Monday, April 16, 2012

Take the Wager Challenge...and help push back Culture War

The brilliance of Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Prince Waleed and their clade never ceases to impress me.  Twenty years ago, they were subsidizing Rush Limbaugh and the neoconservatives to spread what's become the core notion of today's right. (Though it also crops up on the far-left!) One that is now fundamental dogma to millions of Americans.

The notion that assertions can trump facts.

Ridiculing the “fact based community,” the party line has become completely untethered from any need for consistency or reference to evidence. Leveraging upon a native and healthy American trait - suspicion of authority - it has metastacised into the cancerous nostrum that all experts are automatically wrong because they know a lot.  From scientists to journalists to judges, medical doctors, academics, diplomats, skilled labor... indeed, the list of knowledge castes under attack at Fox is now almost complete.  (Find the exceptions!) Only the Wall Street oligarchy has been left out.  Those "experts" it seems are indispensable.

Not even Marxists ever found so perfect a way to insulate their followers from dogma-dilution.  Is there any way to get past the nostrums recited by Limbaugh listeners and climate denialists and so on?

I found one.  And it works.  It works very well.

Make it a matter of money.  Stone cold hard cash.

I have found that no amount of facts or evidence will shift an “ostrich” republican back to the old ways of Goldwater and Buckley, in pre-Fox days, when conservatism respected knowledge and facts. Back when the average education level of republicans was higher than democrats, when 40% of scientists were in the GOP, instead of less than 5% today.  When knowledge and intellect weren't the openly declared enemy.

Nevertheless, I found a bullet! When faced with absolute denial and perfect assertion-addiction, one thing cracks the turtle shell. Demanding a wager!

“You are absolutely certain about your list of assertions, even those that sound cockeyed and totally over-the-top, or that denounce all of America's knowledge-experts.  So certain are you, of these Ailes-approved assertions, that you're willing to stake our nation’s future on them, even putting back in charge the idiots who ran America off a cliff in the first decade of this century.  So certain that you’ll demonize every opponent, despise all educated people, and trash any talk of negotiation or compromise.

“Fine.  Only then, if you truly are that certain, make a bet!  Take my money! Back it up with cash that we’ll both deposit with some agreed-neutral party.  I’ll even give you odds. If I am the fool, for disagreeing with you, take money from this fool! (And religion is no excuse; the loser could pay the winner's favorite charity.)


“This matters. You are willing to help ignite the latest phase of the American Civil War, convinced that facts back up your side.  Then show some guts. Put money on it!”

== Clear-cut, provable wagers ==

Here are just a few of the matters I have offered to lay on the table, at various times.  I've made some nice cash. But mostly had the satisfaction of calling the other guy "chicken" when he refused... and seeing him stop using some outrageously false, Roger Ailes talking points.

*  You have your panties in a twist over illegal immigration? Well I bet illegal immigration is always worse under Republicans, who upon taking over savagely cut the Border Patrol.  Democrats reinforce it. In any event, illegal immigration across the Mexico-U.S. border has now, under Obama, reached net-zero.  If you don’t believe it, make a wager and take my money!  Or else, stop ranting about this!

(Side note: many white males are instinctively noticing that the USA is no longer theirs to control, alone.  Some react viscerally against this new era and blame illegal immigrants. But in fact, America's demographics have been changed far more by LEGAL immigration, a matter the GOP never ever raises.  Why not? One has to wonder.)

* You claim we’re in steep moral decline, especially in Blue America. Red America is more moral and knows better how to raise kids up, wholesomely; is that right? Okay, have we shaken on a wager? Then here’s just one clear-fact refutation. Teen pregnancies are highest in states with abstinence-only policies. (In fact, get Crazy Uncle to bet on every point of “immorality” from divorce rates, teen sex, STDs, and domestic violence to almost every type of crime, in Red vs Blue regions.  He’ll lose on all counts.  Take his cash. Or call him a coward.)

* Taxed enough already?  That's the outraged Tea Party mantra.  So make a bet on how high taxes really are in the U.S. today, especially for the rich, compared to any time in the last 80 years.  (Actually, we're at one of the lowest points since 1930.) Or what fraction of the US economy is taken up by the Federal government. Or who is paying more tax and getting less in return. (Hint: Blue America pays more taxes, gets fewer benefits, but... key point... Blue America also whines much much less.)

* The Obama stimulus of the economy in 2009 was a "catastrophe" according to Republicans like Mitt Romney, who wanted the US Auto Industry to go into bankruptcy and receivership, and thereby "learn a lesson." It was claimed that the taxpayer would lose trillions... literally trillions.  So have your uncle bet you whether this is still what he believes... then show him the NET PROFIT that we, the people, are making off the stimulus.

(Then ask him if he thinks we got our money's worth from a decade and two trillion dollars and thousands of lives poured into "nation building" in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ask him if he knows what fraction of that went to companies co-owned by Dick Cheney.  Finally, ask him why he doesn't know, or care.)

* Obama the socialist? BHO got his  party to pass the republicans’ own health care proposal (circa 1994-2004).  “Obamacare” is essentially the Gingrich Plan, later adopted by Mitt Romney. Don't let them weasel by claiming "We changed our mind!" Sure, they have that right.
But you do not have a right to change your mind AND scream "socialist!" at those who implement YOUR plan. Find a way to parse this as a bet.

*  Here’s one that always works. Offer to bet Crazy Uncle that Rupert Murdoch’s top partner and co-owner at Fox News is a Saudi Prince. He'll deny it in screeching outrage... then he'll refuse to make it a wager.  Nail him with that hypocrisy.

I could go on and on.  Indeed, many of you regulars are tired of hearing these same things recited here.  (Well, you knew it would happen in an election year!)  But that’s not the point, this time.

Sure, I know we won’t change many minds with this tactic.  Negotiation and mind-changing isn't in the cards. Not during outright Civil War. Ailes and co. have succeeded in plunging us down that path and nothing is left but to fight it. With the right symbols.

But at least this’ll arm you to help get the nut-jobs to shut the f$#& up over their favorite ranted assertion-incantations!  Because they care, above all, about their money.

== Hence this OPEN CALL! ==

Come to the comments section (below) and offer your own favorite crazy uncle bets, parsed to go to the heart of a right wing "frame" and easily disprove it.  Offer it up as a clear wager... and provide citations for devastating proof/evidence.  Keep them short n' punchy and focused on crystal clear FALSIFIABLE STATEMENTS or wagers subject to potent proof. I'll publish the best ones here.

Oh, and just for fairness sake... you contrarians or republicans are welcome to offer up ways to bait your dogmatic-leftist crazy aunt, too!

They may not be as numerous or dangerous as the Murdochite loons, right now, but I consider them-there-lefties to be fair game.  Only dig this... try to stick to actual unbiased assertions that real liberals (and not a few campus lefty flakes) actually say, not things Glen Beck claims they say.

I’ll post the top ones on CONTRARY BRIN.

Even better, I hope someone will become convinced to run with this concept and create a web site devoted to Big Political Bets.  As contributions to sanity go, you could do much worse.
.

175 comments:

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Love this!

I can't wait to try it at the next family gathering.

Still, will they believe the evidence? :-)

matthew said...

"Do you know that Rudi Guliani takes money to speak on the behalf of an Islamic terrorist organization?"
http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/content/view/print/401543
Referring to the MEK, an Iranian terrorist organization (on the official US list of terror organizations) known for killing american advisors in the 60s and 70s.
Also John Bolton, and Tom Ridge. And Howard Dean, just to be contrary.

Rob said...

Will they believe the evidence?

No. It will simply enrage them.

I tried it. I laid money on an open, public newspaper site, against a person who asserted that the local school district was wasting tax money and wouldn't survive an honest audit.

Go here to see it. Find the top comment from Bob Gillette that starts with "Amazing!" http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/feb/14/evergree-levy-xxx-ridgefield-bond-xxx/

It was like watching stages of grief. First, an admonition to chill out. Just a rhetorical device. And then the repeated assertion. Then, when I laid the money down again, he changed the subject to how much better home schooling is. And took offense that I'd call him wealthy based on a picture and his ability to write.

Never did take my bet, but what I *did* get was grief from my wife ("Mormons don't gamble!") and identical grief from a school board member ("But we [mormons] don't bet!")

I had to explain that it was a rhetorical device.

Later on in the same thread I laid a $50 bet against "all the yes voters are renters." The response was simple silence.

It didn't change any minds.

David Brin said...

Of course this should apply to climate change...

... but the bets should be involuntary. In that: "there will be several billion VERY angry people if the climate shit hits the fan. They will lose their stuff. They will want other peoples' stuff.

"We will help them seize the stuff of the arrogant assholes who delayed sensible measures to prevent this catastrophe, for purely emotional and politically shortsighted and anti-scientific reasons."

Those who are on record using Tobacco industry style tactics to ensure nothing get done, despite advice from the ENTIRE scientific community... all of those people will have to give up a large share of their stuff, as part of simple tort settlements. And for entirely just cause.

This should be made clear to folks. It is in their own best interest not to be identifiable as part of the campaign to actively obstruct the implementation of sensible-care and prudent precautions in the face of expert warnings.

Ian Gould said...

There's been a running discussion here about behavior-modifying parasites.

The 14 April New Scientist has an article (not on the website) which discusses the potential impact of different intestinal bacterial ecosystems.

In mice, a strain supposedly bred for aggression has a different group of dominant bacterial species in its gut to other strains - and by destroying the original biota with antibiotics and then replacing them with those from the other strain aggressive mice can be made more passive and passive mice can be made more aggressive.

The article's main focus is on evidence that fetuses pick up gut bacteria from their mothers, meaning inherited behavioral traits could be bacterial rather than genetic in origin.

Jonathon Barton said...

"Teen pregnancy is up"

No.
In fact, teen pregnancy fell 40% between 1990 (115.8/1000) and 2005 (70.6/1000).
Source: The CDC.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_04.pdf

duncan cairncross said...

Here is an interesting idea
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fix-income-inequality-with-10-million-loans-for-everyone/2012/04/13/gIQATUQAFT_story.html
The author has made the amount too large - deliberately - so that it would not work
However - what about simply lending every American ~ $30,000 - no interest for 10 years - then slow re-payment.
It would be peanuts to the rich but a sizable sum to the poor - pay off a lot of underwater houses, drive demand and reduce inequality

Hypnos said...

Infanttyrone on Butler from previous thread:

Exactly! A fine description on the purpose and modus operandi of empire. It is interesting to notice that the American South was also treated as a province to exploit, rather than as part of the imperial core, with the attendant results. And as usual, the vehicle was a local elite - southern plantation owners.

As a resident member of the loony left, I'd love to see some bets come my way!

Rob said...

Duncan, I think you just reinvented Stafford interest-deferred student loans with that there idea.

CJ-in-Weld said...

Rob, you say you changed no minds, but you don't know that. Internet arguments aren't really designed to change the minds of the true believers who actually post anything! It's for the teetering souls who read but who (like most people with lives) rarely post.

Despair not!

locumranch said...

Dr. Brin's assertions regarding the above facts are absolutely correct, especially this one:

These inflammatory Right-wing political assertions are all about power rather than fact.

We forget that 'scientific truth', as it applies to the current political situation, is completely beside the point.

What we have here is a political power struggle (or the decisive application of moral violence) designed to consolidate social authority and accomplish a clear political goal.

As humorously shown by Stephen Colbert's SuperPac, Money is the current political weapon of choice in the G8 & USA.

It's all about the 'money'. Our societies use it to consolidate authority, establish moral policy and compel social obedience.

It therefore follows that what we call the 'War on Science' is a misnomer.

Instead, what we describe as the 'War on Science' is actually the active suppression of the knowledge necessary to allow an unempowered people to challenge established authority.

Unfortunately, most progressives cannot see the forest through the trees. They forget that 'money' is merely the current socially-acceptable proxy for moral power and/or authority.

To paraphrase Mao, "Real authority comes out of the barrel of a gun".

Have any of you read 'Shockwave Rider'?

Best.

Hypnos said...

"Real authority comes out of the barrel of a gun".

I would be surprised if a terrorist wave does not develop in Mediterranean Europe in the near future. Youth unemployemt is now reaching 50% in several countries, and there is absolutely no hope for improvement. Italy had major terrorist insurgencies, both from the left and from the right (with state and possibly CIA backing, in the case of the right), in the 1970s and 80s. I am sure the knowledge and expertise is still out there.

When the government last reformed the labour market in the early 2000s the two chief advisors responsible for the reform were shot and killed.

sociotard said...

Now there's one that would be fun on a predictions registry!

Buck said...

What do you do when they cite a looney bin as the source of their 'facts?' If they aren't interested in facts, more facts aren't going to alter that mindset.

As for the silent masses who read but don't post, they exist in about the same proportion as people who change their minds based on being presented with facts.

Good luck with that.

David Brin said...

Jonathan Barton seems to quote somebody:

"Teen pregnancy is up"

Then he attacks that strawman.

Jonathan, may I ask who you're quoting? Because it wasn't me or this article. Do you use strawmen often? Ban habit. Bad reflex.

====

Given Romney's outright lies to the NRA, about Obama's "assault on gun rights" I think we need to look to make that one a bet, too. In fact, during the Bush Jr years a great many liberals I know changed their minds about that issue and started arming themselves.

The South Plainsman said...

Mr. Brin, I strongly suspect that the net illegal immigration numbers under Obama may be a result of the very poor economic performance of the US versus Mexico and other countries.

Here in Texas, with our economy performing relatively well, we have had little diminution of illegal immigration.

Just a thought.

David Brin said...

South Plainsman... how about backing up your assertion with actual stats? Have you even noticed the irony, that you come in to a topic thread that is ABOUT red staters trumping facts with assertions... and go "aha!" trumping me with... an assertion.

Well then let's make a bet, South Plainsman. Which presidents BOOSTED the Border Patrol, on entering office and which ones CUT it?

Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton Bush Jr and Obama. Well? Are you willing to give your real name and send $100 bucks to an agreed neutral party and live by the outcome?

I thought not. But thanks for coming by and offering a perfect example.

Jonathon Barton said...

It was a friend on Google Plus who asserted that, and also that STDs are up (they are, very slightly. But even a slight positive trend confirms her assertion.)
I didn't include a name, as you put out a call for "examples" from both sides of the fence, and I presumed that "teen pregnancy is on the rise" is not exactly an uncommon assertion to hear from people who haven't dug for the numbers.

Jonathon Barton said...

Found it.
The original assertion was in this thread at Google+

https://plus.google.com/u/0/111733475066156856788/posts/CfBSrEWC8po
...this inspired me to go see what the CDC had to say about the actual trend regarding teen pregnancy, which is what inspired me to comment - I had the data mostly ready when you asked for examples of wagerable assertions.

David Brin said...

Apologies, Jonathan... but it seemed you were (mis)quoting me from the main blog posting.

Please be specific. And thrive.

W.B Reeves said...

Interesting and provocative discussion, as always on this site. I try to visit regularly even if i don't comment because I find I learn a great deal.

Bit of business from the previous thread.

"It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn't the whole population. [Heinlein]"

RAH was a great one for the glib aphorism. It's a large part of his continuing appeal. However, glibness isn't necessarily the friend of accuracy. Embedded in the above notion is the assumption that that the health of a society is dependent upon its homogeneity. One needn't be a historian to recognize that, for the greater part of its history, human civilization has not been organized in that fashion. The empires of antiquity right up until the emergence of the Nation State did not base themselves on any such principle. Subject peoples were exactly that; distinct group identities within a larger heterogeneous polity. The vaunted Civis Romanus wasn't extended to the entire free born population of the empire until the Edict of Carraculla in 212. That was done for the purpose of expanding taxation rather than increasing social cohesion.

I think the quote reflects RAH's propensity for generalizing about the human condition over all from his subjective view of US history rather than any particular insight.

This brings me to the topic of current flight from reason into ideological absolutism on the Right.

I'm reminded of an encounter I had at World Con in Atlanta back in the eighties. I was at the Libertarian suite with some friends. I got involved in a discussion of the pros and cons of economic and social planning with a fellow who was well into his cups. He wound up opining that planning was not only a bad thing but that it was impossibility. His "proof" for this? Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

I think you can extrapolate a good deal of the intellectual decay of the Right in the decades since from this, admittedly anecdotal, instance. It seems that even science isn't immune from the incantory infection.

