Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Optimism, Pessimism, and Hypocrisy

Maintaining the image of two alien races, unable to even ponder learning from each other, a site maintained by Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal called “Red Feed, Blue Feed” claims to present Liberal Facebook vs Conservative Facebook rants side by side… and let YOU decide! 

At a glance, it clearly supports the Fox narrative, that we must choose between extreme narratives(!!!) And heaven-forbid actually negotiating with each other, finding middle ground like adults. 

This dichotomy-of-demonization is how politics -- one of our civilization's key problem-solving methods, along with free markets and individual endeavor -- has been deliberately killed in the United States. And it reveals the foremost (among many) reason why Rupert Murdoch is the principle enemy of any calm, rational and grownup American republic.

Let me restate that to be clear. If you believe the sole Murdochian agenda is to support an ever-more extreme confederate right-wing, then you only perceive the surface. Sure, the lobotomization of American conservatism commanded by Rupert and Clear Channel svengalis certainly did lead to today's frothing, hydrophobic GOP phenomenon. 

But no. The actual purpose is made clear by Red Feed, Blue Feed.

To destroy politics as an pragmatic, grownup American approach to negotiating and resolving new solutions to onrushing 21st Century problems. Stop focusing only on surfaces and slogans! Look at the actual, actual effects.   

The opposite of the Murdochs is not eloi liberalism, that is now rife with its own cynical dogmatists.  The opposite of crippling pessimism is...

When Did Optimism Become Uncool? In the New York Times, Gregg Easterbrook, author of “The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse,” points out the corner into which we’ve painted ourselves, emphasizing and exaggerating bad news while frenetically ignoring any good. An irony since the latter arguably far outweighs the former. 

Subjectively - to heed all the carping and grousing from every end of the spectrum - we are in terrible times, with a “glass” that is nearly empty. Objectively, the glass turns out to be significantly more than half full.

Easterbrook writes, “Job growth has been strong for five years, with unemployment now below where it was for most of the 1990s, a period some extol as the “good old days.” The American economy is No. 1 by a huge margin, larger than Nos. 2 and 3 (China and Japan) combined. Americans are seven times as productive, per capita, as Chinese citizens. The dollar is the currency the world craves — which means other countries perceive America’s long-term prospects as very good.
“Pollution, discrimination, crime and most diseases are in an extended decline; living standards, longevity and education levels continue to rise. The American military is not only the world’s strongest, it is the strongest ever. The United States leads the world in science and engineering, in business innovation, in every aspect of creativity, including the arts. Terrorism is a serious concern, but in the last 15 years, even taking into account Sept. 11, an American is five times more likely to be hit by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist.
"Is the middle class in dire straits, as Mr. Sanders contends? Yes, inflation-adjusted middle-class household income peaked in 1998 and has dropped slightly since. But during the same period, federal income taxes on the middle class went down, while benefits went up. Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution has shown that when lower taxes and higher benefits are factored in, middle-class buying power has risen 36 percent in the current generation.
“Is American manufacturing in free fall, as Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump assert? Figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis show industrial output a tad below an all-time record level, while nearly double the output of the Reagan presidency, another supposed golden age. It’s just that advancing technology allows more manufacturing with fewer workers — a change unrelated to foreign competition.”
To be clear, while I agree with most of Easterbrook’s points, and even with much of what the king of optimism - Peter Diamandis - says in his book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, that does not make me a Pollyanna without deep and fretful worries!

  It is not their lack of purchasing power that is demolishing the American middle class, but their perception that they’ve lost their central standing in American life.  To Trump supporters, the blame falls on rising immigrants.  To anyone sensible, it is blatantly because an uber-oligarchy has seized the reins, using lies like Supply Side “economics” to justify their hell-bent drive toward feudalism.
To re-parse Easterbrook’s point, things aren’t anywhere near as bad as we’re saying in mass media today… but they are nowhere near as good as they’d be if, say, high-velocity money were circulating through excellent middle class jobs repairing a decaying U.S. infrastructure… a flow vastly more (obviously) beneficial than trillions in outright gifts to the rich have been, since Reagan. 

And of course, that is exactly why the Republican Congress refuses to fund infrastructure repair.
Read the original article. Especially where Easterbrook lays into liberals for buying into these sick-alluring pessimism trips: “while addressing issues such as inequality, greenhouse emissions and the condition of public schools — will require optimism. Pessimists think in terms of rear-guard actions to turn back the clock. Optimists understand that where the nation has faults, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Easterbrook concludes, “The lack of optimism in contemporary liberal and centrist thinking opens the door to Trump-style demagogy, since if the country really is going to hell, we do indeed need walls. 

"And because optimism has lost its standing in American public opinion, past reforms — among them environmental protection, anti-discrimination initiatives, income security for seniors, auto and aviation safety, interconnected global economics, improved policing and yes, Obamacare — don’t get credit for the good they have accomplished.”
Recently Warren Buffett said that because of the “negative drumbeat” of politics, “many Americans now believe their children will not live as well as they themselves do. That view is dead wrong: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.”

Of course, one of the key books to arm you simmering optimists, so that you can finally rise up in rage and take back civilization from cynics of both right and left, is Stephen Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.  You will come away filled with righteous wrath against those who are weakening our can-do spirit, just when humanity seems on the verge of solving so many problems.

Oh, and a final note for this section: Nicolas Gruen on Adam Smith: “Smith was the original theorist of my subject—emergent public goods—explaining how language, culture and markets are all public goods; how they are an emergent property of life itself.  (Later, by design, we got) new largely government provided public goods enhancing public order, financial stability, scientific knowledge, public health, transport , communications and standards like weights and measures.” - Nicholas Gruen is Head of Lateral Economics, based in Melbourne. 

== Those who thrive on ultimate pessimism ==

I’ve long maintained that we should encourage the “henchman effect”… where villainous cabals are ruined from within, when some lackey gets fed-up and decides to tell-all. The Panama Papers leak is a major recent example.  Many would cite Edward Snowden. Better legislation could entice whistleblowers down pathways that both protect and offer the benefits of orderly due process.

Is the Alt-Right for real? The latest example worth pondering came when Colin Lokey confessed to Bloomberg that he had been running a supposedly populist online site called Zero Hedge that was actually a front for two wealthy financial analysts.  “Lokey was required to push certain basics: “Russia=good. Obama=idiot. Bashar al-Assad=benevolent leader. John Kerry= dunce. Vladimir Putin=greatest leader in the history of statecraft.” 

For Zero Hedge, Syria was a special obsession, a sign of the essential strength of authoritarian regimes and the weakness of democracies. (e.g. “Putin Is Winning the Final Chess Match with Obama.”)  In other words, ballsy-blatant propaganda to discourage citizens believing in themselves or our democratic Great Experiment.

(In fact, this cult of Putin-worship is hilarious.) 

This article by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (from the New Yorker) talks about the layers under Zero-Hedge. Uber-rich dudes who got their lucre parasitically, attempting to rile the rabble while skulking behind a populist mask, with Lokey as their ghost-writer… all of it in a core element of the movement that’s been called “alt-right” — which cranks the Limbaugh-Fox ethos to Trumpist levels and then beyond, to open and overt racism. Alt-right exists mostly online, and so it is shrouded in pseudonyms, but I know some of them personally and have found that their agenda goes all the way to weird — not just contempt for democracy and all its tainted works, but nostalgia for royalty! Yes, for kings n’ such.

The article hits things on the head, when it blames some of the raging assholery on a giggling eagerness to discover what they can get away with, like extolling Holocaust themes. But the drives go deeper. Both bored and resentful of the generous, gentle civilization that gave them everything, these fellows go beyond insipid ingratitude and hatred of fact-based innovations like science. Their deepest motivation is masturbatory fantasy. Knowing that a few males in the past got such things, they envision themselves owning harems, and draw consolation by declaring hatred of the kindliness and generosity they grew up in, but that now prevents them from enslaving nubile females and getting their due.

Of course, anyone who has met some of these fellows knows the truth.  That none of them would be post-apocalyptic kings… or top dogs in a dog-eat-dog world. Nor would they even likely become bitches. In truth, only one word describes what their role would be, these pimply-dreamy-whining ingrates.  Kibble.

And more....

Abortion rates have dropped dramatically in the past 25 years to historic lows in wealthy countries, but dipped only slightly in poorer developing nations, according to a global study published recently.  In other words… if you generously help to uplift poor women, the problem begins to solve itself. Educated and confident and empowered, they need or demand abortion with ever-greater rarity.

This incremental reduction is anathema to those who need the abortion issue as their one claim at moral high ground. It only reinforces their demand for total prohibition because “even one is too many.”  

Only… in that case why is every single abortion-limiting piece of legislation recently passed in Red America … incremental?  Nibbling at the credentials of abortion providing clinics and forcing women to drive farther, but having very little effect on rates? Sometimes hypocrisy lies in such details.

In Business Insider, Nick Hanauer reports on a new study of “78 years of minimum-wage hikes have produced zero evidence of the "job-killing" consequences headline writers want us to fear.”  See: Raise Wages, Kill Jobs? Seven Decades of Historical Data Find No Correlation Between Minimum Wage Increases and Employment Levels.  


89 comments:

Treebeard said...

One would think that if things are so evidently better than ever, there wouldn't be that much need to convince people of that by the Good Elites, and the Bad Elites wouldn't have much success in propagating their big lies. It sounds like the old Marxist “false consciousness” idea, that the proles don't really know what's good for them, and need to be liberated from the propaganda of the Bad Elites so they can do what is best for them, according to the Good Elites. The problem arises when the proles decide that the Good Elites' program isn't so good after all (see Brexit), which drives the Good Elites into a panic and makes them double down on their anti-Bad propaganda.

