Friday, May 19, 2006

Cool Community-Interest Items...

All of the following seem worth following-up on, later, as members of the community perhaps report back later?

Dang! For the second time in as many months, archaeologists have discovered startling, anomalous discoveries of hitherto unknown, impressive civilizations. Last month, a gigantic pyramid in Bosnia, complete with passageways, that everyone had assumed to be a local mountain. (Someone alert us all when there’s more published.) And this month “Archaeologists discovered a pre-colonial astrological observatory possibly 2,000 years old in the Amazon basin near French Guiana.”

Google just announced a new service called Google Trends that I thought might be of interest... Anyone care to explore it and report back here under comments?

Fans of the singularity? Read up on the recent Singularity Summit at Stanford U... And report back here about whichever items struck you personally as new! New ideas, new approaches, etc. Help the rest of us track progress toward the apotheosis...  See also: http://www.downtheavenue.com/and: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=3030and:

If you're anywhere near Stanford University on Memorial Day Weekend, you might be interested in this conference at the Stanford University Law School ($200 for registration, $150 for students).Some presentations that caught my eye include:

Illegal Beings: Human Clones and the Law

Christian Reflections on Radical Life Extension and Human Rights

Playing God: Theological Reflections on Genetic Enhancement

Cyborg Political Technologies: Citizenship, Democracy, Constitutions, and Bills of Rights

Feminists for Genetic Engineering

Anyone care to report on this after it happens?

-----
MIT Issues Call to Arms on Energy -- (Cnet -- May 3, 2006) The Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a preliminary report that calls for technology development and government policies to avert a "perfect storm" forming around energy. MIT's Energy Research Council report was the result of a year-long study. It concluded that industrialized nations need to accelerate a switch to cleaner and more efficient sources of fuel, a transition that could take 50 years.

The most realistic virtual reality
room in the world -- More than $4 million in equipment
upgrades will shine 100 million pixels on Iowa State University's
six-sided virtual reality room. That's twice the number of pixels
lighting up any virtual reality room in the world and 16 times the pixels now projected on Iowa State's C6, a 10-foot by 10-foot virtual reality room that surrounds users with...

The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online....

---
The world is safer
By Carl Robichaud Mother JonesMay 15, 2006 Commentary: Over the past dozen years, virtually every trend in global security has been positive -- dramatically so. Article created by the Century Foundation

S ince 9/11 and the global war on terror, the world is a much more dangerous place. Right? Dead wrong, according to a recent in-depth study, which found that virtually every trend in global security in the past dozen years has been positive, and dramatically so. The world is today a safer place, according to the Human Security Report, a project funded by five nations and published by Oxford University Press. The study, which is the culmination of three years of research, offers a comprehensive look at the data on political violence from 1988–2005, and reaches some arresting conclusions:
Fewer armed conflicts. Armed conflicts declined by more than 40 percent since the early 1990s. During this period, fifteen more armed struggles for self-determination ended than started. Today there are fewer armed secessionist conflicts than at any point since 1976.

Less genocide. Notwithstanding the horrors of Rwanda , Bosnia , and Sudan, the number of genocides and “politicides” fell by 80 percent between the high point in 1988 and 2001.

Fewer international crises. The number of “international crises” declined by more than 70 percent between 1981 and 2001.

Fewer arms deals. International arms transfers, in real dollar values, fell by 33 percent between 1990 and 2003. This accompanied a sharp decline in total military expenditure and troop numbers as well.

Fewer refugees. The number of refugees dropped by some 45 percent between 1992 and 2003, as more and more wars came to an end.

The longest peace between major powers. The period from World War II to today is the longest interval of uninterrupted peace between great powers for hundreds of years.

The article goes on to discuss why these facts are ignored and who benefits from an ongoing state of drummed-up fear. But NONE of the explanations given by the authors seem at all as likely as the one I choose...

...that fear serves the purposes not only of political and protective and press castes, but of ALL ROMANTICS, who cannot cope with recognition that modernism and the enlightenment are working. In their loathing of the modernist agenda’s hubristic goal -- of gradual and relentlessly successful human self-improvement -- they engage in relentless acts of ritualistic re definition.

e.g. one guy wrote to me offline, recently, barging into my space to hector me about his “definition of left-right and the enlightenment.” It seems, that the left AND the enlightenment are both about “rigid predetermination” while the right (and presumably a comfy Protestant version of aristocratic feudalism) are all about freedom and self-determination. A speck of self-awareness, about how tendentious definitions that make one feel good ought to rouse skepticism? Nah. That kind of defining is the very core and essence of romanticism.

