Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Future History... and Past...

==On War==

Before moving over to a whole list of non-political (and fascinating) scientific and technological links, I would like to mention one that is both political and historically interesting. Some of you may recall that, upon reflecting on the madness of the Straussian neocons, I would occasionally lapse into a sigh: ”Ah, Alcibiades...” referring to the infamous polemicist who talked the democracy of Athens into pursuing one arrogant blunder after another, leading ultimately to the destruction of humanity’s first great experiment in democracy.

Well, at last, it seems I am no longer alone in making this historical comparison. Please do drop by the Globalist and see a brief but cogent comparison between “The Iraq War and the Sicilian Campaign” by Brent Ranalli. A stunning example of how historical ignorance can doom great nations to repeat the same mistakes, over and over again. (And, incidentally, how Plato and his followers keep plaguing civilization, dragging us down.)

==On Transparency==

"The Google Touch Graph Browser reveals the interconnected network structure of websites by using Google's database of related sites." Actually, I find the results puzzling and not entirely consistent with other visit-tracking software. For example, my site’s top region of visitors (same as everybody else) happens to be northern Virginia. (Gee, I wonder who that might be.) This is not reflected in Google Touch. Still, another interesting tool. And proof that we have no hope NOT to be tracked - in future. Our only hope is to be citizens who are sovereign and powerful enough to have no reason to fear being tracked.

Glancingly related... Get a First Life -- "A One Page Satire of Second Life"

--On the transparency front (mentioned before): “WikiLeaks is designed to allow anyone to post documents on the web without fear of being traced. The creators of the site are thought to include political activists and open-source software engineers, though they are keeping their identities secret. Their goal is to ensure that whistle-blowers and journalists are not thrown into jail for emailing sensitive documents.” Now to move on to my proposed Henchman’s Law....

--And more on the proliferation of “eyes.” At the 211 ft tall Akron Airdock hangar that once housed a fleet of Goodyear blimps, the High Altitude Airship, or HAA, is being built by Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors. Try to get the useful bits from the following clip by a reporter who is obviously scientifically clueless:

“...$40 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency to build HAA in 2003. It is essentially another blimp. A giant one. Seventeen times the size of the Goodyear dirigible. It's designed to float 12 miles above the earth, far above planes and weather systems. It will be powered by solar energy, and will stay in a geocentric orbit for up to a year, undetectable by ground-based radar. You can't see it from the ground. But it can see you.”

According to a summary released by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the HAA can watch over a circle of countryside 600 miles in diameter. That's everything between Toledo and New York City. And they want to build 11. With high-res cameras, that could mean constant surveillance of every square inch of American soil.”

And yes, Mr. Transparency is interested. In fact, see riffs on this in my next novel. (“Geosynchronous orbit”? Ooooog.)

In "Casino Royale," the latest James Bond movie, Bond is implanted with a microchip that allows headquarters to track his whereabouts and monitor his vital signs. If cybernetics experts are right, the day will come when most people are implanted with chips - and the real-life chips will do a lot more than Bond's does.

A proposal currently before congress would force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress. Keep an eye on this one.

==On Science==

--People who go on to have heart attacks have much shorter telomeres than those who remain healthy, a major new study has shown.

--How are memories formed? The question has perplexed scientists for years, but now it seems we're a step closer to solving it. The leading candidate is a process called long-term potentiation (LTP), in which the connections between individual brain cells get stronger the more often they are used, such as during learning.

Devin Murphy provided this one:

--SYDNEY (Reuters) - An anti-whaling group patrolling the Ross Sea off Antarctica has offered a $25,000 reward to any person or group that can provide coordinates of the Japanese whaling fleet operating in the area. The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society announced the reward in the midst of its "Operation Leviathan" mission to disrupt Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean....

--Spam, spyware, and viruses will drive smart computer users to dumber appliances like BlackBerrys, iPods,and Xboxes, says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University. Themigration to closed systems will end innovation on the Internet, he claims.

--Researchers have developed an ultra-sensitive sensor that could potentially be housed in a handheld device. Within minutes, it can detect various viruses and measure their concentration. The sensor, which only requires a small sample of saliva, blood, or other body fluid, could be used to quickly screen people at hospitals and emergency clinics to control outbreaks of diseases such as SARS and the bird flu.