I wrote out a whole post about why people might feel worse while life gets “better”, but it's not that complicated. Just look around and ask: does this look like the best culture and do these look like the best people of all times to you? If things are so great, why are so many people so disheveled, degenerate, pathological, depressed, addicted, atomized, hostile, lost and living in techno-cocoons? Where is the greatness in this? How does one even measure greatness in your models?

Anonymous said...

e.garth anonymously writes:

I am a shy and personally deeply pessimistic person. To deal with the stress of being pessimistic I have always tried to pay attention to the actual facts. Even with my predisposition to despair the nearest term 'too big to solve' problem is the eventual expansion of the sun into a red giant. Everything else that I can think of is something that can either be adequately solved or is ultimately existential ('why can't I live forever and have everything?', for example).

It used to be that people died because there was not enough food. But for most, if not all, of my life everyone who went to bed hungry was either into extreme dieting or was hungry because of a decision that some well-fed person somewhere had made. Pinker's "Better Angels of our Nature" documents the world-wide pan-cultural reduction in violence that our species has achieved. Even television, classically defined as a 'vast wasteland', has more good programs than ever before. Things are still far from perfect, there is a lot of work yet to be done, but we have definitely reached the point in human history when it has become apparent that everyone really can pretty much mostly have a generally good life. It is very puzzling that so few people seem to grasp this.

Diane Meyer said...

Treebeard, I would like to see your list. I believe that some things look good on the surface, but underneath one can see the pain. In the 50's (racism and other obvious things aside), one person could work and earn enough to get a house and a car, and now,two people have to have more than one job each, and then might still need food stamps. People are often just one paycheck away from disaster. They have stuff,but bought on credit. Infrastructure is falling apart due to Republican lack of funding. And climate change of course is hovering, waiting to strike big time. I think that some things, like our consciousness toward other beings, human and animal, has improved world-wide.

donzelion said...

Carried over from last post -

@Paul451 - "Does anyone know if the major international trade treaties and their groups (such as the WTO) have specific wording that would, in effect, forbid such seizures of assets?"

WTO does not. TPP, and most modern free trade agreements do contain wording where companies could compel a country that attempted to nationalize assets to enter arbitration (usually, they have to sue a country in that country's own courts - you can guess how well that plays out). But read through my scenario (yes, I know it's verbose - so are most real world complex schemes) - you'll find the problem isn't the "declare it or lose it" - but that the same asset gets declared many different times by many different people - and the only way to parse actual ownership is enormously costly and time consuming.

And the particular scam I referred to is many decades old (if not centuries).

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass (also from previous post) - "I followed your example and it seems to me to depend on finding a bank that will loan money to X Corp without demanding any collateral."

In the story, the owner of X Corp has $10 million in collateral; the three scammers together have $30 million among them, which is actually pretty large for a $100 million purchase. 10:1+ leverage isn't uncommon at that end of the game. The point of the story was to probe the limitations of transparency: by converting a simple "declare title" story into a complex one, then profit from it - transparency cannot resolve that problem (and the kind of transparency required would involve listening into the golf games of the three scammers).

But note also that for this end of real estate, "the world is going to hell, you must buy a place in my gated community to be safe - and if you do, it'll make you even richer" is a sales approach.

Paul451 said...

David, quoting Easterbrook,
"The American economy is No. 1 by a huge margin, [...]
Americans are seven times as productive, per capita, as Chinese citizens.
[...] middle-class buying power has risen 36 percent in the current generation.
[...] industrial output [is] nearly double the output of the Reagan presidency,"


"One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not quite the same."

The issue isn't perception. For half a century after the FDR reforms, US household incomes roughly matched US growth. Under Supply-Side, that apparent connection ("What's good for America is good for Americans - and vice versa") was broken.

The US is highly prosperous when you look at overall economic figures, but when you look at median households (or third quintiles thereof), you don't see the same prosperity. The people of America are falling further and further behind the country of America.

That's what people are feeling. That's what they intuitively know. And that's why they are looking for someone to blame. It's just that, as always, those at the top know how to direct that broad anger downwards and outwards. Towards people even poorer, and towards out-groups. And so people keep voting for the very elites that hurt them.

I can't even imagine the progress the US could have if it had the same income distribution pattern that it had before Reagan, let alone the one before Nixon. That America would make this America look like a third-world country.

"Colin Lokey"

Loki? Really? Nominative determinism in action.

--

Aside: Speaking of Loki. I haven't read the Thor comics, but one of the things that always bothered me about the recent Marvel movie series is that Loki isn't a proper trickster. I mean, yes he's depicted as a back-stabbing schemer, and he has illusionary powers, but the mythical Loki is a trickster-god, like Coyote and Crow and the biblical Serpent; they aren't just dull villains, they enjoy the chaos. The movie Loki is just a dull, scheming coward. The (DC) Joker has more trickster characteristics than (Marvel's) Loki.

There was a scene in the first Avengers movie where Black Widow does her reverse-interrogation thing on Loki, tricking him into revealing a piece of his plan. A real "trickster" would find such deception delightful, begged her to join him ("I can teach you so much", "I've already learned all I need from you"), and then it turns out his "accidental" revelation is the trigger for the chaos that follows ("Lesson one. [manic laugh]"). The mix of menace and amusement, the uncertainty of never knowing if he's making it up as he goes alone or enacting a deep plan, the sheer joy of being bad.

For webcomic fans, Coyote (the native American trickster-god) from Gunnerkrigg Court is a well crafter trickster-god.

Paul451 said...

"well crafted"

Lloyd said...

Good, if a bit hyper article, David.
Just one thing, Job Growth BACK to 1990 levels with a MUCH reduced average wage, (hence the cry to increase the Min???), isn't all it seems to be cracked up to be. Sort of like a mafioso fighting the concrete overshoes to the surface and screaming "SEE!".
All it takes is a blue-collar experience to sort of say.. "uh???" at that to deflate much of the rest.
Screaming "IT'S STOPPED GETTING WORSE!" is a rough way to sell Optimism. given the current political choices.

Howard Brazee said...

The word "cool" is related to being unenthusiastic and laid back.

As a SF fan, I can't get excited about family space ships going from a Moon colony to a Mars colony the way I used to.

Lots of people gain power by finding excuses for our problems. They can sell Muslims, druggies, welfare queens, atheists, people from the other party, satan, the debt, people of other races, people of other cultures, porn, or whatever as why we don't feel that we are in control.

Jeff B. said...

Paul451,

Marvel-Loki seems to resemble Loki of mythology only from the later stages of the Norse myth cycles, say from the death of Baldr on: bitter, caustic, malevolent, and definitely less interesting; the earlier Loki was a true mischief maker, and helped the gods as often as he tricked them.

Marvel's Loki is a lot like that one-dimensional late-myth Loki. A better comic trickster might be Mr. Mxyzptlk, who seemed to exist only to torment Superman.

Robert said...

It actually seems to depend on the writer. Some of the incarnations of Loki are far more the Trickster than others. Some do seem to be the Devil that Ragnarok turned him into (which does make me wonder if Ragnarok was the Christianization of Norse myth, by killing off all the Gods and having a Devil-figure (in the form of Loki). Though it also seems the Norse storytellers gave Loki a decent reason to go nuts. I mean, the whole being chained to the earth and having a snake drip venom into his eyes thing.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Our confederate romantics have been taking their vitamins. Treebeard (notice I use his full name) was a cogent critic, striving hard (by his own lights) to make logical arguments against optimism. Of course his entire edifice is based upon the notion that “so many people so disheveled, degenerate, pathological, depressed, addicted, atomized, hostile, lost and living in techno-cocoons”…

When by any measure, Americans in particular are healthier, more vigorous and yes more relaxed than they have ever been. Just the spectacular effusion of pastimes and hobbies shows that we are neither decadent nor depressed. I keep pointing to this but these guys cannot grok it, so they refuse to even ponder it.

Nor do they ever read accounts of life in the past or what historians and anthropologists say about the grinding, hopeless misery endured by nearly everyone… including the lords whom these guys so envy and wish to emulate.

Are some large fraction of our fellow citizens in a surface froth of sanctimony-addiction? Sure. Treebeard’s accusing me of holding a “false consciousness” ideation is probably the smartest thing he has said in all his time here! In that it is an accusation I’d be dishonest not to ponder, seriously…. since patronizing smugness is an all-too common trait of intellectuals.

I’ll think about that… though my very honesty in admitting the possibility is also inconsistent with the possibility… still…

And yet, I am not accusing a majority of Americans of giving up on tomorrow. It is confederate males who have ALWAYS had that attitude! The other pessimists… lefties… rage their dour rants for an entirely different reason! NOT because they rub their hands in gleeful contemplation of doom, but because they do think tomorrow can be better! But foolishly think that only chiding can motivate us to go there.

Similar gloom… very different etiologies.

David Brin said...

Diane Meyer, your rose-colored view of the 1950s may be simplistic. Please look up the reasons why LBJ and ML King came up with the War on Poverty. Try looking at images of Appalachia then and now. Mississippi then and now. Watts then and now. Our standards have risen faster than the poor have, sure. But the poor have risen.*

Better yet, see this reply of mine to the right’s romantic vision of the 1950s:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/10/was-1957-america-better-than-today.html

Lloyd & Paul… I am not saying some things aren’t worse! We have a fight on our hands and if we don’t perform a Rooseveltean reset we will be in big trouble. But the ingredients are in place. We just need a Congress and President willing to mix them and stir.

(*I apologize to Diane for the tone of my initial, rash response.)

bookmanpc said...