On a side note, I'm surprised at your flogging Bill Buckley as an alternative to the irrationality of the right. For all his supposed intellect and erudition, he was and remained an apologist for "white" racial domination. Hardly a rational position in my view (or RAH's for that matter.)

Need I point out that this remains an active subtext for much of the Right?

JD Rhoades said...

The problem with this plan is that they refuse to accept any source that contradicts them as valid because anyone that contradicts them is, ipso facto, part of the liberal conspiracy. Or as one wingnut actually put it:

"CDC? LOL!"

Anonymous said...

Are we confusing TARP with ARRA? The link used to back up the assertion isn't about the Obama stimulus it is about TARP (Bush).

- * The Obama stimulus of the economy in 2009 was a "catastrophe" according to Republicans like Mitt Romney, who wanted the US Auto Industry to go into bankruptcy and receivership, and thereby "learn a lesson." It was claimed that the taxpayer would lose trillions... literally trillions. So have your uncle bet you whether this is still what he believes... then show him the NET PROFIT that we, the people, are making off the stimulus.

Hypnos said...

Re central planning, the guy clearly didn't know his history. The Inca empire was based entirely around central planning, with no money nor markets. The Inca planners told everybody what to do and when, and it was so effective that when the Spanish got there the warehouses were full to the brim and nobody seemed to suffer from malnutrition.

Wonder if you could get a wager out of this?

Zkid said...

I agree with JD Rhoades.

I've had numerous conversations with "Birthers" and have proposed wagers.

Despite places like SNOPES (http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthers/birthcertificate.asp) having already done the heavy lifting (as well as a thousand different journalists), the people I argued with wouldn't accept that the evidence was true. So the bet stood unresolved.

If people can't be persuaded by evidence and fact and will continue to just spout their assertions, where does that leave the bet?

W.B. Reeves said...

Yes, the whole problem with wager is that it presumes a common acceptance of what "the facts" are. If there is no consensus as to objective reality you're back to "No it isn't. Yes it is." Or as the old saying has it "People pretty much believe what they want to believe." At least until reality smacks them in the face. Even then, a sizable number will refuse to alter their thinking. Their beliefs faith based, not fact based.

Robert said...

There are frequent allegations of "liberal bias" by the Right concerning fact-checking groups such as Politifact and Snopes. The truth of the matter is that people don't like being proven wrong. Thus when a fact-checking group proves beliefs to be wrong, they discount the facts as lies and statistics. They will gleefully use the same facts and statistics when they are in their own favor and ignore their previous allegations that the sites are biased, saying that "a broken clock is still right twice a day."

It's getting to the point I almost wonder if we should allow all of these ultra-denialist conservatives to move to the Southeastern states, move all the non-ultra conservatives out of the area, and let them form their own nation. The problem with this is my concern that this group would eventually try to invade the non-conservative U.S. out of paranoia and the need to force their views on other people. That, and I would miss my very-conservative friends. As long as we avoid politics and science, we get along quite nicely.

Rob H.

ell said...

Off topic: Majorana fermions are their own antiparticles:

http://news.yahoo.com/mysterious-particle-found-decades-searching-130005728.html

Then again, based on Rob's post above, some data may be its own antidata.

LarryHart said...

Robert:
There are frequent allegations of "liberal bias" by the Right concerning fact-checking groups such as Politifact and Snopes.


I think some of them honestly don't grok the fact that "reality has a liberal bias." The fact that we're proven right by the facts more often than not should give us some street cred. Instead, it does just the opposite. "The facts come down on the liberal side more often than the conservative side, therefore THE FACTS ARE BIASED, and therefore, it is up to an impartial observer to COMPENSATE for that bias."

Rob said...

Part of the problem has been the ruling out of two-source fact-checking organizations like The New York Times, on the basis of a few instances of malfeasance and the content of the editorial pages.

Thus, when I point out to a "Birther" that none of the birth certificate stuff ever mattered because Obama has an American mother, they move the goalposts to insist that "natural born" means two parents born on American soil, bearing you in turn on American soil.

They are the American Party of the 21st Century.

Then, when Snopes or NBC or the like are used for refuting other things, the Killian papers are dragged up, a composition fallacy committed right in front of you, and the links to all kinds of blogs provided in refutation.

Again, Know-Nothings. Because "Government" is seen as "the Problem", no product of government research is respected. As another poster quoted, "The CDC? LOL!"

Basically, the only things we're lacking is a caning by a congresscritter upon another congresscritter, and some "skirmishing in Kansas." The physicality of these differences of opinion are not to that point, yet, McVeighs notwithstanding, but that's the trajectory we're on.

I don't wish to despair, but I don't think my grandchildren will actually reside in a 50-State union, unless the war of words stops before the canings begin.

jmhenry said...

Regarding the Treasury Department's announcement, I don't see any indication that it takes into account the Fed's secret actions that extended beyond TARP.

Further, when the Treasury Department trotted out similar news around this time last year, Neil Barofsky, the smart former special inspector general for TARP, warned that:

"The good financial news should not distract from the careful and necessary assessment of TARP's considerable, non-financial costs that, while more difficult to measure, may be even more significant ... the increased moral hazard and potentially disastrous consequences associated with the continued existence of financial institutions that are 'too big to fail.' "

Indeed, while the Obama administration will surely use this "bailout profits" news as a defense in his campaign for reelection (no matter how dubious the claim is), there is "eroding faith in Obama’s pledge that taxpayer-funded bailouts are a thing of the past."

David Brin said...

W.B. Reeves, I pine for William F Buckley for the same reason that I pine for Goldwater and (to a lesser extent) Reagan. Because at least you could talk to them, negotiate with them. Buckley would concede proved points... (while never budging on major ones.) Goldwater evolved, genuinely and sincerely, over time, as did Billy Graham.

Do not diss Heinlein too much. He knew instinctively that the trend toward expanding "horizons" of inclusion, citizenship, humanity, justice was a good thing, overall, and hence was a democrat for most of his life. He and Reagan drifted away from "liberalism" when they perceived this push for expanded horizons to be aggressive, meanminded and disrespectful toward OLDER loyalties like country and middle class work ethics etc.

And in this THEY HAD A POINT! To the extent that liberal horizon expansion became a fetishistic, aggressive, in-your-face leftist thing, it drove away as many people as it converted. Today, smarmy lectures that finger-wag at people - like AVATAR - do as much harm as good by reinforcing this image, that people must CHOOSE BETWEEN their old, beloved loyalties and a fetishism for otherness inclusion that sees no cause to compromise with sentimentality, nor acknowledge gracious things of the past.

Mind you, Heinlein and Reagan were WRONG to see this dichotomy. Most democrats and liberals never bought into the either-or dichotomy. They may favor gay rights, for example, but also sympathize with their neighbors who cringe at overt-open gay sex on screens or on the street. They may want expanded horizons, but also avow proudly that most of the progress on that front happened under the protection and benign influence of Pax Americana.

Why do I always give a brief nod to the crazy left, when denouncing the jibbering-insane right? First for credibility and balance. But also because the lefty-nuts have done outrageous harm with their aggressiveness and unwillingness to accept the natural process of positive-sum retaining older loyalties while moving forward and expanding horizons. They have not been a help.

==

Zkid, the birther shutter-upper is the Honolulu Advertiser. There are birth announcements. Right there on the correct date. Every year, someone else finds an old copy in a garage and trots it forth. Indeed, there is no evidence that Obama's mom ever ever went to Kenya at all. Look them in the eye and tell them "you are insane."

==

Robert, I agree that we should offer three counties around Charleston a chance to secede like Hong Kong. (The US continues to handle foreign policy.) See if they accept.

Alternative. All of us buy Union soldier Kepis... and first conquer Canada! The, Blue America will overwhelm the elections and it will be over. (My Canadian friends don't care for this. Alas.)

==
jmhenry... are you serious? Are you actually asking us to compare before-after images of the United States before and after Republican rule vs Democratic? Seriously?

Ian Gould said...

"Thus, when I point out to a "Birther" that none of the birth certificate stuff ever mattered because Obama has an American mother, they move the goalposts to insist that "natural born" means two parents born on American soil, bearing you in turn on American soil."

At which point one should trot out all the previous Presidents and Presidential candidates who have faield to meet this suppsoed standard.

Start with rick Santorum: both his parents were born in Italy and was not a naturalized citizen at the time of his birth.

Ian Gould said...

Correction: only Santorum's father was born in Italy.

David Brin said...

A contest to win a copy of Existence! Spread the word elsewhere!

http://torforge.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/goodreads-first-reads-existence-by-david-brin/

http://torforge.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/
goodreads-first-reads-existence-by-david-brin/

Ian Gould said...

A quick note about debating on the internet: People seldom, if ever, completel reverse their opinion on a major issue after a single discussion.

I have however seen plenty of instances of people modifying their position over tiem after repeated discussions.

To take an example that will appeal to the American Right-wingers: There's a sub-debate going on within the larger debate about the so-called assault weapons ban.

This measure which was introduced under Clinton and lapsed or repealed under Bush 43 sounds good at first glacnce - after all why would civilians need miltiary weapons for self-defense.

The problem though is that actual assault weapons - short-barreled full-auto firearms - have been banned in the US since the 1930's and remain banned and the Clinton ban effectively targeted frie-arms that had a superficial resembalance to assualt weapons.

(One aspect of the ban - the ban on high-caapcity magazines - did actually maker sense.)

I've seen a number of peple change their minds on the assault weapons ban once that's explained to them.

David Brin said...

Guns are a scale thing.

With at-most 20-50 victims at a time, might as well shrug compared to the threats of climate change, feudalism, and other dangers.

Anyway, as I said, plenty of liberals are now arming themselves.

LarryHart said...

Rob:

Thus, when I point out to a "Birther" that none of the birth certificate stuff ever mattered because Obama has an American mother, they move the goalposts to insist that "natural born" means two parents born on American soil, bearing you in turn on American soil.


What about all the people whose birth certificate has "father unknown"? None of them are citizens by birth?

Aside from the specifically anti-Obama thing, these conservative ideas about deriving US citizenship through parentage is an attempt at interpreting America as a Eurasian nation like Germany or Croatia or Japan where "citizenship" and "ethnicity" are closely related. US Citizenship always meant something different, something related to the individual rather than to his lineage. Hard as it is to believe, conservatives are insisting that America should be more like Europe and Asia.

locumranch said...

We live in a society (the 'enlightened' west) which equates money with power, so much so that the monied class buys, controls and commands social status, moral authority, the political agenda and the electoral process, allocating limited social resources based on its own rather limited personal preferences.

What we call 'government' actually represents an act of incorporation (aka 'a corporation'), defining itself as an "agency or apparatus that (accumulates and allocates resources and) functions and exercises authority". According to the 'Federalist Papers', that is.

It then follows that what we call 'a corporation' is indistinguishable from government. And, as one monetary unit (or a collection thereof) effectively represents one vote, it also follows that these corporations possess and command the voting authority proportional to the amount of legal tender they possess, especially in the case of the good ol' USA where corporations are now considered legally indistinguishable from the 'We the People' people.

So, when we spend our money at Walmart, we are effectively 'voting' for a specific corporate model that outsources our industry to third parties. And, when we fill up our SUVs with petrol, we are effectively voting for an environmental policy that aggravates climate change. We also elect, through the indirect process that is capitalism, certain rich corporations and/or individuals like the Koch brothers and Conglomerated Petrol as our informal but all-powerful legal representatives who we cannot impeach or 'de-elect' without simultaneously indicting the legitimate moral tender of our enlightened society.

Just as you can't challenge monied authority if you value the authority of money, you can't counteract money & power with facts. It's like comparing apples & oranges. 'Pro-choice' v. 'Pro-Life' is an excellent example of this. Although science makes a convincing 'pro-choice' fact-based argument on the effectiveness of multiple birth control methods, the moral Pro-Life argument circumvents these inconvenient facts by restricting or outlawing access to the same scientific birth control methods, making the science that allows 'Pro-Choice' moot ... and 'immoral' to boot.

Money equals political power; the monied possess power; the powerless lack money; and you can't have one (money or power) in the absence of the other.

This is classic Catch 22.

Best.
___
Note to WBReeves who mistakenly implies that the Heinlein quote refers to cultural health. Not so. It refers to cultural stability rather than health. Otherwise, WBR's comments about heterogeneity are entirely correct. Homogeneity increases cultural stability; Heterogeneity increases the probability of successful adaption; and every civilization, no matter how stable, must either adapt or die in response to a variety of stressors.

Alex Tolley said...

The main flaw with this approach (and I've tried it), is that the severely cognitively dissonant will not agree on the facts to settle the bet. You can show data from government statistical sources, and they will be disregarded as untrue, coverups of the truth, etc, etc. The ostriches refuse to look.

Now that think tanks create false data, you are then also forced to dispute made up "facts" that will be presented as a counter factual.

David Brin said...

Guys, if the country ever actually becomes anywhere near like shrug-shrug cynics like locumranch think it is, will you please remind me to shoot myself?

It would be hilarious to watch the depths of cynicism they will plunge to, in order to give themselves an excuse not to lift a finger.

Alex: you are right that you have to pick wagers that are provable from very clear sources. The fact of Murdoch's seniormost business partner comes right off Fox corporate documents.

The tax rate charts are unambiguous back to 1930 when a REPUBLICAN congress first jacked up income taxes to modern rates. (FDR actually cut them.)

RandyB said...

Larry,

"I just did. "Right-wingers", 1789 style. Or perhaps "corporatists" is the better term for the 2000's incarnation, because corporations are the modern day aristocrats."

Leaving aside your use of the word "corporatist," it's not the best application anyway. A lot of large corporations are on different sides of different issues. Likewise with various groups. While it's true that General Electric and the Tea Party are on different sides, you're not going to agree on which side that is. A system only works if everyone agrees on who stands where.

BTW: Your definition puts Father Coughlin firmly on the left. He hated corporations, and wanted to do away with them -- although I seriously doubt he'd have used the word "corporatist" the way you do.


"No, the ENTIRE anti-war movement isn't extremists. The pro-Islamicist factions (if they even exist outside of your head) would be."

I didn't say that all, or even most, anti-war individuals were extremists. Most don't join those groups or go to those demonstrations. But most of those larger movements are run by extremists.

If their leaders are making runs to Syria and Iran, then that's a pretty good indicator of where they stand.

You might have missed Amnesty International's kerfluffle over its "gender unit" leader two years ago. That was over this kind of issue.


"Back in the 1930s, the anti-war party was the Republicans. Doubtless you'd consider them to have been pro-Germanists. Oh wait, bad example since they probably really WERE pro-German."

Some 1930s isolationists were pro-German, of course, but there were respectable reasons to want to stay out of it, just as there were very respectable reasons to want to stay out of Iraq.

To build your example into a full comparison: If 1930s isolationists were agreeably marching in "anti-war" demonstrations beside German-American Bund members carrying a banner with a picture of Adolf Hitler, then that does taint everyone who agrees to march in that demonstration. Everyone. There's no getting around that.

If there was a real isolationist movement, it was their duty to disavow that. I think some did back then, and those would be the true isolationists.

As for your notion that "if they even exist outside of your head," I'll remind you that I gave a link with a set of photos. It was not an uncommon circumstance. I'd have provided more links, but people seem to have a hard time dealing with even one.

Ian Gould said...

'"The tax rate charts are unambiguous back to 1930 when a REPUBLICAN congress first jacked up income taxes to modern rates. (FDR actually cut them.)

And as I like to point out to Libertarians who think FDR was The Great Satan, he was able to cut income tax rates because he ended Prohibition and taxed alcohol production and sales.

The end of Prohibition was probably the one great victory of libertarian values in The Drug Wars.

W.B Reeves said...

Locumranch, Since RAH's quote was presented without context, I'll take your word for his intended meaning. However, it certainly doesn't read as an endorsement of heterogeneous values.

Dr. Brin, I didn't intend to dis RAH. I was a major fan when I was a kid and count him among my seminal intellectual and political influences. I have to admit to a degree schadenfreude at the reactions of some his right wing fans when I've said as much in debate. Exploding heads, anyone?

