Saturday, May 13, 2017

A world Cyber Collapse? And Jerry Brown: President in exile

Yes, the title of this posting is an odd juxtaposition. On Friday a ferocious ransomware attack crippled thousands of computer networks around the world, including Britain's National Health System. So, what does this cyber-blitz -- long predicted in sci fi -- have to do with California's spectacularly successful, popular and effective governor?

It's simple. There are matters - like cyber security - in which we cannot wait for the natural election cycles to replace bad leadership. Someone  is going to have to step up and speak for us, and I suspect we'll see nothing useful out of Washington, for quite some time.

First though, some good news. While the U.S. federal admministration thrashes and flails in a state of near-collapse, we need to remember our strengths:

1) Civil servants and other professionals continue to do their jobs. Ranging from the FBI and Intelligence Community to energy researchers to diplomats to scientists, teachers, journalists and military officers - our skilled women and men out there are coming to terms with the real lesson of the Comey Affair... that the president can only fire or bully so many people. In fact, that bolt is largely shot. If he tries going on a "you're fired" rampage, Donald Trump must know that John McCain and other GOP adults will reach their fed-up limit. At which point they will lead a counter-attack against him. Anyway - as Comey is realizing - being fired by Donald Trump is likely to open career opportunities for the victim, not close them.

Yes, the Confederacy has achieved a major Putin-Koch objective, just by throwing grit in the machinery. Trump pleases his masters, even if all he can accomplish is slamming the U.S. federal government down to grinding first gear. Make no mistake, we're being harmed.

2) But there are other strengths to our federal system. In fact, much of the damage can be bypassed.

No, I'm not talking about Congress, or even the Supreme Court... though a day will come when three men -- Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch -- will have to choose between loyalty to a gone-insane conservative movement and faithfulness to the great enlightenment experiment that is America.  But we aren't there yet, and there is no telling whether they will pass that test. (I would bet against it.)

No, the hidden strength I am talking about is federalism. The fact that states have a great deal of power and potential, even in this modern age. And to make this clear, let me tell you about something called the Uniform Business Code.

== Treaties Among (semi) Sovereign States ==

Commencing during the Second World War, state governments sent experts to conferences where they negotiated a number of uniform acts that 'harmonize the law of sales and other commercial transactions across the U.S.'  This meant that businesses and individuals could compete or cooperate, buy-and-sell, with confidence across state lines.

Over the decades since, adjustments have been worked out so calmly and effectively that most members of the public aren't even aware of the UBC.  We learn in school that the federal government has laid its meddlesome hand down, through the "commerce clause" of the Constitution. But in fact, the UBC is more pervasive. It is applied to far more matters than federal environmental, safety and other regulations, every day. Moreover, it is just one of many joint projects of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) and the American Law Institute (ALI). 

Nor are uniform codes the only way in which U.S. states act to bypass Washington. I am far from an expert on this (and any mavens are welcome to weigh in below, under comments.) But such inter-state accords range from water rights to joint hydroelectric and transportation projects all the way to recent agreements about marijuana deregulation rules. And while these endeavors do have to take into account acts of Congress, they have often been used to bypass the gridlock of Washington.

The education reform known as Common Core was likewise negotiated among states and not - as commonly assumed - imposed by Washington. This consensus among states, calling upon all school systems to meet minimum standards, was originally a conservative idea, till that movement was hijacked.

(An aside: I also think states should be more bold about doing experiments that are different and not uniform. Colorado and Oregon led the way out of our stupid Marijuana War. There are countless other experiments that could be parceled out to states, as 'laboratories of democracy.')

Alas, such pragmatic treaties used to happen more often, back in those halcyon days when the Conference of Governors was a working group of 50 adults, instead of a conclave of posturing-partisan prima donnas. Today, the divide among states could not be more sharp. And not just as a matter of 'left-vs.-right dogma, but far more about competence versus incompetence and sane versus insane.

Take actual outcomes. Despite a few outliers, like Texas and Utah, most states that have deep-red governments -- governor and legislature -- have had gruesomely awful results, the last few decades. Those doing best among them, like Virginia and North Carolina, have been turning purple, fast. Those doing worst -- including the deep Confederate South and Kansas and Oklahoma -- are sinking fast.  Meanwhile, pure-blue states along the coasts appear to be doing great, and not only where it comes to budget balancing and investing in people. Any libertarian-leaning person is a hypocrite, if he or she fails to notice which states are finally backing out of the loony-catastrophic so-called War on Drugs.

Which brings us full circle back the California's Governor Jerry Brown, whose fourth tenure in Sacramento is so successful, we all would have plotzed to have him be the Democratic Party nominee for President, in 2016, despite his age. 

But okay, that's done. So why do I call him "president in exile"?

== Put it all together ==

We must face a harsh truth.  We are currently in phase eight of the Civil War, a recurring national fever that has broken out in America ever since 1778. Washington is in confederate hands and -- as usual -- the Union is late responding, slow to anger and at a loss where to find its generals.

Well, until we can locate our ideal combination of Lincoln and T. Roosevelt and F. Roosevelt and Ike, we'll have to make do. And right now, blatantly, by every metric of population, success and delighted citizenry, there is one leader of Blue America, if only he would stand up to take the position he has earned.

Jerry Brown is -- de facto -- president in exile of what remains of the United States of America.  Moreover, it is time to slap him into realizing it.

Is the U.S. federal government being deliberately frozen and rendered impotent by (at best) fools or else (at-worst) traitors?  Sure. Shall we just march and scream and tell jokes on late-night TV? Or might we use tools that are already in place?

Oh, sure, Jerry Brown cannot call an emergency meeting of the National Governor's Conference. A majority of the attendees would be Republican dogmatists who seem bent on dragging their states down a toilet swirl of cheating and failed ideology. There is a Democratic Governors Association -- a small group, chaired by CT Gov. Dan Malloy -- and it would be a start.   

Sure, there are plenty of pragmatic matters generally on the agenda, when the governors of active, and not confederate, states meet. But I assert it is time for more than that. It's time for this group to make plain that they intend to provide a nucleus for action on behalf of the American Experiment. And yes -- if need be -- in that noble endeavor's defense.

Example #1 - the Affordable Care Act is not dead, yet. Nor would the House bill kill it completely. Blue States can step in, on a dozen issues. Foremost among these: All it will take to "save the ACA insurance markets" will be for these states to impose their own individual mandate penalty tax on young people who shirk buying insurance. Sure it's risky.  But blue state youths are very solidly democratic. And if they were to join the insurance pool in large numbers, state-centered versions of the ACA won't "explode" as Trump raves that he wants them to.  At least not in those states.  And the contrast with places like Kansas will soar beyond anyone's ability to ignore.

But that's not today's main point. As I said at the beginning, what makes all this critical is a matter of safety and security.

Which brings us back to Friday's massive cyber attack. What can a dozen governors do about what is clearly a national and international problem?

Well, these blue states combined have the world's fourth biggest economy. They hold the world's greatest universities and research institutions and the most tech savvy populace. They provide most of the tax revenue that the rest of America utterly relies upon, as well as nearly all of the productivity and inventiveness. A point that could be made very clear if Jerry Brown went on TV and did the job that Donald Trump is supposedly there to do.

== Tell us to get clean! ==

Talk to computer security experts and they will tell you that most of our vulnerability today comes from both citizens and companies being lax about updating their security software. Millions of home and office computers are now suborned into participating in "botnets" or networks of surreptitiously connected machines, that criminals or foreign governments then use to transmit and amplify their attacks.  For whatever the reason -- generally laziness -- those corporations and individual users cannot be bothered to do simple things that would prevent their machines from being taken over.  

In legal terms, that is negligent-complicit participation in crime. And it is a cancer in our society, as we saw, last Friday. Moreover, the solution is obvious! Someone we trust - who has some authority - needs to go online and on TV to say:

"Those of you out there who have negligently allowed your computers to become hackable have opened opportunities for criminals and parasites to prey on others, and upon your communities, states and nation. I am not here to propose making that negligence a criminal offense. But I will now warn you that you can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse. Moreover, I am asking that state legislatures pass the following amendment to tort or civil law.

"If you take basic precautions, annually, to maintain your system's security updates and use any of a dozen state-measured, commercial anti-hacking programs, then that good faith effort will be enough to leave private individuals and most small businesses non-culpable for damages from future botnet attacks, even if their systems wind up being used in clever hacks that the security companies missed. Moreover, here are links to videos that will explain it all, and your options.

"But if you have not done basic security updates, and your system is used to infect others, then you will bear a proportionate share of the damages that eventually are awarded to victims of such crimes. Moreover, this responsibility will apply to any interests that out-of-state parties have in California, or any other member of our group of states."

There you have it. Just three paragraphs. And I promise you, the very next day millions of lazy people and companies would rush to update their systems and to run security programs! Within a week, many if not most of the botnets operating in America would be severely undermined, if not crippled. And tens of millions of Americans will be safer, by the way.

Why am I combining two topics today, by asking Jerry Brown to make this public statement? Isn't this a matter for the President of the United States, or some other high, national official?

Think about that question and answer it for yourself. 

 It's not just that we have a sabotaged and crippled national government, at-best incompetent and at-worst treasonous. It is that this matter cannot wait!  

And yes, okay, I would also love to see Jerry do something nationally memorable. There is even a chance that Blue America -- which now includes every single fact-using profession -- might rally around him as an elder statesman who has no ambitions for 2020. 

Well, well.  It's a fantasy. Like the dream that was America. Like the palpably successful dream called California.

== Jerry's Evil Conterpart ==

That should suffice for today. But before we close, a note about someone who is just as smart... in service of evil.

Do I still call George F. Will "The Worst Man in America," when he applies his sharp pen to eviscerating Donald Trump? In this case, his diagnosis is acid:


"This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence."


Given how much I agree with Will's assessment of DT, might I retract my own aspersions aimed at George Will?

Consider them doubled. This brilliant wit dedicated his adult life to undermining the equally brilliant clades - from science and medicine to investigative journalism - that engendered most of our wealth, achievements and power. His rationalizations helped fuel the War on Science, now being waged against every fact-based profession. His scalpel pierced deepest, in the steady lobotomization of American conservatism.

In denouncing Trump, Mr. Will expresses outrage that an impudent upstart leapt into the saddle of confederate, anti-intellectual populism -- a rabid, frothing beast that the lords of the right thought to be their private steed... just as the Junkers Prussian nobility were appalled when a raving rider seized the reins of 1930s German rightwing populism. In both cases, the first victim was sensible, rational conservatism. The version of conservatism that Mr. Will claims to represent, but that he has systematically assassinated.

George Will's unctuous pleadings for oligarchy - and excuses for wealth disparity rivaling 1789 France - persuaded many of today's aristocratic morons to believe what their egos and sycophants told them. Despite history's lesson, they think that this time  they'll do neo-feudalism right, by pounding the great American middle class that the Greatest Generation built, and by inciting populist rage against all the fact-using, "smartaleck elites" who stand in oligarchy's way.

Of course the only possible outcome from this lunatic-stupid oligarchic putsch is that they will wind up riding tumbrels.

Wait... is it possible that was George Will's intent, all along? As in that famous Tom Tomorrow cartoon? I never said he wasn't clever! 

But no. This is why he is the Worst Man in America. Instinct nor reflex nor dullard rationalization made him do all this. He brought us here with open eyes. And now, his horrified denunciations of Trump are like Viktor Frankenstein screaming at his monster.

You did this. Deal with that fact. Then maybe we'll listen.

118 comments:

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

No, I'm not talking about Congress, or even the Supreme Court... though a day will come when three men -- Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch -- will have to choose between loyalty to a gone-insane conservative movement and faithfulness to the great enlightenment experiment that is America. But we aren't there yet, and there is no telling whether they will pass that test. (I would bet against it.)


I'm glad you added the parenthetical there, because I would bet against it as well. Trump was elected not to improve the federal government but (in Judge Doom's words) to dismantle it. His Supreme Court nominations will be for the same purpose, and they will survive long after Trump is the bad memory that George W Bush is now. Congressional Republicans are of the same mold, and although some have realized they have to give lip service to distance from Trump, they're encouraged by Ryan and McConnell to support the illegitimate president.

What we may come down to soon is having to choose between Enlightenment civilization and following the rules of Constitutional government, because we may not be able to do both.

LarryHart said...

Unknown (from the last thread) :

Don't go shutting down just because one person doesn't like you. Despite what some posters seem to think, we don't all agree on everything here.

I like your stories, even if they are difficult to credit. You may be too young to remember Harry Chapin, but I liked many of his songs for the same reason.