And do not believe for a moment that the “left” doesn’t do it too! Forever redefining things like racism and sexism and poverty, so that no array of accomplishments will ever be enough to warrant giving the people a brief pat on the back, an “attaboy” and “attagirl”... For having taken bigger (though still incomplete) strides toward equality and justice than all other generations put together.

THIS is why I rail against romantic dogmatists of all sides, even though only one group of fanatics presently holds all the power and is doing all the harm and poses the vastly greater threat to all of our lives and hopes... For the moment. Because I do not want us to EVER let this fall back down into that insipid horror of a linear “political metaphor,” ever again. To be a modernist is to be optimistic about the project for self-improvement. It means taking good news as encouragement, rather than something to be angrily rejected. (The finest way to tell a liberal from a lefty flake.)

It is time to spurn the canard that “moderate pragmatist reformers” who openly negotiate the full range of human solutions are therefor somehow bloodless, tepid sellouts! We need to be militantly moderate and angrily optimistic! Because we don’t have much time to get these big jobs finished, before a million kinds of awful shit hit the fan.

And yes, the neo-feudalists are the worst threat right now. They have wasted every single minute of the 21st Century (so far). But their allies abound, and in unexpected places.

Stand up. Be happy warriors. And fight.

24 comments:

David Brin said...

PS... news from the electronic nightmare.

1. I am told my trust Laserwriter IINT will NEVER work with OSX because it uses Postscript I. But... but... it WAS working till a few days ago!

Ah well, I have mated it with the old G3 in a back bedroom. Use it for printing big jobs. Sigh.

2. The disk microphone thingumby that would never go away? I found the reason! An artifact of Quickeys! A keyboard macro I've used since 1985 and adore utterly, letting me turn the function keys and numberic keypad into a veritable robot secretary. But the new OSX version had quirks. Beware of this one.

3. Next in the e-purgatory? I now seem to have tamed nearly all of the computers and vcrs, at last! And so, it is time to buy:

A big screen plasma HDTV
A mini-DV camcorder
A new laptop.

Yup I am under orders from the family, and moaning in dread as I pore through Consumer Reports and dozens of other articles, dismayed and daunted and not feeling like a "world-noted technology pundit" at all. eeek.

Frank said...

"Google just announced a new service called Google Trends that I thought might be of interest... Anyone care to explore it and report back here under comments?"

sex Certain regions seem more interested in the subject then expected...
modernism A strange sawtooth pattern appears.
David Brin Well...
romanticism An up and down graph. The title of an article listed to the right: "The George Lucas of Soviet-Bloc Romanticism". lol.
singularity A hightened interest of late?
science The top 3 regions are Philippines, India, Singapore.
debt Top 3 regions are United states, South-africa and United kingdom. Top city is Washington...

IANAS (I AM NOT A STATISTICIAN)

reason said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
St. Peter's UCC said...

:-) I notice that searches on "science" drop and on "sex" peak simultaneously in late December - I wonder why?!?!?!

reason said...

frank
Combining the results from Brin and modernism - it seems Australians are more modernist than almost anywhere else. Especially more so than the dreaded POMS. West Coast USA comes second.

As an ex-pat I actually should be pushing up Australia's contribution. What interests me is the almost mystic Pacific link here. I remember when I was in the USA in 80's being amazed that most people had never heard of Australia. But in San Francisco somebody tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was Australian. I didn't say anything or wear any obviously Australian labels. He thought I looked like one! Odd? Must be something in that ocean.

HawthornThistleberry said...

Regarding the big-screen TV, why plasma? It's hip and cool and all, but unless you have a very limited amount of space to work with, it's poorer picture quality, more problems, for a higher price. Rear-projection DLP or LCoS gives much better PQ, black levels, etc. at half the price without any burn-in problems and without needing major maintenance every year and a half. There's more links about this in my blog.

WatchfulBabbler said...

NYT seemed more than a bit skeptical in their 'Bosnian pyramid' story, noting that it's virtually impossible to prove or disprove the thesis without taking apart the putative pyramid.

