of its own galaxy.” Type II is capable of harnessing the energy radiated by its own star, perhaps with a ginormous, sun-covering mega-structure like a Dyson sphere.

And, last and least, there’s the Type I civilization, which is the closest to our level. But we haven’t even reached that mark yet. We’re about four orders of magnitude below the cut. And it’s not clear how much progress we’ll make. The type of civilization that will bring its entire economy and social structure to a screeching halt because it’s afraid of a virus is not very bold. But, strangely enough, our COVID disaster offers some hope.

From the very large to the very small

While we haven’t gotten very far at building large scale projects in space, we have learned a lot about very small scale things like nuclear fission, nanotech and genetics.

There is an alternative to the Kardashev scale — John Barrow’s “Microdimensional mastery” reverse classification, from Type I-minus to Type Omega-minus:

  • Type I-minus is capable of manipulating objects over the scale of themselves: building structures, mining, joining and breaking solids;
  • Type II-minus is capable of manipulating genes and altering the development of living things, transplanting or replacing parts of themselves, reading and engineering their genetic code;
  • Type III-minus is capable of manipulating molecules and molecular bonds, creating new materials;
  • Type IV-minus is capable of manipulating individual atoms, creating nanotechnologies on the atomic scale, and creating complex forms of artificial life;
  • Type V-minus is capable of manipulating the atomic nucleus and engineering the nucleons that compose it;
  • Type VI-minus is capable of manipulating the most elementary particles of matter (quarks and leptons) to create organized complexity among populations of elementary particles; culminating in:
  • Type Omega-minus is capable of manipulating the basic structure of space and time.

We’re is somewhere between Type III-minus and Types IV-minus according to this classification. Hooray us!

Now for something completely different

Since we chose the small-scale route, I’d guess that other civilizations might also have taken it. The imagined machine-beings in Bisson’s story might not have been Kardashev powerhouses. They could have been a self-replicating Utility fog, a hypothetical collection of tiny nanobots that can assemble themselves into any large-scale machine or shape. Bisson’s aliens might even have evolved from (or been created by) — meat.

As small scale, self-assembling beings, they would not be restricted to speed of light travel. The fastest way to get from point A to point B in space is through a wormhole or black hole. That’s not tenable for anything but data, but fortunately, we are working on putting data in very tiny places. A strand of DNA can archive a huge amount of information in a very small place. Fiber cables can move data at 99.73 percent the speed lightRoses can conduct electricity. Somehow, these new discoveries could be honed and combined to create (or evolve) an organic Utility Fog, a self-assembling being.

We may not be at the point where we can reduce ourselves to data and re-assemble into our regular meaty forms, but we have imagined that possibility. Star-Trek’s under-appreciated Transporter did just that. I always wondered why the Enterprise crew didn’t take advantage of that all-purpose tech. It could fix any health problem by returning people to their default, stored info. They could use it to re-assemble and bring everyone who died back to life. But I guess that would have wrecked a lot of plot lines.

A super-small, self-assembling form of intelligent life might might be faster and lighter than we can perceive. They might not live on the surface of planets, they might live within planets or ice moons. They could be the stuff we see swirling around Jupiter, they might travel on waves of sound. They could be like viruses, trillions of imperceptibly small proto-beings falling from the sky.

They could be silicon-based, cyborgs or carbon units. Like a Utility Fog, they could quickly assemble from small-scale to large scale. If this form of life mastered faster than speed of light travel through space and time, mimicking us would be a piece of cake.

He/she/they/it could sitting next to you on the bus. Just a slob like one of us, trying to make his way home.


My short story, “Starfire”, about Eve Arnold, a disabled but determined farmer/aerospace engineer taking on the challenges of warfare in 2030, was a finalist in the US Army’s MadScientist speculative fiction contest. It was just published here by the Modern War Institute at West Point.