And all those pin-up girls in that tinsel world
Never touched me like she can.
It took another man's wife in the real world life
To make this boy a man.

Hendrik Boom said...

For a lot of devices, applying security updates is not possible. The software is burned into ROM, and the manufacturer has never provided any measure of after-sale support or maintenance to that software. Source code is not available and may no longer even exist. What is the owner of such a refrigerator to do?

Kal Kallevig said...

" What is the owner of such a refrigerator to do?"

Unplug it from the internet.

David Brin said...

HB the answer is transparency, to identify such devices and make clear that the owners will be liable for a proportionate share of damages if they participate in a botnet. That will alter market forces, big time!

LarryHart said...

On Bill Maher's show Friday night, Senator Adam Schiff (D) of the Senate Intelligence Committee was a guest. He spoke of the struggle in the world state between authoritarianism and democracy, and made this poignant and accurate statement:


Probably the most distressing headline I have seen since [sic] the last endless 110 days was when Angela Merkel came to visit, and the headline on Politico was "LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD MEETS DONALD TRUMP"

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Is that distressing because it is saying that the leader of Germany - with its checkered history - is now the leader of the free world, that the US has lost that position because of our elected kleptocrats, or both? I would choose C.

Unknown,

I had more to say when I was thinking about you yesterday, but I'm too sleepy right now to remember. But I will say that you mentioned a kid who made shit up but was very entertaining, and your stories sound like the same. It's okay if you enjoy entertaining people and they (or some at least) enjoy your entertainment. It seems a little out of place here, though. I do hear you when you suggested that we don't have solutions to all the world's problems, but hey, that's exactly why people come here. We're here to talk about these things, share our thoughts and even (God forbid!) debate them. Your anecdotes about your endless successes with the opposite sex are just not the kind of thing people come here to discuss. If we were sitting around together at a bar - or even catching a frozen yogurt for those who aren't into the intoxicants - that would be a different matter.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

s that distressing because it is saying that the leader of Germany - with its checkered history - is now the leader of the free world, that the US has lost that position because of our elected kleptocrats, or both? I would choose C.


That it's distressing to see the US on the not-free side is a given.

That "leader of the free world" might belong to Germany in particular is more sardonically amusing.

As Hamilton said to Burr in "Hamilton" :

What are you waiting for?
What do you stall for?
We won the war--
What was it all for?


The rest of the exchange between Hamilton and Burr is occurring between Democrats and Republicans today:


D:
Do you support this constitution?

R:
Of course.

D:
Then defend it.

R:
And what if you’re backing the wrong horse?

D:
Burr, we studied and we fought and we killed
For the notion of a nation we now get to build.
For once in your life, take a stand with pride.
I don’t understand how you stand to the side.

R:
I’ll keep all my plans close to my chest.
(Wait for it. Wait for it)
I’ll wait here and see which way the wind will blow.
I’m taking my time watching the afterbirth of a nation,
Watching the tension grow.

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

Some think that all we come here for is cool science stuff, and that the political talk is out of place. I obviously feel differently. There's never going to be complete agreement on what is and is not appropriate subject matter. I, for one, welcome a degree of comic relief.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

The US is not out of the Free World Club just yet, but it's teetering on the edge, and fascists on the Supreme Court are part of what's pushing. Most of it, though, is the stupidity of an electorate who consistently vote for thieves, frauds and obvious con men. It's a flaw in democracy itself. What happens when "the people" make stunningly stupid choices, when they become Orwell's sheep? Then democracy turns into a tyranny of the majority. The system is supposed to have protections, checks and balances, but one determined group is slowly dismantling them.

As far as the comic relief goes, anyone who visits is welcome to skip his posts if they choose. I'm just suggesting that if a majority of people aren't interested, they won't read or respond, and he will feel like he's wasting his time. Not the same thing as the tyranny of the majority, as he is free to tell all the tall tales he likes. Remember our host is a writer of fiction. It just might not be very satisfying if that is what he comes here for.

Russell Osterlund said...

A bit off topic but relevant to a theme appearing in Dr. Brin's postings:

The History Channel has an entertaining, informative mini-series in progress entitled "Genius". The subject is the scientific, cultural icon, Albert Einstein. The biopic also exposes the dark underside of the community of scientists where bigotry, sexism, jealousy, ambition, etc. exist, flourish, and influence history's judgement of events and people. Here is a link to a review:

https://www.salon.com/2017/05/13/well-hello-dolly-mileva-maric-albert-einstein-and-the-myth-of-the-great-man/

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

The US is not out of the Free World Club just yet, but it's teetering on the edge,...


Yes, the US is remarkably resilient at retaining its freedoms, possibly because the fervent anti-government types can't completely bring themselves to jump on the government bandwagon even when their guy is in charge.

But you must admit that the term "Leader of the free world" can't be applied with a straight face to the man occupying the office which usually comes with that title.

Jumper said...

Regarding SF, David's many reminders to read The Three Body Problem have borne fruit: so far it meets my criteria for a first-rate tale!

Paul SB said...

Russell,
Off topic is okay all around, and thanks for the link! I can't speak for everyone here, but lots of them enjoy almost any mentally-stimulating stuff like this. It's also very popular to debunk myths around heroes - the "warts and all" approach. You're almost making me wish I had cable and spent time watching TV.

Larry,

Total agreement here about the big little boy who currently occupies the White House. I also note how you are ascribing a benefit to the very anti-government loonies that we so often rail against - a concern I share with most liberals. Have you ever taken Helen Fisher's test? I strongly suspect if you did you would come out high on the oxytocin scale. Those are the folks who can often see the good even in people they don't like. if you haven't tried it, I'll paste a link to a printable version you can try yourself. I'm in the middle of "reading" the book that explains it in much greater depth than the web site does (I'll link to that, too, because you won't get much out of taking it if you don't read the explanations). It is the only personality test I have ever seen that is based on real neuroendocrinology, which means it's the only one I'm aware of that isn't pop psychology bunk. Taking it and reading about it (listening to it on my iPod while driving or hiking) has been very enlivening.

https://idigitalcitizen.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/text-and-instructions-for-why-him-why-her-test.pdf

https://digitalcitizen.ca/y/

Buono appetito!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

HB the answer is transparency, to identify such devices and make clear that the owners will be liable for a proportionate share of damages if they participate in a botnet. That will alter market forces, big time!


But the question at hand was what to do about already-existing devices whose software can't be upgraded? Are their owners retroactively responsible for an outsider hacking their machine?

A related question of my own--Can such devices be hacked in that manner? I mean, if there is no mechanism for upgrading the software, then isn't the device limited in the harm it can be altered to perform as well? Legitimate question--I don't know the answer.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

Regarding SF, David's many reminders to read The Three Body Problem have borne fruit: so far it meets my criteria for a first-rate tale!


I also read it recently at this list's recommendation. I also enjoyed it the same way I did "REAMDE" a few years back--both books are full of surprise changes of plot direction such that you're well into the book before you even really know what's going on.

Do let us know what you think as you get very close to the end of the book. I'm not saying it was bad, but it got quite a bit weird for me. I'm pretty sure you'll know what I mean when you get there.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin:

It's working. The recruitment of the colonels, as you put it, is happening.

"I'm beginning to hear senior Republicans fret about Democrats recruiting unusually high quality House candidates for the 2018 midterms. They worry that with Trump in turmoil, accomplished progressives view next year as a their best chance in ages to win a congressional seat."

Jason Crow for CO-6: Bronze Star, paratrooper platoon leader in the Invasion of Iraq
Chrissy Houlihan for PA-6: Air Force Reserve captain, Stanford engineer, COO
Josh Butner for CA-50: Navy SEAL, school board trustee

Seeing a pattern?

Paul SB said...

Catfish,

Over 300 potential candidates sounds like good news - you know I don't think of the Dems as the good guys, but they're better guys than the Klepto Party. One thing, though: Shhhh! If the word gets out, the Enemies of All Mankind will start up their own campaign. We'll start seeing a lot of USAFA people running for office (I grew up by the AFA, and found the cadets to be decent people, but that has changed! They have been corrupted by the madness of the nearby city).

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Paul SB, it seems that the Air Force has finally had enough of the Christian fundamentalists at the Air Force Academy. They are putting a new person in charge. See:

http://www.csindy.com/TheWire/archives/2017/03/20/new-female-afa-commandant-moving-here-soon-with-her-wife

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart,

Yes. There are things he could do that would be over the line for me. He's already done a few of them and I think he should be ousted. I'm not enough, though, so I look for ways to grow our list of allies. One of those ways involves being very careful around the term 'legitimate' because his election was legitimate. The only legitimate paths forward now are waiting him out, impeach/convict, or Lincoln's exit which I'd rather avoid. I don't want this fool counted as a martyr by anyone.

If push comes to shove, we will need support from our active duty folks. Confederate forces have made that necessary more than once. We don't get that support without winning over active duty people and that means we have to think their way. Integrity is terribly important to them, so we must never leave them having to choose against it to side with us.

If the impeach/convict option is to be made viable, it will be by forcing Ryan and McConnell to do what they know must be done. That will happen through independent investigations run by the Press and the FBI. The more dirt they uncover, the more the congressional oversight committees will have to face it. If this happens, Congress will find him illegitimate in the manner defined by the Constitution. If not, we might have to wait him out and it would be wise to figure out how to make him impotent, hmm?

If The People find him to be illegitimate absent Congressional action, we will have a Constitutional crisis on our hands. People would be shot and cities will burn. I think we can do better than that, but in the mean time, we should plan to win the hearts and minds of our active duty folks. We do that by admitting the election was legitimate in the sense that the agreed upon rules were followed. (Whether the rules are legitimate is a different matter.) Giving up that point, we move on to the fact that this fool has no sense of integrity and in his dictatorial demand for loyalty, he is damaging the Constitution he swore to uphold. When his lack of integrity does actual damage in their eyes, we will have them on our side if we should need them, but we should also plan not to need them. If impeachment isn't an option by next year, we have to make the election a devastating one for them for that is OUR legitimate power.

Alfred Differ said...

@Unknown,

Heh. Enjoy the pears while they are ripe. That is the purpose of youth.

Eventually you will encounter a reality, though, that will give you pause and readjust everything you thought you knew. For example, The Singularity could easily be another religious fantasy. Read the economic history we've finally begun sorting out from political fantasy in the last generation and you'll find we've already been through a few of them. The singularities are in the first derivatives, though, and what we experience is more of a rapid phase change. It's as if the heat capacity suddenly changed and we moved to a new equilibrium. Sure... we are in the middle of one right now, but it began about 400 years ago and is proving to be multi-stepped.

Yah. School probably bored you. Been there. I used to re-write my algebra II homework in the tiniest print I could manage to make it fit on one page. I was that bored. I also used Julian dates. It wasn't a big deal, though, because I figured out how to get out of my last year of high school and go to college. That was more interesting though I'll admit I didn't know what to do with the pears. I was a little young and not quite ripe myself. 8)

Following that line of thought - human is to slave. An automated society was forseen in the late 19th century, and sought in the early 20th. And then, resource barons put it down. Human nature in those below said, 'oh, that's fine, we're born to toil.....'

Nah. Way too simplistic. Slave societies were long part of our history. The capital saved as 'slaves' used to be a huge fraction of capital in every society that seriously adopted the practice. Today, however, the value of what few slaves remain is vanishingly small. What started about 400 years ago caused an income boom and made the old forms of capital quickly worth less... slaves included. Toiling isn't slavery, though. You'll know it when you see it if you go for a walk on the wrong side of town. Look at the sex workers and ask yourself how many of them have an owner. Some do.

Alfred Differ said...

Three cheers for the UCC agreements!

Shortly after leaving school I did a one year stint as a temp worker in the UCC division of the California Secretary of State Office. It was just data entry work, but I got to see some of the paperwork associated with recording of claims against collateral. Turns out the States worked out a way to ensure someone didn't get loans against the same piece of real estate without all the creditors having a chance to know about it in advance. Turns out the bankruptcy courts use this information to decide who gets which place in line when liens are filed. I never realized just how many small businessmen failed to understand how unemployment insurance worked, but they learned when the tax folks placed liens on them.

I also got to do some time on the Notary side of the house. Lots of things there that people don't think much about, but it's all about interstate treaties without calling them such.

… and then there are the rules that define what LLC's are. More interstate negotiations, but much newer. Neat stuff for a law nerd, but a little digging shows how the states compete with each other too. 8)

Unknown said...

@Dave: some options and courses of action, I like that.

