W.O.O.D. – 10 October 2017

This is another of the W.O.O.D. series of semi-regular
Weekly Occasional Open Discussions.
(i.e. if I forget and skip one, no big)

Immediate prior one here:
and remains open for threads running there
(at least until the ‘several month’ auto-close of comments on stale threads).

Cannonical list of old ones here: https://chiefio.wordpress.com/category/w-o-o-d/

So use “Tips” for “Oooh, look at the interesting ponder thing!”
and “W.O.O.D” for “Did you see what just happened?! What did you think about it?”

For this week, I’m going to toss 4 topics in the hopper.

1) North Korea: Is Trump just rattling their cage with his cagey comments, or is something afoot?

2) Starting to see reports of Frost Harvest Failures from Europe / Asia. Wonder how it’s going in other parts of the world like South America and Australia / New Zealand…

3) Is it time to look at LENR again? A couple of stories:


Mizuno Claims Production of Excess Energy that ‘Far Exceeds Input’ in New LENR Experiments
Posted on August 23, 2017
As a result, energy far exceeding input was continuously obtained. In the best results obtained thus far, the output thermal energy is double the input electrical energy, amounting to several hundred watts. The generated thermal energy follows an exponential temperature function. When the reactor temperature is 300°C, the generated energy is 1 kW.

When it’s kw scale and the output is double the input it isn’t subtile details of calorimetry technique… The Japanese are pretty hung up on not ‘losing face’ or being a screw up.

OTOH, I’m not quite able to swallow another “next year” and “no you can’t touch it” from eCat and Rossi:


Rossi: First E-Cat Plants Under Construction, Will Sell Energy, Not Plants.
Posted on September 4, 2017
Frank Acland
September 3, 2017 at 8:55 PM
Dear Andrea,

You say that your the first plants that you sell will be managed directly by you.

a) Can you explain what you mean by that?
b) Have you any agreements to build plants for customers yet?

Andrea Rossi
September 3, 2017 at 9:32 PM
Frank Acland:
a) that we will operate the plant and the Customer will not have access to the reactors
b) yes
Warm Regards,

Frank Acland
September 3, 2017 at 10:50 PM
Dear Andrea,

Very interesting that you have agreements to build plants already.
a) Have you started building them yet?
b) When do you expect to have them completed?
c) Will you be selling the plant, or selling energy with these first plants?

Andrea Rossi
September 4, 2017 at 6:32 AM
Frank Acland:
a) yes
b) confidential
C) energy
Warm Regards,

I’ve reached the “I’ll believe it when the State University has one running the campus and the Ph.D. Physics Department is conducting tours” stage – and even then only when 2 or 3 campuses of different schools are doing it… A decade or two ago I would have said “When he is awarded the Nobel Prize”, but given what they’ve been doing lately, I’m thinking that would indicate it was a put-up-job…

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Blocking “push” Ads, Dual Routers, And Weather


I have 2 Roku devices. The living room device is direct connected to the telco boundary router. This is so that my playing with things will not disrupt the spousal TV time…

The 2nd one (“mine”) is connected via a very high speed link (5G? Something like that…) to an internal house WiFi router that then has a hardwire uplink to the telco router. This puts 2 NAT (Network Address Translation) conversions between my TV and the provider.

The Experience

So this morning I was checking the weather. Well, really, I knew what the weather was as I stepped outside. I was checking what the various weather apps on the Roku said was the weather.

First off, I noticed Wunderground said “Today will be hotter than yesterday” yet it’s colder so far and the number they predict doesn’t look like much. Second, they were showing the “now” temperature as a degree F higher than the other two.

Next I went to Weathernation and Weather4us. The Weathernation folks correctly stated “fog and light mist” or some such. It is, in fact, a touch foggy and dank at the moment. In my experience, they are more right (and typically cooler) than Wunderground.

But it was the Weather4us that got me posting. Not for any weather data, though.

See, Weather4us is mostly just some data panels. It also starts off with a single commercial (to book some revenue before you scan ‘it is cold and dank’ and hang up to go get a coat…) But it didn’t. No commercial.

I’d noticed already that another ‘ad’ was gone. The Roku puts up a columnar list of channels to choose, and has a fake BillBoard on the right side. A large area with pictures of footlights at the bottom. In this they stuff an advertisement for some upcoming show. Like a poster on a wall. (i.e. not animated). This panel has been gray on “my TV” since I swapped to the 2 router connection.