"We just need a Congress and President willing to mix them and stir."
Agreed David but the time of that may have come and gone with Jimmy Carter. Pessimistic? Perhaps but a problem has to be identified first to be solved. And solved in this case will require French Strike style reactions first even to moderate.

reason said...

David,
I am very suspicious of people who use "household income" to compare now to then. Does leisure time (or household production time) have no value? Household income can go up while wage rates go down.

greg byshenk said...

Though I would agree that things are indeed improving, one thing that looking at the figures cited above misses -- and what may be driving the feelings of many people -- is growing insecurity. There are good things about increasing flexibility, but insecurity -- with many even middle-class families only a paycheck or two away from serious economic trouble, combined with the fact that many have (or feel) very little certainty that they will continue to receive their paychecks -- can be extremely wearing over time. And it seems that no one in the "establishment" wants even to recognize this, let alone have any ideas of how to deal with it.

atomsmith said...

> The actual purpose is made clear by Red Feed, Blue Feed.

> To destroy politics as an pragmatic, grownup American approach to negotiating and resolving new solutions to onrushing 21st Century problems.

But why would he want to do this? Isn't it just a side-effect of his actual purpose: to make money?

Anonymous said...

Middle ground might be easier to find when the majority ran through the same experience of World War II, consumed the same TV shows, consumed the same cars, and well kept up with the Joneses, all agreed en-mass that car-sitting was in, walking and mass transit out, that far-flung sprawl was in, and urban living out. Hardly an individual endeavor when the herd moves so. And the free market? History contradicts; the 90% tax on the wealthy granted much less freedom than today, the Texas Railroad Commission heavily regulated oil prices, the opposite of the free market price swings seen today, Trucking was heavily regulated until Carter tipped that load and now what does the free market pay those truckers?

Cherry picking stats on the economy swings both ways: wages stagnate, to attempt to retire one must shovel earnings off to gamblers on Wall Street (yeah, about servicing those pensions…), the precariat are a thing (they voted recently on an isle, and down under, and why Trump and Sanders if business as usual is such a swell choice?), the middle class is shrinking, entrepreneurship is declining, and road deaths—especially for vulnerable users—are up. Infrastructure? America has painted itself into an stroad-strewn corner; see Strong Towns for contrary views to the just-build-infrastructure-and-burn-Carbon-like-its-1960 view. Bicycle lanes, sidewalks, and shade trees are rather more affordable, but, alas, do not much suit the car-sitting habits of some, so are fought tooth and nail: the so-called "war on cars", in which Matthew von Ohlen is run down by some car sitter and in response NYPD cops take to ticketing cyclists for not having a bell. This is things going well?

As for "spectacular effusion of pastimes and hobbies", well, not when they're stuck with the car-sitting that so many Americans enjoy:

http://cityobservatory.org/how-sprawl-taxes-our-well-being/

And have you even read anything from history at all? The Iroqui in "A Basic Call to Consciousness" or the tales from Ishi paint quite a different picture than griding misery in their lives—well, up until your scions of Smith arrived on the scene.

Carl M. said...

You need to look at this month's Atlantic Monthly. "How American Politics Went Insane." A pretty compelling case that we have had too much reform.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/how-american-politics-went-insane/485570/

(I can think of other alternatives to reign in the insanity, such as Range Voting. But as long as we have the current electoral system, we might just need some pork and smoke filled rooms. Overly tight restrictions on direct public donations has been a disaster.)

Jumper said...

The arguments against sprawl are so true. Many urban planners have a bad prediction about how it's all unsustainable: that is, the infrastructure literally can't be maintained once it becomes subject to wear and tear.
North Carolina used to have a system whereby a city could annex surrounding unincorporated territory once the city grew to encompass it. This struck me as unfair, but my thinking has turned 180 degrees since then. Called "white flight" for a long time, it's also about tax avoiders. People in England have noted they think our system is insane; theirs does not enable people to just use the city in the daytime and flee it at night and pay no taxes for its benefits they're using.
In any case the radicals in the NC statehouse passed legislation so cities can't annex anymore.

donzelion said...

@Atomsmith - But why would [Murdoch] want to do this [destroy politics as a pragmatic approach to resolving problems] ? Isn't it just a side-effect of his actual purpose: to make money?

A fair question, but bear in mind, the purpose behind Murdoch's enterprise is not just (1) to make money, but also (2) to keep money.

Most importantly, to keep money that doesn't exist yet. Many billionaires would see their fortunes evaporate if put to close, regulatory scrutiny. They can concoct all sorts of schemes, but a functional government mechanism can compel them to display what they otherwise prefer not to share (namely: the imperial oligarchs have no clothes). However, those fortunes grew out of a regulatory regime that exists NOW - any change or amendment to that regime in response to the behavior of billionaires will threaten some of their fortunes. Only through functional debate can those amendments be enacted.

Example: Trump pays next to nothing in income tax, and yet claims to have $10 billion. Tax authorities scratch their heads, and try to think how to pin this down for proper tax purposes.

Functional debate: "Hey, we tried A, it didn't work as we planned, so let's amend it with B"..."We can't do B, because of [budget/contravening law/other issues]." "Would C work then? What's in our budget, anyway? Can that budget be changed?"

Dysfunctional debate: "Hey, we tried A, it didn't work as we planned..." "Because you're evil! And stupid! And I will stop your evil if it's the last thing I do! Hey everyone, look how evil those evildoers are..."

donzelion said...

@Carl M - interesting Atlantic Monthly article. I like this quote:

“The idea that Washington would work better if there were TV cameras monitoring every conversation gets it exactly wrong,” the Democratic former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle wrote in 2014, in his foreword to the book City of Rivals. “The lack of opportunities for honest dialogue and creative give-and-take lies at the root of today’s dysfunction.”

A premise which has profound implications for the prospects of sousveillance, and merits some consideration.

But I like this observation even better:

"[Researchers] found that between 25 and 40 percent of Americans...believe that obvious, commonsense solutions to the country’s problems are out there for the plucking. The reason these obvious solutions are not enacted is that politicians are corrupt, or self-interested, or addicted to unnecessary partisan feuding....
Politicians could easily solve all our problems if they would only set aside their craven personal agendas."


This is the illogic that makes it possible for many on the Left to hate Hillary Clinton for no good reason (she's an 'insider' - insiders are evil and cannot be trusted) and love Bernie Sanders (he's an 'outsider' - that means he must be authentic and honest), and for people on the Right to believe Trump will "destroy" or redirect the Republican party (as if that would solve any of their daily problems, the bulk of which originate from businessmen like Trump).

Yet our attention is fixated upon wherever there is the strongest claimant of despair. I despair at what our political process has become, but still have great hopes and optimism for America and the world in spite of that.

LarryHart said...

greg byshank:

Though I would agree that things are indeed improving, one thing that looking at the figures cited above misses -- and what may be driving the feelings of many people -- is growing insecurity.


I certainly agree with that. And health care costs are a big part of insecurity. I can put aside money for retirement or to buffer for temporary unemployment, but the moment I'm unemployed, I lose eligibility for my health care plan. And I can't set aside a couple million to cover the costs that might come up as my wife and I age.

My old conservative buddy used to argue against Obamacare that people are generally happy with the health care they have. I countered that I was quite happy with my current plan, but had no control over whether I would have it tomorrow or next year. So I guess there's happy and there's mostly happy.

donzelion said...

@LarryHart & Greg Byshank - "Though I would agree that things are indeed improving, one thing that looking at the figures cited above misses -- and what may be driving the feelings of many people -- is growing insecurity."

Hmmm...let's try to quantify insecurity (a fools errand, but here goes)...Let's see: how many Americans died of starvation in 2015? How many are likely to do so in 2020? Homelessness is DECLINING in America - but the fear of it appears to be increasing (same with crime stats: total crime has fallen for more than 20 years, but most people FEEL more threatened than ever).

The great insecurity I see growing is an awareness by some people that things they HAVE may be taken from them at any time. Example: Health care costs are UP. So is life expectancy. Surely a longer life spent more aware of the risk of its loss = greater total insecurity. E.g., people who live 10 years after their first heart attack generate 8 years' worth of greater insecurity than people who only lived 2 years after. Yet is that a bad thing?

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard: Things can be getting better while leaving people largely unaware of it. Only some of the things that make life better for us are so obvious that individuals can notice without the tools of statistics and economics. Those who know the tools might be trusted or untrusted by others within the bourgeoisie, making some skeptical of their messages, but that is a different matter. The detection of some social behavior patterns require senses we don’t have from evolution. For example, what is the average number of babies a woman has in her lifetime if she is born and raised in the US? We are equipped by evolution with the senses to detect specific examples around us, but not national averages. There are much more complex things like real income per capita and real income per capita adjusted for product quality that are quite convoluted to detect, but they matter if one asks whether our lives have improved. None of our biological senses can detect such things.

There is also the issue of which standard to use for improvements. Do we use how things used to be in the past? Do we use how things should be by now if everyone had behaved ethically? Do we use how things ACTUALLY were in the past instead of how we THOUGHT they were? Beware of historical arguments where there is doubt about the honesty and professionalism of the historians. Beware of ethical arguments where one measures against the ideals of a utopia.

David’s argument for improvement is based upon historical standards of what was true and on a bit of personal experience since he is old enough to remember. Many of us here are old enough to remember at least the 70’s, so with a few historical sources and personal experience, we can say there has been general improvement. The ‘elites’ with the statistical and economic tools argue that we are better off and our personal experience confirms them.

