Friday, March 24, 2017

Economic Inequality: opportunity vs outcomes

Our last posting -- extensively  shared by thousands -- offered long, verbatim quotations from epic science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, revealing his amazing prophecy of an America falling into perilous failure mode.  

Now let's back off from our immediate crisis and try some perspective.

== The Equality Problem ==

This article - Is Inequality Inevitable? — asks a fair enough question, whose answer is “Sure, inequality is inevitable. So?” 

That don’t mean we can't always make things better.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry starts with studies showing that the children of elites have always stood a better chance of becoming elite, themselves, and that efforts to equalize outcomes by force - such as Maoist cultural revolution - always fail. Indeed, in Europe, the same surnames have been elite for 400 years.

True enough.  Only then M. Gagny calls all liberal efforts at mitigation futile and useless -- an assertion that amounts to stark-jibbering toilet raving.

One refutation is to point out the staggering amounts of cheating and repression that inherited oligarchies and other elites have engaged in, across all eras, to ensure advantages for their offspring. Nearly all of recorded human history reveals the lengths that lords and masters went to, using law and religion and sheer economic bullying to prevent sons or daughters of the poor from competing fairly with their own children. 

If aristocracy were self-replicating on the basis of simple, inherited quality, why then the relentless frenzy of desperate repression that we see across all annals, in all nations and eras?

Further, if inherited lordship were a matter of genuine superiority, then why - across the long epochs before our egalitarian experiment - were nearly all kingdoms and oligarchies so delusional and so horrifically-governed?  There is a name for the cosmically stupid way that 99% of post agricultural societies were governed. In a general sense, that name is feudalism. Another word for the endless litany of insipid and lethal errors committed by aristocrats is -- history.

Or, in more modern parlance: Idiocracy.

In my novel, Existence, I portray a meeting of uber-trillionaires in 2048. They can see they are going to win, that their putsch against liberal democracy is about to succeed, and looming success has them worried.  They can also see that feudalism is vastly less productive, innovative and far more error prone than open systems like transparent republics. Is there a way out of this dilemma?

At their conference, they earnestly seek ways to imbue the rule of inherited oligarchy with meritocratic and competitive elements, weaving in some of the powerful synergies of the Enlightenment... without its egalitarianism.  Kind of like what the Chinese ruling caste has been desperately trying to achieve, for decades. There are inherent flaws to this plan. But at least these oligarchs are smart enough to see the alternative:

Paris: 1789. And tumbrels.

(See my earlier posting: Class War and the Lessons of History. Oh and ponder this: why have Google searches on the words "Karl" and "Marx" been skyrocketing of late?)

== Easing our way out of a lethal attractor state ==

Sure, our egalitarianism has been flawed, often corrupted and always imperfect. Yet, our ongoing enlightenment experiment does correlate with a singular society that has been vastly more creative, productive, fair, scientific and happier than all others… and yes I mean absolutely all of them… combined.

If the grandchildren of rich people do tend to be rich, and the kids of scientists may somewhat tend to replicate that success, then liberal-minded folk will cite favorable circumstance as a chief reason. Nurture over nature. And so far, that presumption seems more right than wrong. 

But even if there is also a strong, genetic component, we still seem well-served by at least addressing those unfair inequalities that do cause disparities. And make each generation of favored kids work to prove it. To earn what they achieve.

We must do this for one reason, above all others — in order to stop wasting human talent.  Expanding opportunity for the children of the poor, of all races, genders etc., is simply logical and a vast improvement over the institutionalized, reflexive and wasteful bigotries of the past. 

Any excuse-making in the opposite direction is not only morally vile, it is also deeply impractical! Because it rationalizes reducing the number of skilled, eager, confident and competent competitors to enter our markets.  In other words, those who rationalize inequality of opportunity for children and youths are betraying the very essence of Adam Smith, of Friedrich Hayek and all other icons of competitive enterprise.

Hypocrisy -- by their own standards.

And sure, yes, inequality (for children and youths) is also immoral. But notice that some people find it easier to shrug off that appeal, than when you base your argument on the practical benefits of equalization. Remember -- oh remember -- that the American founders seized up to a third of the lad in the former colonies from elite-lordly families and redistributed it! An act of "leveling that made FDR look tame. And they did it for pragmatic reasons. In order to keep the revolution one of a calm, middle class, not a rabid mob.

Why emphasize children and youths?

Elsewhere I explain in detail the difference between interventions that aim to equalize opportunity and those that aim at equality of outcomesFoolish  reactionaries like M. Gagny seem to agree with radical levelers on the other side, that liberal interventions aim at outcome-equalization. Indeed, if that were the case, perhaps I could see a point to the ravings of the far-right and the far-left. 

If that were the aim, then call me a rebel-libertarian.

But that vile, lobotomizing “left-right axis” is built upon shavings of stupidity. In fact, I assert: if state actions concentrate only on raising up possible opportunities for children of the poor, then outcomes will manage themselves. Contra-wise, those who slash investments in the children of the poor aren't just evil people, they are traitors to our revolution.

== The context for it all: The Fermi Paradox ==

Many of you know that I am the principal tabulator of hypotheses and proposed explanations for why we seem to be alone in the cosmos -- the Great Silence... also called The Fermi Paradox.  Of the hundred or so theories that have been offered, I rank a Top Ten.  And high on my list is...

... feudalism.  The chief attractor state of human governance, sucking in 99% of all human societies that ever got metals.  Feudalism rewards big males who act like elephant seals and bash other males to take their women and wheat.  We are all descended from the harems of guys who pulled that off.  

Moreover, the Darwinian logic probably applies on other worlds, perhaps most other worlds. And if so, we get a powerful "fermi" hypothesis: that all over the galaxy kings and feudal lords and priests suppress science and advancement and environmental care, because they are focused on short term battles to stay on top.  

Only our enlightenment experiment broke away from this pattern and found another, in which equalization of opportunity, plus rights and transparency and love of science, opened up all the positive sum games that utilize competition -- markets, democracy, science, justice courts and sports.  The resulting cornucopia has been dazzling!  But humans who rise up high will always be tempted by urges to shut down competition and become lords.

That is the grand context.  Our current struggles may matter even on a galactic scale!  If we are the first to rise up to Star Trek levels of enlightened maturity, then we could rescue all the others, out there, trapped in cycles of feudalism.

Oh but let's get back to Earth. Literally.

== Climate denialism is a symptom ==

Did I say feudalists suppress science? We've reached the point where denialists are frantic. Having invested in raging contempt for science and scientific civilization, while claiming the opposite, they must now double down -- trying desperately to prevent cognitive dissonance. They must avoid doing that almost-impossible thing for human beings... but the act that science teaches.  

To admit: "maybe I was wrong."

I could link to sage articles and scientific studies till the sun burns out and they would have no effect. Cultists will answer with nostrums and "talking points" concocted by Koch-financed shills who could not parse the gas vapor laws if their lives depended on it. But jpegs re sometimes convincing. Here are four images that make the point fiercely.




First the rate at which humans have been adding CO2 to the atmosphere of a world that skates the inner edge of our sun's continuously habitable zone. And that's a crucial aspect!  Because it answers the cultist line: "How could measly humans affect habitability of a giant planet?"

Let me reiterate: our Earth skates the very inner edge of our sun's continuously habitable zone. Because of that, our world must have a very transparent atmosphere with a Gaia Balance that has only just enough CO2 for plants to live.  Needing to allow heat to escape, we can afford very little greenhouse gas. 

Indeed, some time soon (less than 100M years) we will have to move the Earth!)



But saying "humans can't change an atmosphere" can easily be measured.  That is: if we're allowed to!  The Bushites sabotaged satellites and hampered scientists, but the Trumpists have taken things to a whole new level, cancelling programs and ordering NASA to never look down at a planet called Earth.  

You denialists who have long proclaimed "the jury is still out!  We need more data!" are now exposed as hypocrites. The truth is the very last thing you want.

But none of this is as horrifically dishonest as the standard riff used by Ten Cruz and other fanatics, claiming "there's been no net warming for 5 years!" Then 6 years. Then it was 7! Always increasing by one.  

Why so specific?  Look at our third jpeg and note the spike in 1998. The general slope of temperature has increased relentlessly, but fools and liars used that spike as a "before" to claim subsequent years were 'decreases.'  That is, till new peaks came in 2014... and 2015... and so far 2016, with all but one of the last seven months breaking records. Oh, so much to be proud of.



But the kicker is the ocean. Not one of the cult's shill "think tanks" has been able to concoct an incantation to answer the damage we are doing via ocean acidification. There are no even hypothetical causes for the effect that is killing coral and replacing fish with jellies, in all the regions depicted in our third jpeg, as well as helping to eutrophy (choke) the Black Sea and Mediterranean and Caribbean.


So what can we conclude?

Nothing new.  I made this list to arm you with talking points, because all that America needs to do, in order to win this phase of our recurring Civil War is to just peel off just 10 million still somewhat sane and reluctant and uncomfortable members of this weird-confederate coalition.  
     
You can do your part by hammering one, just one nervous aunt out there. (Your uncle is probably hopeless. Unless he's ex military; stay tuned for ammo that will work with him!)

Peel away one, then another. It's your assignment. Start with ocean acidification. I mean it. They cannot run from it or explain it, and Fox doesn't even try. They shout "squirrel!" and point offstage.  But use it, over and over again...  ocean acidification. ocean acidification.ocean acidification.

216 comments:

1 – 200 of 216   Newer›   Newest»
baron said...

David, I've had a technical idea and wanted to see what you thought.
there is a link between aircraft contrails and a decrease of temperature which i believe is called global dimming. The theory is that airplane contrails all together are a huge amount of cloud cover but because of the fuel particles there is a cost to this cloud cover in adding carbon/pollution.
My thinking is that if you built a fleet of aircraft like the solar powered Aquila Facebook plane and had a hot wire cloud maker on the trailing edge of the aircraft. A swarm air fleet could say crisscross an area adding cloud cover to drop temperature.
is this nuts or possible?

David Brin said...

baron, alas, that is a science matter... that you are approaching magically. It is an assertion that needs proof. There have been studies of contrails. Search the open literature and become an expert.

Robert said...

Unfortunately, Dr. Brin, you beat a broken drum.

The Denialists are outright ignoring ocean acidification and their eyes glaze over as they pretend they didn't hear a word you said. I have tried time and time again to talk about ocean acidification and never has it gotten me anywhere.

It is time for a different approach. We need to find a way to wrap their arguments into climate science so we convince them they think climate change is bad and that we need to do something about it.

Rob H.

Paul SB said...

Baroni,
Not only that, but cloud seeding is not as successful as people think it is. They can't make clouds out of nothing, all they really do is increase rainfall but 25% at most, and anything over 20% is fairly rare.

Dr. Brin, please correct me if I am wrong, but I was under the impression that equality of outcome was mostly what Americans accused Communist countries of attempting to do. It never happened, of course. None of the nations that claimed to be Communist were ever anything other than dictatorships that used Marxism as mainline propaganda.

Someone once told me, though I have never verified it, that they had a very different way of paying people in the USSR (yes, it was that long ago). He said that one of the major factors that determines pay was how dangerous a job is. Coal miners arte a lot more likely to die serving their nation than doctors, so they got paid a lot more than doctors. Have you heard this or know if it is true or not?

I'll get to answering some comments from the previous thread when I am done with exercise and the laundry.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the previous comments:

"It [Christmas] doesn't remind you of the crucifixion!"

Um isn't that what Good Friday is for?


According to the quad preachers, everything is about the crucifixion.


onward


Oh, darn! I thought we were going to hit a third page of comments on that one.

:)

Alfred Differ said...

Whether contrails cooled or warmed the planet is a question that got answered after 9/11 grounded the US air fleet. I won't spoil the fun of doing the library search, though. We DO know the answer now.

One thing to keep in mind is how much of a forcing factor contrails are relative to all the fuel exhaust we'd create making contrails in the first place. 8)

Science is Fun!

LarryHart said...

Sorry for the off-topic, but this is just has to be mentioned in real time...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/us/politics/donald-trump-health-care.html


WASHINGTON — President Trump, trying to put the best possible face on a major defeat on Friday, dismissed the scuttled bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as a byproduct of Democratic partisanship. He predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year.

“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times. “So when you get zero from the other side — they let us down because they’re hurting the people. The good news is they now own health care, they now own Obamacare.”

He tried to minimize the deep divisions within his own party that prevented Speaker Paul D. Ryan from securing passage of the bill.


Ya think? Trump and Ryan couldn't cajole their own party to vote for the thing because some thought it would hurt their own constituents and some didn't think it hurt their constituents enough. The Republicans are more concerned with the Koch Brother money being promised to congressmen who vote against the bill than they are about their leadership penalizing them. But the bill failed because Democrats didn't support it???

By Republican logic (from the Obama years), the failure to get a single Democrat on board is Ryan's fault. But they're not going to say that, are they?

Here, from "Hamilton", is what was wrong with the bill:

You don't have the votes!

You don't have the votes!

You have to get congressional approval, and
You don't have the votes!

Such a blunder. Makes me wonder
Why I even bring the thunder.

(Why he even brings the thunder.)


Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - equality of outcomes
I agree that equality of outcome is not a useful target to aim for

BUT
REDUCING the inequality of outcomes is essential - a system where a CEO "earns 1000 times as much as his workers is simply horribly inefficient

And I would say the same for equality of opportunity - driving for equality is the wrong target - it's impossible!

Effectively by having that as a "target" you make improvement difficult

We need to be driving the down the inequality of opportunities and outcomes - with a goal of "reduced inequality" - not equality


donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: I get the problem of feudalism, though I see it less as 'idiocracy' and more as 'missed opportunities' - compounded in extremes. Feudalists don't exactly suppress science - they promote it to the extent it benefits them, and to the extent other feudalists don't threaten to take their power away. Italians who frowned at advanced arithmetic and interest rate calculations tended to owe banks, mercenaries, or others, and preferred nobody knew how much.

"The Bushites sabotaged satellites and hampered scientists, but the Trumpists have taken things to a whole new level, cancelling programs and ordering NASA to never look down at a planet called Earth."

The folks they DO want looking down at Earth are purely private sector: they want to anticipate which beach properties will be inundated within the next 50 years, hedge their bets, set insurance rates, and arbitrage major disasters for their own profit. On land, and every other commodity. ExxonMobil had no problem using knowledge of climate change to build their own rigs to last longer in the face of climate variables, thereby saving their own company money over time. But they definitely didn't want other people using that knowledge...

This sort of 'insider/outsider' dynamic is most prominent in 'bankruptcy' settings: in the face of collapse, well-placed 'insiders' make fortunes, outsiders lose everything. The folks orchestrating it are NOT stupid - but they benefit immensely from an army of folks who are easily misguided (hence the reason to create FoxNews and advertise on it - dumb markets buy products too, and will stick loyally with dumb products they hear again and again, even when they're proven to be stupid).

Jerry Emanuelson said...

One of the scariest graphs I have seen of carbon dioxide rise is what is called the Hofmann Curve. It is a plot of carbon dioxide, minus the 278 ppm that was present in the pre-industrial era, plotted with a logarithmic vertical axis.

The carbon dioxide rise in the current industrial era follows a remarkably straight line. Since the vertical axis is logarithmic, that means that the human-caused component of carbon dioxide is rising at a very smooth exponential rate with a doubling time of 32 years.

The Hofmann Curve is shown in the very first slide at:

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/events/seminars/seas/2014/pdf/seas-052714-slides.pdf

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr. Brin said: "I portray a meeting of uber-trillionaires in 2048. They can see they are going to win, that their putsch against liberal democracy is about to succeed, and looming success has them worried."

Oddly enough, that reminds me of something that happened in Congress today. Or rather, didn't happen.
The Republicans just got slapped with the lesson that if they want to rule, they MUST learn to govern. And that's hard. They don't have a clue how to go about it.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

In my novel, Existence, I portray a meeting of uber-trillionaires in 2048. They can see they are going to win, that their putsch against liberal democracy is about to succeed, and looming success has them worried. They can also see that feudalism is vastly less productive, innovative and far more error prone than open systems like transparent republics. Is there a way out of this dilemma?

At their conference, they earnestly seek ways to imbue the rule of inherited oligarchy with meritocratic and competitive elements, weaving in some of the powerful synergies of the Enlightenment... without its egalitarianism. Kind of like what the Chinese ruling caste has been desperately trying to achieve, for decades. There are inherent flaws to this plan. But at least these oligarchs are smart enough to see the alternative


I've asked this before, but now I just recently re-read Existence for the third time, actually looking for this. I know the scene you describe where the oligarchs meet, but I can't for the life of me find anything in the actual text of the book that makes it clear what the meeting is intended to accomplish. I wonder if you, the author, "knew" the material so well that it didn't seem to require explanation.

donzelion said...

Duncan: re equality of outcomes

There is plenty of reason 'equality of outcomes' is worth favoring.

Think of it this way: Mr. X fought in a war and killed 1000 enemies, Mr. Y fought in a war and killed 1 enemy, Mr. Z fought in a war and killed 0 enemies: should all of them receive the same general rewards for their country even though they achieved radically different results? YES - if the system by which they achieved those outcomes is more important than any personal contribution, and YES - if giving them different rewards would make a system of compensating them unwieldy to operate (e.g., one Veteran's Administration for 'really good vets' and a different one for 'not quite as impressive vets'). Camaraderie, unity, system health as a whole is more important than any individual contribution - by far.

Change that to sports: Mr. X played a game and scored 1000 points, Mr. Y played the same game and scored 1 point, and Mr. Z scored 0 points. In this case, there's possibly reason to pay them all equally depending on their roles in the game. On a soccer team, most goalies and defenders score 0 points. Camarederie is a little less important, but roles and functions matter more than any individual - by far.

These contexts are actually more common than meets the eye. The entire country benefits from every person who works their job honorably, well, and effectively - so we want everyone to work who can. So we want a large pool of people who equally fit within the pool of 'employed' and a smaller pool of 'unemployed' (or 'partially employed').

"a system where a CEO "earns 1000 times as much as his workers is simply horribly inefficient"
In the 1950s, there were many contexts in which a single employee could deliberately sabotage almost any enterprise and destroy shareholder value completely. One misplaced wrench and the line closes for a day...or more. By the 1980s, for large companies with multiple factories geographically separated, a single employee was much less of a threat - but one CEO courting a leveraged buyer could raid and destroy shareholder wealth in a few weeks far more conclusively than any single mere employee could. This is why executive compensation jumped dramatically - far less about greed or talent than fear.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Baron said: "I've had a technical idea and wanted to see what you thought.
there is a link between aircraft contrails and a decrease of temperature which i believe is called global dimming."

Global dimming refers to the amount of particulates kicked up by seven billion people: dust, particulates, etc. Contrails make up a small percentage of that.
They have accurate records on global dimming going back to 1850, when it was first realized that tracking solar radiance was a useful tool for farmers. Over all, the Earth has 'dimmed' by some 5%, with some areas (Israel, in particular) as high as 11%.
Despite that, the planet is warming.

The main problem with your idea is that it cannot address the sheer scale of global warming. To borrow from a description of the latest Ryan budget, which cuts Arts and Humanities, "it's like trying to open up space on a full 5tb drive by deleting a few text files."

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Whether contrails cooled or warmed the planet is a question that got answered after 9/11 grounded the US air fleet.


Doesn't that depend what you mean by "the planet"? I mean, any energy which doesn't reach the earth's surface is still absorbed by something that is still part of the earth, right? Or do contrails reflect energy back into space that would otherwise have reached the surface? That's the only way I can imagine them having any net effect on the planet as a whole.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Unfortunately, Dr. Brin, you beat a broken drum.

The Denialists are outright ignoring ocean acidification and their eyes glaze over as they pretend they didn't hear a word you said. I have tried time and time again to talk about ocean acidification and never has it gotten me anywhere.


It seems to me that your average climate-denialist wouldn't have a clue what ocean acidification has to do with anything, let alone what it implies about global warming.

David Brin said...

Duncan, reducing wealth disparities is essential not only to reduce disparities of youth opportunity, but also to prevent oligarchic cheating that leas to feudalism. Power must be divided and it cannot be when property accumulates to toxic levels. A balance, of course, because we all benefit from innovators chasing riches! But we’ve seen that the greatest innovator moguls become somewhat satiable after a billion. After five, they start getting really interested in speculative-risky-but-fun or far-out ways to get richer speculatively. When they do that, we should not begrudge ten billions. But that’s a call we can argue about.