I only wish that both his acolytes and his detractors wouldn't take him more seriously than he took himself. With all his gifts as an imaginative writer, he still put his pants on one leg at a time.

I agree with most of what you say about his estrangement from his democratic roots in the latter part of his career. I would only add that he, like many other progressives and leftists post WWII(Orwell for one), concluded that Soviet style Statism posed a dire threat to the very values that had placed him on the left in the 30's and 40's. Meanwhile, US capitalism had seemingly learned its lesson from its brush with extinction and reformed itself accordingly.

Whatever his faults, I will always admire his disdain for little tin gods. When he had the opportunity to out Hubbard, Hubbard following the success "Stranger In A Strange Land", he would have none of it, despite having no lack of egotism.

Your point about the sanctimonius, nihilistic tendency on the left,thankfully much reduced, is well taken. Its had me tearing my hair more times than I care to remember. It's one thing when it's a pose adopted by pissed off teens and twenty somethings. It's another thing entirely when it becomes a guiding ideology.e

jmhenry said...

jmhenry... are you serious? Are you actually asking us to compare before-after images of the United States before and after Republican rule vs Democratic? Seriously?

Well...no. At least I don't think that's what I said, since nowhere in my post did I say anything about Republican vs. Democratic rule. I was simply pointing out that the Treasury Department claiming that that the bailout "made money" will depend on whether or not that merely accounts for TARP, or includes the trillions of dollars secretly given out by the Fed. I doubt it does.

Further, "too big to fail" and the moral hazard created by the bailout -- which could be exacerbated if people embrace this dubious notion that the bailout "made money" -- is a problem that is far from being addressed.

Ian Gould said...

firstly, that figure of "trillions" of dollars is misleading because it includes loan guarantees and indemnities which were never claimed against and which have now expired. (If I have an overdraft with a total available value of $10,000 that doesn't mean my bank has loaned me $10,000.)

It also includes the running total of all loans made under revolving loan facilities (e.g. the Fed lends a bank $1 billion on Monday in overnight liquidity gets repaid then on Friday does the same thing all over again. That's recorded as "$2 billion loans".)

Secondly, the reported profit includes an $82 billion extra profit from the Federal Reserve System from those very activities.

See, for example;

http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveschaefer/2012/04/13/treasury-says-tarp-is-turning-into-a-moneymaker-for-taxpayers/

David Brin said...

W.B Reeves your missive was subtle, complex and insightful. Thanks. Hang around.

jmhenry, I raised that point because all politics today is digital, on-off. Win-lose. Winner takes all. It should not be that way. The natural American pattern is pragmatic tradeoffs and negotiation. But at intervals, we go mad, plunge into civil war.

This is one of those intervals.

So when you diss Obama and the Dems, that is not constructive criticism. I wish it were. But it isn't. It is an attempt to rationalize perceiving a generally moderate and successful administration as immoderate and unsuccessful. It is meant for one purpose only. Not to help that administration to improve, but to replace it with its opposing force.

It is entirely reasonable to remind you: that opposing force was an unmitigated catastrophe for the United States of America. There is not a single unambiguous statistical metric of national health that improved under Republican rule. Nearly every major metric nose-dived in an orgy of theft and lies.

And you would rationalize putting back in charge the monsters who drove us off a cliff? Who put us in a Second Great Depression? Who plunged us into TWO insanely stupid land wars of attrition in Asia costing several trillions? Who promoted the end of the middle class in favor of a new feudal oligarchy?

Sorry JMHenry. When this war is won, then we'll go back to constructive criticism. Meanwhile, don't you dare, try to compare nit-picks over Obama with the stunningly monstrous treason the GOP has become.

David Brin said...

Has anyone noticed that the new Facebook Timeline tells other people even that you LOOKED AT a site referred to by facebook?

Ian Gould said...

An idle thought about the spike in US petroleum exports: what proportion of US oil imports are, in effect, re-exported?

alanuk said...

@Ian Gould

Estimated at ~1.5 million bbl per day.

A good discussion on the subject can be found at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8981

Robert said...

Here's something sadly amusing: Universities are holding bake sales and car washes to raise funds for NASA. I'm reminded of the old saying on how it would be nice to see the day that the military has to have a bake sale to raise funds to buy a jet while schools and such have all the funds they need.

The problem is... I could see Congress slashing NASA's budget in return because "they're getting outside funding so we don't need to fund NASA at all." Though I have to wonder... how much does NASA make launching satellites and the like? Or keeping track of satellite debris and warning companies of possible collisions? How much work does NASA do for the private sector that is not reimbursed?

Ah well.

Rob H.

locumranch said...

cyn·ic (noun)
1. A person who believes that most people are motivated by selfishness.
2. A person whose outlook is scornful and often habitually negative; a fault-finder.
3. A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.

As the cynic can lay claim to some sort of internal consistency, I accept this designation as high praise. I will also accept the terms 'skeptic', 'pessimist' and 'realist'. I also believe that internal consistency is required for science.

The 'idealist' (especially the 'scientific' idealist) is not internally consistent, often laying simultaneous claim to conflicting ideals such as reason & emotionality, consensus (aka 'unanimous agreement') & creativity (aka 'divergent thinking'), exceptionalism & inclusivity and harmony & competition.

Attesting to the historical association of Science with Skepticism, the terms 'empirical' and 'empiric' refer to an offshoot of the Skeptic philosophy, being derived from the Latin term "empiricus", meaning 'a Skeptic physician guided by experience'.

Best.

Robert said...

Unfortunately, most people who claim the word "skeptic" do not believe in empiricism. When facts go contrary to their perceptions they claim that the facts are wrong and that more data is required. They keep on insisting this. There is a term for such people: Denialists.

Mind you, Denialists need not be concerned with merely climate sciences or the like. Denialists also claim that schools shouldn't teach birth control and sex education because it results in more teen sex and more pregnancies (it does not), that abortion should be made illegal because so many women are having them (abortions are down), that allowing free birth control is immoral and promotes promiscuity (it does not), and that Obama is a socialist because he's a black Democrat (he's a corporatist).

A true skeptic is willing to change their point of view when sufficient evidence comes out to show them their old belief is incorrect. They don't use skepticism as a shield or a sword. They use it as a thought process to best incorporate the best data and create a theory based off of that data without allowing personal prejudices and beliefs to pollute that theory.

So. Are you willing to change your perspective in the face of overwhelming factual data? If so, you may be a skeptic. If not? You are a Denialist. And denying that just proves my point.

Rob H.

locumranch said...

Just a quick question before I answer: What is the definitive opposite of a 'Denialist'?

An 'Acknowledgist'?!

Yes, yes, of course.

I am willing to change my perspective in the face of overwhelming factual data, but that doesn't mean that I should give up my philosophical right to remain skeptical (IE. reserve judgement) pending the presentation of such empiric evidence.

I have to admit, though, that the term 'Denialist' is an interesting word, one I find reminiscent of the 'Murderer' designation that the religious right likes to give to the Pro-Choicers.

The world be a much poorer place if the average so-called scientist just accepted whatever it was that was considered common-knowledge.

It would also be flat, geocentric & surrounded by monsters.

Best.

Robert said...

The definitive opposite is "Sheep." As in someone who blindly follows where they are led. It is as bad as a Denialist.

As for the terminology of "Denialist," you may be attributing it to how it's been used in the past: Holocaust Denial, Climate Change Denial, Moon Landing Denial, and so on. I'm stripping away the attribution and stating the core aspect of what it is: a refusal to change one's beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

But then, while I believe in the science behind climatology which is suggestive of global warming driven by human activity, I also believe that the very activities we should be doing to reduce our ecological footprint is logical and stuff we should do anyway: push the automobile industries into vastly improving fuel efficiency, reducing our use of fossil fuels and working on renewable power sources that are minimally destructive to the environment, reducing petroleum use, and so on. The reason? National security. Right now the U.S. could survive if all the other nations in the world cut us off from oil. It would be very difficult and painful... but we'd survive. I would rather see us flourish despite it. Energy independence.

And one last thing to consider about global warming: the Insurance industry believes in the adverse effects of climactic changes caused by human activity (as it is damaging their profit margins) and the U.S. armed forces is preparing for an ice-free Arctic summer. Perhaps we should stop listening to the lies of the fossil fuel industry and listen to what other industries and organizations are saying on the matter.

Rob H.

jmhenry said...

@Ian Gould:

It should be noted that we wouldn't even know about the Fed's "activities" if it wasn't for an audit of the Fed. All the same, you will forgive me if I am naturally skeptical of government claims. But I will do more reading. That said, the other problems I mentioned -- "too big to fail" banks being even bigger, and the moral hazard created by the bailout -- are still a threat that hasn't been dealt with.

@David Brin:

You said: So when you diss Obama and the Dems, that is not constructive criticism. I wish it were. But it isn't. It is an attempt to rationalize perceiving a generally moderate and successful administration as immoderate and unsuccessful. It is meant for one purpose only. Not to help that administration to improve, but to replace it with its opposing force.

I'm sorry, but this is complete and utter nonsense. I'm a long-time reader of your blog, Mr. Brin, and usually admire your writings. This post is the first time I'm commenting.

But what you said right there is complete crap. My job as a citizen is not to do whatever I can to keep Obama and the Democrats in power. My job as a good citizen is to hold those in power (whatever party they are) accountable when I think they have done wrong.

So, even though somehow with your magical powers of mind-reading you might think you know my motives for critiquing the Obama administration ("to replace it with the opposing force"), it's nothing of the sort. Again, my job as a citizen is to critique power when and where I think they are wrong. And that's all I did.

But for people like you, fueled by a hyper-partisan mindset, any criticism of Obama and the Democrats is aiding and abetting the "opposing force."

If that's the case, then why don't you write posts with long screeds railing against the Occupy movement, which contains plenty of substantive critiques of the Obama administration, some of which I have voiced here? (For example, this critique is a popular one among Occupiers, and one which I wholeheartedly agree with.)

And you would rationalize putting back in charge the monsters who drove us off a cliff? Who put us in a Second Great Depression? Who plunged us into TWO insanely stupid land wars of attrition in Asia costing several trillions? Who promoted the end of the middle class in favor of a new feudal oligarchy?

Again, I have made no such argument. I have not argued either for continued Democratic rule, or a new Republican rule. These insinuations have been birthed all inside your hyper-partisan head.

Sorry JMHenry. When this war is won, then we'll go back to constructive criticism. Meanwhile, don't you dare, try to compare nit-picks over Obama with the stunningly monstrous treason the GOP has become.

Again, complete crap. My job as a good citizen is not to be a cheerleader for the Democrats. During the Bush years, I strongly criticized the constant erosion of civil liberties in the "war on terror", those destructive ground wars you mention, and so much else. But I was criticizing the Bush administration not for partisan gain, but because I believed it was good citizenship to do so. I see Obama no differently in that regard.

The fact that you would react so strongly to my mild criticism of Obama actually says more about you, Mr. Brin.

Has Obama been better than Bush in many areas? Sure. But I'm not so hyper-partisan that I will cease all criticism in order to perpetuate Democratic power. In fact, I think strong criticism can strengthen the Democratic party and keep it from taking its base for granted.

For my part, regardless of party, I want to speak truth to power (whatever party they're in).

Robert said...

That makes considerable sense. While it is important to ensure that the insane branch of Republicans don't gain control of the nation, we shouldn't sit on our heels and allow Obama to do stupid things without voicing our concerns. At this juncture I'm going to vote against Romney in the '12 election. But my vote for Obama is not a vote for him, but against Romney. I am not happy with Obama's policies. I know some of them are due to Republican maliciousness... but I can't help but think that certain policies such as health care reform could have been better constructed, and Obama could have shown better leadership in crafting these policies.

Rob H., whose regret is that Obama has shifted from the candidate of hope... to the Lesser of Two Evils. I thought I was done with that.

David Brin said...

jmhenry... on further thought... you have a point.

It was well-stated.

My frustration with the Fox-induced madness was taken out on you. Not one word of my denunciation of that side was wrong. But my logic as it applied to your criticism of the Obama Administration was misguided.

Dig this, however. Fox is fulminating about an $866,000 junket by the GSA far more intensely than they ever said a word about the $TWELVE BILLION in raw cash money that was shipped on USAF cargo jets to Iraq... mostly to vanish without any accounting or trace. That's fifteen thousand times the scandal, getting a thousandth the attention.

Robert said...

Didn't they find that money finally last year?

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

RandyB:

Leaving aside your use of the word "corporatist," it's not the best application anyway. A lot of large corporations are on different sides of different issues.


That was the case in old Europe as well. The Duke of Buckingham might have been at war with the King of France, but both agreed on the principle that aristocrats had special privileges that the masses did not.

Likewise, the Insurance Industry and the Oil Industry might currently be on opposite sides of the climate change "debate", but both agree that the corporate powers will work it out among themselves, rather than that they will be subject to governance by democratically-elected bodies.


BTW: Your definition puts Father Coughlin firmly on the left. He hated corporations, and wanted to do away with them -- although I seriously doubt he'd have used the word "corporatist" the way you do.


Yes, Dr Brin has already pointed out (at great length elsewhere) that "left wing" and "right wing" as terms don't do the job, because they suggest a one-dimensional continuum. In reality, we are arguing over several orthogonal axes.

At minimum, we should imagine an x-axis and a y-axis where the distinction along one of them is "Authoritarian" vs "Personal Freedom of Choice"; and the distinction on the other axis is "Nothing belongs to the 'commons" vs "EVERYTHING belongs to the 'commons'".

I personally tend to think of "authoritarian" as "right-wing" AND to think of "Nothing belongs to the commons" as "right wing" (and likewise, the other two respectively as "left wing"). Yet you are correct that the two axes represent "right wing" and "left wing" in very different senses. There are actually four distinct quadrants, which might be roughly described as Fascist (authoritarian/property-is-private); Communist (authoritarian/property-is-public); Libertarian (personal choice/property-is-private); and...I dunno, Hippie? (personal choice/property-is-public).

Where you stand along one of those axes does not predict where you fall on the other one. Which is a danger in talking about the "far left" or the "far right". The terms conflate (at least) two different concepts as if they are one.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Rob H., whose regret is that Obama has shifted from the candidate of hope... to the Lesser of Two Evils. I thought I was done with that


I feel your pain, and largely agree.

However, it is important not to be so disenchanted with "The Lesser of Two Evils" that we replace it with "The Greater of Two Evils". Which is exactly what happened in the mid-term elections of 2010.

Robert said...

Considering my considerable distaste for what the Republican Party has become, there is no fear of that. However, the 2010 election was not won by Republicans because people were disillusioned by Obama. It was won because Republicans managed to paint Democrats as overreaching while having failed to fix the economy for the on-the-fence moderates and mobilized their own base of fanatics (*cough*Tea Party*cough*)... while in turn Democrats failed to get voter turnout among their own base.

Seeing that we're in a primary Presidential election (and I'm not buying the most recent poll claiming Obama and Romney are in a dead heat as previous polls had Romney a bit behind - this may be a bump caused by his apparent "victory" in the Republican primaries), we'll see a lot more Dems out. We'll also see a lot of moderates who voted Republican and then saw those same Republicans turn into monsters refuse to vote for them this time around... meaning that in all likelihood the Democrats will narrowly regain the House, will maintain the Senate, and keep the Presidency.

There's also the fact that no one is thrilled about Romney but Romney himself. And maybe his wife and kids. Thus you have hate for Obama driving Republicans... but hate is a funny thing and can run dry before the main elections happen. Should the economy not crash and burn in six months... then Romney will lose by a ten point spread.

Rob H.

ell said...

locumranch said: "The 'idealist' (especially the 'scientific' idealist) is not internally consistent, often laying simultaneous claim to conflicting ideals such as reason & emotionality, consensus (aka 'unanimous agreement') & creativity (aka 'divergent thinking'), exceptionalism & inclusivity and harmony & competition."

To quote Kenny Rogers: You need to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.

And when to compete and when to cooperate. And when to be creative and when to read the instruction manual.

Appropriateness only appears to be inconsistency.

W.B. Reeves said...

Or as someone once said: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds."

David Brin said...