You appear to be using a standard based more on a comparison to an idealized society. Any ethical flaws within our communities, therefore, are guaranteed to ensure we fail against such a standard. For example, large scale insecurity shouldn’t exist if everyone is better off, right? That is an idealistic assumption. There might be no connection. It might be the case that we ARE better off, but scared of change or scared of losing what we’ve gained. Individual security is far from ensured in a world of creative destruction. It might be the price we pay for now for progress.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: (from last thread)

I’d lean your way regarding mechanization of some low wage jobs except for one problem. We have the freedom to re-engineer the work being done as well as mechanize it. For example, the ‘mailbox’ technology is what it is because of the assumed delivery technology. You can put a mailbox anywhere a human can reach if you assume a human is delivering stuff. Change that assumption and we might be tempted to put the mailbox where the new technology can deliver things or come up with a very different kind of mail box or mail process.

Mechanizing one person’s work might be difficult if one assumes constraints that prevent mechanizing other related work or constraints limiting changes to constraints. Good process engineers don’t make those mistakes. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

I have a general beef with anyone using inflation adjusted wages as a measure of improvement. Whether my adjusted income has held steady or not, what I can buy with each dollar has changed radically in the last generation. Without accounting for the improvement of the quality of what we buy with that income, I sniff skeptically at any article suggesting the middle class has suffered stagnation within my lifetime.

Productivity growth should improve incomes for businesses involved, but that might not map through to the labor they employ for a number of reasons. Only one of those reasons is that people at the top hoard it. One must also consider the possibility at quality improvements in the goods and services we purchase feel like income improvements partially satiating our appetites for wage growth. One must also consider the possibility that a high rate of change in the work environment leaves labor in a poor bargaining position when they argue the skills they acquire at one site apply at the next or from one year to the next. Standardization of processes helps labor bargain for higher wages. Stability of processes does much the same. Does that sound like the common working environment today where the most valuable skill they bring to work is their ability to learn?

donzelion said...

@Alfred - "I have a general beef with anyone using inflation adjusted wages as a measure of improvement."

Ground you and I have covered before, but I cannot recall any resolution. Inflation adjusted wages offer a rough measure, yes, but is there really a better one?

In terms of allocation of wages, I'd say that people at the "top" don't hoard wealth, so much as "create" it (which is how a CEO, with $1/year in 'income' can convert that into impressive wealth), BUT that act of "creation" is seldom "creative" in the same sense as other innovations, and more often, parasitic. There are many ways to convert 'income' into 'wealth' available to those on the inside (my previous lengthy note offered one 'simple' scheme for doing so); they are far less viable for outsiders adopting the same tactics.

David Brin said...

Carl M, I have read Jonathan Rauch's missive on How US politics went insane... and it is a tower of utter drivel. Sorry guys but I will report my appraisal here:
Jonathan Rauch, in The Atlantic, starts with one blatant fact -- the systematic destruction of American politics as our means for negotiating pragmatic solutions to national and world problems. He then proceeds to diagnose the cause, in a stunning pile of wrongheaded rationalizations. Rauch starts by claiming that democrats are in a populist-loopy mess comparable to the frothing frenzy that's happening among republicans.(An assertion that’s already laughable and will prove more so, in coming weeks.)

He further asserts — as a given, requiring no supporting evidence — that democrats share dogmatic responsibility for our current, pathologically dysfunctional Congress.

From those "givens" Rauch then claims that this purportedly universal dogmatic mania is attributable to the recent trend of democratically empowering voters to express their political will, dispensing with middlemen. Oh, I’ll concede that political intermediaries are indeed, prescribed in the Constitution, for some good reasons. And certainly one can point as a symptom to the populist rebellion by Republican voters against their own party’s elites. But the disease itself is entirely different than he portrays.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/how-american-politics-went-insane/485570/

A century ago, the “progressive” states established initiative and referendum systems allowing voters more direct say. Those states (now almost all of them are “blue), have seen mostly positive results. For example, Californians joined voters in Oregon and Washington and many more blue states rebelling against the political caste to banish gerrymandering. Sure, one must be wary - as were the Founders - of surging populist passions. But this is the part of America where tempers have always — back to the Civil War — been moderated by pragmatism. It is states with the least citizen empowerment where we see a revived Confederacy and trumpism. CONTINUED

David Brin said...

CONTINUED ==>
Rauch’s effort to proclaim “both sides are crazy and at-fault!” has become the last ditch rallying cry of American conservatives who cannot bring themselves to admit the obvious. That their side — particularly the TV, radio and web svengalis who stirred illogical and counterfactual populist rage among white males for decades — is the one that is both crazy and at-fault.

History makes this very clear. When there is a Republican president and a Democratic Congress, budget and enabling bills get passed. The President’s agenda is used at the starting point for negotiations. From Nixon to both Bushes, appointments got hearings and were mostly confirmed. Negotiations were tough — but they were negotiated.

In contrast, Democratic presidents always face a state of bilious war from Republican Congresses… with one year - 1995 - as a marked exception, when Speaker Newt Gingrich paused amid the fury of culture war, to negotiate legislation with Bill Clinton, for the good of the nation. (And Gingrich was punished for this by those great role models, Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, John Boehner and Paul Ryan, who jointly declared the “Hastert Rule” — to punish any GOP legislator who dared to negotiate independently with democrats over anything at all, without express permission from Roger Ailes. For Mr. Rauch to suggest that anything even remotely equivalent happened on the democratic side would be dishonesty exponentiated.

Watch for this, boys and girls. Rauch is giving voice to the insidious right wing party line. Unable to pretend any longer that their side is not insane, their agenda is to declare it’s all the people’s fault, and that their opponents are no better. Hence the narrative - without a single smoking gun across 22 years of desperate trawling — of Clintonite “corruption.”

This has nothing to do with classic left or right. Market enterprise always (and I mean always) does better under democrats. As does fiscal responsibility. A better model is phase 8 of the American Civil War…
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/02/past-keeping-faith-with-future-and-day.html

…but no. It truly is as simple as sane versus insane.The Murdochian-right’s outright war on science (along with every other knowledge profession in American life) says it all. Whenever anyone tries the “both sides are the same” malarkey on you, do not accept it! We are in no less a time of critical choice than 1861. And I’ll not abide being called crazy… by lunatics.

matthew said...

It looks like Murdoch's children may finally have their excuse to get rid of Ailes.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/07/has-the-clock-run-out-on-roger-ailes.html

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

We do have
"the freedom to re-engineer the work being done as well as mechanize it"
But as any process engineer will ask "at what cost"
In the long term we could require all mail boxes to be accessible by machine - but if we want to change in the short term we would be talking billions
And the payback period would be centuries - whereas a robot capable of doing that type of job is only decades away

Jobs in a controlled environment (factory) are being mechanized - but slowly as it is expensive
Jobs outside that controlled environment? No way (yet)

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I think a better measure is real income denominated in terms of a basket of things we commonly purchase with the intermediate currencies available to us. The measure is a ratio, thus the intermediate currency divides out. If one leaves out quality improvement by treating it as a thing freely given by competitors vying for our purchases, you get an improvement of about 16x for the average human on the planet from about 1780 to the present. Focus on smaller populations like US citizens and it is more like 37x. Try to invent some way of accounting for quality improvements and things get so fuzzy that the average person may have benefited from somewhere between 100x and 200x with citizens of ‘The West’ closer to 300x.

There is also the not-so-small issue of two types of wealth creation. One comes about through efficiency improvements and contributes a lot to management salaries, but little to the 16x or 37x real income improvements for average people. The other comes about through innovation that fits Schumpeter’s description of creative destruction. Corporate management might benefit from these changes or their companies might be destroyed, but the average person benefits greatly after the innovation soaks into the markets. That low rung benefit might be from increased wages, but could just as easily be from reduced costs for what they commonly purchase.

I love your scam description, by the way. I was tempted to draw a chart with boxes and arrows on it at first, but by the end I could see that the point was to confuse things enough to require judges or arbitration. Any sufficiently convoluted chart should do the trick, so I smiled and put my pen down. You tempt me to annoy my libertarian friends and push them toward secure ID systems for both people and property. Registration of property and blockchain style transactions would put an end to the usefulness of these particular scams. No doubt people will find others, though. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: Heh. Push up minimum wages and you'll see more innovation for mechanization both inside and outside. Also, if I'm putting in a new mailbox or replacing an old one, I might be tempted to do it a new way without any extra expense to me if the folks who want to mechanize delivery motivate me a little bit.

I'm with you on the fact that there are trade-offs. Opportunity costs exist too. Still. Lots of low wage people doing a particular job cost lots of money. If someone can mechanize it at a price lower than the sum cost, it's just a matter of time.

locumranch said...


The 'World is Getting Better & Better' argument conjures up images of 'The Monitors', a 1969 satirical film produced by the SCTV crew, wherein humorless alien marionettes offer humanity social perfection at the price of restriction, regimentation & conformity, mirroring all of those elitist progressive enlightenment types who promise us the same social perfection at the cost of our utter subjugation, submission & enslavement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz4IoF2U_DI


The 'World is Getting Better & Better' argument is an exercise in False Equivalency:

The Pinkerian 'Decrease in Crime' reflects a concurrent decrease in Western Liberty & Individual Autonomy rather the 'Better Angels of Our Nature'; the US Labourer hasn't seen a wage increase since 1974 once we correct for inflation; the 'Velocity of Money' (Vt = nT/M) is just another pseudonym for said Monetary Inflation; and reassuring US Employment Statistics conflate our new shit-paying no-benefit minimum wage service jobs with those extinct high-paying manufacturing jobs which were once responsible for our glorious diamond-shaped society.

And, then, there's an increasingly degraded & acidified environment and an obsolete political narrative which is increasingly divorced from our cultural reality.