LarryHart at the meeting,in the Alps, all the papers being presented by boffins are about how oligarchy can govern better, this time!

As for acidification, it is time to add dripping contempt, if they won't listen. The word "cult" cuts them, deeply.

LarryHart said...

David L. Craig from the last thread:

I also failed in assuming the antecedent of "this area" would be clearly understood as the area I have been addressing this entire discussion.


What I asked you was this:

Are you talking about this this area?


I did understand that you might have meant something else other than my first guess (that "this area" meant here on Dr Brin's blog). As a former colleague of mine used to say, "I'm not questioning. I'm just asking the question."

LarryHart said...

re: Trumpcare...

I wonder at this point if Democrats should refuse to vote for impeachment, forcing Republicans to oust him themselves or else they'll be stuck with him for 1438 more days. In the Senate, where 16 Democrats would be required, they could issue ultimata in exchange for their cooperation. "Sure, we'll help you impeach the guy, if you'll confirm Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court."

I know I'm swooning into fantasy land here. Don't "truth" me, Unk. I need to be happy for one night.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The lack of contrails in the wake of 9/11 didn't cause warming or cooling. What it did was produce a measurable increase between the daily lows and highs, particularly in areas where contrails are most frequent. It was big enough to be considered statistically significant.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Off topic, but I wanted to share this with a group I knew would really appreciate it:Finnish filmmaker Jan Fröjdman transformed HiRISE imagery into a dynamic, three-dimensional, overhead view of the Red Planet—no glasses required.


https://www.wired.com/2017/03/stunning-video-mars-took-three-months-stitch-together-hand/

Paul SB said...

Anonymous Paul SB said...
Jumper, from last thread:

That article on cow slaughter was ironic. I knew that went on to feed the minority Muslim population I don't know if Sikhs have a prohibition against any form of meat. Buddhists don't have a firm prohibition - once went to barbecue for my wife's temple, and they had all the typical stuff. It's an expectation, but they accept that different people are in different places in their spiritual growth and try not to make too egregious demands (unlike every other religion I have known).

The real funny part is this line:

"India ranks 5th in the world in beef production, 7th in domestic consumption and 1st in exporting."

Likely the lower ranking for domestic consumption is because Hinduism is the largest religion, but 5th in production and 1st in exports seems hard to fathom unless a much larger fraction of the population is involved. I had an Asian Civ professor who told a story about visiting a Muslim part of Indonesia, where he was hosted by a local history professor. The professor took him to a buffet one night, and started piling slices of ham on his plate. Dr. Donahue said, "Isn't that ...? Aren't you Muslim?" and the host professor responded, "It's thinly-sliced fish." People have an amazing capacity to delude themselves when they want to.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

You mentioned the Roman Saturnalia, making an interesting point:

"I few years ago, I read about the Roman "Saturnalia", a festival week which didn't actually belong to any month or year,but technically fell between years."

This is a case of what is called "liminality" or a "liminal state." I don't remember who coined the term, but it was a well-known anthropologist who made it popular. The idea is essentially a ritual space that exists between social statuses. More typically it is about things like rights of passage (today it is usually that high school graduation ceremony, when you are a child at the beginning of the ritual but become an adult when they hand you that diploma and you toss your mortarboard in the air. In the case of the Saturnalia, during that in between week everyone reverses their usual social status, but when the week is over the new years starts and everything returns to normal. There are some who argue that it is very unhealthy thing that many societies today have very few liminality rituals.

David Brin said...

Dare your mad uncle (better his wife): "I dare you to watch this all the way through. Unlike the paranoid rants at Fox/Breitbart, every single thing she cites is verifiably true."

http://americannewsx.com/hot-off-the-press/rachel-maddow-trumps-money-laundry/

Madness... madness. Any ONE of these things - if 1% as large - would have the entire confederacy screeching for blood, if a democrat did it. Hypocrites. Traitors.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

I don't think I got back to you on one of your posts.

"As far as names go, I'm not talking about emotional damage here. Call someone a communist in the 50's, a queer in the 60's, etc."
- in other words, the nature and content of the scapegoats changes over time, but scapegoating continues.

"And that's a nice analogy with insurance. Better than I probably would have come up with."
- I don't remember making an analogy with insurance, but thanks for the compliment anyway. My memory is pretty second-rate, and I couldn't find it, so you'll have to remind me if I said something clever (or if it was someone else - there have been a fair number of misattributions lately, probably because the number of comments in the last thread went way, way beyond the scalar stress number).

"A lot of people uninterested in the field went into it, and stank at it."
- But sadly, once people have invested a number of years and a pile of tuition money, they are unlikely to change careers even when they realize they suck at it, and there are always those who are in denial. I know far too many of both, though I think inept administrators do far more damage.

"The thought had never occurred to me that I should teach my children to read, write, and do basic math because you know that is what school is for.

It made me wonder out loud to the counselor, "When did school become not enough?"'
- Well, our children spend a whole lot of hours in school each week, and no matter what you do as a parent, the uncompromising nature of school will affect most children in very negative ways that can't do a whole lot about. Still, we love our children and we try. What is even more sad is the yuge number of parents who are either totally unprepared to raise them or so busy scraping along the bottom of the SES ladder that have little time or energy for proper child maintenance, even if they understand it reasonably well. That gives our dysfunctional school system an even more outsized effect on them. This is exactly the opposite of what most teachers bitch about. They use the excuse for their students' failure that the parents aren't doing enough or don't care. Both are true to some degree, and blame can't be laid at the feet of either schools or parents entirely.

"The Indian cow thing also reminds me that the striking thing to me about Jewish (and Muslim) dietary laws is that they (mostly) make a lot of sense in a pre-refrigeration society."
- Exactly! Think of how deadly shrimp would be living in the Judean desert with no way too safely preserve the meat. But then, there is also a social/historical reason. When the Israelites took over the Holy Land, many of the local people were followers of the goddess Astarte, whose rituals often involved the sacrifice (and consumption - there is no place I know of where the meat of sacrificial animals was not eaten, either by priests, congregations, or both). To destroy the religion of the locals so they could replace it with their own, they needed to outlaw pig consumption, because any time people ate pig it was assumed they were backsliding and worshipping the wrong deity.

"It would have been odd for Japanese watching Rawhide to bring up Lorne Greene (That was Bonanza)."
- My brain! You're right, it was Bonanza, not Rawhide. Dory brain, right?

baron said...

Thanks for all the feedback.
I was thinking of the temp increase due to 911 grounding flights world wide.
The aircraft would be high altitude flight in colder thinner air, not rain cloud seeding, just vapour trail.
looking for more concentrated flight patterns say an area of the sahara near the green line for instance.
I'll look at some info on contrail effects and scale needed.
Thanks

David L. Craig said...

Re: Insurance Analogy, from beginning of post stamped at 3:28 PM:

"Paul SB said...

Raito and David Craig,

I have a little professional expertise related to how teaching works, since I am a teacher. Ratio is correct that curriculum is set by state departments of education, not by teachers. What happens in most states is that government officials who rarely have any experience in education whatsoever create the state's education standards (so no, those fools are not educators except by default - like having insurance adjustors performing surgery).
"

I very much liked this as well.

David L. Craig said...

Dr. Brin opined on Trump's Money Laundry:

"Madness... madness. Any ONE of these things - if 1% as large - would have the entire confederacy screeching for blood, if a democrat did it. Hypocrites. Traitors."

It will go just like Nixon's administration did, except without Spiro Agnew going first. The question is can the pardon be prevented? Or is the question should the pardon be prevented, as that seems to have been Ford's main driver on the matter?

David Brin said...

Gerald Ford's punishment for the pardon? An unelected and unpopular and rejected "president" gets an aircraft carrier named after him.

David L. Craig said...

Well, at least the Vice President is informed by history, I think.

Paul SB said...

David Craig,

Thanks for hunting down that insurance analogy. I don't know why my search engine couldn't find the word /insurance/. f I'm lucky I'll remember it long enough to pass it along to my fellow teachers - people who have much better memory than me.

Dr. Brin,

I just watched that video you posted about the Grope's Russian money laundering, and I have to take back my prediction that Mr. "You're Fired!" might not be as corrupt as Grant nor as inept as Harding. How long will it take him to fire the entire country?

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com , someone is reading Dr Brin :)


One of these days, the Republicans may even realize that they are not a political party as much as they are a governing coalition. If this were the UK, and Theresa May felt the Scottish National Party was starting to become more trouble than it's worth, she might start chatting with the Democratic Unionist Party. Similarly, GOP leadership might one day conclude that the cure for what ails them is to stop talking to the Freedom Caucusers and to start talking with the Blue Dog Democrats. Such a realization could quickly leave the Freedom Caucus as an irrelevant radical fringe.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

One can only hope... Or is it better to let them hang themselves come election time? When tens of millions of people lose their health care, there will be a reckoning. Then again, that might help in the next election, but American voters are notorious for having very short political memories. They get mad one election cycle and punish the party of corruption, then vote for those same slimeballs next time around.

My wife was just ranting at me about not getting obsessed with outrageous politics. She must have been listening to me about stress hormones, because the point she made was that when you let these scum make you angry, all you do is hurt yourself. Cortisol goes coursing through your system doing a lot of damage, including shrinking your hippocampus (memory center) and making your amygdala (fear center) become stronger and more sensitive. Of course she presented this in terms of typical Buddhist superstitions. I'm totally cool with the compassion aspects of the religion. Buddhism and Jainism are the only religions that have, for the most part, stuck to a nonviolent praxis for centuries. All the others talk peace and love, but then turn around and burn people at the stake, boil them in oil or stone people to death, then go on holy war rampages. But until I accept their silly superstitions my wife is not going to be happy with me. It's hard being an egghead sometimes...

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I had an Asian Civ professor who told a story about visiting a Muslim part of Indonesia, where he was hosted by a local history professor. The professor took him to a buffet one night, and started piling slices of ham on his plate. Dr. Donahue said, "Isn't that ...? Aren't you Muslim?" and the host professor responded, "It's thinly-sliced fish." People have an amazing capacity to delude themselves when they want to.


I remember my brother once telling me that Punjabi vegetarians eat fish because "they consider it a vegetable." I took that to mean "They consider it acceptable for vegetarians because it's not red meat," but maybe he was being more literal than that. There is much "we all agree not to mention" nod-wink stuff going on in human discourse, such as "The employment figures used to be fake, but now they're real."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Pence? The man promotes the nonsense known as "Intelligent Design." It goes downhill from there.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB to raito:

"As far as names go, I'm not talking about emotional damage here. Call someone a communist in the 50's, a queer in the 60's, etc."

- in other words, the nature and content of the scapegoats changes over time, but scapegoating continues.


I think the point raito is trying to make is that "names hurt" in ways that go beyond the psychological or emotional. Tagging someone with the wrong name at the wrong time can get them beat up, fired, burned out of their house, tortured, and/or killed.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

- My brain! You're right, it was Bonanza, not Rawhide. Dory brain, right?


I don't typically suffer from Dory brain, but for some reason I keep confusing 1400 and 1440.

For the record, there are 1398 days left until inauguration 2021, not 1438 as I said yesterday. At noon, that will flip to 1397.

locumranch said...


Merit & Equality are mutually incompatible antonyms. The first (merit) signifies unequal quality, distinction & discrimination; and the second (equality) signifies interchangeability, equivalence & indifference. The two can be 'balanced' but cannot be reconciled. Similarly, the progressive attempt to differentiate between 'equal opportunity' and 'equal outcome' is simply false because the term 'opportunity' is (arguably) an 'outcome' when the construction of 'equal/fair/level/balanced' opportunity requires great artifice & effort.

Out of parental preference, feudalism arises quite naturally as parents prefer (discriminate in favour of) their own offspring, the problem being that strong parents tend to raise weak children -- as in the case of the biblical tale of 'The Prodigal Son' -- by the very act of eliminating adverse consequence from their children's lives, explaining why successful aristocracies & cultures tend to degenerate over time, lending credence to the cyclic history model of 'hard times make hard men, hard men make soft times, soft times make soft men & soft men make hard times'.

Finally, we come to the 'Tragedy of the Commons' (wherein individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action) as this is what David & everyone refer to when they natter on about fishery depletion, climate change & ocean deBASEment. One can even argue, as I do, that such wide-ranging environmental destruction has occurred because EQUALITY.

As explained above, the term 'equal' connotes 'indifference', so much so that EQUAL collectivised resource ownership gives rise to INDIFFERENT uncaring ownership on an individual level, the solution to all of these environmental problems being as obvious as it is socially unacceptable (mostly).

If we would save Our Planet from the ravages of collective 'equality', then FEUDALISM (privatisation) is our only hope by historical precedent. Henceforth & forthwith, our atmospheric, oceanic & terrestrial commons belong to our one yet-to-be designated King, to be held in trust for the serfs & villeins of the future, so only His Majesty is allowed to despoil & enjoy the the fruits of the air, sea & land, and the punishment for poaching the King's fowl, fish or deer is DEATH.

Welcome to Sherwood, mofo.


Best

LarryHart said...

David L. Craig:

The question is can the pardon be prevented?


Can't Trump in his current role simply pardon Manafort and Flynn and basically anyone in his circle for crimes to be investigated later? In fact, if it comes down to it, can't he just pardon himself?

Dr Brin:

Gerald Ford's punishment for the pardon? An unelected and unpopular and rejected "president" gets an aircraft carrier named after him.


I don't recall Ford being all that unpopular. Oh, he certainly didn't have celebrity status (except as a joke on SNL), but following Nixon, that was kind of a good thing. I also didn't hold "unelected" against him, since under the circumstances, his ascension was legitimate. As far as I recall (I was in high school at the time), he didn't act as if he had a "mandate from the people" or any such thing the way two more-recent unelected presidents have done.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

My wife was just ranting at me about not getting obsessed with outrageous politics. She must have been listening to me about stress hormones, because the point she made was that when you let these scum make you angry, all you do is hurt yourself. Cortisol goes coursing through your system doing a lot of damage, including shrinking your hippocampus (memory center) and making your amygdala (fear center) become stronger and more sensitive


And I thought I had nerdy conversations with my wife.

LarryHart said...

...but then, it seems that what you and your wife are saying is that when Republicans act in ways that make us angry and fed up with politicians, they turn our brains into locumranch-Republican brains which in turn are more likely to vote for them.

Maybe this is deliberate strategy? That would be encouraging, if only in the Pyrrhic sense that it's nice to know they have a sense of deliberate strategy at all.

Tim H. said...

If memory serves, Carter didn't win by an overwhelming margin. In retrospect, I don't feel very positive about voting for him, he made much of Reagan's excess possible.
Feudalism has long passed it's sell by date, as has oligarchy, time to optimize government for the lower quartiles of the economy, the top quartiles will prosper if the bottom is healthy.

LarryHart said...

This New York Times article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/opinion/i-loved-my-grandmother-but-she-was-a-nazi.html

led me to this other article about the Nazi plan to migrate Jews to Madagascar:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-madagascar-plan-2

The whole article is fascinating in its detail, but the final paragraph stood out to me as particularly ironic:


Use can be made for propaganda purposes of the generosity shown by Germany in permitting cultural, economic, administrative and legal self-administration to the Jews; it can be emphasized at the same time that our German sense of responsibility towards the world forbids us to make the gift of a sovereign state to a race which has had no independent state for thousands of years: this would still require the test of history.

signed Rademacher
Berlin, July 3, 1940


So a nation state which only came into being in the nineteenth century would be irresponsible to inflict a new sovereign state upon the world?

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

In retrospect, I don't feel very positive about voting for him [Carter], he made much of Reagan's excess possible.


One can go nuts thinking about "who caused what" scenarios.

If Al Gore had won in 2000, we wouldn't have been stuck with W, but we might have had President Lieberman in 2008. We certainly wouldn't have had President Obama without the backlash against W, and we certainly wouldn't be where we are now without a "whitelash" against the Kenyan Muslim.

In retrospect, the constitution should have simply made George Washington "President For Eternity" and left it at that.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

As explained above, the term 'equal' connotes 'indifference',


I gotta hand it to you, dude--you have a gift for wordplay that rivals Lin-Manuel Miranda's.

If only you used your powers for good instead of evil.

Tim H. said...

LarryHart, I still like to say that even knowing Obama is half Kansan, I voted for him anyway.

Paul SB said...

Larry, I like the way you think. You do it much better than I do. At my best I can spew out science-nerd babble and mostly get ignored for it.

I definitely get the point about being labelled leading to severe consequences. That's been my early life story, and why I got the hell out of my oh-so-religious home town as soon as I finished my undergrad. I might still be getting it, as it seems like my employers are trying to find sue-proof charges to trump up against me, most likely so the superintendent can skim my salary into his golden parachute. But I seem to have missed Raito's implication - my brain!

"And I thought I had nerdy conversations with my wife."
- My nerdiness may have rubbed off a bit on her, but that may just be that she knows she can't convince and convert me if she sticks to the analogical reasoning of religion. Analogical reasoning doesn't convince me of anything but the ignorance of the speaker. It's pretty easy to spot once you know what it is, which is basically false causality in someone's assessments of reality. I do think there is something to your comment about anger at idiot Republicans reducing our mental faculties to the point of actually believing their chicanery. It's probably more likely that that the effects of pent-up anger on the brain lead more people to not vote at all, rather than voting for an obvious gang of thieves. We've heard a lot of "all politicians are equally bad" talk, an idea that motivates people to eschew rather than engage with politics, and that's exactly how a minority can gain control. When they have convinced most of the voting public that there is no point voting because they are all crooked, then they can rally their staunch partisans to the polls and win elections they should not have had a prayer in. This is part of the price of indifference, though that indifference is an entirely understandable mental defense mechanism.

"So a nation state which only came into being in the nineteenth century would be irresponsible to inflict a new sovereign state upon the world?"

- Not that I would justify their chicanery by any means, but I got the distinct impression that even though the official German didn't exist until the time of Otto von Bismarck, they considered Germanic culture to have a long and continuous history, which mattered more to them than their more recent statehood. Look at how Hitler used archaeology. He sent out archaeologists to find sites containing artifacts that were likely to have been manufactured by Germanic people (he never considered the possibility that those artifacts may have been traded with non-Germanic communities), then claimed those lands as "traditional German lands." That was his excuse for invading Czechoslovakia, among others. He even made that claim with regard to Poland, though it was more the shoot-out at the post office that became the spur to invasion.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Pence? The man promotes the nonsense known as "Intelligent Design." It goes downhill from there.


The bar has been set so low that that is actually a step up from what we have now. "Sure, he's a Christianist troglodyte, but he's a competent politician, and he's not an agent of a hostile foreign power or a Nazi. So there's that."

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

We've heard a lot of "all politicians are equally bad" talk, an idea that motivates people to eschew rather than engage with politics, and that's exactly how a minority can gain control. When they have convinced most of the voting public that there is no point voting because they are all crooked, then they can rally their staunch partisans to the polls and win elections they should not have had a prayer in.


Yeah, too bad the ones who get talked out of voting at all don't notice that the ones telling them to do that always vote themselves.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

"So a nation state which only came into being in the nineteenth century would be irresponsible to inflict a new sovereign state upon the world?"

- Not that I would justify their chicanery by any means, but I got the distinct impression that even though the official German didn't exist until the time of Otto von Bismarck, they considered Germanic culture to have a long and continuous history, which mattered more to them than their more recent statehood.


And Jews didn't have a long and continuous history?

The Jewish calendar was at approximately the year 5700 at the time.

I'd say that's check and mate.

Paul SB said...

Larry again,

"I gotta hand it to you, dude--you have a gift for wordplay that rivals Lin-Manuel Miranda's.

If only you used your powers for good instead of evil."

- Yes, he's a talented bullshitter, just like the criminals he claims are good for the country and the world. But if you take time to examine his logic, it is so full of holes it would sink in the Dead Sea. Take this one:

"Merit & Equality are mutually incompatible antonyms. The first (merit) signifies unequal quality, distinction & discrimination; and the second (equality) signifies interchangeability, equivalence & indifference."