My hypothesis

What I think is going on here is that the double NAT breaks “push” advertising. The App can still suck down pull adverts, and any “in stream in the content” ads still run, but an ad pushed from the center can’t find it’s way back through the NAT routers. Sent to a port and IP at the Telco Router, the telco router will send it on to the interior router (or the living room TV) as they have a translation table entry, but that interior router has no outgoing connection mapped for that particular communication, so blocks the inbound push. (NAT opens a translation table for your outbound, and then accepts inbound replies to things it has sent out.) Somewhere in the double NATing, a key number gets changed and then push packets can’t find their way back to the inner device.

Nice that.

At some point I need to actually look at who is dropping what kind of packets and get the details straight, but it just isn’t a priority at the moment.

All I really need to know is that 2 layers of NATing routers is not only good for security, It also looks like it blocks push advertising too. At least some forms of it.

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A Fence, A Brew, A DIY Economy Story

Yeay!!! I’m done with fencing! Over the weekend, finished the fences. On one side, the neighbor wanted to just spend money, so we both tossed 1/2 at a contractor. that was $3200 (my share $1600 ). On the other side only 1/2 the fence needed replacing (trees had lifted then broken it, then got removed… after the neighbor gave up on his attempt with the Redwood Commission and hired a guy to do it. He had utility surveys done to show the trees were planted on top of the gas lines and painted a scare picture of a gas fire under large trees… POOF! Approval!)

So for that second bit, we bought a few $Hundred of supplies and used DIY labor (Do It Yourself). Now from my perspective, it’s about $1400 that did NOT enter the formal economy. ($1600 minus materials costs) That $1400 would have required $2800 worth of wages to pay the $1400 of Tax (combined State, Local, Federal, SSI, etc. etc. here in Kalifornia) to have that $1400 net. So between us, we avoided about $700 of taxes each along with the $600 or so of Tax implicit in the bill from a contractor (who must pay SSI, income tax, etc. etc.)

So, Gov’t got about $2000 less taxes from both levels of the transaction (buying fence, earning money to pay), we had to work $2800 less in the formal economy, and did about $700 of labor. That means we could make 1/4 as much “hourly rate” to DIY compared to formal wage jobs. Even at the, what is it now?, $10? $12? / hour minimum ‘living wage’ here, that works out to about $40 to $48 / hour.

Factor in the added costs of commuting to work, buying lunch out, nice clothes to wear, etc. etc. It was highly profitable to DIY on the fence. Even compared to “Minimum wage Mexicans” (who were the guys working on the other fence on the other side. Not a pejorative, I talked with them, mostly in Spanish, and helped out with things like power outlets, water supplies, etc. One was from further south, the others, Mexico. One had decent if accented English, he was the foreman / owner of the company.)

Now, as a side benefit, I got some decent exercise. No need for jogging or weights when lugging around 2″ x 6″ x 8′ foot pressure treated wood! (the “kickboard” part at the bottom. Rails of 2″x 4″ x 8′ P.T. Infill boards redwood.) So a bit sore, but more fit, and back at the keyboard ;-)

It’s an interesting calculation to do. Figure out how many hours it takes to earn enough money (net of the SSI, Income TaxeS, etc. etc.) to pay for labor, then how much the relative wage rates really need to be to make it a net profit to pay someone else.

Over the process of the fence building, post daily work, I’d have some home brew hard cider. The Mr. Beer makes 2 1/2 gallons at a shot, and bottling it in Grolsch or similar old style ‘stopper top’ bottles has zero materials costs. At the moment, the Grolsch link shows one of the bottle in question. You will need to drink a supply of Grolsch to get the bottles, though ;-) It’s about $8 for the apple juice and negligible for the sugar to raise the strength a bit. The Mr. Beer cans of hopped malt are much more pricey, but make an OK beer. If you ‘get into it’, it is more profitable to buy bulk malt and / or get a 5 gallon fermenter. I actually have a 5 gallon carboy in the garage, but the Mr. Beer makes more, faster, than I typically drink. I also have a bottle capper and caps, but try to use the stopper top bottles first just to be cheaper.