However: mature Capitalism has helped make people shitbergs. You can't deny it. And healthcare tax, let alone penalty, on those who aren't is ridiculous. I'm exempt but I'd tell 'em to get fucked, otherwise.

interlude: Did you know that income tax is illegal? I met a decorated Korean Marine veteran fifteen years ago who found this out because he was being politically attacked and the assholes sicked the IRS on him. He had the last laugh.

Second, again, take away the incentive for crime, and security like in practice today wouldn't be necessary. Prevention rather than damage control. That USED to be the ethos. But you want to further indenture people? No bueno, dude. No bueno.

Unknown said...

@Al: the other night at a restaurant I saw a 70s-something couple on their way out locked in embrace, his hand on her ass, making out as they left. I loved it. It ain't a youth thing, but a youthful thing.

I learn top-down, but it took me till college and in particular studying music to find out. I shouldn't have made it there; I was not going to graduate high school, but I lied about an assignment and that let me through. The other things is I'm a Protein Type. My diet has to be animal flesh and fat, no grains or dairy or legumes, very little sugar. Which was not my diet growing up, and why I was a basketcase student till college.

I dig what you're saying about the Singularity and all. I said that a little tongue in cheek in that who knows whether that kind of thing will happen, but I've been prepared for it for two decades. Not particularly, but in general. Utter pragmatism, remember?

But it seems you glossed right over the automated society thing. Everyone does. And then you turned it into something else. I'm saying humans are genetically disposed to toil. They have no identity, they feel of no use, without work. I ain't like that. And I handwash my dishes. I keep my quarters clean enough to eat off the carpet. But preventively. ((Not preventatively. Just like there ain't no prioritizing. It would be priorizing. I don't even speak that way, but you get what I'm saying.)) No shoes in the house, hands washed when I come inside, etc.

Anyways, given my health and supporting lifestyle, and coming technologies, it's quite plausible I will live at least centuries.

Unknown said...

@Lar: you're a good fellow. A warm soul.

FOUNDATION is fun and all, but pretty tame, even the Trevize stuff. Check out FOUNDATION'S FEAR, by Gregory Benford. That's the shit. (Bear's and Dave's contributions to the second trilogy WERE shit.) And PYSCHOHISTORICAL CRISIS by Donald Kingsbury. !


@Paul SB: I thought of that when I thought of telling about it. Of course I must be my supposed friend. How convenient! Hail Eris!!

And I've been thinking about that, too. I think people have been opting out because of my presence. I had an outro speech all prepared, but temporarily reconsidered given Al's response.

I looked at the test, but as usual many of the questions are irrelevant. They're not yes or no, nor maybe, but non-questions.

I have my own word/definition and conception set. Some standard, some are my own, and many have been obsolesced, removed - like morality, pride, acheivement, ambition, duty, respect....the field of Psychology.... Because they're irrelevant to me personally, and problematic in general. All part of Funxionality.

Lastly: sensuality is the base of human interaction. THE place to start and be concerned with. Top-down, and around. In Ken Wilber's terms: Holarchy.

Paul SB said...

Unknown,
The questions on that test are not exactly questions, they’re statements that you rate to what extent they accurately describe your habits. The whole point is to get at habitual behaviors that are shown to correlate with the actual chemicals in our bodies that drive behavior. Larry might come back with his, “Now we know that, what do we know?” line, and it’s a legitimate question. The answer is that we have a general understanding of our individual instincts, and the more you know about those, the more you can take advantage of their strengths and avoid their pitfalls.

Moreover, be careful about taking psychology too seriously. As a science it is getting better now they are starting to seriously incorporate neurology, but psychology is basically a century of meaningless speculation. Their abysmal success rates in clinical practice bear me out, here. Interestingly, psychiatry, with all its psychotropic drugs, does only slightly better, but combining the two gets a synergistic effect. Its still not good, though, and yet the courts take it seriously.

I figured out what is wrong with psychology while taking Survey of Culture. When you see how differently other human groups can think, it becomes clear that our thinking is no more objective than theirs, just like our god is no less imaginary than anyone else’s. Psychologists do scientific experiments following careful procedures and it all looks like real science - until you get to the end, where they interpret the results.

That’s where they usually produce gibberish, because their explanations are analogical rather than strictly logical. Their explanations are mostly just metaphors, which is not a surprise, since when you observe behavior without the ability to observe the mechanisms that drive it, you are only seeing surface phenomena, not deep structure. How much can you intuit about the workings of cars by watching them move? You can figure out a little bit, but you really won’t understand cars until you dissect its engine and everything it connects to. This is why some psychology is actually good, but most of it is bunk.

Paul SB said...

Unknown con.t,

And this is why I take Helen Fisher seriously. Unlike Freud, Jung, Pavlov, Skinner, Rogers and all the rest (even the brilliant Carole Dweck), Fisher has taken advantage of 21st Century imaging technology, the most advanced science we have to get at the engine that drives us. Maybe five years from now she or someone else will come out with a better one, but most likely the categories will remain the same. Only the effectiveness of the survey instrument will change.

As to your comment on sensuality as the base of human interaction, you are right in important ways, but missing a lot of the picture. Sensuality is the base of prairie vole behavior. The neurochemicals, anatomical structures and hormones that make them interact as they do are in many important ways the same for humans. But the human behavior engine is quite a bit more complex, and the human need for interaction goes beyond the sensual.

When you hug your pear for the day, your brain releases oxytocin, vasopressin, serotonin and probably others we have yet to understand or even detect. If you think about her as a pear, you also get some testosterone, dopamine and norepinephrine. Now what happens when you hug Grandma? You get all those same chemicals - with the feelings they give you - but not the second set (unless you’re a real weirdo). Both experiences are sensual, and similar, but qualitatively different in some very important ways. When you hang out with your buddies, be they pear-shaped or otherwise, you get that same first set of chemicals/feelings. You write to this blog, then read what others have written to you, same deal.

So the sensuality is the foundation, yes, but there is more to it. This is why I suspect that some people (not all, though) essentially choose their sexual orientation. It’s not that they have the genes to swing one way, the other, or both (most humans have both to varying degrees), but that they feel that first set of feelings toward one person, and assume that means they are in love, because the chemical signatures of romantic love and more ordinary sociability are mostly the same.

BTW, one of the things I forgot yesterday was Thanks for the squish. I doubt that e-hugs get the same return in oxytocin that the real thing does, but I can use all the oxytocin I can get. You sound like you are probably doing very well in that department, but back atcha anyway.

Paul SB said...

Jerry,

Sounds like, as the author said, Hell has frozen over. But I suspect it will get a whole lot hotter pretty soon, especially given the strange bedfellows and unholy alliances in our current regime at the federal level. Regardless of having a stellar record and outstanding career, she and her family are going to meet with very stiff resistance, possibly even violence. It's not the 80s anymore, but given the statement the author felt compelled to make about "choice" it's obvious the local culture hasn't changed a whole lot. They still think about people with Dark Age conceptions. No mind/body connection - in their vernacular that's blasphemy. And no body/mind connection - that's inconceivable. This shot goes to the good guys in the ludicrous "culture wars" but I would be surprised if the Evil One doesn't fire back.

I wish her and her family the best, both for their sakes and for all of ours. Humanity needs to get past that Dark Age mentality.

Alfred Differ said...

@Unknown,

It ain't a youth thing, but a youthful thing.

Of course. My mother told a story once of a brief interaction with her and my father. She looked down, raised an eyebrow, and said ‘Are you done with that thing?’ He was getting older and like most males, his testosterone levels were dropping. I thought it was funny at the time, but it turns out the joke was on her. His interest was just fine, but the marriage wasn’t. Ah the things we learn about our parents much later. 8)

I'm saying humans are genetically disposed to toil. They have no identity, they feel of no use, without work.

Hmpf. You ain’t like that? I know lots of people who aren’t. I know so many of them that I’m highly skeptical of your generality. We are disposed to find purpose, not toil. If that purpose happens to involve toil, then it does, but the point of it all is to create identity. We are genetically disposed to craft our own identity in a sea of human flesh in the hope that it will distinguish us as a better mating partner. Toil is just one strategy and fewer people are using it today than a few generations ago. If there was anything to the notion that we will live in an automated society, the folks predicting it would realize we are already there. Much of what we wanted to do can be done through automation or through manual processes with vastly improved productivity. Both are about the same. I can create light in my bedroom with the flick of a switch. No need to make candles anymore. 8)

Regarding your living centuries, I sincerely hope so. I doubt it, but I’m willing to hope. The need for hope is right up there with the need to craft identity and counts as another youthful thing. So… enjoy.

Darrell E said...

The AFA was not merely influenced by craziness in nearby CS. It was very specifically targeted by the conservative Christian political machine. All branches of the Armed Forces were. They were most successful with the Air Force, as evidenced by the AFA.

That sounds nuts. Conspiracy theory nuts. The really nuts thing is that it's true. There is plenty of good data on it. Crazy religious nutjobs really did decide to try and make the US Armed Forces their tool by having Believers trained and groomed by them attain positions of authority in the Services. They were serious about it, well organized, and they met with some success. If that doesn't scare you it should.

I may be confusing web sites but I think David covered this quite a bit, years ago, during Bush Jr's reign of destruction.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

This statement is really Darwinian:
"We are disposed to find purpose, not toil. If that purpose happens to involve toil, then it does, but the point of it all is to create identity. We are genetically disposed to craft our own identity in a sea of human flesh in the hope that it will distinguish us as a better mating partner."

Of course old Charlie D was a long time ago. Yeah, at base it boils down to finding a mating partner, but the story hardly ends there, does it? Life is a work in progress, even after scoring that mate - but it's very male to focus on that one chase and forget the rest. People keep making meaning for themselves to the day they die.

I was just having this conversation with my daughter while driving her to school this morning. For too many people and too many centuries most people have attached their identity and sense of purpose to some imaginary "higher power" (perhaps not imaginary in fact, but certainly imaginary in the minds of believers). I prefer the purpose that biology provides us with - humans are social animals who (mostly) live for community, and I would rather not spend my life living for a paycheck. My community is the one that lives on Earth currently, though if any of those inhabitants move elsewhere, I would still count them and their descendants in my horizon of inclusion. But I have a hard time including those whose preconceptions render them incapable of appreciating this.

Unknown said...

@Al: I had a vasectomy at 26. I have no chidrens nor dependents, neither. I have not observed ANY cultural occasions (including birthdays) in over twenty years. I've not since grade school observed Valentine's day - when they made us do that stuff, and even then I was resistant. The stuff isn't relevant to me, it's a hassle really, and I don't need it to have a good time.

So, I'm not looking for a mate. Or anything. I enjoy sensual experience with others, I prefer females for more physical activities, though if I'm crazy about a male I may want to go there (Elsewise I typically don't care to hang with males. I typically don't care to much hang with people because while they're generally very nice, they're disposed to complication. ~ It's okay if a person is a 'confirmed' drug addict, or what-have-you, but if it's a larger population than that, then there's something wrong with the person on the other end. ~ Cultural dogma.)

Yeah, the need for identity. In Physics, the identity of something is in how it behaves. But epistemologically it's different for people. They need [purpose]. 'And their lives are fucked because of it!'....paraphrasing Jim Garrison in JFK, in the hallway scene with his wife.

There are lots of people who don't want to work, and in my experience are some degree of shitberg. Them don't count. On the other hand, everyone I've talked to who 'works' has said they would get bored, would feel useless, without it. Lots of older females say, "I'd volunteer...." Of course they would, they're females, they're born to serve. They're the backbone of human Culture.

I don't want any of this to be so. Makes shit hard for everyone. If it ain't so, you all have a lot of work to do.

Darrell E said...

To paraphrase Sarah Connor, "There is no purpose but what we make." It has always puzzled me why so many people would rather have purpose assigned, or imposed on them by something else.

Unknown said...

@Darrell E: the problem is people need such device at all.


@Paul SB: I'm not saying, 'Psychology isn't a Science!' kind of thing. I'm saying I've developed a conception that obviates the whole need for study in such a way.


~~ Any feeling creature needs to ask two questions, and only two, for the rest of their lives:


- what do I feel? (in any connotation of the question)


- what do I want to feel?



Everything after that goes into satisfying the second question, until the first is re-asked.


Second, sensuality means the entirety of one's physical experience in connection with interacting with others. For primates, it's all sensual. Although, thinking about it, one's internal experience is essentially sensual in some way, so if we want to be comprehensive, we could simply talk about Experience. From within, infinitely outward. Reflexion.