- notice how he attributes positive qualities to the concept he likes but attributes negative qualities to the one he doesn't? Where the hell does /indifference/ come from? I have never seen a person who believes strongly in equality being anything like indifferent. Quite the contrary, they are generally very angry about all the injustices they see in the world. But equating /equality/ with /indifference/ makes /equality/ sound like it would sap the strength out of society and/or the economy. History has proven that when the lowest quartile of society makes a decent living, they as a class put a huge amount of currency into circulation, boosting the economy for all, including the people in the upper quartile, some of whom are honest and invest their gains in businesses that create jobs. Unfortunately, most of those upper quartile people simply hoard their profits, sequestering their inordinate fortunes from the economy, which contributes to recession and ultimate collapse of the economy, hurting those fools too, though not nearly as much as they hurt the bottom 3 quartiles. Far too many rich businessmen are insanely short-sighted.

Or how about the next sentence:

"Similarly, the progressive attempt to differentiate between 'equal opportunity' and 'equal outcome' is simply false because..."
WE have already established that not much of anyone is actually trying to achieve equality of outcome beyond a handful radical fools whose ideals blind them to realities of the human condition. You humans are highly variable both in genetic makeup and in how variable environments shape individual neural pathways differently. This is just an accusation that extremist on one side of the political war tar the other side with for propaganda purposes. People would have to be equally foolish as that handful to think this really is an issue. The other half of that sentence is even more logically flawed.

Paul SB said...

Larry con.t,

This one is really bad:

"Out of parental preference, feudalism arises quite naturally as parents prefer (discriminate in favour of) their own offspring, the problem being that strong parents tend to raise weak children -- as in the case of the biblical tale of 'The Prodigal Son' -- by the very act of eliminating adverse consequence from their children's lives ..."

- Yes, it does sometimes happen that the pampered children of dictators turn out to be very incompetent leaders. History abounds with examples. But he is implying that only people who experience hard lives become competent people. It's really easy to call bullshit on this one. Just look at stats on stress-related disorders, which are dramatically higher in the lowest two quartiles of the SES ladder than they are in the upper two. The kind of "challenges" he says make people strong more often have the opposite effect, bringing on heart disease, cancer, kidney failure - all at younger and younger ages, leading to early preventable deaths - and a host of crippling mental conditions that lead to hospitalization, medication, homicide and suicide. His prescription for improving the American race mostly has the opposite effect.

We could do this all day, taking his faulty logic, untested assumptions, deliberate obfuscations, unintended consequences, etc. But I'm sure everyone else on this list has more important to do with their time than shoot down the words of someone too dense to get it. That includes us.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "Sure, he's a Christianist troglodyte, but he's a competent politician."

Hmmm. Remembering his disastrous role in his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the way he threw his own supporters under the bus when it blew up in his face, I think you are being extremely generous.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Where the hell does /indifference/ come from? I have never seen a person who believes strongly in equality being anything like indifferent


Wordplay. "In-different", as in "the opposite of differentiating", as in "treating everything the same".

The logic is that "treating everyone equally before the law" would mean equally convicting and sentencing the innocent and the guilty. Treating people found guilty of a crime differently from those found not guilty is discrimination by the courts.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Hmmm. Remembering his [Pence's] disastrous role in his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the way he threw his own supporters under the bus when it blew up in his face, I think you are being extremely generous.


No, you're just forgetting what I'm comparing him to.

Tim H. said...

Try comparing Pence to Hedley Lamarr... My, comes up short there too, though he may have the evil bit down...

LarryHart said...

@Tim H,

No argument, but my point isn't to be happy about Pence. My point is that even Pence would be an improvement over #SoCalledPresident. And that's not a hypothetical Hedley Lamarr example--it's the guy we're stuck with now. Improving the situation is step 1.

Paul SB said...

Okay, Larry, one more time,

"Yeah, too bad the ones who get talked out of voting at all don't notice that the ones telling them to do that always vote themselves."
- That's part of the nature of a vicious circle. People or communities, nations, etc. who are trapped in them rarely can see where they are going and find those factors that support the feedback loop before it collapses. It's especially bad now, when the greedy ones have spent decades sowing distrust of the very people (experts, smart people, educated people) who have some chance of discovering the failure modes.

"And Jews didn't have a long and continuous history?

The Jewish calendar was at approximately the year 5700 at the time.

I'd say that's check and mate."
- Precisely! Denying a people the dignity of their own history is a conquest strategy. There is a book that goes into great length on this concept the was written by a concentration camp survivor named Eric Wolf. The book is called "Europe and the People Without History."

https://www.amazon.com/Europe-People-Without-History-Eric/dp/0520268180/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490461795&sr=1-1&keywords=europe+and+the+people+without+history

Although he was Jewish, he applies the idea to many other cultures. Americans did exactly the same thing to both Native Americans and Africans. It's a common pattern the world over.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Denying a people the dignity of their own history is a conquest strategy.
...
Americans did exactly the same thing to both Native Americans and Africans. It's a common pattern the world over.


Yeah, but when your own culture's holy books describe the other people's history sympathetically, that makes it a bit harder to pull off.

Jon S. said...

I had an Asian Civ professor who told a story about visiting a Muslim part of Indonesia, where he was hosted by a local history professor. The professor took him to a buffet one night, and started piling slices of ham on his plate. Dr. Donahue said, "Isn't that ...? Aren't you Muslim?" and the host professor responded, "It's thinly-sliced fish."

Linking back to the last post, that reminds me of one scene in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, when Manny and Wyoh are hiding out in the Raffles Hotel in L-City, waiting for Professor de la Paz to join them. Manny orders dinner; Wyoh isn't sure he's ordered enough, but Manny assures her that the ham can be split between them because "Prof is semi-vegetarian." Then, after the Prof gets there and they have their big conversation for the scene, they're settling in to eat...

"My," Prof remarked, "that fish smells good."

"Fish?"

"That pink salmon," he said, pointing at ham.


Kind of makes me wonder if that history professor was a Heinlein fan... :)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tim H wrote: "Try comparing Pence to Hedley Lamarr"

I've always thought of him as Ted Baxter with a bible.

Jumper said...

locum plays Bullshit Mountain a lot. I wrote the definitive history of how this meme came to have several names:
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-mountain-of-lies-technique-or.html

It all started here, as you'll see if interested.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Tim H wrote: "Try comparing Pence to Hedley Lamarr"

I've always thought of him as Ted Baxter with a bible.


He reminds me of the Starfleet captain who turned that planet into a recreation of Nazi Germany.

Paul SB said...

Jon,

"Kind of makes me wonder if that history professor was a Heinlein fan... :)"

- You never know! Heinlein has been translated into a fair number of languages, and that professor spoke English, as the American didn't know Bahasa Indonesia.

And Larry again,

"Yeah, but when your own culture's holy books describe the other people's history sympathetically, that makes it a bit harder to pull off."

- A bit harder, but remember how most hypoChristians barely read their own holy book? When they do, they are highly selective about it, only bothering with verses they think they can twist to support whatever biases are endemic to their region. How else could you get Christians hating Jews when fully half of their book was written by Levite priests? The second half was all about a Jew (Christ), who insisted that the laws set down in the first half were still important. Yet so many hypoChristians insist that the second half overrides the first. But then, when they want to scapegoat somebody they gleefully spout Old Testament hellfire invective. That's why Revealed Truth is horsepuckey. No matter how carefully you write something, every individual will interpret the writing in their own, idiosyncratic way, and every generation shapes the minds of individuals in different ways than previous generations. There can be no perfect "Truth" as long as it is hominids the gods are trying to communicate it to.

Lorraine said...

By the way, this is our planetary anthem. It comes from Wayne and Shuster, circa 1979:

"Hail to the Earth.... Planet of our birth.
You are the sphere.... all of us hold dear.
From the north pole to the south pole
spinning up there, in the blue!
Oh, you beautiful ball!" (same tune as "Oh, you beautiful doll") "You great big beautiful ball.
We do it all for you!" (an old McDonald's restaurant jingle)

Brother Doug said...

Dr Brin I agree with you but I think the problem is that climate deniers believe that changing from a unregulated market based system will harm the economy, and that if they are wrong and things get too bad replicators or nanotechnology finding a new planet will be able to fix it. Scott Adams from the Dilbert comic blog is arguing something similar to this in a recent blog post and has half a million people reading him and over 800 comments. It's effective propaganda. he has studied persuasion and knows a counter argument will always be more effective unless you can show that the person is unreliable. That's difficult to do if the person is careful or very smart. I think James Burke from the connections tv series believes something similar. They conveniently forget the example of Easter island and the Maya who first destroyed their environment with deforestation, or Iraq and north western China with salt buildup and then suffered a collapse of their civilizations. It seems like your message is not being understood with people self identifying as Holinists. I don't have a solution other than perhaps you should go into politics? It worked for Benjamin Disraeli who was a novelist before he became a politician.

Jumper said...

I swear, if I paid to get an asteroid of gold down here and sold chunks of it for below the (inflation adjusted) lowest historical price, but stipulated that the sales desk closes at 4:00 p.m., no ifs, ands, or buts, some capitalist weeping real tears would beg me to open my sales operation for nighttime.

David Mitchell said...

I don't think feudalism is an attractor state. I think that until very recently it was the only possible way to manage a mass society, because there was no mass communication. Beginning with mass literacy other options became available, and we're able for the first time to reach a consensus among the governed. For the first time, that is, since we left the wilds and the autonomous villages six to ten thousand years ago. I also don't call it feudalism. I call it the patriarchy because the process invariably requires that women be demoted and controlled, that sexual minorities be suppressed and that some male, very often the biggest asshole, be in charge.

I got this view from Gwynne Dyer, in his 1994 film "Gods of our Fathers," part of his series "The Human Race." If he's correct we'll know when we've finally exited the patriarchy because women's equality will be unquestioned.

Paul SB said...

David Mitchell,

You're correct in broad terms, so I would expect Dyer's series to be mostly on the mark. The story of human social evolution is much more complex than this, but it makes for a good heuristic. Although I'm with you 100% on equal rights for the 50% of the species that has been consistently exploited since the dawn of agriculture, and all oppressed people, for that matter, I would hesitate to use the word /patriarchy/ for a few reasons. One is that it elevates gender conflict to primacy, and though this is a massive injustice, it's a symptom, not the disease itself. It also undercuts everyone else who has been discriminated against, including huge numbers of males (for their ethnicity, religion, but most important SES) and it misses how females are doubly discriminated against, which shortchanges other aspects of their experience. If you have seen Spielberg's "The Color Purple" you would have seen this played out in film. Another thing worth thinking about is the fact that this is essentially an evolutionary trajectory. For the vast majority of human existence (208K years, based on the most recent fossil evidence) humans lived in the smallest social groups - bands that ranged from around 20 to 60 people, though bands would often interact with other bands. This started to change as the Wurm Glaciation pulled back, leading to human social groups becoming larger and less egalitarian. The rise of agriculture saw the beginnings of chiefdoms morphing into nation states. In the centuries between the glacial retreat and the first civilizations, human social roles became more restricted and prescribed by birth. Age was likely the first criterion, separating minor status from adult status, then sex, establishing mostly arbitrary "male-" and "female roles" that had little to do with biological determinants. You start seeing class distinctions in tribal societies in that period, though these differences were often much less rigid than what happens at state level, where every individual human's life is entirely proscribed by sex and the social status of their ancestors. This was the state of most of humanity up until the 18th Century "Enlightenment" when the growing prevalence of scientific reasoning led some countries, starting with the US then moving to Europe, to challenge the old social order. We are coming around to something like a return to our nomadic roots, but at dramatically higher populations. It shouldn't be surprising that the transition is painfully slowly, not evenly distributed by any stretch, and greatly feared and easily subverted by those who have the most to gain from the old slave order. (I find it ironic that almost every nation in Western Europe outlawed slavery 2 to 4 decades before the US did, even though the US claims to be "The Land of the Free".)

We have discussed terminology here before. Our host prefers /feudalism/ largely because it is a common term that invokes absolute monarchs, lords and serfs. Others prefer the word /aristocracy/ which is also familiar and has similar connotations. I think we might do well to make a new word, something that makes the point that this older system was (and still is in many nations) all about exploitation and legal, social and financial inequality. Exploitocracy? Brutocracy? Rigidocracy sounds silly, and hateocracy is too obviously loaded, as are the first two, though the accuracy of the first suggestion makes it the one I would pick. If anyone has other suggestions, I would be glad to hear them. I wouldn't be bugged if none of mine were chosen by the Brin Community. I just enjoy being part of a creative crowd.

Paul SB said...

Jumper,

I checked out your site on Brandolini's Law, and it was explained pretty well. The only suggestion I might make would be to include Brandolini's first name (Alberto), because if someone has never heard of him and googles the name to find out more, they will find multiple people with that surname. The first name that came up when I searched was a fashion designer named Muriel Brandolini.

Maybe you could put up a Mountain of ... cartoon of some sort to add a bit of humor. I've seen a few good ones, though it would be plagiarism if you just copy one. This site has one near the top that isn't too funny but it communicates the idea well.

https://bulldozer00.com/2014/08/

David Mitchell said...

Paul SB, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. What is SES?

Whether we call it feudalism or the patriarchy, we have it to thank for getting us from the transition into mass society to the present day in what must be the only way possible, judging from the fact that it was the path chosen by pretty much everybody everywhere. So where did it get us? For a start, it got us to the knowledge of where we actually came from, rather than a plethora of stories, each one only a tiny bit as interesting as astonishing reality. This was gleaned from the sciences, as you ably present above. It might have gotten us enough information to enable us to save our niche on the planet. Who knows, we could be the first species to have done so.

David Brin said...

D Mitchell: "I don't think feudalism is an attractor state. I think that until very recently it was the only possible way to manage a mass society"

Um... that's the meaning of an attractor state.

Paul SB said...

David Mitchell,

Yes, whatever name we give it, a rose would smell as sweet. You are probably that the brutality of the past 6000 years was unavoidable. During most of that time human knowledge advanced very slowly, and reading that history gives me a bad taste in my mouth about humans. Fortunately I have also studied early incarnations of human social structure, which paints a better picture, though not lily white by any stretch of the imagination. The challenge for that species today is to shake off the last vestiges of 6000 years of Exploitocracy and enlist many more minds and hands in finding solutions to real problems - what our host refers to as the Star Trek path. Note that Star Trek is no utopian paradise, but it is a huge improvement over what we have today, where we take two steps forward, then some economic troglodyte (I don't need to name any names, do I?) takes over and sets us four steps back.

SES, btw, is Socio-Economic Status, which is really just short hand for economic class, but there are so many of life's variables that significantly correlate with SES it's both frightening and disgust at the same time - the hell our ancestors fashioned for us. We need to make like bats, but too many frogs are swatting us down with their clubs as we try to escape the trap.

As far as the knowledge of where we actually came from, it's a common misconception that Darwinian theory or the Big Bang theory permanently settle the question of mythic origin stories. In the case of evolutionary theory, all it really says is that life changes, usually very slowly over many generations. It does not answer the question of how life originated. There are some very interesting experiments and speculations, but most of the world's scientists still follow whatever religion they were raised to believe. The Big Bang (actually the Expanding Universe) is even funnier. It says nothing about the origin of the Universe, it only says that once it was small and now it is huge. What amazes me is the ignorance of so many people who claim that this "godless science" is in fundamental conflict with all religions, when it was a priest who created it (Father Georges LeMaitre - feel free to look him up, you will be better informed than the vast majority of this country, and have a good talking point with reasonable religious people - the ones who are not so much like charging angry bulls they can't think at all.)

As far as humans being the first to do so, that was exactly Dr. Brin's point when he brought up the Fermi Paradox in the main post. NBD, just keep thinking and learning, and sharing what you know with your fellow hominids. Contra the "rugged individualist" meme so common in the right wing, humans are inherently social animals that cannot survive without regular human contact. Why do you think people go mad in solitary confinement and try to kill themselves? Look up oxytocin some time, it explains a lot of behavior, not just in humans but in much of the animal kingdom.

Were you reading a few posts back when I commented about rugged idiot individualists and Chuck Norris's "wussification of America" rant? These manly men, and the women who are fool enough to feed their complexes, are emotional cripples. Normal human beings sometimes need a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes they need to be the shoulder and provide comfort to another human. Those rugged individualist morons can't do either, they behave more like reptiles than warm-blooded mammals. Although they are dangerous animals, they really are pitiful creatures, so deluded about themselves that they are incapable of behaving like a normal, healthy hominid. Pitiful but dangerous, these are the people who force us four steps backward whenever one of their number gain any political, financial or religious power.

I hope you're okay with the chat. Sometimes I just talk too much.

Jumper said...

I think our definition of feudalism needs expanding to include chiefdoms and ships. Much of the world during the last 3000 years, to come up with a rather random number, was under not much larger units than tribes, even in agricultural areas. In many places the regional empires had no day-to-day effect on rural people - and most everyone was rural.

And through the last 3000 years as much power has been concentrated by ships as horsemen. Traders and raiders work by sea and wealth concentrates to those men with ships.

I think nationalism has become too innate in our thinking, and we tend to view historical feudalism through that lens of seeing great nations - Arthurian England, or Charlemagne, or Rome - when more often there were no empires operating in any randomly chosen place.

I think chieftains were more common enforcers of feudal life than higher-ups.

Paul SB said...

Jumper,

Interesting thinking. One of the leading experts on chiefdoms, a dude named Timothy Earle, thinks of chiefdoms as nascent states. He points out that in both chiefdoms and states leadership is inherited, while in bands and tribes it is more fluid and situational. A typical band has no real leaders at all, it's only when they send out a hunting party that someone - usually the one with the best reputation as a hunter - takes on the role. Tribes have leaders who lead under all circumstances, though usually their leadership is shared with a shaman and/or a council of elders. (Terminology can get confusing, because we mostly grew up with cowboys & Indians movies where the leader was called the chief. As far as I know, this was how Westerners labelled them and there is no other word for the leader of a tribe, except the rather silly term "big man". I remember reading ethnographies that talked about small-scale societies that didn't have a chief until the British Army showed up demanding to see the "chief," so they had to manufacture one, weird costume and all, just to talk to the invaders. But those "chiefs" were just random villagers or one of the elders dressed up with the trappings of power until the British Army left.)

One important thing to remember about feudalism is that it is a highly differentiated hierarchy. It's not just the king and below him are the peasants. A feudalism has elaborate rankings, meaning a whole lot of aristocrats who owe fealty to the king, lesser aristocrats and knights who owe fealty to the higher-level aristocrats, mayors, sheriffs, and a parallel ecclesiastic hierarchy that at times colluded with the kings and lesser beasts but at other times counter-balanced them. So the fact that the highest level in a feudalism rarely interacted with the unwashed masses is of little relevance. There is a chain of command, like in a military. Generals hardly interact with privates at all, they give orders to colonels, who pass those orders down to captains and majors, who pass those orders down to sergeants, who yell at privates. In many feudalisms the kings gave his lords a lot of autonomy as long as they paid taxes and sent men to serve in the national army and/or navy. When I was a history student I read some pretty horrific stories about what those lords got up to when the king was weak or didn't make any effort to watch over the lords to ensure that they were enforcing legal codes consistently and not torturing peasants to extract every cent they had.

A typical chiefdom has inherited leaders - chief and shaman - but lacks the elaborate hierarchy of a true feudalism. This is why Earle calls nascent states. They have only one or two levels of permanent hierarchy. In some chiefdoms the chief has a small cadre of underlings, but many others do not, and the chief directly interacts with the people. So I think the distinction between chiefdom and state is best kept. If any changes need to be made, its expanding the taxonomy to account for variations at all levels.

Paul SB said...

Jumper con.t,

You are quite correct, however, in pointing out that for much of the past 6000 years states existed in only some areas of the world, while the other levels coexisted in separate territories. And the nature of states varies, too, so your comment about ships and horsemen, traders and raiders gets at a subtle distinction between states. Where the market system comes to have more power, merchants (or today corporate execs) have huge power and technically operate under government oversight, but mostly behave as independent lordships (and are frequently just as ruthless and tyrannical as those independent lords), but that starts to happen as old feudal ties become less and less important and a cash economy becomes more important. I think there needs to be a division between true feudalism and the cash states that started springing up in the 17th C.

Of course, the historians write books and lecture about Arthurian England, Charlemagne, and Rome. They don't write books about chiefdoms, tribes or states. Anthropologists do that, but most of society ridicules them for caring about "primitives," even though many historians will acknowledge the role that interaction between states and those "primitives" was important. Then they go back to spinning romanticized tales of glorious kings and noble lords. So there you're right again.

Carl M. said...

Regarding your religion post previously, The Atlantic has an article which shows that the rise of the Alt Right and Trumpism is what happens when conservatives STOP going to church.