Labor to dump juice and yeast into the tank is about 10 minutes (mostly spent on a dilute bleach wash and hot rinse). Then you wait about a week and bottle. Bottling is about 2 minutes / bottle, again mostly spent washing / rinsing hot. There is some ‘loss’ along the way. Bits left in the bottom, a glass during the bottling to assess quality and sugar level low enough (8-‘) so figure it’s “only” about 2 Gallons makes it to the bottles. 256 ounces. Now I use larger 16 oz or 24 oz bottles, but the ‘standard’ is 12 ounce in the store. So you get between 22 and 26 bottles at 12 ounces per batch (depending on how high you fill it, neatness in bottling, using a hydrometer instead of a test glass, ‘fill’ on each bottle, etc.). Call it 24 bottles (yes, I know that’s slightly over the 2 gallon number, but like I said, it holds 2.5 gallons)

The ‘typical’ drinkable not great beer in the local grocery stores runs over $1 / bottle. Some of it is $9 / 6-pack, so $1.50 each. I’m going to use the $1 value as I’m sure my brew is not in the class with the fancy beers (yet I find it quite nice and in some ways a lighter more refreshing drink, even if I do “juice” the alcohol up a bit to about 5% ). Now at $1 / each 12 ouncer, I get about $24 of market price value out of one Mr. Beer run. Minus the 8$ is $16 net. Time required is about an hour, all told (really less than that as it’s about 1/2 minute / bottle for the actual fill and if you are fast it’s a minute to wash/rinse, but figure 48 minutes if you were using small bottles + 10 for the set up to ferment). So that’s $16 / hour net-net. Except to BUY those 24 bottles of commercial beer, I’d need to work to earn $48 pre-all-the-Taxes (SSI, Income TaxeS, Sales at 9.5%, etc.). So really I need to subtract the $8 of costs from $48 in wages, and then it’s $40 net to me compared to actual wage-slave hours. Hmmm…. $40 / hour ain’t bad… AND there’s no paperwork to fill out ;-)

The interesting thing for me is just how rapidly you can reach a decent comparative effective labor wage rate in DIY. Sometimes you need to learn a new trick or craft. Occasionally there’s a new tool. (I bought an air stapler / nailer from Harbor Freight for $24 for the fences – but now can use it for all sorts of other projects.) Overall, I find most things ending up in the $36 to $48 / hour band. As my billing rate on computer geek jobs ran from $50/hour to $100 / hour, in theory I’m not making as much. In reality, most of the jobs recently have been between $50 and $80 and that doesn’t allow for all the time spent “selling” to get the contract, travel if far away, housing in Florida on remote contracts, commuting costs, etc. etc. So for most of the jobs I’d book, the “DIY” wage rate is “close enough” to make the comfort of not being in the “money chase” worth it.

So, essentially, the combined Fed, State, Local tax burden makes it attractive for me to just do things myself whenever I can figure out how. Turns out I can figure out how for a lot of things… Next up is roofing. About 25 years ago I built a little shed and shingled it. Roof on it is still just fine. I already own the shingle hammer (fixed some spots on the house too) and there’s not a lot more gear to roofing. I do need to learn what kind of air-nailer is best for roofing, as it does speed things up a great deal, and Harbor Freight has very low prices ;-) So in the next month or so before the rains get here in force, I’m going “Up on the rooftop!”… and doing the ‘assess, patch, replace’ as needed. This will also be when I “do something” about the TV antenna. I’ll likely take it down for installation on a stand alone pole with much shorter wires. Net signal will be about the same (loss from lower height = gain from shorter wires).

So roofing and TV Repair / Installation comparative DIY Wage Rates up next ;-)

Now, were I a person who actually was PAID Minimum Wage, my value proposition for DIY would be even higher. There would be a big incentive to “swap labor” with friends. You see this broadly in the Hispanic population on the East San Jose side (housing is pricier the closer to the ocean and up the hills… so cheapest East side flats). Lots of “friends helping friends”. A ‘few neighbors back’ a Hispanic guy moved in next door. His ‘family and friends’ showed up to put in new windows, remodel the living room, etc. All non-taxed labor. He helped them with their gigs too. Now that’s spreading to the rest of us “Professionals”. My most recent fence building labor was shared with a guy who manages others for a living…

That’s the kind of thing that starts to become dominant when total taxation is 50% or higher. It becomes ever harder for companies to find the productivity leverage to make your paid product costs lower than the DIY costs when balanced for comparative effective wage rates including tax effects. That is the fallacy of “income redistribution” and “income flattening” efforts. IF everyone is paid nearly the same, you must have near zero tax burden to make the value proposition work. Only folks making a LOT of money, can pay a LOT of taxes and still have a value proposition that makes it worth while to hire someone else. At a 50% taxation total rate, the ratio is about 4:1 minimum. So boost your “living wage” to $15 / hour and we’re talking a $60 / hour cutoff. There’s not a lot of people making $60 / hour in the general economy, so ALL the folks below that level are being “priced out” of the marketplace for goods and services and “priced in” to the DIY world.