Obviously, the core problem is that we don't have any previous evidence at all for large-scale monuments of these sorts being created by the Illyrian and Thracian tribes who inhabited the area in antiquity; it's possible that all this digging is actually displacing tribal burial mounds or other archaeological finds.

Nonetheless, it's a great story, albeit one with very complex religiocultural overtones in the area.

palliard said...

South American archaeology is poised to pop a few dearly-held bubbles: the Clovis Barrier, the Bering Migration model, the Abandoned Amazon model... combined with newer information on the Spirit Cave and Kennewick men, fun times are ahead in this discipline, and I'm confident the book on the colonization of the Americas is going to be re-written.

Patricia Mathews said...

This was meant to be a comment to the later post --- I quit reading Ms Magazine ages ago because they never reported any progress or patted anyone on the back. Until things were perfect, they were still considered horrible.

I quit reading The Nation for that reason, and for its streak of intellectual arrogance, and for the sneaking suspicion that their underlying philosophy was an *unlabeled* socialism. (And for the utter arrogance of their subscription notices, but that's another thing.)

Pat, a lifelong liberal distressed by the Left. Or could it be a difference in generational styles? Pat, born 1939

Big C said...

The Amazon Stonehenge article sounds interesting, so I'll wait until more information is available.

The Bosnian pyramid story, however, appeears to have been blown out of proportion. See:

Amateur to dig on site of medieval capital in search of Bosnia's own Valley of the Kings
" Mr Osmanagic, 45, who lives in Houston, Texas, is a Bosnian industrial contractor with a penchant for crypto-archaeology and a taste for Indiana Jones, who has spent 15 years researching pyramids around the world. He was shown Visoko hill by a local museum director in April 2005 and obtained permission to carry out small scale excavations there. Geological and thermal imaging tests as well as the discovery of large stone slabs and tunnel-like holes led Mr Osmanagic to declare that the hill was a man-made pyramid. He ascribed its construction to the Ilyrian people who occupied the area before the Slavs, dating it to 12,000 BC, a conclusion that would make Bosnia the site of Europe’s earliest civilisation.

At the time, Professor Imamovic told reporters that skeletons found near the slabs suggested a medieval necropolis. "People were still living in caves at the time that Osmanagic claims that the pyramids were built," he said."


And from National Geographic:
Pyramid in Bosnia -- Huge Hoax or Colossal Find?
"Many news Web sites, including the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, MSNBC, and ABC, ran a credulous Associated Press story dated April 19 that carried the headline, "Experts Find Evidence of Bosnia Pyramid."

In response, the executive editor of New York-based Archaeology magazine, Mark Rose, blasted Osmanagic as a quack and the press as gullible.

To emphasize his case, Rose quoted from online excerpts of a 2005 book by Osmanagic about the Maya.

Passages from the book suggest the Maya descended from the people of the mythical city of Atlantis, who themselves are aliens who came to Earth from the Pleiades star cluster.

Osmanagic counters that the material was misrepresented and was not his theory, but an interpretation of a Maya codex, or ancient book."


I got these links from some other bloggers who've looked into the story:
Coturnix has a couple of posts here and here

Accidental Weblog

Cabinet of Wonders

Until I see more evidence coming out of the Bosnian site, I'm disinclined to believe it's a 12,000 year old pyramid rather than the alternate explanation of a medieval necropolis.

Big C said...

Oops - forgot the link for the National Geographic story. Click here.

prorata said...

Bruce Schneier has a great article in Wired this week: The Eternal Value of Privacy.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It's intrinsic to the concept of liberty.

For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that -- either now or in the uncertain future -- patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.



Any thoughts?

praxcelis said...

Again, an off topic diversion, based on a very familiar (to this crowd anyway) theme:

http://www.physorg.com/news67174218.html

From the article:

By the time it has run its course in August 2007, NEW TIES will have provided food for thought in several fields, and perhaps taken us a step closer to the days Eiben anticipates, when politicians will be able to run simulations on computers to test scenarios (for new tax laws, for example) before carrying them out in real life. “Simulators now allow us to optimise car engines or train timetables,” says Eiben. “But why shouldn’t they help us optimise social decision-making?”

If anyone finds a shiny stone lying around, please DON'T tell me about it...

Don Quijote said...


