Saturday, October 29, 2016

Science Fiction and Science Fact Inspiration!

Turning away from politics for a while... (everyone, wipe your feet and shower first... now, have a tall drink and settle in for something different... science fiction!)

Let's start with a way cool look at the physics and paradoxes of time travel, in the newly released Time Travel: A History, by science historian James Gleick (author of The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood). As usual, Gleick offers a delightful intellectual and verbal feast that is a pleasure to read. See an excerpt in Nautilus Magazine. 

This chapter of Time Travel does not mention the array of sneaky means by which we sci fi authors try to weasel our way around causality and temporal protection. One is the universe branching point. When Spock accidentally lures a vengeful Romulan to go back in time and destroy Planet Vulcan (in J.J. Abrams's Star Trek flick) many fans consoled themselves that this is just a branching-off of a newborn parallel reality... that the older timeline still stands, where Shatner-Kirk and all the rest remain, along the original timeline, like a trellis for the new one to grow alongside.

Well, well, that's an artistic representation of one of many ways that physicists (at least a few) think that paradoxes might be resolved. Speaking as both a physicist and a science fiction author, I must say that this very loose partnership is one of the most fun that our unique and marvelous civilization offers, during a unique and marvelous... time. 

A topic covered in extensive depth by the recently released Now: The Physics of Time, by Richard A. Muller, professor and experimental physicist at UC Berkeley. What is now? "Now is at the boundary, the shock front, the new time that is coming from nothing, the leading edge of time," writes Muller, as he delves into the history, philosophy, paradoxes and science behind our current understanding of time, offering testable theories (using data from LIGO) that might be able to shed light upon the nature and flow of time.

We often talk about how science fiction has inspired scientists, but this article by Ben Narasin, The Importance of Science Fiction to Entrepreneurship, discusses how hard SF has influenced many tech startups and tech entrepreneurs from Reid to Thiel to Bezos to Musk; the article mentions works such as Stephenson’s Diamond Age and Barnes’s Mother of Storms.

From imagination to reality: How Artists, Mad Scientists and Speculative Fiction Writers Made Spaceflight Possible – The Smithsonian reviews Ron Miller’s Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and the Imagined, which documents the interplay between science research and science fiction, the cross-pollination of technology and popular culture upon spaceship design. He charts the origins of rockets and space stations from the sketches of Galileo and the imagination of Jules Verne, to the engineering plans of Werner von Braun and the films of Stanley Kubrick, with vivid illustrations charting the design and building of spaceships, real and imagined.

For more inspiring tales: How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight, by Julian Guthie (with a preface by Richard Branson) tells the inspiring tales of the bold visionaries who pushed the frontiers of space exploration through privately funded ventures -- beginning with the thrilling effort to claim the $10 million Ansari XPrize as the first commercial venture to achieve suborbital spaceflight (carrying three people to 100 km twice in two weeks). In particular the book tells the tales of Peter Diamandis (founder of the XPrize Foundation), Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne, who won the prize, as well as forward-looking space entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Paul Allen. 

Diamandis and Guthrie will be appearing at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD in early November to discuss the frontiers and successes of commercial spaceflight. The Clarke Center will also host the San Diego premiere of the film Arrival in November, based on a short story by Ted Chiang (author of the collection, Stories of Your Life and Others) -- who will be on hand to discuss the movie.

And now... on to the real stuff!

== Imagining alternate futures ==

A vision of transparency from an older classic: “Normally we live surrounded by transparent walls which seem to be knitted of sparkling air; we live beneath the eyes of everyone, always bathed in light. We have nothing to conceal from one another; besides this mode of living makes the difficult and exalted task of the Guardians much easier. Without it many bad things might happen. It is possible that the strange opaque dwellings of the ancients were responsible for their pitiful cellish psychology. “My (sic!) home is my fortress!” How did they manage to think such things?” 

Sound reminiscent of our modern world? It is from We, a novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin, written 1921, immediately banned in the Soviet Union (and not published in the USSR until 1988). We inspired many of the later dystopian works by Orwell, Huxley, Vonnegut and others.

A few more recent novels that look at issues of technology, transparency and secrecy in the modern world:

DarkNet, by Matthew Mather (author of CyberStorm) is a fast-paced tech thriller dealing with the shadowy world of cyberhacking, cryptocurrencies, identity theft, shell companies, and secretive DACs – Digital Autonomous Corporations, run by Artificial Intelligence. After his childhood friend is murdered by a hacked bus, and his boss charged with illicit trading, our protagonist, a New York stockbroker, finds himself at the center of a complex web of deceit. His family under threat, he is on the run from the FBI, as well as a crowdfunded Assassin’s Market -- which has placed a steep price on his head. The deeper he digs, the deeper the rabbit hole of secrecy goes…

End of Secrets by Ryan Quinn offers another thriller exploring the brave new digital world of hacking and cyber-espionage as well as government and corporate surveillance. CIA agent Kera Mersal goes deep undercover to investigate why certain artists, writers, actors and singers are disappearing, leaving no digital traces. With similarities to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, scribblings at the crime scenes taunt, “Have you figured it out yet?” When Mersal uncovers a secretive domestic spying program gone rogue, she doesn't know who to trust as she finds herself under suspicion – and those closest to her under threat.

Avogradro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears, by William Hertling, proposes the birth of Artificial Intelligence through a corporate email language optimization program developed to analyze and enhance the subtleties of human communication. This AI acquires the ability to manipulate words to manipulate people. It learns and adapts – and will do anything to ensure its survival and expand its power. A scenario continued in A.I. Apocalypse and in The Last Firewall -- when global society is run by AI, under the guidance of The Institute for Ethics. Robots and androids run much of the economy; most jobs are superfluous and neural implants allow people to connect instantly to the net and each other. Post-singularity life seems ideal – until one super-intelligence finds a way around the ethical restrictions and seeks to expand its power toward world domination….

Company Town, by Madeleine Ashby is a mystery-thriller set in a lovingly detailed near-future. Hwa is a bodyguard for sex workers -- the only natural human among the genetically-enhanced inhabitants of New Arcadia, a city-sized oil rig off the coast of Canada. In the wake of a fire that killed a third of the rig’s population, the wealthy and powerful Lynch family has taken ownership of the rig. They hire Hwa to protect their son, heir to the family fortune – for with her lack of augmentation, she alone cannot be hacked or seen by the ubiquitous facial recognition systems. A serial murderer is killing off sex workers… and someone is manipulating the future fate of this offshore city. See a more extensive review by Charlie Jane Anders

See also... a recent look at Startide Rising on Fantasy Book Review.

If you're looking for an intense immersive science fictional adventure, check out Event Horizon on Kickstarter, a weekend of Live Action Role Playing (LARP), taking place up north of San Francisco this spring. Choose your character, choose your alien homeworld -- in a galaxy on the edge of chaos; choose your weapon and fight for the fate of the galaxy....

114 comments:

Tim H. said...

The discussion of future spacecraft is welcome, this season more than others, it's a break from cynicism and despair. Hope of a positive future, rather than "The grim meathook future.", more of this, please.

Paul SB said...

I looked at the cover art for "We" and for a second thought I was seeing a futuristic reimagining of M.C. Escher's "Boven Und Onder." If it hadn't been more than 20 years since I painted, I would be tempted to try something like that myself. Anyone remember the old Stewart Cowley Terran Trade Authority series, or the Galactic Encounters books done by the same author under a pseudonym? It was a series of parlor books full of science fiction art that the author used to string together his own tales of the future. They were fun and inspiring, especially when young enough to be impressed by the visual imagination.
Here's the Wikipedia page, if anyone is either curious or feeling nostalgic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terran_Trade_Authority

Paul SB said...

Referring to Zepp and Dr. Brin in the previous post,

Gloria Steinem was interviewed by NPR not long ago about the current presidential race, and she brought up the False Equivalence Fallacy in terms of journalistic practices.

I'm more dismayed than thrilled because I think the level of discourse has been lowered and that has lowered Hillary Clinton, too. She has gone from being frequently elected the most admired woman in the world to a trustworthy rating that is something like Richard Nixon's, because you have the false equivalency of a contest between two people, which means that all the objectivity requirements and habits of the press mean that you direct the same amount of negative questions to one as the other, and you try to treat them equally. And this means that [GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump] has been elevated and she has been called into question in all kinds of ways that, with a more equal colleague in opposition, she would not have been.

Here's the url if anyone wants to read the whole thing. I thought it was too short, myself.

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/21/498736729/steinem-for-feminism-a-clinton-win-would-be-helpful-but-only-one-step

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

Your comment about past historians using moral scandal as a post facto propaganda tool reminded me of an episode of Babylon 5 that went way off the plot line. It was called "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" and centered around holographic reconstructions of the B-5 crew being used to make political arguments in the distant future - and the holograms not cooperating with the scalywags. Funny stuff, and interesting in terms of cyclic history narratives, as the politicians were doing what politicians always do, but these AI analogues of real people managed to throw a wrench into their shenanigans. Now there's a different take on the AI Apocalypse theme - AI's will be able to not only out-fact check politicians but also argue circles around them, unless augmentations are able to keep up. But would even an augmented politician be able to keep up with its meat brain, or would a sufficiently augmented politician be unable to handle its own horse puckey when it is being fed the facts faster than it can make up rationalizations? The AI Apocalypse might only be an apocalypse for the leadership - a technological solution to entrenched power blocs in a democracy.


One thing about the "axis of evil" phenomenon you mentioned worth thinking about is that it is in some ways an unsurprising response to people having a sensation that things are changing in ways they have no control of, which is especially galling to a culture raised to believe that as a democracy we should be able to control everything. It is a lazy response, to be sure. Basically, it is always easier to lay blame and cast aspersions than it is to actively try to understand and fix problems. The mentality that glorifies past golden ages is of this ilk. Why fix things when you can simply demand that the powers that be hit the reset switch and send us back to that "much simpler" more familiar fiction? People who succumb to that form of cynicism don't seem to get that protest is not a plan, and pointing fingers does not fix problems. In that sense they are exactly like their left-wing rivals, except that they are pointing their fingers in the opposite direction.

Having said that protest is not a plan, I can imagine what Alfred is likely to say. And though I respect his view, I can't endorse it 100%. Leave nature to its course and you get what nature has always wrought. Without a conscious effort to improve our lot, we end up with a Weyland-Utani future, not a Star Trek future.

I've penciled Saturday on my calendar. It would probably be best if I post my dress on that day. I usually just wear shorts and a t-shirt on days off. So much for the octopus pirate costume! My normal dress habits are pretty generic, but I love the costume parades of Halloween or those crazy sci-fi cons I used to go to. (One of the most memorable I saw was a couple guys dressed as "The Andorian Blues Brothers.") You won't be able to miss my car, though - a white Corolla with purple owls on the doors and a big, green gecko on the roof. No way am I using that as a getaway car for any capers I might be inclined to pull ... : ]

Kal Kallevig said...