Yes, there will always be folks who just are not able to DIY on some thing or other. My spouse is NOT going “up on the rooftop” even when I’m gone. Nor will my neighbor be doing his own landscaping (despite having the tools and truck for it) as he has a significant day job and just want’s it done faster than one guy can do it part time. BUT, you don’t need 100% “participation” in this economic process for it to have impact. Folks will push it a little longer on things like repairs and upgrades. They will “settle” for a lower cost yard landscaping. The local Summer Winds garden shop has gone out of business… A combination of watering restrictions and folks just saying “screw it, I’ll put in rocks and cement” that don’t take water costs nor gardener costs. Cost Avoidance can do as much as DIY Displacement.

So “my car”, for example. The first 1/2 of the year I filled the tank two times. Why? Not commuting anywhere. So 400 miles / tank is a lot of 2 mile runs to the grocery store… More taxes not paid on repair costs, tires, brakes, gas taxes, etc. It needs paint, and I’ve pretty much decided since I already have the air compressor, I’m going to try some DIY car painting. It’s an old car that’s not collectable, so if I mess it up, worst case is I apply some stripper and then pay a shop to paint it. I’ve done paint before ( couple of houses, some car touch-ups) and anything would look better than it does now. Besides, this will let me try out “Camo” and other looks ;-) I’ve always thought painting the Mercedes in W.W.II Camo Pattern might be interesting ;-) Yet more $Thousands not in the formal economy. I’ve done tire rotations and brakes myself before, and I will again now. But rarely… it takes a long time to wear out brakes at 5000 miles / year (long trips included).

The spouse and I have decided going out to movies isn’t worth it. Aside from the overly loud sound settings, and the crowd issues, it’s just too expensive for value. Hotdog (a lousy one at that) and a Soda runs out about $10 and the ticket is at least $10, sometimes more. So we’re up to $40 for ONE movie out for 2. I’ve hit $60 some times. Instead I bought a Big Screen High Def TV and it will amortize easily over a few years. $40 buys 4 months of NETFLIX. So now we’re watching far more movies together. We can pause them at any time for a run to the bathroom or “snack bar”. MY meals are much much better than those in the theatre, and costs are way way lower. I can make a heck of a good hotdog, chips, and drinks for $10, and several of them! (REAL Polish dogs ;-)

As a side effect, we no longer need DirecTV either. That’s about $100 / month gone from the budget as soon as the contract expires. That will pay for the TVs in about 5 months. Figure next September we are in high net profit land for “movies in” and DIY Theatre System.

So this is how an economy slows, shudders, and eventually halts. Once taxes are too high, profit leaves for the vendor and manufacturing companies, and the value proposition compared to DIY leaves for the buyer. Sales slow, tax take falls despite rate hikes, and the more you hike taxes, the faster it falls as ever more value propositions fall from positive to negative.

Want to juice up formal economic activity? Cut taxes to about 15% TOTAL combined tax take. Suddenly all sorts of folks are saying “My God, I can just pay someone to do that!” and getting out of the DIY process. Extra money in hand and less taxes creates more demand for buying those value propositions and getting more time for yourself. This generally raises economic activity AND wage rates (as they are now unburdened of the tax bite) leading to ever more money in more hands buying more Value Propositions. Income Disparity means MORE money spent on positive value propositions and MORE net total tax from smaller bites out of many many more pies. Had my fence cost $1000 to build and I only had to work 15 hours to make that $1000 net, no way I’d spend my weekend building a fence!

In Conclusion

So there’s some real life examples of how “fighting income disparity” and pushing for a “living wage” and higher taxes to pay for the income redistributors fundamentally shifts the marketplace value proposition and leads to economic stagnation and decline.

These are NOT hypotheticals. They are my life experience. I’m a “highly skilled professional” and really ought to be sitting in an office working on computers. Instead, it is “worth it to me” to avoid the rat race and money chase, and build DIY fences, roofing, and car repairs; while drinking home brew suds. Now just think what the value proposition is for a 30-something making $20 / hour faced with trying to buy services or products made by $15 / hour “living wage” folks. He’s looking at a $60 / hour cost and a $20 / hour wage. So NOT buying “fast food”, going to movies, paying a gardener, etc. etc. and not being very happy about it either. This puts many more of those minimum wage folks out of the job market, and nothing in the way of training or general economic “stimulus” can fix that.