The longest peace between major powers. The period from World War II to today is the longest interval of uninterrupted peace between great powers for hundreds of years.


Does this mean that we can now reduce the size of our military by two thirds? After all the world is a safer place...

David Brin said...

quijote: I partly agree with you. Certainly the right's fear-mongering is vile... and yet, you have a reflex to look the gift horse in the mouth. The era of peace we are talking about EXACTLY coincides with Pax Americana. The left's insistence on demolishing that pax... without FIRST deliberating a worldwide consensus on its replacement... is positively loony.

Yes, PA has had its terrible faults. But on a steadily rising scale, it has a better PERCENTAGE OF GOOD DEEDS to its record than imperial predecessors. The Long Peace being the greatest. The reflex to sourpuss reject the good news blinds the left and makes it unable to see the opportunity... to BUILD UPON this pax and gradually replace it, rather than scream at the thing that kept us all alive for 50 years.

prorata: Schneier is very very smart, but his appeal for privacy misses the mark. As I say in The Transparent Society, privacy cannot go away entirely in a free society. If we are all sovereign and knowledgable and free citizens of an open commonwealth WE WILL HAVE SOME PRIVACY! Why? Because privacy is an intrinsic and natural human desire. We will all want it because we are human. And those who have power in society tend to get at least some of what they want!

The trick is this, will those with power be EVERYBODY? or only elites.

If it is the latter, then privacy will be preserved... for the elites. But it will be over, forever, for the rest of us.

If WE are all powerful, however, the elites will have a bit less and we all will have at least a minimal amount of privacy... simply because LACK of privacy will ensure that privacy VIOLATORS are NOTICED! The Transparent Society is one where courtesy returns, because there will be social penalties for getting caught snooping. And your chances of getting caught will be very high.

Hence, the crux is this. Will we all be mighty, or will the few be mighty. The latter will happen if we panic and try to "preserve privacy" in the wrong ways. In ways that benefit the few.

Stefan Jones said...

Hold off on buying an HDTV, of whatever type, for as long as you can.

There's nothing technically wrong with what's out there, they are just too damn pricey. The things are just starting to edge out of the "early adopter" category.

Wait a while, and you can get something bigger and better for less.

Tell the family you've sworn not to buy one until you finish your next novel! That will give you a few years.

DV camcorders, on the other hand, are really cheap, performant, and reliable.

If you have Hardware Toy money burning a hole in your pocket, buy everyone in the family a "jump drive," and get a external hard disk drive for backup for your major machines.

Erik Wennstrom said...

Re: The World Is Safer
I agree with you (and Carl Robichaud) on the point that the world is not necessarily more dangerous now than it was in 2001, but I feel I must take exception to the claim that the statistics mentioned is evidence against the statement "Since 9/11 and the global war on terror, the world is a much more dangerous place."
None of the statistics mentioned compare the state of the world before December 11, 2001 to the state of the world after that date. Is there any reliable data comparing similar violent events in the five years before 2001 to the five years since?
I suspect that if and when such data is reported, it will support the overall trend of success indicated by these statistics, but I haven't seen any such stats anywhere yet. Without something along those lines, I don't think we're in a position to compare the world post-9/11 to the world pre-9/11.

Re: Romanticism
I've never heard it put this way before, but it sounds reasonable. A danger of romanticism is to stop examining something because a particular explanation feels right and engages the romantic's sense of...uh...romance. It's has many faces: leaning too heavily on Occam's Razor, picking the explanation that has the most attractive metaphor, or favoring theories that explain many phenomena weakly (as opposed to those that explain a few phenomena accurately and remain unspoken about the remainder).
One treatment for this problem is a scientific viewpoint in which important decisions are determined not by what seems correct, but what has been evidenced as correct.
I believe this is part of what you are saying, and I agree 100% on this. What I'm a little confused about is who you consider to be a romantic. To me, the extent to which someone is a romantic is largely independent of their attitudes and beliefs on other issues (including modernism).
I may be misinterpreting your statements, but it seems like you are setting the romantic up in opposition to the modernist, which doesn't seem right to me. Perhaps you're using a different definition of "romanticism" than I am used to, and in that case, I would be wary about using such strong words against those that you consider a romantic, as those who consider themselves romantics under a different definition may be led to believe that you are railing against them.
For example, I consider myself a romantic, in the sense that I actively seek out the joy of those explanations that are emotionally satisfying. I am at least partially aware that this satisfaction does not actually provide evidence of the truth of such explanations, and so I attempt to differentiate between that which I like to hear about, and that which I base my decisions upon. I've always linked my romanticism to the extent with which I enjoy such explanations, and not to the extent with which I base my life on such explanations. Perhaps you view it differently.