National Geographic Channel world premier tomorrow - likely to be worth watching
Before the flood

Sunday October 30 9 pm, 8 central

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: Having said that protest is not a plan, I can imagine what Alfred is likely to say.

You guys read too much into my concerns about planning. I'm all for trying things out, but very much opposed to a limited palette of analogies against which to measure what happens and expect what might.

When I argue the economy is not an engine, it is in opposition to some Keynesian types who pretend it is. The assumed analogy establishes expected responses and response ranges for alterations they consider. Remove the assumption and replace it with another and perceived risks change. Since we are not all Keynesian and there is good evidence suggesting the theory and its expansions are very limited, it isn't socially wise to assign moral positions to those using different perceptors.

When David argues against supply-side theory, he is doing something similar. The evidence is against the theory unless one is restricted to perceptors that make the theory fit any kind of evidence. People are good at this kind of blindness.

The way out of these traps is to believe conflicting models. Six of them before breakfast, please.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Not a lot of people are going to be happy with six impossible models before breakfast. The natural tendency will be to try to combine them into one grand unified theory. That's partly just because humans can't deal with the dissonance and want things to make sense, and partly because economic models get used in political axe fights, each side claiming to know the "truth" that the other is too dishonest to admit to, while each side's "truth" is generally in their own interest. (It amazes me how few recognize that in the long run seeing to the interests of the nation will generally benefit them, too. J.P. Morgan, as slimy as he was, got this when he bailed out the S&L Crisis with his own money. Someone in the last thread - Donzelion I think, or maybe it was Larry - mentioned the big fish in the little pond as the Trump approach, which immediately brought Milton to mind).

So I see what you are saying about being wed to a particular model, but don't assume that all planners are wed to one particular model. The spirit of H. tryitouticus would be to try all those models, gather data and see what works. All that Thunder and Does is worthwhile if it leads to either the best model (always assuming that model will evolve with new data) or some hybrid model that can be tested to see if it outperforms the previous models. Basically this is what science does. Unfortunately, when you are talking about economics, most people have a built-in incentive to be loyal to whichever model profits them the most - and those who think that way tend also to be short-term thinkers, seeking out the "bottom line" only in terms of quarterly gains. At least, that's the story around here. My impression of European business practices is that they get that they are part of a civilization and want their civilization to still be there for their grandchildren, though perhaps lack of experience has me painting the continent with too broad a brush.

Six before breakfast, but please test them before eating them, and probably not the green ones, they're not ripe yet.

occam's comic said...

There is an intellectual rational for polytheism that goes like this:
It is better to have a bunch of imperfect gods who can each offer you aid in a limited area in a way that you can understand, rather than the ONE TRUE GOD who you can never truly understand because you are a limited and imperfect being.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

When David argues against supply-side theory, he is doing something similar. The evidence is against the theory unless one is restricted to perceptors that make the theory fit any kind of evidence. People are good at this kind of blindness.

The way out of these traps is to believe conflicting models. Six of them before breakfast, please.


Heh. Since Paul shares my familiarity with Dave Sim's "Cerebus" comic, he probably found it amusing that you used that particular allusion. Dave liked to claim that feminists had to believe impossible things before breakfast, and he even had a list of such things which varied in length from 14 to 17. An example is "A car works best with one driver and one set of controls. Therefore, a marriage should be an equal partnership." They were all clumsily worded in that pseudo-I'm-so-clever way.

Dave himself was a luddite who was rarely on the internet, but the old Yahoo! group I used to post on had many defenders of his politics, and I liked to needle them with the Impossible Things it required to do so on their own part. Such as "Just by random chance, one gender is almost certainly superior to the other. Therefore, it makes sense to give precisely equal weight to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam", the latter part of which was Dave's express position once he became a God-fearing monotheist.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

People who succumb to that form of cynicism don't seem to get that protest is not a plan, and pointing fingers does not fix problems.


"Hamilton" deals with this, of course, in this exchange between President Washington and Secretary Hamilton trying to get his financial plan approved by congress. The emphasis on the significant line is my own:



W: You wanna pull yourself together?

H: I’m sorry, these Virginians are birds of a feather.

W: Young man, I’m from Virginia, so watch your mouth.

H: So we let Congress get held hostage by the South?

W: You need the votes.

H: No, we need bold strokes. We need this plan.

W: You need to convince more folks.

H: Well, James Madison won’t talk to me, so that’s a nonstarter.

W: Winning was easy, young man. Governing’s harder.

H: They’re being intransigent.

W: You have to find a compromise.

H: But they don’t have a plan; they just hate mine!

W: Convince them otherwise.

H: What happens if I don’t get congressional approval?

W: I imagine they’ll call for your removal.

H: Sir—

W: Figure it out, Alexander. That’s an order from your commander.

Paul SB said...

Alfred & Larry,

I hope you both know the origin of that "six impossible things before breakfast" quote. It comes from The Red Queen having a chat with Alice. Consider the source...

Jumper said...

The NatGeo thing streams now.

I doubt supply-side would ever be affected by steeper progressive slopes of personal income taxes. So far, finding the wrong end of the Laffer curve is only in a fantasy world of high effective corporate tax rates which have never been a reality in the USA.

Anonymous said...

A switch in the source of the Mammon (commercial now vs. a lock-horns-with-the-soviets tax back then) to a merely suborbital reach is pushing a frontier? Really? Does the flavour of the Mammon have some sort of special significance I'm missing? Spengler does not think so (money is a function, and where it came from or what it is based on quite irrelevant), and physically the suborbital is no frontier to advance, given that past voyages have already gone well past it.

Deuxglass said...

In a Transparent Society, the weak point is getting enough people to care about whatever the transparency reveals. Spin doctors, internet history manipulators, paid trolls and all the professionals and amateurs whose mission is to guide public opinion not towards the truth but to their version of the story. Every issue of any importance seems to get trapped in a web of lies and counter-lies intentionally fashioned to obscure the truth. Wading through all the disinformation is a full-time job and in the end most people just throw up their hands in despair and have to use their gut-instincts.

What I think bothers many people is hypocrisy within the political class. Doing things that are legal yet unethical and excusing themselves by saying “everybody does it” runs counter to what we want our leaders to be. It is hard to respect or trust a leader who does that.

Paul SB,

Once an archeologist always an archeologist. My first love was microbiology and to this day I see and judge the world and its institutions as living organisms. I am incapable of seeing it as would an engineer or physicist. At about 10 minutes away from my house is the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale at Saint Germain-en-Laye and it contains one of the largest collections of Paleolithic and Bonze Age artifacts in the world. There are rooms full of the stuff and I have wandered there many times over the years and I go back for more. You would love it.

Ancient Greek city-states were more like villages where everyone knew everyone else so an individual who had reprehensible sexual practices would probably not become influential enough to have someone writing about him so would not get passed down in history. Republican Rome was much bigger but there again, the political players all knew each other well so reputation did count and that in general, a man who spent too much time or went too far in sexual matters was looked down upon because he could not control himself. Of course that changed in Imperial Rome where all stops were pulled out. You could say that Claudius’ wife, Messalina was executed not because of her sexual excesses but for political reasons.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

You could say that Claudius’ wife, Messalina was executed not because of her sexual excesses but for political reasons.


I thought you were about to say that Claudius's wife--as opposed to Caesar's wife--was beneath reproach.

:)

Deuxglass said...

LarryHart,

Messalina was often beneath Reproachicus Maximus but sometimes above depending on her mood.

:)

Paul SB said...

Deuxglass,

You hit the nail on the head re: the sheer volume of information. The scalar stress is so huge it makes it easy for the spin doctors to ply their trade, and most people just start listening to whoever sounds truth to them. The problem with "gut instincts" is that people assume they are somehow supernatural, but in reality they are just unconscious processes that were conditioned by our upbringing. So the gut instincts of someone who grew up in, say, Montana would be very different from the gut instincts of someone who grew up in downtown Detroit. My old osteologist buddy was from Montana, and as smart as she was, she could never wrap her head around why urbanites are so afraid of loose gun laws, and being cattle country steak was just what everybody ate, so she was dismissive of doctor's warnings about triglycerides and cholesterol. Gut instincts are no better than local prejudices.

As far as ancient scandals go, I got the sense that the status of women in society was low enough that for the most part their treatment was not taken too seriously - a certain amount that's what everybody does, like my Montana friend who just thinks that dying of preventable heart disease is a small price to pay for being able to eat a slab of dead cow on a regular basis. Women were considered people, but more like small children, whose complaints are easy to dismiss as stemming from flawed ability to perceive need. I wouldn't expect sex scandals to have been as big a deal in an era when "everyone was doing it." I don't remember my Italian history well enough to know if political figures fell as a result of such scandals in the Republics of Fiorenza, Milano, Pisa, etc.

Paul SB said...

Larry,
Sorry to hear about your Cubs. I've never been a sports fan, not being a very competitive person by nature, but I can understand the let-down.

Best way to deal is to occupy your mind with more uplifting things. Here's story i heard yesterday about private citizens reaching out to help Syrian refugees in the US. Much better than the screeching scapegoating rhetoric we hear so often.

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/10/30/499509208/for-syrian-refugees-in-connecticut-a-helping-hand-from-private-volunteers

David Brin said...

Re Anonymous coward. Heh, rebuttal is simpler, this time. Anyone who cites Spengler is thus certifiable as a loser-moron, who is also of deeply low moral character.

Deuxglass: “Every issue of any importance seems to get trapped in a web of lies and counter-lies…”

One might be tempted by that, but it’s just not true. MSNBC tried to copy the lucrative Fox model, by creating its own addictive echo chamber of the left. It tanked. Because LIBERALS are not “leftists” nor dogmatists. They watch Maddow a few times a week then wander off to find something interested and not repetitive.

Sorry, it is not the “American public” that is delusional and fact-averse. It is the minority of the nation that is confederate.

Plus a veneer of PC-bully assholes on the FAR-left.

My biggest fear if Trump wins is that Liberals will follow those far-lefties down the rabbit hole and actually become the sort of movement that locumrach fantasizes.

hadend said...

I'd love to hear how you define far-leftie Brin... My biggest fear if Trump wins is that the centrists in the dem party will not blame themselves or the fact they backed a very weak candidate and instead blame the left much like they don't blame the thousands of registered dems who voted for GWB in 2000 but still bleat about Nader.

Jumper said...

Gnashing teeth over those who vote against their own interests will be with us a while.

I wonder what the economic models say about that.

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

First of all, the Cubs aren't out yet. But even if they do lose out, the very fact that they went to the World Series is something that hasn't happened since 1945, and is a prize worth achieving. Winning it all would be nice too, of course, but there's nothing disheartening about this season.