I don't think Scientific study of the brain regarding behavior is necessary, except in the rare case where genetic modification may beckon (and for development of neural interface device). I think most behavior is the result of diet and lifestyle, and can be addressed with such. At 31 I picked up an eighteen-year-old girlfriend. She had ADD. I'd never experienced such a sight. It was weird. But living with me, eating according to a combination of Metabolic Typing/Blood Typing/Ayurvedic and then listeing to her body, as well as training with me - she began to sleep regularly and normatively. (She also became a goddess, where before she was almost a waif.) In months her ADD went away, and hasn't returned. That was fourteen years ago.



I want to pause and give some recognition. This was originally the meat of my outro speech.

While my presence here may seem at your expense, I recognize your presence in stimulating me. I haven't thought about Funxionality et al to such depths in a long while. It's taken me back to 1995, when I conceived it, and vitalised me.

sociotard said...

On another forum we were chatting about the The Waves of Loki Patera observed on Io, and mused that it sounded like the title of a pulp sci fi novel. Then we started going on with the theme of observed feature + region name (not body) to make a series:
The Bubbles on Liega Mare
The Opals of Valles Marineris

Think of any other good ones?

Anonymous said...

The L-5 Coporolite

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

I'm saying humans are genetically disposed to toil. They have no identity, they feel of no use, without work.


Some humans are. My dad was exactly as you describe. Myself, not so much. Work is a means to an end to me, not an end in itself. I could sit on a beach, reading, listening to music, and watching the hot chicks for days without ever feeling a need to work.

LarryHart said...

Darrel E:

To paraphrase Sarah Connor, "There is no purpose but what we make." It has always puzzled me why so many people would rather have purpose assigned, or imposed on them by something else.


A few years ago, I was a regular poster on a board devoted to Dave Sim and his "Cerebus" comic book. Dave was forcefully anti-feminist and anti-marriage. He insisted that marriage, or sexual relationships of any kind, tended to distract creative men from their work.

A few on the list were in agreement with him on that score, but it always seemed that instead of freeing their time up for their "real" work, those guys invariably ended up having to find some other "mistress" to dominate their time. Dave himself became religious and spent his later years thinking that worshiping God was the only thing one was supposed to do with ones life. Another guy on the list joined the army during the Iraq war. Point being, without the "distraction" of marriage, they seemed desperate to latch onto another distraction.

Darrell E said...

Dave Sim sounds seriously damaged. Seriously, not being sarcastic. I feel sorry for him.

A.F. Rey said...

FYI, an article on how Trump gets his fake news:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/donald-trump-fake-news-238379

A news story tucked into Trump’s hands at the right moment can torpedo an appointment or redirect the president’s entire agenda.

How can a short-straw Democratic Congressperson compete with aides that can slip him a story at just the right moment? :(

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB;

Yes. Very Darwinian. That is in response to Unknown’s ‘genetic disposition to toil’ topic, though, and complete only if one ignores higher levels of meaning. He is taking a lot of anecdotal evidence and asserting a generalization. Induction. I’m just pointing out that there are other conclusions one can induce.

I suspect one of the things a strict Darwinian interpretation would miss is that the collective ‘human’ might also have a disposition. I’m sure you’ve seen the debates some have over group-level evolution compared to individuals when it comes to fitness, but I don’t see Unknown talking about that here. Maybe not yet anyway. 8)

David Brin said...

Sociotard what about my recent novella (appearing in several best-of anthologies) “The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss”? What, you haven’t bought INSISTENCE OF VISION, yet?

AFR: “How can a short-straw Democratic Congressperson compete with aides that can slip him a story at just the right moment?”

Simple. He cares more about what opponents think than his own sycophants. There is the entry wedge.

As for our Unknown Quantity, just a few thoughts. First, who gave you permission to call me “Dave”? We are not pals. David is a public persona and folks can use that, though strictly speaking, hostile or quasi-hostile units are best served with “our host” or “Doc” or “Dr. Brin.” DB is good, though down here "David" is okay.

You raise many points and what makes you a valued addition to the community is how wide-ranging they are, from some that are very cogent (watching that affectionate older couple), to your utterly boring sexual braggadaccio, to the utterly weird: e.g. suggesting that automated cornucopia was achievable a century ago. Galbraith predicted a 20 hour week by 1950. He was way off, but it could happen by 2035, if we craft society right. Whatever. You balance out as a (tentatively) interesting… if often kooky… fellow. (With crappy taste in sci fi.)

Unknown said...

"You want it, you got it, AmP......", uh, yeah, you get the idea. I've created a blog and posted a video of the things I claim about myself.

Everyone, but ESPECIALLY STRAIGHT MALES, of at least adult age should watch the second half of this. For illumination, but at least
enjoyment.

http://unknownfortime.blogspot.com/2017/05/everyone-but-especially-straight-males.html


@sociotard: scifi/sci-fi is pulp by definition. Skiffy, as in iffy. (I almost slapped Dave's hand for saying it in this current posting, but decided to concentrate on other things.....) Science fiction is the older term, and refers to stuff before at least the 80s. SF is the mature form. Rigorous and efficient methods help us all - but bug the fuck out of the slackers.


@Darrell E: ahhhm, Lar's story of that guy just corroborates what I've been talking about. People need purpose, and flounder through trying to find it.


@Lar: the beach and the hot chicks cliche takes a point off, but groovy otherwise.


@Al: I could be.....there may be....and there might be. I don't think in terms of evolution, but function (funxion, really): what is the most beneficial way of being? Funxionality is the degree of emotional open-ness AND autonomy of a feeling entity. So for example most of Culture, if as identity rather than fancy, is problematic. I don't see anything new needing to come about, but the old stuff is fine to play in. In other words,'this, and "do it now, move"'. If I have one, that's my ethos. And I invite a more.....wait for it.....functional approach.

Also, don't be a goob, man. Electricity has been a staple of urban areas at least for over a hundred years. (Schoenberg's non-tonal period was a hundred years ago, and people are still listening to the Blues. Sadsacks.) You're still side-stepping the issue.


@Paul SB again: note that most of the things I talk about and all are things I've experienced in the world. I'm not good at making up stuff. I'm good at recognising and incorporating.

I make love in every gesture to the Cosmos. Sometimes it's a tough fuckin love. I could get busy with my gramma, or grampa, if we were connected and felt inclined. Not as they is, though, cos they's dead in the ground - and not only am I not a necro dude, they wouldn't be willing participants.

Oh yeah, some more words removed: responsibility, loyalty, . All that is fixed by using Sensibility, consistency, and accountability.


@A.F. Rey: for some reason Max Headroom comes to mind.......

Alfred Differ said...

@Unknown,

they're females, they're born to serve

See? This is where you assert knowledge you can’t possibly have. No one does. For that to be the case, there would have to be purpose in their design and there ain’t no such thing from evolution. 8)

The youngest among us are often the quickest to apply induction. It’s really useful much of the time. Sometimes, though, it leads to dumb ideas. They are born to serve? Nah. About the furthest you can take it safely is they are born to bear children. The rest is induction fraught with risky generalizations.

…everyone I've talked to who 'works' has said they would get bored, would feel useless, without it.

There are the anecdotes implying specific knowledge. Good. Concluding this is a disposition shows you’ve jumped to just one of the possibilities. There are others as the folks who don’t want to work demonstrate to you. There are also people in between if you look hard enough and they demonstrate the complexity of the description.

It’s much more about identity than work, but we have an ethics system that encourages work. Both Prudence and Justice reward work. Even Faith does as it covers Identity at a very high level. This isn’t genetics, though, so I don’t know how much you’ve seen it. Virtue ethics is more at the level of the mind and social groups than it is at the level of replicating molecules.

But epistemologically it's different for people. They need [purpose].

Hmm. Maybe. Needing a purpose IS a behavior, thus it is part of identity even in the physics sense.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Is it just me or do the rest of you think that "unknown" is either a 45 year old virgin or (more likely) a 12 year old
I wish he would take hos dopey ideas somewhere else - I think I prefer Locum and Treabeard!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jerry Brown has been described as "A President in Exile" because of his leadership position in state resistance to Trump. http://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2017/01/jerry-brown-warring-with-donald-trump-back-on-national-stage-108988
Jerry leaves the stage in 2019 for a well-deserved retirement. He may leave regarded as California's greatest governor, and one of the best in American history.
I find myself needing to use Windows about once every three months or so these days. Linux is even safer than staying current on your Windows updates.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor Brin said: "HB the answer is transparency, to identify such devices and make clear that the owners will be liable for a proportionate share of damages if they participate in a botnet. That will alter market forces, big time!"

Owners, or companies that sell the devices? Most owners have little or no control over the security on their fridges and home security and the like. I think making the companies responsible for susceptability to bot net would be far more effective.

Jumper said...

"Work" contains a lot of negatives. "Play" doesn't, so there are scads of books on making productive work more like play. Songwriting is play; practicing is "work."
I imagine the very first weavers; idly making grass baskets, just playing. Until they find out they're useful.

Also, one of the secrets of running a business is that you become responsible for your employees. In a decent human, this is powerful mojo. It gives a reason for showing up shaved and bathed. And much else.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor Brin wrote: "Galbraith predicted a 20 hour week by 1950. He was way off, but it could happen by 2035, if we craft society right."

Galbraith was a visionary, and a giant in his field. (Literally; he stood about 6 foot 8). If we had followed his prescriptions from 1950, we would be in much better shape today. We did, for a while, until we went mad and elected the first of a series of supply-side morons.

Jumper said...

Ha ha, Unknown just linked to a video where he allegedly sodomizes his girlfriend. Well, it's been real (maybe) and it's been nice (not especially) it just hasn't been real nice, as they say.

As long as we're here, Unknown, are you up for a Psychic Challenge?

Go 48 hours without saying or writing "I."

Alfred Differ said...

I'm not so sure it was 'supply side morons' who did the deed. Piketty has some interesting things to say on this in the first few chapters. Basically, the shocks to capital and the markets caused by the wars and their consequences were largely over by about 1980. People were saving at a typical clip and began to think about their earlier decisions regarding the role of inflation and the line between public and private ownership of capital.

My suspicion is a new generation decided they wanted something different. The elections were a consequences and not a cause.

Alfred Differ said...

I'd rather the onus was on the owners. We'd buy insurance to protect us from the possibilities and the insurers would do their best to ensure the policies made a profit for them. Shortly afterward, the vendors would be in bed with the insurers. Problem solved and paid for without taxes. 8)

Yah. Simplistic. I know. 8)

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

Dave Sim sounds seriously damaged. Seriously, not being sarcastic. I feel sorry for him.


Before he became religious, Dave had already concluded that anything in life that was pleasant was a trick to keep you from doing your creative work. Later, that morphed into the notion that anything in life that was pleasant was a trick to keep you from worshiping God. My own take was that he systematically (and with intent) excised from his life anything that made life worth the living, and then concluded that life was not worth the living.

And no, I don't mean that he's dead, which I'm pretty sure I'd have heard about. Just that he doesn't understand why he has to not be dead.

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

@Lar: the beach and the hot chicks cliche takes a point off, but groovy otherwise.


There was an otherwise?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

You raise many points and what makes you a valued addition to the community is how wide-ranging they are, from some that are very cogent (watching that affectionate older couple), to your utterly boring sexual braggadaccio, to the utterly weird: e.g. suggesting that automated cornucopia was achievable a century ago.


Ok, that causes me to channel Lin-Manuel Miranda, not "Hamilton" this time, but a bit from his earlier musical, "In The Heights". Apologies in advance to Paul SB.

And yes, the line about Donald Trump was there back in 2005 or so, whenever the play was written.


Benny:
If I won the lotto tomorrow,
Well, I wouldn’t bother goin’ on no spendin’ spree.
I'd pick a business school and pay the entrance fee.
Then maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll stay friends with me!

I’ll be a businessman, richer than Nina’s daddy.
Donald Trump and I on the links, and he’s my caddy!
My money’s makin’ money, I’m goin’ from po’ to mo’ dough.
Keep the bling, I want the brass ring, like Frodo.


Usnavi:
Oh no, here goes Mr. Braggadocio.
Next thing you know, you’re lying like Pinocchio—

Benny:
Yo, if you’re scared of the bull, stay out the rodeo.

Graphiti Guy:
Yo, I got more ho's than a phone book in Tokyo!

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

FOUNDATION is fun and all, but pretty tame, even the Trevize stuff. Check out FOUNDATION'S FEAR, by Gregory Benford. That's the shit.


Your taste in sci-fi is the exact opposite of mine. I like the original Foundation trilogy best, and my interest wanes with the more recent books, even those still written by Asimov.