"...fear serves the purposes ... of ALL ROMANTICS, who cannot cope with recognition that modernism and the enlightenment are working."

Are you claiming that fear serves the purposes of all romantics and that all romantics cannot cope? Or are you claiming that fear serves the purposes of those romantics that cannot cope? I think this is where my confusion lies.

Stefan Jones said...

Here's a question for the group:

If someone gave you a $13,000 e*Trade gift certificate, which industry would you invest in?

Railroads (frieght, not passengers)

Solar / Alternative energy

P.T. Galt said...

Stefan wrote:

Here's a question for the group:

If someone gave you a $13,000 e*Trade gift certificate, which industry would you invest in?

Railroads (frieght, not passengers)

Solar / Alternative energy


Of those two areas, I'd choose solar/alternative energy.

In terms of world-improvement, growth and innovation in S/AE would(IMO) have a bigger and broader impact than replacing some truck shipping with some train shipping. S/AE + practical electric cars and trains takes care of a big chunk of our CO2 problem.

In terms of profit, I also think there's alot more potential in S/AE. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that any major expansion of freight-train shipping would require a great deal of infrastructure costs (laying new train tracks) which would in turn require a lot of political involvement (e.g. use of eminent domain, railroad subsidies, gov't land grants for railroads, re-configuration of built environment in cities to accomodate a major increase in shipping by freight train, etc.).

That means, slow, often bumbling and even unjust government action, lots of lawyering as eminent domain fights go through the courts, etc. And, even if freight trains replace *all* trucking, that doesn't dramatically affect carbon emissions.

S/AE, OTOH, does not *necessarily* require a Big Infrastructure Project to grow significantly. For example, rooftop solar panels and wind turbines can be marketed to individuals and businesses, i.e., to "everybody." Getting in on some small company that makes printable plastic (non-silicon) solar cells (or has a similarly revolutionary S/AE technology) would be like buying Microsoft at its IPO.

I don't see any way a railroad company could have anywhere near that kind of growth/profit potential or "world-changing" potential.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Been lurking for awile now, good to see Brin's blog archive consciousness. e pluribus unum, ya'll.

David Brin said...

Erik, I did not say there weren’t dangers today, indeed some getting worse. In a month I’ll be in DC consulting for the Defnse Dept on “future dire threats” so I can put that hat on. I just don’t find panic helpful. And today’s panic over “terrorism” is flat out insipid.

Fact, the protective caste utterly booted it on (and before) 9/11. They failed totally, at anticipating and preventing a single-point calamity that cost tens of billions of dollars and over 2,000 lives. And yet, let’s be clear. The monetary damage wasn’t a tenth of Katrina and the cost in lives equals one or two MONTHS of normal fatalities to traffic!

Why have they pushed this “war on terror” (WoT) then? At one level it is Rovean panic-mongering (with the ironic effect that ground zero New York City is probably the one place in America LEAST daunted and worried and convinced by the WoT. But panic-mongering for political purposes is only part of it. The other (never mentioned) part is that this image makes the point-failure of 9/11 look less bad, as a sign of incompetence on the part of our protectors, if it is seen as an exception to a generally successful “war.”

In fact, if we took a 9/11 hit EVERY SINGLE YEAR it would not justify shutting down the country’s state of general confidence and dedication to progress. It would not be a “war” even then. It would remain a matter of law enforcement. (And mark this, I considered Afghanistan to be an excellent SWAT mission.)

On your other remark, I never said that modernism was the opposite of romanticism. That opposite is the enlightenment. See http://www.davidbrin.com/tolkienarticle1.html

Modernism CAN be a romanticism-polluted religion! That was what killed the first wave of modernism, when ego-drenched high priests like Frank Lloyd Wright and Robert Moses and Le Corbusier totally missed the point. Driving it into the ground!

