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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.

 

Capitalist and Socialist Countries

Capitalist and Socialist Countries

I contend that we like to place labels on countries. Most people consider our country to be a Capitalist Democracy. In reality, it is a semi-democratic Republic that fosters certain capitalist tendencies. If you are a Republican you fear that the country is moving to the left and in the wrong direction. If you are a Democrat you fear the opposite.

We tend to “label” countries. My opinion is that Democracy should carry a higher priority than the form of democracy.

The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a UK-based company. It intends to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 are UN member states.

The index was first published in 2006, with updates for 2008, 2010, and later years. The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories, measuring pluralismcivil liberties, and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorizes each country into one of four regime types: full democraciesflawed democracieshybrid regimes, and authoritarian regimes. See at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

Since this scale is was developed by a firm in the UK you might think it biased in favor of that country. Interestingly, The UK only ranks 14th in the index with Scandinavian countries representing 4 out of the top 5 and New Zealand filling the other spot. The USA ranks 25th and is considered (by the index) to be a “flawed” democracy.

Capitalism is an ideology where the means of production is controlled by private business. This means that individual citizens run the economy without the government interfering in production or pricing. Instead, pricing is set by the free market. This means that value is based

The United States is one of the countries with a capitalist economy, which many citizens see as an essential part of democracy and building the “American Dream.” However, despite being one of the most well-known capitalist countries, the United States is not even in the top 10 list of most capitalistic countries, according to The Heritage Foundation and Global Finance Magazine reports, and not in the top 5 in this report. See at: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/capitalist-countries

There are benefits and drawbacks to a capitalist economy. As far as the positive aspects, capitalism often drives the best products at the best prices. With capitalism, economic growth and innovation are also benefits. As far as drawbacks, capitalism has a few. One of the most significant disadvantages is that it does not provide for anyone that does not have skills. It also does not promote equality of opportunity. In short, some people may not get the opportunities that others receive.

Is the USA capitalist? The United States is referred to as a mixed market economy, meaning that it has characteristics of capitalism and socialism. The United States is a capitalist society where means of production are based on private ownership and operation for profit. The United States is not a totally capitalist society, however, because the economy has regulations, taxation, and some subsidization. The U.S. government has always had some role in the economy, but the economy was closer to a truly free market during some periods. The government has at least some partial control over education, roads, health care, and postal deliveries and provides subsidies to oil companies, financial companies, and agricultural producers. Additionally, private businesses must register with government agencies, and certain types of companies need government-approved licenses.

While we consider the Scandanavian countries to be Socialist systems, interestingly, all of the Scandinavian countries are ranked in the top 45 out of 150 countries on the Capitalist index. New Zealand and Australia are in the top 5.

Sweden ranks the lowest at 45th, but still 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. An examination of their economic and political system is interesting and will be the subject of a separate post to my blog.

Election Polls Post Mortem

Election Polls Post Mortem

The results of the election are finally tabulated. I have been tracking the polls and Las Vegas odds since the beginning of the year. The first thing that I notice is that on average the polls where mostly accurate within their stated margin of error. The other factor that appears in the final results is that, again on average, the polls were skewed slightly in favor of Biden. The Las Vegas odds were slightly more accurate.

It is interesting to note that Biden won the popular vote with over twice as many votes as Hilary in 2016. The margin for the popular vote was over 6 million votes. The Electoral College vote was the exact reverse of what it was in that year. It was not close, but it was not a landslide. The average of the polls in late October showed Biden ahead by about 4 ½% and he won by almost 4% (as of 11/19/2020). The Vegas odds just prior to the official election day showed Biden as a “slight” favorite.

There were a few areas where predictions were off the mark at the state level. In both Michigan and Wisconsin Biden was favored to win by about 6%. He did win, but by a much smaller margin (especially in Wisconsin where it was less than 1%). Arizona and Florida were both rated as toss ups and each candidate won one of these. Both Vegas and the polls got the Georgia outcome wrong.

On the Senate races the polls and Vegas got the races in Maine and North Carolina wrong and Vegas also missed the mark on Iowa.

All that said, the polls were on target on the vast majority of the races and only erred on the races that were close calls with the exception of Michigan and Wisconsin.