Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is the system rigged?

Oh, how spectacularly right Donald Trump was, in his most-cogent statement… that the election would be “rigged.”  

We all know it happened in 2000 when George W. Bush's own brother -- Florida Governor Jeb Bush -- "lost" 60,000 democratic voter registrations (later proved totally valid) enabling (with a dozen other cheats) W to win Florida and the White House by 167 votes.

But this article - Was the 2004 Election stolen? - shows in excruciatingly painful detail how that one was, as well.  And how the Republican Party retained control of Congress for 20 out of 22 years, despite a majority of citizens always voting against them.

This next year, with the GOP operating the voting systems in 33 out of 50 states, perhaps we’ll see a transparency miracle as some patriot squeals how thoroughly Trump was right about rigging. (Last time I urged some billionaire to offer ‘henchman prizes” to lure truth into the open.) 

But this article on 2004 offers a look at the methods. Starting with clear evidence that exit polls were not and are not biased. The polls were correct. It was the voting machines that lied.

"Republicans had a distinct advantage (in Ohio): The man in charge of the counting was Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of President Bush's re-election committee. As Ohio's secretary of state, Blackwell had broad powers to interpret and implement state and federal election laws -- setting standards for everything from the processing of voter registration to the conduct of official recounts. And as Bush's re-election chair in Ohio, he had a powerful motivation to rig the rules for his candidate. Blackwell, in fact, served as the ''principal electoral system adviser'' for Bush during the 2000 recount in Florida, where he witnessed firsthand the success of his counterpart Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who co-chaired Bush's campaign there."

Ken Blackwell bought voting machines from Diebold (whose CEO Wally O'Dell had committed in a letter “to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President." Long lines, disenfranchisement, funny exit polling results... all in a state Bush could not be re-elected without. But above all, the voting machines, which in most red-controlled states have no paper audit trail.

Ken Blackwell. Where is he now? Trump taps former Ohio official Ken Blackwell to lead domestic transition team.  Seriously. Could John Grisham have written that? 

Risking Godwin overload, here's an illustration of another era’s version of rigging, in the German referendum of 1934. The “yes” box (granting the chancellor unlimited power) was a wee bit biased. As, of course was the counting. Though sure, fervid-racist-lying populism also helped you-know-who to carry the day.

And now it's 2016. Donald Trump wins states that, according to exit polls, he should lose. Yes, there are the embittered blue collar workers; yes, there are arguably errors and weakness in the Clinton campaign. But once again all the lucky breaks go for the GOP candidate.” 

Rigged, indeed.  Good call, Donald. How'd you know? (And no, we haven't even mentioned, this time, the whole fake news and Russia thing or "weaponized narrative.")

People, this time the Confederacy knows better than to leave.  Their putsch is from within. They are romantics who will take no prisoners. Because they talk themselves into thinking we'd do the same. Hence they shrug off cheating as necessary for their own survival. No matter how many times we prove, again and again, that we are not like them.

The good news? They always get a head start. But of the Union side we are made of no lesser stuff than the Greatest Generation. And our kids are simply fantastic.

== The Billionaires' Government ==

Stick a sterling silver fork in Trump’s ‘populism’. So says Dana Milbank, describing the gourmet meetings, as Trump fills his government with billionaires, Wall Street veterans and guys who tripled their lavish inheritances by dissolving U.S. companies.  By far the richest cabinet in history, replete with parasites, top to bottom and nary a working stiff like Joe Biden to be seen.

See also:


Alas, Milbank and others actually believe this hypocrisy might undermine DT’s working class white-boomer-male support. But he is wrong. Because this was never about economic self-interest or working class angst or pain or class resentment.  

It all makes sense when viewed as Culture War. A million southern men marched in 1861 and died defending their own oligarch oppressors - plantation lords - because they shared a cultural spite toward snooty, citified northerners. 

Today, “facts” and “consistency” are university things, professorial and hence (as taught by Fox) the enemy. If Trump’s appointments gall folks like Dana Milbank, then that is a feature, not a bug. Already, the right-o-sphere is proclaiming DT’s genius at setting foxes to guard the henhouse. “Who better?” they are crowing. 

Do not expect this to be won by fact or argument. But take solace as he pushes Fox-ism to the next level, assailing not only scientists, teachers, doctors and every other knowledge caste.  He won’t be able to resist making Joe McCarthy’s mistake, attacking the intelligence community and the United States Officer Corps. You can already hear the incantation "deep state!" It is code for waging war upon the last fact-people standing.

 And that’s when they will go too far.

== Cool War ==

There are no front lines in war or peace,” the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres said in an interview way back in 1995 when the influence of the internet was first being felt. “Science knows no borders, technology has no flag, information has no passport. The new challenges transcend the old notion of boundaries.”

Global data transfer of private information, not to mention the alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election as well as regular bouts of cybertheft from China and America’s own cyberattacks on Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, have proven Peres prescient. As former four-star general and CIA director David Petraeus wrote in The WorldPost, “Cyber capabilities are further blurring the boundaries between wartime and peacetime, and between civilian and military spaces.” In the military realm, he says, cyber has now become a borderless domain of warfare. Yet, as with nuclear weapons in the past, he concludes, “Security in the century ahead will depend more on our moral imagination — and with it, the ability to develop concepts of restraint — than it will on amazing technological breakthroughs.”

Also in the World Post: Matthew Dallek argues that cyber technologies will change warfare as much, if not more so, than the advent of air power, which enabled the “total war” of firebombing or nuking major cities. To prepare for what the future might bring, he advises that “we allow our fears to inspire our thinking, and anticipate new perils and consequences before they show up at all of our doorsteps.” For philosopher Peter Singer, what we are more likely to confront, at least in the near term, “is a competition more akin to the Cold War’s pre-digital battles, where you saw a cross between influence and subversion operations with espionage.” He adds: “That’s particularly true with what Russia has been up to.” 

We’ve seen what a difference communications can make. After the 9/11 attacks, New Yorkers acted with alacrity and stunning coordination, with average citizens doing much of the emergency work – and rebelling against enemies on Flight 93 – because they were empowered by primitive cell phones. In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina wrecked the entire cell network and citizens were unable to self-organize.  I have often written -- told audiences in places as high as the White House OSTP – that it should be trivial to fix this vulnerability, by simply equipping our mobile devices with a backup, peer-to-peer (p2p) text passing capability.  Folks at Qualcomm have told me that their chips can already support this!  All it would take is for AT&T and Verizon to “turn it on.”
                                                                                                                             At which point the U.S. and Canada would need only a few backup repeaters across the Rockies and Plains to have at-minimum a totally-robust telegraphy system – say at the 1940 level – for all citizens, no matter how much damage some enemy inflicts.  How long have I been saying this? And offering other ways to boost our resilience? At least 15 years.

(By the way, such a capability needn’t undermine the telcos’ profits one iota, unless they are too inept to program in charges, when texts get passed out of a dark zone into cell tower range. I could do that with my pinkie.)

Now comes word that the folks who got us boxed into this corner of fragility will profit from it: “AT&T has won a lucrative contract to build and manage a nationwide public safety network for America's police, firefighters, and emergency medical services. The First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, will run in parallel to current networks. "FirstNet will provide 20MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the network buildout." 


Oh, in Brinnews: Wisconsin Public Radio aired a 12-minute segment asking me to explain how self-righteous indignation can be an addiction, perhaps as fierce - and potentially devastating to our society - as heroin. Years ago I gave a talk about this at the National Institute on Drugs and Addiction, and the notion has been gaining traction. Alas, too slowly to help ease us out of this (deliberately provoked) era of stunning, indignant fury.

Listen in, if you are willing to look at your own angry "high" in a new light!

And finally… Pew released a report on social media and negative political trends with quoted bits from (among others) Brad Templeton and me. Pew does the smartest stuff.  Almost as if we were members of a species worthy of actual civilization, and not short-tempered twits.

Hell yes it's rigged.  And our minds are hacked. Wake up.

160 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

It would be interesting to see how certain people scored on Fischer's test that Paul SB pointed to so we could test for correlation with their apparent difficulties managing indignation. 8)

rdbrown said...

The Serval Mesh on Android provides some emergency communication capabilities.

Jerry Lambert said...

Does the Firechat app serve the function of an emergency P2P network?

Paul SB said...

Alfred,
I was thinking just that when I first discovered her test. I have my own hypothesis, but it would be a difficult study to do. Chronically angry people rarely volunteer for anything that smacks of a psychological test because it sounds like they are being insulted.

Dr. Brin recommended a book called "Born Anxious" a couple threads back, and I am down to the last chapter. Remember the WHO figures about mental illness and the stress epidemic? The book starts out by looking at the biological root of this epidemic, which is something I have been talking about for a very long time. Stress Dysregulation is what happens when people who undergo extreme stress, especially when they are very young or even in utero, get their stress response system ramped up to extreme levels. It has been shown that this happens on a genetic level. A small percentage of people are born with genes that make them especially sensitive, their glands releasing cortisol at the drop of a hat, but many, many more people get that way because of methylation. That is, if you find yourself in a very stressful environment at a young age or for a prolonged time, the constant release of stress hormones alters your DNA to make you more sensitive to stress. Vicious circle. The consequences of Stress Dysregulation include a raft of anxiety disorders, including PTSD, which you can get just from growing up in a poor ghetto, depressive disorders, which are currently the #1 cause of disability, and an interesting part of the feedback loop called "Hostile Attribution Bias." People who have HBA overreact to other people, assuming that anything they do is deliberate malice directed at them, personally. Does this sound familiar? Okay, it sounds a bit like me, but listen to any of these flaming Trumpers and you hear a whole lot of this type of paranoia.

Paul SB said...

Alfred con.t,

I have little doubt that the people Dr. Brin calls "Indignation Junkies" have this - but more important than that, they give it to other people. This is called "Stress Contagion." People who get hostile on a regular basis create a stressful environment for those around them, which leads to more people experiencing Stress Dysregulation. The figures in this book show that there is a huge correlation between SES and Stress Dysregulation, but it is not 100%. There are quite a few people at the top of the socioeconomic ladder who have this, but the numbers go up dramatically as you drop down this ladder. And the greater the social inequality, the greater the fraction of society suffers from SDR. People who have this problem are very unlikely to successfully climb that ladder, and the ironic thing is that those who do, do not lose their SDR. No matter how rich they get, they still go through life with a hyperactive stress system that slowly kills them.

There's a chart on page 163 that shows mortality rates based on SES in the US, Sweden and Norway, and while the lines are steep all around, the line for the US is dramatically steeper. On the page before they chart the modernized nations (they're not comparing apples to oranges by looking at the Third World) in terms of most and least resilience and social inequality. Sweden and Norway both end up in the Low Inequality, High Resilience column. Big surprise that the US is in the opposite, High Inequality, Low Resilience column. Can you guess who else is in that column? Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the one you praise so much, the Netherlands. The book doesn't bring this up, but if you take Holland out of that column you will see one obvious connection. These are all English-speaking countries, nations that have inherited the most litigious culture in the world. These are cultures where bourgeois values dominate, where people's self-identity is tied to their work and their SES more than anything else. These are places where blaming the victim is standard operating procedure. Is there really much difference between the religious version and the Social Darwinism of the competitive classes? And Holland? What have you been saying all this time about them starting the ball rolling back in the 17th C?

Perhaps the chess buddy you mentioned made some decisions that were not helping him claw his way out of poverty. If he was stress dysregulated, which distorts a person's perceptions of what is possible and takes away their motivation to compete. Maybe not. The only way to be sure would be to take a DNA sample and look for those methylation markers. But you don't have to have that level of certainty (outside of a courtroom) to see the pattern. Look at the big picture and what you see is a culture that is self-destructing. One fifth of all its citizens end up with mental disorders severe enough to require medication and hospitalization - and it's not because of them damn liberals or Blue American values as our paranoid faux rancher insists. It's because of the very hyper competitiveness that we claim made America great, an integral part of our traditional, conservative values. And the big irony here is that, in spite of American propaganda to the contrary, those modernized countries that have gone Socialist and have lowered their rates of stress and mental disease are faring just as well economically. The difference is that the wealth is more evenly spread among the people, while in those English-cultured nations the wealth is much more concentrated into fewer hands.

Sorry, but meritocracy - whichever version you like - is a dramatically maladaptive failure mode.

Tim Wolter said...

Wow, I am so not ready to leap back into this boiling cauldron!

But I would be remiss if I did not mention the unintentional humor of quoting an expert on cyber warfare named Matthew Dallek! EXTERMINATE!

I will ease myself back in slowly...