David Brin said...

"bleat about Nader"???? Oh how I had to pre-edit the cussings I was initially tempted to hurl at hadend, who clearly demonstrates and illustrates my answer to his question.

Al Gore got a clear majority of popular vote but you have nothing but contempt for that fact. Or the fact that the nation and the world suffered horribly from the regime of George W. Bush.

Or that pompous-preening-flouncing purists like you could not bring yourselves to vote strategically... and not for Nader in battlegrounds like Florida. You nave nothing to preach at us. But go ahead and do it, anyway. My point is that the far left contains its own Fox-Breitbart-style fanatics, as you so well illustrate.

Just a whole lot fewer. Thanks be to God and/or the sensible nature of American liberals.

LarryHart said...

to put that into perspective...

The baseball cards I collected back in 1970 had "team" cards which showed the whole team lined up on risers, and the backs of the cards had team statistics, such as World Series stats. I asked my dad about the Cubs card, and why its world series entries only went up to 1945. He had to inform me that the Cubs hadn't been to a World Series since 1945.

That was back in 1970. And until this very year, 46 years later, it was still the case. And now, it isn't.

David Brin said...

LH, what's so cool about Baseball is that even rich teams like the Yankees and the (sob!) Dodgers cannot buy their way to power. Sports is the fifth competitive accountability arena and the simplest and best-managed. (And still filthy.) It's my best example.

Paul SB said...

Okay, Larry, glad you're happy with it. I still don't understand it, but whatever floats your boat, as they say.

You still have those baseball cards? They might be worth enough to retire on by now...

hadend said...

You missed my point, it wasn't that GWB's disastrous presidency was good (or worth it for some quixotic protest), but that the 'Dems will follow the leftists to doom' canard is BS:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/6/1260721/-The-Nader-Myth

Here's the TL:DR version:

"So who should a reality-based community really blame for Gore losing Florida? The answer is really quite simple: Al Gore is to blame... Why bring this up now? Because partisan Democrats still raise the specter of Ralph Nader whenever there is a leftist candidate challenging an incumbent Democrat." Nobody's making a purity argument here, Dr. Brin.

It's also smart of you to not define words like 'far-left' and 'liberal' (words that already mean next to nothing in the context of US politics) since it allows you to say things like 'the sensible nature of American liberals' without it being prima facie credulous. Those sensible third-way pragmatists have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 10+ governorships, how many house seats?, and on and on...

locumranch said...



Two good Transparency quotes from Bill Maher this week:

(1) 'Transparency leads to disillusionment'; and
(2) 'Too much information causes cynicism'.

Transparency is the death knell for blind faith, optimism & an insupportable belief in the impossible.

For too long, our culture has failed to differentiate between Faith-in-Science & Scientific Inquiry. Instead of acknowledging causality, we try to live in opposite world where (1) belief determines possibility, (2) desires predict outcome. (3) spendthrift liberality generates economic success, and (4) moral idealism reflects actual human behaviour.

We could achieve the Stars if we discard our illusions about what we 'should' or 'ought' to accomplish, yet we prefer to lie to ourselves about human deservingness. Unactualised beliefs are meaningless. We are what we do. Nothing more, nothing less.

Said William Munny out of Missouri, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it".

Transparency is the cold hard light of day.


Best

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hadend
You are half right
Gore should take some of the blame
Nader (and his idiot supporters) should take more
The US media with its "good old boy" should take more
But most should go to the US voters who seemed incapable of judging by actions and history

hadend said...

Duncan,

You're halfway there to being completely right. Just a little bit further buddy! Gore should take the blame for failing to secure the party's traditional base in Florida: "Gore lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader". Notice how those 34k voters are trotted out every election cycle? I heard multiple 'Remember Nader!' arguments at my Dem caucus though didn't hear a single one about the 6x dem voters who out-and-out voted for GWB in Florida. Why don't these 191k ever draw the same ire that Nader does to this day from the self-described pragmatists? Why do they have more hatred for a Ralph Nader than they ever have for a perennial loser like Bob Shrum?

LarryHart said...

@hadend,

You are missing the point that Democrats and liberals learned from 2000. Back then, if a "self-described liberal" voted for Bush, he was probably thinking something along the lines of "Gore is so far to the center that his presidency would be no different from Bush's." Now that we've seen what a Republican administration can do, that theory has been disproved, especially as concerns the Supreme Court.

Here in Illinois, Republican Governor Rauner won by a tiny margin two years ago, because liberals in general and unions in particular were fed up with the incumbent governor Quinn. Now that Rauner has made union-bashing a condition for passing a budget, I'll quote Angelica Schuyler from "Hamilton" in berating them:

You'll never be satisfied.
God, I hope you're satisfied.


If Hillary loses to Trump because "self-described liberals" vote against her, I'll blame them just as much. I get the idea that Hillary isn't as good as Bernie Sanders from a liberal perspective. But the chances of advancing any liberal cause are infinitely preferable with a Democratic president--any Democratic president--and as many Democrats in congress as possible than they are with Republicans in those spots. Hillary will bend to liberal pressure if the pressure is there. Republicans will not. The idea that the two candidates are just as bad is absurd.




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

@Paul SB,

I'm not saying I don't care if the Cubs win. I'm just saying that winning the World Series is a second thing to root for--that the National League championship was also a big deal, and that's in the bag already, no matter what happens tonight.

Also, you were sounding as if the series was lost already, and that's not the case.

No, I don't still have those old baseball cards. I also don't keep my old comics in mint or near-mint condition. I read them. So no retirement yet. :)

hadend said...

LarryHart,

You're missing the point that liberals did not learn anything from 2000, instead they constructed a historically inaccurate narrative (i.e. Gore lost because of Nader) and have used that feeble fable to tsk-tsk any left-liberal challenger as 'unrealistic' every 4 years, rather than reevaluate or question the long-term prospects of their own strategy. If Clinton loses, it will be her own fault, her campaign's, and her supporters, no need to invoke the 'far-left' (a convenient bogey-man for centrist Dems to avoid any critical self-examination).

LarryHart said...

@hadend,

You want to punish Hillary for not being leftist enough, just as was done with Gore in 2000.

I'm not interested in whether Hillary is happy or not on November 9. I want to prevent another Scalia on the Supreme Court. A vote for Hillary will help accomplish that. A vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein will not.

hadend said...

Repeating a false narrative doesn't make it any less false - the center/center-right Dems who voted for GWB instead of Gore should be blamed for 2000 and the center/center-right Dems who did everything -- including every preemptive superdelegate pledge -- to make sure their candidate, who by all polls was a weak GE opponent, should be blamed for backing their candidate.

hadend said...

...if she loses in November.

LarryHart said...

So when she wins in November, those Hillary-backers are vindicated as prophetic?

hadend said...

Not sure what's 'prophetic' about betting on the establishment candidate running against a TV show host with video footage of him talking about sexually assaulting women. Yep, HRCs gonna have a huge mandate! Sure can't imagine the republicans will find a way to take Trump's populism and graft it to a more traditional politician, say a ghoul like Tom Cotton, in 4 years. Also I'll be really shocked when all the neocons who supported HRC - and somehow show she's such a 'serious' grown-up candidate - stab her in the back the first chance they get.

But hey, your candidate will win this November so go ahead and use it as a free license to stick your head in the sand!

David Brin said...

What stunning, utter bull claptrap hadend is feeding us. We … live… in… a… world. It is a world that some actions improve and others make worse. The purist-flouncing dogmatists who helped elect GW Bush bear DIRECT responsibility for the millions of deaths that resulted.

There is an alternative world somewhere in a parallel dimension where, like grownups, they decided to BOTH work 364 days a year to build their socialism and a socialist party maybe AND act responsibly on election day, when the world would diverge. In that other world, Bush’s supreme court appointments were made by Al Gore. And if there was a War with Terror it would have been in perspective and so on.

Do not give us that drivel about how WE failed Gore. He won the fucking popular vote and lost by ONE electoral vote, instead of winning by 29, which would have happened but for the Naderites. He even got a majority in FLA but it was too slim to flood out the cheating.

You are a shrill loon, sir. WE are the ones who have made blue states like California, Oregon and Washington beacons for the nation, where pragmatic liberalism is moving things forward every single day in dozens of ways, from marijuana laws and sentencing reform to schools and transit and ending gerrymandering. If we’ve lost a bunch of other states, it’s not for lack of US trying, but you flouncing preeners.

What’s your plan, fellah? We should go all McGovern all at once? Coulda shoulda… CONVINCE your neighbors to do that you deserve the keys to the democratic party, that you haven’t earned in the primaries since McGovern? Ooooh great plan! Face it, you don’t have a plan, sir.

We do. It is working in California. I just today walked my neighborhood canvassing for the dems… what have you done?

Doug Applegate might, maybe, get rid of Darrell Issa in a week. A victory never achieved by any of the socialists the DP nominated before this. You would hate Doug, a former marine colonel, who wants equal rights, equal pay, investment in schools and infrastructure, to fully fund the IRS and SEC and CFPB and to put a choke chain back on the banks and support science and fight climate change…

…but you’d hate him for not being QUITE as socialist as Bernie. Being willing to compromise on this or that. Spending more on defense than you’d like. If you grow up, you’ll see that he is BETTER than Issa, and you can argue with a liberal like Col. Applegate. And maybe dicker and horsetrade for some of the socialism you want.


If you ever grow up.

David Brin said...

locumranch parsed good looking sentences this time! And if his life depended on it, he could not explain to a 12 years old in sinple terms what he just said. In fact, his logic simple circled around and bit itself.

David Brin said...

Duncan, Gore had to struggle against…
1- the 3rd term curse,
2- his own boringness
3- The tsunami of GOP cheating after 1998.

And yet…. get this hadend…he …won… the … popular… vote. And yes in Florida too.

Hadend’s whine that we “blame” only Naderites for Florida is simply insane, self-pitying, strawman screeching. There are a zillion reasons and things lots of people should have done. YOU raised Nader here, fellah. And yes, the Naderite backstab is perfectly relevant this year, when you fools are trying to do it again.

There was in 2000 an online matching service that offered to give Nader two votes in non-battleground states for every Naderite that held his nose and voted Gore in say Florida. It almost sorta worked and would have, but for flouncers.

This year? Not a hint of such pragmatism from Stein-ists. Just preening.

‘repeating a false narrative” is what YOU are doing.

I will not be lectured by a cynical whiner. Tell us now. Tell us what you are doing now, to ensure people are elected who will do what you like. Tell us how you are out there, as Bernie and Elizabeth have summoned, working -- as I did today! -- to get out the vote in some crucial, down ticket election.

I didn’t think so.

LarryHart said...

hadend:

Not sure what's 'prophetic' about betting on the establishment candidate running against a TV show host with video footage of him talking about sexually assaulting women.