Inconvenient truth detected. Narrative falsified.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/breaking-faith/517785/

Go to Unz dot com to see what happens when conservatives start believing in evolution. It ain't pretty.

You won the Culture War. "Enjoy."

LarryHart said...

The Galactic Empire as depicted in "Star Wars" was the reality of much of the world during the reigns of real-life empires. On Tattoine, the Empire was "such a long way from here." It hardly seemed to matter at all to a local farmboy. And Darth Vader's hinted threat to Lando that "It would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison behind," implies that the normal state of affairs is for Lando's operation to be more or less unnoticed and unencumbered by the Empire. The threat to leave a garrison is the exception that proves the rule.*

* In British law, this phrase doesn't mean what we've come to take it as--a perverse notion that an exception to a rule somehow validates the rule itself. It means something more like: "If an exception to a rule is explicitly stated, that proves that there is such a rule in the first place, even if the rule itself is not explicitly stated."

David L. Craig said...

LarryHart wondered:

"Can't Trump in his current role simply pardon Manafort and Flynn and basically anyone in his circle for crimes to be investigated later? In fact, if it comes down to it, can't he just pardon himself?"

This reminds me of Herbert Block's (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herblock) response to the Saturday Night Massacre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Massacre) that depicted Nixon waving his hands over Cox causing him to disappear, but there was a pair of waving hands over Nixon as well, a prophecy that came to pass, and one of the many cartoons that earned him a Pulitzer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulitzer_Prize_for_Editorial_Cartooning).

Twominds said...

@David Mitchell and Paul SB on terminologgy:

What about Oppressive Societies? The term is broader than either feudalism or patriarchy, and it signifies better that while we are getting away from it, we haven't completed that voyage yet. In my opinion we're neither in a feudal nor in a patriarchal society, but do have some characteristics of them left, and could be pulled back again.

Jumper said...

Of course we can point out the classic feudal civilizations, too: Egypt, and the mighty city-states of Ur, Babylon, Mohenjo-daro etc. But it's foolish to ignore the Phoenicians and post-Roman Greeks, or the trade empires of the later Italians or Norse shippers. They give a fuller picture of the types of control employed.

As far as chieftains go, a bow and arrow can take care of a bad chief easier than a bad king.

Jumper said...

Robert Silverberg wrote a book long ago, Empires in the Dust, in which he posited that Mohenjo-daro died out simply because it was too oppressive. I suspect his thesis is not seriously regarded, but there it is.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I was taught by a very good history professor that the meaning of that phrase has changed because the meaning of the word /prove/ has changed. The word /prove/used to mean to test, so the translate it into today's speech, it would be more like "The exception tests the rule" or maybe "The exceptions reveals the rule's limits." That's what I was told, anyway.

Jumper said...

Lest anyone think my point is that feudalism "wasn't that bad," not so. Meritocracy was always finally decided far too late, involuntarily, by mass murder: war and invasion. And it was inevitable.

Paul SB said...

Twominds,

Oppressive Societies sounds good to me, though it doesn't fit the usual linguistic pattern of ending a name for a type of government with -ocracy. I forgot about the word /kleptocracy/, which pretty well describes a great many of the world's governments, including ours whenever the Republicans get the upper hand (and it sometimes floors me to hear the very people most screwed by Republican kleptocracy defending them virulently. How can people be that stupid?)

We might try old-fashioned Latin. The Latin word for /liar/ is /mendax,/so maybe Mendocracy - rule by liars? But most people wouldn't know the Latin stem, and it's not much different from /kleptocracy/ but most people know what a klepto is.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB on "exception that proves the rule" :

I was taught by a very good history professor that the meaning of that phrase has changed because the meaning of the word /prove/ has changed. The word /prove/used to mean to test, so the translate it into today's speech, it would be more like "The exception tests the rule" or maybe "The exceptions reveals the rule's limits." That's what I was told, anyway.


I think it was on this very blog, but many years back, that we had a long discussion about the phrase.

Someone (I don't recall who) raised the point that the phrase as colloquially used--that it takes an exception in order to validate a rule--makes no sense. I forget the example we were discussing, but it would be as if someone insisted that "Dogs and cats hate each other" is a rule, and if you countered with "Well, I have dogs and cats that get along fine," they would say, "Well, that's the exception that proves the rule."

I chimed in at that point to say that my sense of the phrase is much as you posited, "exception that tests the rule", in the sense of an exception which is so uncommon as to point out that the rule holds almost all of the time. I believe my example is "It never snows in Chicago in June, July, or August." The fact that a trace of snow was recorded on June 2 once in Chicago's 140-year weather history "proves" the rule in the sense that in order to refute the rule, you have to resort to that single counterexample. Doing so points out how rare the exception is.

That's what I had thought for most of my life. But then someone familiar with British law chimed in that the phrase actually has a legal meaning which is more like "If there is an explicitly-stated exception to a rule, that proves the existence of the rule itself, even if the rule is not explicitly stated." In the movie Caddyshack, the posted sign stating that staff are allowed to use the pool between 1:00 and 1:15 on Tuesdays implies that staff are generally forbidden to use the pool, even if that prohibition is not written down anywhere. The sign is the exception that proves the rule. I had never heard that explanation before, but it made so much sense that I subscribe to it now.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

We might try old-fashioned Latin. The Latin word for /liar/ is /mendax,/so maybe Mendocracy - rule by liars?


With the current crop in Washington, what we need is a word for "Rule by people whose interest is in destroying the system rather than ruling it."

Robert said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that Libertarians will soon be joining Liberals. Well, excepting those Libertarians who are anti-abortion of course.

I say this because of an internet argument which started out when I pointed out some World War II "vehicle" design (putting an engine and wheels on some sort of pod thing and racing around in it) was still a stupid thing even if it worked, and had someone deride me and say "I'll bet $50 that he's a sad liberal" or words to that effect.

My response was that I'm Libertarian, I provide a means by which he can verify that, and tell him he can donate that $50 to Planned Parenthood as they need the money.

The basic response was that I'm liberal because I believe in abortion. The point that this is a matter of personal liberty and bodily autonomy means nothing to these people. If you are pro-choice or pro-abortion (I'm the latter as abortion is simply a medical procedure that folks have blown up out of proportion) then you are a liberal in their eyes.

Probably 95% of the Libertarian Party is officially pro-choice. Thus we are Liberals in the eyes of the Neoconservatives. And while Democrats have long been for eliminating a number of personal liberties, it is looking increasingly like the neoconservatives are for eliminating even more personal liberties and the only thing they're for is gun ownership. But no doubt even that will be coached in terms of "white men can own guns." No others need apply.

Libertarians need to open their eyes and realize Republicans are no longer in any way, shape, or form an ally. It is time to stop allying with them (though I personally never have).

Rob H.

locumranch said...


Besides being redundant, the phrase 'Oppressive Societies' hits too close to home as ALL societal structures are oppressive & repressive to some degree, especially those based on structured hierarchical command, so much so that it matters not to the lowly but supportive hoi polloi if they are ordered about by an oligarchy, expert class, theocracy, enlightenment illuminati or hereditary aristocracy.

These hierarchal command structures are effectively 'same-same' whether they lean hard right or hard left; Right-wing Feudalism is virtually indistinguishable from Left-wing Stalinism; and all ideological extremes that require a 'mandatory consensus' are intolerably oppressive.

Role that around on your tongue for a moment & savour the oxymoronic irony of the phrase 'mandatory consensus". What the hell? Mandatory Consensus?? There can be no such thing as that which is 'mandatory', by definition, cannot be said to represent a voluntary 'consensus'.

Yet, from climate change to globalism, this is exactly what most NWO progressives desire in all things:

A Mandatory Consensus, one preferably enforced by the velveted glove of educational indoctrination (as opposed to the punitive iron hand), but an imposed uniformity of universal, global & federal human conformity nonetheless, incompatible with individuality, liberty & justice for all.

Hence the quip "Welcome to Sherwood", attributable to the libertarian archetype, as portrayed in film (Errol Flynn, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', 1938) because those intent on any system of oppressive rule deserve destruction.

Best

Paul SB said...

Carl,

You didn't specify whose comment you were responding to. If I remember correctly it wasn't me who brought that study up, but I don't remember who it was, just that I had heard the same story on a news program the same day. Either way, your sarcasm is uncalled for. I know I pointed out that the finding that more actively religious people were on average less rabid idiots than people who claim to be religious but don't actively participate was not that surprising. It's Dunning-Kruger. Stupid people don't know how stupid they are, and people who always take the lazy way, sitting on their duffs watching TV or playing video games instead of remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy (though the Sabbath is actually Saturday, not Sunday. Once Greece was Christianized they adopted the name /Sabbato/ for Saturday, while in English we still use the pagan term derived from Saturn's Day. If you've read the Bibe you'd know that Greece was one of the earliest adopters of Christianity.) A whole lot of those Junior Gropers are drawn from regions and classes of people who never develop their intelligence, either because they don't value learning because they are working-class people for whom education has never been a path to success for, making education and the educated objects of scorn, or more wealthy people who are successful because of their salesmanship (read: lying) skills, and also have contempt for the educated who they feel superior to. Contrary to what common sense tells us, there are limits beyond which education stops paying off financially - look at the mediocre salaries of college professors, which is where most people with PhDs end up.

So it is true that many Liberals lay some blame on the extremely religious for many of the worst stupidities of our times, who can blame them when they go to church and hear hate-preaching, see the same thing any time they switch on the TV on a Sunday afternoon and tune in to one of those TV preachers, and monsters like Westboro Baptist make headlines regularly?

Paul SB said...

Carl con.t,


The higher authorities of the Catholic Church teach that science is a genuine source of truth and theories like evolution and the Big Bang are real. But my mother took me to Catholic mass for a part of my childhood, and I heard the same hatred-of-science rhetoric so common today. I have been teaching in majority Hispanic communities for the last 14 years, which is mostly Catholic (though contra our stereotypes, huge numbers of Latin American people have been converting to Evangelicals for the couple decades, so you really can't safely assume). Most of what I hear from both students and parents is exactly the same ignorance. Since I haven't been to a Catholic church since I was about 12, I don't know if this stupidity is encouraged by the clergy or if it is just an ingrained part of the culture of ignorance that the Medieval Christian Church, which was renamed Catholic during the Reformation. So the conclusion that all regular church-goers are good and smart, but people who don't go to church are bad and stupid is missing the variability. Or maybe we could say the exceptions that prove (in the older sense) the rule.

I spent most of my high school and junior high years going to a Presbyterian church (Jerry who lives in my home town might be familiar with First Presbyterian in downtown, though I don't remember what street it's on), on the contrary. There the main priest was not a hellfire and brimstone type back then, and the old guy was even brave enough to curse homophobia and tell the congregation that they should forgive them as Christ would (not burn them, as Jehovah would - though he probably didn't say that, that's probably a memory of my own adolescent sarcasm back then). Today I can see the irony in this, given that Presbyterianism is an offshoot of holier-than-thou Calvinism, but when I was going there I never got much of a sense of what I was supposed to slavishly believe. But the point is, not all churches follow the Westboro model. Many actually preach what Jesus taught, which helps to inoculate people from our more general culture of simplistic fundamentalism and needless hate. That's why, on average, church-goers are less ignorant puds than conservatives who claim to be religious but never read the Bible, rarely read anything but hate-rants on the internet, and only go to church on major holidays like Christ Mass and Easter Sunday.

So no, you can't blame them damn liberals for creating the Donald Grope phenomenon by driving people away from church. A majority of self-identifying liberals I have known have been regular church people, they just go to churches that don't preach hate. So your sarcastic "You won the Culture War. "Enjoy."" comment is completely out of line and out of touch with reality.

- Beast

Jumper said...

It seems a relatively sane person of religion would simply say science has not much to say about ethics. Vivisection, anyone?

Speaking of which, when was the last time we saw a man lashed until all the skin was flayed off his back, for a minor infraction such as "repeated backtalk?" If it's all the same to you, locumranch, will you volunteer for a test?

LarryHart said...

Robert:

The basic response was that I'm liberal because I believe in abortion. The point that this is a matter of personal liberty and bodily autonomy means nothing to these people. If you are pro-choice or pro-abortion (I'm the latter as abortion is simply a medical procedure that folks have blown up out of proportion) then you are a liberal in their eyes.


How do Libertarians justify a litmus test based on abortion rights? The only way I can see that being against abortion is libertarian is in the sense of defending the fetus's right to life. But in that case, how can they also be against gun control?

Is the argument really that if only fetuses were packing heat, there would be fewer abortions?


And while Democrats have long been for eliminating a number of personal liberties, it is looking increasingly like the neoconservatives are for eliminating even more personal liberties and the only thing they're for is gun ownership.


The personal liberties that Democrats want to eliminate are the freedom to run roughshod over the personal liberties of others. Republicans are only in favor of personal liberties for the wealthy and powerful to use their wealth and power in order to coerce others. Being in favor of "liberty" full stop is meaningless. One has to answer whether that means freedom from coercion or freedom to coerce. It can't be both.


Libertarians need to open their eyes and realize Republicans are no longer in any way, shape, or form an ally.


They never were, except where they just happened to align in some way by random chance.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Role that around on your tongue for a moment & savour the oxymoronic irony of the phrase 'mandatory consensus". What the hell? Mandatory Consensus?? There can be no such thing as that which is 'mandatory', by definition, cannot be said to represent a voluntary 'consensus'.


So? Who besides you is even talking about "mandatory consensus"?

"Jumbo shrimp" makes no sense either. I claim that proves you are wrong about...everything. How does that assertion make less sense than what you just said?

Yet, from climate change to globalism, this is exactly what most NWO progressives desire in all things


So what you're saying is that reality is oppressive? That conservatives are just as free to not agree to reality as liberals are to agree to it? Fair enough, but the oppression that Reality will force upon you is not something that is being done by liberals. #SoCalledPresident just got bitch-slapped by Reality, and guess what? Liberals had nothing to do with it.

Hence the quip "Welcome to Sherwood", attributable to the libertarian archetype, as portrayed in film (Errol Flynn, 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', 1938) because those intent on any system of oppressive rule deserve destruction.


Deserve? What is this "deserve" of which you speak?

David L. Craig said...

Paul SB pointed out:

"But the point is, not all churches follow the Westboro model. Many actually preach what Jesus taught, which helps to inoculate people from our more general culture of simplistic fundamentalism and needless hate. That's why, on average, church-goers are less ignorant puds than conservatives who claim to be religious but never read the Bible, rarely read anything but hate-rants on the internet, and only go to church on major holidays like Christ Mass and Easter Sunday."

Word! A study relating self-identifying Christians' ability to accurately in context quote or paraphrase a wide swath of the Bible against their societal practices would probably not be a revelation to most of the folks hanging around this community, "not giving up the habit of meeting together" being one of the principles. Understanding Christians simply will not be involved with congregations such as Westboro unless they feel they are called there as missionaries.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

(though the Sabbath is actually Saturday, not Sunday. Once Greece was Christianized they adopted the name /Sabbato/ for Saturday, while in English we still use the pagan term derived from Saturn's Day.


Jews still remember the Sabbath on Saturday. And doesn't the word "sabbath" literally have something to do with "seventh"? I am under the impression that the word "sabbatical"--a vacation typically taken after seven years--derives from that root. So the commandment is literally to remember the seventh day and keep it holy. The connotation of "Sabbath" as the holy day flows from that, not the other way around.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

Go to Unz dot com to see what happens when conservatives start believing in evolution. It ain't pretty.

You won the Culture War. "Enjoy."


So the liberals are at fault for not keeping conservatives ignorant and docile? We should have had a rule about not educating conservatives just as they used to have one for slaves?

We'll remember that next time.

Paul SB said...

Rob H.,

Your description of your Close Encounter of the Retard Kind goes to show a key ingredient of partisanship - intellectual laziness. They don't see the difference between Libertarian and Liberal because their brains are too lazy to try. The Junior Gropers are exactly the kind of people who leap Tall Conclusions in a Single Bound and fight for Lies, Injustice, and the Criminal Way.

But on the other side, I think you have swallowed some of the propaganda about Liberals. Liberals believe in liberty and free choice as much as Libertarians do, and as much as the Republican leadership claims to do while they try to dismantle the Bill of Rights (Edwin Meese during the Reagan Administration is the first one I know of to systematically attempt to undermine every single amendment). Rank-and-file Republicans have been made paranoid by the propaganda about them damn Liberals trying the take their babies away and give them to Rumpelstiltsken. Reality check - efforts by Liberals to "take people's freedom away" has mostly been to ensure people's safety, including when people are too stupid to realize that they are doing dangerously stupid things (Dunning-Kruger again). Have you seen Neil DeGrasse Tyson's updated version of Cosmos? We have discussed the episode about lead poisoning here before. It's a blatant case of business literally poisoning the people and doing everything they could to avoid losing even the tiniest profit. That's the kind of "freedoms" Liberals are mostly interested in (and note that it wasn't too long ago that a brilliant African-American person would not likely be allowed to appear on TV, much less than have his own science show, demonstrating that Africans can be just as smart as Caucasians, that's another kind of dangerous stupidity that Liberals have been trying to fight.) Yes, there is the extreme left who do the whole PC thing, but those are a small minority, most of whom are young adults who mostly grow out of it after a few years of struggling to survive American neolocality. So if you feel like Libertarians are leaning left, you might want to get to know them better. Most of them are nothing like the caricatures passed off by the extreme right.

LarryHart said...

Carl M (again) :

You won the Culture War. "Enjoy."


What you and the article you cite seem to be saying is that conservatives are a threat in the manner that they always claimed atheists are. "If you don't believe in God, then what stops you from stealing, raping, and murdering at will?" You're saying that while they are (factually) wrong in describing atheists that way, they are very accurately describing themselves. Church authority is the only thing preventing them from being barbarians at our gates. And, Donald Trump's ban on "those who don't share American values" really should start with the man himself and his own followers.

I suspect you are missing the cause-and-effect here. Alt-right conservatives are not fleeing the church because liberals won the culture war. They're fleeing the church for the same reason they voted against TrupmUniversityCare--because the church, even the Christian Supremacist ones, isn't mean enough for their tastes.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

They don't see the difference between Libertarian and Liberal because their brains are too lazy to try.


Actually, those libertarians were failing to see the overlap between Libertarian and Liberal. Their invective was that someone was a Liberal, and therefore not a good Libertarian, because he favored abortion rights.

Paul SB said...

Jumper,

I'm a strong proponent of Steven Jay Gould's "Noma" principle, Non-Overlapping Magisteria. But even Gould admitted that there can be conflicts created where the magisteria of science and the magisterial of religion. That's where communication is necessary, but when the most vocal portion of one side is waging a propaganda war against the other, useful communication stops happening. Vivisection, though old, is a great example.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Yes, there is the extreme left who do the whole PC thing,


Even in that realm, the dirty little secret is that conservatives are just as bad at the PC thing. They just don't call it "PC" when conservatives do it, in the manner that it's not called "terrorism" when white Christianists do it.

Milo Crapopolis was not disappeared from Breitbart and CPAC because he violated liberal sensibilities. Nor was that Gold Star father forbidden from traveling to Canada because he said something that made liberals uncomfortable. Nor was Jeff Sessions's predecessor fired because she relayed facts that liberals didn't like.

Troutwaxer said...

Gerald Ford's punishment for the pardon? An unelected and unpopular and rejected "president" gets an aircraft carrier named after him.

Don't forget that pardoning Nixon probably cost Ford a second term.

David L. Craig said...

LarryHart noted:

"Jews still remember the Sabbath on Saturday. And doesn't the word 'sabbath' literally have something to do with 'seventh'?"

The Jews have been tracking the seventh day of the week from long before Jesus was born. In Judaism seven is the number of completion and linked to the Torah's first week: six days of creation, then a day of rest, long before there was a Jewish people group.

http://www.sabbathtruth.com/sabbath-history/how-the-sabbath-was-changed covers the history as I understand it pretty even-handedly.

Troutwaxer said...

But he is implying that only people who experience hard lives become competent people. It's really easy to call bullshit on this one. Just look at stats on stress-related disorders...

So we have both extremes giving us badly damaged people. Maybe people need lots of reasonably-high challenges in their life, such as athletics, artistic and technical challenges, and schools where advancement is merit-based, beginning at an early age.

locumranch said...