IMHO, this is the root of much of the mire in the EU and USA economies today. Despite very loose (free… ZIRP) money and lots of “stimulus”, the economy doesn’t get moving. Why? Well think maybe, just maybe, part of it could be that it’s not a very good economic value proposition to buy things with a 2x or 4x cost mountain in front of you compared to wages paid to you (and taxes taken)? Or maybe, just maybe, making a “Fast Food Meal” cost $10 due to the “living wage” and tax policies in California means it’s $20 of my earnings to pay for it, so NOT a decent value proposition compared to DIY meals? I can make a great Deli Style Sandwich with chips for about $3, and a good enough ham sandwich for about 50 ¢ so just why oh why will I pay $10 and need to earn $20 to get it?

So things don’t “pick up”.

And they will not pick up as long as taxes are too high and the ‘wage disparity’ is too low. You must have a value proposition that makes sense for folks to engage and buy it.

FWIW, I first started watching “lunch costs” about 1975. It was about $3 to $4 for a “decent fast food lunch”. I’ve been using the same places and the same meals the whole time. In the late ’80s to ’90s, the Burger King and Taco Bell lunches started bumping up against the $5 lid. That held for a while (as it was a price folks were sensitive about). Jack In The Box had a sub-$1 “breakfast jack”. They held it at 99 ¢ for several years longer than all their other prices, using it as a loss leader. Recently they had to let that rise. It’s now about $2 last time I looked (but that was a while ago as now I just make my own sandwiches instead…). On those few occasions when the spouse and I were out and about and not prepared, we’ve stopped in for a meal on the road. Post the “living wage” moves here in California, it’s about $10 / meal / person. So we’ve both agreed it’s not worth it and basically stopped. Similarly, where we used to go out for the occasional evening dinner out, that’s run up to well over $25/head even at places like Red Lobster and Chili’s. So those are no longer. I make ceramic “lunch tubs” for the spouse to take to work. Just the things I cook for dinner, made into a frozen meal. That’s nearly $50 / week of avoided costs, at the price of some leftovers creatively packaged.

Essentially, I’ve watched the “Dinner Out” middle scale dining become unaffordable (and not that interesting) while even the fast food places have become “not worth it” (or perhaps more accurately: Worth a DIY alternative). On contracts, 30 years ago, meals were all taken at restaurants when “on the road”. In about 1995 I started packing a ‘travel kitchen’ and making some meals in the hotel. Last run was all DIY meals.

Fast Food and Middle Class Dining are great places to check the pulse of the economy generally. It is a stereotype, but a valid one, that when money is tight, the first things that happen are cancelling “Dinner and a Movie” out and packing a sack lunch for work.

IMHO, lack of attention to the effect of high tax rates and high minimum wages on “comparative value proposition” is a significant part of what has caused so many “advanced” economies to get stuck in the muck. The folks pushing for both just don’t “Do the Math” on what it costs in terms of wages earned to pay for that “no longer valuable proposition”… The rest of us, either formally for folks like me, or just by looking at the price and saying “I can’t afford that” are forced into seeing the relative value proposition of wages-payment vs DIY.

You just can’t escape reality. No matter how much you dress it up in high sounding arguments.

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Human Interest | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Trump Does Not Certify Iran Deal

Per France-24 Trump has “de-certified” the Iranian Nuclear deal (that as near as I can tell means “did not certify compliance”).

What now?

OT-One-H, it was a lousy deal that guaranteed Iran gets a nuke on the slow and steady path.

OTOH, not having it means they get the nukes faster, or someone flattens them.

Hobson’s Choice, IMHO.

So again I’m back at “What now?”.

Is it a Trump Negotiation Tactic? Against Muslim Camel Traders? I’d bet on the Camel…

Is it a “Break it so you can fix it”?

Is it “Wag The Dog”?

Only time will tell.

What I do know is Trump can smell a Bad Deal a mile away. He knows no-deal is better than a bad-deal. And he holds America first in his priorities. He’s also a very smart cookie who has vastly more intel than I’ve got.

For now, I’m going with ‘benefit of the doubt’ to Trump. Expect the Yellow Stream Media to howl like spider monkeys with their balls in a vice. Expect Europe to turn all pink and purple trying to figure out WTF?

Me? It’s Friday. I think I need some gin….

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The Peculiar Greek Roots Of Modern Conflict

I was watching an interesting bit of history on Amazon. It was The First War for Western Civilization. It covered the rise of ancient Greece, and the wars with the Persian Empire. Then the eventual rise of Democracy and how that has become the dominant system in the West today. (Ignoring the fact that nobody really has direct democracy, we all have Representative Democracies, that are really a different thing from Greek democracy).