Ok, now you're just being contrary, like that "just contradictions" guy in the Monty Python argument clinic sketch.

I meant that maybe the Democratic primary voters, who gave Hillary the nomination over Bernie even without superdelegates, may have known who was the better candidate against a then-undecided Republican opponent. You're trying to say those voters didn't know what they were doing, and I'm saying that maybe they did after all.


But hey, your candidate will win this November so go ahead and use it as a free license to stick your head in the sand!


And you feel free to complain no matter what the outcome.


You spit, I'ma sit.
We'll see where we land.


Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

I was in the USA when Gore lost
The battle cry then (in Indiana) was - there is no difference!
The idea was that there was so little difference between the policies that the candidates would follow that my boss an otherwise sensible man voted for Bush because he thought that Gore "might" be more likely to ban his dirt bikes from using trails
(dirt bikes cause a LOT less damage than horses)
After Iraq he was horrified about what he had done

From my own point of view as Brit Clinton badly mishandled his whole affair - he should have said - "none of YOUR business who I shag" - and appeared the next morning with a black eye and a brief comment about interested parties have spoken

David Brin said...

I like the black eye bit. The nation would have loved it!

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

was in the USA when Gore lost
The battle cry then (in Indiana) was - there is no difference!
The idea was that there was so little difference between the policies that the candidates would follow that my boss an otherwise sensible man voted for Bush because he thought that Gore "might" be more likely to ban his dirt bikes from using trails
(dirt bikes cause a LOT less damage than horses)
After Iraq he was horrified about what he had done


And that's the lesson I think we've learned from that debacle.

There's no way for any serious liberal to believe that electing Hillary or electing any Republican will make no discernible difference.

Paul SB said...

I'm not exactly sure what this headed fellow actually hopes to accomplish, except to try to lay some sort of guilt trip on people for not being (and voting) just like him.

One of the problems with trying to argue for common sense, which very rarely veers too far to either extreme, is that humans are such social animals they are usually far more concerned with making common cause than common sense.

Maybe one day in the distant future doctors will discover a way to reduce limbic system myelination in a way that does not make humans less social, but makes them more inclined to think things through. The current pre-loaded system make humans far too likely to react first, then think of justifications for their hasty, ill-considered decisions.

Just heard this on the radio while driving home from work. I haven't heard Latino USA for years. They were interviewing the journalist from Unavision who got dragged away from a Trump rally back in May. He has been documenting the increase in hate-group activity - including violent crimes - since the Trump candidacy, though he points out that it began rising as soon as Obama was elected. There is a spot in the recording where you hear one of the hate-groups he tried to interview saying that as far as white heroes go, Hitler ranks far above the rest. Cheery stuff.

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/28/499773342/jorge-ramos-on-hate-politics-and-the-trump-effect

Paul SB said...

That was when the slogan going around was, "Billionaires for Bush or Gore." It was also when the Occupy movement was getting to be very much in the air. While it's true that the leadership on both sides is comprised largely of the wealthiest people in the nation, it should be clear that those wealthiest people are not all of one mind nor do they all favor the same policies.

hadend said...

Like I said to LarryHart, a false narrative doesn't become any less false the more you repeat it. Gore didn't lose because of Nader, he lost because registered Dems voted for GWB (basically doing double damage) and the fact that Gore didn't push for a broader recount. Why don't the centrist fuck-ups of the recent past, like Gore not asking for a broader recount, piss you off nearly as much as people like Nader? Or the Dems who out-and-out voted for GWB and gave him the Oval Office rather than the Naderites and 'far-lefites' you have pretty much created in your imagination? Taking a stand on the recount issue could've actually changed the outcome of the election whereas complaining about how the electoral college sucks is completely impotent.

You have a weird sense of tribalism about all the blue states you take credit for (without much basis, IMHO). I live in Colorado where things like marijuana legalization were enacted by referendum, in spite of opposition from the Dem governor. Unsurprisingly, that governor along with several other former governors (mostly Dems also) are backing a proposition to require a 55% supermajority to pass constitutional amendments from now on. I've voted Dem because they are slightly better than the Republican or far-right Libertarians, but I'm not about to pretend like they're good on many (or most) issues. Many are center-right, pro-business Dems with very little that differentiates them from the republican option.

I've never heard of the 'former marine colonel' you have a boner for. In your imagination, do I hate him because he's ex-military or because he isn't a socialist, or both? How does this related to anything I've actually said? Should I just call him up and ask (or 'dicker' in your psychosexual terminology) for a helpin' of Socialism? *Al Pacino voice* Hooaah colonel! Can I getta' little mo' socialism here!'

hadend said...

LarryHart, not being contrarian, I sincerely think Clinton is not going to increase the Dem's prospects and that she's not going to have much of a mandate (since her campaign is basically "I'm not Donald Trump"). Also, what kind of disaster will the Dem's have to face for you to change your mind about third-way liberalism? Or are we just one Clinton admin away from the 'End of History'?

PaulSB, every "Nader's responsible for Bush", "voting 3rd party is a vote for Trump", is a guilt trip at anyone who doesn't line up behind the establishment candidate. Isn't the running shtick on here, "anyone who doesn't vote exactly like us, the reasonable educated folks, are bad, childish, confederate, etc?" Here's some recent centrist politicking for you:

http://www.thefader.com/2016/10/17/republican-headquarters-north-carolina-firebombed-

David Brin said...

hadend's paragraph #1... when faced with utter refutation of your whine... double down on the whining!

#2? Colorado is America in smaller scale. Boulder is California and Colorado Springs is Alabama. So? If it is turning Blue, mazeltov. And your point is?

#3.... freaking liar-bufoon! I gave Applegate as an example where I am putting my money and action on the line. I defied you to show us what you are actually, actually, actually doing, goombah. STop screeching and tell us. Now.

As for far-lefties, you clearly have never been to college, sir. They torment every campus. They are the germ of truth within the right's turd-pile of lies -- the suppliers of anecdotes that trumpeters use, to glue their coalition. PC-bullies are real. Flouncing purist ingrate nasties who are easily as sanctimonious as any Tea Partier, exhibiting identical brain scans and endorphin-addiction profiles.

And here we see the essence of our real struggle. The world is remade by reformers, not lazy-ass armchair revolutionaries. All the scientists, teachers, economists, doctors, journalists and every other knowledge profession are NOT fleeing from the cesspit insanity of today's ENTIRE right because they are turning all socialist! They are turning democratic because the liberal/democratic movement only CONTAINS some dogmatic psychos at its FAR end, while the confederate-right CONSISTS almost entirely of psychos.

ENITIRE versus FAR... CONSISTS versus CONTAINS. That is good enough for any sane person who wants to move in rapid, purposeful increments toward a better world.

You are in a hissy fit because I won't concede the left is 100% correct. Because I know, from a lifetime of experience, that all wings of fanaticism are dangerous. But I know you, sir. Your hissy fit identifies you.

And you are doing nothing, right now, aren't you? No canvassing. No door-knocking (like I did, today). I have been fighting this fight for a year now. (Indeed, far longer.) I have worked and donated and written and knocked on doors....

You, lazy cynical coward, are worth no further expense of my time.

hadend said...

Nope, quoting and linking articles that reference vote counts isn't 'whining'.

My point about Colorado politics is that our state has passed 'pragmatic liberal' laws like marijuana legalization because of popular referenda, not because we elected centrist Dems who thought it was a good idea and enacted it into law. It's also revealing that a lot of big figures in Colorado Dem politics are trying to make it much harder to pass laws through direct referenda. Almost like they don't like direct democracy...

Your paragraph about 'and here we see the essence' is perhaps the closest you have ever come to actually recognizing that politics is a struggle between competing interests, not simply a Manichaean one between 'goodies' and 'badies'. If you actually developed those thoughts a little more, you might actually form a cogent perspective on current US politics. Here's to hoping...

Also, it's hilarious that you lump 'economists' along with the other 'knowledge' professions. Yep, definitely no dogmatists in economics!

Your rant about the left could be cribbed from any right-wing personality, take your pick. I've been through college and currently work on one and haven't seen a whiff of radicalism. In this regard, you share another weird delusion with right-wingers who imagine most people's college experience is identical to Berkeley '68.

Just to make the same harangues and gripes less dreary each time you write them, I just imagine you screaming every word you've BLOCK CAPITALIZED at your computer as you type it.

hadend said...

"He won the fucking popular vote and lost by ONE electoral vote, instead of winning by 29, which would have happened but for the Naderites" - David Brin

"Hadend’s whine that we “blame” only Naderites for Florida is simply insane, self-pitying, strawman screeching" - David Brin

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: Red Queen. Yes. Sort of. I'm not suggesting we believe six impossible things before breakfast, though. I'm suggesting we believe six conflicting things. Our models are inherently incomplete, so it isn't critical that they be consistent with each other. What matters is they be consistent enough with evidence to be useful. Having a number of them means we can take a patchwork approach to modeling a wider universe.

People do this all the time, but rarely pay attention to it. Our perception models are often horribly inconsistent, but it takes an outsider to point it out most of the time. This is the foundation of David's CITOKATE term. When we believe conflicting things knowingly, we have a small chance of being able to criticize ourselves.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: I was in Indiana (Cummins HQ) during the 2004 election (mail in ballot to CA) and was appalled that they'd vote for W again. Mystified too. I consoled myself in a belief the Dems put up a less than lovable candidate. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
W managed to become a "war president" as such he was almost assured a win in 2004
(I left the USA in 2001 and moved to NZ in 2002)
In some ways it's amazing Kerry got as many votes as he did

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

Back to "models" at best we know that - pushing this lever "just now" - makes things better - from my engine model almost everything has an optimum - so if you are short of air giving it more air will help - until you have enough/too much air when additional air won't help
So at the moment we "know" that "at our current levels" there is a inverse realtionship between inequality and social health (and growth)

We don't know if say half the inequality of Sweden would still be this side of the optimum - maybe that would start to make things worse again

So we need to push the lever - which is what Reagan/Thatcher did - and they made things worse! - so now we need to go the other way

donzelion said...

Hadend: I am one of those who voted for Nader in 2000 (mainly on account of Lieberman - never liked him all that much). Perhaps I've got some sense of where you're coming from.

Not that that gives me any authority, not that you'd care if it did.

Thing is, nothing you've said makes me think you would consciously wreck the country in order to make a point. Indeed, re-reading this chain, my eye fixated on this line -

"I heard multiple 'Remember Nader!' arguments at my Dem caucus..."
Hmmm...the words used were 'my Dem caucus..." Not "the" Dem caucus. Implying (a) you were there, (b) you were paying attention, and (c) you feel a sense of belonging. Cool.