Good pick-up, LarryH, for noticing that terms which express desire like 'deserve', 'should', 'ought' and 'supposed to' represent mere opinion rather than factual (and/or scientific) reality, as in the case of my recent use of the term 'deserve'. Now, if & when you recognise that all such terms of desire (yours & mine) represent magical wishes rather than reality, then lesson learned.

While you're on a roll, ask Jumper if tongue-lashings, job loss or criminal charges count as corporeal punishment, especially when incurred due to 'hateful' (politically incorrect) backtalk. Then, ask him to look to Donzelion's progressive muslim allies for "a man lashed until all the skin was flayed off his back", courtesy of youtube.

Then, ask PaulSB if subjective good intentions are enough to justify taking "people's freedom away (to) ensure people's safety, including when people are too stupid to realize that they are doing dangerously stupid things", much in the same way a progressive Pol Pot used 'good intentions' to justify his Killing Fields.

"My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position [imposing “the good”] would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals" [CS Lewis].


Best

Paul SB said...

Larry,

"Actually, those libertarians were failing to see the overlap between Libertarian and Liberal."
- That's kind of what I was saying. They miss the overlap because their minds have categorized the two into different boxes. Lazy brains. They can't even conceptualize either individuality or overlap between categories. They jump to conclusions and label rather than making any effort to understand. Lazy brains - a problem that gets worse the more babies are weaned on the Internet, where they can hurl insults anonymously and reduce American culture to the level of bratty 12-year olds.

Okay if I add some to the erosion of locum's latest illogical rant? You hit one of the key points I was going to say when I read it. He's pulling the same shit he always does by putting words together in unique combinations to denigrate the people he hates. "Mandatory Consensus" is an obvious one. I've never heard anyone but him, just know, use that oxymoronic combination which he is trying to foist on them damn liberals. It seems like he is equating his contract with political correctness, which, as we all well know, is nothing but right-wing propagandists tarring the whole lot with the behaviors of the most extreme. The dishonesty in locum's rants abounds. There's some other juicy ones.

In the case of comparing right-wing fascism to left-wing Stalinism, it's pretty well established that Stalinism was left-wing in name only. Stalin was a dictator who used Marxist propaganda to prop up and maintain his dictatorial powers, not an actual "lefty" by any means. But loci wants to equate anyone left of himself with "Communist" dictators. Victim of the Cold War.

His claim that the suggested term /oppressive societies/ is redundant because all societies are oppressive is just another example of that "your side is just as bad as mine!" screech, and I think Dr. Brin dissected that rant pretty effectively and more than once. The whole point of progressivism is to make a society that is better, that is not oppressive. But locum is trapped in that Cold War mentality that says that any attempt to make things better is a disguised attempt to oppress it, as Stalin did and as Orwell so handily examined.

Drivel. This is exactly why things fail to improve so often. Tyrannosaurs like this one keep hurling retro propaganda in their efforts to make life worse for all humankind.

Paul SB said...

Oh, and now he's calling Pol Pot a progressive. Same shit, different post.

Paul SB said...

David Craig,

Wow, I haven't heard anyone use /Word!/ like that since the 90s! Amazing how stuff like that gets trapped in people's heads long ofter it goes out of style, or in locum's case is proven to be utter equine excrement. And that is exactly what makes science so powerful a tool. Unlike so many others (though true of some particularly bad scientists - there's one in every barrel) science trains its practitioners to be able to admit when they are wrong and move on. Any professional scientist will probably say that it shoves your fallibility in your face so often that you learn to be very careful in how you present yourself and your interpretations of data.

David L. Craig said...

Regarding locumranch's Lewis quotation, I always liked the way Gene Roddenberry had Paladin put in the Have Gun, Will Travel episode entitled The Posse: "Heaven help us what men do in the name of good." (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0597643/)

Jumper said...

Was the issue of vivisection a perfect example of propaganda, or overlapping magisteria?

Freedom of speech, locumranch, implies that a tongue-lashing is not, indeed, the same as actual lashing. If you ask me (or accuse me? Unclear...)if I favor this sort of treatment? I vehemently do not.

David L. Craig said...

Paul SB claimed:

"Any professional scientist will probably say that it shoves your fallibility in your face so often that you learn to be very careful in how you present yourself and your interpretations of data."

Well, I'm still unhappy about the pronouncement of "junk DNA" which turned out to be pretty important after all.

Slim Moldie said...


On economic inequality. Did anyone else hear/read the Fresh Air piece on the Mercer family? http://www.npr.org/2017/03/22/521083950/inside-the-wealthy-family-that-has-been-funding-steve-bannon-s-plan-for-years

Here's an excerpt.

"He (Bob Mercer) basically has a philosophy, according to Magerman, that values people on the basis of what they earn. He doesn't think human beings have intrinsic value. He thinks that if you are a schoolteacher and you earn 2 million times less than Mercer earns, then you're 2 million times less valuable than Mercer is. And he believes that if you are on welfare, you have negative value. And what Magerman said was, and he's not talking about economically. He means as a human being."

Jumper said...

There are probably many differences of perception and belief between actual working scientists and the non-scientist readers and intellectuals who try in good faith to keep abreast of important theories and developments. The scientific press does their job ranging in quality from the sublime to the stupid. We have John McPhee, Oliver Sacks, Stephen Jay Gould, and we have others ranging down the scale from Pop Sci and Psychology Today until you hit chem-trails, yeti and flying saucers.

Troutwaxer said...

"Actually, those libertarians were failing to see the overlap between Libertarian and Liberal."

There are large groups of Libertarians who are still very, very worried about Communism, and the connection between certain Liberals, Socialism, and (long ago and far away) Russia worries them greatly. The utility of an alliance - which would be a very good thing - is overcome by the thought of Commies.

Paul SB said...

Jumper,

overlapping magisteria, not propaganda. Blew my wordcraft roll again! There is a thing called scientific ethics that attempts to deal with this kind of overlap, as well as with scientists who aren't being up to standard on honesty. Stem cell research is another good example. Most biologists would be horrified by the suggestion that they manufacture aborted fetuses to harvest stem cells. That stupid little "sting" the right-wingers had awhile ago where they surreptitiously recorded a conversation between a doctor and a Planned Parenthood employee and edited and interpreted it to make it look like Planned Parenthood was selling fetuses for research was a scam based on public ignorance and fear-mongering about the character of scientists. Most people working in stem cell research get their stem cells from either umbilical cords after birth or bone marrow donations. The bone marrow donation process is very painful, so it's very difficult to get osseous stem cells. I don't know how common it is to get umbilical cells or what issues may limit it.

David Craig,

If you are unhappy about the "junk DNA" thing, you are misunderstanding the nature of knowledge. When the Human Genome Project was still going on, they didn't really know what they were going to find. Back in those days they also thought that humans would have at least four times as many genes as other animals because we're so smart and we know what to do with our pinkies when we hold a cup of tea. Turns out that our assumptions were wrong. We have the same number of genes as a chicken, and the majority of our DNA does not code for protein sequences - the definition of a gene. I'm absolutely thrilled about the 'junk DNA" thing, because people got curious about why we would have "junk" in our perfect, God-given genomes. They started looking closer at it as the cost of DNA sequencing came down, and they discovered methylation switches, the on/off switches for genes. This has become a very exciting field, not just for the discoveries themselves and how they explain so much about how are bodies work and how they changed over millions of years, but because they have been able to save a lot of lives of people born with genetic disorders by adjusting these switches. Bush committed a stunning act of treachery when he tried to shut down stem cell research in America. Can you imagine being bedridden in a hospital with late-stage cystic fibrosis when he issued his executive order, knowing how unlikely a lung transplant would be and that your only hope of making to next year depended on stem cell research? Just for the sake of appealing to the ignorance of a class of constituents? /Traitor/ isn't a strong enough word. The bastard should be in prison for crimes against humanity.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Now, if & when you recognise that all such terms of desire (yours & mine) represent magical wishes rather than reality, then lesson learned.


No, that will be when you recognize that everyone else besides yourself uses terms like "should" or "supposed to" to refer to expectations set by general (or specific) consent, or to goals which we aim for, not to assertions of scientific fact.

David L. Craig said...

Paul SB suggested:

"If you are unhappy about the "junk DNA" thing, you are misunderstanding the nature of knowledge."

With all due respect, sir, it may be you are misunderstanding the basis of my unhappiness. I remember when it was announced and though I was young (graduated high school in '67), I and my classmates understood "science" was ascribing no value to those mysterious compounds. Well, I expect some voices were objecting to the characterization, but they were not prominent. We were being taught it was useless, which is very different from function unknown, and we were graded on our acceptance of that dogma. Do I really misunderstand the nature of knowledge, or is it perhaps the nature of getting funding that I don't understand?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

While you're on a roll, ask Jumper if tongue-lashings, job loss or criminal charges count as corporeal punishment, especially when incurred due to 'hateful' (politically incorrect) backtalk.

You're bringing this up at the wrong time, as I am currently reading "The Iron Heel", and therefore in a mindset to associate punishment by tongue-lashings, job loss, or criminal charges as being inflicted by right-wingers, not by liberals.


Then, ask him to look to Donzelion's progressive muslim allies for "a man lashed until all the skin was flayed off his back", courtesy of youtube.


"Progressive muslim", has nothing to do with the kind of muslims who torture people on video. I'm at a loss to understand why conservative believe that liberals are on the side of religious fanatics, misogynists, and terrorists. Probably because we defend the muslims who aren't those things. But "That's a different thing; in fact the opposite thing."

Zepp Jamieson said...

As I understand it, what had been labelled "junk DNA" is now considered "latent DNA"; genetic features that modern humans aren't using, such as gills, prehensile tails and retractable claws. And it is a larger library than the DNA that we are using. 'Junk DNA' isn't considered a scientific term in any event, being a values-loaded description.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - "Junk DNA"
This was a reasonable label at the time
It was believed that DNA worked by controlling the creation of proteins
DNA that did not create proteins was not doing anything - and - this was the point
If it did not "do" anything - then it would not be selected for or against by the evolutionary process

This was a big red flag at the time - lots of arguments about how it could exist if it didn't do anything - or if it was simply there and the evolutionary process had not managed to shrug it off
Maybe DNA was going out of use so fast that the process of trimming the fat was not keeping up??

Calling it "Junk DNA" was part of that argument -

David L. Craig said...

Zepp Jamieson, you may find this article eye-opening: http://judgestarling.tumblr.com/post/64504735261/the-origin-of-the-term-junk-dna-a-historical including the comments. I know the term and its explicit useless connotation was in my high school curriculum. That may have something to do with Montgomery County being the home of NIH and even Joe Sixpack knows DNA research puts in lot of money into the local economy these days (not sure about the sixties, though).

Paul SB said...

Okay, let's start with David Craig, since his last post sounds a little bit miffed. The point I might not have been making very well is that knowledge is both cumulative and editable. When they first decoded the human genome, they were working under the old assumption that genes make proteins, and were surprised to find gobs of DNA that did not code for protein. By the "One gene, one protein" orthodoxy, that would make it "junk" (the name coined by a reporter, the scientists simply called it "non-coding DNA, but when scientists explain things to reporters many of them misconstrue the message, because most of them don't understand the nature of knowledge, and they feel they need to dumb it down for the general public). Fortunately the scientists did not take reporter speak very seriously and tried to find out what those non-coding sequences do. Most people have been indoctrinated by revealed religions to believe that knowledge is something handed down from the heavens, and since it comes from the gods it must be perfect and unchanging.

Now we know that some of those non-coding sequences act as sequences are vestiges of more distant ancestors, the latent DNA that Zepp brought up. Some non-coding sequences are switches for protein-coding genes, and a surprising amount of it is viral DNA that has gotten inserted into our genomes and copied with all the rest. It would be more fair to call this "junk DNA' but, once again as Zepp pointed out, words like "junk" have value connotations and scientists are taught to use terms that are as clear and free of connotations as possible.

As far as your biology professor goes, he sounds neither typical nor especially competent.

Paul SB said...

David Craig,

I just read that blog on junk DNA, and it is a lot more complex than other explanations of the term's origins. It also does not ultimately come to any conclusions, except that the term was around a lot earlier than we might have expected. Very interesting.

Paul SB said...

Slim Moldie (I don't recall how you came by this name),

The description of Bob Mercer sounds like end-stage Social Darwinism. It's also really typical of big business executives, like the "smartest men in the room" Enron gang. Through most of history religion was used to scapegoat the poor. For centuries any misfortune the fell on a person was "God's plan" and no one wanted to interfere with "God's plan" by helping people. Even hospitals were quite rare for much of European history. But when we started to move into a more scientific age, bigots were looking for scientific justifications for racism, sexism and classism, and if you didn't read very carefully, Darwin's theory could be made to look like it fit the bill perfectly, lending a faux scientific credibility to their biases. American business culture has been especially good about maintaining this distortion of science to justify their ruthlessness.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

That line you quoted from our little loci is just him using the same old tactics he always uses. His abuse of terminology, ascribing different meaning than the common usages of words, then trying tar people with non sequiturs and betting on no one seeing through his dishonesty is something he's been doing as long as I've been here. Is that 3 or 4 years?

Same goes with his equating corporal (non-corporeal?) punishment with political correctness, trying to connect an idea that is widely despised with the people he doesn't like, even though corporal punishment is only used in the school system in red states like Tennessee (where a very knowledgeable education professor I once took came from - he quoted statistics that show that use of corporal punishment for discipline is extremely common in southern states, but dwindling dramatically everywhere else).

His "progressive muslim" comment is the same again, though there may be a more run-of-the-mill stereotyping here. Right-wing pundits have been spewing "All muslims are terrorists" paranoia since even before 9/11.

He really does assume we are stupid, like we could never see through his sophistry. Dunning-Kruger, once again.

Tim H. said...

Back to economics, couldn't the Confederacy be characterized as America, optimized for the .01%? Did not that experiment fail? Was not the south starved for settlers because the plantations depressed wages? Why do the .01% think it might turn out better this time? U. S. Grant's autobiography had some information on this, as does Sydney Blumenthal's Lincoln biography.

David Brin said...

Troutwaxer (welcome) – “There are large groups of Libertarians who are still very, very worried about Communism”

Yes, in which case they should ally with normal liberals to make the current confederate conservatism extinct. Because the oligarchic putsch and especially Trump have sent google queries under “Karl” and “Marx” skyrocketing. If you want that disease resurrected, by all means help raise wealth disparities to French Revolution levels. Or those in Russia exactly 100 years ago.

David Craig, Zepp and Paul, --see my theory about the “junk DNA in my story “Chrysalis.”

locumranch is still mostly wrong and obsessive. But gosh he is arguing much, much more like a grownup. Attaguy.

David L. Craig said...

Paul SB indiacted:

"It would be more fair to call this "junk DNA' but, once again as Zepp pointed out, words like "junk" have value connotations and scientists are taught to use terms that are as clear and free of connotations as possible."

Then the folks cited in the blog aren't legitimate scientists, weren't properly taught, or such teaching was more recently appended to the curriculum?

David Brin said...

RobH: “I have a sneaking suspicion that Libertarians will soon be joining Liberals.”

Nope. Not soon. For a long time, they will desperately, frantically clutch at straws. Like the ones being spewed by Fox, e.g.” “Both sides are the same,” “and nobody’s honest, ever,” And "facts are useless.”

Take Carl, one of the brighter libertarians I know, who KNEW that the movement needed revision away from sucking off oligarchs. And yet, look at his desperate rationalization in this very comment section.

Carl M: “Inconvenient truth detected. Narrative falsified.”

Oh no you do not get to pull this reactionary-parroting bullshit, Carl. You used to be better than this. You think that a wave of a rhetorical wand can make the fundie tsunami go away? Voila! The seminaries HAVEN’T been spewing out tens of thousands of extreme right wing pastors, demanding an end to separation of chuck and state! Shazzam! We’ll ignore the push to get taxpayers pay for vouchered religious madrassas that raise a generation of American Talibans.

Ooooh! You found an… “article”! An… ARTICLE! Oh, well, then black is white and white is black!

Putting aside my initial snide reaction (that you deserved), sure, some of the reactionaries who have lapsed in churchgoing find a neighboring fanaticism to roll in. Bannon avoids church but he still wants an apocalyptic crisis to restore a “christian nation.” Try actually watching his movies, Carl. Liberals and libertarians share the fundamental of believing in positive progress. Reactionaries adore "cycles of history" and end-times.

Anyway… Heinlein said what Heinlein said. And if the Nehemia Scudder we got is the opposite of Jesus? Well the fundies seem to be fine with that. Because they have one reason to adore Trump. The fact that he infuriates the same people they hate. All the smarty pants fact-people. And THERE is the underlying religion that all confederates share, pal.

LarryHart: "If an exception to a rule is explicitly stated, that proves that there is such a rule in the first place, even if the rule itself is not explicitly stated."

This is why I offer my six “Name An Exception” challenges. Sure, guys like Tacitus may find this or that minor-lesser “exception.” And that only proves my case. That you would have to squeeze and scramble and dig to fine ONE metric of US health that did better across either Bush admin that across either Clinton or Obama should be deeply embarrassing!

Okay, the GOP is so ashamed of their governance record that the mentioned NONE of their leaders, between Reagan and Ryan, at the recent RNC? Oops an exception! Newt Gingrich! It doesn't invalidate the conclusion.

Zepp Jamieson said...

David Craig: thanks for the link. The article was interesting. I don't dispute that the term, unscientific as it was, was used; just that it is passe now.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor Brin wrote: "David Craig, Zepp and Paul, --see my theory about the “junk DNA in my story “Chrysalis.”"

Is that in one of your collection of shorts? If so, which one?

David Brin said...

“Chrysalis.” is in INSISTENCE OF VISION. I absolutely guarantee that one. Money back.

Robert said...

My thought, Dr. Brin, is that if the neocon and conservative movements start telling Libertarians "you are liberal because you are for abortion and for gay marriage and for marijuana legalization and that makes you wrong" then Libertarians are going to start realizing no matter how much they argue the point, conservatives. just. don't. get. it. And never will.

At that point you have a problem. If conservatives and neocons are taking away more rights, violating personal property rights, and are insisting Libertarians are liberals unless they vote pure Republican and accept the Republican Ethos then what is a Libertarian to do?

If they are a white male then they become a Republican, assuming they can stomach it. Otherwise... they say 'fuck you' to the Republican Party and do what they can to drive out the Republicans. And that includes allying with liberals if needed.

Don't get me wrong. Outside of 2008 I've not voted for a Democrat. Ever. But after the 1990s I stopped ever voting Republican either. I always vote Libertarian or other third-party candidates. So I am no ally of the Republican Party and have not been for a long time (and really only voted Republican initially because of my brother who ran for State Rep. I like to think he'd hate what the Republican Party has become, though he'd probably also deride me for being Libertarian as he believed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar legislation seeing he was sight impaired).

The funny thing is... I don't agree with some of the central tenets of Libertarianism. I just find it a better fit than Republicans at this point... and do not like Democrats. But that's just me.

Rob H.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ah. Don't have that one. I'll check Amazon or B&N for a copy.

David Brin said...

Rob. Many of the soldiers in the Union Army did not like fellows from the East, or Germans, or immigrants, or Catholics... but they set all that aside when much more important matters were afoot.

Jon S. said...

Of course, thanks to the genius of Aaron Diaz, we now know what "junk DNA" really is.

Billion-year-old spam mail.

http://dresdencodak.com/2009/07/12/fabulous-prizes/

David L. Craig said...

Paul SB suggested:

"As far as your biology professor goes, he sounds neither typical nor especially competent."

I emailed what documentation I could dig up to Dr. Graur including links to my teacher's (high school class--I've never had a biology professor) obituary (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/fredericknewspost/obituary.aspx?pid=168008951) and a paper Google associates her with (https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article-abstract/49/3/867/918465/Experimental-Induction-of-Epidermoid-Carcinoma-in?redirectedFrom=PDF). You may attempt to assess her competence therefrom if you wish.

Jumper said...

Thanks for calling out that "cycles of history" baloney, David. It's one of my gripes. More like "epicycles."

Rudy said...

Oligarchies historically are repressive since that admit to their imperfections and attempt to compensate by making a collective effort, albeit hidden, since they would rather die than admit to any kind group effort.