Still, the basic PREMISES of modernism... Human improvability, incrementalism, pragmatism, and a willingness to accept both scientific contingency and CITOKATE... these are deeply compatible with the enlightenment’s notions of flattened hierarchies and openness and tolerance of diversity.

You are not alone in admitting to being a romantic at heart. Read any of my novels! I am one too! I howl at the moon and at lightning bolts! I love poetry and madness and illogic and passion and outrageous love! Without these things we’d stop being human.

But these things must never again be allowed anywhere near POLICY, ever again! They are not the traits of adulthood. And we must learn to know when to be adults.

Markbnj said...

OH No. The Brin-meister mentioned my achilles heel (as someone who grew up in Manhattan(NYC)and rode the subways from age 9up)--
Robert Moses.
The man who single-handedly ensured NYC, Long Island, and a good part of NY State would NEVER have mass transit.

Yes, nice parkways and highways, but did you know he designed most of his highways as "parkways", as NON-bus carrying traffic, and once bragged that one of his highways, The Van-WYCK (wick-NOT WYKE) expressway would NEVER ever have mass transit on it, because the median was too narrow?
Well I hope he's rolling over in his grave, because they finally figured out how to do it.

And last Moses comment from me here:
Can you imagine a NY/Long Island (LI) with a Mass transit (subway) going down the center of the LI expressway?
It would have eliminated tons of problems in the NY area, opened up all of LI to Industry and jobs, and well, (in his mind) let the masses from the slums to the "white man's land" of LI)

--nuff said on dead white men for now...

Mini Digital Video
Hee hee. I must be bleeding edge here.
My Mini-Dv camera is now 4-5 years old, and ancient in this day and age, but still gives me great 640X480 still shots on the memory card.

Google Trends? Interesting, but I'm happier Google chat now has a ping when you get a message.

Oh, and all you types would likely be interested in a meme I found called the 48 questions.
I modified it, and the new rules are to answer it as if you were a terrorist that the NSA is looking for. I call it the NSA-Troll.
Look here for the questions...
http://markbnj.blogspot.com/2006/05/humor-my-48-questions-for-nsa.html
Cheers.

Markb in NJ

Tony Fisk said...

Isn't a "world-noted technology pundit" someone who can program the video recorder?

The inner google always dredges up that old Seekers song that goes 'We'll build a world of our own, that no one else can share' every time the issue of service control arises.

Special Interest Groups have been trying to control access to the internet for years (see this 2004 article from The Register. And consider the gilded cages that AOL used to try and place its newly registered customers into.)

Another form of control, that Microsoft is currently attempting with its Net Services, is to woo customers into setting up their websites using free and pretty gee whiz tools ...that only Internet Explorer can understand (an example being Hudson's outplacement service, to which I can directly attest! Try logging in with Firefox, and here's what you get!)

Why would you want to limit your market space?

From Kurzweil's article, there appear to be a number of organisations already alert to the possibility. So I'd file the possibility of experiencing the web as directed under 'cause for concern' rather than 'cause for alarm'.

I'd be more concerned at the blatant site blockage at the governmental level (China, Pakistan, Iran etc.) As I recall, David, you've already had problems with this.

Anyway, Freedom To Connect seems to be a good place to keep up to date on this issue.

"Fat pipe, always on, get out of the way!"

Erik Wennstrom said...

David,
Thanks for the link to the article. It's a good read and helps explain your position a bit better.

I wasn't asking questions in a Socratic sense, trying to argue the truth of your conclusion. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the use of the 9/11 attacks to drum up fear, both by those who are genuinely frightened (though disproportionately so) and those who simply know how to take opportunity of such a dramatic event. I see the same kind of disproportionate fear in even the smallest aspects human society. It's why people shudder in disgust when someone doesn't wash their hands coming out of a bathroom that's sanitzied with industrial chemicals hourly but don't even think twice about the fact that the shared computer keyboard at the office hasn't been cleaned in three months.

But I'm getting off topic again. I was asking questions simply because your comments didn't seem to be conveying the sort of messages I've read from you in the past. It almost sounded like you were romantically villainizing the "Romantics" for their romantic villainization of "Liberals," and that just didn't sound like the sort of thing you would say. So I asked.

In any case, the thing last thing you just said resonates very solidly with me, and that's what I'll be taking with. Romanticism has its purposes, but as a decision-making tool, it's pretty dreadful.

Erik