I have also decided that being retired officialy for a year now it would be fine to "decloak" and post under my conventional identity. I'm curious to see if either my thoughts or the general responses have a different timbre without the nom de plume, or nom de cursor if you want to be technical about it.

I will of course still answer to Tacitus2 if you like that moniker better.

Tim Wolter

Paul SB said...

On the individual level, what Duncan said about luck having a huge role is absolutely true. Most people who are not rich are not rich because they were not born that way - plain and simple. And what SDR does to people's ability to perceive an opportunity and make good decisions robs many of any chance of improving their lot in life. Blaming the victim might apply to some, but when fully 50% of the general population has some sort of depressive disorder (diagnosed or otherwise), it should be apparent that these old memes are not just wrong in most instances - they are self-fulfilling.

On the level of society, the epidemic becomes less mysterious when you are looking at a culture that over-emphasizes competitiveness and individual achievement. I don't know if this is a problem that is getting better or worse, but I will say this, our generations are not improving matters. If there is any hope, it's in the younger generations that seem to be less bothered by differences between people, less judgmental and more accepting - the very people Clint Eastwood complains of being "wusses". The old "rugged individualist" meme has outlived its usefulness is doing more harm than good.

Paul SB said...

Timitus2 (if you don't mind the portmanteau),

I noticed the Dallek thing, too, but got too caught up in my rant there and forgot. Thanks for the laugh! Also, I love your cyber neologism "nom de cursor" - I would have probably used /pixel/ instead of cursor, but yours is clever enough.

I have a doctor to see, and then a professor at a college I am considering for an attempted PhD - which I know is a cardinal sin in many people's books, these days.

Later!

Berial said...

Maybe all those indignation junkies are just intentionally trying to increase their misery.

https://youtu.be/LO1mTELoj6o

Love CGP Grey's channel and this is more tongue in cheek than normal.

David Brin said...

rdbrown & Jerry... No emergency comms system works if 99% of phones are still lumps in an outage. Mesh networks that use Wifi and bluetooth are great, if you happen to be around lots of people who also downloaded the same app.

A true p2p text system would let phones in "dark" areas without a cell tower swap copies of texts and when one of them reaches a service area dump them all into the network. It would be trivial for the cellcos to set up (end make money at!) and extend their service zones. And the Qualcomm chips already can do this. We could have a text passing system across counties, states, for free. Their refusal makes us brittle and is treason.

David Brin said...

Paul thanks for that summary. Humanity seems predisposed to fight against becoming civilized with every reflex.

Tim?... You are... Tim? Well Howdy Tim! And welcome back. I say with all sincerity Tacitus2 was missed! Enjoy retirement for another month.

Then run for office. You think I am joking? The only group who can save this country are the sane conservatives. You take on some alt-righjt jerk and we will ALL send you $!

No, kidding. Wouldn't to that to you, man. Or... would I? ;-)

Catfish N. Cod said...

Responding to donzelion on the previous post:

(1) On agriculture: I presume now you are referring to the hog and chicken farms? Because field agriculture doesn't meet your description.
(2) Not in my little hometown.... which is part of why it is doing much better than average in the rural sections of the state. That said, garnishment by offering only "part-time" 30 hour jobs is rampant.
(3) "Fishing" is not what it seems. Mississippi has a plethora of catfish farms on land (which is part of where my nick comes from). That it's really more "agriculture" by different means. Ocean fishing in Mississippi is nearly nonexistent; shrimp and crawfish are the ocean catches.
(4) Gambling was a way to stave off the tax disaster for another few years. A band-aid. It has run its course on that; the market is saturated.
(5) Oil and gas: bah humbug. Won't be enough to matter.

Nothing will change as long as education -- by which I mean practical, hands-on, technical training -- is treated as an afterthought, a whipping boy, a way to balance the budget. Sadly there isn't enough of a nucleus anywhere in the state to build much along those lines. Maybe in 20 or 30 years, but not now.

----------------------

I have been listening on tape to Chernow's biography of Hamilton. (Yes, Larry, I know. For reference, I'm up to "I never spent a cent that wasn't mine".) What struck me was how much 1792 American politics resembled 2017 politics. The press was completely partisan and willing to print oodles of 'fake news'; conspiracy theories resounded, and Jefferson and Hamilton were each convinced the other was plotting revolution and the ruin of the nation. The paranoia was thick enough to cut with a knife. I already know Hamilton's story, but now I'm dying to find out how we got out of the madness; I see now why Adams and Jefferson, on their deathbeds, were amazed the Republic managed to survive fifty years.

If they got out of it, so can we.

The intelligence community has already been trashed as 'deep state' machinations. They've started in on the defamation of James Comey, a man who has faltered but stood for the Constitution when it mattered, caricaturing him as a complete creature of the Clintons. I have already seen the first attempts to do the same to Mueller. The military is next, when they attempt to fight orders to abandon Europe to Putin. And that will be the last straw. The military is the sole institution still universally trusted. But the officer corps spans the political spectrum, something many gung-ho conservatives don't realize. When they do, and when they start attacking veterans and active service members...

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ (previous thread) :

It took me a few weeks of thinking about it, but I decided the owner was correct, though I preferred a secular variation to his.

Don’t worry about me siding with Carson. He is a sad case stuck on the aristocrat variant and tells it from the peasant perspective.


Duncan Cairncross:

We do have some responsibility - but sheer luck is vastly more powerful


Yes, care has to be taken. Alfred, you haven't read Vonnegut, but in the novel I recommended to you, Jailbird, the fictitious sci-fi author character has written a story in which, before anyone is allowed to enter heaven, they have to acknowledge that God is not responsible for their bad circumstances because of all of the opportunities they failed to capitalize on. One example was a ghetto kid who was shown that if he had only looked inside a gutter drain pipe near his apartment, he would have found a diamond ring that had been lost inside. That sort of thing.

The protagonist of this meta-story was Albert Einstein, and he cringed at the logic behind these audits for much the same reason I do--it is not possible for everyone to have taken advantage of those sorts of things any more than it is possible for everyone to win the lottery, or for everyone to outperform the average in the stock market. If person-A realized there was something available to be taken advantage of, he might have done better, but then that option would not have been available to person-X who found it later. Too often, the "merit" arguments assume that anyone could have done it is the same thing as everyone could have done it.

Marino said...

Make America covfefe again! Or was it Make covfefe great again? LOL
In the meantime, blessed be frau Angela, a small candle of reason in a demon-haunted wood...and exiting the Paris climate agreement? According to him, we EU should pay more in NATO-related defence spending while he says that he won't honor article 5 in case of aggression, and if Bangladesh got submerged or African agriculture dies, or another war starts elsewhere on water, we'll bear the brunt (I'm Italian and I'm proud of how our Navy and Coast Guard keeps saving lives while our Trumplike scum slings mud at them).
What if pollution, Dust Bowl and Florida getting submerged?

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

What struck me was how much 1792 American politics resembled 2017 politics.


I've mentioned this before, but there were times during the presidential debates that my daughter and I were just screaming out the lines from "Hamilton" which the candidates--especially Hillary--should have been quoting in context.


They don't have to know me.
They don't like you!

* * *

He’s very attractive in the North. New Yorkers like his chances.

He’s not very forthcoming on any particular stances.

Ask him a question: it glances off, he obfuscates, he dances.

And they say I’m a Francophile. At least they know I know where France is!

* * *

I don’t like Adams.

Well, he’s gonna lose; that’s just defeatist.

And Jefferson—In love with France.

Yeah, he is so elitist!

I like that Aaron Burr.

I can’t believe we’re here with him!

He seems approachable--

Like you could grab a beer with him!

LarryHart said...

Marino:

Make America covfefe again!


I can't wait to hear the opening of Norman Goldman's radio show this evening. It's going to be all covfefe all the time!

locumranch said...



Kudos, Tim, for officially 'coming out' of the Professional Closet. As one who remains closeted, I hope to join you in about 3 years & I applaud your personal courage. Too long have our brothers & sisters languished in 'pens of darkness', held subject by the unrealistic expectations of perfectionist-progressive optimists who insist on denying the common humanity of the professional protector caste to this very day.

Hath not a human professional eyes? hath not a human professional hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, just as the sacrosanct victim is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Join us now as we bear witness to that which comes back to roost. For too long have they driven us like mechanisms, demeaned our sacrifice as unearned 'privilege', menaced us with replaceability, flogged us with CQI, pricked us with productivity demands, invalidated our religious & political preferences, mocked our humanity and threatened our livelihoods, even though they depend on these very things ... these things that they demean, mock, invalidate & menace ... for their very own survival.

Quite unknowingly, they teeter on a precipice, and I say 'Let Them':

(1) Let them to 'put an end' to our unearned professional privilege;
(2) Permit them to swap us out for those that lack our human weaknesses;
(3) Allow them to invalidate our religious, political & socioeconomic preferences;
(4) Encourage them to replace all that we have attempted to conserve; and
(5) Give them the chance to rely on their own progressive merit.

And, when they call out for the assistance of the failed human conservative, I say 'Let Them'.

Let them call out forever.


Best
_____
What? You want my help now? After disposing of me? And celebrating my demise? And calling me 'Nazi'? You must think very ill of me if you would have me offer that which you have so often refused.

donzelion said...

Catfish: re Mississippi

I was looking to expand on real world areas where red state tactics cost a community while blue state tactics benefit it, by considering a handful of sectors where the narrative is pretty typical, but often overlooked or misconceived. Too often, the terms 'red' and 'blue' are utilized as cover to avoid the real world effects of the policies.

In agriculture, neo-servitude conditions for illegal immigrants fills a wide variety of niches, often near the factory farms, but also as seasonal work hands, or handling accident prone machinery. Farmers of a certain size can exploit subcontractors to hide their own use of and benefit from illegal immigrants - but the smaller farmers know how the bigger guys get their advantages, and will often scapegoat the immigrants themselves (rather than their big neighbors/rivals).

In manufacturing, part-time workers often blame Obamacare for denying them a full-time job, even if Obamacare actually reduces some of the incentives to lock the largest part of the workforce into part-time arrangements.

In gambling, my understanding is that state revenues are actually falling in Mississippi, but the workforce benefits were marginal and the largest beneficiaries were low-cost, temporary/seasonal workers (esp. illegal immigrants working behind the scenes, in food or cleaning segments).

"(5) Oil and gas: bah humbug. Won't be enough to matter."
Oil and gas jobs are an enormously useful illusion - how many thousands of underemployed (white) workers dream of a six figure job without a college degree from this sector...a job they'd be sure to get, if only Obama and the meddlesome Democrats disappeared? Probably a few more than expect to win the lottery...

"Sadly there isn't enough of a nucleus anywhere in the state to build much along those lines."
I'd say that there's plenty of education going on in Mississippi - folks are learning all the time. Just not the sort of learning that fosters creation or gainful employment...instead, learning about Obama's birth certificate and how evil Muslims are, among other pieces of useless, inaccurate news.

matthew said...

Newsweek on Dominionists in the military.
http://www.newsweek.com/christian-fundamentalists-us-armed-forces-national-security-threat-613428

David Brin said...

Marino, I take care to mention when I agree, even with such monsters. For one thing, it reassures me that I live by my own standards… your enemy is rarely more than 95% wrong. Also, it adds to my credibility.

Having said that? Of course most Europeans spent far too little on their own defense! The US is ridiculed for spending a proportion of national wealth on defense that , while high, is actually fairly low by historical standards. But the American protective umbrella allowed most European and Western Hemisphere and Asian countries to spend on arms and armies amounts that have been historically microscopic. Which in turn allowed rapid development.

Only… there is an argument that in Europe, some of the job stagnation might loosen a bit with some spending on planes and ships.

I think you know that I like Merkel and Macron much better than Trump & May! He’s a blitherin ####. But I categorize. Some of what he does is stupid and venal. Some just stupid. Some just venal. And some… a little… I could negotiate with. The Wall, for example. If giving him his damn wall would extract from him an end to his war on science? I would build his damn wall. Who cares?

Locum: blah blah de blah blah. Oh! So persecuted! Oh, such guilt.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

Why should Europe spend more on defense?
They already spend about three times as much as any possible enemy

Defense spending is inefficient - things that go boom do not return as much to the economy as infrastructure and education
So we should spend enough - and a bit more to make sure - THREE TIMES AS MUCH is excessive!

Europe is using a belt and two pairs of suspenders to keep it's pants up
The USA is using three belts five sets of suspenders some nails and a tube of superglue to keep its pants up

Shane Mallatt said...