Larryhart excellent summary of my own two-axis political chart. What you call "belonging to the commons" I call the "propertarianism axis" but it lets us retain at least a smidgen of relevance from the old LR axis.

I do think Randite libertarians BELIEVE they are propertarian anti-authoritarians. It is a pathetic delusion that ignores 6000 years of history. But they see themselves that way.

My third axis (See: http://tinyurl.com/polimodels !!)
is "what crafts human behavior, attitudes and potential, nature or nurture?" This is the axis that MOST separates Stalin from Hitler.

Sobieck00 said...

Thank god those Randian libertarians are gone. They were driving me up the wall for a while and I stopped visiting this blog. I don’t comment much but it is one of my favorite resources on the internet.

For some reason I can’t think of any good bets for the right even though they drive me up the wall, most of the time. Here is one for a lot of old school environmentalists who are still anti-nuclear power.

Wager: I will bet you $xxx that our status quo electrical power systems based primarily on coal generation kill more people and endanger the planet far more than if we were to get most of our baseline power from nuclear sources.

jmhenry said...

My frustration with the Fox-induced madness was taken out on you. Not one word of my denunciation of that side was wrong. But my logic as it applied to your criticism of the Obama Administration was misguided.

Don't worry about it. Nothing wrong with dispelling Fox News' ramblings. For my own part, I try to focus on legitimate criticisms of the Obama administration, since those critiques are at least based in reality.

Dig this, however. Fox is fulminating about an $866,000 junket by the GSA far more intensely than they ever said a word about the $TWELVE BILLION in raw cash money that was shipped on USAF cargo jets to Iraq... mostly to vanish without any accounting or trace. That's fifteen thousand times the scandal, getting a thousandth the attention.

Indeed. I'm reminded of the whole Solyndra controversy from last year. Around that same time, Wired had a report on the billions of dollars wasted on war contracts. But there wasn't much coverage of it.

That's not to say that the GSA scandal and Solyndra aren't legitimate issues (it's still taxpayer money). But those who endlessly cover those things, but not things like that Wired report, obviously have different motives.

David Brin said...

Sobieck, the R&R (Rothbard/Rand) cult still controls the LP, alas.

As for nuke power, it is THE golden case showing liberals are willing to adapt their dogma. Most, including Obama, now support cautious re-start of the nuclear industry.

RandyB said...

Larry,

The trouble is, "the commons" is really just a pleasant way of saying "the government." You really should just call it that.

Your idea may be better than the Nolan chart. For example, on your chart, the minimum wage becomes a restriction on freedom of choice, which is where it belongs, rather than on economic freedom where the libertarians put it.

I do like the idea of a third axis, though.

Robert said...

The problem is, nuclear power is far too expensive to be a viable source of power without the government being the money source behind it. As I mentioned before, an industry expert recently said that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan didn't kill nuclear power in the U.S., cheap natural gas did.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

The problem I have with nuclear power these days is that it's being used as a stalking horse to poo-poo renewables (the only structured critique of the Zero Carbon Australia plan that I'm aware of came from the community around Barry Brooks' pro-nuclear blogsite).

Meanwhile, we have a new report recommending the replacement of two coal power stations at Port Augusta with solar thermal towers.

I have no problem with nuclear agencies coming up with similar proposals.

David Brin said...

Read the entire essay. Most "2-d political charts"... and especially the Nolan Chart ... are horrifically illogical and tendentious. Worse, their two axes are correlated and non-orthogonal.

They are designed as polemical recruiting tools, drawing people to naturally drift toward the upper right where they are perforce expected to conclude... "Oh! I guess I'm a libertarian!"

I could do the same thing. "Only people who place themselves on this food and love chart and decide they like both nice people and pie should send me a dollar. All you others, go send money to groups who like to eat broken glass while whipped by meanies!

BTW... "commons" is only socialist government if you include coercion. Other forms of socialism are anarchic. Tell me how they are any less implausible than anarcho "freedom" in a world where propertarianism is absolute?

Hypnos said...

Good point on the commons. The association of collectivism with government is spurious. Anarchist social theory started on the basis that the elimination of government was only possible through the elimination of private property, and that property could not in fact exist without government intervention.

All early forms of anarchism were socialist and collectivist in nature. It is only in the latter 20th century that American theorists invented the capitalist form of anarchy which is now so popular among libertarians. Most anarchists refute the idea that anarcho-capitalism is a legit form of anarchy, as they see property and capitalism as inherently hierarchic and thus not anarchic at all.
See, for example, the classic anarchist FAQ: http://infoshop.org/page/AnAnarchistFAQ

And on the commons themselves, the world is actually full of examples of common property being well administered without the need for any form of government intervention or market discipline, starting from... the English commons which Hardin was criticising, and which in fact were working great (no overgrazing) until they were privatised by the English government (wherein by privatising I mean "giving them to the oligarchs for free", which is what privatisation basically means).

In fact, I'd so as far as arguing that the tragedy of the commons is the RESULT of the imposition of a market structure on collectively owned resources, which destroys that social norms that prevented over-exploitation by substituting them with the relentless pursuit of self-interest in the short term.

Ian Gould said...

Next Tuesday, a new company called Planetary Resources will hold a conference call to announce ... something.

http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/18/2957585/planetary-resources-space-exploration-company-james-cameron-google

Current speculation focuses on some form of asteroid mining.

The story is gettign attention because soem very major peopel are involved: Larry Page of Google, James Cameron, the director, Peter Diamondis of the X-Prize foundation and Ross Perot Jr. amongst others.

"the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’."

The other possibility that comes to mind is a prototype powersat.

I haven't been this excited since just before the unveiling of the Segway. (j/k)

Robert said...

There is one form of privatization that would likely work quite nicely. You set up shares for the company. The government owns half. The government-sponsored business's management and employees all get equal shares of the other half. And then you put up the government shares to auction. Whoever wants to buy them can. And if management or the employees wish to sell their shares? They can.

The result is employees and management with a stake in the company and the ability of anyone else to purchase the company. You could even allow the government to have 10% non-voting shares in the company - they collect on dividends but have no say on how the company is run. And if the auction is open then you have transparency in who is buying the company... and know how much the private sector believes the company is worth.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

However, the 2010 election was not won by Republicans because people were disillusioned by Obama. It was won because Republicans managed to paint Democrats as overreaching while having failed to fix the economy for the on-the-fence moderates and mobilized their own base of fanatics (*cough*Tea Party*cough*)... while in turn Democrats failed to get voter turnout among their own base.


Key there is "while in turn Democrats failed to get voter turnout among their own base." Which in large part was because their base was disenchanted with Obama and congressional Democrats for failing to be transformative progressives.

Never mind that the stated GOP strategy (I mean, they said so out loud) was to obstruct everything and then run against Democrats' failure to accomplish anything. In the view of too many progressives, Obama had failed to distinguish himself AS a progressive, so "a plague on both their houses" and the liberals sat out the election.

Which is what I was concerned that you were suggesting for the 2012 election.

To me, the 2010 election decisively answered the question "Why should I bother voting for the lesser of two evils?" Because if you don't, you'll wind up with the GREATER of two evils. And how's that working out for you? (I mean a generic "you", not Robert personally)

LarryHart said...

Robert:

(and I'm not buying the most recent poll claiming Obama and Romney are in a dead heat as previous polls had Romney a bit behind - this may be a bump caused by his apparent "victory" in the Republican primaries)


I learned a lesson in the 2008 Democratic primaries (Obama vs Hillary) that I will believe until I see evidence to the contrary--that "the polls" put out by the various media outlets will always show the two candidates remaining within about 5 percentage points of each other, because the media outlets THEMSELVES want a down-to-the-wire horserace.

Thus, every time Obama surged ahead of Hillary, suddenly, the polls showed Hillary catching up. And likewise the other way around. And the same thing when it was Obama vs McCain.

And it's just going to happen again between Obama and Romney. Best to simply ignore the media pronouncements, not because they're necessarily wrong, but because they're driven by a media agenda rather than by a genuine attempt to show actual voter sentiment.

LarryHart said...

RandyB:

The trouble is, "the commons" is really just a pleasant way of saying "the government." You really should just call it that.


No, it really isn't, and this may be the fundamental misunderstanding between us.

The means of ADMINISTERING the commons is government, sure. I'd rather have a democratically-elected checked-and-balanced administration of our commons than to have those decisions made by authoritarian kings or by profit-driven corporations. That's why I think democracy is a good idea.

But "the commons" itself is the set of metahphorical wells from which we all draw. At smallest remove, our air and fresh water supplies are "the commons". No individual can claim to be the creator of those things. Everyone in the community requires them to survive. They don't belong to one individual or corporation (yet)--they belong to the community.

That is NOT just a different way of saying "They belong to the government." Properly, government is the MANAGER of such things, not the OWNER.

Just what elements properly belong to the commons and which do not is a debate that is being had in this country even as we speak. The health care debate is over whether health care is part of the commons. The debate over taxes is over how much of the nation's wealth belongs to the commons.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

The problem is, nuclear power is far too expensive to be a viable source of power without the government being the money source behind it.


As I understand it from Thom Hartmann, nuclear power would be prohibitively expensive if it required private companies to insure it against disasters. Thus, the federal government picks up the cost of insuring the industry.

Right-wingers think this is just fine and dandy, but they scream "socialism" if you apply the same logic to health insurance. Maybe the solution is for everyone to incorporate themselves, and provide health coverage to their CORPORATION. Maybe right-wingers would be on board that the proper place of government is to insure the health of corporations.

LarryHart said...

Hynos:

Anarchist social theory started on the basis that the elimination of government was only possible through the elimination of private property, and that property could not in fact exist without government intervention.


"Anarchist". That was the descriptive word I was looking for for the fourth quadrant (personal-freedom/property-is-public).

And yes, the thing the Randroids totally miss about private property is that the very concept REQUIRES GOVERNMENT ENFORCEMENT. How can I expect that "you" will respect "my" property rights--even when doing so is against your self interest--unless "I" know I can count on "my" property rights being enforcible?

The libertarian answer to that is that they will pay private companies to enforce their property rights--private soldiers and privately-retained judges and the like. So my response back is to wonder what prevents anyone from enlisting private enforcers of ownership BEYOND what they actually own? It sounds to me as if such a system will necessarily devolve into the law of the jungle.

"My" property is only really "mine" if "you" all agree to treat it as belonging to "me". Property is a concept that exists within a particular cultural frame of reference. It is not objectively knowable from nature and from pure logic, despite Ayn Rand's contentions to the contrary.

Ian Gould said...

""My" property is only really "mine" if "you" all agree to treat it as belonging to "me". Property is a concept that exists within a particular cultural frame of reference. It is not objectively knowable from nature and from pure logic, despite Ayn Rand's contentions to the contrary."

A quick illustration: prior to the arrival of European settlers, all the population of the Ohio valley lived on the north shore of the river.

The south shore weas the abode of the dead and it was forbidden to settle there.

Silly superstition - ecept thst in practise what this meant was that the southern shore was kept as a game preserve and most of the Native american peoples livign there got a godo part of their protein from hunting there.

So, European settlers settled the "undeveloped" "unclaimed" southern part of the valley and couldn't work ut why the "primitive" "superstitious" "Indians" got so so upset over land they supposedly werent using.

infanttyrone said...

@Ian Gould,

So, European settlers settled the "undeveloped" "unclaimed" southern part of the valley and couldn't work ut why the "primitive" "superstitious" "Indians" got so so upset over land they supposedly werent using.

This sort of situation always brings to mind a sentence from William Burroughs (Nova Express, I think):
The officers come gibbering into the queer bar don't even know what buttons to push.

David Brin said...

Planetary Resources... yeah I had hearnd. In fact, you'd think I'd have heard MORE since I am an expert on comets (source of maybe 1/3 of asteroids) AND on NASA's NIAC panel... AND known for some far thinking. They must have it in for anyone named "brin."

Robert, your plan for privatization would have worked in Russia vastly better than the way they did it.

""My" property is only really "mine" if "you" all agree to treat it as belonging to "me".

Which is why I think the biggest move the WORLD could make is simply to demand, around the globe, that everybody who thimks they own something SAY SO out loud and in writing. "I own that." And only one layer of corporate shielding is allowed. Sure, there'd be decades of litigation as others answer "No you do not!" So? That ambiguity ruins capitalist endeavor, as Hernando de Soto proved with his reforms in Peru, where establishing clear ownership won praise from BOTH libertarians and social development reformers.

Yes, it would expose trillions in wealth to taxation. So> Tax RATES are a separate matter. Deal with them politically, not by cheating/hiding your lucre.

RandyB said...

Larry,

"That is NOT just a different way of saying "They belong to the government." Properly, government is the MANAGER of such things, not the OWNER.

Then "managing" is just another way of saying it. I understand that there's no acknowledged "ownership" at all. But it's still the same process.

I think you're missing one big thing. Who's going to take away the keys to all those factories and hand them over to the "managers"?

Look back to where this started when I pointed out those "anti-war" activists proudly marching in "anti-war" demonstrations beside the pro-war radical Islamists.

Is this who you expect to mobilize? These would-be revolutionaries don't dare say a word. I'm sorry to notice, but nobody here was willing to say a word either. To your credit, I don't recall anyone here saying anything about "music torture" but you can bet that every leftist in those pictures will join Rage Against the Machine in feigning opposition to that, even while they're all too timid to speak with their co-demonstrators about real torture.

If they can't summon the guts to talk with their friends about real torture, who among the so-called "anarchists" do you think is going to "manage" the factories out of the Koch brothers' hands? It's not anyone in those "anti-war" demonstrations. And it's not anyone in the Occupado movement either. (They can use a police car as their bathroom when the cops aren't around, but that's about the extent to their bravery.)

And yes, I know you imagine it could be done peacefully through debates and elections. But look at those pictures of that "anti-war" demonstration again. No one there was even willing to speak with the radical Islamists -- even after years of claiming to oppose wars and torture. They're simply not capable of working an issue through a major election.


"The debate over taxes is over how much of the nation's wealth belongs to the commons."

Actually, the debate over spending is how much of the nation's wealth belongs to the commons. The debate over taxes is over how carefully that number can be hidden from the public.

LarryHart said...

RandyB:

"That is NOT just a different way of saying "They belong to the government." Properly, government is the MANAGER of such things, not the OWNER.

Then "managing" is just another way of saying it. I understand that there's no acknowledged "ownership" at all. But it's still the same process.

I think you're missing one big thing. Who's going to take away the keys to all those factories and hand them over to the "managers"?


You seem to be presuming me to be a communist and an extreme one at that. On the four quadrants we discussed earlier, I'd consider myself to fall on the "anarchist" quarter, and VERY close to the center of the "commons/private-property" axis, though much further to the "left" of the "personal-choice/authoritarian" axis.

I've never tried to claim that EVEERYTHING belongs to the commons. I'm saying that those things that DO belong to the commons are properly managed by government: management of highways or waterways or national parks, for example.

Nothing I've said can be construed as "taking away the keys to the factories." On the other hand, YOU seem perfectly content with "taking away all the air and water and land and handing them to the oligarchs."

As to your incessent blathering about the anti-war movement being pro-Islamicist, why did those pro-Islamcist leftists bother protesting against the Vietnam War then? The anti-war movement is consistent in opposing war. If someone else joins in the parade for their own reasons, there's not much the anti-war movement can do about that. Just as when police infiltrators join anti-war demonstrations and make them look like violent hoodlums, there's not much they can do about it.

At least the anti-war movement doesn't shamelessly PANDER TO the Islamicist movement the way (for example) Mitt Romney shamelessly panders to the birthers or the misogynists or the racists.

Robert said...

Just as a brief aside, what is wrong with being pro-Islamicist? Is not one of the fundamental aspects of the United States the freedom of religion? Is not Islam a religion? So long as an Islamic person does not force his or her views down my throat then I see no problem with his or her religion. In fact, this is also true with Christians. And Pagans.

Yes, some radical Muslims have caused a lot of harm to a lot of people. There are people in India persecuted by Hindus. There is a radical Christian on trial in Norway for using a bomb to kill people and cause a distraction so he could slaughter teens and young adults in what he considered a political statement.