The First War for Western Civilization, a time when history became legend. The Greco-Persian War has given us some of the most iconic moments in history such as Leonidas and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, the Marathon Run and a huge legacy today in politics and many other areas. However, other than the 3 days of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, the remainder of the 49 year war between Persia and Greece has been almost completely overlooked, and has never appeared in a documentary. It covers the full story from the Ionian Revolt (497BC) to the Peace of Callias (449BC) also known as the Peace of Kimon, and includes a detailed introduction, the birth of Democracy and the aftermath and the legacy of the period.

I strongly recommend it. Instead of just parroting the usual lines about things, they actually find precursor events and look for the connections. For example, Persia didn’t just invade Greece out of nowhere. The Greeks had made the first (failed) move.

Now I tend to also make connections. This posting will mostly look at those bits.

One that stood out to me was the statement that when Greece was first formed (or formed as known in that period) it was by an invasion of the Dorians. They show both Dorians and Ionians “moving south” and displacing some earlier people. (There’s a longish discussion of this in the wikis on Dorians and Ionians). What I noticed was the date.

There’s a chart of temperature vs dates in this posting:


In it, we see a nice warm hump at 1100 BC, and a plunge into cold at 250 BC. The “Dorian Invasion” is placed in that cooling era.


After the Greek Dark Ages, much of the population of the Peloponnesus spoke Dorian, while the evidence of Linear B and literary traditions, such as the works of Homer, suggests that the population spoke Achaean – Mycenaean Greek – before. In addition, society in the Peloponnesus had undergone a total change from states ruled by kings presiding over a Palace economy to a caste system ruled by a Dorian master ethnos at Sparta.

According to the scholar H. Michell: “If we assume that the Dorian invasion took place some time in the twelfth century, we certainly know nothing of them for the next hundred years.” Blegen admitted that in the sub-Mycenaean period following 1200: “the whole area seems to have been sparsely populated or almost deserted.”

The problem is that there are no traces of any Dorians anywhere until the start of the Geometric period about 950 BC. This simple pottery decoration appears to be correlated with other changes in material culture, such as the introduction of iron weapons and alterations in burial practices from Mycenaean group burials in tholos tombs to individual burials and cremation. These can certainly be associated with the historical Dorian settlers, such as those of Sparta in the 10th century BC. However, they appear to have been general over all of Greece; moreover, the new weapons would not have been used in 1200.

So between about 1100 BC and 400 BC a load of Dorians shows up in the South. The wiki takes great pains to assert it isn’t know if this was an invasion or not. I’m more willing to trust all the other histories that for a few hundred years said it happened and was then.

This, then, fits the same pattern we see for “The Migration Era Pessimum” and several other similar times. When a cold turn comes, folks up north and in the Asian Steppes head south and west. To me, it just shouts “NATURAL Climate Cycles driving history”. So as a sort of a “Dig Here!” question, we have: To what extent was the rise of Greece the result of a “Bit ‘o Cold!” driving folks south? Then the corollary question: What happens in our current turn down to cold from a warm cycle?…

The Dorians you will probably know better by their iconic group named the Spartans.

(BTW, in modesty, I must point out that one of my alma-maters is a school with Spartan as their identity, so I’m both an Aggie and a Spartan… but I don’t let it color my thinking… much ;-)

The other group moving about at the time was the Ionians.


The Ionians (/aɪˈoʊniənz/; Greek: Ἴωνες, Íōnes, singular Ἴων, Íōn) were one of the four major tribes that the Greeks considered themselves to be divided into during the ancient period; the other three being the Dorians, Aeolians, and Achaeans.[1] The Ionian dialect was one of the three major linguistic divisions of the Hellenic world, together with the Dorian and Aeolian dialects.

When referring to populations, “Ionian” defines several groups in Classical Greece. In the narrowest sense it referred to the region of Ionia in Asia Minor. In a broader sense it could be used to describe all speakers of the Ionic dialect, which in addition to those in Ionia proper also included the populations of Euboea, the Cyclades, and many cities founded by Ionian colonists. Finally, in the broadest sense it could be used to describe all those who spoke languages of the East Greek group, which included Attic.

The foundation myth which was current in the Classical period suggested that the Ionians were named after Ion, son of Xuthus, who lived in the north Peloponnesian region of Aigialeia. When the Dorians invaded the Peloponnese they expelled the Achaeans from the Argolid and Lacedaemonia. The displaced Achaeans moved into Aegilaus (thereafter known as Achaea), in turn expelling the Ionians from the Aegilaus. The Ionians moved to Attica and mingled with the local population of Attica, and many later emigrated to the coast of Asia Minor founding the historical region of Ionia.

Unlike the austere and militaristic Dorians, the Ionians are renowned for their love of philosophy, art, democracy, and pleasure – Ionian traits that were most famously expressed by the Athenians.