I agree completely regarding the elections mentioned in the post being stolen. I would add to the list the democratic primary in the past election. I recall a Stanford study regarding the topic of voting machine results coming out at around the same time that Trump made his statements about rigged elections.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

And, when they call out for the assistance of the failed human conservative, I say 'Let Them'.

Let them call out forever.


I knew you were Roarschach from "Watchmen".

Whoever it was who thought you'd be the type to stand up for your neighbors in a pinch--they have eyes, but they do not see.


What? You want my help now? After disposing of me? And celebrating my demise? And calling me 'Nazi'? You must think very ill of me if you would have me offer that which you have so often refused.


I don't hear anyone asking.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Locum: blah blah de blah blah. Oh! So persecuted! Oh, such guilt.


Read the very first page of the "Watchmen" graphic novel. That's what locum is expressing--he practically wet dreams about his persecutors begging for help and getting to refuse them and watch them die horribly.

And the funny/sad part is that no one is asking.

Loc is so much like Dave Sim it scares me. The anti-feminism, the "I'm right and everyone else is wrong", even the Canadian spelling. And Dave was so proud of the fact that he didn't care what anyone thought of him and that if his opinions made him a pariah, then the world would just have to get by without his help. But then, he'd keep inserting himself back into the conversation, continually reminding us that he has an opinion that no one else was crediting. And he kept giving his "last word" on subjects like feminism, and then talking about them again and again and again afterwards. That too is locumranch.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Europe is using a belt and two pairs of suspenders to keep it's pants up
The USA is using three belts five sets of suspenders some nails and a tube of superglue to keep its pants up.


Far be it from me to speak for #IllegitimatePresident, but I believe the domestic sentiment he's appealing to is not that Europe should spend more on adding to the overall pot, but that Europe should kick in more of the money that the US currently is spending so we don't have to. In your analogy, the USA is using three belts, five sets of suspenders, some nails, and a tube of superglue to hold the world's pants up, and Europe is only paying for the nails.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry
The USA is using nails and glue to hold it's own pants up

This does NOT help the rest of the world anymore than YOU wearing two belts helps hold MY pants up

In fact I would say that the USA spending so much pushes certain states to spend MORE which in turn means that the rest of us need to spend more

How much safer has US military spending and adventures this century made the rest of the world??
I would argue that US spending has de-stabilized a number of countries leading directly to the immigration and terrorist problems in Europe

Europe certainly does not need the USA to keep peace in that part of the world

The rest of the world
The South America - don't see how the USA helps
Africa - don't see how the USA helps
Pacifica - don't see how the USA helps
India/Pakistan - don't see how the USA helps

The Middle East - !!!!!!

Asia - It is possible that it is the USA that is stopping China from starting to try and take over the world - but incredibly unlikely!!!!!

China has always been an inwardly looking nation
And even without the USA the other Asian nations while not as big as China are still far too large and powerful to be swallowed easily

It's a bit like Europe, China could attack and destroy any ONE of the other Asian countries - but all of them together could destroy China

What is left?
What does the USA DO with it's mighty military other than pee in other people soup?


LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

What does the USA DO with it's mighty military other than pee in other people soup?


Well, something about Russia, maybe. But seriously asking, are you saying that maybe breaking up NATO isn't a bad idea? I don't mean that as a snarky question.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Something about Russia
I'm with our host on that - the USA dropped the ball big time they could have turned Russia into another Germany

NATO was great idea - and it is still very useful
BUT the USA does not own NATO and should not be using it's membership to threaten other NATO members

I would rather that NATO kept together -
But I would consider that having the USA pick up it's ball and go home to be preferable to other NATO members wasting resources by spending more on their militaries

David Brin said...

Duncan, “Why should Europe spend more on defense?”
Spoken with truly zilch awareness of history or reasons for gratitude. The bad old ways of 6000 years lurked, ready to pounce and yank Europe back into its ancient and all encompassing ages of blood and pain. One force kept all of that at bay. A force that Europe could absolutely rely upon for 70 years, allowing it to prosper in peace. (In the nineties, that force intervened to make Europe whole and end its last festerings of horror.)

Sorry, son,. but your estimation of what it takes to maintain that peace is stunning in its naivete.

David Brin said...

Oh gawd, he continues in the same vein: “How much safer has US military spending and adventures this century made the rest of the world??
I would argue that US spending has de-stabilized a number of countries leading directly to the immigration and terrorist problems in Europe “

YOU would argue? Based on what? Your stunningly myopic view of history? Your coolly calculated appraisal of the forces in the world? Your serene knowledge of what REALLY kept Soviet tanks from just rolling through the Fulkda Gap for 50 of the last 70 years?

Have you ever spoken to a Czech or Pole or Bosnian about NATO?

Kalon said...

You might appreciate this article - it's about using a specific strategy to inoculate people against memetic false claims and bad debating styles, specifically about climate change.

The idea that you need vaccines against ideas I thought was right up Dr. Brin's alley.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/31/15713838/inoculation-climate-change-denial

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

That is why I said "this century"

I agree entirely about last century - up until the USSR fell

But the question is about NOW - not back then

While the USSR was one of two superpowers NATO was absolutely essential

Nowadays? - this is equivalent to still paying your car insurance after you have sold your car

YES - we should be grateful to the USA for the money they spent back 50 years ago - the money spent was not for our benefit only but it was for our benefit
But the world changes and what was a good idea is not always a good idea

Duncan Cairncross said...

Entirely changing the topic
When I was a kid I was fascinated by Cephalopods - returning to my youth I have just finished
Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life

One of Dr Brin's points is that humans have thrown all of the "switches" towards longevity
It would appear that Cephalopods are the opposite - with insanely short lives for such large and complex creatures

It would be interesting if somebody would see if they could "throw some switches" and have Cephalopods with a more sensible lifespan

donzelion said...

LarryHart (re Locum) - Whoever it was who thought you'd be the type to stand up for your neighbors in a pinch--they have eyes, but they do not see.

That would be me. I stand by my assessment, too. Locum will say a lot that I abhor. And perhaps do a bit that I disagree with. He will not come running to defend his friends. But when the chips are really down, he will not walk away and turn his back on them either.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | Hostile Attribution Bias? You? Nah. Not even close. You are way too tolerant of me poking at your ideas for that diagnosis. Maybe others here, but my track record of diagnosing people across the internet sucks. I better refrain. 8)

You can put the Dutch back in with the Anglosphere if you focus less on language and more on the common ethics system we all use. Ask any of us to offer up examples of prudence, courage, justice, and the other virtues and we will usually describe about the same behaviors and split on our differences about the same way. Three versions of each (roughly) and the same arguments among us about the differences (roughly). This isn't surprising considering how widely the Dutch traded. Bourgeois values have spread way past the Anglosphere. They are quite common. Any nation that is succeeding at 'catching up' is probably using them, though they might still be struggling internally.

These are places where blaming the victim is standard operating procedure.

This particular behavior does NOT conform to bourgeois values, though. It's much older and related to blaming the son for the sins of their father. Sure. It is quite common in the US, but so is mental dissonance. Look closely and you see people doing it in one setting and saying it is invalid in another setting.

Is there really much difference between the religious version and the Social Darwinism of the competitive classes?

I know of two distinct versions of 'meritocracy' and each comes in two variants. The versions differ by a fundamental choice we make regarding ethics, namely Plato's and the modern Bourgeoisie systems. McCloskey has tried to describe the modern one. The variants are smaller differences related to faith positions. Consider a pantheistic belief system and take the limit as one little god (or transcendent concept) becomes infinitely powerful and all knowing. Is that limiting case in your belief system or not? If it is, you get a variant that permits assignments of causes to all effects. If it isn't, you get one that leaves some effects orphaned. These are not the same and lead to different behaviors in people even if they use the same words. Meritocracy 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all related in the memetic sense, but there are fundamental differences preventing reduction... and in my not so humble opinion, two of them are not maladaptive. 8)

Perhaps the chess buddy you mentioned made some decisions that were not helping him claw his way out of poverty.

That's a decent description. It wasn't intentional or stress related as far as I recall. He was just young. It's possible he was taught to believe he couldn't win at life, but I tend to avoid those folks as plague carriers, so I doubt that was the case with him. He had the energy of a man in his early 20's and the lack of work experience too. A social darwin argument wouldn't have applied to him yet. He was untested.

I was in my early 30's by then and had my last sheepskin, so the only thing holding ME back was my lack of understanding of how to turn what I had into a decent salary or independent business. I claimed to be focused on landing a teaching position, but some little voice within me objected (and stressed me out) when I faced the application paperwork. Heh. In hindsight, that wasn't genetics or epigenetics, though. It was my growing disgust with bureaucratic organizations and the realization that the tenure path could not go anywhere else. My desire to suck up to educators who were supposedly my superiors had vanished. So much for that career path. 8)

Nah. That bookstore owner was correct. He wasn't mean-spirited about any of it and intended his comments as helpful advice. He was thinking like a surrogate father would. I don't know how many of us he actually helped, but it worked for me. It probably helped a whole lot that his advice aligned with my own father's value system too, hmm? Life long Democrat, but barely a progressive. My mother was the progressive. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Cephalopods with extended lifespans? Eek! Enough to drive a man MAD!

8)

donzelion said...

Re NATO: the US is both the largest spender on, and by far the largest seller of, of military kit in the world. When Trump demands Europeans pay more for military, he is trying to cram arms deals down their throats. With us. With suppliers owned by Americans. Hence the distasteful strong arming: why should NATO members create 10,000 jobs in America when they have their own jobs to protect and subsidize?

What is NATO's mission today? Does it really secure anything at all? Could a Russian bear really take Ukraine without vast collusion with Ukrainian elites? Seeing as a few Chenyans could destabilize Russia, what could a resistant populace in any other country Russia aspired to dominate, that refused to be dominated, actually do?

The importance of NATO as a force multiplier and coordinater is easily overlooked (indeed, I argued just days ago that the whole reason a no-fly zone could be erected in early 1991 in Kurdish territory of Iraq is a product of NATO). As a fighting or police force? Harder to see. Americans would never accept a foreign command (and even authorized invasions of NATO countries if, for example, they ever handed over US persons for war trials to the Hague).

But NATO members have spent far more fighting the war on terror than Trump gives them credit: through refugee management and relocation, they deny footsoldiers to ISIS. In so doing, they don't give a dime to any in Trump's cabal, which annoys him. But trying to use NATO as a stick to impose sales will break it nearly as fast as assuming NATO rendered sovereign foreign countries into military lackeys serving under America.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Nowadays? - this is equivalent to still paying your car insurance after you have sold your car

Heh. Not quite. The same idea might have been erroneously applied to Germany after the first war. However, they went from a basket case nation to a world threat within 20 years. They came close to running the table across the northern plains of Europe and that is a VERY significant feat.

Maintaining NATO is in the interests of the US for two rather dark reasons.

1) The only credible threat we face in the world this century (beside ourselves) is an entity that can unite northern Europe into one political and economic entity. NATO blocks this by allowing any member state to call for help if invaded. It doesn't apply only to Russian invasions. 8)
2) If member nations come to rely upon the US for security, they won't just avoid spending money on war supplies, they will lose the capability to project power far from their borders. Winning battles requires practice. Much of the money we spend on our own military involves exercises. Nations who avoid this expense lose the expertise. As evidence, take a good look at how France and Italy struggled to project effective power into Libya not long ago. Not long ago, they owned empires.

There is also a decent reason to maintain NATO. A future European war won't look like anything in our history books. It won't even look like our nuclear nightmares of a generation ago. Too much has changed. Because nations can change very quickly, it behooves us to keep them all tied together in a variety of alliances and many more supply chains. It's better when they help, of course, but they do.

And finally... we can afford it. Easily.


If you want another entangling alliance idea for limiting the Russians, consider one involving Poland, Romania, the Baltic nations, Slovakia, and Hungary. Get as many as you can to talk about mutual defense. It will be a sure way to get Putin involved in each related election and give us a chance to see how his people do what they do in more detail. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
From an American POV - yes - but also from a European POV

But from both POV it is appropriate to spend enough plus a bit more to make sure

BUT spending more than that is not only counterproductive it will also slow down your economic growth and lead to your possible enemy being comparatively stronger

If the USA had put another 2% into infrastructure and education since about 1995 you would be one hell of a LOT stronger economically - and Russia and China would be relatively weaker

Tony Fisk said...

It would be interesting if somebody would see if they could "throw some switches" and have Cephalopods with a more sensible lifespan

Ia! Have you read *no* Lovecraft, man? That way lies beyond the Mountains of Madness.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I stand by my assessment, too. Locum will say a lot that I abhor. And perhaps do a bit that I disagree with. He will not come running to defend his friends. But when the chips are really down, he will not walk away and turn his back on them either.