Maybe, just maybe, these people do not cause harm and mayhem because of their religion... but because they are striking back against their own perceived disempowerment and are using religion as a crutch to justify their violent actions?

At which point, there is no difference between "radical Islamicists" and "radical Christians" and radical any religion. They are all criminals who are all acting this way because they lack respect for their fellow men and women. Don't blame religion for the crimes of these men and women. Blame them.

Rob H.

Hypnos said...

RandyB, nobody here said a word because nobody is willing to indulge your paranoid screeds any further.

The imbecility of your position was already shown when you tried to argue that left wingers had some sort of magical influence on the Taliban.

You are a torture apologist who rationalizes his position by stating that all people of conscience who objected to the war are Taliban enablers.

Ian Gould said...

A technical solution that should appeal to everyone: using Carbon Dioxide rather than water to extract goethermal energy.

http://phys.org/news/2012-04-startup-game-changing-energy-solutions-co2.html

(Thinking of Carbon dioxide as a workign fluid rather than as a waste suggests other possiblities. For example, some companies are workign on grid-scale energy storage, using air stored under pressure in old mines.

Carbon dioxide, beign desner than air, should be able to store more energy in a given volume althoguh you'd need to store it elsewhere when you were extractign power rather than simply venting it.)

RandyB said...

Larry,

I'm sorry if I thought or suggested that you believe this way. But you do seem to think they have rational goals.

You may not want to take away the factories but it seems like the anarchists do.

Anarchists currently have the right to form their own communities, and produce their own industries run by like-minded souls. The oligarchs didn't stop Microsoft and Apple. Anarchists could have tried producing the same.

I'm not in favor of taking away air and water, and handing it to the oligarchs. I just understand that civilization needs fuel. Compromises need to be made. A council of anarchist managers would need to make those decisions, too. They're not going to freeze to death in the winter. (Well, the some of the people might, but the managers' families won't.)

The anti-war movement is not at all consistent in opposing war. The obvious example is the communists who turned from "anti-war" to pro-war when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union (and didn't care when the Soviets invaded Finland and Poland a couple of years earlier, and were happily recruiting people to fight in Spain).

To be fair, some leftists continued to oppose that war (curiously, Father Coughlin also used the word "oligarchs"), and others had supported the war from the beginning. But they all had their own reasons.

The Vietnam war ended for the U.S. in 1973. It resumed without us, with communists killing thousands more until they took over two years later. The "anti-war" movement here couldn't oppose that part of the war. At the 1975 Academy Award ceremony, one of the Oscar winners read from a telegram of congratulations from the North Vietnam government. Did they care how many children died? Did they care about the torture that would continue? Just look at those pictures of the recent version of "anti-war" demonstrators again, and answer is obvious.

"Just as when police infiltrators join anti-war demonstrations and make them look like violent hoodlums, there's not much they can do about it."

Sure there is. They can speak out.

They may not be able to keep people out but that's obviously not the issue when the "anti-war" movement made a choice to invite them in. So, no, they're obviously not all police infiltrators.


Robert,

There's nothing wrong with being a Muslim. There's as much wrong with being a radical Islamist as there would be with being a radical Christian who thinks the government should be run by extremist clergy, and want a holy war to get us there.

Fortunately, any Christians of that type tend to be dead.


Hypnos,

I didn't say they had magical influence. I said they could talk.

Ian Gould said...

David,

I may have posted about this here before and if so I apologize.

The Indian state of bihar is achieving the highest rate of economic growth in the world thanks to a radical anti-corruption drive which involves a hefty dose of sousveillance.

http://www.governancenow.com/news/regular-story/administrative-reforms-nitish-rings-september-revolution

Hans said...

David,

Re: your comment:

"Most democrats and liberals never bought into the either-or dichotomy. They may favor gay rights, for example, but also sympathize with their neighbors who cringe at overt-open gay sex on screens or on the street."

Whatever. As much as I agree with you on the subject of either/or dichotomies, I can't sympathize in the way you suggest above any more than I could sympathize with my father's overt racism. People who cringe at overt-open gay anything due to its gayness deserve no sympathy. Pity maybe, but not sympathy. It is no less than a failing of character (or rationality, maybe), and is something to be worked on. I'll save my sympathies for those that don't discriminate for arbitrary reasons.

Hans

David Brin said...

Geez RandyB, the desperate way in which you impute that the other side is as insane as the right. Fact: only a few lefty flakes are on the streets demanding truly lefty things and/or "pals with islamist radicals." If the same fraction of the right were insane, we'd be in great shape as a nation.

Most of the LIBERALS (as opposed to leftie flakes) in the Occupy movement are genuinely concerned that the Olde Enemy of freedom and of markets and of CAPITALISM is back with a vengeance! Aristocratic propertarian oligarchy is not the same thing as merket capitalism, which you would know if you ever ever opened a copy of Wealth of Nations.


Liberals (and not lefty flakes) who march against Wall Street and Fox and the insane GOP's utterly- disproved theory of Supply Side which has bankrupted our nation, or against the lunacy of getting mired into TWO trillion-dollar quagmire "nation building" wars...

...those liberals are NOT who you think they are. Stop looking in a mirror and assuming your foe is crazy.

==
Ian's great news will be posted later: "The Indian state of bihar is achieving the highest rate of economic growth in the world thanks to a radical anti-corruption drive which involves a hefty dose of sousveillance.

http://www.governancenow.com/news/regular-story/administrative-reforms-nitish-rings-september-revolution

Hans... your bigotry, trying to police the inner visceral sexual reactions of other people, is not your business to inflict upon me. I side with gay rights down the line, as I side with the expansion of horizons of inclusion and lifestyle. I do not owe you any more than my vigorous efforts to make a saner, more tolerant world. One in which YOUR blatant intolerance and dogmatic insistence on uniformity is... tolerated.

RandyB said...

David,

Imputing? I'm pointing.

Hypnos is a case in point. He's willing to (erronously, but I don't care) call me a "torture apologist" but he can't seem to say that the left should ask their friends to stop fighting, or at least to ask that they stop torturing people.

People have criticized me for saying this but they haven't been able to criticize those leftists. What happens the next time a leftist who supports these groups tells you they oppose torture? You'd need to ask them, when?

BTW: I have read the Wealth of Nations cover to cover.

Jumper said...

Maybe discussions using the word "capitalism" are doomed from the start, as it is sort of a Humpty Dumpty word. I haven't read any Marx in a long time but I can't recall him defining it all that well either.

"Anti-war movement" too is a bit squishy but and can be separated into pacifists; those who object to "unjust wars" but agree with "just wars;" and whatever Ted Nugent was thinking when he dodged the draft or didn't serve.

I went to an "impeach Bush" rally a few years ago. Had not been to such a thing ever, actually. The speakers were pretty much whomever wanted to. There was a former general who spoke, very impressive.

And some others I can't remember, and an American dude wearing some traditional Middle Eastern garb and a hat he bought from some trendy boutique, who had converted to Islam at some point. I couldn't stand him; disliked him on sight. Not knowing him, but judging him as an Anglo Saxon which he pretty much was, I was repulsed. My own irrational and non-charitable outlook... at the time I was thinking I was not so happy with religionistas in general. I would have preferred to hear my Iraqi friend who fled Saddam in the '90s because of his subversive art. But he wasn't there.

I should note even though he spoke, and no one can read the minds of the people there who were there, yet I thought that they were there because they wanted to impeach Bush, and not because they had any more sympathy for Islam than they do for Mormons, I think, but simply that they, like me, thought Bush was a dangerous lunatic. So, yes, such gatherings always attract that sort. Bandwagon jumpers, spotlight hoggers. I am reminded of the protests of the '60s, where the actual mass of participants were no more communist than your Aunt Sally, but were crowded out by a few rageaholics. Not everyone who sees an injustice believes in crazy stuff.

Jumper said...

A story of a man who was in Iraq.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/politics-obituaries/8825553/Sir-Hilary-Synnott.html

infanttyrone said...

RandyB,

It's just so hard not to lunge at your hooks...
at least you're not a gill-netter.

Re: Denunciations

So, here's your sort-of-gedankenexperiment:
Famous Quakers of the 1960's and later include Baez and Nixon.
Baez is still active in anti-war politics and is presumably in a position (at least in your mind) to "talk" to Taliban or to some who are close to them.
Nixon was clearly going in pretty much the opposite direction from Baez (and generally 180 degrees off from the generally understood Quaker position of pacifism) during his presidency.

Should Nixon have been denounced by the Quaker establishment back then ?
If so, why ?
If not, why not ?

Should Baez be denounced by the Quaker establishment now (for not denouncing groups or people that you believe practice torture or that you believe are somehow affiliated with groups that you believe practice torture)?

If so, why ?
If not, why not ?

To use elements of Rumsfeld's knowledge-status-matrix:

We know what Nixon "did do" and can thus understand why someone might choose to denounce him.

Unless you have evidence of Baez affirmatively supporting the use of torture, how do you propose to demonstrate "what she did not do", barring coming out as a 24/7/365 investigative stalker ?

And if the Quakers will not denounce Baez...are you ready to swear off oatmeal until they see the light of reason and do what you believe is the right thing. Will you agree to be a spokesperson for an oatmeal boycott if recruited by anti-Quaker organizers ?

David Brin said...

"He's willing to (erronously, but I don't care) call me a "torture apologist" but he can't seem to say that the left should ask their friends to stop fighting, or at least to ask that they stop torturing people."

You are truly truly unable to stretch your mind out of its self-imposed ghetto to see how absolutely insane that quoted statement above is? How reality detached, offensive, illogical and above all TENDENTIOUSLY SLANDEROUS it is?

Are you mature enough to step back and ponder: "what reason might Brin have for saying that?

In any event, the biggest reason to "impeach Bush" was that the American Pax, which has done the world a lot of net good and which Osama and a dozen other Saudis attacked on 9/11, was so devastatingly weakened by nearly all of the decisions that had been made on Junior's watch, that it might as well have been deliberate sabotage and treason.

David Brin said...

"He's willing to (erronously, but I don't care) call me a "torture apologist" but he can't seem to say that the left should ask their friends to stop fighting, or at least to ask that they stop torturing people."

You are truly truly unable to stretch your mind out of its self-imposed ghetto to see how absolutely insane that quoted statement above is? How reality detached, offensive, illogical and above all TENDENTIOUSLY SLANDEROUS it is?

Are you mature enough to step back and ponder: "what reason might Brin have for saying that?

In any event, the biggest reason to "impeach Bush" was that the American Pax, which has done the world a lot of net good and which Osama and a dozen other Saudis attacked on 9/11, was so devastatingly weakened by nearly all of the decisions that had been made on Junior's watch, that it might as well have been deliberate sabotage and treason.

infanttyrone said...

RandyB,

Re: Torture and its Deniers

I don't read a lot of blogs, but I have a decent bandwidth of opinion sites programmed to alert me to new columns. Here's a link to one from the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan administration.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/04/19/unplugging-americans-from-the-matrix/

He says indirectly, but by clear and unmistakable inference that the US operates torture prisons around the globe. If you aren't ready to denounce him, please consider taking your "Interrogators are not performing 'real torture' if the nearby angels dancing on the head of a pin are doing the Funky Chicken...it's only 'real torture' if they're doing the Fox Trot" brand of sophistry over to the comment section of the former Assistant Secretary's blog and see if you can get any of his "generally right-wing or various flavors of libertarian" readers to agree with you. If you can sell your point of view there, maybe you've got something. The fact that many people here strongly disagree with you isn't what the Law & Order shows call 'probative' of much of anything.

infanttyrone said...

RandyB,

Re: Keys to the Factories

Is this a regular meme on this blog ?
As far as I can tell, the one bringing up this keys to factories business is you. If there is some earlier discussion thread where it originated, please advise the approximate date and I'll look into it. But for now, as part of Rita Rudner's schtick goes..."No, just you."

But as we're in the factories now, here's an answer to who just might take those keys away from the Koch brothers and/or other owners. It would originate spontaneously. In the communication environment of the US today, if something like the Waco fiasco happened (absent the victims being able to be branded as 'zealots' or other sorts 'who had it coming to them'), it wouldn't surprise me if the ATF forces found themselves surrounded by a whole lot of 2nd Amendment-loving citizens and forced to either surrender or call in the Army for rescue. An armed standoff ending in the Army firing on what could be construed as a citizen posse demanding the surrender of murderers could start the ball rolling. Forget those that you might characterize as hippie Occupiers...it's more likely that the counterforce would be led by Desert Storm and current Iraq/Afghanistan vets who have lost their houses, their jobs, and their affiliation with a group that would fire on Americans for exercising what are (OK, maybe were) American rights.

So, here's your 95 minutes of Zen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPl_Y3Qdb7Y&feature=related

Think it couldn't happen here ?
Get a Ouija board, brew a pot of tea, and have a little chat with King George or Lord Cornwallis.

infanttyrone said...

RandyB,

There's as much wrong with being a radical Islamist as there would be with being a radical Christian who thinks the government should be run by extremist clergy, and want a holy war to get us there.

Fortunately, any Christians of that type tend to be dead.


Or hyper-populating Republican administrations...
Where were you when Junior hired nearly anything with a pulse and a degree from Liberty University ? Mars ?

Nice structure and one-liner at the end...
just not supported by the historical record of the era.

Jumper said...

When science says oops:
http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2012/04/19/gum-disease-does-not-raise-the-risk-of-heart-attacks-or-stroke-a-large-meta-analysis-finds/

Malibu-ites reject the right thing to do?
http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2012/04/13/socal-ink-science-in-doubtevil-bulldozers-dept-project-to-save-malibu-lagoon-held-up-to-save-it/

Jumper said...

I promise I'll shut up after this.

A hilariously POV backwater Wiki article which nevertheless serves as a profound meditation on "capitalism:"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loan_shark

and a simple review of fractional banking:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_reserve_banking

infanttyrone said...

Jumper,

Thanks for the Loan Shark link.

From the article:
These loan sharks operated more informally than salary lenders, which meant more discretion for the lender and less paperwork and bureaucracy for the customer.

Easy to see why Randroids would love that paperwork reduction part.

Well, maybe if the customer doesn't keep up with the vig and winds up with their legs broken they can haul their freedom-loving but battered carcass off to a political hospital and get everything straightened out by a Spin Doctor. :-)

rewinn said...

I was gonna make a joke about "tortured reasoning" ... until I realized that none of the peace activists that I know have Taliban friends!

So who knows? maybe our resident torture-fanboi is correct: "All Peace Activist Taliban Friends Love Torture" is true in the sense that "All Teapots Orbiting Mars Are Made Of Cheese" is true!

Now ... might we talk about OP? You know, that whole wager thing?

Anyone want to take one of the wagers?

I will state for the record that until about a year ago I might have been will to take the anti-nuke wager, but I was forced to change my mind by reading Dr. Hansen's latest work on AGW "Storms of My Grandchildren". I still want to believe that we won't need fission to avoid carbon poisoning of our atmosphere, but I just don't see how the numbers pencil out ... much against my will!

On the plus side, at least I won't be losing any Wager money on it!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Fact: only a few lefty flakes are on the streets demanding truly lefty things and/or "pals with islamist radicals."


I still can't wrap my head around leftists being pro-Islamicist. Perhaps RandyB could argue that anti-war leftists are unwittingly joining in common cause with pro-Taliban forces, but that doesn't seem to be what he's arguing. Rather he seems to be asserting that the leftist position IS to support the Taliban.

Given the Taliban's record on religious tolerance and on women's rights, and even on drug usage, I don't understand what leftists would find to support about them. The Taliban were villains in lefty comic books long before 9/11.

Tony Fisk said...

A bit of a coda: the Pioneer anomaly has now been resolved. Cause: anisotropic (uneven) heating.

They must have it in for anyone named 'Brin'

Maybe they're scared of someone waving 'Lungfish' at them uttering dire predictions about dark secrets Man is not meant/ready to know? Mild stirring aside, isn't Sergey involved?

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, I think you might owe Hans an apology. Try reading his post a little closer. He was not saying he cringes at gays or anything like that. I believe he was stating he doesn't tolerate bigotry against people, be they gay or whatever. I understand that with a quick skim of what he said, you might see what he said differently.