...enough for now...

Persevere.

39 comments:

Blake Stacey said...

In fact, see riffs on this in my next novel.

Ahem.

How??

Woozle said...

Apparently the "blogger registration" thing was FUD; the section about registration, which was removed before the bill was passed, was about "disclosure of paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying". The relevant bit is in Section 220 of S.1 – I can't find a link directly to Section 220, but it's in both of the first 2 versions of S.1 linked from here (the third version appears to have been renumbered after the old 220 was removed, so the 220 in that version is about something else).

(Been busy (building shelves and defending rationality) and haven't had time to re-post your p2p cellphone riff yet; sorry about that! Still planning to get to it.)

Damon TF Buckwalter said...

About embedded chips:

I'm convinced that this is going to get wide adoption as part of a health insurance program. Basically, insurers will offer discounted rates if the insured will accept a monitor that will be used to build a database of medical info.

At first, the devices will simply record basic data (heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) and require downloading during a regular doctor's exam.

Eventually, they will monitor detailed blood chemistry and will have cellphone-like capabilities. They will be able to call 911 for you when you start developing signs of a stroke -- before you even notice.

I predict widespread adoption in 15 years.

OdinsEye2k said...

At first, the devices will simply record basic data (heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.) and require downloading during a regular doctor's exam.

Which will be used by insurance co. lawyers to prove that these poor suckers did not lead sufficiently clean enough lives to qualify for insurance.

"Blood tests clearly show that you eat McDonald's more than twice a week, ergo your coverage is cancelled."

"But I have skin cancer..."

Stefan Jones said...

Thank goodness the Attorney General is his personal lackey. Otherwise the nation would have to go through the trauma of impeachment again:

Cheney's Handwritten Notes Implicate Bush in Plame Affair

ERic said...

Probably shouldn't give much credence to Alex Jones. He's off in that category of nutballs that see conspiracies far deeper and contorted than even the most awful Hollywood movies could concoct, but are worth having around because they keep the rest of us sharp. And they're sometimes right.

I get to see him on my cable TV now and then. He always sounds on the edge of sensible... and then as I ride along with him for a while, I realize he's spinning down the rabbit hole.

Markbnj said...

Hey David:

You said, (re the new bond movie:)
Bond is implanted with a microchip that allows headquarters to track his whereabouts...

Sorry, but the late, great master (Issac Asimov) was the technical consultant on a great (but very shortlived) mid-late 1980's tv series called, "Probe:"
in which the agents had implants, that also functioned as video camera, mike, and headset for updated feeds live from the control room (as well as direct data link downloads into the brain..)

It was a great series, almost as thought provoking as MaxHEADROOM was later in the 80's

Except for the fact I will no longer read/buy his work, the stuff on implants is beginning to sound suspiciously like "Terminal Man", except (as usual for his work)not that severe!

Tony Fisk said...

Well... it's *sort of* geosynchronous!

Damon: those chips are fine, so long as I get to read what they're saying about me too.

Quoth David:
Our only hope is to be citizens who are sovereign and powerful enough to have no reason to fear being tracked.

I recall reading something a few months ago about a guy who had deliberately put a GPS wristband on himself and created a googlemap mashup to continually track his whereabouts. Now, being of Arabic extraction, he came to the attention of the authorities for doing something nefarious at an airport (leaving something in a locker or whatnot), and was interviewed. The agents were a little taken aback by the level of detail he could provide them about his movements, and the helicopter departed empty.

(I'm annoyed now, because I can't find the reference! I think I mentioned it here at the time. Can anyone recall?)

Good one, Stefan! I'm just waiting for someone to finally dump the Al-Jazeera memo onto wikileaks! A recent local cartoon shows King George standing, messiah-like, up on the mount stating that 'he was just following orders.'

Whose orders is debatable.

Andrew Smith said...

Short lecture with amazing graphics on general world-wide trends from 1960s to 2000's in health and wealth distribution.

David Brin said...

I just have to comment on President Bush visiting the NY Stock Exchange and lecturing greedy CEOs about taking gigantic, unearned parachute bonuses that are unconnected with a company's performance.