Kudos to Treebeard, btw, for citing the False Consciousness canard (a 'No True Scotsman' Fallacy variant?) & summing up the warped worldview of both David & my Blue Urban sibling who reject any opinion contrary to their Blue Urbanite self-interests as 'ignorant', 'foolish', 'incorrect' and 'unenlightened'.

Social Perfection, to the Blue Urbanite, is an eternal, interdependent, unarmed & well-regimented Clockwork City. To the Red Rural libertarian, however, Social Perfection is a series of animated, well-tended, independent & autonomous farms and business which provide maximal individual liberties.


Best

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

I agree "Its a matter of time"
But the middle rank jobs - information and people contacts will be mechanized long before the lower more physical jobs

This is one of the things I always have problems with
It is MUCH easier to replace a manager than a skilled man or an engineer - why then are they paid so much more and treated better?

Management will be easier to automate than any of the jobs underneath

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Meh. What of the blue urban libertarians who think their red cousins have gone insane?

I think you are using the broad brush fallacy. Blue is not a synonym for progressive or socialist or even utopian.

David Brin said...

Atomsmith making money would only explain their dedication to Supply Side and crony theft. It would not explain what we’ve seen, the intense war against all our problem-solving methodologies, from politics to science to competitive capitalism to a cogent and free press. If that happened haphazardly, with mixed outcomes, it might be a result of simple stupidity. But since it has happened systematically and without a single known exception, I am forced to point out that only one explanation fits.
Enemy action.

Yes I am aware that no one has even once ever expressed willingness to follow me down this road. Which even I admit is science fictional and likely a “minority hyposthesis” when it comes to probability.

But the fact that no one will look at the perfect disparity of outcomes and see that it might have been deliberate? No, I am not the crazy one here.

locum: while he is better than normal, he still says many counterfactuals. “'Velocity of Money' (Vt = nT/M) is just another pseudonym for said Monetary Inflation…” Only demonstrates his economics ignorance. Yes, TOO MUCH high velocity money can spur inflation, but they are not the same thing. But the howler is the following strawman:

“Social Perfection, to the Blue Urbanite, is an eternal, interdependent, unarmed & well-regimented Clockwork City. To the Red Rural libertarian, however, Social Perfection is a series of animated, well-tended, independent & autonomous farms and business which provide maximal individual liberties.”

What screeching counterfactual utter romantic made-up twaddle! Enjoy, fellah. But your way minimizes liberty and maximizes feudalism.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

He [Rauch] further asserts — as a given, requiring no supporting evidence — that democrats share dogmatic responsibility for our current, pathologically dysfunctional Congress.


Standard operating procedure for Republicans since Bush, to accuse Democrats of doing what they themselves are really doing. So "everyone knows" that liberals believe in activist judges, while conservative judges just call balls and strikes. Or when Republicans give an ultimatum--"Pass everything we want or we shut that whole thing down", and Democrats don't give into blackmail, it's the Democrats who are putting partisan politics ahead of good governing.

Really, the only response to Republican accusations against Democrats in the 21st century is "I know you are, but what am I?"

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: I’m not convinced managers are all that easy to automate. Middle managers ARE a dime a dozen it seems, but their skills are generally the soft sort for handling people as if they are resources. How does one automate a counseling session on a first time write-up of an employee abusing the time card system by shaving minutes and reporting them and unshaved? How does one automate a performance review? Heh. Color me skeptical.

As for why they are paid more, I’ve worked at places where they aren’t. A star software developer could easily generate 100x the value to the employer compared to their immediate manager. I’ve seen people I would put at about 12x, though they weren’t paid 12x. In terms of wages I’ve seen 2x and maybe even 3x if that one guy wasn’t boasting. Okay, the typical company DOES pay managers more, but that’s probably because managers demand it. If you need a manager and can’t hire someone from across the border, you’ll pay what the local market demands.

If we are arguing over what will happen first, though, then there isn’t much to argue about. One of us will be proven more correct than the other a generation from now, but I don’t mind if I’m proven to be wrong. Sooner rather than later, people will be employed as the humans we are instead of as the machines the early industrial revolution needed. Our relationships with machines will be tight, but we will be doing what they can’t really do. Until Hanson’s Ems appear in the labor market, that is the asymptote for us.

locumranch said...


Alfred asks "What of the blue urban libertarians who think their red cousins have gone insane?", to which I reply 'already answered' by the statement that Blue Urbanites "(reject any opinion contrary) to their Blue Urbanite self-interests as 'ignorant', 'foolish', 'incorrect' (INSANE) and 'unenlightened'".

Finally, I agree that "Blue is not a synonym for progressive or socialist or even utopian". Instead, it is a synonym for Urban & Urbanity reflected by the self-interested creation of an eternal, interdependent, unarmed & well-regimented Clockwork City dependent on cheap, plentiful & undervalued Red Rural resources.

Progressivism is really a misnomer as it refers to 'movement towards' (not to the future but to) an arbitrary ideal, the ideal being the Interdependent Eternal City in the case of the Urban Blues and the ideal being maximal Individual Independence & Liberty in the case of the Rural Reds, so much so that there can be No Progress until the collective 'We' can unanimously agree on the singular goal we wish to 'progress towards'.

Thusly, I offer a humble suggestion:

Let's 'progress' to the Red Rural goal of maximal Individual Independence & Liberty for a change, by allowing rural districts (including farmers, drillers, miners & businesses) to maximise their charges to & reap record profits from the Urban Blues because of non-fungible Blue Urban demands for food, water & fossil fuels.

Then, perhaps, the new breed of Rural Red profiteers will have the opportunity to offer the Urban Blues an exceedingly generous (hehe) 'federal stipend' as compensation for their ongoing financial rape at Red hands because turnabout is fair play.


Best
____
The Velocity of Money (Vt) (aka 'how quickly money changes hands') is defined by the equation Vt = nT/M wherein 'nT = The Nominal Value of All Transactions' (the collected value of all transactions) and M = The Total Average Amount of Money in Circulation in the Economy, allowing governments to collect their fixed tax rate multiplied by 'Vt' and (assuming a Vt greater than +2) generate tax revenues in excess of the total amount of circulating money which causes de facto Inflation by artificially increasing the monetary supply above & beyond M.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Nonsense. Blue urban libertarians aren't big fans of unarmed, regimented cities. Interdependence happens through free markets without regulatory constraints, but there is nothing eternal about them. Creative destruction ensures that.

I don’t typically defend the progressives, but you’ve got that all screwed up too. They DO measure against an ideal, but it is an asymptotic version of what the bourgeois townspeople treat as their system of ethics. It isn’t about towns, though. It’s about virtues that got redefined by free people who lived in towns and wanted a different system than the one imposed by their former feudal lords. They made that change and world markets exploded into productivity.

Red Rural goals aren’t about maximal individual independence and liberty. Look at the Blue Urbans and you’ll find it IF you look for the soft libertarians among them. There are many urban socialists who think they can design a better system and it is they who would create that regimentation you dislike, but they aren’t the whole urban picture. They aren’t even the majority.

You’ve got things backwards.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

summing up the warped worldview of both David & my Blue Urban sibling who reject any opinion contrary to their Blue Urbanite self-interests as 'ignorant', 'foolish', 'incorrect' and 'unenlightened'.


You might not be taking that personally enough.

LarryHart said...

Alfred to locumranch:

You’ve got things backwards.


Always.

Erin Schram said...

Alfred Differ said,
How does one automate a counseling session on a first time write-up of an employee abusing the time card system by shaving minutes and reporting them and unshaved? How does one automate a performance review?

My supervisor essentially managed on autopilot by using a standard form that did not fit the situation. My best guess why she put by me on sick leave restriction for performance problems due to a new illness is that the sick leave restriction was the only performance-related form that used the word, "sick." The reason for paying good management more is that a bad manager can cause a lot of damage.

Paradoxically, based on chaos when people are out sick, an office seems to need the office assistant (we used to call them secretaries) much more than the manager. Explaining and verifying the correct paperwork is the vital soft skill.

But a bigger question is why is the employee on a job where he or she can easily lie about the time worked and anyone would care? Does he or she man a postion that must be covered continuously, such as a night guard, without a supervisor present? That would be a reliability problem, not a timecard problem. I have heard of people fired for time-and-attendence fraud for working 6 hours a day and claiming 8 hours a day for over a year, but mere minutes? Minutes are a rounding error, especially in the fuzzy math where an employee who accomplishes 12 time the average amount of work is paid only twice as much.

But back to the optimism theme. I grew up on a diet of religion and science fiction and acquired a diehard attitude that the proper response to failure is to pick oneself up, perhaps with someone else's helping hand, and try a better solution. When the supervisor mentioned above fired me, my pastor was surprised that I was not anxious. I had six plans to recover before my unemployment insurance ran out, and two of them worked. I am now retired without penalty at age 54 with money in the bank. Once I deal with my drug-resistant diabetes, I should find some volunteer work.

As for the red-blue political divide, six months ago I moved to Tompkins County in New York. The county contains many farms and the college city of Ithaca, and I meet people from both communities. The rural and urban attitudes are in harmony with each other, even politically. Likewise, I have relatives on both sides of the political spectrum, and though the politics differ the underlying values don't. Summarizing political views as a few sound bites or panicking in response to extreme news can make anyone sound like an idiot, but people are people and really do see the complexities.

David Brin said...

locum's clipping a dictionary entry about money velocity does not make him an economist, nor show that he understands what he decisively does not.

Also: "Let's 'progress' to the Red Rural goal of maximal Individual Independence & Liberty for a change" HAr! Diametrically opposite, you nostalgic-regimented lickspittle-obedient slave of oligarchy! Utter-obedient servants who leap to conform to any stupidity their lords command. Like hating on science and every other liberating field of the mind.