(Bear's and Dave's contributions to the second trilogy WERE shit.)


Ok, them's fightin' words.


And PYSCHOHISTORICAL CRISIS by Donald Kingsbury. !


Never read it, but I've heard good things about it. It won't be the first book this blog has convinced me to check out.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry
PYSCHOHISTORICAL CRISIS by Donald Kingsbury - is simply one of the best ever! - but it does take a certain native intelligence to understand and enjoy it

All of Kingsbury's books are excellent - they all make you think

Which is probably why our unknown 12 year old does not like them

Zepp Jamieson said...

Unfortunately, the way it works in Republican America, they would simply collude to limit liability. They would come up with a name for it that suggested they were merely trying to relieve regulatory burden. Something like, oh say, 'tort reform'.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfed Differ said: ' Piketty has some interesting things to say on this in the first few chapters. Basically, the shocks to capital and the markets caused by the wars and their consequences were largely over by about 1980.'

Piketty is right in that there haven't been external shocks on the level of the OPEC crisis since 1980. I would be sceptical of any notion that things will stay that way, however.
For now, at least, the economy is more at risk of internal shocks: a melt-down in the bond market, say, or the more recent and even larger pool of dervative false credit coming home to roost.

The debt came from supply-side economics in the main. Misadventures such as the various idiotic wars, and bailing out the banks in the last meltdown made up most of the rest.

Unknown said...

Duncan and Jumper remind us of the wisdom in James Tiptree Jr. intoned in Houston, Houston, Do You Read.....". Unknown says they can bring their wives over and the guy in the video will help them where the bros can't.

Unknown gives Duncan honorable mention for commending PSYCHOHISTORICAL CRISIS, but a failing grade for lack of reading comprehension.

Unknown tells his current girlfriend (who is 26, incidentally) about the recent run of events, concluding with, "When people are retarded, they need a little choking." She laughs hard enough to snort, and says, "That's worthy of a quote!" Uknown doesn't think it's THAT catchy, but chuckles nonetheless.

As always, the mortal classes will, in divine style, be dispatched with by: UNKOWN



@Lar: I can always pick 'em. I figured you was that way. But this is my point:


...the August 25, 1985 Washington Post's "Book World" section reports of Robots and Empire as follows:

In 1940, Asimov's humans were stripped-down masculine portraits of Americans from 1940, and they still are. His robots were tin cans with speedlines like an old Studebaker, and still are; the Robot tales depended on an increasingly unworkable distinction between movable and unmovable artificial intelligences, and still do. In the Asimov universe, because it was conceived a long time ago, and because its author abhors confusion, there are no computers whose impact is worth noting, no social complexities, no genetic engineering, aliens, arcologies, multiverses, clones, sin or sex; his heroes (in this case R. Daneel Olivaw, whom we first met as the robot protagonist of The Caves of Steel and its sequels), feel no pressure of information, raw or cooked, as the simplest of us do today; they suffer no deformation from the winds of the Asimov future, because it is so deeply and strikingly orderly. -


(Also, to be fair, the way Bear and Dave approached the Foundation universe wasn't ideal.)


And on that note, with regard to recent discussion of population and all:

In response to being presented by Bill Moyers with the question "What do you see happening to the idea of dignity to human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?", Asimov responded:


It's going to destroy it all... if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up, you have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, aren't you through yet, and so on. And in the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears.[152]

Unknown said...

Oh, I missed David's comments to me, only noticing them in Lar's statements. Oops.

I thought of this days ago, and wondered whether, and if so when, you might say something. In fact, last night in the shower I was thinking about it, and thinking of my own experience with people all my life not being able to recognize the pronunciation of my last name. At one point in things, people heard something else, and called me that for a while, some resting on 'Fig' for short. I loved it.

But sure, man, I can do that.


Only the insecure feel I brag. SAD BUT TRUUUEEEE...... Even if the guy in the video wasn't me, that scene is Top of The World. It can be matched, only. Though I've yet to see it. Or hear it, as I can tell by the harmonics in one's voice.

Me, valuable? I figured there must be something on your end for you to keep me round. Cuule. I love Dan Simmons, too.

"...suggesting that automated cornucopia was achievable a century ago." That they could've begun a hundred-some years ago. Duh.


@Lar again: otherwise meaning you were hip to leisure, unending.

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears.


The law of supply and demand applies.

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

...the August 25, 1985 Washington Post's "Book World" section reports of Robots and Empire as follows:

In 1940, Asimov's humans were stripped-down masculine portraits of Americans from 1940, and they still are. His robots were tin cans with speedlines like an old Studebaker, and still are; the Robot tales depended on an increasingly unworkable distinction between movable and unmovable artificial intelligences, and still do. In the Asimov universe, because it was conceived a long time ago, and because its author abhors confusion, there are no computers whose impact is worth noting, no social complexities, no genetic engineering, aliens, arcologies, multiverses, clones, sin or sex; his heroes (in this case R. Daneel Olivaw, whom we first met as the robot protagonist of The Caves of Steel and its sequels), feel no pressure of information, raw or cooked, as the simplest of us do today; they suffer no deformation from the winds of the Asimov future, because it is so deeply and strikingly orderly. -


You (they) say that like it's a bad thing. :)

My interpretation of that paragraph (keeping alchemy in mind) is: "Asimov's sci-fi is pure gold. For today's cynical audience, it needs way more lead mixed in."

Seriously, I don't expect anyone to write 1940s Asimov-style fiction today, but I love it when I have a chance to read it. Likewise the original Star Trek series, mid-1970s Marvel comics, and the 1960s Batman tv show. I feel no need to drag any of them down to the level of (say) the realities of the 2016 election.


@Lar again: otherwise meaning you were hip to leisure, unending.


Mostly right. I don't mean that I'm Dagwood Bumstead, snoring on the couch at all hours. Leisure can get dull if there's nothing to do. But "to do" doesn't have to mean "work" in the sense of having a boss and a paycheck. These days, I feel the phrase "too lazy to work" is used to describe someone who isn't willing to suffer the whims of a boss who can take his livelihood away whenever he feels like it.


Paul SB said...

Larry,

Asimov's fiction is pure gold - by 1950's standards. Today's fiction? I think a lot of people would see lead as gold, because they have lost faith in the possibility of gold. It's total Fox and Grapes. When people think they can never have something, they decide it's not worth having to protect their fragile egos. Who wouldn't want to live in a world where people are mostly equal, we all have our Leave It To Beaver home and family, and so on. But the most testosterone-endowed sneaky bastards have stolen that from the world. We thought democracy would mean that wouldn't be able to happen, but everywhere we look we see slums, the homeless, people struggling to survive, and the vast majority of people slaving away, dying of stress-related disorders (suicide is high on that list). For what? So a tiny handful of bastards can compete with each other over who's the richest asshole around. That wasn't supposed to happen with democracy, that's not what "freedom" means - that's the same old aristocratic wine in newer, nastier skins. Little wonder people have lost faith, and they eat up dystopian tales with their vitamins and prozac.

The quote about population should be a no duh. The human capacity to innovate and invent its way out of catastrophe has saved the collective human butt for millennia, but since the end of the last ice age each invention has allowed for more babies to be supported at the expense of much more human misery.

That isn't inevitable, though, and, as Alfred has pointed out many times, things are actually better now than they ever have been, in spite of a media that thrives off of convincing people otherwise. I have almost finished reading Paul Zak's book "Trust Factor" in which he outlines the principles required to create non-toxic management and gives examples of actual big businesses with thousands of employees that are thriving by treating employees like human beings. If this kind of thing becomes more widely known, we can change the memescape enough to tip the balance away from the type T shits who make everything miserable and get our gold back. Then people will start to produce Asimov-style gold.

David S said...

Hey unknown, can you choose an identity when posting.
At minimum, choose Name/URL and leave the URL blank.

Thanks.

LarryHart said...

@David S,

"Unknown" is his name. "Anonymous" is what you get when you don't use a name at all.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

The plan you propose (and have proposed in the past) to lessen the effects of malicious software by punishing the end user is neither feasible not will it be particularly effective.

Who designates which user-applied countermeasures are 'effective'? And how? And how often does each have to be recertified (hint: if it's not every update, it won't work well). And how often does the user have to update their updates (don't even think about auto-updating -- that mechanism can always be co-opted)? That alone creates a bureaucracy that won't work well.

But even more, how do you propose to prosecute this? On the one hand, you want this to be civil law. So somebody's suing another. How are they going to find out who they're suing? How will you prove, first, that it was a particular machine that is at fault, and second, that it was the specified negligence that caused the problem?

And assuming that you could do so, to cover all the negligent individuals, you'd have to prove these thing in (potentially) hundreds of thousands of cases. Clogging the courts. And the result wouldn't be, I think, everyone rushing to the AV companies, but more like the various illegal downloading cases, where the sensational headlines and damages eventually end up being settled for pennies, or dropped. And the activity, in this case, lack of updating, won't be curtailed.

Assigning the amount of damages would be another nightmare, both bureaucratically and technologically. It's always a beast figuring out how much the total damages are in the first place. But figuring out which portion should be paid by a single defendant practically requires figuring out how many negligent individuals there were (which is potentially hundreds of thousands). At which point prosecuting a single individual is not likely to be cost-effective (and don't even think about a sort of reverse class-action. You'd have to prove the particulars of every single individual).

(On one side, I would foresee ambulance chasing... Sorry, I mean 'business opportunities' in 3 areas. The first is being able to prove negligence. The second is being able to disprove negligence. The third is being able to remove evidence of negligence.)

Would everyone running AV help? Sure, some. Would it be enough? Not even close.

So what to do? Perhaps recognize that most computers, certainly home computers (and by computers I really mean computing devices), do not connect directly to a backbone. Very close to all of them go through an ISP of some sort and are on NAT subnets of one sort or another. So it might be better to put the onus on the ISPs, who in theory are more savvy. And there's fewer of them. This runs into some other problems, though. Not the least of which would be any attempt to make them common carriers (with all the advantages and disadvantages of that status).

On the technology side, the security experts I talk to (again, those PhDs you extol, and who are my co-workers) nearly never talk about updating security software. And not at the home level at all. What they DO talk about in regards to updating is updating everything else. Because botnets aren't the worst problem by far. The worst problems is software that allows takeover by the normal mechanisms of operation. Have a look at the stuff done in the last DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge. The theme there was autonomous patching of exploits in real time. Not self-driving cars -- self-patching software.

This is where I think software will go in the future. Not just self-patching though. All too often, an exploit exists because the software attempts to be all things to all users. Software that did less would have closed many of those holes. I foresee in the future not just modular software, and not just software that can be configured, but software that compiles itself in response to the actual feature set in use.

raito said...

(continued, sort of)

LarryHart,

As far as ROM-based devices go, it depends on the code. Even those also have some RAM, and if they're data-driven enough I could see code that acts unexpectedly. On the flipside, even soldered in ROMs can be replaced... if a compatible chip is available and new programming is also available. Never say never, there's people on eBay hawking firmware updates for 30-year-old musical equipment, and others hacking that firmware before it gets on the devices.

Personally, I think that code updating should never take place via the network. It should require a separate port used only for that purpose, preferably of a design that's not available on the typical personal computing device (otherwise, it's already on the network). But then, I get to view technical presentations of actual and possible exploits where the updating mechanisms are co-opted. But I'm over on the edge of safety, fully realizing that it won't happen my way.

Jumper,

While most people go into business to do something they like, if the thing they like is not running a business, there will be trouble.

Unknown said...

@Lar: law of supply and demand. Bah. Stickmen.

I almost removed the, "...because it is so deeply and strikingly orderly." Suddenly it becomes a repreive, and people nearly always focus on what saves their preferential bias. The point is, it was contrived. It wasn't realistic. I simply can't watch Bionic Six anymore and be all, 'Ohhh, ahhh, coool!', because the stories are so ridiculous.

Realistic stories can be written, but are avoided. This is the dilemma of scifi: a perpetual dumbing down of the audience.

The only benefit I see for SF authors to be included in scifi is they might get more readers, but not ones who comprehend what Science is, nor will they through the text. They just gloss over it, further obscuring knowledge. So the authors are selling out. -

I agree with your description of 'too lazy to work'. I go a bit further and say no work should be necessary. My criterion for relevance: intimacy, with self and with others. (Note I did not say meaning, or what-have-you.) Form - but no formality.


@Paul SB: people more than ever confuse and conflate Democracy with Capitalism. One [must] include the other, at least. Just like Communism with Russian Communism. Maybe for humans that's so. Again, that indicates a 'personal problem', rather than anything about those systems.