I have riff'd elsewhere at some length about the inherent illogic of these CEOs' lame rationalizations for this behavior. When they are voted these deals by pals and golf buddies in the most blatant case of circle-jerking since the scandalous camporee of '57. (I think many of them must have attended.)

Essentially, they claim that it is market capitalism at work, with companies simply bidding up in the face of a short supply of top level managerial talent. But once again, as in the case of their dogmatic stand on FIBM (faith in blind markets) the underlying hypocrisy is stunning! Because the fundamental logic of capitalism is that high wages will attract talent from other fields of endeavor! Men and women who might otherwise be brilliant scientists etc will swarm into management, attracted by such rewards... until the SUPPLY of such bright people increases enough to reduce DEMAND... thus lowering prices (rewards) that must be paid for a good CEO!

The fact that CEO compensation only heads in one direction is proof positive that it has noting to do with competition, and everything to do with ANTI competitive crony-conspiracy collusion.

The appalling hypocrisy of GOP-style business pundits, for never, ever mentioning this basic principle from Econ One, is not only evidence of dogmatic-blinkered myopia, but genuine evil intent. They know this and refrain from mentioning it for very dismal reasons.

Thus making them genuine traitors to the very system that they claim to espouse. If he were alive today, Adam Smith would be first to denounce them. To their rotten souls.

Which brings us to the President's speech. Of course, at one level, the mind recoils at a level of hypocrisy that I though unimaginable before, even by a sci fi writer. As the prime promulgators of crony-elite corruption in a century, the Bushites have done more to undermine genuine free-market enterprise capitalism that any other group outside the Soviet Politburo. The behaviors he denounced today were fostered by his coterie, and only stymied, in some cases, through the heroic efforts of champions of America like then NY Atty Gen Eliot Spitzer (now governor and one of my top picks for the Dem nod in 08.)

Oh, to see O'Reilly and Hannity etc mouth support for this position, a day after they would have denounced it as "class warfare" and the "politics of envy"... if someone other than Bush had said it.

Ooooooh, the unmitigated gall.

And yet... and yet... I have to tell you. The pragmatic modernist in me cares less about my own emotion of indignant fury than it does about potential outcomes. And the chief outcome RIGHT NOW is to force Hannity and the other ditto-heads to suddenly and forcefully denounce company-rape by corrupt CEOs! And Red America will follow. Wheee. Populism! And the remote possibility that SOME kind of “satiability” upper limit may be in sight.

How can this be bad?

Split your mind. BE MANY. Allow yourself to growl in outrage and laugh hysterically at the hypocrisy... and yet to welcome some pragmatic aspects too.

But above all, use this on the ostriches. Go adopt one (you have already, right?) and hammer this. They’ll claim they were with you all along! (Like conservatives always supported ML King. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Hawker Hurricane said...

All this stuff on spys with implanted devices reminds me...

"Search", a TV series from the 70's, where the 'hero' had a implanted radio and wore a device that fit on his ring, or cufflink, or tie clip (he moved it as needed) that included a camera and listening gear. On his missions, he had a team of people in a large control room, feeding him information about who he was talking to, what he was talking about, whether the person he was talking to was lying, what the probable combination was to the safe he was looking at, whether or not someone was hiding behind the door over there... it was rather like watching a cross between James Bond and a Apollo mission.

Politics
I'm seeing between my Republican friends a discconnect between Bush, Republicanism and Conservativism. A disconnect I'm encouraging by pointing out that B. Clinton was more of a conservative than G. W. Bush.
Now, if only the Dems can nominate for President a non-Hilary moderate, I can get them a good half dozen votes from disgusted conservatives...

Anonymous said...

ERic wrote:
"Probably shouldn't give much credence to Alex Jones."

Sorry I can't figure out what in this article and thread has to do with him.

- Captain Button

ERic said...

anonymous - Captain Button wrote:
Sorry I can't figure out what in this article and thread has to do with him.


About 2/3 of the way down:

--A proposal currently before congress would force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress. Keep an eye on this one.

The link is to Alex Jones' Infowars website. He has a radio show and community access cable TV show. I know his radio show is aired in places outside of Austin. Don't know about his cable access TV show.

gmknobl said...

You said you wonder who in NoVa would be visiting your blog so much...