Woof woof.. Gooood doggie! You can speak woooords like "Individual Independence & Liberty." Good doggie!

For twenty years no republican dared to break ranks from the most dogmatically purist and disciplined political movement in that nation's history. Stats show that every GOP legislator hewed to party doctrine more rigidly than ever in the span of the republic. If Roger Ailes issued a talking point at 9 am, woe betide any gopper who did not repeat in - verbatim - by 3 pm.

And now Roger Ailes is joining the long chain of perverts. Look it up in today's news guys.

"Individual Independence & Liberty" ? Goood boy! Now roll over. Bark!

Beg.

Robert said...

Given what's going on in Texas... I hope everyone is okay and safe.

Take care.

Rob H.

Paul SB said...

Oh Great Heyokha,

I did not see before, but now I understand - you are the Contrary, the Jester, the one whose words are mirror, who force us to confront ourselves. I worked for many years with the People, and found them to be a rich and varied people, some practical, others filled with romantic notions, and not a few smoldering with anger.

I ask the mirror, would it be wise for 300,000,000 washichu to forsake the cars in which they sit, take to bicycles and pedal to their nearest nature reserve? When the washichu came there were just a few million in all the lands they later called America and Canada (though many times more in the lands of the Mexica). Could they live as the Iroquois lived, that many, on the land that is left, taking to the old ways?

The White Man has had too many children, as have their children, and their children's children. They cannot live as the Red Man once did, for the land cannot feed and succor so many. No doubt few of the White Woman would wish to, knowing that the among the Iroquois, if a man beat his wife she was allowed to kill herself in protest - such was their wisdom and compassion.

You said to our host: "And have you even read anything from history at all? The Iroqui in "A Basic Call to Consciousness" or the tales from Ishi paint quite a different picture than griding misery in their lives" But surely you see that with so many, these tales are but a very small piece of history and a world full of people's tales of their ancestors. Wise followers of history know that tales of the ancestors are always written with a purpose - they are always someone's propaganda. What you learn from them is not the truth of what happened, but the truth of what they want to have happened. Just as many among the washichu pretend that their ancestors of the 1950s were the wisest and most glorious of people, you paint a picture that is not all true, and not all to be believed.

Heyokha, there are among the washichu many who are unhappy with the rapacious ways of their own people, many who would forsake those ways if the land could hold them, but it cannot. Washichu ecologists - among the wisest of those people - have discovered the balance of nature, and many heed their science. There are many more who are deniers. But take hope, for many are changing their ways, many prefer pursuits more wholesome to the spirit than insatiable greed and overwhelming pride. Keep being our mirror, keep playing the Contrary, for there is a time to listen to that voice, and ponder how the crazy wisdom can lead to greater harmony. Most will not hear you, but the numbers grow every day.

locumranch said...



A PRC Chinese graduate student friend-of-mine (who grew up in Beijing living 12 to a room) used to regale me with tales about inconceivably ignorant rural Chinese farmers who thought their crops enriched 'The Emperor' as of 1995, the irony being that these farmers (who were still slaves & serfs) could not differentiate between the triumphant Communists & the defeated Aristocrats because there was NO DIFFERENCE as far as those farmers were concerned.

Likewise, the Bourgeois Gentilhomme repeats his vowels loudly & proudly, braying about the Blue Urban middle class triumph over Feudalism's Aristocracy, while simultaneously arrogating their elitist (authoritative) trousers in the manner of Orwell's democratically elected pigs, the problem being that these piggish jackasses have little or no desire to share this trouser-clad authority & wealth with the other exploited & enslaved Red Rural farm animals.

The Feudal Aristocrats may have been replaced by the EU & US Company Store, yet this is a false distinction to the Rural Reds who are still exploited & enslaved for another's benefit, and the times they are a changing.

So, please: Amuse us, the Rural Reds, with tales of 'How good we've got it' and then feign surprise when the Rural Reds demand their own 'Brexit', insist on fair compensation for their undervalued resources & allow the great Blue cities to be reclaimed by either desert or jungle, all while politically correct pro-globalist jackasses proudly bray 'EU EU EU'.


Best

Erin Schram said...

locumranch, American farmers are not ignorant. Please don't insult them by equating them to oppressed Chinese farmers. My farmer aunts, uncles, and cousins are businessmen. Buying a combine harvester requires a $500,000 loan, so they study finance. And when the Imperial Sugar Company went bankrupt in 2001, a farmer-owned cooperative bought out its Michigan facilities and made the successful Michigan Sugar Company.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

So, please: Amuse us, the Rural Reds, with tales of 'How good we've got it' and then feign surprise when the Rural Reds demand their own 'Brexit',


Go with God. Please.

Unfortunately, I expect more of a "Quebexit", along the lines of "Ok, we're leaving now. No really. This time we mean it, and you'll be sorry...oh, never mind."

LarryHart said...

@Erin Schram, locum follows in the proud tradtion of al-Queada and ISIS, using modern technology to condemn those who use modern technology.

LarryHart said...

From today's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/us/politics/donald-trump-president.html


But the notion of the intensely competitive Mr. Trump’s being more interested in winning the presidency than serving as president is not exactly

a foreign concept to close observers of this presidential race.



Just sayin'

Paul451 said...

Larry,
The idea that Trump secretly doesn't want to be President is the same centrist masturbation as the constantly repeated claim in the same media (including and especially the NYT) that his campaign will collapse... aaaany minute now.

Trump is a con artist. He does this for a living. Making people believe things which aren't true. He has spent decades honing this very craft. It's his only skill.

The Presidency (his version of it) would simply be more of the same. Getting things through Congress? Look at the way the Republican leadership has whored themselves to him.

Paul451 said...

I think the reason the faux-centrist media and their political commentariat are so caught on this meme is that outsiders in politics (especially Republican politics) usually do fall apart after the first wave of success. That's because they've lived in a political bubble, protected from meaningful criticism of their ideas. The moment they get public notice, and then face real criticism, they fall apart. That's why the typical Republican presidential campaign these days tends to have one establishment candidate in second place, with a rapidly changing array of "outsider" candidates in first place, until the last one collapses and the establishment candidate is the only one left standing.

So they've projected that on to Trump. And the longer he's lasted, the more they've looked for a reason why they are somehow still correct.

But Trump does this for a living. He lies as a business model. He's trained himself for decades to do this. (As someone noted a couple of threads ago, he used to keep a book of Hitler's speeches on his bedside cupboard to read each night, to practice populist demagogic speaking skills.

The building Trump lives in has 14 fewer floors than it claims. It's just a straight out lie. It's not a secret, it's public knowledge. And he gets away with it because the people he is selling to care more about the floor number in their address than reality.

Alfred Differ said...

@Erin: I’ve been through enough layoff scenarios to notice that teams who lose managers and office admins usually will turn one of the survivors into the person they need. It is a kind of metamorphosis. From what I’ve seen, the office admin is reproduced first. People who know what they need to do don’t really need a manager around every day if enough of the corporate culture survives to motivate their work. From this, I suspect managers won’t be mechanized/automated, but the work they do will be redefined over the years as other automation tools grow to act as partial agents. With decent agents, fewer humans should be able to manage larger groups. Good Office Admins do things humans do well and are more likely to become human/computer hybrids than they are to be replaced by agents. I may be wrong, but that’s what my crystal ball says. 8)

I agree with you regarding shaving of minutes on timecards. That’s why I chose it. A decent manager will step in while a problem is small and discourage the behavior before it officially becomes fraud. Think of a government contractor who wants an excellent score from their customer to win other contracts. Nipping things in the bud is going to be part of their business strategy. Knowing how to implement that without destroying the people at the lowest level requires some tactical sensitivity on the part of line managers, thus it is a skill likely to remain with human managers instead of automation agents.

The value system you describe is a very bourgeois thing. I argue most of us are largely in agreement with the package with some minor quibbles that get blown out of proportion. True leeches in our system that expects people to pick themselves up as best they can (or ask for local help when they need it) are rare. True aristocrats in our system are even rarer, though there are quite a few wannabees. Political season is that time when we intentionally get nutty about proportional responses so we can decide who governs and for how long, so I I’m not overly worried about the current froth. We will manage peacefully or not-so-peacefully, but we will manage.

Alfred Differ said...

I have no doubt Trump wants to win the Presidency and serve as President. Whether we will see his version of service as actual service is debatable.

I agree that he is a con artist and his supporters are eating it up. I've worked the back rooms of seminar/sales events where people are subjected to multi-hour sales pitches and are then fleeced. I've seen Trump's style and it works well. It's a con, though. Once the charm wears off, the con artist has to be out of town and rich enough to make lawsuits too expensive to be worth launching most of the time. If you fleece someone well enough, they won't sue easily.

If he wins, I'm going to be terribly embarrassed to be an American.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Given what's going on in Texas... I hope everyone is okay and safe.


I hesitate to say what may come across as flippant, but one has to point out hypocrisies when they occur.

Is anyone quibbling over whether the attacks on police in Dallas using the cover of a protest march was inspired by a video or a terrorist attack? Or whether it could possibly be both things?

And why do Cliven Bundy and his thugs have the God-given right to armed resistance against law enforcement, and the FOX crowd is perfectly ok with that?

I deplore the ambushing of police in Dallas. In fact, I'm scared of such things. But I understand where the rage comes from, just as I understand where the tumbrels and guillotine came from. I've never been black, but I have to believe that black people feel under seige in a war. If even following the orders of the police (to get your drivers license) gets you shot dead, what recourse is there?