The Ionians were the thinkers and the Dorians were the fighters.


has a good bit about them. Also of note, Athens is Ionian. Thus the divide into Athenian world view vs Spartan world view that defines much of Greek history and traditions.


The oldest known human presence in Athens is the Cave of Schist, which has been dated to between the 11th and 7th millennia BC. Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. By 1400 BC the settlement had become an important centre of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress, whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is not known whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event often attributed to a Dorian invasion, and the Athenians always maintained that they were “pure” Ionians with no Dorian element. However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years afterwards.

Given that dates can be off by a few hundred years for things 1000+ B.C., both in the historical record and in the climate record, I do have to wonder if the whole Dorian Invasion / Dark Age thing was driven by the fall off a warm peak into the cold.

In any case, the part that’s more of interest at the moment is the cultural differences and what that reflects in the present.


You see, the Spartans had outlawed currency, had joint ownership of goods in a communal way, had a very flat wealth distribution, and generally were a very early form of Socialism / Communism. They also had a very strick overlay of Spartan Nationalism and anyone weak or sickly was generally not allowed to live. They had a racial purity streak in them. Seems many folks strongly admired the Spartans, and so emulated parts of their culture and economic system.


“Sparta must be regarded as the first völkisch state. The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short, their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more human than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject.”

― Adolf Hitler

This paper gives a short but readable listing of the similarities of the two:


So Hitler admired the Spartans and adopted both their Socialist economics and their bundle of extreme Nationalism with Eugenics and a militaristic social order.

Then we have the communists. They picked up the communal / socialist economics, but wanted to dump the nationalism.

The Spartans are not a pure example of Socialism / Communism. They were the top 10% of their society with the rest being slaves. (Then again, the Communist Party often just has the top 10% actively in it…) A decent examination of the finer points is here:


According to tradition, Sparta was the handiwork of Lycurgus; but what may any one profitably or usefully say regarding this obscure personality, of whom even Plutarch says that there is nothing concerning him that is not the subject of dispute? This original lawgiver, on whose persuasive powers the socialist laws of Sparta rested, is indeed a shadowy figure — a kind of cross between Moses and King Arthur. If we accept Plutarch’s account, Lycurgus was oppressed by the glaring contrast between riches and poverty, the vast number of poor and landless on the one hand, and, on the other, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few individuals — almost a Marxian vision. And so — although surely external circumstances must have reinforced his arguments — he persuaded the Spartans to agree to a new distribution of lands on a basis of equality, and by other measures he weaned them from the love of silver and gold, and led them to adopt that harsh simplicity of life which the very name of Sparta has come to connote. Plutarch’s description is of interest because, waiving the question of its historical accuracy, it gives a very adequate definition of the ideal communistic state, as ideally imagined by countless later generations. In general, he says,

he trained his fellow-citizens to have neither the wish nor the ability to live for themselves; but like bees they were to make themselves always integral parts of the whole community, clustering together about their leader, almost beside themselves with enthusiasm and noble ambition, and to belong wholly to their country.

With this must be taken another fact no less significant, common indeed to all Greek civilization, although perhaps specially important in Sparta. When we speak of Sparta, we are not concerned with a homogeneous population. The problem is complicated, as always, by one form of the slave question. The Spartan state could continue to exist only so long as the Helots were kept under. Thus the Spartans had to consider not merely their enemies beyond their frontier: they also lived as a governing class amid enemies, vastly more numerous, always sullen, constantly menacing. This is the ultimate explanation of the socialistic aspect of the Spartan state. Pöhlmann has a pregnant saying, written long before 1914, and therefore free from any suggestion that it springs from the misfortunes of the last two generations, to the effect that “state socialism is the inevitable correlate of the war-like type of society.” Mr. Hawtrey, in our own day, has explained how Collectivism “emerges as the logical outcome of militarism when pushed to the extreme limit.” A state that is at war, or that is perpetually organized for war, dare not tolerate individual liberties which may be in conflict with the general interest; and if the crisis becomes acute, so that the very existence of the state is in danger, there always has been, and there always will be, a tendency to sacrifice the individual; and this means one or other of two things, either despotism or state socialism.

It is fascinating to think that perhaps that same dynamic plays out in modern Communist / Socialist countries, as the “Helots” realize their Communist Spartan “Masters” don’t give a damn about them. “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”…

So that’s the one side of this dynamic. Sparta. With keeping the most odious bits, reflected in the Fascist / Nazi / National Socialists. With only the communal property and flat wealth distribution among the master class, Communism / Socialism. Both taking their direction from the same forces that founded Sparta. Both with similar outcomes. A repressive State and a top down driven society prone to devolution into tyranny.