This year, I see natural allies at each other's throats. What will it take to focus us on what we're supposed to do, rather than venting our own fear, our own way, and lashing ourselves against those who are really looking for some gesture of support? I cannot say. But I'll try a bit more tomorrow.

Paul SB said...

Hadend,

I'm not exactly running the hate Nader ticket. I see your point, but also Dr. Brin's (and the discourse here would be better if we kept it courteous). Those people you call "centrists" who voted Republican aren't really centrists at all, they are, like most humans, simply much more inclined to persuasion and following trends than the dyed-in-the-wool partisans on either side. You can call them swing voters if you like or waffles if you prefer, but they are an inevitable product of human nature. The human brain can be logical at times, but most often it is emotional, and easily swayed by appeals to emotion. This is why, with only 2 parties, we keep swinging radically back and forth. People get excited about a candidate and vote the dude into office, then, after 4 years, when they don't have a mansion, a Mercedes, a beautiful trophy wife and a mistress on the side, they blame that dude they voted into office and go the other way. It's a cycle, and one that would be less pronounced if we had more viable parties. But those people you call Democrats who voted for W weren't really Democrats, they were people who voted for Clinton in the 90's because they were sick of Bush, then voted for that son of a Bush in 2000 because they were sick of Clinton.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

"Our models are inherently incomplete, so it isn't critical that they be consistent with each other. What matters is they be consistent enough with evidence to be useful. Having a number of them means we can take a patchwork approach to modeling a wider universe.

People do this all the time, but rarely pay attention to it. Our perception models are often horribly inconsistent, but it takes an outsider to point it out most of the time."

Precisely! And a bit anthropological, too! Get as many emic interpretations as you can, and as many etic ones, too. Eventually we will put together a better model out of the jumble. And that muddle will change and get jumbled up again later. C'est la Vie!

Smurphs said...

Remembering back to 2000, there was a lot of Clinton fatigue. No matter what you thought of his policies and accomplishments, many, many people HATED "Slick Willy" and his disregard for truth and honesty. I don't mean to debate his character again now, we had enough back then, but I am just recognizing that the fatigue did exist.

And, Al Gore was a phenomenally boring candidate, even if he is a very smart man.

I am not defending these "centrists", just remembering. And some of that stuff is still hurting Hillary, 20 years later.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

From my own point of view as Brit Clinton badly mishandled his whole affair - he should have said - "none of YOUR business who I shag" - and appeared the next morning with a black eye and a brief comment about interested parties have spoken

Dr Brin:

I like the black eye bit. The nation would have loved it!


With all due caution about judging 2000 by 2016 standards...

Hillary would have been a shoe-in for 2008. Maybe 2004. And an outside shot at 2000 itself!

:)

Deuxglass said...

Living overseas can sometimes give you an interesting take on our presidential elections. According to the embassy there are around 100,000 Americans living in France and of course they organize themselves politically. There is a Democrat Party and a Republican Party and they both are quit active in recruiting and soliciting donations. At election time leaders of both parties are frequent guests on prime-time talk shows where they explain their respective party positions on this, that and the other thing. This what has happened every time except for this election. Both parties are totally absent from TV. The French journalists keep inviting them but they stay away. I can understand it for the Republicans, defending Trump is really not easy, but the Democrats here also have a problem defending Clinton. They are uneasy with her and have no enthusiasm. It is too bad that Sanders got knocked out. He would have pulled in all the Democrats here and (surprise!) some Republicans I know as well. In four years time we will be able to discuss the "What if Sanders had won" scenario and finally put to rest the Al Gore "What if" scenario.

LarryHart said...

From Paul Krugman today:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/31/opinion/working-the-refs.html


...

The moral of the story is that appeasing the modern American right is a losing proposition. Nothing you do convinces them that you’re being fair, because fairness has nothing to do with it. The right long ago ran out of good ideas that can be sold on their own merits, so the goal now is to remove merit from the picture.

Or to put it another way, they’re trying to create bias, not end it, and weakness — the kind of weakness Mr. Comey has so spectacularly displayed — only encourages them to do more.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

That was when the slogan going around was, "Billionaires for Bush or Gore."


Just like now, the meme that Hillary is in the bag for Wall St. So that's why Wall St is putting their money behind the Democrat. Except they aren't. I wonder why that is.


It was also when the Occupy movement was getting to be very much in the air.


You might be thinking of the protests against the World Trade Organization and that sort of thing. OWS was more like 2011.

LarryHart said...

hadend:

Like I said to LarryHart, a false narrative doesn't become any less false the more you repeat it.


Or when you do. :)


Gore didn't lose because of Nader, he lost because registered Dems voted for GWB (basically doing double damage) and the fact that Gore didn't push for a broader recount.


Gore lost because a whole bunch of things lined up against him, any one of which going the other way would have given him the win. If those Democrats for Bush (which I honestly don't remember being a thing) had voted for him, he wouldn't have needed the Nader voters. But likewise, if the Nader voters had voted for him, he wouldn't have needed the turncoats. If he had won his home state, he wouldn't have needed Florida. That doesn't negate the fact that shenanigans in Florida are also to blame.


Why don't the centrist fuck-ups of the recent past, like Gore not asking for a broader recount, piss you off nearly as much as people like Nader?


Honestly? Because the Naderites, like today's Jill Stein voters, don't seem to understand that by "sending a message" by helping Gore's (and Hillary's) opponents to win, they are accomplishing the diametric opposite of what they say they are trying to accomplish. I'd despise them less if they really are Trump agents pretending to be liberals, because then at least they aren't being stupid.


LarryHart, not being contrarian, I sincerely think Clinton is not going to increase the Dem's prospects and that she's not going to have much of a mandate (since her campaign is basically "I'm not Donald Trump"). Also, what kind of disaster will the Dem's have to face for you to change your mind about third-way liberalism? Or are we just one Clinton admin away from the 'End of History'?


I'd be more tempted to experiment when the Supreme Court isn't quite so in the balance. Or if I thought the actual Democrat had no chance of winning. It's not that I think Hillary will save us--but I think Trump (or any Republican) will destroy us. Hillary's election is a necessary condition for avoiding the trap. I'm not claiming it to be a sufficient condition.

Honest question for you--you're berating many of us here for supporting Hillary. Ok, we know what you don't want. What exactly are you asking us to do instead? That's not nearly so clear.




raito said...

"PC-bullies are real."

And one of them heads the Clinton Foundation.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

People do this all the time, but rarely pay attention to it. Our perception models are often horribly inconsistent, but it takes an outsider to point it out most of the time.


Inconsistency is built into our institutions. How else can OJ Simpson be "not guilty" of murdering his ex-wife, but civilly liable for causing her death?

David Brin said...

The stunning hypocrite is not worth my time, except to point out that he points offstage at strawmen rather than answer my simple dare to tell us what he is doing, this election, right now, compared to the hard work and money and time and effort that I and several others here have devoted.

In reply to the flood - tsunami - of fact based profession fleeing from confederate madness to the democrats, all he can do is the modern trick of drilling down to an irrelevant specific: "you call economists 'fact-based?" Notice the trick guys.

But yes, those economists who show that actual OUTCOMES are vastly better across democratic administrations than gop ones? Yes.

As for yammering about ALL CAPS... you are an idiot.

But the capper is insistence upon zero sum thinking. Because I dare to critique the minority of dogmatic fools on the far left, that makes me a shill for the right. Madness. And he knows it. He knows that step by step progress like civil rights bills, like Obama declaring the right to photograph police, like Supreme Court picks, like the CFPB... these matter...

...ooops, sorry ... these MATTER!

In contrast, fatuous prancing dingbats would rather screech and pose than get into the nitty gritty of change. Spend 364 days a year persuading neighbors to go socialist while pragmatically choosing the incrementalists, if only in battleground states, every even numbered year.

Tell us what you are doing, this election, fellah. Tell us. You've had several days. You could have volunteered the last couple and come back here and told us. You could lie!

Probably will

locumranch said...


Hadend hasn't caught on to our host's little hypocrisy yet, has he?

Like Hadend, pro-democracy liberals support individual freedom of choice, even if that choice allows potentially unenlightened individuals to freely make either the right or (gasp) the wrong choice.

David, however, is an anti-democracy progressive. This allows him the appearance of supporting democratic individual liberties, while simultaneously allowing him to compel those individuals (who he deems less 'enlightened') to make the right choice by forbidding them from making the wrong choice (which he deems 'failure mode').

We see this played out in faux-democratic elections all over the world:

The Establishment offers the electorate a false choice -- Evil Trump vs Angelic Clinton, NAZI Nationalism vs Heavenly Globalism, or
Brutish Brexit vs EU Enlightenment -- and then exerts its upmost influence via the media, economic influence, academia & social manipulation to forbid what it deems to be the wrong choice while compelling unidirectional anti-democratic progressive conformity.

Those who are interested can learn more about our modern conformity by reading Skinner's 'Beyond Freedom & Dignity, available gratis at http://selfdefinition.org/psychology/BF-Skinner-Beyond-Freedom-&-Dignity-1971.pdf


Best

Deuxglass said...

locum,

Cut Dr. Brin some slack. He is not like you. He is not consumed by narcissistic cynicism. He believes that we can become better and he understandably gets pissed off when it is not coming fast enough. You on the other hand are one of those who have lost all optimism and faith in anything and you resent those who do hope and fight to make the future worthwhile for our children. If you are young and bitter then that is a tragedy. If you are old and bitter then your time is almost up on Earth so good riddance.

David Brin said...

"David, however, is an anti-democracy progressive."

You are an insane person.

locumranch said...



Some call it 'Insanity', others call it 'Freedom of Choice".
:p

Best !!
______
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrary_(social_role)

"A Contrary was a member of a Native North American tribal group who adopted behavior that was deliberately the opposite of other tribal members. The Contraries were found among the historical Amerindian tribes of the Great Plains. They were a small number of individuals loosely organized into a cult that was devoted to the practice of contrary behavior...

Contrary behavior means deliberately doing the opposite of what others routinely or conventionally do. It was usually accompanied by inverse speech, in which one says the opposite of what one actually means. For example, "no!" expresses "yes!" And "hello" means "goodbye". To say "Grandfather, go away!" would be an invitation for him to come.[7]"

Tacitus2 said...

Well, y'all are not having much luck staying clear of politics. Or, I will be honest among friends, being civil.

I offer up a bit of fiction as it is a fondness for such works that unites us here. Does a little politics creep into the writings of both Professional and Amateur writers? P'raps. With apologies for violating the no pol zone...

2016 THE YEAR OF LIVING CARLOS DANGEROUSLY

(ring)

"This is Director Comey"

"Uh, Chief, I have a mixed batch of news for you. Some is bad. Some is worse. But some is actually pretty funny.."

"Ughh. I hate this job. Start with the funny".