People also thought that when the chips were down, Donald Trump would become presidential. That's not working out. When someone reveals himself to you plainly, it's best to believe him.

I don't know anyone "here" personally, so all I have to go by are their words. Your assessment is in direct opposition to what locumranch claims about himself--that he can't wait to be pleaded to for help so he can have the satisfaction of refusing as punishment/consequence for past and present wrongs against him. I understand the desire to see the best in people, but understand that by doing so, you are insulting him by not taking him at his word.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

This particular behavior [blaming the victim] does NOT conform to bourgeois values, though. It's much older and related to blaming the son for the sins of their father. Sure. It is quite common in the US, but so is mental dissonance. Look closely and you see people doing it in one setting and saying it is invalid in another setting.


This isn't exactly what you're talking about, but I see echoes of it in the notion that all Muslims are (at least indirectly) complicit in Islamic terrorism, but that Christian terrorists are each individual lone wolves with mental issues who are entirely responsible for their own acts which other Christians distance themselves from, even as they were tacitly encouraging such actions before they actually happened.

Berial said...

@Catfish/Donzelion

"Nothing will change as long as education is treated as an afterthought...Sadly there isn't enough of a nucleus anywhere in the state to build much along those lines."

Vocational education in Mississippi is basically being entirely left to the community colleges. I'm not familiar with how well funded the 'CC's are in particular, but education in general has been underfunded in Mississippi for over a decade by the MS Legislature's own rules for funding it. And as you can imagine lots of education experts think that the MAEP rules are stingy to start with.

The powers that be in Mississippi DO NOT WANT to fund ANYTHING that doesn't funnel government money into their pockets, PERIOD, full stop. They do this the old fashion way, of keeping government small enough to be controlled easily, but large enough to hide the control. (Seriously look up Butler and Snow. They have links to almost EVERY politician at every level in MS, yet your average Mississippian probably hadn't heard of them.) The people of the state have bought this 'small government' line of thinking completely, they ignore the crony capitalism side of it, and when they DO have any questions about it, someone brings up race and all thinking stops.

If any actual 'blue' or science based thinking were to take hold in MS, I suspect it would have to start in Starkville, home of Mississippi State University, with Hattiesburg (USM) a second choice. Oxford would SEEM to be as likely as the other two, being the location of Ole Miss, but it's really not likely to happen there because of all the money, both old and new, flowing into the area. MS's "good ole boy" system runs through Ole Miss(and always has), and though it has a decent educational system, it's bent to protect and produce the next round of aristocratic plantation bosses. That group actively fights to keep MS where it is. And they have been 'winning' for centuries.

I don't know where to look, so I have no proof, but I suspect most graduates of the 'big 3' major schools and hefty portions of every school at every level in MS leave the state for employment elsewhere. Other than running your own small business along the lines of some service to locals there just isn't anything to be gained by staying.

raito said...

Yesterday, I attended the groundbreaking ceremonies for 2 new elementary schools. I'll probably end up with my picture in the locacl paper, as for my sins I'm involved with redrawing the school boundaries. If you want to lose faith in your fellow man, try doing things with your local school district. Unfortunately, I'm way too polite to ask the obvious question, "Why are THESE children more important than THOSE children?"

In any case, the superintendent at least was able to quote Confucious, "'If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children."

At least we're planning ahead.

Tim, are you currently in district 3 or 7? I don't know much about Kind, but I sure know I don't like Duffy... Then again, maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt and we'll get new districts. I'm not holding my breath.

As for defense spending, let's not forget that a very large part of the formation of the European manorial system was specifically to arm a knight. And almost all the rest was about reigning over land that one couldn't travel to in a day.

Re: cephalopods

Uplift them instead of chimps and dolphins. Hilarity ensues! Ia, indeed!

LarryHart said...

raito:

Re: cephalopods

Uplift them instead of chimps and dolphins. Hilarity ensues! Ia, indeed!


There's a cute episode with an octopus (also a parrot) in "Existence".

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Your assessment is in direct opposition to what locumranch claims about himself--that he can't wait to be pleaded to for help so he can have the satisfaction of refusing as punishment/consequence for past and present wrongs against him.

I am ascribing meaning - perhaps inaccurately - to the fact that Locum writes such things here, with people who vehemently disagree with him, ridicule him. He still engages, rather than fully disengaging.

That alone is good reason to believe Locum is no Donald Trump.

Tim H. said...

Cephalopod uplift, now there's a story that could use cellular memory, Frank Herbert style. Or enochian readmes, for the enlightenment of the spawn, someone could run with that... Golden plates with a secret history?

Berial said...

"Cephalopod uplift"?

For the sake of the chastity of Japanese girls of all ages just say no to cephalopod uplift.

Sorry, but someone was going to say it eventually right?

LarryHart said...

I said earlier:

This isn't exactly what you're talking about, but I see echoes of it in the notion that all Muslims are (at least indirectly) complicit in Islamic terrorism, but that Christian terrorists are each individual lone wolves with mental issues who are entirely responsible for their own acts which other Christians distance themselves from, even as they were tacitly encouraging such actions before they actually happened.


Or maybe more to the point--Kathy Griffen is chastised (probably correctly) for a broadcast image of her with Trump's bloody severed head, with Don Jr. saying, "This is the left today. They consider this acceptable. Imagine if a conservative had done this to Obama as POTUS." No similar blame for Ted Nugent, who did.

David Brin said...

Duncan, correction noted. And sure, it’s seemed wasteful for the US to maintain high alert and readiness. But I don’t agree. All over the planet, trade flows and nations mostly respect borders because the overall psychology is one of a Pax Era… when one big dog watches over the peace and no one even envisions the sort of chaos and reciprocal fear and rage that pour forth in eras without a Pax powers. You are taking for granted a benign world.

May you continue in that blithe illusion for another century.

donzelion said...

Berial: Interesting points.

My purpose in raising specific points with Catfish was to try to channel discussion of 'red v. blue' toward specifics, since the labels aren't very telling and while I agree with his basic point, I don't think that arguing or agreeing will clarify or convince anyone without specific illustrations.

"Vocational education in Mississippi is basically being entirely left to the community colleges."
How many are there? How much do they cost? Do people actually get jobs out of community colleges that are better than temp jobs - or do they get those jobs through family/friend networks (the preferred distribution mechanism in red states - but always the most effective system in every state anyway...).

"Seriously look up Butler and Snow. They have links to almost EVERY politician at every level in MS..."
Intriguing. Why don't you tell us, assuming that a standard Google search will lead to as much propaganda as information?

"The people of the state have bought this 'small government' line of thinking completely"
Which is fascinating because while they claim to buy the 'small government' line, Mississippi takes in more money from the federal government than just about anyone.

"If any actual 'blue' or science based thinking were to take hold in MS, I suspect it would have to start in Starkville, home of Mississippi State University, with Hattiesburg (USM) a second choice."
That is how it happened in the Midwest, when it used to be fairly solid blue (a looong time ago). University educated local elites, with deep ties to the communities they worked in, came to represent those states and set up what still remains of a social network, both at home and in the federal government. The same folks who banished religious education in primary/secondary schools, modernized roads and infrastructure (to the extent they could), etc. Somehow, that mechanism has broken in the last 30 years in much of America.

"I don't know where to look, so I have no proof, but I suspect most graduates of the 'big 3' major schools and hefty portions of every school at every level in MS leave the state for employment elsewhere."
That is the sort of knowledge that is only attained by someone with deep roots and open eyes who knows to look for it. And if one does run a business serving the local community, until one is deeply entrenched, one tends to join the churches and political parties of whoever is dominant. Thing is, if the racial divide dictates the form, white folks will never (seldom) switch to join with African-Americans for the common good...

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "it’s seemed wasteful for the US to maintain high alert and readiness."

To the extent that military spending in the U.S. actually goes to maintain real world battlefield capabilities, it is important. However, that's perhaps about 25% of the spend. Or is it 45%? The majority seems to be going to pork barrel projects - with minimal impact on battlefield capabilities. Hence, even though America spent 51% of the total, global spend on military kit in 2000, battle units were deployed without the tools they needed in 2003.

Every time soldiers die who didn't need to, I wonder how much of that is because prominent senators in Nebraska, Indiana, Missouri, etc. valued the base in their precinct (and the thousands of jobs it created) over the lives of the troops. In terms of rigging the system, this is an age-old scam, and possibly one of the great burdens facing democracies that other, non-representative systems may avoid (though those tend to face the even greater threat of confiscating kit from their civilian sector, and thus driving out the most technologically astute among them...over time, our system has proven better in the LONG RUN because we can occasionally capture and utilize our highest technology and deploy it for common good - including national security...but in the short term, that can not be guaranteed, and sunk costs on pork constitute a substantial threat to actual battlefield capability).

"May you continue in that blithe illusion for another century."
The primary illusion will most likely prove to be that total spend = readiness, when we both know that not all spend is created equal.

The secondary illusion will most likely be that experience = advantage, when in the future, novel tactics will scuttle expectations. An army of a thousand drones (with a crew of thousands of trained operators) may soon displace a field army of a million troops - decades of experience training those troops to march can be disrupted and rendered obsolete as surely as tanks ended centuries of cavalry. And those drones may, in decades to come, spend more time scanning for bacteria/viruses than deploying bombs...something no army ever needed to be organized around as a primary principle.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "Maintaining NATO is in the interests of the US for two rather dark reasons."

Your dark reasons missed the obvious, and most cynical: Trump wants more trade deals involving U.S. arms, now that he can steer the benefits of such deals toward Trumpland. As far as longer term strategy, he has none.

"Winning battles requires practice."
Not exactly. Practice and testing do not win battles, they instill habits and concepts and verify capabilities which collectively MAY reduce the costs of winning a battle by utilizing those tactics with existing technology (and sometimes make victory possible where it otherwise would not be). Saddam's Iraq in 1991 had considerably greater experience fighting in real battle with real live troops than America's military did...much good it did them.

If Europeans are reluctant to spend today on 20th century equipment moderately upgraded, they may be looking to skip one round of the investment and come in later on. So long as any aggressor can be stopped and held for a few years, they can then skip over several generations and upgrade at a reduced cost - if they maintain experience deploying industrial and technological capabilities.

"As evidence, take a good look at how France and Italy struggled to project effective power into Libya not long ago. Not long ago, they owned empires."
France had far greater military spend in the 1950s, and still couldn't manage Egypt or Algeria all that effectively.

But all that is really secondary: by taking in 2-3 million refugees from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the Europeans are denying military assets to today's greatest threats. In earlier eras, one used to take the widows and children hostage to prevent direct war; now, they are taken in for 'humanitarian' reasons - but to assume those reasons will not have the same effect as they always did is to assume that true wars (as opposed to terrorist insurgencies) are fundamentally changed from how they have operated for millennia, and once that assumption is entertained...well, why retain other assumptions that are also possibly antiquated?

"...It behooves us to keep them all tied together in a variety of alliances and many more supply chains. It's better when they help, of course, but they do."
Agreed, in principle and in practice. But my caveats indicate why I think the other NATO members are reluctant and not playing ball the way American critics wish they would - why create one factory employing 100 people in Denmark (and 5,000 in Missouri) for military kit, when you can create a factory employing 10,000 people in Denmark? Why should Germany help create 50,000 jobs in America (military spend always produces far fewer jobs than other types of industrial spend; at best, it's 50%, but usually, much less than that) - when they can create 80k in Germany, and 20k in Volkswagen plants in the U.S.?

David Brin said...

donzel, the old tale is the winners prepare for the last war and the losers for the next. George Marshall knew this and utterly transformed the curriculum at the war colleges to teach the officer corps to worry and plan forward.

locumranch said...


"Locum: blah blah de blah blah. Oh! So persecuted! Oh, such guilt (says DB)" exemplifies the NON-reciprocal nature of the Blue Urban progressive mentality, being so dismissive of the worries, interests & belief systems of others that it can not even offer mock empathy or false concern for the real, imagined or even mock worries of others.

The very nature of my 'If you prick us, do we not bleed' parody should give the intelligent pause: It is Shylock's speech, barely amended, excerpted from 'The Merchant of Venice' & it reflects the timelessness of majority disregard for minority interests. Chew on that, buffoons, as you celebrate the imminent extermination of the conservative sociopolitical minority.