On the flip side, we have Athens. They had a kind of democracy, but it tended to instability and “mob rule”. In the TV series, there is a constant flow of folks to power and position, only to be ostracized and run off to other lands when folks were jealous of them and their successes. One leader was even quoted as saying that the mob was very easy to mislead. Watching our political ads and what passes as “news” today, I’d say that hasn’t changed.


Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica, and is the first known democracy in the world. Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens’.

It was a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills. Participation was not open to all residents: to vote one had to be an adult, male citizen i.e. neither a foreign resident nor a slave, and the number of these “varied between 30,000 and 50,000 out of a total population of around 250,000 to 300,000” or “no more than 30 percent of the total adult population.”

The longest-lasting democratic leader was Pericles. After his death, Athenian democracy was twice briefly interrupted by oligarchic revolutions towards the end of the Peloponnesian War. It was modified somewhat after it was restored under Eucleides; the most detailed accounts of the system are of this fourth-century modification rather than the Periclean system. Democracy was suppressed by the Macedonians in 322 BC. The Athenian institutions were later revived, but how close they were to a real democracy is debatable. Solon (594 BC), Cleisthenes (508/7 BC), and Ephialtes (462 BC) contributed to the development of Athenian democracy. Cleisthenes broke up the power of the nobility by organizing citizens into ten groups based on where they lived rather than on their wealth.

Note the instability to Oligarchs and wars…

So the main problems with democracy are minority rights (“Two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for lunch”) thus we have a slave population not going anywhere, and instability to the rich and powerful (thus the frequent ostracism ejections of folks who fall out of favor and the rise of oligarchs who can manipulate the mob with rumors).

Most current western democracies like to point at ancient Greece as their source of inspiration, so I won’t belabor the point further.

In Conclusion

The various Greek city-states were at war with each other when not fighting someone outside of Greece. Spartans did not trust Athenians and Athenians didn’t trust Spartans. They would work together against a common enemy, but never with real agreement.

Now fast forward to today. It’s the same dynamic from the same source differences. Persia (that I’ve not explored so far) was a giant Empire. We have clashes of empire over many of the same things. Power, control, dominance. While recently the Empire has fallen out of favor, it isn’t far removed in our history. We have the oppressive elite ruled Communist State (most recently taken a tumble when China moved to a Lange Type Socialism for economics, but keeping the Communist Elite politically) taking a cue from Sparta, and we had the extreme form of Modern-Sparta in W.W.II. Now the socialism of Sparta is trying to make a go of it in various other parts of the world, often merged with a token “Republic” or “Democracy”. Yet it tends to devolve back into that militaristic despot result (Venezuela, Cuba, and so many more).

There was another theme to the series as well. That The West – typified by Western Democracy as Athens, was in repeated struggles against invasion from the East. Persia, for example. And fights back to stop it. What are we doing now? Struggling against a “Muslim Invasion” of Europe and fighting, even if sometimes by proxy, in the former Persian Empire. The Caliphate Dream Empire vs Western Democracy. Again.

They start the first episode with a listing of prior conflicts, in reverse order, moving back to “the first” as the Greeks vs Persia. I’m going to give their list in forward order instead, showing the progression to today:

Greeks vs Persian wars
Alexander vs Persia
Rome vs Persia
Arabs vs Byzantium (late Romans)
Turks vs Byzantium (Late Romans)
The Crusades
Turkey vs Austria
Siege of Vienna
Siege of Rhodes
Siege of Malta
Turkey vs Russia
World War One
The Gulf Wars

I would only note that there was a World War II in there and it did involve the East too…

Now, in the modern era, we had Ataturk trying to move Turkey into the Western Civilization sphere. The jury is still out on the success of that. Current events shaping up to be a return to the Caliphate Dream. Fence sitting at best. Persia / aka Iran, working to get nukes but temporarily slowed. Even now using the classical technique of “Persian Gold” to influence neighbors and stir up proxy wars (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.) Syria sending loads of “5th Column” folks to Europe as “refugees”.

It seems some things never change. The War For Western Civilization drags on, 2500 years later. The conflict between Spartan Socialists and Athenian Democracy drags on, 2500 years later. It’s gone a bit more global, and the particular religious icons both sides carry have changed. The weapons and tactics have advanced. Yet the basic process is unchanged.

One wonders if there is no way to get off this treadmill short of one side erasing the other.

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