“The task : “Write about the following scenario – On March 17th, 2030, the country of Donovia, after months of strained relations and covert hostilities, invades neighboring country Otso. Donovia is a wealthy nation that is a near-peer competitor to the United States. Like the United States, Donovia has invested heavily in disruptive technologies such as robotics, AI, autonomy, quantum information sciences, bio enhancements and gene editing, space-based weapons and communications, drones, nanotechnology, and directed energy weapons. The United States is a close ally of Otso and is compelled to intervene due to treaty obligations and historical ties. The United States is about to engage Donovia in its first battle with a near-peer competitor in over 80 years…”

Skyhigh | Willpower Photo

A short clip from the story:

January 10, 2030

It was a slow day at the Sunnyside Diner so they turned on the news, which was far from sunny. Eve Arnold slouched as she listened, and when she did, the thin edges of her exoskeletal support brace pressed against her ribs. The AI embedded in the brace sent an auto-nag to her phone. “Stop slouching.” She ignored it and finished the dregs of her coffee as Oklahoma Today discussed America’s slow march towards war.”

So happy to be a part of such a creative project !

D.R.A.S.T.I.C. Research


How EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology Collaborated on a Dangerous Bat Coronavirus Project

“The DARPA DEFUSE Project”

DRASTIC was recently made aware of documents provided by a whistleblower, which show that EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) in concert wIth the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) attempted to carry out advanced and dangerous human pathogenicity Bat Coronavirus research that would clearly qualify as Gain of Function (GoF), in a grant proposal submitted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2018.

Document 1. A brief DRASTIC Analysis of the EcoHealth Alliance DEFUSE Proposal

Document 2: The Reasons why the DEFUSE Proposal was Rejected by DARPA

Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanised and “batified” mice.

The EHA / WIV proposal (named ‘DEFUSE’)…

View original post 268 more words

Chicken and Fennel Soup

I had a leftover roast chicken in the fridge and some fennel I’d forgotten about – and it’s fall! Chilly weather means it’s time for soup.

  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 jalepeno pepper, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine
  • Bones and meat from leftover roasted chicken (or 5 to 6 cups vegetable stock)
  • 2 large fennel stalks, chopped
  • 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp. orange peel
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews
  • salt and pepper to taste

(if you’re using a leftover roast chicken) Place the chicken bones in a large pot and fill with enough cold water to just cover. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

In a medium-large pot or Dutch oven, cook the garlic and peppers in the olive oil. As the garlic browns, add the carrots and fennel. Season with herbs, orange peel a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add wine and some broth to keep it from sticking.

If you like pureed soup, puree the fennel/garlic mixture with the cashews. Then, strain the chicken meat and broth and add it to the fennel/garlic mixture. Serve with bread or mix in cooked faroe or rice.

Chicken Mole

I’ve never tried to make Chicken Mole from scratch, although there are plenty of good recipes for that out there. This version with Dona Maria Mole sauce is pretty close to what I’ve had in Mexican restaurants. Their version usually has more chocolate.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (mild)
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato paste
  • Dona Maria mole mix
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown.

Add chicken thighs. Sprinkle with chili powder. Cover and sauté until chicken is lightly browned

Use orange juice or broth to deglaze the pan. Thin about 3 tablespoons of Mole mix with the orange juice. Mix the tomato paste and the rest of the orange juice and broth together. Add the Mole mix.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the unsweetened chocolate. Stir until melted. Add cinnamon. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro (or have them on the side). Serve over quinoa or rice + peas.

If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media | Psychology Today

The success of fear-based news relies on presenting dramatic anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, promoting isolated events as trends, depicting categories of people as dangerous and replacing optimism with fatalistic thinking. News conglomerates who want to achieve this use media logic, by tweaking the rhythm, grammar, and presentation format of news stories to elicit the greatest impact. Did you know that some news stations work with consultants who offer fear-based topics that are pre-scripted, outlined with point-of-view shots, and have experts at-the-ready? This practice is known as stunting or just-add-water reporting. Often, these practices present misleading information and promote anxiety in the viewer. Another pattern in newscasts is that the breaking news story doesn’t go beyond a surface level. The need to get-the-story-to-get-the-ratings often causes reporters to bypass thorough fact-checking.

If It Bleeds, It Leads: Understanding Fear-Based Media | Psychology Today