Increasingly, the West has forgotten that it was Reciprocity that made it great, rather than its modern (Nazi-derived jet & rocket) technologies. Yet, even so, the UN, EU & NATO reap 'yuge' benefits from Pax Americana & dither on about how they need NOT reciprocate in kind. Academic communists like PaulSB natter on about solving global income inequality on the back on someone else's economic efforts. And, even the occasionally self-aware among you dismiss reciprocity between progressive & conservative with a blithe 'I don't hear anyone asking (for your assistance)' while asking for conservative assistance constantly.

'Heal ME', 'Serve ME', 'Free the LBGT', 'Save the Planet', 'Stop the Rising Seas' and 'End Climate Change', followed blithely by NO payment, NO 'thank yous' and NO reciprocity. Plus a lot of self-righteous bile and the inevitable 'What have you done for me LATELY?' dismissal.

Think of all the fuss & bother Shylock could have avoided by 'social disengagement'.

After, only a Fool lends money, or sells flood insurance, to bankrupt Venetians. Especially when (1) they are quite literally 'under water' due to climate change and (2) they HATE your sociopolitical identity.


Best
______
@LarryH: Why does Roarschach (of all the Watchmen) appear so committed? Why is he the protagonist? Why does he engage? Why is he the only one who dies for his beliefs?

Berial said...

@donzelion

"How many are there? How much do they cost? Do people actually get jobs out of community colleges that are better than temp jobs - or do they get those jobs through family/friend networks (the preferred distribution mechanism in red states - but always the most effective system in every state anyway...)."

There are 15 CCs spread all over the state, and I'm sure they do boost a graduate's chances at employment in some fields like nursing or welding but probably not all. Just like full colleges, some majors are more likely to lead to jobs than others. I think Hinds is the biggest CC in the state and it has 80 'programs' ranging from Accounting to Welding.

"Why don't you tell us, assuming that a standard Google search will lead to as much propaganda as information?"

I didn't notice the firm until Haley Barbour became Governor. Then that name seemed to pop up, over and over again, in 'political news', but never as the subject of that news. I'm sure there is a Democratic equivalent in the state, but since the Republicans run most everything, Butler/Snow is a good name to watch. I never see any real news stories dedicated to talking about all the connections different politicians have with the law firm, but it's amazing how many times you'll see the law firm's name come up in passing in various news stories about politicians 'new jobs', 'old jobs' or some big legislation dealing with a big contract. It's kind of like the political equivalent of 'water to a fish'. It's so there nobody notices it.

Here's a link to former MS Governor Ronnie Musgrove(D) complaining about Butler Snow(Pot/Kettle may apply):
Rotten in Oxford


The 'small government' thing always drives me crazy, because everyone in the state will freely admit that the state takes in more from the feds than it gives out, but they just don't care. It never registers that the state would be like living in a third world country if not for federal dollars. Every single one of them thinks the only thing that would change if the federal money dried up, is that they'd suddenly all be millionaires from the tax relief. They will complain all day long about how awful the state government runs, and yet none of them put together that underfunded services tend to suck BECAUSE THEY ARE UNDERFUNDED! Why is that line at the DMV so long with just one angry woman serving everyone in the county? BECAUSE YOU WON'T PAY FOR A SECOND PERSON AND YOU ARE UNDERPAYING THE ONE THAT IS THERE!

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

And, even the occasionally self-aware among you dismiss reciprocity between progressive & conservative with a blithe 'I don't hear anyone asking (for your assistance)' while asking for conservative assistance constantly.


You didn't take "your assistance" personally enough.


'Heal ME', 'Serve ME', 'Free the LBGT', 'Save the Planet', 'Stop the Rising Seas' and 'End Climate Change', followed blithely by NO payment, NO 'thank yous' and NO reciprocity. Plus a lot of self-righteous bile and the inevitable 'What have you done for me LATELY?' dismissal.


You're conflating parodies of liberalism with attempts at maintaining an environment that supports us all, not just the political side who thinks maintaining a healthy environment is a good idea. If conservatives are really saying, "I'll help keep earth livable, but I want something in return," then I don't think you understand the nature of the problem.


After, only a Fool lends money, or sells flood insurance, to bankrupt Venetians. Especially when (1) they are quite literally 'under water' due to climate change and (2) they HATE your sociopolitical identity.


You're mixing all sorts of metaphors.

Am I to take away that you suddenly believe in the climate change you've been denying?

Only a fool doesn't recognize that Miami or Houston or the naval base at Newport News, Virginia might be the next Venice. The ask is not to save Venice, but to stave off the next disaster, or failing that, to be ready to adjust to it.


@LarryH: Why does Roarschach (of all the Watchmen) appear so committed? Why is he the protagonist? Why does he engage? Why is he the only one who dies for his beliefs?


***
***WATCHMEN SPOILERS AHEAD. CAVEAT EMPTOR ***
***

Because he's Alan Moore's parody of an Ayn Rand character?

And before you get too proud of Roarschach's "never compromise" integrity, keep in mind a story element which I can't take the personal credit for noticing, but it's there in the story. In his writings from the orphanage, young Walter praises Harry Truman for dropping the a-bomb on Japan and thereby ending the war. Metaphorically, that's exactly the solution that Veidt implemented, and which Roarschach refused to accept.

A.F. Rey said...

Why does Roarschach (of all the Watchmen) appear so committed? Why is he the protagonist? Why does he engage? Why is he the only one who dies for his beliefs?

In Freudian terms, he had Thanatos. He was so filled with self-loathing and hatred toward himself and all of humanity that he wanted to die. Crime-fighting was a good way to punish others while moving toward his own death. He wanted to die so much, he was willing to take the rest of us with him.

Something to think about, for those who admire him. :)

occam's comic said...

Certainly the biggest military threat to ordinary people in the 21st century comes from the US military- industrial- political complex. After the end of the cold war the resources going to that group was being substantially reduced. After 9 -11 and the anthrax attacks ( and remember that the anthrax attack came from inside the US military – industrial – political complex) the resources going to that group stopped declining and instead increased dramatically.

A chaos strategy has evolved to justify their increased resource.

Start wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and make sure no stable political outcome occurs. Endless occupation in Afghanistan and endless strife in the middle east.

Use torture to acquire politically useful false confessions that you can use to scare people. The use of torture also helps strain relationships with democratic governments.

Use drones in countries we are at war with and other weak countries. We have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children sense 9-11. This creates great hatred for the US and a future justification for defense spending - look at all those people who have legitimate reasons to hate and harm the US.

Continue the support for Israel’s brutal treatment of Palestinians, and Saudi Arabia’s viscous war in Yemen. And make sure that the Saudi’s don’t face sanctions for funding of Sunni terrorism (including ISIS). Remember for the US M-I–P complex chaos is good.

Our behavior in respect to Egypt shows both dictators and democrats that we can’t be counted on one way or another.

With the election of G Bush and D Trump we have shown the world that we treat politics as a game and entertainment. Americans are fine with killing people in other countries for our entertainment.

The election of B Obama shows the world that even if Americans elect a “liberal” the direction of our foreign policy doesn’t change it is just managed “better”.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I read your post that pointed out how Trump was using NATO participation as part of a spoils system after I posted my thoughts on why NATO participation made sense for us. I agree that Trump is doing what you described, but I don’t see that as a motivation for the US to participate. It is just Trump trying to generate spoils for those who might be loyal to him.

Winning battles does take practice, but as you pointed it, it takes much more than that. I know and agree with your points and chose not to write a book on the subject. Practicing to fight the previous war we won would have done no good, but that’s not how we do it in the US. At least, that isn’t all of how we do it. I recall during the Cold War when I lived in Vegas hearing how our pilots were practicing against real MIG’s and Soviet defectors. We also practiced against each other assigning teams the job of beating our best. Habits are terribly important to have already established before battle, but creativity is a big bonus too. Anyway, many books have already been written on this. I doubt we disagree much.

There IS an advantage to buying in later and skipping some of the learning steps, but it’s hard to know how to time the decision for when to get back in. As NATO members, Germany and France don’t feel the pressure they used to experience during the Cold War, so their voters can reasonably argue for spending money elsewhere. Poland is a different case as is Estonia. Waiting to buy in later can give an opponent a false sense of superiority that might just turn out to be true if the timing breaks their way. Even without Trump trying to direct spoils, each NATO member has different motivations born from geography and culture.

I would prefer Trump wasn’t doing what he is doing, but I’m inclined to trust our NATO allies to delay him through well tested bureaucratic means and just wait him out. There is no reason why Germany and France can’t do it. They aren’t push-overs.

As for France in Egypt in the 50’s, it is important to remember that France didn’t have the economic muscle it used to have. When we objected to the whole affair, that was the end of that. A big part of how colonialism died involved the European empires shattering against each other in the wars. The destruction of wealth was profoundly huge and then France took the next step and used high inflation to wipe out public debt. Even the British used inflation against their debt and that was historically unusual. Good luck fighting distant wars in that climate. We could. The Soviets could.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | If the USA had put another 2% into infrastructure and education since about 1995 you would be one hell of a LOT stronger economically - and Russia and China would be relatively weaker.

Very debatable. We can piss a trillion dollars in to the ocean and not be overly harmed. No one else can. If we spent that 2% wisely, perhaps you would be correct. For a while in the late 90’s, I thought we were. Then GWB argued for cutting revenues and raising expenses at the same time. Ugh. We filled at least a small sea.

We DO spend a lot of money on education. The debate is over whether we spend it wisely. Judging from the inflation rate for education related prices, I rather doubt it. I’m all for education, but not for throwing money at it.

I really don’t mind if this or that European nation wants to under-perform on their NATO obligations. I’m fine with it. Rather than let Trump treat this as a spoils system, though, I’d rather they called for a big meeting and re-negotiated their obligations. It’s one thing to argue about it in the press. It’s another thing to send in negotiators with threats to re-write the whole affair in a manner that makes the US adopt a minority position. 8)

David Brin said...

Locumranch I am not dismissive of your worries and concerns that are non-hallucinatory. I am dismissing yet another of your lunatic, strawman screeches that have no bearing on reality. I am not behooved to treat your masturbatory incantations as pertaining to reality or anything worthy of respect.

You did this, by relentlessly accusing me of thoughts, statements, feelings and positions that bear no relation, even remotely, to anything related to me or even on the same quadrant of the horizon. My lack of respect for you was something you strove mightily to earn.

Occam many of your criticisms have some merit... and you refuse to notice THAT criticism such as yours is an inherent part of the system you criticize, for the 1st time in human societies. Generations of our youth are trained to criticize and we benefit. Example, you despise our current ratio of accepted civilian losses during combat. But that accepted ratio has plummeted since the horrid bombing raids of WWII precisely because of this criticism habit, so that each wave of officers makes reducing the ratio a priority..I do not a\sk you to stop carping. But do notice the meta.

Alfred Differ said...

@Locumranch | I’m not sure quoting Shylock is going to impress many here. He is a caricature as anyone who knows their English Lit knows. Quote him in one way and you provoke us to remember him in total.

Rorschach is another character you should think carefully about before thinking of him as the protagonist. He is the vigilante who never surrenders his Truth. His way is Right and that’s all there is to it. Society can’t live with such people, so his character was the one who HAD to die by the logic of the story. He was as toxic to the people he ‘protected’ as the nukes were. He was obviously insane.

If you are identifying with Rorschach, you need to take some time to reflect on your error. Life compromises. A lot.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim Wolter | I'm curious to see if either my thoughts or the general responses have a different timbre without the nom de plume…

Heh. They might. My experience, though, is a de-cloaked tends to change what THEY say and that produces a different response from their readers. It might be hard to notice your own shift, but if you see us shift, consider the possibility that you have. Cause and Effect is expected, but multiple causes might produce the same effect.

Tim Wolter said...

Miscellany;

1. "Timitus", sorry Paul SB, can't get onboard with that. I have been spared most of the wear and tear of my advanced age but that persisting ringing in my ears.....

2. Ratio - and indirectly Dr. Brin - I am in the district represented by Ron Kind. He seems a decent sort. You sort of forget his party affiliation (D). Probably that is why he often runs without serious opposition. I am hardly likely to throw my hat into that ring. David's peculiar notion of me running for office against some retrograde neocon is hindered by the fact that there are not any in these parts. My state assembly and senate folks are both Republicans but decent sorts. When we have had a nutter in local office, and this has happened a few times, he is quickly sent packing. In my experience R does better than D in this regard.

3. Alfred. I had considered that. When you put your name on something there is a tendency to spend a bit more time on it. I think I have been generally decorous on this forum but I do recall a few times when I got testy. They will be fewer.