They also denigrate and suppress the same collective effort among the 'ordinary people' using everything from brainwashing to force. Nonetheless the Renaissance happened because the plagues of the previous century killed off the traditional ruling classes. The Enlightenment happened when the rise of commerce and industrialization made aristocracy obsolete. Traditions live on long after the reason dies but they become more and more empty over time and do fade away. We are currently in an bubble of money, not wealth, since real growth as defined by the increased availability of good and services PER PERSON has remained stagnant or declined. We are reaching a point where A.I. and robotics will make corporations obsolete, not people.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

Does that 'Chrysalis' story feature a character who experiences a metamorphosis in a giant cocoon, perhaps something to do with cranial hair?

Jon S.,

The image on that sight was so small I couldn't read anything but the advertisement at the end. A Ponzi Scheme to make Bernie Madoff jealous!

David Craig,

I read both the obit and the abstract. Since her name was not on the abstract, so she probably had no hand in writing it and likely was just involved in the lab work, and the obit was quite small, it's hard to reach any conclusions. Given the time frame, though, it's most likely that wherever she was educated they probably did not spend much time on the epistemology of science. Those were the days of "physics envy" and rampant scientism. Also, the fact that most of her career was in teaching high school, perhaps her skills were not sufficient to keep her employed in a scientific field.

Jumper,
That cycles of history nonsense has an ancient pedigree - pure pseudoscience from ancient times. Anyone who buys into that silliness simply doesn't have a skeptical mind.

Rudy,

Your comment about traditions lingering on long after the reasons have died is spot on. It's the essence of conservatism, to cling to old ideas and traditions long after they have become dangerously maladaptive. You might ask Alfred Differ what spurred commerce and industrialization in the 17th C. I don't think he will mind doing that again, but the skinny is that most of the nobility of the Low Countries were killed off in centuries of holy wars, leaving a power vacuum to be filled by the wealthiest of the unwashed masses.

As far as AI & robotics goes, let's hope you are right...

Paul SB said...

Troutwaxer,

Rudy's comment about vestigial culture reminded me that I wanted to comment about the vestigial Libertarians last night. This is one of the deadliest traps for human civilization. The human brain is the most flexible, malleable brain on this planet. It has to be, or humans would not be where they are today. But it isn't malleable enough to get us past civilization-destroying hurdles. Almost every civilization whose collapse the archaeologists have been able to work out resulted from this problem. They find a way to live in whatever environment they are in, thrive and flourish, but the system that made them so successful eventually smacks into some limiting factor - almost always related to overpopulation taxing critical resources. When they find that things aren't going the same way they always have in the past, instead of innovating their way out of the crisis, they try to do the same thing harder. I'm sure you can guess how that goes! Quickening the collapse and massive die-offs of the population.

Cold War generation Libertarians share this inflexibility with Republicans of the same generation. "Communism" is in steep decline, being basically down to two countries (though admittedly one of those is a superpower). But as long as right-wing kleptocrats keep screwing the American people, more and more Americans start looking for alternatives to a democracy that looks less and less like democracy ever since St. Reagan, as our host has frequently pointed out. What alternative is most salient in most people's minds? Why, that would be Communism! So guess what, older-generation Libertarians and much more so Republicans are resurrecting the very thing they fear by clinging to outdated fears and continuing to stress the same pro-business, anti-commie mode of no-holds-barred corporate exploitation and repression of the people.

How different is this than when the Mayan agricultural system started to fail due to overpopulation, the lords and priests responded by building more and bigger temples, which exacerbated their soil erosion problem because they had to cut trees to burn for the lime in the mortar holding all those glorious temples together. I'm sure average Joe Mayan thought that their government was corrupt and the gods had abandoned them, too, just like American conservatives today.

On that cheery note, I have to get my son to school. Later!

Carl M. said...

David,

You have been calling for conservatives to secularize and worry about the wealth gap. We now have a gay friendly, sinful, populist flavor of conservatism ascendant. And they are into Darwinism to boot. Look up "Human Biodiversity Movement" -- which comes out of California, not Dixie.

After all the neener-dancing, culture attacks (try replacing "Confederate" with "Zionist" and see how that tune sounds), and lauding that cartelist FDR, I grow critical.

Adam Smith came from the left, yes. But his prescription was anti-Keynesian. Abundance of capital and land lead to higher labor prices. Running up the national credit card is a subsidy to the oligarchs.

Also, low tariffs were a progressive move in England, where the oligarchs were the landholders. In the U.S. high tariffs were progressive, as they were a tax on slaveholders.

---
To see how to get Christians to move to the left, look up the Solidarity Party.

A.F. Rey said...

In case you missed it, Lamar Smith, chairman of the "science" committee in the House, gave a speech at the Heartland Institute, reported in Science Magazine.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/lamar-smith-unbound-lays-out-political-strategy-climate-doubters-conference

As the article says:

“Next week we’re going to have a hearing on our favorite subject of climate change and also on the scientific method, which has been repeatedly ignored by the so-called self-professed climate scientists,” Smith told the Heartland Institute’s 12th annual conference on climate change in Washington, D.C...

Smith also signaled that he plans to turn up the volume on his criticism of federally funded research that doesn’t fit his definition of “sound science.” In particular, he expressed support for writing legislation that would punish scientific journals that publish research that doesn’t fit standards of peer review crafted by Smith and the committee (although he didn’t say how that would be accomplished).
(Emphasis mine.)

War has been declared.

locumranch said...


In the sense that 'Death makes all Men Equal', those who worship equality are death-fixed.

PaulSB argues that "The whole point of progressivism is to make a society that is better", the problem being that the term 'better' represents a subjective opinion (not a 'fact').

It is a matter of historical record that Pol Pot believed himself to be a reformer & progressive. And, for that matter, so did Josef Mengele, Joseph Stalin, Charles Manson, Jim Jones & Osama Bin Laden. Evildoers all, they argued that their actions were INTENDED to make the world 'better'.

They all advocated 'progress' in accordance to their own subjective desires. And that, my friends, is what makes 'progressivism' so incredibly insidious:

Everyone's desires are intrinsically selfish and, like the product launch of 'New Coke', what constitutes Progress (and/or Social Betterment) is entirely arbitrary & spurious.

Quite inadvertently, perhaps, the modern progressive seeks Utopian order, not realising that order is a repudiation of life, only to find the peace of the grave or the security of the slave, in a repeating cycle if life persists.

Peace awaits us all: Why desire it?

Best

David S said...

"Actually, those libertarians were failing to see the overlap between Libertarian and Liberal."

Liberals follow a nurturer parent morality, they have empathy and responsibility for others. They expect others to also be nurturers. From this, it follows that collecting taxes used for the well being of others is a good thing.

Libertarians follow a strong father morality, they believe in discipline and through discipline comes prosperity. Those who are not prosperous lack discipline and should suffer the consequences in order to learn discipline. Once the child of a libertarian strong father household reaches adulthood, he should be left alone to pursue prosperity through discipline. The libertarian opposes taxes (taxes are theft) and spending taxes on the wellfare of others is wrong -- they didn't earn it, it prevents them from learning discipline, and it meddles in the affairs of other strong father families.

I just don't see the overlap.

Luis Salgueiro said...

I've recently been to a conference by Professor Nadim Habib (https://pt.linkedin.com/in/nadim-habib-299168) a Libano-Danish professor of economics that's been living in Portugal for 20 years, regarding several of the topics in this post.
He explains that many of the recent economical problems relate to problems within the organizations caused by a command and control mentality (typical of feudalism) that was framed by Taylor in the early 20th century and allowed for a massive boost to the economy fist in the USA and later in Europe. The problem is that the so-called Taylorism assumes the mental capacity is at the top of the organization, and those at the top are necessarily brighter and better educated than the workers they command. And that was true in the early 20th century where only a small fraction of the population could even read or write.
But now the situation is much different. "Kids", an increasingly large percentage of the population that has higher education, question everything and the older generation tries to cling to their beliefs that are constantly under assault.
The problem as I see it, is double: on one hand politics is viewed as a dirty business, both sides (or in countries with more than two parties, the traditional parties) are viewed as corrupt and equally bad, and most of the young either don't vote or vote for anti-system candidates; on the other most people, even those with higher education, seem unable to decipher the content of the flood of information they are subjected to, and separate fact from "alternate fact"! Unable to choose objectively they chose emotionally preferring the version that adapts to their existing beliefs.
So it is unlikely that a major shift will occur in either party unless something happens to change the emotional state of the voters. In 9/11 the shock of the attack allowed several freedoms to be curtailed in the name of security… and the majority of the population was ok with it because the emotional frame changed and everyone was fearful. The continuing terrorist attacks worldwide maintain that state of constant fear.


Sorry for the wall of text... not much time to participate

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

In the sense that 'Death makes all Men Equal', those who worship equality are death-fixed.


Your bias betrays you. Liberals don't "worship" equality. It's your authoritarian side who has to perceive everyone else's first concern as being worship of something dangerous.

PaulSB argues that "The whole point of progressivism is to make a society that is better", the problem being that the term 'better' represents a subjective opinion (not a 'fact').


The distinction you are making is not between opinion and fact so much as between value judgement and fact.

It's not a "problem" so much as a point of argument. Everyone wants to make things "better", if only for themselves. Then we have to persuade everyone else that our view of "better" has merit to them. I'd put it differently from Paul, that Progressivism as a movement has a particular idea that a more equal society constitutes a "better" society, and considers movement toward more equality as "better" for that reason. That's not necessarily because equality is the desired end, but possibly because equality is a means to a less fractious system.

In that sense, they don't worship equality any more than the driver of a car worships gasoline, or you worship the deliberatly-confusing usage of English.

It is a matter of historical record that Pol Pot believed himself to be a reformer & progressive. And, for that matter, so did Josef Mengele, Joseph Stalin, Charles Manson, Jim Jones & Osama Bin Laden. Evildoers all, they argued that their actions were INTENDED to make the world 'better'.


It's also a matter of record that you would prefer to live under any of those people's ideas of progressivism rather than those of liberal college professors. Me, I'd prefer being shamed to being tortured and killed, but as you say, that's just a value judgement, not a "fact".

Everyone's desires are intrinsically selfish


Which is why a positive-sum game satisfies more disparate individuals than other systems do. A rising tide that lifts all boats is "better" than a non-rising tide which doesn't.

Quite inadvertently, perhaps, the modern progressive seeks Utopian order, not realising that order is a repudiation of life, only to find the peace of the grave or the security of the slave, in a repeating cycle if life persists.


Cancer is a repudiation of life. Life requires an ordered system on many levels.

Peace awaits us all: Why desire it?


Some of us like to actually experience it consciously. That's why.

(Maybe for the first time, the reCAPTCHA image showed highway signs in Chicago!)

LarryHart said...

David S:

Libertarians follow a strong father morality, they believe in discipline and through discipline comes prosperity. Those who are not prosperous lack discipline and should suffer the consequences in order to learn discipline. Once the child of a libertarian strong father household reaches adulthood, he should be left alone to pursue prosperity through discipline. The libertarian opposes taxes (taxes are theft) and spending taxes on the wellfare of others is wrong -- they didn't earn it, it prevents them from learning discipline, and it meddles in the affairs of other strong father families.


You seem to me to describe a perversion of Libertarianism. I have never before heard that Libertarians believe their path to correct behavior involves first submitting to authoritarian rule, and that the authoritarian decides when his charge is "ready" to be a free individual. To use my catch phrase again, that's a different thing (from Libertariansism); in fact the opposite thing.

My understanding of Libertarianism as a concept is that it holds that human beings--adults anyway--should be free from coercion. More specifically, should be free from force or fraud. Present-day Libertarians focus on government force and fraud, but the philosophy really shouldn't distinguish government from any other source of bullying and cheating. In that sense, the overlap is that Liberals and Libertarians both believe in "freedom from bullies and cheats." Right-wing conservatives, OTOH, believe in "freedom for bullies and cheats." Liberals and Libertarians also agree on not pre-judging people by characteristics such as ethnicity or religion, whereas right-wing conservatives are all about such pre-judgements.

The fact that present-day Libertarians align with right-wingers on both issues--authoritarianism and White supremacy--seems to me a betrayal of Libertarianism as a concept.

But as to your caricatures of Liberals and Libertarians, they also align in the sense that both sided believe an authoritarian force has to be applied to keep people from straying off the correct path. They disagree only about what the "correct" path is.

Robert said...

I'm one of the Libertarians who will be lined up against the wall and shot when the Randians take charge. This is what I've been told by Randians, btw.

I'm a "Left" Libertarian in that I believe social liberties are predominant and most important. In fact, they're more important than property rights - I feel that business needs to be regulated, but get the government the hell out of my personal life and that of other people, so long as that personal life does not harm others.

The problem is that this is a beautiful theory. In practice it leads to Flat Earth Creationists teaching their children pseudoscience while refusing to vaccinate their children. I've not yet been able to find a happy medium... but despite that it is still a better political ideal than those offered by Democrats and Republicans.

Rob H.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: I tend to agree with you here -

"Present-day Libertarians focus on government force and fraud, but the philosophy really shouldn't distinguish government from any other source of bullying and cheating."

- but with one caveat: Libertarians are just as capable of both logical inconsistency and propagandized programming as any other group (and just like every other group, utterly unconscious of the extent of that programming - NOBODY thinks they've been swayed in their decisions by the ads they consume, and yet...).

Given that, it is perfectly logical that libertarians will believe they are being consistent while rejecting the government (because 'coercion' is worse when the government does it than when the companies you deal with daily do it).

Paid shills will tell libertarians, "Well, you had a freedom of contract! With government, you have no such freedom in a legislative context! That makes government coercive, and private sector 'free'!" And being as prone to being misled as any other group - libertarians will fall for that consistently. And thus, we have 2/3 of American legislatures controlled by Republicans. (Not that the 'libertarian' party has the numbers to cause that - but there's a much larger libertarian strand in America than will ever be reflected in any party membership.)

Now...how to fix this?

donzelion said...

Robert: "In practice it leads to Flat Earth Creationists teaching their children pseudoscience while refusing to vaccinate their children."

When I taught introductory political science, the illustration I used was the ban on driving motorcycles without a helmet (with homework being to analyze vaccination the same way - a solid 1/3 of my class turned out to be anti-vaxxers, BUT a significant number of them were just trying to plagiarize reports they found on the internet).

"I've not yet been able to find a happy medium... but despite that it is still a better political ideal than those offered by Democrats and Republicans."

The political ideal of the Democrats - from the Rooseveltian reformers, the Johnsonian progressives, through the Clinton/Obama incrementalists - has always been about expanding social services to cover neglected communities. Social security, medicare/medicaid, public education, and the rest of the public infrastructure makes libertarianism far more viable: remove the probability of starving to death in old age, getting stuck by a network of toll roads, or getting extorted by medical providers - and libertarians are free to take a large number of risks. Create a public post office, and industries are born that make private parcel services feasible. Create a public internet, and industries are born that make private internet exist. Create a computer to solve social insurance problems - and a vast new horizon opens up. Create a telegraph, a railroad, any new technology - yet without public support via rights-of-way, no 'system' ever comes into existence...and on, and on.

Great wealth flows from the interaction of public support and eventual private offerings expanding upon that public investment. The America of 2017 is richer by far, freer and stronger as a result of this dynamic than the America of 1917, let alone 1817.

donzelion said...

David S: re 'nurturer' v. 'strong father' morality

"I just don't see the overlap."
Neither do most libertarians, UNTIL they get seriously sick and need nurturing - or approach death. Then suddenly, they will see the light.

Indeed, most workers in America do not see the benefit of the 'nurture' model until they discover some of the shortcomings of the 'strong father' model: hard work and discipline get you so far, but an unfettered competition among go-getters kills organizations unless people deliberately learn to cooperate - and cooperative groups are orders of magnitude more powerful than individuals. Training, learning, growing, creating etc. are not 'child's play' for kids under 18: they are lifelong endeavors, and will only grow more important as mechanization shows that no matter how 'disciplined' a person may be, a robot is always capable of more.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

it is perfectly logical that libertarians will believe they are being consistent while rejecting the government (because 'coercion' is worse when the government does it than when the companies you deal with daily do it).


Although I disagree (for reasons I'll get into if I have to), I can see the argument about force--that government has the sanction to use force against individuals in a way that other individuals do not.

Fraud, on the other hand, is not typically a tool of government. In some sense, government sets the rules, so they have no need to break the rules. Fraud is almost always perpetrated by private entities, and the so-called-Libertarian refusal to recognize government as a legitimate bulwark against fraud perversely enables fraud to be a winning--and therfore perpetuated--strategy.

Pre-political Donald Trump is a shining example of where this leads. "I won't pay you for the work you've done, because I don't want to, and you can't make me." What good did freedom of contract do against this business model?

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"I just don't see the overlap."
Neither do most libertarians, UNTIL they get seriously sick and need nurturing - or approach death. Then suddenly, they will see the light.


I don't have first-hand knowledge, but I've heard that Ayn Rand herself acquiesced to go on Medicare at the end because she needed medical care. She rationalized this by virtue of the fact that writers simply don't earn enough money to pay for advanced medical care. In other words, her need justified indulging in a benefit paid for by others in society. And that was Ayn Rand!

raito said...

Defining words gets to be an awful lot of fun, doesn't it? For example, I cringe pretty much every time out host (or you guys) use the word feudalism. What I see is that the word gets used here for any sort of system that is designed to keep the upper class on top, most often at the expense of the lower classes. Neither dictionary.com nor Merriam-Webster appear to think that's the salient feature of the system. And I'd say there's many non-feudal systems that work similarly on that front.

Which is not the part of my brain that fires when I use that word. That part is what is used by those sources -- the contract between lord and tenant. Without those contracts, it is not feudalism. But then, I'm a bit out there myself, because I consider the Japanese from about 110 or so until the Tokugawa Shogunate to also have been a feudal society. I'm not aware of any others.

And the oddity of Japanese and European feudalism is that they operate nearly identically from completely opposite causes. In Europe, the fall of Rome left an awful lot of land ungoverned, and nature abhors a (power) vacuum. In Japan, there was little arable land. I'm pretty sure the first feudal contract in Europe was something like a chieftain telling his buddy that since it's hard to rule further than you can ride a horse, how's about you go over than and rule in my place. You call me King and I'll mostly leave you alone. But if I need you to fight, you fight. And if you get attacked, I'll defend you. And the friend thought this was a pretty good deal, because he could pretty much be a King, even though he didn't have the title.

Regardless, the downfall of the feudal system was for much the same reasons regardless of location.

1. The rise of the nation state, with the head of state having a standing army. In Japan's case, there was only a single state.
2. The rise of urbanism, and the simultaneous rise of a middle class. Sure, In Europe you ended up with the Guild system, which partially replaced the feudal system. But in both cultures, the handling of money was not something that a noble did. And those who weren't noble weren't to proud to get rich. Eventually that led to things like buying ot marrying into titles. The handling money thing is a bit odd because both systems were very much about controlling the means of production, especially agricultural production.
3. A de-emphasis on the individual warrior in war.

And, maybe even more oddly, both these systems came back as cultural touchstones, for much the same reasons. Britain, for example, had its Victorian Arthurian re-imagining in order to attempt to curb the excesses of pre-Edwardian aristocracy. The Japanese had the Hagakure, attempting to encourage a renaissance of values that never actually existed.

Paul SB,

We could get into the intricacies of real vassalage vs. subinfeudation, but it would probably bore everyone else.

LarryHart said...

raito,

To me, feudalism evokes the requirement that the only way to survive (the few exceptions duly noted) is to belong to an estate, and that the negotiating power of the estate weighs in much above that of the individual. Since the 1990s, I have perceived that our economic system evokes the same relationship, with the corporation replacing the estate. In fact, I thought I had coined the term "neo-feudalism" to describe that situation long before I heard anyone else use the term.

Feudalism in the modern sense is a metaphor rather than a precise description.

David Brin said...

Dizzy locum is back! Waving ass-ertions like “Pol Pot and Stalin wanted to improve the world, therefore they were progressives! No, fool, they waged war against science and transparency and inquiry and every group that might question their feudal lordship. They are yours, not ours.

Note the method locum and the dopes return to over and over again. “Shouting something’s OPPOSITE sounds so cool! If it violates the obvious, then it implies I really know something and had a great, Impudent insight, seeing things that others are too dumb to see! Night is day! See? I gotcha blinking there, for a sec!”

No, son. It just implies you are a maniac. (The smarter version of locumranch will be welcome.)

David S… yes the Nurturing Parent (Lakoff) vs Strong Father does powerfully divide liberals and libertarians. This divide can be bridged if you talk libertarians into seeing, along with Adam Smith, that nurturing children makes them better competitors to be fed into wildly open and diverse market arenas. And concede to libertarians that helping dissolute adults should bear a much steeper burden of proof.