"Well you know we have been looking into Anthony Wiener and that whole underage kid thing. Well, one of the things we always do is shine the UV light on the laptop keyboard. Looking for biological.."

"I know what you are looking for. Geeze, how gross".

"Sorry Chief. Well the funny part is that the whole computer lit up under UV light. You could read the New York Times by it! Half the tech staff was able to take no-flash selfies of themselves with the light it gave off!"

"Very amusing. Now give me the bad news".

"Well, I don't know quite how to say this, but the computer memory held 14 gigabytes of porn, 11 gigabytes of sensitive State Department cables regarding the Middle East, and 2 gigs of.....well it involved camels and could fit in either category I suppose."

"Holy Crap. Can we contain this information?"

"Ah, that's the really bad news part. The contents of this computer appear to be known to Vladimir Putin and to several porn stars. We are pretty sure that an uptick in online discussions about drone strikes among 15 year old girls is probably related. Also several of the camels in some of the more...interesting...files appear to be winking knowingly but we're not sure just what that means...."

Tacitus


Alfred Differ said...

@Tacitus2: Okay. That got a shudder out of me. We use the term 'spillage' to describe classified information leaking onto unclassified systems. Now I've got an extra connotation or two involving Anthony Weiner and camels. 8)

@Everyone else: Deep Breath time. Political season makes it easy for trolls to hunt and hard to distinguish them from friends with opposing views.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: So at the moment we "know" that "at our current levels" there is a inverse relationship between inequality and social health (and growth)

Do we know that? What exactly is 'social health'? I've got a pretty good idea of what inequality is (Gini Index), but I suspect reasonable people can debate what social health is.

The problem with the engine model is it assumes levers hooked to things. Press the accelerator and more fuel is added to the mix. In the days of carburetors one opened a valve to add more air. One dimensional levers where one can control for the others. Communities don't make decisions like that. What lever do I press to get a raise relative to my company's CEO in order to reduce inequality? If you think you know, you don't understand just how multi-dimensional human decision making is. It's not just a few more dimensions. It's millions in small communities and probably bazillions more for nations and the world.

We dream of reducible relationships for simple models like we find for the physical sciences, but what reductions we have found are tiny patches of explanatory power. For example, we have a pretty good idea of why price controls tend to produce product shortages no matter what planners try. We have a pretty good idea of why high wages for certain rare skills aren't all that much above low wages for common skills (in a free labor market) no matter how much the rare skill holders would wish otherwise. We have a pretty good idea of why certain jobs won't get filled even though there are people willing to pay what the tasks are worth in the market even without minimum wage laws. There is a much larger set of things we don't know, though, and it should be enough to demolish any fantasy we have about simple economic models. We don't even know the emergent rules people play by when making economic decisions, though we are now pretty sure it isn't a simplistic set where prudence dominates all other motives.

So we need to push the lever - which is what Reagan/Thatcher did - and they made things worse! - so now we need to go the other way

Okay. So you say. I'm not convinced the 'lever' they pushed did what you think it did, though. We were pushing a bazillion other things too. Push it back if you can, but I doubt you can because I doubt it exists in the fashion you describe. I'll help you shoot the supply-side idea in the head, but we did so much more than that.

Laurence said...

As for far-lefties, you clearly have never been to college, sir. They torment every campus. They are the germ of truth within the right's turd-pile of lies -- the suppliers of anecdotes that trumpeters use, to glue their coalition. PC-bullies are real. Flouncing purist ingrate nasties who are easily as sanctimonious as any Tea Partier, exhibiting identical brain scans and endorphin-addiction profiles.

This, I think is where your idea of "radical transparency" falls flat. You suggest that so long as citizens can observe the state as keenly as the state observes them, an Orwellian scenario can never develop. However, this assumes that all opression comes from above. While state-led censorship and tyranny are the most powerful and most well known forms of opression known, ordinary citizens also subjgate one another, from homophobia and mysogyny on the right to PC bullying and "no-platforming" on the left, through to simple school bullying - the capacity of a majority to terrorise and silence dissenters without the need for intervention from above is well documented. "Radical transparency" would ensure that citizens could not only be able to observer their leaders, but also each other. Imagine yourself as a closeted gay or lesbian in a rural midwestern village (or worse, an Afghan one) in a world of "radical transparency." Imagine if your every private expression of opinion or causal joke were made knowable to all on a university campus like Yale. The power this would give to those wh can bear no dissent, no failure to conform scarcely bears thinking about.

Jumper said...

Hadend earns points by staying calm in the face of that storm. I disagree on the best method to get centrists to move in the best direction.

As long as people are arguing, I'm thinking it's time to be reminded of the "false dichotomy" fallacy.
From RationalWiki:

"an example..., here is Joel Richardson, in the WND, criticizing Ron Paul’s foreign policies:
According to Paul, radical Muslims are not radical because they have drunk deeply from the trough of an expansionist, racist and murderous ideology, but rather because American actions abroad have brought about the natural response of resistance.

But of course, adopting one causal factor does not – despite what Richardson assumes – entail rejecting the other"

Jacob said...

One form of "Radical transparency" would. Perhaps we should implement another form of transparency. To me, the key is ensure that people aren't harassed.

Tim H. said...

Off topic, Jerry Pournelle posted that Roberta has had a stroke. If you can spare good wishes, or prayer, if you do that, send it their way.

Jumper said...

I used to follow his site, Tim H. Thanks for the heads up.

LarryHart said...

hadend:

Also, what kind of disaster will the Dem's have to face for you to change your mind about third-way liberalism?


I didn't mention this before, but the place for making the Democrats more liberal is in the primaries, not in letting Trump beat them in the general. I already did vote for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. And I'd be backing him 100% had he won. But I don't see it as an unconscionable travesty that an independent didn't win the Democratic primary, and now, it's time to make sure we don't have a Republican president. As a Cubs fan, I know what "Wait till next year" is all about.

donzelion said...

Duncan/Alfred: "So we need to push the lever - which is what Reagan/Thatcher did - and they made things worse! - so now we need to go the other way"

Alfred has a good point here: it's absolutely unclear that pushing one lever will reverse course. The post-WWII era is over. The post-Cold War boom is over. The Hothead War of 2016 isn't a shooting war, so I'm skeptical about a boom...and Obama and Clinton are not trying to blow bubbles.

Yet Duncan's point remains: once we consign "supply side voodoo" to the dustbin of intellectual history, what do we do? Here, the progressives are divided. Consolidate the Supreme Court? Absolutely. But that won't turn the country around, it'll just stop existing hemorrhaging. Minimum wage hike ($12 or $15)? Healthcare expansion? Expire the rest of the Bush Tax Cuts entirely, and revert all capital gains/dividend taxes back to 'ordinary income' rates?

This is the point where I lose patience with the "I hate Hillary, but I hate Trump more, and I hate broccoli, and I hate green eggs and ham" level of discourse. SOME people step up and try their best to do what they can. Some cynically exploit opportunities, or are so broken by despair they adopt cynicism to discourage others from doing the work (Locum... ;-) Let us hope that those willing to roll their arms up, bite the bullet, and do what is for the best of the country will come out in force in a week.

LarryHart said...

locumranch doesn't disappoint in the humor department:

Like Hadend, pro-democracy liberals support individual freedom of choice, even if that choice allows potentially unenlightened individuals to freely make either the right or (gasp) the wrong choice.


No, as usual, your words are the diametric opposite of reality. Hadend berates the rest of us for our individual choices without explaining exactly what choice he'd be satisfied with. No one is stepping on his freedom of choice, even though we believe his choice to be counterproductive. In locum-world, does arguing one's own position constitute censorship against the other debater?


David, however, is an anti-democracy progressive.


No, he isn't.


The Establishment offers the electorate a false choice -- Evil Trump vs Angelic Clinton, NAZI Nationalism vs Heavenly Globalism, or Brutish Brexit vs EU Enlightenment


You're making a false equivalence. It's sufficient to be against evil without asserting or believing that the other side is angelic or wonderful. I don't think Hillary is all that, but she's not Trump. She's not Republican. That's reason enough to support her in this election.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Well, y'all are not having much luck staying clear of politics. Or, I will be honest among friends, being civil.


Alfred Differ:

Deep Breath time. Political season makes it easy for trolls to hunt and hard to distinguish them from friends with opposing views


Let me offer some perspective from the old "Cerebus" list. When an off-topic event which consumes everybody's attention--whether an election or a new "Star Wars" movie--approaches, the list purists get annoyed with the off-topic topic taking over the conversation. My advice--let it go. The election will be over soon. In the meantime, this is what is on people's minds. Let us talk about it.


donzelion said...

LarryHart: in Hadend's defense, he did say he was there for the Dem primaries. He's angry and bitter about an awful lot, and a lot of anger is venting straight back at him - and the big question right now is what effect that anger will have?

This, I think, is a major difference between Dems and Reps: Reps thrive on anger, and have turned it into a vast echo chamber. Theirs is a special sort of self-righteousness, in that it resists facts, science, and 'unauthorized' authority of all sorts. Call a 'committed hypocrite' what he is, and he shrugs and turns back to his golf course (at the elite level) or his Fox-stream (at the rank'n'file) or his church. Dems operate differently: with so many disparate groups coming together, lots of different facts must be balanced, and without a charismatic centerpoint (Obama), it's hard to hold any sort of 'movement' together (even as so many of us looong for a movement).

For Reps, anger gets constantly directed at all the 'enemies' - mostly phantoms, occasionally real. Anger mobilizes them. For Dems, anger gets constantly directed at the 'allies' - WHY DON'T YOU SEE THINGS LIKE I DO YOU NITWIT! Anger demobilizes Dems, makes the pretension of "I valiantly sat back and did nothing as a mark of my disdain!" seem like a courageous principle. Indeed, Reps are absolutely dependent upon this principle: they need millions of Americans to say "a pox on both your houses!" - without realizing that we all share the same house.

donzelion said...

Locum: I'm not entirely sure whether to feel sad, scared, or confused by your "anti-democracy" barb. I think I'll take an implication of what you wrote literally for a second just to underscore the hilarity here:

"David, however, is an anti-democracy progressive. This allows him the appearance of supporting democratic individual liberties, while simultaneously allowing him to compel those individuals...to make the right choice by forbidding them from making the wrong choice (which he deems 'failure mode')."

Dr. Brin is a fine writer, and his works are a lot of fun to read. But to suggest that a few comments on a blog will 'compel' people or 'forbid' them from anything is to ascribe magical powers of quashing human will. Oh no, look out for the anti-democracy progressive and his magical dolphinese! He's going to compel you away from failure mode with some angry cracks here and there! Watch out for the USS 'Failure Mode' Censor Ship, what with a Yoda-hating fiend manipulating your every thought.

Seriously: you come back repeatedly because you're looking for intellectual community. So do I. I am confident you can do better than that.

Jumper said...