Serious question--I don't know the answer.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I have no doubt Trump wants to win the Presidency and serve as President. Whether we will see his version of service as actual service is debatable.
...
I've seen Trump's style and it works well. It's a con, though. Once the charm wears off, the con artist has to be out of town


Don't those two assertions argue against each other?

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: I don’t see them arguing against each other. I see him working on a long term con, but the charm will break for some people after they get to see him in office. Once that happens to enough of us, David’s impeachment scenarios come into play whether or not there is Dem support/leadership to take the blame. The GOP establishment will be able to act on a ‘mandate.’

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

The building Trump lives in has 14 fewer floors than it claims. It's just a straight out lie. It's not a secret, it's public knowledge. And he gets away with it because the people he is selling to care more about the floor number in their address than reality.


Can't argue with that. Here in Chicago, the building at 666 Lake Shore Drive petitioned to get its street number changed to 680.

Paul451 said...

The dunes of Mars are trying to tell us something:
https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/lkjv3n6mum8lxcbitj79.JPG

Robert said...

Larry, I just expressed my hopes that everyone who participates in this Blog who might be in a situation where violence could break out are okay.

I did not shed any tears over the slain officers or the injured ones.

What is sad is my father believes this to be the work of ISIS and they are keeping quiet on it because they want to cause a race war. In response I mentioned that the KKK would be a closer organization to be seeking this than ISIS. And my father's view on this is sad because it is essentially an excuse trying to find an outside agent to blame rather than allow this is the result of American citizens being so angry at the government and law enforcement for the continued killing of black men just because they're black that someone decided to retaliate.

When I look at the police, I do not feel safe. I feel fear. I am a grey-haired white man. I am about as far away from a target of police brutality as you can get... and I am scared of the police. When I heard about the attack I was coldly cynical and thought to myself "it took longer [to happen] than I expected."

When the police are looked at in fear, anger, and disgust, it is time for a massive reform effort. And they will fight tooth and nail against these reforms. Indeed, my more Randian Libertarian brethren may be correct that it is time to privatize the police, eliminate police unions, and dismantle the existing law enforcement organizations. Because what we currently have? Isn't working.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Once that happens to enough of us, David’s impeachment scenarios come into play whether or not there is Dem support/leadership to take the blame. The GOP establishment will be able to act on a ‘mandate.’


It would be incredibly ironic if the Republican Party gets credit for saving us from President Trump.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I did not shed any tears over the slain officers or the injured ones.


Wow!

I said I understood where the tumbrels and guillotines came from, but I didn't think we were there yet.

Might as well re-post some narration from "A Tale of Two Cities" :


> Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but
-> desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade
-> of grain, was as shriveled and poor as the miserable people.
-> Everything was bowed down, dejected, oppressed, and broken.
-> Habitations, fences, domesticated animals, men, women,
-> children, and the soil that bore them--all worn out.
->
-> Monseigneur (often a most worthy individual gentleman) was a
-> national blessing, gave a chivalrous tone to things, was a
-> polite example of a luxurious and shining life, and a great
-> deal more of equal purpose; nevertheless Monseigneur as a class
-> had, somehow or other, brought things to this. Strange that
-> Creation, designed expressly for Monseigneur, should be so soon
-> wrung dry and squeezed out! There must be something
-> short-sighted in the eternal arrangements surely! Thus it
-> was, however; and the last drop of blood having been extracted
-> from the flints, and the last screw of the rack having been
-> turned so often that its purchase crumbled, and it now turned
-> and turned with nothing to bite, Monseigneur began to run away
-> from a phenomenon so low and unaccountable.



-> This dialogue had taken place at Mr. Lorry's usual desk, with
-> Monseigneur swarming within a yard or two of it, boastful of
-> what he would do to avenge himself upon the rascal-people before
-> long. It was too much the way of Monseigneur under his reverses
-> as a refugee, and it was too much the way of native British
-> orthodoxy, to talk of this terrible Revolution as if it were
-> the one only harvest under the skies that had not been sown--
-> as if nothing had ever been done, or omitted to be done, that
-> had led to it--as if observers of the wretched millions in
-> France, and of the misused and perverted resources that should
-> have made them prosperous, had not seen it inevitably coming,
-> years before, and had not in plain words recorded what they saw.
-> Such vapouring, combined with the extravagant plots of
-> Monseigneur for the restoration of a state of things that had
-> utterly exhausted itself, and worn out Heaven and earth as well
-> as itself, was hard to be endured without some remonstrance by
-> any sane man who knew the truth.

Robert said...

What, it becomes scary when an otherwise kindly and decent person turns his back on an entire profession because they have goosestepped behind the Republican Party into insanity and cruelty?

Rob H.

Robert said...

Oh, and I should specify: not all cops.

The good cops are often the ones who try to whistleblow on their corrupt and evil brethren and end up fired and otherwise disenfranchised.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:


What, it becomes scary when an otherwise kindly and decent person turns his back on an entire profession because they have goosestepped behind the Republican Party into insanity and cruelty?


I wasn't aware that cops are behind the Republican Party. Maybe because I've lived in Chicago, where mayors have been Democrats since before I was born. And police are generally unionized, while Illinois's current Republican governor is trying to de-fund their pensions.

Sure, Republicans are the "law and order" party, but they're also the anti-government party who wants guns so that they can shoot back at the authorities. I don't think cops are big fans of the NRA.

Duncan Cairncross said...

The US Cop problem

Your cops are by UK (and NZ) standards underpaid and under-trained

Cops in the UK get a LOT more training
A lot of them have degrees and the pay is about the same as a graduate engineer

The USA needs to invest a lot more money in paying and training the police

Police Unions
In some ways a Union is like a canary in a coal mine - it gives warning about when things are going wrong
In a well run operation the union becomes the body that organizes the annual workers Blackpool trip
Because there is nothing else for it to do!
When a union becomes visible that is a big red flashing light indication that that organization's MANAGEMENT is screwing up by the numbers

The US Police Unions are very visible - THAT tells me that your police management structure and system is NOT WORKING

David Brin said...

Police unions are nervously on the fence. By cultural leanings they would be more Republican. But the NRA... and Clinton's support for cops thru the 1990s... chipped away at that.

The narrative that it's not only lower middle class whites who have armed themselves with both guns and fantasies about opposing government authority-oppressors... this is gonna be swallowed hard.

locumranch said...


The targeted assassination of US police officers reflects the breakdown of representative government on its most basic level & leaves little room for social optimism.

US police officers have the best of intentions. Most do possess college law enforcement degrees (but not Ivy League educations); and, as they are 'of the people' (recruited from local citizenry) & they are empowered 'by the people' to enforce the people's will, most are the closest thing to representative local government that any polity can hope for.

Unfortunately, our culture has descended into the final stages of centralised social schizophrenia & it blames an increasingly demonised police force for attempting to enforce society's increasingly schizophrenic will, so much so that no deed (good or ill) can go unpunished.

This is Catch-22 written large. Either way, the police are portrayed as heartless stormtroopers if they do their jobs & interpose themselves in an effort to prevent mostly minority (and/or poverty) specific violence OR if they fail to do their jobs & FAIL to interpose themselves in the midst of what amounts to a poverty-dependent (and/or minority-on-minority) domestic squabble.

The solutions to these social system failures are few & problematic:

(1) The police can militarize, don 'Union Kepis' & impose Martial Law as they have in France & Turkey;
(2) The police can disengage (Go Galt) as they have in most of Latin America; or
(3) The police can balkanise, abandon federalism & return to the dispensation of local justice in accordance with the local will of the people.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Unfortunately, our culture has descended into the final stages of centralised social schizophrenia & it blames an increasingly demonised police force for attempting to enforce society's increasingly schizophrenic will, so much so that no deed (good or ill) can go unpunished.


The deeds which are going punished are those that at least (on video) appear to be executions of subdued suspects. The most recent one wasn't even resisting--he was following the policeman's order to retrieve his license, and for that was shot dead in front of his fiancee, all of which stemmed from a non-violent broken taillight. What "will of the people" do you see reflected there?

LarryHart said...

@locumranch, as our host might say, that was one of your more cogent posts. The only point I take issue with is that police are being punished for doing what society asks them to do. I put it to you that the latest black victim of police shooting in Minnesota was the one punished for doing exactly what the police asked of him.

I'm not advocating the targeted killing of policemen--not even in the manner of tacit nod-wink support while saying otherwise. That is not an appropriate response. Having agreed on that, what do you suggest is an appropriate response from people who feel at risk in any encounter with police? As the most recent case demonstrated, even the fallback "Do everything the officer orders you to do, and do so politely" isn't enough to prevent an execution.

So what do you suggest as an appropriate response? Just sit back and accept it? Cliven Bundy doesn't do that, and he's a folk hero for it. The NRA position is that guns are to be used to resist a tyrannical government. Does that apply only to white people?

LarryHart said...

If 'twere up to me, the tumbrels and guillotines would not be out for the police or for the peaceful protestors, but for the likes of Illinois congressman Joe Walsh who tweets things like "Watch out, Obama. Watch out Black Lives Matter. Real America is coming for you!"

If the Dallas sniper were white, he'd be asserting that the guy is a lone wolf and not reflective of any political ideology, but since he's black, the blame for his actions falls not on himself, nor on the perpetrators of the blatant injustice that set him off, but on those who protest the blatant injustice that set him off.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "And now Roger Ailes is joining the long chain of perverts. Look it up in today's news guys."

In Donald Trump's world, one is guilty as soon as one is accused IF it is convenient to believe in guilt.

In civilized society, one is NOT guilty merely because one is accused. Let us not sink to his level.