Are we to believe you're being monitored by the "intelligence" community or some subgroup of the Bushies? Or is there some other bunch o' guys, like relatives, that you're referring to?

C'mon now. Many of us use to wonder if we had some big brother watching over our moves but most really don't, even today - though the right's the neocons like to claim they have are fascist and against (the spirit of) the constitution, see signing statements...

Do you really have any proof you know who is visiting your systems so much? Because if you do, the rest of us who email you and leave comments would like to know too so we can say with some legitimacy bid brother really is watching us rather than just assuming so (or not).

Damon TF Buckwalter said...

OdinsEye2k: The data collected would have to be aggregated and made annonymous in accordance with HIPAA. Only then would the insurance company get the data.

tony fisk: It would be nice to get copies of your own "telemetry", but I could see problems with it. As it stands now, I have difficulty asking for copies of the xrays that are taken of me.

Nate said...

I'm just outside of what's normally referred to as Northern VA, so some of that's probably me.

As for CEO salaries, I think one of the simplest explanations is this. For the past 20+ years, wages have been stagnant for most middle and working class jobs. But during those same 20 years, corporations have been hitting record profits year after year. So with all that money sloshing around, there's only basically two places for it to go. To the CEOs, or the stockholders. Or, I suppose, to taxes, but there's been no serious corporate taxes for years.

The simplest way to reign in obscene CEO pay would be for everybody else to start getting a cut of that pie too. And that'd be good for a lot of other reasons too. Like, I know at crappy retail jobs I've worked, often times the "standard" raise for a year is something like $0.25 an hour, which is less than inflation unless you're making minimum wage. Lots of jobs aren't even keeping up with inflation, which is why so many people have to work two jobs, or everybody in the family has to work. I don't think that's something we can fix with technology, though. That's something that needs unions and that sort of thing.

ERic said...

One other point that I meant to make about Alex Jones. It seems to me that, while the President and his minions are flogging us with the 'FEAR' tool, Alex, while attempting to point out all the problems with our government and corporations, flogs us just as enthusiastically with the same tool.

David Brin said...

gmknobl please, I am limited in my degree of paranoia, The fact that my biggest “hit” sources (as of a year or so ago) were from NoVa is no big deal. According to the tracking systems of that time (I have not checked in over a year) EVERYBODY was nost-visited from there! Clearly, there were automatic sifters at work. Actually kind of amusing and endearing that they made no effort to hide it.

If your tracker today does NOT show most-hits coming from there, it means that they have decided to disperse and conceal the link sources. Frankly, I find that more disturbing.

Do you guys think I should post my bit about CEO wages at the top layer? Any changes additions?

Anonymous said...

Woozle spoiled my daydream of millions of bloggers submitting 2,000-page reports to some agency that would have to slog through billions of pages...

Anonymous said...

Unless they contain one's medical history and a sizable processing capacity, implanted medical chips can only report raw data. How could such a limited chip tell whether the patient's high heart rate was caused by narrowed arteries or by running a marathon? Such a determination would require a larger database and analytical tools to determine whether the patient is dangerously unhealthy or actually improving his cardiovascular system.

Blake Stacey said...

Too good to pass up:

Use Google to search whitehouse.gov for the phrase "global warming". Result: 437 hits. Now, try the same search with the White House's own search engine. Result? One hit.

Via Mike Dunford, James Annan, William Connolley and Tom Adams.

Anonymous said...

I find the case in Boston very instructive. Imagine if our paid protective cast was more willing to utilize the services of ordinary Americans. If they had the infrastructure to send out an alert to the local citizentry(pictures sent to cell phones) it is almost certain some 20 something hipster would be able to calm the whole thing down without all the brou-ha-ha.

Although if the Boston and federal agencies are smart they'll realize they just got some of the best "live fire" training they could ask for. They should use the priceless data they got from this scare to fine tune the response plans they have. That doesn't sound like what they're in the mood for though. It sounds like they want to pin the blame on anyone but themselves.

Blake Stacey said...

Struggling against transparency: Student’s Recording of Teacher’s Views Leads to a Ban on Taping (New York Times, via EvolutionBlog).