4. Locumranch. Three years? It's not worth it. Unless you have some significant financial burden to manage I suggest you retire sooner. It sounds like the corrosive effects of long years of practice have taken their toll on you. Retirement, that state in which you are indeed your own Master....it has much to recommend it. Is adding a few more digits to your retirement account worth what work is doing to you?

T.

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

Career changes are good too if one isn't ready for a rocking chair or fishing rod.

I know an IT guy who bailed out with the financial meltdown and took up cooking. The initial pay cut was covered by the fact that he was employed long before many of his friends were. Now he gets to wear one of those funny looking hats. He is much, much, much happier too.

locumranch said...


Impressive deconstructive response to Watchmen fiction. Note that it is not-I who chooses to identify me as a sociopathic anti-hero.
Nor have I ever approved of either 17th Century ethnic stereotyping or the modern right-bashing equivalent. I do tend to persist to the point of obsession, however, so I will take Good Tim's recommendation to heart and exclaim in Simpson's paraphrase that "I'll retire before I surrender, Tim".

Let's see what you can do with the following NexGen Star Trek reference: "Symbiosis"

Blue Planet residents appear exclusive, prosperous, refined, erudite. They identify as 'wealth-creators'. They offer a refined product that Red Planet dwellers value as highly as life itself. Red Planet dwellers offer up large amounts of cheap unprocessed resources in return, and they (these RP dwellers) appear ignorant, ill-nourished, poorly groomed & uneducated by comparison.

Blue Planet residents claim to be liberal altruists whose trade surplus results from Blue Planet moral superiority. As Red Planet customers appear incapable, impoverished & desperate in comparison, Blue Planet residents offer them generous subsidies & other 'bargains', including extended credit at compound interest rates, in order to facilitate all RP purchases.

Believing that they require these BP products to live, Red Planet dwellers are 'motivated buyers' who allow Blue Planet residents set all contract terms. We later learn that all apparent Blue & Red roles are reversed. We find that the generous BP subsidies are designed to perpetuate Red Planet poverty & dependency on BP product.

We find that the Blue Planet residents are drug-pushers who only appear wealthy, erudite & successful because they are more accomplished at 'wealth-extraction' rather than production. We learn that Blue Planet residents are entirely dependent on RP largesse & indentured servitude for their continued survival.

We discover that Red Planet dwellers produce the only 'real' wealth in this relationship. They are over-worked, under-valued & strung out on BP crack which makes them appear ignorant, poorly groomed & uneducated to the outside observer. They are RP debt slaves, abiding by a fraudulent & outdated BP contract based on substance abuse, currency manipulation, addictive credit & bad faith, whose liberation means the destruction of the BP economy.

"Hell yes it's rigged," says David, "Wake up". "Balkanise", I say, and we'll see who comes out on top, And I second David's motion:

"Wakey wakey !!"


Best

David Brin said...

Another imbecilic strawman. Blue America runs a huge "trade deficit" with Red America consisting of "foreign aid"... Vast vast vast sums poured straight from blue tax payers into the gaping open mouths of red (gray) states and citizens, Oh such victims! And the redder the state the more dependent and ungrateful they get. Same with the "vast resources." Bull California... yes, California... feeds the nation.

Locum's screeching howl is diametrically opposite to any fact and he doesn't care. Because if you screech a mad-up resentment loud enough, it FEELS true! And ingrates scream the loudest. And feeling is all that matters. And thus he proves one thing he said is right. He has been "feminized." There is not a 'logical male' bone in his body.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

We have killed thousands of innocent men, women and children sense 9-11. This creates great hatred for the US and a future justification for defense spending - look at all those people who have legitimate reasons to hate and harm the US.


This is "stand your ground" at the national level. After harming other people, we're now in fear of our lives over what they're now motivated to do to us, so we can pre-emptively kill them in self-defense.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Note that it is not-I who chooses to identify me as a sociopathic anti-hero.


No? But when you go off about how people will beg for your help and you'll triumphantly refuse, you sound just like him. I mean just like that monologue on the first page of the book.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | The numbers don’t support you. For example, if you measure votes for President in the 2016 election terms of the economic output of the region where the votes were cast, about 2/3rd of the US economy voted for Clinton. Since those are blue votes, the super majority of production is blue. Of course, we don’t vote that way, so 1/3rd of the economy gets to have their President sound like he thinks he knows a thing or two about economic strength.

If you aren’t a direct beneficiary of the cash flow from blue to red regions, it could be because there are intermediaries creaming it off before it gets near you. If so, you might want to find them and claim a share. It’s a lot of money. It flows that way partially because we are rich enough to be able to afford it and partially because we are out-voted. Some day we might get annoyed, but that isn’t today apparently.

Your TNG plot paraphrase is a better description of a parasite than a symbiont. Remember the 2:1 blue:red ratio for production, though, and you’ll see the roles are reversed, thus the plot makes for a poor analogy. I don’t see you all as parasites, though. As long as your children leave and come join us, you are more like a crop to be reaped.

Jumper said...

Good radio interview. Anger makes weakness go away, it feels like. That may be the best explanation for it "feeling good." I should ask more about this from my multiple black belt friend. My naive understanding is they say anger makes you weaker. I'll get back to you on that.

locumranch said...


Yes, yes. We've heard the official narrative that 'Blue America runs a huge "trade deficit" with Red America' and supports Red States full of dysfunctional deadbeats because Blue State selflessness, moral superiority & liberal altruism, excepting that 'Altruism Science' has been so thoroughly discredited that it is "not only merely dead but really most sincerely dead".

When stripped of Orwellian double-talk, the Blue State propensity to offer financial support to impoverished Red States amounts to Blue State self-interest because it is cheaper & easier to offer the victim, mark or patsy some modest form of compensation than it is to reform Blue-on-Red profit-taking & economic exploitation, as all such Blue to Red State financial payments represent a bribe, pay-out or squirrel-ish distraction designed to prevent Red State denizens for 'waking up' to the cynical manipulations of their 'Mr. Burnsian' urban benefactors.

Yet, the Red States are slowly 'waking up' to closed/partial/tilted playing field that our current economy represents. They can no longer ignore the fact that the wealth & value produced by the Reds (called 'resources') are compensated & exchanged at a discounted wholesale rate, whereas the wealth & added value produced by the Blues receives a much higher retail evaluation, especially when the Blue product is then resold back to Reds at a substantial 'added value' premium.

Brunner referred to this bit'o liberal altruism as the Paid Avoidance Area; the Blue Elite prefers to call 'Fly Over Country'; and this Raw Deal has been noticed within the EU, too, leading to the 'stewed, screwed & tatooed' Rural British regions to vote BREXIT.

So, dig this & dig it good. The Reds won't put up with your insincere, pretentious & phony Blue State charity act much longer. They don't want hand-outs, food stamps & government stipends. They don't want attaboys, certificates of participation, preferred employee parking or a false promotion to 'Executive Vice President'. They want fair RETAIL compensation for the value they produce. They want a living wage. And they want it right now.

Or, the 'Deal is Off', the current Social Contract is rendered Null & Void, and 'The Roads will NOT Roll' (RAH, 1940)


Best
_____
A specious argument, Larry H. I warn people that a crunch is coming, so they have the opportunity to reform their errant ways, insomuch as further 'help' will not be offered in the absence of reciprocation. Said the helmsman of the Titanic, "Iceberg ahead, Sir, off port side -- it's still there, Sir, only closer -- Might I steer starboard to avoid it, Sir? -- Collision is imminent, Sir' until CRASH, only to have the Captain rebuke him as a Negative Nancy for saying 'I told you so'.

Who's numbers, Alfred? There are at least 3 kinds: Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics.

And then there's John Kerry who natters on about how Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord is a "Gross Abdication of Leadership" when, at the very worst, Trump's withdrawal makes him guilty of a "Gross Abdication of FOLLOWERSHIP".


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | The numbers I usually rely upon tend to be collected by people who self-identify as fiscal conservatives. You can't brush them aside without risking appearing to prefer your beliefs to their reality.

Economics is an odd field. We CAN talk about numbers, but our politics bias us easily. It reminds me of theists wanting to discuss science. They CAN do it, but it is tricky. We wind up having to talk about assumptions that are emotionally charged.

If you want a name as an example, look up Don Boudreaux at Café Hayek. His politics will make the progressives here howl and his economics will make them yowl, but he is a serious fellow and takes education as seriously. If he thinks an idea stinks, he will explain why in gory detail. Whether one agrees with him at the end doesn't matter much. He is useful. Here is one of his recent quotes...

Again, I am increasingly struck and distressed by how much of modern economics – economics since the time of J.M. Keynes (1883-1946) – is an elaborate practice of assuring the man-in-the-street that his economically untutored sense of the way economies work is, in fact, spot-on correct. The man-in-the-street, seeing only what Deirdre McCloskey calls the “first act” of economic phenomena, concludes that the first act is all that there is.

http://cafehayek.com/2017/05/quotation-of-the-day-2074.html

At the end of the post he even used something close to the astronomy analogy I like to use. I was amused that day. 8)

donzelion said...

Alfred: Sorry, I forget when I'm repeating myself. ;-)

"I posted my thoughts on why NATO participation made sense for us."
And they are sensible thoughts. But hardly as cynical as my own.

"Practicing to fight the previous war we won would have done no good, but that’s not how we do it in the US."
When military is left to its own devices, it is not how we do it. When vested interests intrude, they'll keep the battleships deployed long after they're proven utterly obsolete, simply to keep the battleshipyards that cannot produce an aircraft carrier in business. Problem is, the brass always has one part 'competent soldiers' and one part 'politically well-connected.' Was far worse when the brass reflected noble titles...

"Habits are terribly important to have already established before battle,"
I expect the days of the drone force will result in a whole new approach to habituation, and guessing the programming and vulnerabilities used for rival AI systems with even better AI systems is the next phase...it is quite possible that a nation will achieve utterly overwhelming primacy in 'real war' simply through such devices.

Leaving all other countries better off developing asymmetric strategies.

"I doubt we disagree much."
As do I. ;-)

donzelion said...

Locum: ", mark or patsy some modest form of compensation than it is to reform Blue-on-Red profit-taking & economic exploitation..."

The last time I heard an argument like Locum's, it was in the context of an African leader asserting that Western capitalism was to blame for the ills in Africa, and that African dictators could not possibly be held responsible. Of course, a fair number of the folks nodding in agreement at that argument were semi-literate (and I was insufficiently fluent in the local dialect to appreciate the entire argument), but it is remarkable even so.

"You guys give us aid only because it helps hide your guilt from exploiting us..."

Yep, the very logic of a people oppressed by their own dictators and feudal lords, who have been trained not to acknowledge that and instead to lash out to folks who would otherwise mean to help them (not entirely out of any kindness - just, it's easier to trade profitably over the long term with reasonable people than with rentier lords).

Alfred Differ said...

donzelion | Leaving all other countries better off developing asymmetric strategies

I'd argue we are already there for most nations. The few still fighting our Pax don't get how hopeless their situation is. We have space as a high ground and effectively own the oceans. They can try to deny these things to us, but it will cost them a huge amount and we can simply outspend them. We are that stinkin' rich.

It's over until we crumble due to internal causes and Trump won't be one of those causes. 8)

Regarding Africa, I tend to let them gripe unchallenged if they want to be upset about Belgium's Leopold or Britain's Cecil Rhodes. That was a while ago, though. Time to catch up... and many are.

donzelion said...

Alfred: In a manner of speaking, Germany and France are already doing asymmetric warfare, through refugee programs; obviously, they are 'big league dangerous' - so dangerous that Trump blocked the programs...

"Regarding Africa, I tend to let them gripe unchallenged if they want to be upset about Belgium's Leopold or Britain's Cecil Rhodes. That was a while ago, though."
I am less concerned about Africans than I am with Americans making the same sort of disingenuous, facile arguments. Re-reading and tweaking his argument -

"Yet, [Africa / the Red States] are slowly 'waking up' to closed/partial/tilted playing field that our current economy represents. They can no longer ignore the fact that the wealth & value produced by the [Africans / Reds] (called 'resources') are compensated & exchanged at a discounted wholesale rate, whereas the wealth & added value produced by the [Westerners / Blues] receives a much higher retail evaluation, especially when the Blue product is then resold back to [Africans / Reds] at a substantial 'added value' premium."

- and it closely fits with the African complaint for generations. However, unlike the African critics of post-colonialism (and sycophantic supporters of local oppressors) - the Red States have a lot of guns.

locumranch said...