@LarryHart - "And why do Cliven Bundy and his thugs have the God-given right to armed resistance against law enforcement, and the FOX crowd is perfectly ok with that?"
Answer 1: because they're white, and it's politically convenient to believe in their innocence and the legitimacy of their claims (and not to shoot first and ask questions later).
Answer 2: because they didn't kill any of the officers who arrested them (even though their guns were prominently displayed, implying a threat to kill the police/FBI, they didn't actually carry it out)

We must choose which answer you wish to believe, based on who we wish to be, and what best fits with our hopes.

@Rob H - "...it is time to privatize the police, eliminate police unions, and dismantle the existing law enforcement organizations. Because what we currently have? Isn't working."

Sometimes, the solution to a problem is to destroy the entire structure and start over - if the problem is rotten to the core and beyond redemption. But EVERY time one does that, unless one carefully addresses what is rotten and what is not, one recreates something worse, preserving the detriments of the old order, while all the benefits of a new one take time to prove out.

And indeed, the problem in Castile's shooting (in Minnesota) MAY have been connected with the fact that a police force has already been 'privatized' - the contracting out process may have an effect that a 'local police force' does not. I'd be curious how often that is a factor in other police shootings.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - I am curious what is coming in your next post, and wonder if you'll address the Sterling (Baton Rouge) and the Castile (Minnesota) shootings, and/or the Dallas shooting after you've had time to digest these really painful incidents.

Here are some intriguing angles I'd be curious to explore:

(1) In both cases, cameras were present, the events were captured contemporaneously. Is this sousveillance? Is it working? Is it likely to work to rein in the police?

(2) In the Dallas shooting, the perpetrator was killed by a "robot" - I suspect it's actually a remote controlled device, which someone opted to call a "robot" in order to distance the operator(s) from the killing.

Which makes me wonder: how many other "terminator-bots" do our police forces operate? What are the rules for their use? Ultimately, what risk does AI pose itself, v. "AI as a blameshifting device" to limit liability for human choices?

There are a lot of questions there, meriting further thought at some point. But that may follow in due course.

locumranch said...



By the end of the 18th Century (and in the waning days of the British Empire), Britain had instituted what had became known as the 'Bloody Code' which made some 220 crimes punishable by death, including (but not limited to) "the theft of more than 12 pence", "being in the company of Gypsies for one month", "strong evidence of malice in a child aged 7–14 years of age" and "blacking the face or using a disguise whilst committing a crime".

And, according to Harvey Silvergate, attorney & author of 'Three Felonies A Day', the same process has occurred in the brave new USA, wherein the well-meaning police officer is merely the instrument of public will and a profusion of federal statutes & regulations has made it likely that the average law-abiding American commits several federal crimes (and/or felonies) per day, allowing the West to inadvertently create a new 'Bloody Code, one augmented by various Patriot Acts, so much so that refusing to immediately obey a peace officer has been redefined as an aggressive & menacing act punishable by death.

That is the elephant in the room. These poor men (in NY, Ferguson, Baton Rouge & St. Paul) were murdered NOT by police 'incompetents' or 'rogues' but by a schizophrenic justice system wherein all of these so-called victims were recalcitrant repeat & mostly 'misdemeanor' (but occasionally 'felonious') offenders who just 'happened' to belong to an impoverished, disenfranchised & historically oppressed minority.

In the sense that EVERY American has become a criminal according to US local, state & federal statute, the likes of Robert are correct to distrust the police & a biased US Justice system. Unfortunately, those people who distrust the police are also absolutely in the wrong to blame (and/or seek retribution against) the well-intentioned police themselves because the police are merely 'The Messengers' of these bad tidings.


Best

Treebeard said...

No Larry, if the shooter were white there'd be hysteria all over the Bolshevik media about the evil racist neo-nazi terrorist movement that threatens America, the world, and the future of the universe. The victims would be turned into holy martyrs and the perps made into evil incarnate. With cases like this, they always look to downplay the racial angle and make excuses for the perps. Sometimes they even change the lighting in photos or report the guy's race wrong. There is always manipulation like this with racial stories in the Bolshiemedia. But people are getting wise to it now; we can see how the game is played and who's playing it. Robert Anton Wilson spoke of “reality tunnels” – sounds like you're deep in one, dug by your friendly media.

David Brin said...

Okay guys. See why you need to take vitamins? locum is cogent... amid his veiled racism and monomaniacal resentment fixations. There are elements worth actually hearing and heeding.

The ent, on the other hand, is a raving-hysterical-hallucinatory psychopath. These things must be parsed.

Shane Mallatt said...

Treebeard also completely missed Wilsons point regarding reality tunnels. Ones reality tunnel is their own creation. Meaning an individual will find in the media those bits of information that confirm their already formed opinions, and ignore or dismiss as propaganda any information that contradicts said opinions.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Robert Anton Wilson spoke of “reality tunnels” – sounds like you're deep in one, dug by your friendly media


I know you are, but what am I?


No Larry, if the shooter were white there'd be hysteria all over the Bolshevik media about the evil racist neo-nazi terrorist movement that threatens America, the world, and the future of the universe. The victims would be turned into holy martyrs and the perps made into evil incarnate.


Cliven Bundy is white, and the feds backed off rather than risk the optics of a shooting war with his thugs.

The guy who shot up Planned Parenthood ("Save the babies!") was white, and the news media was all about how he might actually be a leftist. Why are they unable to utter the phrase "Radical Christian Terrorism", which was responsible for 354 of the mass shootings last year, whereas Muslims were responsible for all of one (San Bernardino)?

Sorry, but you don't even know what you're arguing about. My kindergartenish opening here was entirely appropriate, as it is the FOX/Limbaugh/Drudge bubble that is insulated from reality.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

... a new 'Bloody Code, one augmented by various Patriot Acts, so much so that refusing to immediately obey a peace officer has been redefined as an aggressive & menacing act punishable by death.


Even if so, how is immediately obeying a police officer punishable by death, as in Minnesota?

David Brin said...

It's all easily decoded. "What I see in the mirror is dogmatism driven by manipulative lying media... therefor that MUST be the case among my opponents!"

Sorry, it is the right that has turned the Republican Party into the most disciplined partisan machine in 100 years. Until this last year, not talking point issued by Roger Ailes was not repeated by EVERY GOP office holder, generally verbatim, within 24 ours. GOP legislators hew to caucus decisions almost without exception. Compared to which, democrat media and politicians are herds of cats.

Proof. MSNBC tried to copy the profitable Fox business plan of creating a screeching-partisan echo chamber for fanatics. Fox captured 1/4 of the US public and rakes in billions. MSNBC barely survives. Because only a small fraction of dems like living in an echo chamber, they wander off to sample other sources. That this is diametrically opposite to Locum's assertion will not affect him! Because he buys into something deeper, taught by his own echo chamber --

hatred of facts, science, every single knowledge profession.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

The ent, on the other hand, is a raving-hysterical-hallucinatory psychopath


Knowing there is a subset of America that thinks as he does is at least an explanation for congressman Walsh's otherwise inexplicable tweet vowing revenge on President Obama and "Black Lives Matter".

In "The Postman", you had disparate warring clans join together in common purpose to destroy Holnists on sight. That is the entirely appropriate reaction.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"And why do Cliven Bundy and his thugs have the God-given right to armed resistance against law enforcement, and the FOX crowd is perfectly ok with that?"
Answer 1: because they're white, and it's politically convenient to believe in their innocence and the legitimacy of their claims (and not to shoot first and ask questions later).
Answer 2: because they didn't kill any of the officers who arrested them (even though their guns were prominently displayed, implying a threat to kill the police/FBI, they didn't actually carry it out)

We must choose which answer you wish to believe, based on who we wish to be, and what best fits with our hopes.


You remind me of me when I was younger. :)

Sure, the Bundy thugs didn't actually shoot any police officers, but neither did the latest two executions in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. Possession or suspicion of possession of a weapon was apparently sufficient cause for deadly force. Yet the Radical White Terrorists in Nevada brandished their weapons as a direct challenge against federal officers, and they backed off. Would they have done so if the armed insurgents were black? I think we both know the answer.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Hank Fox said...

I was giving a talk in Ottawa a while back, and one of the questions from the crowd was "Are you an optimist or a pessimist about the future?" I fumbled the answer, but what I wanted to say was that I'm a CAREFUL optimist -- someone who knows optimism can be misused. When you have real problems, placid optimism is the wrong tool.

I met a climatologist at an after-hours affair in NYC some time back, and when I found out what he did, said "Tell me the truth -- are we fucked?" Without cracking a smile, and in a dead-serious voice, he answered "Yeah. We're fucked."

I can't help but notice the ongoing flood of bad environmental news -- climate change, forest losses, ocean changes, invasive species, droughts, extinctions, fresh water shortages, etc. -- which is due, ultimately, to human population, and to which I do not see any solution. We can't even have the conversation about human numbers.

I've watched things on the surface -- especially locally, here in the U.S. -- change for the better, but down deep and worldwide change for the worse. We seem to be eating the planet faster and faster, and it's hard to be optimistic about that.

I even worry sometimes that science fiction itself -- with its projection of all those happy futures with robots, friendly AIs, asteroid mining, space colonies, computer-brain interfaces, even immortality -- has had a deleterious effect on the educated class. —Convincing them that Science will fix everything, that Smart People somewhere out there will find solutions to every problem, that none of us need worry our little heads TOO much about the real challenges we face.

I see the solution as Realism, rather than optimism or pessimism. A mostly positive outlook but with sleeves rolled up, and a constant low-level fear that we won't get there in time, can't bail fast enough, lack the collective will or spirit to actually do the necessary work that can make all the good things happen here and shunt the bad things over into the other leg of the Trousers of Time.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.