After a public school teacher was recorded telling students they belonged in hell if they did not accept Jesus as their savior, the school board has banned taping in class without an instructor’s permission, and has added training for teachers on the legal requirements for separating church and state.

A junior at Kearny High School in New Jersey, Matthew LaClair, 16, complained to his principal after the teacher in his American history class, David Paszkiewicz, told students that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark and that only Christians had a place in heaven. He started recording the comments in September because, he said, he was afraid school officials would not otherwise believe that the teacher had made them. Matthew said he was ridiculed and threatened after his criticism became public.

The audio which caused all the fuss can be found (along with some amateur transcripts) at Pharyngula.

Anonymous said...

The reason why everyone gets so much traffic from Northern Virginia is because that's where AOL's computers are located. Every dial-up AOL customer on the web appears to be coming from Northern Virginia. No conspiracies are required.

Naum said...

Internet visitor metrics are most dubious... ...assigning a geographic point to an IP address, while generally accurate (I reckon it's a value in the 50-90% accuracy range).

For instance, the stats (at least according to the Google stats breakdowns) assess this location as someplace different (though not wildly inaccurate, just a different part of Arizona) than the actual origin.

Woozle said...

Just a quick mention of the latest new development in the evolution of disputation arenas on the internet: Jyte.com

(Kudos to Tenebram for bringing this urgently to my attention.)

Nate said...

In regards to the "paranoid techno-thriller" thread in the last post, anybody think starting a war with Iran would be the kind "trap" that would work with that? Like the one Bush and the neocons seem to be trying to push for?

Doug S. said...

Random comment:

The pool of people with the background required to become a CEO of a major corporation is probably very large. However, the pool of people who have actual experience being the CEO of a large company is limited by, well, the relatively small number of large companies. If you exclude "rookies" from your search for a CEO, all you're going to be able to do is bid against other companies for a limited pool of "talent." If you're willing to hire someone who was only, say, Regional Director as your new CEO, then you probably don't need to pay nearly as much. Could the ridiculous salaries be (at least in part) an "experience premium" of sorts?

David Brin said...

jyte.com does seem at least to aim in the right direction toward the very general notion of disputation arenas... the way a tree branch, hurled in the general direction of the moon by a chimpanzee may be incrementally improved toward Apollo missions. But it’s going to be a very long slog. Thanks Woozle.

Nate, you are absolutely right. If we were to write this perilous situation - with drunken gamblers risking most of the US Army and Marines in a distant adventure, as a techno thriller, then Iran (using dire weapons provided by China, Russia and the French) would be the proximate vehicle for destroying the US Expeditionary Force in Iraq, replicating the Athenians’ Sicilian disaster and leaving us defenseless.

Of course, most techno-thriller authors are rather, ahem, rightist, and so “Iran” would be portrayed as a monolithic center of evil and the instigator of this plot.

(Ignoring the fact that Iran is a complex, civil society -- a despotism, but one in which many political forces wrangle, daily, amid a myriad internal divisions that we might have exploited, if Condi Rice had a fingernail’s worth of Henry Kissinger’s IQ. Instead, she has helped the mullahs, every chance she could, with the result that they and the Saudis have been the overwhelming winners of this whole imbroglio. A core fact that rightists hysterically refuse to see,)

But, of course, there is the DEEPER tech-thriller plot. The one with tasty paranoic riffs, leaning heavily on THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. The notion that every bit of this was intended, all along.

Anybody watch Battlestar Galactica? How fascinating that Gaius Balthar desperately wishes to find out he was a Cylon, all along... and thus a hero to one people, instead of a traitor to the other. Wow. Best show on TV.

So? What if we are not led by idiots, by hysterical, monstrous-delusional morons, but instead by very, very smart plotters who are not even evil, or traitors, by their own lights? Because they did all of this on purpose, with the direct intent of achieving everything that we now see? With the aim of doing far worse in the immediate future? And in their own minds they are heroes for doing it?

Those who hate the Enlightenment have strong reasons. Indeed, if it survives and thrives, their entire way of looking at the world will die.

At one level, it is a tasty thriller plot. At another, it makes one wonder. Do they actually think that we would be unable to stand up, after the Army and Marines were betrayed and crushed... that we would be unable to stand up and do what our ancestors did, every other time the thin blue line buckled, buying the rest of us time?