Damn it, man, I'm supposed to be the Shoulder Devil, not the Shoulder Angel. I'm going to call my agent... *grumbles*

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

Actually, Rob, I think it's Hans who might need to read a bit deeper. David was talking about *visceral* reactions. Initial involuntary responses aren't something to be jumped on (unless the follow-up is just as irrational, or the intention is a quick slug of 80-proof indignohol).

Robert said...

Six to one half dozen. Dr. Brin's comments sounded very much like he was running under the assumption that Han was anti-gay. Your thoughts on Han not fully grokking Dr. Brin may be accurate as well, I've no idea.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tony reports that the Pioneer Anomaly has been resolved, thanks in part to efforts of the Planetary Society to help a small team find, then translate, and finally analyze more than 30 years worth of data, recorded on archaic media. Sorry, it wasn’t “strange physics.” But some very good science sleuthing was required. http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00003459/

Robert, Tony is right, you aren't reading my remarks properly. I made very clear that I consider Hans bigoted because he is trying to police the inner, involuntary, visceral reactions of heterosexual males who are completely aboard the tolerance expansion train, but who ask (courteously) that blatant gay sex not be pushed into our faces (please). Whether that visceral response has biological or sociobiological roots might be an interesting topic, and the jury is out. On the other hand, Heinlein might be right that they are simply the result of being "canalized by a primitive cultures." Either way, my successful efforts to move forward, to be on the side of advancing horizons, despite those visceral responses is something that deserves honor, not finger-wagging contempt.

(Oh, irony alert? THE core message about biology preached by the left is that gays cannot help, prevent or modify their internal visceral attraction sets. That they are genetically hard wired and their inclinations should thus in no way be held against them, nor should anyone, even parents eager for grandkids, ask them to change.

(It seems that the excuse that's good for the goose is forbidden to the gander. Oh, we're allies. But I am allowed to say "what hypocrisy!")

Ian said...

On gays and political correctness.

A couple of years ago a prominent psychological researcher reported that "restorative therapy" (AKA "pray away the gay" therapy) actually works for a small subset og gays who are

a. deeply religious and highly conflicted about their sexuality; and

b. rank relatively high on the Kinsey Scale (meaning that they are more attracted to men than to women but are capable of having satisfying sexual relationships with women).

Now there's no question that for many people restorative therapy doesn't work or is actively harmful but for pointing out that it does work for a minority, the researcher was vilified.

Apparently, gay (or if you prefer bi-) men don't have the right to choose to enter into a heterosexual relationship even if that's what's best for the specific individual given their religious beliefs and social circumstances.

David Brin said...

The refusal to consider gayness a spectrum condition, but instead insist that it is utterly binary and genetically obligate, has got to be one of the most flagrant examples of politically-driven willful dogmatism I have ever seen.

It arose in order to allow the convenience of getting parents to stop bothering gay offspring with "are you sure?" questions. And in that respect it worked. Millions were able to say. "That's it. End of discussion. Decide if you still love me!"

And most parents sighed and decided they loved their gay kids. Fine, it's what I would have done. That worked.

Still, the side effects of such a dopey, oversimplifying doctrine have been huge, never discussed and - I expect - will later be viewed with utter horror by more enlightened ages.

Hans said...

Hi,

First, I owe David an apology for saying "whatever". Though I thought this matter over carefully (I thought so anyway) I still make faux pas. I'm not sure what the Latin term is for what I did: Where I'm from its considered rude though, and I sincerely apologize to our host for saying that.

I can assure you that I understood exactly what David was saying, regarding people's gut reactions to homosexuality, and there was no irrationality or indignohol involved on my part (thought this is necessarily subjective).

As I said before, I consider the possibility that this reaction to homosexuality may very well be irrational. I still think its wrong though.

The comparison I make is people that are uncomfortable with a kiss. If you don't like PDA's, fine. If you don't like it because its an interracial couple kissing... Well, work on that then. Same thing for same sex kisses in public.

In the same fashion, if you don't like sex in your movies, fine. If its the interracial, or homosexual nature of the act that puts you off, then yes, I still believe you have some what of a maturity hill to climb.

I will carefully consider David's use of the word bigot with respect to my opinion: I often misunderstand the meanings behind words, due to certain preconceptions I have about what they might mean. That said, I do believe that David said I was a bigot by saying I'm wrong to say I think bigots are wrong (unless, like I say, I don't know what the word bigot means). Irony aside, that statement keeps giving me a head ache.

Further, I'm going to carefully think about David's comment about policing what is in people's minds (this being the criticism he has leveled at me that concerns me the most). Given my beliefs about privacy, I consider a person's thoughts to be sacrosanct. I don't think its policing another's thoughts to tell them that those thoughts are wrong, but since I beleive David to be telling me that's what I did, I'll consider the matter carefully.

Finally, I apologize for my excess parentheticals, and any missing apostrophe's.

Oh, and yes, I'm ok with gay.

Regards,

Hans

Hans said...

David,

I understand why you use captcha's, but damn, they make my head spin.

Thank you for the lively conversation, and again, I'm sorry for being rude before.

Hans

RandyB said...

David,

Slanderous?

Aren't there "anti-war" activists on friendly terms with radical Islamists? (I gave a link.) Didn't Code-Pink and George Galloway visit Iran to show solidarity? I didn't make any of that up.

Until President Obama knocked off Anwar al-Awlaki with a drone strike, it would have been possible for the director of Amnesty International to make a phone call to one prominent associate of Amnesty, and ask to get Awlaki's phone number. The far left is on speaking terms with the enemy. They're just not speaking with them about actual peace.

Who do you think organizes the "anti-war" demonstrations? It's not the ordinary liberals. Aside from the previously mentioned Code-Pink, Intl ANSWER and the International Action Center are even more extreme. They're pretty sympathetic to North Korea. Do you really want to say this is normal?

I've actually been fairly polite. I didn't point out elements of the far, far left that *overtly support the enemy*.

Instead, it's me that they claim supports torture. And all I'm saying is that we should go right up to that line when necessary without crossing it. Yes, it still seems kind of harsh until you remember what the "anti-war" movement's friends are doing.


infanttyrone,

Don't confuse radical Islamists with ordinary Muslims. Most Afghans support the U.S. fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Virtually all of them are Muslims.

Paul Craig Roberts is off in fringe territory. Back when I used to scan the extremist sites (far left and far right), I'd regularly see his columns linked by David Duke. While that's not necessarily his fault (Roberts can't control who links to him), he is a 9/11 truther.


Larry,

"I still can't wrap my head around leftists being pro-Islamicist. Perhaps RandyB could argue that anti-war leftists are unwittingly joining in common cause with pro-Taliban forces, but that doesn't seem to be what he's arguing. Rather he seems to be asserting that the leftist position IS to support the Taliban."

Unwittingly? Some of the minor protesters may be pretentious loons who don't know any better but their leaders do know who they're dealing with.

I gave you a link that shows "anti-war" activists with supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr while his Mahdi Army was running death squads in Iraq. Rather than suggest it could be an anomaly (when it isn't), and rather than say those lefties may be rare extremists (which they're not), you've pretty much expressed no judgments about those leftists in the pictures. That's the really odd thing about it.

I can say I support enhanced interrogation under conditions approved by CIA lawyers, and I'm emphatically called a supporter of torture. But when leftists hang around with radical Islamists members of groups that torture people to death, it's crickets chirping. Those crickets have been chirping for over ten years.

As for the leftist position (not that there is one main leftist position), they're obviously not willing to confront their friends about human rights issues. But they do have different goals. Whereas the radical Islamists want to win, the left-wing extremists merely want the U.S. to lose.

matthew said...

I've predicted it before on this site, now I am sure- Marco Rubio will be Romney's VP candidate.
Rubio has introduced his own version of the DREAM Act. It provides for illegal children current ly in the country a path to permanent resident status. Romney is "studying" the plan. Rubio is such a tea party favorite that he will be able to move to the middle on this issue to break up President Obama's huge lead with latinos. VP Rubio will be the deciding factor on the upcoming election.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75379.html

matthew said...

Yes, George Galloway is a loon. Yes, Code Pink are nutters. But they are not influential, important, listened-to, or relevant to liberal or progressive politics. Using their words or actions to tar the Democrats is exactly like using David Duke to characterize the Republicans.
And the only ones that want the US to lose are the right wingers that are hoping the economy tanks so their candidate will win, as stated by
Mitch McConnell, senate minority leader.

Tony Fisk said...

OK Hans. I think we're on the same wavelength now.

re: capcha, we used to play a little game where we ascribed useful meanings to useless words (see Douglas Adams & John Lloyd 'The Meaning of Liff') It seems to have lapsed now that Blogger has switched to two word combinations

(Hmm let's see: 'lichici roulabor': cool cocktail for undead warlocks)

infanttyrone said...

RandyB,

Don't confuse radical Islamists with ordinary Muslims. Most Afghans support the U.S. fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Virtually all of them are Muslims.

If you are just offering 'a friendly word of advice', then "Thanks, I guess". BTW, wrt the concept of opinion polling in Afghanistan, you probably ought to count on the margin of error being in the range of 50%, so that "most Afghans" term you use might not be nearly accurate.

However, if you are under the impression that what you wrote bears any relation to something I addressed to you, please tell me the time stamp on my post and I'll see if my memory is slipping or if you're just throwing pasta up on my wall. If the latter is what's going on, please pay attention to the actual conversation and quit throwing in extraneous thought fragments.

Hypnos said...

This is ridiculous. On one side we have a handful of nutters sending some tens of euros to the Iraqi resistance to buy medicines, and marching in the streets with a picture of Al-Sadr. On the other we have the most powerful army of the world invading sovereign countries, killings hundreds of thousands, and torturing at will. But somehow, we are supposed to be more incensed by the former.

Let's get facts straight:

1) resistance against occupying forces is always legitimate. Ergo, the Madhi army's killing of American soldiers is a legitimate action in war, and I don't see any inconsistency in being anti-war and marching alongside Madhi army supporters, as I wouldn't see any inconsistency in marching against Sudanese occupation of South Sudan alongside SPLM supporters, or marching against Gaddafi's repression alongside Libyan rebels (and boy do those guys love their torture).

2) violation of human rights are always illegitimate, no matter who commits them, and as such will always deserve condemnation. The largest violator here is the occupying power, e.g. the USA. In a world of limited resources it is perfectly logical to dedicate most of your efforts to the main problem.

3) if you operate under the assumption that the US is mostly a force for good, as Dr. Brin does, US violations become even MORE important, because they represent a betrayal of the very essence of the West.

Finally, my main contention is that I don't CARE about human rights violations. I don't believe in international relations based on universal human rights (that is, I don't believe any nation or state ever operated its foreign policy under the precepts of universal human rights - I would LOVE if that happened, but that requires a level if naivety I don't possess). So what I am arguing here is that the US is not qualitatively different from its opponents, and from other imperial powers. RandyB seems to think US torture is nicer, so that's all I'm arguing against. I'm a radical atheist otherwise so you can guess what my opinion of Islamists movements is.

Other than that I do have a strong predisposition to cheer for the underdog, which is why my criticism of US opponents might be more subdued. Hell, broadly speaking I quite like people like the MEND or the Somali pirates. RandyB might as well - after all, he was complaining that Occupy WS people are cowards, presumably because they didn't take violent action against the 1%. Hey, I'm full agreement there, I'd love some public square guillottineing of bankers, and Cheney's head on a spike on the city walls.

FYI, that last bit was ironic.

Robert said...

So, Hypnos, it is perfectly okay for German soldiers to have fought and killed Americans, Brits, Aussies, French Resistance, and others because their uber-nation that Hitler built on the back of conquest was being invaded by the people he pissed off? It's okay for German soldiers to fight the Allies and try to prevent them from capturing concentration camps and the like?

Sometimes it isn't okay. In my opinion. And I don't care if that nation if World War II Germany, Libya, Iraq, North Korea, or even the United States, should an attack be because the nation has descended into barbarism and is treating people horrifically and/or committing genocide.

Rob H.

Rob H.

Ian Gould said...

"Hell, broadly speaking I quite like people like the MEND or the Somali pirates."

I assume "broadly speaking" means "excluding the rapes, murders and kidnappings".

I can understand the borader causes behind Somali piracy: the systematic exploitation of somali waters by first world countries for unrestricted fishing and waste dumping.

But that doesn't mean I condone much less 'like" their actions.

Ian Gould said...

And to go to the Contrarian position again; Moqtada Al Sadr is a greatly misunderstood figure in the west who is far less anti-american than he is "Anti-America supporting his political and religious rivals as they murder his followers".

Al Sadr was one of the few figures in post-invasion Iraq who enjoyed broad popular support and respect (largely because unlike other so-called Opposition figures he'd risked to his life to saty in Iraq and experience the hardships of sanctions-era Iraq and fight Saddam Hussien's regime).

He also leads a faction within the Iraqi Shia community which is fiercely nationalistic and opposed to Iranian influence in Iraq.

(More preciely he's opposed to Iranian influence within Iraqi Shia religious institutions. The Sadr and Sistani families have battled over the leadership of Iraq's shia community ofr centuries. The Sistanis are originally Iranian and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani was born in Iran,)

If the Bush administration hadn't decided that Sistani and his associate Chalabi were a magic bullet to ensure Shia support for the invasion of Iraq, Al Sadr would probably never have been "anti-American".

Hans said...

David,

I rarely take a third bite at the apple (due to time constraints, and courtesy) but here goes:

Hans... your bigotry, trying to police the inner visceral sexual reactions of other people, is not your business to inflict upon me. I side with gay rights down the line, as I side with the expansion of horizons of inclusion and lifestyle. I do not owe you any more than my vigorous efforts to make a saner, more tolerant world. One in which YOUR blatant intolerance and dogmatic insistence on uniformity is... tolerated.

David,

Quite right about the inflicting. And you owe me nothing, not even your vigorous efforts. They are gladly accepted, but I assume you do these things for your own reasons, and not mine (anything else would be creepy).

However, I have no interest in policing the inner thoughts of anyone, as much as I may think they are wrong (I suppose this is repeating what I said before: A person's thoughts are wholly their own). This includes the thoughts of sympathizers.

And finally, on the subject of intolerance, I think its fine to be intolerant of some things, intolerance, dogma and bigotry being three of them. That this is difficult to fit into an internally consistent logical frame work is left as an exercise for me (and any other interested readers) in the spare time I have scheduled in 2018.

Kindest regards,

Hans

Ian Gould said...

"violation of human rights are always illegitimate, no matter who commits them, and as such will always deserve condemnation. The largest violator here is the occupying power, e.g. the USA. In a world of limited resources it is perfectly logical to dedicate most of your efforts to the main problem.'

So we should turn a blind eye to the Mahdi Army executing gays and women accused of adultery and the private prisons they ran in Najaf where confessions were extracted under torture?

Indignation is a renewable resource, I can condemn US abuses of human rights in Iraq AND abuses by the Mahdi Army.

Hypnos said...

On MEND and pirates:

Ian, that is a moral question I have been struggling with. As I said I am not a pacifist and I believe in using force for self-defence and against oppression. The amount of destruction wrought by Shell and the other oil companies (with full endorsement of Nigerian elites) in the Niger delta is horrendous. It is a crime on humanity. So are handsomely paid Western engineers who willingly choose to work for those companies and go in those places innocent? I work in the energy arena and I would not be able to look myself in the mirror if I was part of that system. When the MEND kidnaps Shell personnel are they committing a crime, or are they using violence to fight back against oppression?

It's a bit harder to say the same for the Somali pirates as the shipping companies are not necessarily directly related to those who plundered their seas, destroyed their livelihoods and polluted their villages. But on the other hand most kidnappings, at least in the past years, have tended to be non-violent, so the pirates were just taking back what the global economy had taken from them. And remember, the last time a reasonable government emerged in Somalia, with broad popular support, under the Islamic courts, it was crushed by an Ethiopian invasion aided and abetted by the West.

So my question is, is violence justified in fighting against a global economic system that has taken everything from you and gives you absolutely no recourse for redress but violence?

As for moral condemnation of Mahdi abuses, as I said I'm all for it. But RandyB was arguing for the anti-war movement to devote as much time to fighting against Mahdi abuses as they did fighting against US abuses. Humanitarian campaigning is a limited resource and should be dedicated to where it can have the most effect - and there is a much bigger chance of influencing the US government than there is of influencing Al Sadr.

