All posts by Gofishing

Puma Punku

Eight Wonders of the World (con’t) Puma Punku

Puma Punku is part of a large temple complex or monument group that is part of the site near Tiwanaku, in western Bolivia. It is believed to date to AD 536 and later.

Tiwanaku is significant in Inca traditions because it is believed to be the site where the world was created. In Aymara, Puma Punku’s name means “The Door of the Puma”. The Pumapunku complex consists of an unwalled western court, a central unwalled esplanade, a terraced platform mound that is faced with stone, and a walled eastern court. Some of the unique features of the site are walls of faces, the massive H-blocks, and the precision (machine-like) stone tooling.

Tiwanaku is significant in Inca traditions because it is believed to be the site where the world was created. In Aymara, Puma Punku’s name means “The Door of the Puma”. The Pumapunku complex consists of an unwalled western court, a central unwalled esplanade, a terraced platform mound that is faced with stone, and a walled eastern court. Some of the unique features of the site are walls of faces, the massive H-blocks, and the precision (machine-like) stone tooling.

The faces are all almost different and resemble a wide range of racial features.

The Puma Punku site is located at an altitude of over 12,000 feet!

Many of the H-blocks are identical in size and weigh up to ten tons each.

These precision cuts  could only be achieved using computer-aided systems and laser technology.

At its peak, Pumapunku is thought to have been “unimaginably wondrous, adorned with polished metal plaques, brightly colored ceramic and fabric ornamentation, and visited by costumed citizens, elaborately dressed priests, and elites decked in exotic jewelry. Current understanding of this complex is limited due to its age, the lack of a written record, and the current deteriorated state of the structures due to treasure hunting, looting, stone mining for building stone and railroad ballast, and natural weathering.

The actual date of construction is debatable. When an Austrian explorer named Arthur Posnansky performed a study on Puma Punku back in 1926, he put forward the idea that it’s one of the oldest archaeological sites on the face of Earth – dating back to at least 13,000 BC. Posnansky was one of the first modern explorers to examine the site, but his hypothesis continues to have many supporters.

Archaeologist Neil Steede, for example, has discussed how the astronomical alignments of the main temple at the site do suggest that it was built to coincide with the summer and winter solstices and the spring equinox as these events would have been seen 17,000 years ago.

The Tiwanaku people who inhabited Puma Punku were polytheistic and had a special focus on agriculturally-themed gods. Their creator god is believed to be depicted in the famous Sun Gate , which many scholars think was once located at Puma Punku and only later moved to Kalassaya.

 

According to the local myths, Puma Punku is related to the gods and the time of the first creation. Legends state that the first inhabitants had supernatural powers and were able to move stones from the ground and carry them through the air using sounds.

The Inca people accepted those legends and added that Viracocha – their creator god (and the figure depicted on the Sun Gate in their interpretation) – first made humans at that site. In the legends, it is said that this is where all of humanity’s ancestors, people of various ethnicities, set out to populate the world. For a time, the stone portraits found at Tiwanaku were believed to depict those first humans. Later interpretations suggest the faces are former rulers of the city.

 

Sweden

Sweden

Sweden, often referred to as a Socialist Country has a high degree of economic freedom. While they are a small country of just over 10 million (3% the size of the USA) you will recognize many of their leading corporations: IKEA, Volvo, Saab, Spotify, and Ericsson.

The following from “Bored Panda” in the words of a Middle-Class Citizen.

‘I Don’t Mean To Rub Salt In Your Wounds’: Swede Tells Americans What It’s Like To Live In Sweden And It’s Eye-Opening

“GDP per capita rose by 50 percent in Sweden between 1995–2016. In 2018, researchers at Oxfam and Development Finance International named it the most committed country to reducing inequality, and according to the World Happiness Report 2020, it’s the 7th happiest place on Earth. So I guess it’s safe to say the Swedes have it good. But what exactly is their secret?

Well, this Swedish citizen thinks it’s purposeful internal politics. In a recent Facebook post, they used their own life as an example to explain taxes, healthcare, and other vital parts of their country. The post soon went viral, making its way into personal feeds abroad, too. Foreigners — especially Americans — even got jealous.

   Image  credits: Fredrik Rubensson

As Elke Asen, a Policy Analyst with the Tax Foundation’s Center for Global Tax Policy, pointed out, Scandinavian countries are well-known for their broad social safety net and their public funding of services such as universal healthcare, higher education, parental leave, and child and elderly care.

Of course, high levels of public spending require high levels of taxation. In 2018, Denmark’s tax-to-GDP ratio was at 44.9 percent, Norway’s at 39.0 percent, and Sweden’s at 43.9 percent. For comparison, the same in the US was 24.3 percent.

In 2018, these three Northern European countries raised a high amount of tax revenue as a percent of GDP from individual taxes, almost exclusively through personal income taxes and social security contributions.

One way to analyze the level of taxation on wage income is to look at what experts call the “tax wedge,” a figure that shows the difference between an employer’s cost of an employee and the employee’s net disposable income.

In 2018, the tax wedge for a single worker with no children earning a nation’s average wage was 35.8 percent in Denmark, 35.9 percent in Norway, and a whopping 43.0 percent in Sweden. Although Denmark and Norway are below the OECD average of 36.1 percent, their tax wedges—and Sweden’s—are higher than the U.S. tax wedge of 29.6 percent.

By international comparison, Sweden is a prosperous country that evenly distributes wealth between its citizens. Its sociopolitical model consists of three fundamental pillars: a labor market that facilitates adjustment to change, a universal welfare policy, and an economic policy that promotes openness and stability. “

Dave here again. The primary factor that that the preceding commentary does not take into account is the excessive cost of healthcare in our country. The “extra” cost that we bare is, in fact, a tax. The average per capita cost for this service in the USA is over $11,000. The typical premium for an individual under the Affordable Healthcare Act is about $750 per month ($9,000 per year) not including co-pays and deductibles. The average per capita cost in Sweden is almost exactly ½ of what it runs here. That means that our country needs to fund an extra $5,500 for each man woman & child each year. For a young middle-class couple earning the average family income of $68,000 a year the “extra” cost of healthcare amounts to an additional 16% tax.

Who actually funds our healthcare system will be the subject of a future post.

My Eight Wonders of the World (con’t) Baalbek

The hilltop of Tell Baalbek, part of a valley to the east of the northern shows signs of almost continual habitation over the last 8–9000 years.

 The complex is located on an immense raised plaza erected 5 m (16 ft) over an earlier T-shaped base consisting of a podium, staircase, and foundation walls These walls were built from about 24 monoliths, at their lowest level weighing approximately 330 tons each. The tallest retaining wall, on the west, has a second course of monoliths containing the famous “Three Stones” a row of three stones, each over 19 m (62 ft) long, 4.3 m (14 ft) high, and 3.6 m (12 ft) broad, cut from limestone. They weigh approximately 880 tons each. A fourth, still larger stone is called the Stone of the Pregnant Woman: it lies unused in a nearby quarry 2,600 ft from the town. Its weight, is estimated at 1,100 tons.  A fifth, still larger stone weighing approximately 1,300 – 1,650 tons lies in the same quarry.

 The Three Stones weighing about 880 tons each.

How were these stones lofted in place?

 Who did it and when?

 Massive 1,100 ton Stone of the Pregnant woman  that remains near the quarry.

 

Largest man made stone block at Baalbek estimated at 1,300 – 1,650 tons!