Do our enemies actually think we’ll just sit here, and not avenge them?

===

Regarding the quandary of why high CEO wages don’t draw in enough brilliant talent to thereupon soon bring down CEO compensation, in a process of natural market feedback-correction, Doug S suggested one answer: “The pool of people with the background required to become a CEO of a major corporation is probably very large. However, the pool of people who have actual experience being the CEO of a large company is limited by, well, the relatively small number of large companies.”

I have to respond that this does not work because each layer of the size pyramid should feed plenty of winning candidates upward, to the layer above. Indeed, the Boards of major corps ought to be far more interested in those from just below who have shown zest and winning seasons, than cronies and golf buddies who had tepid years. Not what we see, alas.

No the more common rationalization among the klepto CEOs... the few who actually try to answer the “Econ One Challenge” and explain the refusal of the market to adapt... is actually quite interesting. It is the “Michael Jordan Defense.” It turns out (you see) that today’s top CEOs are mutant level stars at the same freakish level of talent shown by top basketball players, who cannot be replaced no matter how high salaries rise... because market forces no longer apply at the very far wings of any bell curve. SO superior are they, that no metrics need apply, not even the kind of performance stats that Michael Jordon carried with him, into every game.

Ah, me. Mutant managers. X-Men CEOs. The mind boggles at the imagery,

Stefan Jones said...

When I was getting my MS, I took a half dozen or so econ and management courses at Carnegie Mellon's Graduate School of Industrial Administrators.

I was amused and saddened to see that two of classes offered were . . .

. . . Golf and Acting.

I wonder if CEOs have taken a variant of the con-artist's credo to heart:

"Sincerity is the key. Once you've learned to fake that you've got it made."

* * *

via Paul Krugman, some prescient Molly Ivins quotes:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? ... There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”

July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. ... We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants.”

Oct. 7, 2003: “Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. ...

“I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose.”


I hope, before Ivin's shade ascends to hang out with Samuel Clemens and Will Rogers, that she spends a few weeks hanging around D.C., giving pajama-soaking nightmares to Bush and company.

David Brin said...

Post of the day, Stefan. Heck. Post of the week.

JAX said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Don Quijote said...

Red State - A Reactionary’s Shorter Catechism.


¶ No right is more vital to the liberty of a people than the right of private property. A business corporation is but a derivative of private property, and its standing in law should reflect this fact.

¶ There is a presumption in favor of Free Speech, but it is hardly absolute. Few clauses of the Philadelphia Constitution have been more abused, and twisted from their original meaning, than the First Amendment.

¶ A healthy polity will have a majority population and culture; contemporary orthodoxy on diversity tends towards anarchy and strife.

¶ The right of a community to maintain its identity, autonomy, and independence is among the first principles of a free polity.

¶ Indiscriminate blending of cultures is thus undesirable, and more often than not an at least implicit act of aggression against the existing majority culture.

¶ Voting is not a right but a privilege. Its abuse is rampant, and to contain it is a valid object of public policy. More damaging to a republic than corrupt politicians are corrupt voters.


Go forth, read and enjoy...

Doug S. said...

I agree that corruption is a better explanation for absurd executive compensation rather than the "experience premium" I hypothesized, but it might be useful and/or entertaining to brainstorm alternative contributing factors, regardless of how likely you think they are.

David Brin said...

Doug, I hope you did not take offense. We have thick skins here, and should never impute a disdainful tone of voice, when the other guys says "Naw! I think this is a better explanation!"

Don, that "Reactionary" site was choice! I kept plowing through it amazed and wondering... could it be satire? It HAS to be! And yet, I concluded that it truly is what it seems. An extremely articulate and intelligent defense of absolutely everything that we here despise most.

Take the following examples that you left out:

¶ There is great peril in the reckless use reason to pry into the nonrational aspects of our history and traditions: like Noah’s son looking upon his nakedness, the brazenness of reason my issue in ruin.*

¶ If progress occurs at all, it is slow, unsteady and often obscure.

¶ The misuse of the label progress has concealed some of the most terrible political calamities in history; the very word has been rendered untrustworthy.