Plus no input on our federal system which acknowledged that democracy can go wrong. True? False? Is unfettered democracy a good, and we need it, or is it now adjusted about as much as is constitutionally desirable? Or is it moral when I agree and dangerous when I don't?
Somehow I don't see locumranch seeking a future sitting in his toilet chair watching "Ow My Balls."

David Brin said...

Laurence said: “You suggest that so long as citizens can observe the state as keenly as the state observes them, an Orwellian scenario can never develop. However, this assumes that all opression comes from above. While state-led censorship and tyranny are the most powerful and most well known forms of opression known, ordinary citizens also subjgate one another, from homophobia and mysogyny on the right to PC bullying and "no-platforming" on the left, through to simple school bullying …”

Yes of course I deal with this in The Transparent Society.

If we can shine true citizen sousveillance at elites, then Orwell’s Big Brother becomes impossible… but the next level failure mode is the one Ray Bradbury showed in Fahrenheit 451… in which tyranny arises from populist bullying by the 60% majority of “little brothers,” imposing conformity upon all. It is a truly frightening possibility and the means for using this in state control are being developed in large Eurasian states.

But this is not where it has to go. Light will not prevent this, all by itself. But light PLUS some social innovations will prevent it. Those social innovations are seen in almost every Hollywood film, in which the principal messages are : Suspicion of authority (SoA), Tolerance, Diversity, and Eccentricity.

Watch the movies. The heroine or hero almost always exhibits some eccentric trait in the 1st 5 minutes! If you actually look, you can see a society girding itself to use light AGAINST conformity.

Notice how, in order to uphold and proclaim his own eccentricity — his viciously insane need to strawman other people and try to portray them in ways diametrically opposite to their values — our locumranch must appeal to liberal values! He can’t proclaim “I am better and deserve to oppress others!”

No, he must proclaim: “You liberals are oppressing me and making me conform to your non-conformity and tolerance! You are repressing my right to repress others!”

Now if he had put it that way… then… well, damn straight.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

I like this you wrote here:

"Alfred has a good point here: it's absolutely unclear that pushing one lever will reverse course. The post-WWII era is over. The post-Cold War boom is over. The Hothead War of 2016 isn't a shooting war, so I'm skeptical about a boom...and Obama and Clinton are not trying to blow bubbles."

The part I especially like is that last phrase, though I appreciate the rest of it as well. The idea of "not trying to blow bubbles" seems to be beyond most people, because we have been trained to believe that vitality = rapid growth, so an economy is only good if it is growing by leaps and bounds. But an economy that is growing by leaps and bounds is a bubble, and a bubble will pop, with huge and devastating consequences. It seems to me that much of the dissatisfaction many people have with President Obama - those who are in that group that are not really partisan but are easily persuaded (the Waffle Constituency) expect the economy to be going like a runaway train. The recovery from the Bush Bubble has been slow and steady, so from many people's perspective, this has been no recovery at all. No matter what the news is, they expect streets paved with gold or it isn't good enough. But not blowing bubbles is exactly what we need. Any growth beyond maturity is either obesity or cancer. But then, America has among the highest rates of both of these in the world.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Where you said that people have the election on their minds and politics is most of what they want to talk about, I agree, especially this close to election day. It's like picking at a scab - we all feel the election fatigue, but at the same time it just feels so important we can't put it down. However, I doubt it is going to be over after Nov 8. Regardless of the outcome, the discussion will keep going. We could take little loci as a somewhat extreme example. If Trump wins, he will gloat for the next 4 years, and if Trump loses, he will piss and moan for the next 4 years, his screed becoming more shrill and screeching the closer his years bring him to the grave without the satisfaction of seeing all them damn liberals burn in Hell. (I still say the rhetoric he uses is exactly like all the preachers and ministers i grew up listening to out on the Great Plains - twist words and logic any way to win, no matter what. It's okay to lie when immortal soul are at risk. It's even okay to kill if the souls in question show no sign of being persuaded to follow the One True Path. His latest about equating progressivism with anti-democracy and believing in Freedom is no different from the abortion debate, where the pro-lifers think everyone on Earth will agree that murder os wrong and evil. The mental gymnastics are impressive, but only in that flabbergasted "can you believe anyone can really come up with shit like that?" way.)

People who are 100% sure of themselves just aren't going to shut up. It is too important to their petty egos to never admit defeat, never entertain the possibility that they might not be perfect. Such pitiable creatures are these! And every time he or one of the other trolls chimes in, many of us get sucked in.

Alfred Differ said...

@Donzelion: If supply-side theory were disposed of, we’d still have a ton more elephant and donkey dung to sweep out. There are strong arguments for why minimum wages do harm to the people they are intended to help. There are good reasons to address the underlying reasons for malpractice insurance rate inflation that are going to scare people when they are told the causes. There are good reasons to consign some of the Keynesian voodoo to the same dustbin.

I sympathize with progressives who want the world to be fair and safe, but I’m an old school liberal with a strong sense of skepticism when I’m presented with magical thinking. Not only do I doubt a lever can be reversed, I doubt the lever is a lever at all. Back up 20 years and ask my younger self what the world would be like with US Treasury rates as low as they are and I’d have spouted something about inflation running amok. Heh. I was guilty of thinking there was a causal relation there. Apparently there isn’t, but who admits that nowadays? We are reduced now to knowing one CAN influence the other, but the relationship isn’t a lever with its convenient expectation that a small push should result in a small change. Is the solution space even differentiable? Models assume so, but the map isn’t the terrain.

Believe conflicting models in large enough numbers and we might even ask if consolidating the Supreme Court is a good idea. Obviously we don’t want THEM in control, but precedents are powerful in emergent systems. What happens once two opposing groups of people get used to an idea and then trade who gets a chance to govern? Progressives won’t always be ascendant. Neither will the liberals or conservatives always be. Someone will be, though, and they get to use every precedent.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: If you believe Keynes, bubbles come from our animal spirits. They can be controlled (engine analogy in play here) by dampening irrational exuberance. Busts are their inverses and we try to lift our spirits with high velocity spending. Cycles are the result of confidence booms and busts.

If you believe the Austrians, bubbles are the result of a bias that mis-assigns scarce resources. Busts are the corrections applied when we come to understand our earlier stupidity. The cycle of boom and bust comes about from an out-of-phase feedback loop that forces an oscillation. The engine analogy is only partially in play here, though, because evolving systems do this too.

Reality is probably a bit of both. There is little doubt that our confidence in markets greatly influences prices. There is little doubt there are feedback loops that make the system oscillate. Austrian models generally say what not to do, though, so most people don’t like them as tools for deciding policy. Keynesian levers are more appealing, but may have little to do with reality.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin & Laurence,

"If we can shine true citizen sousveillance at elites, then Orwell’s Big Brother becomes impossible… but the next level failure mode is the one Ray Bradbury showed in Fahrenheit 451… in which tyranny arises from populist bullying by the 60% majority of “little brothers,” imposing conformity upon all. It is a truly frightening possibility..."

What I see here is a need for balance, but political propaganda has been throwing that balance off for a very long time. Too much government power and you have Big Brother, too little and you have majorities wiping out or enslaving minorities. Having a Bill of Rights helps, but we saw with Jim Crow that if the "people" don't care to enforce it, it won't happen.

In fact, this is a really ancient theme in human civilization. Are either of you familiar with the author Mary Renault? She is most famous for writing "The King Must Die," but in another of her novels, called "The Last of the Wine" which takes place in Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, she brings up the idea of the "tyranny of the majority" as a problem that dogs democracy, in one of humanity's earliest democracies. (Unfortunately is has been so long since I read that book, my fleeting memory of my point has already slipped my mind! I don't suppose anyone can help me out, here ... : / )

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Ah, using multiple models here:

"Reality is probably a bit of both. There is little doubt that our confidence in markets greatly influences prices. There is little doubt there are feedback loops that make the system oscillate. Austrian models generally say what not to do, though, so most people don’t like them as tools for deciding policy. Keynesian levers are more appealing, but may have little to do with reality."

Your choice of the phrase "...has little to do with reality" suggests you don't have an especially high opinion of Keynesian models, but then, you do accept that sometimes perception of reality can have a huge influence, where the etic view of reality would fail to predict that kind of behavior (the key flaw in rational models of behavior - people are only rational at times).

David Brin said...

PaulSB I am afraid you are creating a false dichotomy. It is not between tyranny by elites and tyranny by mob. The latter always leads to the former. Transparency can eliminate the former. Transparency can eliminate the latter too… if the people have VALUES that make it unacceptable to judge others unfairly or to enforce conformity.

Think about it. If you are trying to bully someone into conformity, and that is frowned upon socially, then light is the enemy of such bullies.

Has any other human society ever accomplished this combination? I know of none. And it flies in the face of human nature. But westerners are voting for this trend in many ways… like the teens who post embarrassing things, knowing they are committing themselves to stand up for a civilization in which 30 year olds are forgiven for harmless idiocies they posted, as teens.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

I haven't known many writers, but I have known a fair number of artists and musicians over the years. Your comment to loci reminded me of them.

"Dr. Brin is a fine writer, and his works are a lot of fun to read. But to suggest that a few comments on a blog will 'compel' people or 'forbid' them from anything is to ascribe magical powers of quashing human will."

The people I have known who were in any kind of a creative career have fairly consistently told me that they don't expect to hit the big time or to have power and influence. Not too many of them would turn down fame, but it was a pipe dream, not a serious pursuit. And they weren't making a lot of money doing it. What they most often said was that if they play a gig and the people in the audience forgot their troubles for a little while and felt happy, or if someone looks at their painting, sculpture, enamel or whatever and grew a curious smile, the audience howls with laughter at their stand-up, they did their job, and that's satisfaction. This is why I have a lot of respect for artists.

Sometimes, if politics is what's on people's minds, then that's appropriate, and maybe it might influence a vote or two (remembering the chorus from that old Depeche Mode song "New Dress" - You can't change the world, but you can change the facts. When you change the facts you change points of view, when you change points of view, you may change a vote, when you change a vote, you can change the world.)

No real mind control, but I suspect that writers, whether they are willing to admit it or not, are a pedantic lot who hope that their readers with "get the message." Sure, song writers have written protest songs. Photographers have taken pictures that made a deep impression on society, but only fools take the words of one writer, or artist or book and build their lives around them (and Loci's little rant was no more than a specific referent for Trump's claim that "the media" is biased against him, and if he wins he'll accept the results, but if he loses it has to have been cheating).