Faith, hope, trust. More words to remove. Though people seem insistent on emotional indentureship.

For years I have also told people 'things are better than they've ever been', etc. People then pause......


@David S: yeah, as Lar said. Back in '11, I signed on Blogger to comment on a blog, and (I vaguely remember) chose that because it came to mind. I was surprsied no one had used it! Just like No One did. When I came here, I'd forgotten I had a Blogger account. Oh, whadda ya know.


@raito: software will [have] to emulate biology. All the better for us. Culture Minds, here they come!

Unknown said...

So what are users supposed to do when updates would break needed software and/or break needed accessibility fixes?

I have sensory processing issues, including a strobe sensitivity and zoom sensitivity, as well as coordination issues.

Operating system updates often break accessibility tools, add more animation, etc.

Ubuntu updates tried to eliminate scrollbars a few years ago, on the assumption that everyone can use gestures and/or tendon-ripping wheels.

MacOS updates doubled the cursor blink rate this year, and temporarily disabled user settings to reduce or eliminate cursor blink in NSText. Unfortunately they lack any way to reduce or eliminate cursor blink in other applications.

David Brin said...

raito: There is a powerful incentive effect when you tell someone, “you are no longer safe from civil lawsuits in this matter.” Unlike criminal penalties, the possibility of civil tort redress can scare companies and individuals into striving hard for liability reduction.

Indeed, the one thing we should say to China is “From now on, we deem you to be tort-responsible for any damages, anywhere in the world, that are inflicted by your North Korean client state.”

What's nice is such declarative warnings do not have to be as aggressive or carefully legislated as criminal penalties must be.

LH: “Later, that morphed into the notion that anything in life that was pleasant was a trick to keep you from worshiping God.”

There are four layers to that, both of which are deeply insulting to God:

(1) that He is so insecure that he needs endlessly repetitive, slavish “worship,” and
(2) that He would set up a system that lures people away from the path of behaviors that might prevent damnation, and
(3) that He would set up a wretched-vile-sadistic damnation system in the first place, via the insanely unfair premise of Original Sin, and
(4) that He would thereupon leave things ambiguous and not simply step up, open the sky and boom down instructions, instead of letting 6 billion parents earnestly teach their children the wrong and lethally damnable incantations.

Anyone who credits this horrific chain is insulting the purported creator of a fantastic universe, gorgeous physical laws, stunningly beautiful mathematics, compassion, intellect, curiosity and reason. They are portraying Him (HER/Them?) as a vicious monster, worse than any human sadist or villain. And that insult is the one sacrilege that I do hope leads to at least a brief bit of chastening punishment.

(I am not specifically an atheist and am willing to posit some types of deity that have not been excluded by science. But I know that a deity of the kind described above will not have my cooperation. As the gnostics did, I will pray there's someone higher and better and nicer and wiser.)

That Dave Sims is unable to even remotely grasp all this is reflective of the dismal level of sapience one found in his earlier work.

Unknown for time said...

OH. So I'm totally wrong. And apparently my memory of signup is incorrect. Because that person signed up before me. WELL, WHADDA YA KNOW. Fixed.


Something else-ish: it seems to me that when someone says 'I', the audience focuses on that person rather than whey the person says. My recollection is that from my earliest memories my experience was, 'this person is expressive, they seem confident, what do they have to offer me?' My fortune has oftenly been that their offering benefitted me.

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

Realistic stories can be written, but are avoided. This is the dilemma of scifi: a perpetual dumbing down of the audience.


Maybe. But it always seemed to me that Asimov's sci-fi mixed in plenty of real science or at least scientific reasoning. Whereas modern science fiction is almost embarrassed to actually include the science. It takes pains to show that it's really soap opera or action/adventure or chick flick with some jargon thrown in for the nerds.


Back in '11, I signed on Blogger to comment on a blog, and (I vaguely remember) chose that because it came to mind. I was surprsied no one had used it! Just like No One did.


Heh. I remember someone once saying they used "invalid" as a password, so if they forgot their password, the operating system would tell them "Your password is invalid", which would then remind them.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

I get it, I just don't think it'll work.

But on religion, what I've found is that nearly all fanatics (both pro and con) do not have a fundamental understanding of 'omnipotent' and 'omniscient', either naturally or willfully.

I do find it amusing and disheartening that they, frequently on both sides, if you look carefully, can say with a straight face that the plan is both unknowable and that you are to do specific things.

I may be missing something in your comment though. 'four layers' and 'both' is confusing me. But that Sims guy sounds like a depressive Buddhist who blames it on (a) God. Which is terribly funny in a sick way.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LarryHart wrote: "Maybe. But it always seemed to me that Asimov's sci-fi mixed in plenty of real science or at least scientific reasoning. Whereas modern science fiction is almost embarrassed to actually include the science. It takes pains to show that it's really soap opera or action/adventure or chick flick with some jargon thrown in for the nerds."

That may be a general trend, but then I look at Neal Stephenson, or Kim Stanley Robinson, or David Brin, and I see hard science incorporated in their stories. Even in movies: "The Martian" ("I'll science the shit out of it!") or "Moon."
And then I think of Sturgeon's Law. Not only does it apply to SF, but Sturgeon himself was a successful SF writer.

I loathe technobabble. In one story, I had the midshipmen (who, true to trope, was a smartass) say to the Captain, "Perhaps, sir, you could try reversing the polarity on the oscillator." The Captain glares up from his non-electronic glitch and says, "Mister Farnsworth, if you ever say anything like that to me again, I'll make you wear a pair of Spock ears for the rest of this mission." It didn't survive the rewrite, but I hope to use it at some point or another in a story.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin (and raito too),

See, now I have to defend Dave Sim. For all his faults, blaming God and fearing punishment from God are not among them. He's very big on consequence rather than punishment. He worships God because he loves God so much that nothing else is more important. He fears not living correctly and winding up in a bad place as a consequence of his own choices.

He's not sucking up to God in order to get on God's good side.

Now, where I've argued with him on this is that I think he's mistaken that God would consider "worshiping God" to be a good use of our time and energy. To me, it's like saying that white light is so much more "pure" than all of that colored reflected stuff that we see emanating from physical objects, so I'm not going to look at objects or colors. I'll just stare at the sun all day and maximize my consumption of that sweet, pure light.

Now even without the "it'll fry my retinae" thing, I think that's a mistake on principle. White light may be pure and all, but it is pointless all by itself. The whole reason for having light is to see things with it. Avoiding the things in favor of only perceiving the light itself is not a more noble pursuit--it's a complete misunderstanding of what light is for. That is analogous to the mistake I perceive Dave to be making with respect to God.

Unknown for time said...

@Unknown (makes me giggle): your particulars are unknown to me. In my experience a lack of physical fitness can cause such issues as you have. As well, such things can be trained out. If congenital, then you more than most would benefit pushing for research into corrective measures.


@David: unask the question. Theism and atheism are sides of the same coin: one says IT IS; the other says, IT ISN'T. Both have a need to say anything. Unless there's some technological development out of it that enables leisure for everyone in THIS lifetime, benefit of the former eludes me.


@Lar: that's the scifi. One exception in my experience being The Culture universe.

Re - password: cool idea. Similar ideas have come to me.


@Zepp: a favorite of mine is Gregory Benford. He has said of himself, "I'm a hard-nosed physicist!" Of course TIMESCAPSE won the Hugo and Nebula. The Galactic Centre series was very enjoyable. Like listening to Bach.

Peter F. Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy was great fun. X-rated, and lots of science stuff.


Supplemental: my mind now tries to write everything in non-declarative form, without sounding formal or clunky. Success seems varied.


And some music for today. My enjoyment of this piece was great.


Milton Babbitt - Clarinet Quintet (1996)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0lIB7jFSGA

Alfred Differ said...

@Unknown for time,

one says IT IS; the other says, IT ISN'T.

It isn't that simple. Some of us say it is unknowable because the question is asked stupidly/ignorantly/malformed. We get lumped in with atheists but might be better described as I-don't-care-ists. We don't feel a need to say much of anything except the occasional eye-roll.

Not only are the options not discrete, I suspect they are more than one dimensional and that I don't have a good feel for how many independent directions there are in that possibility space. It's fun to think about occasionally from a philosophical perspective, but I try not to take any of it too seriously. There are babies to raise and social institutions to improve... way more interesting things to do.

locumranch said...


By resolving to save US federalism from the disastrous consequences of its very own federal actions, up to & including the NSA-sanctioned 'WannaCry' computer virus, the recent US presidential election results & its very own 'War on Drugs' boondoggle, I really like the dark places to which David's intellect is leading him:

Nullification & Confederationism.

After all, the Enlightened Blue States shouldn't have to suffer under the federally-elected tyranny of President Trump-N-Furter, nor should they have to kowtow to a Supremacy Clause that they now find morally abhorrent.

Now, they self-identify as 'Sovereign States'. They are free declare themselves 'Sanctuary' so federal laws need not apply; they are free to directly conspire (err, I mean 'negotiate') with other like-minded states; they are free to ignore all of those pesky constitutional dictates of which they disagree; and they are free to create a parallel Blue Government in Exile if it suits their particular interests.

"Nothing succeeds like Secession", a man once said, and I think his name was General Lee.

Best

LarryHart said...

Unknown for time (still not sure if that's the same person) :

Theism and atheism are sides of the same coin: one says IT IS; the other says, IT ISN'T. Both have a need to say anything.


They're not symmetrical, though. Atheism is a reaction. If theists would stop insisting, atheists would have no need to say anything. Not so the reverse.

Jumper said...

Do you know the history of the states' desire and success at not enforcing federal laws? Do you even care? Why let facts get in the way, is that it?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I really like the dark places to which David's intellect is leading him:

Nullification & Confederationism.


You like pointing out what fucking hypocrites we are, but you forget to apply the equal-opposite hypocrisy to your side. Suddenly, you're fans of big government and federal intervention in state matters. Why shouldn't we see the game differently when you guys keep changing the rules on the fly?

Maybe the North should have seceded in 1861.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

"Nothing succeeds like Secession", a man once said, and I think his name was General Lee.


Funny line, but what does it mean? The one time secession was tried, it didn't succeed.

Jumper said...

So it should be "nothing fails like fallacy."

David Brin said...

locumranch is certainly right on the first order top suggest that anti-secessionists might be hypocrites to thereupon suggest a type of secession. But he isn’t thinking it through. The Declaration of Independence makes clear that scession is acceptable when grievances of great substance persist, without any offers of negotiation and after every effort at mediation has failed. Only after all of that and surviving a steep burden of proof, may oaths be broken.

That standard was not met by the Southern traitor-confederates. They made not a single effort to send delegations to learn Lincoln’s intentions or to attempt negotiation. They broke their oaths in adolescent-infantile-romantic pique.

If California and other Blue States form an entirely legal consortium to exercise already clear rights, without secession while paying their taxes, and while continuing eagerly to offer negotiations to obstinate infantile confederate fools in Washington. then that is not similar to the Confederacy, it is the very opposite.

Alfred Differ said...

The North had no cause to secede in 1861. The best reason they had occurred in 1850 with the Fugitive Slave Law, but they compromised as non-secessionists do. The Dred Scott case (7-2) in 1857 denying citizenship to decedents of people brought here as slaves whether they were free or not could have be used too, but they chose to deal with it through the legitimate process of election... which the South rejected when they lost the White House... something they didn't do very often.

The Plessy v Ferguson case (7-1) in 1896 was really the last incentive for a northern response, but it didn't happen due to the simple fact that racism wasn't uncommon in both sections of the country.

In short, the northerners were occasionally willing to get violent, but they weren't prepared to dissolve the Union. Only the South proved willing and they did it over a loss that they might have been able to reverse. No. They WANTED out of the Union to spread their slave economy/culture as they saw fit. They ALSO wanted to prove the righteousness of their cause and that is what cost them in the end. The North might have compromised again if they had been approached correctly.

Alfred Differ said...

LarryHart,

Suddenly, you're fans of big government and federal intervention in state matters.

Heh. That's why libertarians like to point out that you ALL are statists. It's my version of big government and not yours!

I'm not accusing you, though. I know there are differences. Still. The way out of the trap is to avoid setting precedents that lead to big government of any type. What? How do we deal with the cheaters? Carefully, I suppose. Would you mind if I give them a spanking instead of asking government to regulate them? heh. 8)

raito said...