Alfred, I apologise for my snippy response. I do recognise the objective value of numbers, yet you err when you assume that the US currency of Dollars & Quatloos has any real objective material value. It does not, meaning that accurate currency numbers & exemplary math skills serve little or no purpose.

For the sake of argument, imagine that Red State A possesses an Annual Income of 5 million Quatoos, pays Federal Taxes of 1 Million Quatloos but requires an Annual Budget of 6 Million Quatloos to balance its books, whereas Blue State B possesses an Annual Income of 10 Million Quatloos, pays Federal Taxes of 2 Million Quatloos and requires an Annual Budget of 8 Million Quatloos.

You could argue that the Federal Government balances the budget of both states by redistributing the negative balance of Red State A to Blue State B & the positive balance of Blue State B to Red State A. You could say that, but that assertion would not be true. The Federal Government doesn't need to balance anyone's books when it can simply create currency by fiat.

The Federal Government gives Red State A the money it needs to bridge its Annual Budget shortfall, but NO redistribution has occurred since US federal currency has NO fixed value. The Federal Government gives Red State A nothing but fiat currency; Blue State B gives nothing but fiat currency to the Federal Government in taxes; and Red State A balances its budget on nothing but the fiat currency that it receives from the Federal Government.

And Poof! The Budget is balanced by nothing beyond the illusion of a balanced budget. And what non-imaginary thing has Blue State B lost? What has it given to Red State A or the Federal Government? Nothing. You come from nothing, you're going back to nothing & what have you lost? Nothing! Just as 'nothing' will come from the National Debt.

I therefore offer thanks to all of the Blue States for their largesse to the Red States:

Thanks for NOTHING.


Best
____
@Donzelion: It's not guilt or charity that makes Europe support Africa or the US Blues support the Reds. It's simply expediency. To paraphrase Herbert's Dune, the currency must flow if it is to maintain the literal illusion of temporal value. And, I mean LITERAL as the monetary value of 'currency' is recursively defined as "the period of time during which something is valid, accepted, or in force". Review David's ruminations on the 'velocity of money' if you doubt me.

Jumper said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCRlLEoG9rI

donzelion said...

Locum: Western direct aid to Africa has seldom been particularly expedient. Indirect aid, intelligence aid, and other forms of aid have been remarkably expedient (and much larger), but whether that constitutes 'support' is a complex question varying from one context to the next, in a region where my depth of knowledge is far more limited than other places (though I have read a few books, largely to contrast USAID experiences in Egypt with 'African Africa').

The flow of most US aid (US official aid budget = $8 billion budget for decades, $3 billion to Israel, $2 billion to Egypt, $800 mill to Jordan/Palestinians, and the rest to 'everywhere else in Africa and beyond') goes from Washington DC to Washington Beltway bandits to Washington-selected ships transporting Washington-approved goods from Washington-acknowledged sources. After everyone takes their cut, a small fraction reaches the locals to achieve some purpose. This is a domestic subsidy dressed as foreign charity. To follow your Frank Herbert analogy, it would be the Spacing Guild claiming they were delivering spice to Arrakis with their ships.

Indirect flows (World Bank) are investment, with the bank putting in 3-10% of the seed funds, and then attracting private investors to get the work finished. Not expedient either...and occasionally counterproductive (Rwanda was a poster child in the '80s for effectively implementing reform agendas...)(btw, Rwanda is another instance in which a power minority group - Interahamwe - asserted that others were taking all their resources and leaving them with nothing...again, paraphrasing your own argument in nearly the same form.)

In terms of our host's discussions about velocity of money...well, perhaps you've misunderstood them.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

A specious argument, Larry H. I warn people that a crunch is coming, so they have the opportunity to reform their errant ways, insomuch as further 'help' will not be offered in the absence of reciprocation. Said the helmsman of the Titanic, "Iceberg ahead, Sir, off port side -- it's still there, Sir, only closer -- Might I steer starboard to avoid it, Sir? -- Collision is imminent, Sir' until CRASH, only to have the Captain rebuke him as a Negative Nancy for saying 'I told you so'.


My reference to Roarschach isn't about the warnings of a crunch, but the self-righteous glee you express at refusing to help once the emergency is evident. I'm not sure how one would fit an appropriate analogy with the Titanic helmsman in there.

Your argument above has some merit, but is in direct contradiction to your attitude on global warming. You're taking the rebuking Captain's role in that one, and you wouldn't be all that sympathetic toward liberals who refused to (literally) bail you out once you were (literally) under water from the effects of the phenomenon you refuse to credit as real.

BTW, you're still casting yourself as Roarschach, although without the mask. He too walked around with a sign saying "The End Is Nigh!"


"The world didn't end yesterday."

"Are you sure?"

Jumper said...

The world is indeed getting worse. I'm aging! The world was totally rocketing up until I hit 23, and kept getting better in so many ways after that! Then I passed 39 and the world suddenly became a scary place with a distinct downward trend. Anyway, all the old-timers from history agree with me: something's coming and I don't like the looks of it!

Paul SB said...

"I warn people that a crunch is coming, so they have the opportunity to reform their errant ways..."

The eternal incantation, that the World is Coming to an End!® Just last night I was listening to a 17th C. poem set to music that has the same theme:

Man by George Herbert

My God, I heard this day,
That none doth build a stately habitation,
But he that means to dwell therein.
What house more stately hath there been,
Or can be, then is Man? to whose creation
All things are in decay.
...

The day they nailed Jesus to the cross people said he was coming back soon! And the World is Coming to an End!®

Oh, wait the world ended in 2012, no, the Year 2000, 1848, 1599 ... it goes all the way back, crunch turtles all the way down.When were the Vogons supposed to arrive?

"They offer a refined product that Red Planet dwellers value as highly as life itself. Red Planet dwellers offer up large amounts of cheap unprocessed resources in return..."
That has been a feature of economies since before the Phoenicians. One group buys raw materials from another, then adds a whole lot of labor to turn it into a more valuable commodity and sells it, both to members of its own group and to those who sold them the raw materials. This is what Wallerstein called a Core-Periphery relationship, and it almost invariably leads to greater wealth for the manufacturers than the resource extractors. The Phoenicians were famous for buying semi-precious stones, taking them back home to Tyre, then carving them into figures of the local gods of the people they got the rocks from and selling the figures back to them. This is hardly a unique feature of modern American politics - it's a very ancient pattern, and if someone doesn't like it, they should pack up and move to Tyre and get a job manufacturing idols and sending remittances to their families back in the hills.

Jumper, I thought the world was a scary place when I was 9. It is, but for very different reasons than our faux rancher claims. The world is at least equally a very hopeful place - it's his unbalanced mind that only sees the former and never the latter.

Paul SB said...

Tim (now that there are those here that would call you that),

I recently had my hearing checked, and discovered that I have had tinnitus since I was a kid. It's not a ringing sound so much as a tingling, the doctor said that the #1 word people use to describe the noise is "crickets." I thought it was a sign of psychosis, and was quite relieved to learn otherwise. So tinnitus is not just an issue as you age, people can have it all their lives. In my case I only notice it when it is very quiet, like when I'm trying to get to sleep. Hopefully yours will mellow out with time as mine did.

LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman agrees with me on the nature of the current Republican Party:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/opinion/trump-gratuitously-rejects-the-paris-climate-accord.html


...
Pay any attention to modern right-wing discourse — including op-ed articles by top Trump officials — and you find deep hostility to any notion that some problems require collective action beyond shooting people and blowing things up.

Beyond this, much of today’s right seems driven above all by animus toward liberals rather than specific issues. If liberals are for it, they’re against it. If liberals hate it, it’s good. Add to this the anti-intellectualism of the G.O.P. base, for whom scientific consensus on an issue is a minus, not a plus, with extra bonus points for undermining anything associated with President Barack Obama.
...

locumranch said...


Donzelion's comparison of Red State/Blue State & Africa/Europe remains apt:

(1) Both exist as Colony/Coloniser insomuch as the definition of economic colonisation consists of "exploitation by a stronger country of weaker one (or) the use of the weaker country's resources to strengthen and enrich the stronger country";
(2) Both reflect a NON-negotiable Servant Serf/Rentier Lord dynamic since the latter dismisses this relationship as "complex"; and
(3) Much of the so-called financial aid that both are said to 'receive' never truly can said to arrive at its stated destination as it "goes from Washington DC to Washington Beltway bandits to Washington-selected ships transporting Washington-approved goods from Washington-acknowledged sources (where) everyone takes their cut",

And 'The End is Nigh' is a matter of interpretation, isn't it? The Helpocalypse I often describe (wherein individuals neither offer nor expect to receive aid from other non-reciprocating parties) has already arrived in most of the US. We teach this as a FACT to our children in school. We tell them to rely solely on the designated Protector Caste of Friends, Police Officers, Fire Fighters & Teachers for 'help' as all other potential helpers may represent rapists & murders. The Helpocalypse I warn about, though, will occur when those designated helpers & protectors will no longer bother to help you either, even when you PAY them to do so. Then, all of us are on our own until we renegotiate a new reciprocal deal. This is 'The End' I speak of.

Are you sure it hasn't yet arrived?


Best

Tim Wolter said...

Paul SB.

Its like having my own on board white noise machine!

LarryH, I don't often agree with Krugman but he has some insights there. I am occasionally castigated for discussing any "equivalence" but it seems to me a fair question as to which of the current Major Parties is more dysfunctional. And a side question: Which is more likely to harm a political party...unexpected success or unlooked for failure? Each has its own unique features...

T.

Tim H. said...

Bailing out of the Paris climate accord, the optics are terrible and it may be used as justification for cutting energy research. I get nostalgia, but to be nostalgic for such unpleasant things...
BTW, I also have tinnitus, as a consequence of an unpleasant upper respiratory infection, at least when a phone rings you can pick it up ;)

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

it seems to me a fair question as to which of the current Major Parties is more dysfunctional.


The Republicans are dysfunctional in governing the country. The Democrats are definitely more politically dysfunctional. The former is a greater danger to you and me. The latter only matters indirectly in the sense that it prevents the Republicans from being voted out of office.

It's probably been a while since I directly expressed this so I'll remind you, I'm not in love with the Democratic Party. But I see the Republican Party as a clear and present danger, and under the current system, electing Democrats is the only way of not electing Republicans.

I did vote for Gerald Ford in 1976. Or at least, I would have if I were old enough to vote that year.


LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The Helpocalypse I often describe (wherein individuals neither offer nor expect to receive aid from other non-reciprocating parties) has already arrived in most of the US.


You are correct that almost two thirds of states are run by Republicans.


We teach this as a FACT to our children in school. We tell them to rely solely on the designated Protector Caste of Friends, Police Officers, Fire Fighters & Teachers for 'help' as all other potential helpers may represent rapists & murders.


I don't know where or when your kids were in school. My daughter is currently in high school, and "we" most certainly do not teach anything of the kind. Maybe Batman's comment to Catwoman is appropriate: "Your problem is you're hanging around with the wrong crowd."


The Helpocalypse I warn about, though, will occur when those designated helpers & protectors will no longer bother to help you either, even when you PAY them to do so. Then, all of us are on our own until we renegotiate a new reciprocal deal. This is 'The End' I speak of.

Are you sure it hasn't yet arrived?


Help is more likely to come from local community and family than from faraway centers of big government. People are more likely to care about helping you if you've been a friend in return. If you've made a point of being a jerk to them, then yes, what you say above will look prophetic. The responses on this list which you interpret as us being mean to you is actually our subtle way of warning you that you're coming across as a jerk.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

Bailing out of the Paris climate accord, the optics are terrible...


And the thing is, optics are the only real "accomplishment" of the announcement in the first place. Trump and the supporters who clapped for him obviously read the optics differently. For his base, the optics look great (again)!

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | - and it closely fits with the African complaint for generations

Wow. That’s a pretty good fit. Now that you lay it out that way, I can see that I’ve seen that argument a number of times from people who have just decided that the markets are not serving their needs. What comes next is usually a form of thievery or war.

My mother’s mother was from a clade that didn’t have enough guns, so theft and the black market is where she turned. Our red neighbors obviously have another choice, but I think they’ll find the blues have a lot of guns too.

donzelion said...

Locum: I wasn't really comparing the condition of Red/Blue America with Europe/Africa - only the mentality reflected in the argument you're making.

In both Red America and Africa, a series of local strongmen took power, who proceeded to blame foreigners, outsiders, and corrupt, educated folks for oppressing them and stealing their resources. The same folks who blamed the outsiders would then monopolize trade with those outsiders, and control all the benefits of that trade, using any tactic they pleased to knock out challengers (including rampant conspiracy theories, fact-challenged assertions, and worse).