Ian Gould said...

To return to the issue of gays:

David, I think hostility to the idea that homosexuality is not necessarily innate has less to do with parents wanting grand children than it does with centuries of attempts to "cure" gays with such helpful tools as castration, lobotomy and electroshock.

The belief that homosexuality is natural and innate is an understandable reaction to being told repeatedly that it's unnatural and the result of a sinful and perverse nature.

Furthermore for some people -those who rank around 1-2 on the Kinsey scale - homosexaulity IS pretty much predetermined. Just as heterosexuality is pretty much predetermined for those ranking around 6-7.

For the people who rank somewhere between those two extremes, homosexuality really is a choice - a choice every bit as valid as the choice of heterosexuality.

Ian Gould said...

"And remember, the last time a reasonable government emerged in Somalia, with broad popular support, under the Islamic courts, it was crushed by an Ethiopian invasion aided and abetted by the West."

The Isalmic Courts Movement stoned people to death for watching soccer matches on television.

How is that a "reasonable" government?

rewinn said...

RECENTLY OVERHEARD BY CIA:

"Hullo, this is the director of Amnesty International, may I speak to the leader of the Taliban?"

"This is he. What do you want, infidel dog!"

"Will you please stop killing people. It's wrong, you know."

"Oh, alright."


---------

Seriously. I call Poe!

Hypnos said...

Rob,

WWII comparison makes no sense. Germany was the aggressor state.

On your second bit about invading nations because they have descended into barbarism, that is THE single excuse most used by European states to build their colonial empires. Need to civilise the barbarians, who are killing each other all the time. It ALWAYS leads to worse atrocities. And I question the real motivation behind every single one of those interventions, because as I said I simply don't believe in nations behaving according to the precepts of universal human rights. Hell, France "intervention" in the Rwandan genocide basically enabled the genocidaires to kill more people and then flee retribution.

Intervention in Libya killed more people in a shorter amount of time than non-intervention in Syria has in a longer time.

Ian,

what we defined as reasonable is irrelevant. It was better than constant warfare and it enjoyed popular support. And if they did not like it, it was the Somalis', and only the Somalis' responsibility to remove it.

Ian Gould said...

How do you know it "enjoyed popular support"?

Previous examples of government tht probably did enjoy popular support, at least initially;

The Khmer rouge
The Nazis
Stalin
The Gang of Four

Ian Gould said...

"Intervention in Libya killed more people in a shorter amount of time than non-intervention in Syria has in a longer time."

Yes but it killed far fewer people than Gaddafi did in a shorter period of time immediately preceding it.

Ian Gould said...

It's 1 AM here and I have to work tomorrow.

Further responses from me will have to wait.

Ian Gould said...

Actually, no, one final barb;

"it was the Somalis', and only the Somalis' responsibility to remove it."

So was it the Germans' and only the Germans' responsbility to remove the Nazis?

Was it the Rwandans' and only the Rwandans' responsibility to remove the Interahamwe?

The Ugandans' and only the Ugandans' responsbility to remove Idi amin?

The Cambodians' and only the Cambodians' responsbility to remove Pol Pot?

Should the world remove sanctions against North Korea because it's the North Koreans' and only the North Koreans' responsibility to remove Kim jong On?

How about Syria?

Hans said...

I've been thinking how you could make this into a bet (to get to answering the real question David asked in the article): Relative levels of manufacturing in China and America. It used to be easy. Make a bet on who has the largest manufacturing economy in the world. Til a year ago that was the United States, until somebody ran the economy off a cliff. Due to two years of manufacturing malaise domestically, China has now claimed the lead by a slight margin.

Still, American manufacutring is far from the walking zombie it is claimed to be by both right and left leaning zealots. With the appropriate emphasis on vertical supply chains, I'm certain we can remain at least as healthy as we are.

How you make this into a bet, I'm not entirely sure though.

Regards,

Hans

Jumper said...

I liked Rob's remark about Nazi Germany because it pointed to a real gray area: How long must a country be a country before it is recognized as legitimate? Five hours, five years or 50? If Hitler had died and some other of the top brass taken over, how about then? What if Greater Germany had stabilized for a decade before the Allies were able to muster a serious attack? If outsiders burned my city down 20 centuries ago, and took over, do I have a right to chase them out now?

Moral relativism. Don't we hate it.

Hypnos said...

Popular support is a difficult thing to define, but yes, most governments that come to power through revolution or unrest do enjoy some level of popular support.

Gaddafi had killed a 1,000 people by the time the resolution came into effect, after which at least another 29,000 were killed. And we're not counting the desaparecidos which are mounting up right now.

And yes, it would be those people's responsibility to deal with their governments. You will notice that in many cases those governments also received support from external powers (mainly Western ones).

In Syria I wouldn't advocate for anything more than what is being done at the moment.

But do you have a different strategy in mind? I don't want to put words into your mouth but you seem to be advocating for intervention. Intervention is usually carried out by Western powers - the USA and Europe, or in other words, the countries that ran global empires, enslaved millions, exterminated other millions, destroyed cultures, environments, civilizations, and are now claiming to be the holders of the moral high ground and the ultimate judges and arbiters of what is moral and what is right, in the very same countries where they committed all those atrocities.

Am I the only one to see the mind bogging hypocrisy? Especially when considering how many of those "humanitarian" interventions actually end up reflecting the economic interests of the country that is carrying it out, to the detriment of local needs?

Jumper:
" If outsiders burned my city down 20 centuries ago, and took over, do I have a right to chase them out now?"
That depends. Do you happen to be from Israel?

David Brin said...

Hans said: "if you don't like sex in your movies, fine. If its the interracial, or homosexual nature of the act that puts you off, then yes, I still believe you have some what of a maturity hill to climb."

The way that Hans expressed it this time is far less bigoted, intolerant and outright offensive- aggressive. Indeed, it was expressed as a personal opinion and not a judgment of others.

I will concede that some burden of proof falls upon those who suggest - tentatively - that there may be some biological basis for hetero discomfort with homosexual blatancy. (See below.)

The general trend of Western Civilization... toward chilling out over previously verboten discomforts, has been a good one and it deserves primacy of place. We all can take pride that sci fi was the source of the Kirk-Uhuru kiss.

But then Hans says: "And finally, on the subject of intolerance, I think its fine to be intolerant of some things, intolerance, dogma and bigotry being three of them. "

Wrong. Those traits are problems to be overcome. And sometimes we need to get stoked up with emotion in order to fight them, as when my father marched alongside Martin Luther King.

But when you tap into the intolerant reflex you are going directly to the core mental addiction called self-righteous indignation. You are a drug addict! And you are wallowing in EXACTLY the same dismal mental state as your adversaries. Pushing the same inner buttons and perfusing the same chemicals.

And thus you risk many SELF INFLICTED, PRAGMATIC WOUNDS. Purity of dogma has driven off potential allies. It feels great but it is not practical politics.

Indeed, political correctness policing has given more ammo and support to the right wing madness than anything else. Fox has leveraged white america's resentment over being relentlessly lectured-to by sanctimony-junkies on the left, whose main goal is to offend and NOT to pragmatically keep taking incremental steps toward a better world.

(Just look at RandyB! He is swallowing the Koolaid pushed by Fox, that ALL liberals believe outrageous things that a few dozen idiot-kooks on the far left believe. That is a dastardly lie and RandyB is a flaming moron to swallow it... but YOU are a fool not to recognize that in-your-face tactics aren't self-defeating.)

In-your-face offensiveness has done vastly more harm than good.

As for whether hetero "cringing" over gay public blatancy is simply (as Heinlein put it) primitive canalization from a primitive culture,; please give us some time to get over it..."

...or has some bio-roots as legitimate as the bio-explanations that gays cling to... well, we could discuss that theoretically A strong case can be made for why there'd be something there.

Something that should never ever affect policy or our rights or our willingness to be excellent neighbors to each other.

David Brin said...

Robert I agree with you about the WWII Wehrmacht. At some point after the Normandy invasion, the allies should have gone on radio and said. "We now declare the current govt of Germany to be a criminal gang. Any "soldier" working for it will be considered at minimum subject to civil penalties by the victims of that regime. You will not be criminally prosecuted like the SS, unless you or your unit are connected to some travesty. But we may change our minds about that, so surrender as soon as you can."

==

Guys, we're just going to have to take RandyB as an object lesson example of how stunning the human ability to enter delusional insanity can be.

He actually seems to be unable to separate anecdotes -of-exceptional silliness (a few loopy lefties speaking up for islamist prisoners) from the vast majority of those he opposes. Liberal-democratic americans.

He thus insults the liberal democratic citizens of the city of New York, who took all the hits, rebelled aboard flight UA93, stood atop the rubble and shouted at Saudi Arabia "is THAT all you got?" Blue America took all the terror hits and damage, paid most of the costs in the War on Terror and won most of the victories. Yet RandyB calls all of them terrorist-loving Taliban allies...

...and is unable to perceive why we think he is a stark, jibbering loony.

Guilt by remote remote remote association? Okay here it is RandyB.

Osama Bib Laden was a cousin of the Saudi Royal House. He got money from them and 90% of the hijackers were connected Saudi citizens. Bush avowed that he was "partly raised by Prince Bandar ("Uncle Bandy"). On 9/11 he arranged for every well-heeled Saudi in America to be flown out of the country at taxpayer expense luxury, on the day Americans could not fly, to get them away from questioning by the FBI. Oh, and you voted for Bush.

You are a terrorist traitors RandyB. That chain of connections makes you and everybody who ever voted for George W. Bush an America-hating traitor. Allies of enemies who did us far more harm than the Taliban ever did.

And if that glib satire of your reasoning does not give you a clue why we find you offensive, then simply shut the F%$!k up.

RandyB said...

Hypnos,

Well, thanks for pointing out that there are people who feel the way that you do.

I said those who overtly support the enemy are on the far, far left. My intent was to point out that there are different grades of left-wing nuttery, and that those "anti-war" protesters in the other photos were not the limit.

The U.S. didn't kill "hundreds of thousands." Most of those deaths were caused by the various groups of "Iraqi resistance" that you profess admiration for.


"1) resistance against occupying forces is always legitimate."

The photos I linked to were from 2007. Iraq had its elections in 2005. The resistance was primarily opposed to the new government, which is why they killed and tortured so many. You might have a little bit of an evil point if these were Saddam loyalists.


"2) violation of human rights are always illegitimate, no matter who commits them, and as such will always deserve condemnation."

It's way too late for you to say that. I think you mean "always, except when the 'anti-war' movement's friends are torturing people."

This is beautiful, though. If you'll note, I was only asking that those Sadr followers receive the condemnation that you admit here that they deserve. Their friends on the far left "anti-war" movement obviously don't feel that way in the slightest.


"3) if you operate under the assumption that the US is mostly a force for good, as Dr. Brin does, US violations become even MORE important, because they represent a betrayal of the very essence of the West."

You could be right if we agreed on the meaning of "violations." As I said, the CIA was only authorized to use harsh methods up to a line.

You're completely ignoring one of the reasons we had limits. It was actual POWs who were supposed to get easy treatment. They merited this by fighting in accordance with the laws of war. By treating POWs and unlawful combatants the same, and especially by the "anti-war" movement giving no condemnation when their friends commit horrific atrocities, you're essentially giving the enemy total latitude in how they conduct a war. Remember that whenever you hear people claim to be concerned that "hundreds of thousands" who had died in the war.

One thing you can be certain of: When it mattered, none of the leftists in those pictures chose to care about those hundreds of thousands.



infanttyrone,

I set aside the part about "nearly anything with a pulse and a degree from Liberty University" as hyperbole. The religious right isn't usually sending goon squads to enforce their will.

For example, the murder of Dr. Tiller was an outlier but an important comparison to that. The main pro-life advocates didn't support that, but I do say they weren't sufficiently vocal in their reaction to it. They tolerated some methods that go beyond proper behavior. Even though the major pro-life groups made strong statements against Dr. Tiller's murder, I believe they should have been pointing a lot more fingers. Of course, the trouble with the comparison is, being insufficiently vocal is better than saying nothing at all.



Rewinn,

"Hullo, this is the director of Amnesty International, may I speak to the leader of the Taliban?"

I guess that flew right over your head. This is more than simply about opposition to the war.

Their influence wouldn't stop the war but it could have been used for other human rights objectives, such as to separate fighters from women and children. (The Wikileaks Baghdad video shows what happens when such concerns are ignored by people who claim to care about human rights.)

Even the Taliban could be made to take baby steps.

RandyB said...

David,

I wish they could be exceptional, but their leaders are not. Forex, Hypnos may have some personal exceptional qualities, but he's not alone in his opinions.

But with that, I'll disappear and digest what you said while hoping you may come to understand what I said at some point in the future. There's always that chance.

ell said...

"A council of anarchist managers"???

Now that should qualify as a multilevel oxymoron.

LarryHart said...

RandyB:

I said those who overtly support the enemy are on the far, far left.


And I still don't get where that assessment comes from. Unless you take it for granted that "anti-American" and "left" are the same thing. If, for example, you would consider 1930s pro-Nazi movements to be "far left".

But it used to be possible, and in a rational world it would still BE possible, to be considered unAmerican from the RIGHT. Ann Coulter aside, "treasonous" and "leftist" do not mean the same thing.

The Taliban scores worse on leftist litmus tests than all of the dead white men of western Europe and North America combined. I fail to understand how someone who prefers the Taliban to the US counts as a leftist.

Jumper said...

RandyB, everyone in the world is your "enemy."

David Brin said...

Guys... he knows his side has gone insane and is responsible for wreaking devasatating harm on the nation he should love. Pax Americana lies in ruins directly because of his side's imbecility.

Therefore, a sane person would abandon that side.

Instead, he and millions of others are simply doubling down. Insisting that a hundred and fifty million blue americans believe things they do NOT believe, promote things they do NOT promote, say things they do NOT say.

It is called hysterical schizophrenia, fellows. Have some pity and ignore the pathetic troll.

Ian Gould said...

"I've been thinking how you could make this into a bet (to get to answering the real question David asked in the article): Relative levels of manufacturing in China and America. It used to be easy. Make a bet on who has the largest manufacturing economy in the world. Til a year ago that was the United States, until somebody ran the economy off a cliff. Due to two years of manufacturing malaise domestically, China has now claimed the lead by a slight margin.

Still, American manufacutring is far from the walking zombie it is claimed to be by both right and left leaning zealots. With the appropriate emphasis on vertical supply chains, I'm certain we can remain at least as healthy as we are.

How you make this into a bet, I'm not entirely sure though."

Possibly you coudl frame the bet in terms of manufacturing employment in the US which has been rising for quite some time.

Or US manufacturing output (by dollars) which I beelive is at an all-time high.

Jumper said...

I didn't know much about Amnesty International and the separation with Gita Sagal, and the Moazzam Begg affair. So I found out. Anyone can Google those names and read what I did. (It's mostly a British-founded organization with U.S. branch as it has many internationally)

Inside players:
https://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are/our-people/international-secretariat-directors

All I can say, which would also pass as advice to AI, is that sometimes the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy.

Lizy said...

An obituary from the Chicago Tribune

Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012
In memoriam: After years of health problems, Facts has finally died.

TheMadLibrarian said...

I've tried to make Dr. Brin's wager a few times with some of my right tending acquaintances, but if they have ideaologically vested in the lies, they tend to ignore or discount any evidence to the contrary. I'm fresh out of epoxy to dribble into the goalpost holes.

Jumper you've raised a question I'm trying to sort out for myself.

TheMadLibrarian

oherave ssuts: alternate term for a still-suit

Ed Seedhouse said...

Just on the kissing thing, I think it's damned impolite for any couple to exchange sexually arousing kisses or sexually arousing petting in public (I am speaking of their arousal, not mine).

I don't think we should outlaw it but I will certainly shun anyone doing it outside of their private spaces. If they want to take their act on stage and charge a fee I don't mind, but out in public it affects other people and shouldn't be indulged in.

I don't care if they are two men, two women, or a man and a woman, it's impolite and improper socially.