LarryHart,

Maybe Asimov put science in, but as Zepp says, Sturgeon's Law applies. I read the issues of Astounding on Gutenberg, Worlds of If on archive.org, etc. (if you want to read them). There isn't much actual science there. It's not a modern phenomenon. I use those pulps as evidende here because they haven't been curated by time and reprint history.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

I wouldn't mind a little bit of collusion to limit liability. There are times when I think the general public is too taken in my tort lawyers. I want my money now! See my injury? Seriously. Some of those cases do a lot of harm and I think the tort lawyers pushing them should be horse whipped. Only some of them, though, and that's the rub.

There is a way to limit liability. We managed to do it with airline crashes. We came up with certification and licensing procedures and then established international treaties covering the subject. My libertarian hackles come up at the idea of doing this all again for a field that has barely been explored in the economic sense, but I'm willing to face the possibility that we may need such a regime as a bandage/crutch until we get to my more idealized libertarian future.

I suspect it COULD start with interstate 'treaties' as long as the big states are involved. The group doing it will need some teeth in the implied legal threats kinda like financial agreements between states need New York in the mix.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

I've only made it a few chapters into Piketty's book so far, but from what I've seen, the OPEC event was a blip. The real eye-opener involves the data associated with capital/income ratios in various countries. I think some of his interpretations are suspect, but the data is dramatic even without interpretations. One can see the impact of decolonization on France and Britain. Huge. One can also see what drove them to the insanity of adopting high inflation policies. The debts associated with the wars were catastrophically large. The destruction of capital was equally large. Losing capital valued at four years of national income in a generation must have shattered their confidence in what had made them great.

No wonder my mother left.

The European debt did not come from supply-side economics. It came from the wars and then got wiped out through intentional inflation/default. The debt that arrived later through the idiocy of more wars or supply-side voodoo WASN'T avoided... yet.

The US story is a little different. We never stored up seven years of income as capital. We didn't take the beating others did in the wars. We DID use inflation to dump some of our debt, but we didn't suffer the shock others did.

Unknown for time said...

As Lieutenant General (USMC) Smedley D. Butler said: WAR IS A RACKET

War is just a racket... I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else.

War is a racket. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.


@Lar: haven't you heard of parity violation? To me atheists seem like some of the people in the 60s, who weren't necessarily enlightened or peaceful, but got on the bandwagon just to say, 'you can't tell me what to do!'

The 60s live-action Batman was a goofball comedy.


Supplemental: an oldie, but a goodie

HOOK IN MOUTH - Megadeth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47JqsqWWbgU

Though most of So Far, So Good, So What could be appropriate today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roCMX0xfNho&list=PLLHyHi7NUwSaRwMVT0bsQuFHRxt32Hyv5


So could Peace Sells....But Who's Buying

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlWq6WXIv7M

Unknown for time said...

Oh. Major General...."the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history."

Yeah, motherfuckers always talk about Chestey Puller, but not about Smedley Butler.

Alfred Differ said...

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else.

Made sense for us back in his day. Not so much now. Not so much in hindsight either. Europe's empires went to war with each other and changed everything. The US is screwed if Europe's northern plains are unified under one political authority that is less than enamored with us.

Unknown for time said...

I bet if they'd just let Hitler in the Polytechnic, World War II wouldn'tve happened, or least would've been a lot different.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
Re Tort reform
Have you seen our ACC - http://www.acc.co.nz/

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand.

All accidents are covered - all of them!
It's paid for by a small levy on wages and companies and by a levy on petrol and motor vehicles

So any accident - you are covered - including wages - including wages for the rest of your life if necessary

The other part of compensation - penalizing companies who put peoples lives/health at risk is treated totally separately -

Incidentally that is one place where the "innocent until proven guilty" does NOT apply
If there has been an industrial accident then the company is "guilty" and it has to show that it took "All reasonable steps"

Jumper said...

I remember when lawyers' ethics barred them from advertising, and the drug companies were not allowed to either.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

If California and other Blue States form an entirely legal consortium to exercise already clear rights, without secession while paying their taxes, and while continuing eagerly to offer negotiations to obstinate infantile confederate fools in Washington. then that is not similar to the Confederacy, it is the very opposite.


So, "that's a different thing; in fact, the opposite thing."

:)

LarryHart said...

Unknown for time:

@Lar: haven't you heard of parity violation? To me atheists seem like some of the people in the 60s, who weren't necessarily enlightened or peaceful, but got on the bandwagon just to say, 'you can't tell me what to do!'


To me, theists are like adults who still think that Santa Claus is real. Atheists are those who have grown up and don't think much about Santa Claus any more except when they get exasperated with the Santa believers.

OTOH, it's probably just as obnoxious to talk theists out of their beliefs as it is to blurt out to young children that there is no Santa. Yes, there are obnoxious, loud mouth atheists. That's not what I think of when I hear the word, though.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Your alternative to government regulation does not sound like it would have a prayer.

"What? How do we deal with the cheaters? Carefully, I suppose. Would you mind if I give them a spanking instead of asking government to regulate them? heh. 8)"

The closest the consumer can get to "spanking" a business is to boycott, but a one-person boycott is meaningless even to a small business. If a business screws hundreds of people or even hundreds of thousands of people, how would they know in order to make an effective boycott? Consumer protection virtually requires the ability to sue, with or without class action, and that requires a government that is willing to step in on the side of the consumer rather than always support business interests.

This gets to be especially bad when the business can make the difference between life and death. People like Shkreli are inclined to pull 6000% price gouges today even with the Guvamint around, because the Guvamint isn't consistent about protecting its citizens from scum like this.

There is something deeply naive about the Libertarian stance here. The idea that the Holy Market will handle everything equitably misses the factor of time, and ignores the power of monopoly and the snowball effect that turns some successful businesses into too-big-to-fail Leviathans. Sure, eventually a business that treats the citizenry unfairly will start to lose market share, and maybe, after several decades, the business might even fail if it doesn't change its ways. How many people, in the meantime, die, are maimed, suffer horrible debilitating conditions, find themselves homeless beggars on the street with no hope whatsoever of escaping that condition ... need I go on? Ordinary people are fleas compared to the likes of Standard Oil, and without Guvamint we would still be sucking down tetraethyl lead. Worse, we would be sucking it down and there would be no one even trying to find out if it was dangerous. Without government funding for science and eventual intervention no one would even know. Wither the plastics industry? The consumer only found out about BPA because of government-funded research, and what did they do when the public began to boycott BPA? They switched to using BPS, a chemical that is nearly the same but has a different name.

An once of prevention is worth what?

Big business has no incentive to be human, so humans need something as powerful as they are to combat the shit they pull. The market can't solve every problem. What would America look like today if the Guvamint hadn't put a stop to tetraethyl lead? What will it look like 30 years from now if they don't do anything about all the endocrine disrupters in the ubiquitous plastics?

Oh, but Republicans will blame all the people with cancer for their cancer, and all the people who are mentally damaged by the lead in the river for their handicaps - it's genetic or else it's their own damn fault and they are stupid and deserve what they get. And what will Libertarians do? They'll sit on their hands in their comfortable armchairs and say "the Market will fix it!" - if they even know it's a problem at all, while the big businesses sit on the proof.

This isn't 1789, the technology and population changes everything, and the stakes are too high.

LarryHart said...

Unknown for time:

The 60s live-action Batman was a goofball comedy.


Of course. When I was six, I took it seriously (and some of the implausible dialogue really bothered me), but for most of my life, I've enjoyed it on the level intended.

However...

Kurt Vonnegut claims he wrote a masters thesis (which was rejected) asserting that stories could be mapped on a graph with the x axis representing the forward progression of the story and the y axis representing "good fortune" vs "ill fortune" over time. I take those descriptions of the y axis to roughly equate to "reader feels good" vs "reader feels bad". His claim was that the graph of a story revealed something of its essential nature, and that stories fell into categories identified by similarity of graphs. The "punchline", as it were, was that the story of Cinderella maps identically with the essential story of Christianity.

With that interpretation in mind, a typical episode of Batman maps perfectly as a satisfying action/adventure/mystery story. If the viewer ignores the goofball aspects and willingly accepts the plot, it works, and it works quite well.

It also helps that my initial impressions of most episodes did come when I was six.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred Differ wrote: "I wouldn't mind a little bit of collusion to limit liability. There are times when I think the general public is too taken in my tort lawyers. I want my money now! See my injury? Seriously. Some of those cases do a lot of harm and I think the tort lawyers pushing them should be horse whipped. Only some of them, though, and that's the rub."

The corporate howls about tort reform have always insisted that corporations can behave just fine without the burden of tort law, but history shows they can't--and don't. Tort law wasn't enough to stop Volkswagon from lying about emissions, or drug companies from rushing highly addictive but oh, so lucrative opiods to market.

At it's peak, liability suits made up 3% of the overhead for the entire medical industry. It seems a low price to pay to enforce corporate responsibility.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "The 60s live-action Batman was a goofball comedy."

"Gotham" is also a comedy, albeit a much darker one. Still pretty goofy. But it remembers its roots. The Riddler's ringtone is the bar of music from the screen-swipe on the old "Batman" TV show.

David S said...

There are really only three solutions to corporate malfeasance:
a) Transparency + enough competitors for market forces to correct. There must be enough customers, labor, and alternative businesses so that the dissatisfied can walk away to an alternative. There must be enough transparency to know these options.
b) The ability for individuals to sue, have courts award enough damages, and enforce the judgments. I.e., make the consequences for bad actions painful enough to force corporations to change their behavior.
c) Government regulations to limit corporate behavior.

Some combination of these three need to be in place.

Currently there isn't enough (A) and corporations work very hard to limit (B) (so law suits are just a cost of doing business). The Trump/GOP agenda is to get rid of (C).

Unknown said...

I can hardly find *any* research into non-epileptic strobe sensitivities, except among pilots.

It's not likely that anyone can train out of it though. I've had some degree of strobe sensitivity all my life, and disabling strobe sensitivity due to chronic illness over the past few years.

I am probably autistic. But unfortunately, most "therapy" is aimed at trying to make autistic people act allistic, in the Rekers/Lovaas tradition, rather than trying to help autistic people with overlapping conditions such as sensory processing disorder and developmental coordination disorder, or trying to scale back the sensory bombardment.

I got plenty of exercise until the chronic illness hit.

The Mo Brooks assumption that, if we live good lives, we won't be born into disabilities, and we won't acquire disabilities, isn't exactly true. It's false.

Marja Erwin

LarryHart said...

Unknown:

The Mo Brooks assumption that, if we live good lives, we won't be born into disabilities, and we won't acquire disabilities, isn't exactly true. It's false.


Not only false, but blatantly obviously so. To the extent of 1984 and "Two plus two equals whatever the Party says it does."

LarryHart said...

Also false is the notion that switching insurance plans (i.e., because of a job change) after having a medical condition is the same thing as cheating by only buying insurance after you are sick.

Or the notion that you mustn't be allowed to purchase insurance after knowing you are sick, but the insurance companies are allowed to drop you after you are sick.

As the medical information available to insurance companies and individuals gets more detailed, the only people who will be insurable are the ones who don't need insurance. The only way to provide health care to the people who need it is some form of universal coverage (I'd vote for tax funded). The ACA tried to make insurance affordable, but it required purchases of individual plans by individuals, which meant there's still the layer of proving that you are covered and haggling over the specifics at point of service. The presumption that everyone is covered is what removes that overhead.

LarryHart said...

This, from today's www.electoral-vote.com :

And then there's George W. Bush nemesis Michael Moore, who is kind of the propagandist of the Democratic Party. On Tuesday, he announced a deal with the Weinstein Company to distribute his nearly-completed new documentary "Fahrenheit 11/9." The title is a reference to Moore's earlier hit, "Fahrenheit 9/11," as well as to the date that Trump was elected president.


That's funny, and it's the kind of thing that I usually notice. It's also noteworthy that 11/9 (November 9) is Krystalnacht, and that in Europe, that date would be referred to as "9/11". It's all very synchronistic.

The problem, though, is that I'm not sure why Moore is referring to 11/9 as the date when Trump was elected, since Election Day was 11/8. In fact, the way it's defined, it has to fall between 11/2 and 11/8 inclusive.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson;

Your 3% figure doesn't account for the insurance policy prices doctors purchase to protect themselves from liability. To see the real impact you have to examine things like billing records between HMO's and outside services to see what the real price is between market participants that are disinclined to pay lawyers. My HMO pays an average of 1/3 what the external providers would charge me. Some of that is due to their larger purchasing power, no doubt, but some of it is obviously about their legal strategy. If one reads the fine print on the invoices and payment statements, one can see the arbitration rules. Who reads those things, though? I do when I'm laid up and worried about money. 8)

I'm not advocating for a stark removal of regulation, though. I get your point. It isn't just that tort law isn't enough. It's that some exploit it by playing on our fears and greed. Law that can be exploited by a few who can influence voters is generally bad. We need to think carefully about which evil is worse. Do you want to be able to punish negligent doctors? Sure. That makes emotional sense. When sorting through details, though, one comes up against a need to define 'negligent.' Who gets to do that? Who gets to try to convince you (a patient in pain or their next of kin) that you've been wronged? How much of a cost are we willing to bear to regulate the doctors who really are negligent? Or drug companies? Or Volkswagon?