Stunning. While "progress" merits plenty of citokate, you'll note the incredible over-arching them of VAGUENESS in this fellow's rant. He praises elitism, mythology, romanticism, nostalgia, mysticism, exceptionalism, ritualistic-dogmatic traditionalism, and prejudice in the purest meaning of the word ---- pre-judice, judging others and all thoughts based upon comfortable, self-serving assumptions and eliminating all processes that test those subjective assumptions against the test of objective reality.

Fascinating, since, he would, of course, howl if he found himself in any of the 99% of such cultures that would have treated HIM with the short end of this stick. Implicit throughout is that he would be the one doing the pre-judging.

Moreover, he shows us not a single time or place when his prescription delivered better human life -- or service to God -- than the progress he disdains. Facts do not support, so he uses none.

He is certainly right that our modernism is the exact remedy to all of the wretched-retro traits to which he adheres. Come, fellow enlightenment palladins. Let us defeat this person and absolutely every belief that he espouses, top to bottom... for his own sake. For if the world he desires ever returns, the mullahs and Imams and Hindu priests or shamans who lead that society will not treat him kindly.

SpeakerToManagers said...

How could such a limited chip tell whether the patient's high heart rate was caused by narrowed arteries or by running a marathon?

That's actually fairly easy. Running a marathon means elevated heart rate, increased pulse rate (not by much if you're a trained marathon runner, but some), and increased respiratory rate. Narrowed arteries won't cause the pulse or respiratory to increase at rest. Also, narrowed arteries usually implies high blood pressure.

These sorts of correlations are simple to detect with software that fits on an embedded chip. In fact, it wouldn't be hard to make the chip adapt the parameters of the correlations over time to changes in the patient's vital signs at rest.

OdinsEye2k said...

Don's linked Catechism is quite amazing.

I think it is also worth linking to Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation. In it, Harris chides us seculars for not understanding why the Christianist group is so wet themselves afraid of radical Islam: the Christianists know what it means to believe something with all of their heart and soul and to be willing to do whatever the Sky Father asks.

We seculars miss the point - poverty and poor socioeconomic conditions make it easier for people to fall into these radical traps. Once they are there, however, it is very unlikely that they will leave their radical ways unless isolated for quite some time in a situation to dissolve their fervor. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, whatever - the true believers are damned hard to deprogram.

I think this interest in "majority" rule also explains the deep xenophobia of this group, knowing full well what they do in the majority. This group tends to believe in universal human nature, so that their need for domination is shared by all. I'm sure some would fight to the death to avoid this fate!

Even in all this filth, there are a couple of points with which I can agree:

Moreover, a beneficent civil order is a precious and fragile thing, and requires public vigilance and private virtue to maintain.

I think I mean the above differently by them, but I see this as a need for stable institutions outside of both government and business. Like bowling clubs.

[The political realm] is not an expedient by which the accumulation of wealth is to be made as free of obstacles as rationally conceivable.

Heartily agreed. Environment and the overall health of society are very important considerations, as is the consideration of who precisely harvests the gains made from collective action.

David Brin said...

Odin you point to a fascinating aspect. This guy is smart enough to see beyonf the neocon moment and know that -- if trog-reactionaryism starts prevailing, Corporate America may turn round and ally itself with modernists. Corporations are rather like idols or false gods to such people... deeply suspect and they would be curbed.

But that's only to be expected! The kleptos see their corporations as vehicle TO power, not permanent entitities themselves. Once an obligate inherited aristocracy is re-established, they will become mere surface forms. And that will suit our catechist just fine.

Oh! Note how - like so many neo-trogs - he IMPLICITLY bows to modern values. By praising traditional culture in GENERAL terms, he makes no special claim for the superiority of white christendom. Rather, he calls for a world filled with a multiplicity of diverse reactionary/devout cultures, separated yet reciprocally respectful. Thus he insulates himself from charges of intolerance and accepts that such charges would be damning.

Of course, the implicit suggestion that such a world would be better than this one bears some scrutiny. Obviously, there is no conceivable way in which it would. Hence, he demands - a priori - that scrutiny itself be excluded! Gosh.

Alex said...

David, have you considered that one explanation for the NoVA hits is just that Equinix Ashburn is a big IX? Quite a few others around there too.