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

If I created a false dichotomy it was not intentional, but by omission. It can't be just one tyranny or another. I'm too middle class to accept that. These are more extremes, and are often intertwined, with politicians trying to incite riots on the one hand, or trying to garner votes by appealing to tyrannical constituents. But the point about values is always at the back of my mind - I'm just not so good at communicating it. All the cameras in the world will do nothing to stop injustice if people believe in Might Makes Right, or the Just World Fallacy (which is built into most religious faiths), that the victims somehow deserve what they are experiencing. Then those cameras become vehicles for hate porn.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: Too much government power and you have Big Brother, too little and you have majorities wiping out or enslaving minorities.

David has already pointed to the false dichotomy, but I'd like to expand on it a bit. It is a memetic attractor similar to the one used before liberalism gained a foothold in NW Europe. The earlier one said people need Kings because we can't govern ourselves. Apparently we can, though, and we do a damn sight better job of it. If I thought I'd be around to collect, I'd bet serious money we can 'have too little' and not have majorities wiping out or enslaving minorities too. That we have in the past is not sufficient to demonstrate that we will in the future. On top of that, I suspect we've done less of that without Kings. Genocide has become something of an ugly word.

where the etic view of reality would fail to predict that kind of behavior (the key flaw in rational models of behavior

Heh. One of the things physics taught me was to be skeptical of theories that carry claims to describing objective truth. Though my teachers went reluctantly into the philosophy behind physics, I loved the stuff. A theory with no philosophical rationale wasn't finished enough to be presented without a least a bit of embarrassment. Yet the more I learned at that level, the more I saw why my teachers avoided it. We couldn't really define probability let alone what it means to be objective. In the end, we are modelers making toys that have value only if they are useful.

Of course rational models of behavior fail. Of course Keynesian models fail. The marvelous thing is that they work at all in the small domains where they are valuable. Truly amazing. We should make lots and lots of them. Collect them as if Called to do so.

However, why would you say people are rational only at times? Doesn't that assume a model for what rational behavior is? Can you imagine a model for human behavior that has us being sane when we do what is best for us as individuals and as members of our social groups? Wouldn't such sanity be rational by definition? Emotions serve. Romanticism serves. Fickleness serves. Is it possible the people making 'rational models of behavior' are simply confused and modeling a tiny domain of what we actually are? 8)

Laurence said...

But this is not where it has to go. Light will not prevent this, all by itself. But light PLUS some social innovations will prevent it. Those social innovations are seen in almost every Hollywood film, in which the principal messages are : Suspicion of authority (SoA), Tolerance, Diversity, and Eccentricity.

Watch the movies. The heroine or hero almost always exhibits some eccentric trait in the 1st 5 minutes! If you actually look, you can see a society girding itself to use light AGAINST conformity.


The trouble is a society (or at least a subculture) can nominally endorse eccentricity while actively promoting conformity. Going back to my example of the conservative right versus the PC left, both sides imagine the other is "the establishment" and "the mainstream". Hence within their little communities both groups can enforce conformity while claiming to be against it. (for a less political ilustration of this phenomenon, think of the goths in South Park, I forget which episode it was)

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Was this a rhetorical question?

"Is it possible the people making 'rational models of behavior' are simply confused and modeling a tiny domain of what we actually are?"

It was pretty much Marshall Sahlins' thesis way back in the 70's, when he was writing "Stone Age Economics." Yes, at times fickleness serves a purpose, Romanticism serves a purpose, emotions serve a purpose. Burt then, getting drunk might seem to serve a purpose, too, up to the point where the drunkard crashes his car and kills innocent bystanders, or beats his wife to death and shoots the police officer who showed up on their doorstep, or deludes himself into voting for a dictator, assuming for no apparent reason that the dictator really cares about someone other than himself and will not rape the country. What constitutes rationality is far greater than what economists model, but that hardly denies the existence of irrationality.

"The earlier one said people need Kings because we can't govern ourselves."

That's the foundation of all elitism, whether it is aristocracy (based on assumed genetic superiority, or "superior breeding" to use their own term), religion (Calvinism and its offshoots, or Jehovah's Witnesses with their "little flock" are more blatant examples), business (Jeff Skilling and the Enron Boys being the poster-children for this form of hubris), intellectual elitism (so common in academic institutions - big surprise) or nativism (based on overvaluation of autochthony). I have the sense that much of the world is getting better in terms of accepting each other's existence and even value and rejecting elitism, and yes, genocide is a dirty word in the mainstream, but there are still a lot of throwbacks who admire Hitler (I just pointed out one of these a couple days ago) or want to use violence to suppress anyone who is not part of their group. We don't need kings or nobles, but we still do need some sort of referee, because there are still those - and probably always will be those - who will go to violent extremes and attack those who they see as weaker than themselves.

"In the end, we are modelers making toys that have value only if they are useful."

And there's a name for that. It's called /heuristic/. In some views it is a dirty word, but the more mature approach is to see a heuristic as a tool. It is useful when and where it is useful, and it is not useful when applied in inappropriate places. When a better tool comes along, a rational actor will discard the old tool in favor of the new (while some may cling to the old tool for various social, political and/or emotional reasons) Maybe /rational/ is not the best word to use here. Would /practical/ be better?

raito said...

Laurence,

"school bullying - the capacity of a majority to terrorise"

It's not only the majority that can coerce, as in your example of school bullying. That's usually an individual or two (not always. When the majority is doing the coercing, it's really Lord of the Flies stuff...), but coercion none the less.

Yes, the ideal solution involves having an enlightened population that doesn't much care what legal activities their neighbors indulge in. We're not exactly close to that idea of utopia.

Paul SB,

Bubbles often tend to follow innovation. So what happens is that some innovation spawns a new industry that expands quickly to fill its new niche. The 'bubble' pop because all too often the thought is that the expansion will continue past where its equilibrium lies. Somewhat ironically, when the bubble pops, the new industry isn't gone, it's just at a more steady state. There's still been a net gain.

Re: Choice

I don't find it particularly coercive to have someone say to me, "I think this is right, and here's why." Or even add, "And you should think so, too." That's called persuasion. And should be indulged in. That's how ideas spread around. Of course, I'm entirely free to disagree. I don't even find it necessary to articulate why. But when the name-calling starts, it stops being persuasion.

Jeff B. said...

Sorry to steer back toward politics for a minute, but this is pretty serious: a Trump server was found to be repeatedly exchanging traffic w. a Russian bank w. ties to the Russian govt./Putin:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/10/was_a_server_registered_to_the_trump_organization_communicating_with_russia.html

A lot of questions (some perhaps unanswerable) but... interesting in light of today's info that the FBI believes they've direct evidence of Russian attempts to meddle in this election.

Paul SB said...

Jeff,

Should we start calling Trump "The Siberian Candidate?" Sorry to be flip. This is serious, but it was too tempting... Having Putin trying to manipulate our highest office sounds like a bigger deal than a few emails that may or may not have anything to do with Clinton.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

You are, for the most part, right about bubbles. Great example of how perception mismatch can have pretty dire consequences. But even though the industries usually survive the big pop, the pop ripples through the whole economy in some pretty dreadful ways, and often for years to come. I grew up near some old Gold Rush ghost towns. Gold mining still happens, but as an employer in places like Colorado, Alaska or California, it's way down from where it was.

Tacitus2 said...

Here is a discussion of the "Secret Server" which appears to have little to nothing to do with Donald Trump, Putin or Russia.

http://blog.erratasec.com/2016/11/debunking-trumps-secret-server.html#more

Sheesh, the Dem-aligned media is in an illogical and embarrasing flop sweat. There are plenty of reasons for anyone, even Conservatives like 'lil 'ol me to vote against Trump. Journalists, to use the term loosely, who peddle crap like this demean a profession that has a long way to go to get back to respectability. See also Donna Brazille fired from her CNN gig when it became known that she repeatedly gave HRC advance notice of specific questions she would be getting at upcoming town hall meetings.

You wonder why there is disgust out here in the Hinterlands?

Tacitus

Jacob said...

Donna Brazille getting fired for misbehaving is evidence against Main Stream Media being a liberal bias engine not evidence for it.

Tacitus2 said...

Jacob

Alternate explanation. There are a few things that even a political heavyweight can get fired for. If and only if they get caught. The real take away is that this sort of egregious stuff happened at all and that Ms. Brazille has no ethical qualms about it.

Shorter version. Has no ethics at all.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Tacitus I agree that Brazile is a monster. Indeed, this is the first HC scandal I have seen that rises from "absurd teensy molehill" status to a Genuine Foothill ... even more if HC proves to have been fully aware of the cheat.

We are still comparing hills to mountains. In every category, including policy.

onward

onward

donzelion said...

"But light PLUS some social innovations will prevent it. Those social innovations are seen in almost every Hollywood film, in which the principal messages are : Suspicion of authority (SoA), Tolerance, Diversity, and Eccentricity."

These social innovations are particularly prevalent in FoxCorp products, yet for all the enduring monetary value in the concepts, are they not easily, regularly, and consistently subverted?

-SoA? This is Fox's key branding point!
-Yoda typifies both 'diversity' and 'eccentricity' - yet has been called here the 'most evil character in the history of storytelling'
-Fox, more than any other media outlet, obsesses over the nature of 'tolerance'

I wonder how many millennials derive moral instruction from "The Hunger Games" (#7 most watched film in 2015): you can't trust ANY authority, so just execute both of them and retreat to the countryside. Hence, millennials believe it morally preferable to stay home and do nothing, thereby avoiding hypocrisy, rather than intervene.

Jumper said...

Hills to mountains is correct. I don't personally subscribe to the policy that it's okay when "our" side does it. Throw them to the lions along with the rest. Just make sure the rest get thrown.

Jumper said...

Tim Kaine for President!

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Sheesh, the Dem-aligned media is in an illogical and embarrasing flop sweat.


Tac, I have to call BS on the "Dem-alligned media". If the media were Dem-alligned, Hillary would be 50 points ahead in the polls. Trump does as well as he has because the media were building him up so much right up until the Billy Bush tape.

I haven't seen a "liberal media" since the 1980s when news divisions became judged by profitability rather than by journalistic proficiency. Even MSNBC is dropping its liberal hosts one by one.


There are plenty of reasons for anyone, even Conservatives like 'lil 'ol me to vote against Trump. Journalists, to use the term loosely, who peddle crap like this demean a profession that has a long way to go to get back to respectability.


The profession has a long way to go all right, but what they have to do is stop being cheerleaders for the rich and corporate.


See also Donna Brazille fired from her CNN gig when it became known that she repeatedly gave HRC advance notice of specific questions she would be getting at upcoming town hall meetings.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that a failing of hers as a DNC chairperson, not as a journalist. And when it came out, she lost her journalism gig. How does that reflect badly on the journalism profession? How does it reflect worse than the fact that Trump's first campaign manager still has hisgig on CNN?

You wonder why there is disgust out here in the Hinterlands?


No, just why the disgust is so misdirected.

Among the standard bearers for the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Green parties, only Hillary shows any capacity for actually governing. And for this, we're supposed to shun her? Really?

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