Sr. Salgueiro you are most welcome here. Millennials (kids) can tell what is happening and they do not like it.

David Brin said...

Rudy said: “the Renaissance happened because the plagues of the previous century killed off the traditional ruling classes.”

More than that. The Plague killed so many workers that the survivors’ labor became valuable. Poor workers demanded real wages. Which helped the new concept that all humans have value.

Carl M this is the problem with desperation. It results in spectacular-frantic rationalization hallucinations. E.g. that “We now have a gay friendly, sinful, populist flavor of conservatism ascendant.”

The fact that so many GOP politicians – married and previously screaming moralists – are caught boy-buggering does not make them “gay-friendly.” Jesus! And the aliens in Independence Day did it all to help us develop a space program!

All that electing a “sinful” gambling lord, relentless liar-cheater philanderer proves is that right wing moralists are hypocrites. (Their states score bottom in every metric of moral behavior.) It does not prove that they have loosened up. Again. Jesus, man.

As for FDR… start with OUTCOMES, fellah.
By 1960 we had transformed from a basket case into the most spectacularly productive, creative, egalitarian and free society the world had ever known, outproducing ALL others COMBINED by at least an order of magnitude, with the flattest social and wealth hierarchies ever seen. (For white males; but we were also working on the idiocy of wasting talent, through prejudice.)

Retraction-changes from the Rooseveltean social contract (RSC) have all had NEGATIVE effects on all of those things. Not one of the predictions made by Reagan, the Bushes, the Supply Siders… not one of them ever came remotely close to coming true.

At all. In any way and at any level.

Every single effect of moving away from the Rooseveltean contract has been negative. Find us one counter example. * National debt has gone from 32% when Reagan took office to 110% of GDP, and Not One Prediction of Supply Siders Ever – even once, at all – Came True.

A few zillionaires did invest in productive “supply” and innovations… mostly in high tax, blue California! Look at Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and southern states and tell me, how’s Supply Side working for you?

David Brin said...

raito. I am open to suggestions for an alternative word that has the same, punchy impact on an average American.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Whether contrails cooled or warmed the planet…

I’m being a little loose there. A better technical description would be whether the forcing is positive or negative. Clouds reflect sunlight and help keep things cool, but they can also reflect IR coming up from below and help keep things warm. For contrails, it was an open question which effect was larger… until after 9/11.

Everything counts, but some effects count more. Trimming the amount of CO2 we dump into the atmosphere is the easiest thing the average person can do. Simply conserve and save some money at the same time. 8)

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

Is it really the case that Libertarians are aligned with the "strong father" meme? I would expect that to be authoritarians, which is "a different thing; in fact, the opposite thing". Even on your two-axis grid, Libertarians and Authoritarians are opposite quadrants.

If right-wingers prefer a strong father and liberals a nurturing mother, I would think the Libertarian analogue would be aging-hippie parents too stoned on marijuana to care what the kids are up to. :)

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I'm pretty much with you on your latest critique of our old troll. but there's one thing I want to point out. I know I wrote about this recently, though not addressed to you specifically, so maybe you didn't see it.

"Everyone wants to make things "better", if only for themselves. Then we have to persuade everyone else that our view of "better" has merit to them."

Yes, there are huge differences of opinion about how to make life better, but that's not the issue with locum. All the time I have been here he has argued that any attempt to make like better is really just another kind of oppression. There are a lot of people who absolutely do not want to make things better for anyone but themselves. It goes back to the Cold War. Communism was advertised as a way to make life better for everyone. It is unsurprising that many of the countries that swallowed that lie were either extremely poor or still under the thumb of a colonial power. Many people saw through the lie, though, and realized that communist countries all became dictatorships or oligarchies, not real democracies committed to raising all boats. People who grew up in the "Free West" (it's actually very expensive) came to distrust anyone claiming to want to help anyone, and that started us down a path of total denial of human nature to focus on greed, selfishness and violence as the only things that are truly human. So no, not everybody wants improvement. However, when the last of these lasses faire reactionaries have gone to the place from which there is no return, their paranoid grip will start to fade away (btw, I'm putting Locum's age at upper 50s at youngest, given his level of paranoia). His statement that "Everyone's desires are intrinsically selfish..." should be a giant red flag.

Oh, and your comment about the positive-sum rising tide is on the mark, but this Cold War Paranoia pattern means that no conservatives and very few of the wealthy get it. Those wealthy people who do get it are, as Dr. Brin has pointed out more than once, those rare self-made millionaires mostly from Silicon Valley - people who actually know what life is like for the other 99.99%, because they've lived it. The majority of das überrich and the fools who have fallen for their lies believe that "lifting all boats" is Commie bullstuff, and anyone who is not fabulously wealthy is too stupid and/or lazy to deserve it. I believe Locum had some very off-mark things to say about /deserve/. Nothing but old-fashioned Spencerian Social Darwinism, which is neither Darwinian nor social.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB & Rudy | The nobility of the Netherlands was largely killed off when they opposed the Hapsburgs in the 16th century if I remember correctly. Rather than face the outcome Antwerp suffered in 1576 at the hands of the Duke of Alba (and a later siege in 1585), the Bourgeoisie filled the governance gap and fought off the ‘Spaniards’ for 80 years. Considering that Spain was essentially a superpower in Europe, this is no small feat. The Dutch had to fight AND get rich enough to fight. They did both and did it in a way the world had never seen. Not only did the people at the top get richer, but so did the average person. For the first time in history, the average real income of people doubled (or tripled by some estimates) without them having to have a huge empire to exploit. The Dutch HAD a trading empire, but history shows such things tend to enrich the people at the top and matter little to the people at the bottom of the income scale. The Dutch example was qualitatively different.

What appears to have made the difference, though, is the Dutch bourgeoisie brought with them a slightly different ethics system. They granted dignity to innovators and let them try (to some extent) to make themselves rich. The English who copied them a century later went a step further by removing the expectation that the merchants could be expected to serve national goals. It took a while to free the traders in each nation and those freedoms were often imperfect, but compared to other regions, the Dutch and later English traders were pretty much free to innovate and respected for it even if their inventions caused destruction in other parts of the market. Only the aristocrats had enough power to really stop creative destruction and in both places, they were too weak to do it. Aristocracy didn’t go meekly, though. Read up on the revolutions associated with 1848-49 and you’ll see. The Roman Church didn’t go meekly either and the two were strongly related.

The Enlightenment is a philosophical system with many factions that wraps around the ‘liberal’ experience in Europe. This is the old meaning of liberal here, so don’t get it confused with the muddy American definition of that term. The causes underneath the Enlightenment were already a century or more underway and would best be described as The Great Enrichment. Wherever the Dutch practice took hold, average real incomes bloomed. When the English took the new ethics world-wide, the world changed.

Our host refers to feudalism as an attractor state for humanity. I’m inclined to agree with one qualification. It seems there is a way out. All we have to do is grant each other the dignity we would desire if we were inclined to improve the world through innovation, free them to try, and protect them from themselves and others who would try to prevent the markets from acting as the force of natural selection picking winners and destroying failures. None of this is easy, though. The attractor beckons to us through thousands of generations of culling those among us unfit by its measure. It is astonishing there is any way out at all, but apparently there is and it will test the characters of each of us.

Carl M. said...

David, the Christian Fundamentalist candidate this time around was Ted Cruz. He lost. Bigly.

Yes, the rural Christians went for Trump compared to Hitlary.

But to stick to the Nehemiah Scudder narrative after the serious Christian conservatives lost the Republican Party to the Know Nothings is to blindly stick to The Narrative despite innumerable facts.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

You're probably right about that discussion boring everybody else. But while I have your attention, it has been a really long time since my Asian Civ classes or reading any Japanese literature. Tell me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that for a few centuries at least after the Yamato barged in to those islands, there were earlier ethnic groups that were not yet under the control of the Emperor, slowly being forced further and further north.

As to what words we use, I'm not too particular, as long as it is something people with at least a high-school education will understand.

Dr. Brin,

"Sr. Salgueiro you are most welcome here."
- I'm pretty sure he has commented here before. The name looks really familiar, but I can't remember anything more.

Carl M.,

"You have been calling for conservatives to secularize and worry about the wealth gap. We now have a gay friendly, sinful, populist flavor of conservatism ascendant. And they are into Darwinism to boot."
- Well, we can all see which kool-aid you've been drinking. No, these people are not into Darwinism at all (it's not even called Darwinism anymore except in a historical context - the science has moved way beyond Darwin in a century and a half, but the Religious Duped can't seem to figure this one out - more likely it's deliberate straw-manning). They are into Social Darwinism, which was created by bucket named Herbert Spencer before Darwin's first book was published. After that, Spencer insisted that Darwin's theory "proved" his heartless classism (basically the same thing we get from Republicans), even though Darwin himself denied the guy's misrepresentation entirely.

That kool-aid is yummy! It allows people to not think very hard and still be sure that they are smarter than everyone else!

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Yes, there are huge differences of opinion about how to make life better, but that's not the issue with locum. All the time I have been here he has argued that any attempt to make like better is really just another kind of oppression. There are a lot of people who absolutely do not want to make things better for anyone but themselves.


That's a different argument, but I don't think it's the one with locum. His whole point seems to be that "better" is a meaningless term, because it's a subjective value judgement (he says "opinion", but I think my way of puting it is...well, better). Hitler thought killing Jews made the world better, so a "making the world better" course of action isn't necessarily a good thing. Even #SoCalledPresident thinks he's making something great.

So this isn't an argument over helping lots of people vs selfishness. It's an argument over the meaning of "better".


Oh, and your comment about the positive-sum rising tide is on the mark, but this Cold War Paranoia pattern means that no conservatives and very few of the wealthy get it.


Wealthy conservatives think the tide is their own private property, and any freeloading boats which are lifted owe rent to the owners of the tide.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | The libertarians I know are generally opposed to the ‘strong father’ meme. Where they risk temptation, though, is when they follow a more French version of old-school liberalism that left room for a Great Designer to fashion a better society. Such a person can become a strong father. Those of us who follow the Scotsman’s path tend to reject designers of societies and are even skeptical of designers of corporations.

Our host’s concerns about feudalism are really about authoritarianism. I don’t think that term works well at delivering the punch he wants, though. I was too young to be a hippy, but it really IS about being wary of all forms of authority. Question The Man!

Luis Salgueiro said...

Paul SB.: Yes I have posted before, and I read this blog whenever I have a chance, not much time to read all the comments and post.

Ratio: when last I posted I called attention to the same thing regarding feudalism. I came to realize that Dr. Brin uses the expression loosely meaning any system of vertical stratified society since the theocrats of mesopotania, to the cattle barons of the farwest (at least that is my interpretation).

What really bothers me is that I can't comprehend the American mentality in such great numbers of voters in refusing basic healthcare for everyone. In Europe a national healthcare system, either according to Bismarkian rules or welfare rules, is generally considered a given, the particulars of funding, administration etc are debatable but the fundamental principle of everyone having basic medical care isn't debatable.

Just the other day I was discussing with some colleagues traveling to other countries and the bureaucratic aspects involved, and the salient aspect was that traveling to the USA is one of the places where more preparation is needed, not because of visas, but because of health insurance and the need for the insurance to cover absurd monetary values, unheard of anywhere else in the world, to the point that one colleague commented that Canadians were terrified of falling hill in the US and when they did need medical attention usually called for emergency medical evacuation by air!

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Our host’s concerns about feudalism are really about authoritarianism.


It's something a bit more specific than that. Cheating authoritarianism, perhaps. Or hereditary authoritarianism.

In "The Postman", General Macklin explained to Gordon the "true democracy" that was lost with the ascendancy of Washington and Franklin. "My own sons must kill to become Holnists, or else scratch dirt to support those who can." He at least perceived an improvement to be made over the previous 6000-year-old version. Macklin also insisted that Nathan Holn was not a racist, and they shouldn't be racists either, but his own lieutenants didn't seem to buy into that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "Libertarians and Authoritarians are opposite quadrants."

True, but a lot of fascists realized that they could adopt a lot of the "maximum freedom, minimal government" verbiage and adopt it and apply it to business interests. They call themselves libertarians, but they have little or no interest in individual freedoms outside of those that might apply to major corporations, and tend to be extremely authoritarian.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | You are using only part of the custom to which most of us have agreed to use to decide what ‘better’ is. You are correct that the opinion is subjective, but when we tend to agree to a custom for how something is done, we begin to think of it as objective. The scientific method is essentially a set of customs around which we come together for turning subjective observations into objective facts.

Imagine Person A does something for Person B and Person C looks on from the side. Assume C is effectively unbiased, meaning they won’t give ex ante favor to A or B if the two have a disagreement.

1. If A thinks they have done good by B, then B is better off because of what A did.
2. If B thinks A did good, then B is better off because of what A did.
3. If C observes both 1) and 2) AND agrees, then B is better off because of what A did.

For most of us the three tests must all be positive before we say that B is made better by what A did in an objective sense. Many of us require multiple persons filling the role of C and a high degree of agreement among them before we will say it. Some of us add a fourth rule.

4. If all three conditions are met and none change their mind in the future as the consequences of A’s action work out, then B is better off because of what A did.

This fourth rule is open ended, so there is no way to satisfy it permanently. We wind up saying ‘so far, so good’ a lot of the time.

If you aren’t using a custom with these rules at the core, you are most unusual for a human. If you ARE using these rules, it is quite possible to be person C a lot of the time and disagree with others in that role. It is this that gets Progressives into a little bit of trouble, but it is rule #4 that does the most damage to their programs. It’s very, very, very hard to act with the best of intentions and not run into issues with consequences. (Yes… this happens to Conservatives too.) That’s why incrementalism and a natural selection process are needed and that’s where old-school liberals come to the rescue. If one expects to run into trouble with Rule #4, one should craft tests for detecting the problems and suggestions for methods of change that won’t result in the destruction of what gains might have been acquired that A and B liked in the first place.

David Brin said...

"Everyone wants to make things "better", if only for themselves. Then we have to persuade everyone else that our view of "better" has merit to them."

Nothing better illustrates the incredible limitation of a zero-sum mind. And it makes clear how difficult a trap was human history, in which most frightened, feudal nations were zero-sum at their core, and in all their mythologies and dogmas.

Our ownmythologies and dogmas have been crafted to be positive sum (regulated markets, science, democracy etc produce spectacular outputs and any logical-sapient being would see this as validation of the approach. But humans are INHERENTLY zero sum and it takes a special way of thinking to actually ponder in pos-sum ways. The glass half full news is that a majority of Americans do get it.

The bad news is that millions are like locum. Completely and stunningly colorblind. They have no way to grasp the concept, any more than a resident of Flatland can conceive of “up.” Moreover, they can sense this deficit and it enrages them. Rather than try hard to grasp it, they rage at the 2D shadows that are cast by 3D objects.

They seek to banish positive sum thinking and all its works, despite the fact that they would then revert to griding horror, poverty, filth, disease and boredom until an early death.

David Brin said...

Alfred, our pos-sum enlightenment system IS a new attractor state. Its advantages are clearer thinking, error avoidance and spectacularly greater productivity of all good things. Its disadvantage is huge: instability in the face of recalcitrant old human habits, like cheating. It is meta-stable and can only last if intelligently maintained.

The libertarians are “strong father” in the sense that they see whiners asking for free stuff and they growl: “suck it up!” Alas, they join in growling that at children, when human fetuses (anyone under 20) should be nurtured in order to maximize competition feed stock. Any libertarian who does not get that is just a shallow ranter.

Speaking of which….
--

CarlM. Since you ignored absolutely every single thing that I just said to you, including challenging you to show us how the Rooseveltean compact had ANY negative outcomes, I’ll not waste my time and just be terse:

“Yes, the rural Christians went for Trump compared to Hitlary.”

First, Fuck you for the “Hitlery.”
Second, The fundies are ecstatic over Trump, except on an as-yet tiny and nascent wing that has a little residual conscience.

As for the millions of confed fundies, they love one thing about him that trumps all else… he enrages all the smartypants types they hate.

Show us “the serious Christian conservatives”!! Seriously. You are raving, sir. When I demand example you offer none. Statistics? Zilch. Seriously, man. Desperation is making you hallucinatory.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

By calling "better" a meaningless, subjective term, Locum is doing exactly that - he is denying that "better" is even possible. He just couches the same old Cold War Paranoia in somewhat different terms, because he's smarter than most of his peers. And he even pretends that he is neither conservative nor liberal, while virtually every word that comes out of his keyboard are rephrased Republican talking points (a fact you have noted before yourself).

And as far as wealthy conservatives go, some would pounce on charging rent to freeloading boats, but there is a big subset of that population who feel that the rest of us are so unclean they would prefer to shoot us out of the water. In this country the wealthy go far to isolate themselves from the unwashed masses, they act just like Europe's old aristocrats.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Maybe he will chime in on the details, but I suspect ‘authoritarians’ and ‘cheaters in power’ overlap in his head to a very high degree. 8)

As I use the term, an authoritarian is someone who would place people in a hierarchy and expect obedience, service, duty, and all that for the simple fact that the hierarchy exists. They would argue that the hierarchy MUST exist while their opposite, an anarchist, would argue it must not. With the hierarchy comes a belief set around the virtue we call Justice. Each person is expected to do what they should do based on their position including both privilege and duty. Those above you may (in fact… must) command. Those below you must serve.

A liberal/leveler is not an anarchist, though. Our hierarchies tend to be very flat and occasionally difficult to orient, but they DO exist as does Justice. I can be both one of The People to whom the Head of State must answer and a person subject to the criminal law system if I am convicted of breaking a law. It isn’t membership in the hierarchy that determines privileges and duties, though, for most of us. Only for certain roles in society does that apply. The rest of us are Equals including people in those roles when they aren’t acting in those roles. It’s complicated, but it sure isn’t hierarchical.

Finding opposites on a political spectrum graph is problematic in the left/right sense and in the libertarian/authoritarian sense. A libertarian is a multi-dimensional person even when they try to be at their purest. The anarchists among the libertarians are probably the closest to be true opposites for authoritarians in my mind, but even authoritarians are multi-dimensional. The term ‘opposite’ loses a lot of meaning in a multi-dimensional space.

Paul SB said...

Luis (if you don't mind the first name address - my masters advisor was Luis, so it brings back fond memories of school),

I think I can explain where that lunatic fear of healthcare comes from, though if you have read what I have been writing to Larry, you can probably guess. Maybe a cartoon will work, though I haven't seen it in years and haven't found it on the internet. It was either Doonesbury or Bloom County. One character was talking to a grey old man dressed kind of like Elmer Fudd (the great hunter that he was) with a double-barreled shotgun. The one asked the hunter, what are you hunting for today? The answer: Liberals. Crouching down behind the tall grass, he starts shouting "Save the whales! Save the seals!" Off in the distance a voice responds with a cry of "Nuclear disarmament!" It continues this way for a couple panels, the hunter getting closer to his prey, then he jumps out of the grass and starts chasing caricature liberal and shouting at him. In the very last panel this weak voice rises up out of the grass saying "Socialized medicine!"

Cold War Paranoia® of course. Healthcare for all sounds like socialized medicine to older Americans, and Socialism is just one slippery slope down to the godless hell of Communism. This is a view that many health insurance companies used to capitalize (and lobby) on, but by the end of the W Administration nearly all of the health industries came to the conclusion that they would make more money insuring bottom quartile than simply letting them die, which is why they supported the ACA.

Does that pass muster, or am I doing the Law of the Hammer?

Alfred Differ said...

@DavidBrin | I’d like to believe our +sum system in a new attractor. I really would. I’m not there yet because I don’t think enough time has passed. SOMETHING is drawing us away from the old attractor, but it might be a bubble. It might be a singularity. It might be something simple, though, like a phase change. There might be a new feudalism out there on this next level or not, but I don’t think we know yet. My optimism wants to make a believer of me, but the scientist says that isn’t necessary. Occam’s Razor cuts sharp. In the meantime, I’ll pretend to believe and watch in wonder at the transition.