This is complicated stuff and we all need to be wearing our adult underwear when contemplating regulation that can alter our markets.

Unknown for time said...


@Marja: oh sure, malfeasance lurks. Look into alternative methods. There probably are some. My imagination comes up with things like:

- while sitting. close your eyes, breath deeply and circularly. Frame your eyes box-like with your hands. Imagine looking at something a thousand meters away. After a little while open your eyes, keeping the box around them, and continue looking. Keep relaxed, and try to keep your eyes on the imaginary object. Five breaths then close them. Five more breaths, open them. And so on.

- sit, breathing deeply and circularly. Close your eyes, and while holding something for stability, slowly stand up. If you remind standing, do so for five breaths. Sit down for five. And so on. A variation on this is to do free squats from the standing position, slowly, each squat matched with each breath.

As well, you might check out Scott Sonnon. He was a very sick kid - who in hise adult life has become one of the fittest persons on the planet.

Also, make sure your diet is according to some combination of Metabolic Typing/Blood Typing/Auyurvedic (except the vegetarian part!) . You might also need some intestinal cleaning - mucoidal plaque, you know.



@Al: I forgot this last night. --- Yeah, more time to make things automated! (80)

I tend to love complexity. Complication bums me out. Which is why I have little to none in my life - and leave, or if pushed punish, those who bring it.



@Zepp: it's only a 'bar of music' to civilians and jazz players. In real terms it's a phrase or theme or motive/motif.



@Lar: expression is great. Utility of the content is another thing.

I'm saying Batman wasn't even scifi. Though, sure, people tend to confuse their feeling of something with it's quality. BAD HUMANS.

By the way: the 'you a ho, I'm a spade...' quote is from The Devil in Miss Jones 3. Ki-ller flick. My dad rented it for me shortly after it came out, for my fifteenth birthday (you know when I did that stuff). Good thing for my friends they weren't loose-lipped, so their parents didn't find out.

Also, that hot neighorghood girl? She happened to come through the drive-thru of my work when I was 16. I hadn't seen her in years. Didn't know she was even back down the street after getting out of the service. Don't know how I missed that one. But anyways, I recognized her, she recognized me, and she said, "Come down and see me." You betchyour ass I did. And that was how I lost my viriginity. Although, as I found out five years later, I wasn't in love - and so I didn't, couldn't, make to her. I just had sex. And it was fun.

Kisses



A bit of wisdom for the men. When getting busy with your women folk. 'Check in with them' regularly. Not, "does it feel good?", but pausing and asking, "are you okay?"

It doesn't matter whether I've had the opportunity to do this. If you don't consider doing it, then that means you're a man. And that's one reason women have hated you.


And on that note!: last night I was watching Healthcliff: The Movie (1986), and I think it was a sign. It reminded me that the grown-up world sucks, and that I'm neither man nor grown-up, and all the better for it. Stay cool. "Good night sweeheart, whoaaa, it's time to go-oooo - Do do \do /do \\DOO" (My experience of this though was watching Sha-na-naa.....)

REJOICE

locumranch said...



"The Declaration of Independence makes clear that secession is acceptable when grievances of great substance persist, without any offers of negotiation and after every effort at mediation has failed. Only after all of that and surviving a steep burden of proof, may oaths be broken" [DB]

I agree with the above statement -- but not with what follows -- as the secession of the Old South represented neither crime nor treason back in the pre-Civil War period when constitutional union was assumed to be 'voluntary' before the post-Secession Blue Belly federalists declared US federalism to be mandatory, involuntary & non-negotiable.

This 'Involuntary Union' has been the underlying assumption of US Federalism ever since, until the most recent election, meaning that California and other Blue States cannot form a "legal consortium to exercise already clear rights", especially when such so-called 'legal' rights can & will be declared illegal after-the-fact, much in the way the Lincoln Presidency declared Southern secession illegal after-the-fact and emancipated the slaves only in those states that had already seceded from the Union (but not in those states that remained under Union jurisdiction).

Even so, I agree that we should all support David's 'Blue State Consortium' proposal, assuming that what goes for the Progressive Goose applies equally to the Conservative Gander, leading to 'no fault' national divorce & true-blue balkanisation.

Then, nudge-nudge wink-wink, the Blue States would owe us ALIMONY!!


Best
____

It is to laugh as those who wish to indemnify themselves against loss & liability always wish to shift those losses & liabilities on to someone else's back.

LarryHart said...

Unknown for time:

I'm saying Batman wasn't even scifi. Though, sure, people tend to confuse their feeling of something with it's quality. BAD HUMANS.


I never thought it was, although I probably confused things by throwing it in with Asimov and Star Trek. What the three have in common isn't sci-fi. Rather, it's the fact that I love them despite their simplicity and because of their unbridled feelgoodness (to coin a term). I fully recognize that I might not feel the same way were I encountering any of these things for the first time in my fifties, but that's a moot point.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | Well… I intended the spanking comment as a half-joke knowing you all knew I leaned libertarian. I don’t expect my rather utopian way to work right now, but as a vision of what could be done, I think there is some merit to it. It has much more than a prayer and there is plenty of evidence supporting my argument. Read our host’s Transparency book with an eye for classical liberalism and a touch of libertarianism and it’s there.

The closest the consumer can get to "spanking" a business is to boycott, but a one-person boycott is meaningless even to a small business.

No. We can go after them as social T-cells or worse. Consider the actual tetraethyl lead story. Did that start with government? Pfft. Was existing law opposed to it? Nah. Not really. Did government eventually come around and help? Sure, but only after a lot of work by social T-cells. Boycotting leaded gasoline wasn’t going to be enough. Obviously. Existing regulations weren’t either. Harm had to be proven in the face of well-financed opposition. THAT is the power we wield as individuals. We can move our fellow citizens to boycott, regulate, look, shame, vote, or whatever. When we do that, we wield a LEGITIMATE power of the people.

Consumer protection virtually requires the ability to sue, with or without class action, and that requires a government that is willing to step in ...

My beef with our ability to sue (class scale or not) isn’t with its existence. It is with the way some of us are exploited by those who profit from us suing others. We certainly need the capability, but we need to treat a few lawyers as the parasites they are. They are as guilty of a kind of gouging as Shkreli is.

People like Shkreli are inclined to pull 6000% price gouges today even with the Guvamint around, because the Guvamint isn't consistent ...

Do you really believe the fantasy that your government will protect you? Some of the individuals in government want to help, but some are just in it for a job. Some see ‘help’ different than you do. As with all things that act like an immune system, practical applications are complicated. Sometimes the immune system is more dangerous than the disease. One needs the system, of course, but it has to be restrained at times. They WILL protect you, but not always, and not without some signaling from T-cells, and not without costs… especially opportunity costs.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | (continued)

The idea that the Holy Market will handle everything equitably misses ...

You are poking at a strawman here. I’m not that kind of libertarian. Our host used to refer to this type of belief as FIBM (faith in blind markets) in contrast to GAR (guided allocation of resources). I don’t like either, but I find it especially telling that the first acronym is FIBM and not BFIM. Faith in blind markets is truly stupid. This is made more obvious with a slight change. Faith in blinded markets. See? Blind faith in markets is merely dangerous. Libertarians are blind in many ways, but only some of them are being stupid. Others are merely dangerous. I think a classical liberal approach is smarter.

Ordinary people are fleas compared to the likes of Standard Oil…

Heh. Wasn’t it the fleas who brought us the Black Death? Seriously. Don’t underestimate the fleas.

Wither the plastics industry? The consumer only found out about BPA because of government-funded research, and what did they do when the public began to boycott BPA? They switched to using BPS, a chemical that is nearly the same but has a different name.

Yah. Sorta. You are mostly making my case for me. Go ahead and finance basic and industry research. I’m supportive as long as the funding doesn’t prop up monopolistic federal/state labs. If the industries want to get in on the game too, I’m willing to take the risk they will produce tobacco scientists. More behinds to spank.

Big business has no incentive to be human…

Not so. It all depends on the humans within the businesses and whether or not they want to behave. We have a legitimate power to influence them. We can and DO use it.

Oh, but Republicans will blame all the people with cancer for their cancer, ...

You are slipping off the emotional deep end here. I’m inclined to agree with you regarding certain people, but flailing about won’t help. You are too likely to swat your allies that way. Some of us don’t think exactly like you do, but we are close enough to see your points.

This isn't 1789, the technology and population changes everything, and the stakes are too high.

Too high for what? Getting it done? The ONLY method that has improved our lot in life has been the enrichment we brought about through free markets. Our host would say free, flat, and fair markets to which I’d add that the people playing in those markets have to believe in them. They don’t work without belief. I’ll accept blind belief, but it is much safer if belief is justified by the knowledge we’ve been acquiring on how this all works. Yes. The stakes are high. That’s why we have to get this right enough not to harm it.

Alfred Differ said...

David S | (c) works when people feel there are behaviors to correct, so it partially overlaps with (a) and (b). When (b) isn't available, we resort to pitchforks and torches and other breaches of the Rule of Law, so we are never without options. They aren't pretty options, but nothing about correcting bad behavior is pretty.

I suspect you are right that all three options need to be in place. We can argue about degrees of each, but I think the basic premise is correct.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
I don't see any of these other systems as being within throwing reach of our ACC

It simply works a ton better and costs a huge amount less

David Brin said...

“Blue Belly federalists declared US federalism to be mandatory, involuntary & non-negotiable.”

1. Oathbreakers and liars and cheaters and slaveholders can be presumed to have cheated in the process of secession. All opposing newspapers were burned in the run-up to the secession”votes.” There was no legitimacy to the process.

2. Refusal to negotiate produces a presumption of criminal intent. Lincoln did nothing to the South and kept calling for talks till they started seizing federal property without even the negotiation you would offer to a foreign state.

3. Survival was at stake. Sealing off the Mississippi was an act of war in its own right and sufficient cause.

4. Survival was at stake. Only a few times in human history was there ever a continental nation that had no worries about war. Before and after the civil war, the average American only ever saw a soldier at the July 4 parade. We spent vastly less per capita on arms and armies, and hence developed with spectacular rapidity. Had the South won, there would have been armed borders and vast standing armies. We’d have become another silly, wastrel Europe. Oh, and within 20 years there would have been another war. The vastly powerful Union would have then taken back the mIssissippi Valley, Florida, Virginia, forced an end to slavery, made the the Appallachians a buffer state and left the deep south to rot.

(BTW allowing 70 nations to spend almost nothing on arms and armies for 70 years was the greatest effect of Pax Americana.)

5. Slavery. Pure, soul-rotten evil at the heart of pure, soul-rotten satanic-level evil.

Good fighters, though. I personally don’t mind statues to RE Lee, in the right contexts.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

DavidTC said...

I know this is over, but I feel I should correct the record: Common Core wasn't ever 'hijacked'. No one ever decided to make it anything than what it was intended from the start...state commonly deciding on various sets of educational standards, done mostly entirely by educators, and on the whole there were not very many disagreements.

What actually happened is a bunch of 'conservative' talking heads who constantly cast around for things the US government is doing wrong either a) were so stupid that they mistakenly thought that Common Core was a US government initiative, or b) were so dishonest they decided to pretend it was a US government initiative.

There are a few things that should go down in the history books as examples of 'The right-wing media is dishonest and the people who listen to it are stupid', and the nonsense they gibbered about how the Common Core was the Federal government taking over education should go right at the top.

What they were asserting *patently* and *obviously* nonsense that basically it *should* have ruined the careers of half the right-wing political establishment, but instead provided an early warning of how unmoored from reality they and their followers had become.

Even the supposed 'serious' entities like Cato and Heritage (Remember when they actually cared about their reputation?) got in on the act...carefully *not* repeating the blatant lies, but Heritage responded with basically "Common Core will not fix the schools", and Cato said, and I quote, "It is not the least bit paranoid to say the federal government wants a national curriculum", fanning conspiracy flames about Common Core while carefully not asserting that *Common Core* was that national curriculum.