I occasionally observe such behaviour on public transit, but so far there were always people of two genders involved. I am tempted to take my cell phone out and record them for posterity, after all if they want to indulge in public sexual acts I should be entitled to assume that they don't mind my recording it and selling it for profit, if I can.

I have resisted this temptation - so far.

Jumper said...

Non rockers need not apply, but this man said what I think
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJVlrhWaZhA

David Brin said...

Okay here it is.

Male human beings are gross and dangerous.

That's a silly and fantastic exaggeration and oversimplification. Yet there you are. Nearly all the violence and perversion that takes place is perpetrated by us guys. This has nothing to do with homosexuality. It just is.

In fact, all the stats for gay men are totally OPPOSITE to those of gay women. STD rates, HIV, and promiscuity and yes violence and murder. Gay men may sometimes put on affectations. But in fact, they are in many ways the most masculine kind of men.

Frankly, I find it hard to picture why women ever want to have anything to do with us, at all! There must be some kind of inner SWITCH that gets thrown, when they decide "THIS particular male gets to touch me."

The power of that switch has to be pretty darn strong. It elevates one particular husband or lover out of the sea of gross fellows who "if you try to touch me you should die." We need the switch, in order to be a pair-bonded species. But every time it happens it's amazing.

No wonder women MYTHOLOGIZE the switch! Talk about it (romance) endlessly and fixate on it.

They must also grow up knowing that males WILL approach them, making unwelcome overtures. Learning to deal with that, especially during prime repro years for a good looking woman, is a difficult task and most women learn a lot of mental tricks. Above all, how not to over-react to overtures that - while foolish or pushy, weren't made with vile intent.

It's NOT easy! Remember, males are dangerous and (until the switch is thrown) pretty gross. "All these smelly hairy guys want to TOUCH me! Ew!"

Now dig this. Your average hetero male has not had years of experience developing subtle and complex and thick-skinned response sets, to being approached by smelly hairy aggressive grabby males. He doesn't like the idea and he HAS NO SWITCH!

Some of us have developed some semblance of the woman's ability to stay calm and courteous and balanced and thick skinned... and we hope our hetero bros over in Red America will start to do so, too.

It's the RIGHT THING TO DO! Still, we know it's hard. And sometimes we understand how women feel about having a gross male invade our space with unwelcome overtures.

Notice I have said NOTHING unfriendly or critical of gay men. What appears to be the case is that they have the switch. They can throw it much easier than women can. Dogma has it that they MUST throw it. I won't argue that point.

By that way of thinking, it is hetero men who are limited. We do not have (or want) the over-ride that lets human beings find a male adult human - smelly, hairy, grosss, yucky - attractive. We blink in dull surprise that such a thing is even possible! Yet we are amazed by our luck that a woman occasionally can aim that switch at us.

I do not begrudge gay men having the switch. I wish they would understand that NOT having it is NOT MY FAULT. And without it, I must see males (including myself) the way any logical person would.

As gross.

David Brin said...

I have posted a new blog about many cool things. This thread can stay open a while, if anybody like.

Let's keep these topics here.

onward.

Robert said...

It's not a switch, Dr. Brin. It's a dial.

I say this because I can see the attractiveness of the male form. I can flirt with guys (usually my male friends). But when it comes to physical contact? No. A good (hetro) friend and I joke all the time, and every so often he'll jokingly put his hand on my leg (we're teasing his fiancee, who's said he's only allowed to cheat on her with me. Yes, I've odd friends, though very good ones). And I have to resist every urge to shudder and swat away said hand.

How much of this evident bisexual tendency of mine is due to my having studied art and drawn (and thus having a tendency to turn people into shapes in my mind, construct how they are put together, and consider how they could be drawn, if only I'd practiced that minor talent of mine!) and can consider things artistically and how much is actual bisexuality, I have no idea. But I can understand the "flirt but no touching" bit that goes on with some women. And I can respect that.

But then, I've never said I'm normal.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Rob I appreciate your very well expressed position. And indeed, when we all get less uptight, then maybe IN MALES the thing will be more like a dial. Look even at my far end, I can appreciate the visual appeal of handsome dudes. Heck, I can watch Conan (the Barbarian one) all day!)

And yes, even though for most women, most of the time, it is a "pick one male to elevate above all others" switch, there surely is bleed-over and dial-like qualities. My wife enjoys a (very) little bit of distracting beefcake. (But note how much more subtle and varied they are! A confident wink means more than any amount of muscle mass.)

Still, the point is the same. Maleness is at best worrisome and problematic, and often gross and pushy and disgusting. The onus is on us to learn good behavior and good grooming, still we will never be *intrinsically* attractive and un-worrisome.

Hetero women and gay men DO SOMETHING mental to make males attractive. I adore the first fact and remain puzzled but totally tolerant of the latter. Diff-rent stroke. Enjoy in health.

But I can't do it and see no reason why I should be impugn for that fact.

OH A SECOND POINT. Notice in movie love scenes, 90% of the camera's attention is on the woman. Both men and women in the audience want to see her body, her face, her reactions. Think about that.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Notice in movie love scenes, 90% of the camera's attention is on the woman. Both men and women in the audience want to see her body, her face, her reactions. Think about that


When I was an adolescent in the late 60s/early 70s, I became aware of the (Sean Connery) James Bond movies, wherein the dashing Bond scored with multiple beautiful women per film. I expected this to be a men's genre only, and was quite intrigued to find that BOTH my mother and father were avid fans--that there was an appeal there for adult women as well as for adult men.

So in the late 70s, when I encountered many feminist college girls, I was actually surprised to find that they were NOT fans of the Bond type movies. I shouldn't have found that surprising, and I probably wouldn't have except for my earlier observation about how the films seemed to appeal to both sexes.

Hypnos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hypnos said...

RandyB,

Resistance against occupying forces means resistance against occupying forces, i.e. killing Americans. Unfortunately those very same movements were also engaged in wholesale civil war (ignited by the American invasion, but long simmering and harking back to the British occupation). And I said I consider it legitimate (the resistance, not the slaughtering of civilians in civil war), not that I necessarily approve of it. In general, I'd prefer for people to think a lot longer and harder before engaging into violence, no matter the act of aggression they have been subjected to. If my country had just been annihilated by a nuclear first strike and I was sitting in an underground bunker with a huge red button in front on me ready to unleash retaliation on the aggressor, I like to think I would not push it. But I recognize the right for other people to think and act differently.

Also, this might come as a shock to you, but "elections" do not equal "democracy", or legitimacy for the elected government. Almost all the States on the planet hold regular elections, less than a third are considered democracies. I'd like to hear your opinion on the legitimacy of the regularly elected Hamas government.

The rest is you putting words into my mouth, conflating the fringe with the mainstream, and denying that the US even committed abuses. So, yeah, I rest my case.

cosmicaug said...

I bet my life against claims of a conspiracy freak who claims that the artificial sweetener neotame is a deadly poison.

https://thetruthergirls.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/neotame-a-sweet-new-poison/

I chose a ridiculously high dose which should be deadly if this is anything like what she claims but which clearly should be safe based on the scientific literature.

Paul451 said...

Rob H.,
"So, Hypnos, it is perfectly okay for German soldiers to have fought and killed Americans, Brits, Aussies, French Resistance, and others because their uber-nation that Hitler built on the back of conquest was being invaded by the people he pissed off? It's okay for German soldiers to fight the Allies and try to prevent them from capturing concentration camps and the like?"

Well, yeah. Ordinary German soldiers were not punished for fighting against the allied invasion. If they fought to the death, they died honourably. If they fought until wounded, or surrender, they were imprisoned until the end of the war under the rules of the Geneva Convention, and then released without punishment. Even the guards who defended the death-camps were not executed for defending the camps, if they were killed it was for specific crimes they committed in the camps.

And that's not unusual. For a long time after WWI there was great respect between Australia and Turkey over the shared history of the Gallipoli landing (largely gone now.)

David McC. said...

Dr. Brin, I really respect you and your contrary viewpoints. Your books helped raise me. And, while I would never want to judge somebody for their visceral reactions (I have some of my own that many would judge me for), your view on men is puzzling and a little troubling.

I agree with you that sactimonious lecturing and judging and litmus-testing is counter productive to the cause of inclusion and progress. I get annoyed with it even when it's directed at those I'm at emnity with, and it's clear how it repulses those it is directed at.

I agree with you that a person who treats gays simply as fellow citizens, without discrimination and without contempt, has discharged their ethical duty toward them, no matter how they feel inside.

But, though you are under no ethical obligation whatsoever to change your attitude toward men and gays, you may *benefit* from changing it.

I get hit on by gay men fairly often. When I was younger, I had some leftover mental baggage from my upbringing, and this really squicked me. The reaction felt 'visceral.' But now it doesn't bother me at all. Moreover, this has nothing to do with developing the mental defenses you say women develop: these occurences are just as 'socially ackward' as ever; the only difference is that I no longer have any residual attitudes about "abominations before the Lord."

Again, I am not condemning you. It's just that you'd probably be happier if you loosened up a bit and stopped being disgusted by the people around you. Disgust is an unpleasent emotion. Let it go.

You said, "when we all get less uptight, then maybe IN MALES the thing will be more like a dial." The thing that puzzled me is, what are you so uptight for in the first place? Why not be less uptight? What's so hard about it?

Janus Daniels said...

How do you persuade a wingnut to take one of these bets? I've tried that many times over the last decade. They change the subject, reject any neutral party, reject every sane source of information, etc.

rewinn said...

@Janus Daniels - I suggest the point is not to get a wingnut to accept a bet. They won't, as a rule, and if they do, they will weasel out of a fair adjudication or simply take off on total non sequiturs. That's been my experience; take a look at the torture-faboi above who, compelled to acknowledge that a phonecall from Amnesty International would not persuade the Taliban to stop killing people, now demands that the call be made because it would persuade the Taliban to safeguard women and children ... and Amnesty's purported failure to make such a call means that I really support torture! This makes no logical sense to an outside observer, but it has enough of the structure of a response to persuade the true believer that he actually said something. Persuasion is not a rational process!

BUT: the point is not to take their money (...although that would be nice ;-) The point is to demonstrate to rational 3rd parties that (A) you're right; (B) you're willing to put your money where your mouth is; and (C) you're opponent isn't neither A nor B.
A secondary goal may be to convert your opponent, but it is rare for a True Believer to be able to change.

That's o.k. Cults die out when they can no longer recruit, and this sort of bet is an excellent sort of counter-recruitment.

Jumper said...

Paul451 makes a point for decency. Allied treatment of German POWs engendered real respect for the U.S. because of its decency. Which paid off for generations.

LarryHart said...

Rewinn makes a good point. It is usually pointless to argue politics on the internet if your point is to change the other guy's mind. The point SHOULD be to influence third-party listeners by making clear the night-and-day difference between your argument and the other guy's.

On the gay stuff...I used to think my heterosexuality was "normal", but as I've encountered more and more frank talk on the subject, I've come to believe I have an ABnormal tendency toward attraction to girls only. In the sense that perfectly normal heterosexual males talk about how they can "admire the male form" or "Woudln't kick Mick Jagger out of bed for eating crackers", and I just have no sense of what they're talking about. GIRLS are attractive; boys are not.

Coming to realize that my own tendencies here might be as UNnatural as gayness is gave me a new sense of why it's best to be tolerant of all variations on the theme rather than insisting that my own variation is the only deserving one. The thought of gay male sex disturbs me (and like Dr Brin, I can't seem to turn that dial), but so does eating brocolli. If I were to insist on laws against anything I don't personally like, no one else would ever had any fun.

rewinn said...

"...If I were to insist on laws against anything I don't personally like, no one else would ever had any fun. "

... sounds like a Twilight Zone episode!

But seriously ... we all have feelings about sex, and a lot of it is unreasonable. But it's equally unreasonable to expect anyone to change their feelings (...should we thank the Russkies for proving for us that no matter how much propaganda you pump out, you really can't create The New Soviet Man???)

What we can and should do is expect people to behave fairly, with a side order of not worrying too much about how other people are having fun. It is true, and will always be true, that thinking about some kinds of sex gives me the jim-jams, but the solution is simple: think of something else.

WB Reeves said...

Dr. Brin, I considered wading into the morass with Randy B but you've pretty much said.

I'd only add that here we have an individual who imagines he can identify the leadership of the entire "left" in a relative handful of individuals who support extreme, Islamists.At the same time he admits that there is no single "line" unifying said "left".

If there is no unifying line,it follows that there can be no unified "leadership."

Randy B has made a hash of his own argument and appears incapable of recognizing the fact.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

At the risk of being seen defending indefensible aggression or mistreatment of gay people, I have often wondered if there is some biological or evolutionary reason for male homophobia specifically. Again, it's not to justify anything: I have a lot of instincts which I rightfully suppress, such as an impulse to kill people who make me angry! Or seize food when I'm very hungry. Or anything such as that. And what homophobic feelings I had as a youth have pretty much evaporated. And I'm not so sure social pressure for THAT is the sole reason, either. Although it has accelerated the evolution of my social-sexual laissez-faire attitudes, I'd say. (Such anecdotal personal evidence is likely not proof of much.) My suggestion is that if there is such a "natural" reason for homophobia, it's best to research that, lest the entire phenomenon remain misunderstood. There may even be some sort of "aha moment" within reach which could be triggered leading to personal transformations which reduce the incidence of this thing (homophobia).

Dogmudgeon said...

Rob's comment, which appears as #3 on my browser, tried it and was informed that "Mormons don't gamble!"

Well, World-Famous Mormon Mitt Romney does, and one of his first big campaign gaffes was proposing a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry in a televised debate.

The device of using a bet isn't to convert all who enter the wager. It is best used to get wingnuts off one's hind quarters and, in public circumstances, to humiliate bullies.

"Educational" bets are best made in friendly arguments for trivial payoffs, like the one-dollar bet comic device in the movie Trading Places.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

I have often wondered if there is some biological or evolutionary reason for male homophobia specifically. Again, it's not to justify anything: I have a lot of instincts which I rightfully suppress, such as an impulse to kill people who make me angry! Or seize food when I'm very hungry.


How many of our deeply-engrained biological tendencies are left over from a time--almost all of human history until VERY recently--when the need to widely poulate was of great importance for survival. With seven billion humans on the planet, I see no reason to concern oneself with people finding non-procreative outlets to slake their sexual urges without creating children each time. In the past, that wasn't always the case.

Certainly much SOCIAL pressure to not "waste" sexual energy in non-procreative modes comes from the ancient need to keep the tribe viable. Perhaps some of the biological pressure likewise originates with that sort of thing.

And I've always suspected that social mores against "spilling one's seed" come from the past when the mechanics of reproduction weren't fully understood, and it might be suspected that bestiality could actually produce human/animal hybrids; and masturbation might produce any number of strange misshapen products of wild "seed" growing on its own. In that light, disgust with male homosexuality might well be related to the fear of impregnating men.

Jumper said...

Nothing I've seen from biology, bonobos, etc., has explained what I mean. Oh, sure, fear of BEING gay might be definitely an impulse leading to reproductive success. But I didn't mean that. I meant the hostility. In fact, as comedians have noted, the more gay guys, the greater my chances with women, etc. And it doesn't explain why so many men give gay women a pass; they don't mind it at all.

My hypothesis could in fact be completely wrong. Homophobia could be all socially-tribally implanted, like many believe.

Part of my hypothesis is related to a realization I had about my own young puritanical streak. It is often "blamed" on parents, and "repressive" mores, and I sort of thought so when I looked back on my young self but later I began to suspect that my own young disinclination to be sexual was an innate sort of artifact of human neoteny (which certainly does have evolutionary advantages.) Which naturally one then outgrows. I then wondered if homophobia was somehow related to that phenomenon, i.e., equally innate.

Rob said...

The device of using a bet isn't to convert all who enter the wager. It is best used to get wingnuts off one's hind quarters and, in public circumstances, to humiliate bullies.

In this particular election contest, there were the usual retirees on homesteader exemptions (no voter approved taxes charged to their property) urging a no vote, along with the few who never want to pay a tax. And one really pernicious wingnut.

Anonymous said...

David,
According to the BBC, you may to revisit your wager on TARP: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17864566