Growling at our children is dumb, but it is also maladaptive and should result in the elimination of the meme in short order. I don’t see the ‘strong father’ in it, though. I can imagine my own father telling me to suck it up, but he would have done so to ensure I learned something useful. It would be a tough form of nurture. He could do it, but felt the pain a father should feel. As I understand it, a ‘strong father’ is someone we want to continue following, often in an unthinking manner. Are we just using the term in different ways? My father was strong in that he accepted the pain for my personal growth, but his approach did not make a sheep of me.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Finding opposites on a political spectrum graph is problematic in the left/right sense and in the libertarian/authoritarian sense. ... The term ‘opposite’ loses a lot of meaning in a multi-dimensional space.


You are correct that authoritarians and libertarians aren't opposite quadrants after all, now that I think about it. If one axis is collective-vs-individual and the other is more-vs-less government, then authoritarians (individual/more government) and libertarians (individual/less government) are on the same side of one axis. The opposite of authoritarian on both axes would be anarchist, and the opposite of libertarian would be liberal.

In that sense, the earlier poster who saw no overlap between libertarian and liberal was correct. However, I conceive a separate axis, something along the lines of "respects the dignity of man" vs "respects dignity only for an elite subset" along which libertarians and liberals are on the same side.

You're right that it is complicated.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

It was either Doonesbury or Bloom County. One character was talking to a grey old man dressed kind of like Elmer Fudd (the great hunter that he was) with a double-barreled shotgun.


That has to be Bloom County. Doonesbury didn't have quite that level of caricature.


It continues this way for a couple panels, the hunter getting closer to his prey, then he jumps out of the grass and starts chasing caricature liberal and shouting at him. In the very last panel this weak voice rises up out of the grass saying "Socialized medicine!"


Are you missing the punchline that "Socialized medicine" was the cry of a caricature of a liberal who needed medical care because he had just been shot? Or am I missing the fact that you got that?

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion |

Paid shills will tell libertarians, "Well, you had a freedom of contract! With government, you have no such freedom in a legislative context! That makes government coercive, and private sector 'free'!"

…and any of us who can parse an argument will point out that it is a relative freedom. I am free-er when I can sign individualized contracts than I am when I am required to obey a law for which I was in the losing minority when it came time to vote. I’m not coerced, though, until I am required to do something I would not have done otherwise. Using the negative definition of liberty, I’m free in both situations until I’m actually threatened with undesirable consequences for proscribed actions. There is a difference between contracting away my rights and losing them in a vote.

And being as prone to being misled as any other group - libertarians will fall for that consistently. And thus, we have 2/3 of American legislatures controlled by Republicans. (Not that the 'libertarian' party has the numbers to cause that - but there's a much larger libertarian strand in America than will ever be reflected in any party membership.)

Now...how to fix this?


Fix the strand? Heh.

Gary Johnson liked to point out that many more Americans were libertarian than knew it. It’s not just the Republicans who find their numbers inflated by those of us who think 3rd parties have no future. I came from the Democrats and will still side with them to defeat Scudder if needed.

…and yes. We do have our tendency to fall for some spectacular nonsense. It’s a good thing all the rest of you all are there to balance against us.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Healthcare for all sounds like socialized medicine to older Americans, and Socialism is just one slippery slope down to the godless hell of Communism.


The fallacy here is in the assertion that health care is a commodity like ice cream or cell phones. I see it as something more properly treated like the fire department. At least in the realm of catastrophic care. I have no problem treating nose jobs or Viagra as a commodity, but cancer treatments or emergency appendectomies are another matter. Most people would be unable to afford the cost on their own. And even those who could possibly afford to put away several hundred thousand dollars or a few million against the possibility of needing emergency surgery would have to take a huge chunk of wealth out of circulation against a remote possibility of needing it.

The reason catastrophic health care falls outside normal market rules is the combination of:

1) Extremely unlikely to be needed by most
2) Unaffordably costly for the few who do need it
3) Deadly for those who can't get it

To me, that calls out for a society-wide solution, without implying that everything requires such a solution.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

@LarryHart:

Libertarianism and authoritarianism are opposites. It is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to make a graph of political philosophies without severely distorting the meanings of words.

For example, in your proposal for a chart where "one axis is collective-vs-individual and the other is more-vs-less government," how would you explain this rather massive Wikipedia page:

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

Libertarian socialists could be represented on such a graph (as a fuzzy straight line along one edge of the graph), but it would actually just show that your graph is very badly constructed.

David Brin said...

Jerry E... see my own 3D political model. Ironically it was first published by CarlM!

http://www.tinyurl.com/polimodels

Paul SB said...

Larry,

You raised up my heart a bit when you wrote, "That has to be Bloom County." Bloom County was waaaaay better than Doonesbury, IMHO.

On the other hand:

"Are you missing the punchline that "Socialized medicine" was the cry of a caricature of a liberal who needed medical care because he had just been shot? Or am I missing the fact that you got that?"
- I thought that was really obvious when I read it when I was maybe 14 or 13. But maybe I am incoherent enough at times to question my interpretations.

"To me, that calls out for a society-wide solution, without implying that everything requires such a solution."
- Absolutely. Unfortunately people who have low candle-power brains can only assume that if someone does something once, they will always do exactly the same thing. Thus the caricatures conservatives make of liberals, and vice versa.

raito said...

Paul SB,

You're probably thinking of the Ainu. The Japanese claim disease killed most of them. The rest of the world called it genocide.

Dr. Brin,

Maybe peonage? Even though technically illegal, that word still packs a punch, as it carries with it a connotation of the inherent dehumanization of the peon. But I despair at the average American knowing the word.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Bloom County was waaaaay better than Doonesbury, IMHO.


You're making locumranch's case that "better" is subjective. :)

I thought Bloom County tried too hard at first to be Doonesbury, and later that it completely lacked subtlety and went instead for grossness. However, to some people's tastes, all of those things might constitute "better". Not to me, though.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

You're probably thinking of the Ainu. The Japanese claim disease killed most of them. The rest of the world called it genocide.


Are they (or were they) the white people that Kurt Vonnegut mentioned in...it would have to have been Hocus Pocus? There was a throwaway line about an offshoot of white people who existed for centuries in Japan as a kind of aboriginal, totally separated from the developments that happened in the Middle East and Europe. The way he put it was, paraphrasing from memory, "They were as white as Nancy Reagan, but oh boy, did they miss out on something."

Paul SB said...

Raito,

I remember the Ainu. I have a powerpoint I show my biology kids during the evolution unit that starts with a series of picture of different ethnic groups that defy American racial stereotypes to make the point that our stereotypes are arbitrary and based on really superficial criterion. Then it goes into why the very concept of race is biologically meaningless - there is only one human race. If you want to break up the human species into "races" the most reasonable thing you could do would be to go by haplogroups, which would leave us with closer to 40 "races" than the five Americans think exist. The pictures of a Micronesian group that has black skin but blond hair trips them out, but the one of Andaman Islanders in Asia who look like they came from Africa really freaks them out.

But back to Japan, I was remembering the Jomon, who were there before the Yamato establish the imperial government and the Shinto religion to back it up. Miyazaki Hayao has the central character in "Mononoke Hime" an Emishi. I looked up the Wikipedia, which says that the Emishi continued to resist Japanese control until their defeat in the 10th C. After that they joined the blend of people that we now called Japanese. The article mentioned the Yayoi and Kofun, which lit up just a few neurons' worth of memory. The textbook I had for the Japanese half of the Asian Civ courses was thick as a brick and pretty thorough, but one of my old gaming bubbles "borrowed" and never gave it back. Last I heard he was living in North Carolina, impregnating his boss and beating his wife. I'm not talking to him anymore and kind of hope he rots in Hell. But having such unkind thoughts gets the cortisol flowing, so I rarely think about the bastard. I think I'm moving into TMI territory, so I better finish this. Anyway, I vaguely remember that when the Yamato invaded, they had several different ethnic groups to conquer, but I can't remember any of their names. Bummer losing that book.

Oh, and while not so many people will remember /peonage/, most older generation will remember the word /serfdom/. The problem is that our younger generations are woefully undereducated. Most people would blame the teachers for that, but there are a huge number of cultural and technological factors that have dramatically decreased the motivation of children since our days. Scapegoating, sadly, is such a persistent behavior among humans that this borders on inevitable, since it is so much easier for most people to point fingers than it is to understand complex issues. Teaching techniques have improved a lot in the last 20 years, but there are still a lot of old buddy-duddy administrators that fire new teachers if they catch them using motivating techniques instead of old fashioned, drill and kill, which is very effectively demotivating for today's kids, most of whom have no reason to believe that education will help them in their adult lives in any way. Okay, I'm done.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I only read Bloom County sporadically while in my larval stage, and Doonesbury the same. I probably missed the gross and unsubtle phase. And as to demonstrating that "better" is subjective, this is a different context. Personal taste in art or literature is just that - personal, and is completely NBD to anyone with any maturity beyond the terrible twos (about where our thief president is). In terms of running a country, there are things that any social scientist would consider "better", but he is right that those qualities are subjective. They are commonly held by a majority of hominids, though they defy the interests of the overly-monied, Veblen-pattern classes. Most people who learn about, for instance, the Indian caste system are fairly horrified for its barbaric treatment of all but the wealthy and powerful Brahmins and the warrior caste (I don't remember their name).Those two upper classes are quite content with a system that allows them to mercilessly exploit tens of millions people, squeezing them for everything they have. So yeah, "better" is subjective, but those who think that allowing the rich to crush the poor under their heels are both monstrously evil by the standards of a majority of humanity and, as our host has said many times, bone-headedly stupid, as the grinding poverty they create both wastes human potential on a massive scale and actually works against their own interests by depressing the amount of money in the economy (rich tend to sequester wealth instead of investing in improvements that would increase the flow of goods and money, thus decreasing the amount of money they can steal. They are not "job creators" by any stretch of the imagination - that is just the bullshit propaganda Republicans use to justify kleptocracy (which I still think is a better term than feudalism).

So yes, "better" is subjective, but only heartless evil slime or easily duped fools, both of which we have in great numbers in this country (can't speak to other countries from personal experience) would choose to support kleptocrats like President Grope and his gang of thieves. So which category does our little locum fall into? It's pretty obvious which category the Twig troll is in, but locum does a much better job at being solipsistic and appearing clever about it.

And yes, the Ainu were among the ethnic groups in pre-Yamato Japan, and they confound our racial stereotypes, having the pale skin and often blue eyes of Caucasians, but having lived in Asia for millennia. Today Ainu show a mix of typical Caucasian and Asian traits for the same reason that many Native Americans can blend in very easily with either Caucasian of Hispanic people. If you're not "out on the Rez" as they say, you wouldn't know you were talking to a Native American unless they told you. There's a branch of the Dakota whose chief has a Japanese surname.

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

If that's what you call "I'm done", I'd hate to see what you consider "grievous assault with intent."* :)

If you were very young at the time, you probably don't remember that Doonesbury went on hiatus for something like 18 months in the early 80s. Bloom County showed up around then and was often placed on newspaper comics pages in the old Doonesbury space. It seemed obvious that Bloom County was trying to be the newer, younger Doonesbury, but I thought it was trying too hard.

* "American Flagg!" #5, 1983

raito said...

LarryHart,

I couldn't say about Hocus Pocus, though it sounds right. That's one I haven't read.

Paul SB,

Yes, there were more ethnic groups in Japan than most people understand. Some got supplanted. Some got incorporated. It's a bit like the waves of Celtic people moving westward during the migration period in Europe and pushing out the earlier migrations.

Also note that the Japanese continued to use the Confucian system of land allocation well after the Chinese had abandoned it. The Japanese also offered land in outlying areas to try to get people to settle more of Japan.

Serfdom as a term only works because of modern connotations, not because of precise meaning. I doubt very much that the modern oligarchy wants actual serfs, because having them implies (some) responsibility for them, something which is not currently wanted.

Ioan said...

Since David has encouraged us to look for exceptions to the red/blue state divide in terms of outcomes, I present Utah

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-28/how-utah-keeps-the-american-dream-alive

LarryHart said...

raito:

I couldn't say about Hocus Pocus, though it sounds right. That's one I haven't read.


It came out in the very late 1980s, during the time when it seemed as if Japan would completely dominate the US economy. The book posited a near-future in which most public institutions in the US were being managed by Japanese businessmen, referred to by the protagonist as the "occupation army in business suits."

The narration mentioned the Ainu as an explanation of what came to mind to these Japanese when they looked at white Americans.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I think you misconstrued the "I'm done." I was merely acknowledging that my long, long posts are probably tiresome for most people.

Unfortunately, I feel compelled by my verbosity genes to bring up something else that I forgot to mention before I "I'm doned". The Ainu are usually described as Caucasian people. There was another example of a Caucasian people in Asia - the Tarim Mummies. The Tarim Basin is a part of the Taklamakan Desert, which is dry enough to make for remarkable preservation conditions. Many of the mummies have blond hair, which seems to be a marker of "whiteness" in our culture today. Those folks and the Ainu only show that ancient peoples did move around quite a lot - maybe even across the Bering Strait (Kennewick Man).

Here's a short article about the Tarin Mummies:

http://decodedpast.com/the-takla-makan-mummies-chinas-first-caucasian-immigrants/66

Maybe Kennewick Man, if you are interested. I've found a number of articles that discuss him fairly well, but none quite paint the whole picture. One from the BBC goes into recent genetic tests, which show a mix of Native American, Polynesian and Ainu markers. It shouldn't surprise anyone that virtually everyone in the world has a mix of features for multiple "races" and ethnicities, but ethnonationalism has been such a huge part of government propaganda for so many centuries the BS notion that there are "pure" people is taken as fact by most people, nearly all of whom insist that they are "pure" whatever, until they get the lab results that proves they are dupes.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33170655

Paul SB said...

Larry con.t,

One problem with that article is that it is so sketchy on the details of how the remains came to be examined over the protests of local tribes, it makes it look like the scientists were thieves. There's an article from the Smithsonian that goes into more detail, explaining that the local tribes claimed that they had the right to immediate reburial, but NAGPRA, the law that requires repatriation of Native American remains to any tribe that appears to be ancestral, requires that the remains be examined by professionals to determine what tribes might be related. Unfortunately, the article says nothing about why the local tribes wanted those particular remains buried so desperately. When they were first discovered, they did a facial reconstruction, which came out looking kind of like Patrick Stewart. As a Native American monitor I used to work with liked to say, "There ain't no fucking way I'm related to some fucking white man!" As a very intensively oppressed and now mostly ignore minority in the US, most of the natives have a very deep hatred of the dominant ethnic groups of America. The idea that there might have been "white" people in North America thousands of years ago goes completely against their religious (and legal) mythology and, given how many of their people are in deep poverty because of their ethnic status, strikes a very raw nerve for them. While I don't blame them at all for the attitude so many express, it's really not helping them. Given that most Native Americans have some Ainu and some Polynesian DNA, there were clearly both ethnic groups in North America in ancient times, who no doubt bred with them in the past. So much for "racial purity." They would be better served by claiming there Ainu and Polynesian heritage and supporting genetic studies that blow the top off of this kind of bull for all humans everywhere, Race is a concept we could do without.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33170655

If you would like to see a case of Native Americans working with geneticists on human remains, PBS did a well-researched series called "First Peoples" which I highly recommend. The episode on North America, or course, is the one to look for on that, but the entire series is really interesting.

https://www.amazon.com/First-Peoples/dp/B00VNQWUB2/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1490716084&sr=1-2&keywords=first+peoples

Okay, enough of my blathering

David L. Craig said...

Ioan said...

"Since David has encouraged us to look for exceptions to the red/blue state divide in terms of outcomes, I present Utah"

Well, let me make sure everyone here comprehends, according to these sources, North Dakota seems to be doing some things governmental intelligently:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/mailbag/take-a-lesson-from-north-dakota-s-government/article_56cbc160-d6a6-5642-8d93-85853c484c9c.html

https://www.sayanythingblog.com/entry/north-dakota-has-the-most-trusted-state-government-in-america/

locumranch said...


Luis_S asks a good question about the US perspective on Healthcare, and you faux-libs fill his ears with nonsense & dross when it all comes down to residual Puritan work-ethic.

Whereas most of the Enlightened West assumes 'deservingness' on the basis of birthright, necessity & humanism, the US puritan-based perspective assumes (instead) that 'deservingness' (merit) must be earned on the basis of personal labour, effort or sacrifice.

Like food & housing, most consider Healthcare to be a necessity yet, in the specific case of the US, this does not necessarily indicate 'deservingness' or merit. This is why many right-wingers appear 'illiberal' because they assume that the poor, homeless & hungry somehow deserve this fate.

Residual Puritanism is why most of the US public disdains public assistance, welfare & the dole even when they are dependent upon it (1); and, in its most extreme form, this also gives rise to Christian Science & its rejection of ALL healthcare by arguing that illness is somehow 'deserved' (aka 'divinely ordained') due to personal moral shortcomings & failed individual effort.

Read Heinlein for a toxic dose of this philosophy.


Best
_____
(1) Medicare & Social Security are considered exceptions to this rule because (in theory) these social welfare entitlements were EARNED & paid-for through years of work-related payroll contributions in the manner of Savings Account.

Darrell E said...

donzelion said...

“The political ideal of the Democrats - from the Rooseveltian reformers, the Johnsonian progressives, through the Clinton/Obama incrementalists - has always been about expanding social services to cover neglected communities.”

I like to describe this point of view as investing in the people that make up the society. A favorite example of mine is the GI Bill. How best to get the highest contribution out of every member of society? Well, you can't reach your potential if you are starving, sick, dying, homeless, living paycheck to paycheck or can't afford the education you are capable of achieving. But if our society, government and public institutions were such that every person had the opportunity to achieve as much as they are capable of and or desired to, within reason, and were actually encouraged to, how much more would the average contribution to society be? Good data already exists. It works very well.

Invest in people and it pays big. People with more conservative points of view claim that doing so will bury us in freeloaders and result in a “Welfare State” (those are scare quotes, cause that's scary). And they so despise freeloaders. Except when they are the freeloaders. There will always be freeloaders. Who cares. Their numbers are not significant. A thing that I find very ironic is how more conservative people who tend to cry “socialism” at the drop of a hat are also those who tend to jingoism, proudly proclaiming how the US-of A is the greatest nation on Earth and that no others can compete with us. And yet they also think that the greatest nation on Earth can't figure out how to provide or pay for better healthcare than, say, Costa Rica.

Darrell E said...

donzelion said...

“Well, we can all see which kool-aid you've been drinking. No, these people are not into Darwinism at all (it's not even called Darwinism anymore except in a historical context - the science has moved way beyond Darwin in a century and a half, but the Religious Duped can't seem to figure this one out - more likely it's deliberate straw-manning).”

I agree that there is certainly a good deal of straw-manning, but there is something more basic going on. Most people that aren't actually scientists (I am not a scientist) don't understand science. I don't mean merely the body of knowledge derived from doing science or the theories, but the process of science and what the implications of it are. They don't understand that all of the disciplines of science are part of a whole, are interconnected and mutually supporting because they are all simply describing and modeling various categories of phenomena of the same reality, the one we find ourselves in. They don't understand that a claim that one small bit of well supported and verified science doesn't entail “proving” just that one small bit wrong, but often also all of the related and underlying science as well. They don't understand that science doesn't doesn't deal in black and white facts or truths, but rather in probabilities and accurate modeling. That its findings are provisional, more or less based directly on how well verified they are by observations, testing and modeling accuracy, but always provisional. This leads so often to the revealing, cliché, accusations of the “scientists used to say X but now they say Y” variety, as if that were a negative. They don't understand that at its most basic science is simply doing what is actually demonstrated to actually work, for real.

donzelion said...

“I'm a strong proponent of Steven Jay Gould's "Noma" principle, Non-Overlapping Magisteria.”
I disagree with you on this one. I think NOMA was the most inaccurate idea SJG came up with. I think it is completely wrong for several reasons.

1) Science is of great utility in the consideration of values, ethics and morals. For example, deciding that it is good to limit human suffering and bad to maximize it may simply be an arbitrary value judgement, but once such a value judgement has been made figuring out how to best realize those values can and should be guided by what can actually be shown to work well, aka empirical testing, aka science.

2) Religion has no special claim or purview to inquiry into values, ethics or morals.

3) Religion has never limited itself to inquiry into values, ethics and morals. It has always, and continues to, make fact claims about our world.

I disagree with nearly everything SJG said in his explanation of his NOMA idea. Including, “NOMA enjoys strong and fully explicit support, even from the primary cultural stereotypes of hard-line traditionalism.” That just isn't so.

Or, “(it is) a sound position of general consensus, established by long struggle among people of goodwill in both magisteria.” Again, that just ain't so.

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