Some of that complaint was based on historical events from decades before; some based on actual incidents; most based on symbols. Little was helpful to the community, but VERY helpful to the strongmen (who picked the community's pocket).

"(2) Both reflect a NON-negotiable Servant Serf/Rentier Lord dynamic since the latter dismisses this relationship as "complex"; and"
That's the thing: efforts to 'help' the other - such as the use of capital - typically get usurped by local elites, who trade up and steal the benefits. Much as in Red America, a handful of billionaires prosper while the bulk stagnates and gets increasingly angry at everyone OTHER than the billionaires who actually fleeced them.

"(3) Much of the so-called financial aid that both are said to 'receive' never truly can said to arrive at its stated destination"
Except...when a social security check, a veteran's beneficiary check, or a physical service actually gets delivered to the postal box, it's hard to take that credibly. Mississippi receives more each year than all of Africa ever did, most of which goes straight into the hands of people there - many of whom are outraged that the federal government didn't give them enough.

"The Helpocalypse I often describe (wherein individuals neither offer nor expect to receive aid from other non-reciprocating parties) has already arrived in most of the US. We teach this as a FACT to our children in school."
I was unaware you were teaching this to our children in school. Think that's another argument for adopting common core; 'helpocalypse' is nowhere to be found within that.

"This is 'The End' I speak of. Are you sure it hasn't yet arrived?"
Quite sure it hasn't arrived yet, and is probably further away than ever. Some facts:

(1) #1 major in almost every social sciences programs in any university is psychology, a profession in which the practitioners are almost all drawn to 'help' others.

(2) science is still a grant-driven field, where labwork often cannot even be started without lining up 'help' - and the sort of help that makes a serfdom relationship highly improbable (though grumbling, underpaid grad students are common, and of course there must be a few scientists who run their labs like plantations...they'd suffer for want of talent unless some benefit fell to the 'serfs')

(3) IT at the highest end cannot function without coordination, cooperation, 'help.' Apple was 'helped' by Microsoft, which bailed them out before bankruptcy wrecked the firm. Microsoft in turn was 'helped' by IBM, which gave them their very first profitable products. IBM in turn was 'helped' by both GE and a host of others...a series of 'helps' created a series of success stories. And that's the corporate level - you'll find a far better illustration of that sort of 'help' among programmers, coders, hackers, developers, designers...innovators.

There was never a time when a single great genius developed the range of wonders we enjoy today - even if only a handful of geniuses had their names spoken of at length, every last one of them built from freely given 'help' of others.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I would understand if you don’t read every word I post here. You have better things to do. However, the mistake of assuming US dollars have any real objective value is not one I make. I learned from McCloskey to quote prices of things in terms of other things and to avoid currencies where possible. It is in these ratios that one discovers how vast the change has been to the common man over the last few centuries. Look on the internet and you’ll find an occasional example like the price of lighting in terms of hours of labor spent acquiring it. The original form of it was how costly are candles, but we don’t use candles so much anymore. Another example you’ll find out there is the cost in labor of clothing. Textile products were among the first to be mass produced in the industrial revolution and ‘real’ prices have practically vanished compared to what they were before industrialization.

The Federal Government doesn't need to balance anyone's books when it can simply create currency by fiat.

Heh. Apparently you are a believer in gold and silver? Your assertion is incorrect, but not because the feds can’t create currency. It is incorrect because they don’t ‘simply’ create currency. The bond markets have to buy the stuff, thus the price at which new currency enters the market can adjust other prices. Currency represents debt and debt obligations have prices on them marked as interests rates. You’ll see that it isn’t simple if you note that creating a lot of currency suddenly also tends to create inflation. Destroying currency (one way to tighten money supply) can be deflationary. Whether these things happen or not, though, depends on the buyers in the bond markets.

Your illusion of no value is in error, but the people who argue for objective value are also in error. Value gets assigned by how currency is traded much like every other commodity, good, or service.

Let’s look at your red state with a 1 million quatloo imbalance, though. Why is there an imbalance? It is possible they are trying to do more than they can afford. It is possible they face unfunded mandates dictate by federal law. It is also possible that they are in debt to their rich citizens and must pay interest. It is important to understand the details, because if it is the later, there is an issue that is difficult to face. Rich citizens can vote and influence votes. If they want to convince their neighbors to borrow their money (at a price of course) then political and bond markets mix together. Politics is a winner takes all market, though. We see this here in California when our citizens decide they want some project that the state cannot immediate finance. High speed rail for instance. No problem we say. Just put the project on the ballot, win, and then finance it with bonds. See the mixing of markets? People who want their trains get to have them. Our rich citizens who want to treat the state as a cash cow get to have it too. Rentiers come in many forms, but the folks who buy our bonds are especially interesting because they benefit from market mixing. Could something similar be going on in your state? Is it ACTUALLY benefiting your neighbors?

raito said...

Berial,

You think you joke, but the tentacle mem goes back a couple centuries.
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=781730&partId=1 (read the curator's comments)

Jumper,

On the martial arts side, actual anger makes you weaker. Certainly it does for me. One good friend competes best when he's excited. I'm the opposite. Excitement keeps me from focus. But anger doesn't do it for either of us. It makes outcomes too 'important'. The goal takes over from the process. Sure, I want to win. But if all I'm doing is obsessing over winning, I'm not competing at my best. As long as I can just use the goal as a measure of success, without emotional entanglements, I'm more likely to succeed.

And knowing this, anger and righteousness never makes me feel better. Nor my blood pressure.

PaulSB,

Did I get tinnitus the old-fashioned way, rocking out in from og 80K screaming fans who paid to see me? No, I got mine from coughing.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Let’s look at your red state with a 1 million quatloo imbalance, though. Why is there an imbalance?


This may be a tangent, but just a few weeks back, at the suggestion of this list, I read Jack London's "The Iron Heel" for the first time. The socialist protagonist refers to an economic theory which I took to be sort of common knowledge among socialists circa 1907. The idea was that capitalism, by its very design creates imbalance which is irreconcilable.

It helps to think of "capital" as one big factory which hires workers and has them make stuff. Because the factory is meant to be profitable, the stuff they make must be worth more than the wages that they pay in the making. So after the workers spend their entire pay on stuff, the economy (the factory) still has a surplus of stuff. The capitalists themselves will buy some of that stuff, but not nearly the entire amount. Export to new markets is only a temporary solution, because in order for those new markets to have something useful to pay for the stuff with, they eventually become part of the system and the same rules apply.

I'm not remembering the end game very well, but I think that the need to have the surplus consumed (paid for) is what inevitably leads to war.

LarryHart said...

raito:

Did I get tinnitus the old-fashioned way, rocking out in from og 80K screaming fans who paid to see me? No, I got mine from coughing.


Does everybody have tinnitus except for me? I'm beginning to feel left out.

Jumper said...

I have visual tinnitus lately. Good thing I was a child of the '60s or the sight of random objects ejaculating multicolored sparkling pixels would bother me more.

locumranch said...


Alfred makes an excellent counter-argument. I read every word. Less so for Donzelion who creates arbitrary distinctions between Western Billionaires, African Dictators & Establishment-supported Corporate Oligarchies. LarryH's lovey-dovey comments are unhelpful, possibly due to unfamiliarity with current US school 'Stranger Danger' polices, or possibly due to the positive experiences of offering random school children rides in his unmarked van full of candy. But, hands down, PaulSB wins today's prize for most truthiness.

PaulSB dropped this remarkable truth bomb when commenting on the Colony/Coloniser dynamic:

"This is hardly a unique feature of modern American politics - it's a very ancient pattern, and if someone doesn't like it, they should pack up and move to Tyre and get a job manufacturing idols and sending remittances to their families back in the hills".

This is GOLDEN time-tested wisdom.

This is the truth that David communicates when he exults in the annual Red State Exodus of US Secondary School graduates who flee their economically depressed red state homelands for bluer colonial economies every June. Quite inadvertently, this truth was conveyed by Marie Antoinette when she commented on her people's lack of bread. A failed german art student once communicated this truth to a war-humbled people in explicit fashion. Simon & Garfunkel translated this truth into song as 'El condor paso'. And, this truth was the motive force behind Brexit & the rise of the Alt-Right.

(1) The role of Coloniser is preferable to the role of Colonist;
(2) The role of Exploiter is preferable to that of Exploitee; and
(3) "I'd rather be Hammer than a Nail" (sang S&G).

So, we become the Hammer.

Best

Jumper said...

Larry, that seems an awful lot like circular reasoning sophistry. The carrot grower who trades with the potato grower doesn't gain much, but variety is fungible. In the real world it's combinations and strong-arm tactics that tilt the field.

LarryHart said...

Jumper,

Yeah, I'm old school that way too. You make stuff that you need to use, and if you have a surplus, you can trade that for other stuff.

It's only a problem when the modern notion takes over that everything is to be monetized, and that the only value of anything (including your wife or your freedom) is what you can sell it for. Old time communists quipped that the capitalists would sell them the rope they'd use to hang those capitalists with. The 21st Century version is that capitalists will exchange their food, water, and air for money if they can turn a profit that way.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

1) The role of Coloniser is preferable to the role of Colonist;
(2) The role of Exploiter is preferable to that of Exploitee; and
(3) "I'd rather be Hammer than a Nail" (sang S&G).

So, we become the Hammer.


Now you sound just like a battered child who becomes a child-batterer himself.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

LarryH's lovey-dovey comments are unhelpful, possibly due to unfamiliarity with current US school 'Stranger Danger' polices, or possibly due to the positive experiences of offering random school children rides in his unmarked van full of candy.


You're skating close to slander again.

I'd tell you to watch it, but then again it would hardly change the level of deplorableness that I already ascribe to you. So carry on, I guess.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

(1) The role of Coloniser is preferable to the role of Colonist;


Ok, that was funny.

Jumper said...

Depends what you mean by "colon."
Thanks, I'll be here all week!

But seriously, you don't have to be a communist to sell poison to capitalists, or anyone else for that matter.

You made me think of Antiques Roadshow where a certain percent of things are monetized by routine, but the participants, the show people, and the audience know some of these things will not be going for sale. People still recognize the difference.

....................

There are certain contrarians in the USA and elsewhere. I saw them where I worked, turning down the opportunity of the company 401K program, vested to a level by the owners very generously: up to 5% was evenly matched. This was for the bottom rung of workers. Health insurance was offered too. But the contrarians didn't believe in that bureaucratic 401K stuff and suspiciously said "no." If the elites had it, they didn't want it! This is played out at many levels. Leave the Army before the pension is earned. Drop out of school because our kind hates school. Get too drunk all the time. Blame someone else.

The ultimate masochists cry "whip me!" and the damned elites say "no!"

Winter7 said...

Your idea of equipping cell phones with a backup, peer-to-peer (p2p) text passing capability is formidable.
Mark Zuckerberg might be interested in your idea. Talk to him. He will hear you. After all, Mark Zuckerberg wants to use a network of drones to take the internet to the whole world:
https://www.wired.com/2016/01/facebook-zuckerberg-internet-org/

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

The ultimate masochists cry "whip me!" and the damned elites say "no!"


I heard it as "The masochist says 'whip me!' and the sadist refuses." It's a little like trying to evaluate the statement, "This sentence is a lie."


Depends what you mean by "colon."
Thanks, I'll be here all week!


I might have known someone would go there, but it's not what I was going for. I just don't think "colonist" means what he thinks it does. The American Indians were not colonists.

Aren't colonists and colonizers the same thing?


You made me think of Antiques Roadshow where a certain percent of things are monetized by routine, but the participants, the show people, and the audience know some of these things will not be going for sale. People still recognize the difference.


"Antiques Roadshow" is fun to watch when the participants appear genuinely surprised and grateful for an appraisal beyond their imagining. I realize that some of that may be acting, but if so, it's good acting. There's a different show--maybe "Pawn Stars"?--in which the same sort of valuation goes on, but the participants always seem to be somewhat disappointed in the lowball value of their stuff. I don't like watching that one because it feels depressing.

Along those lines, I felt that the country's values had taken a wrong turn back around 2000 when the hot show on tv stopped being "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and became shows in the mold of "Survivor" and "Weakest Link". In the former, the audience is cheering on the contestant to win. In the latter mold--which all Reality Shows have now become--the audience is jeering on someone to lose. The highlight of each week is who loses the game. The winner is only an afterthought--the one left standing after everyone else has lost. The appeal is way too gladitorial for me.


Jumper said...

The software for the emergency walkie-talkie mode would be fun to write. You need security against contrarians, pranksters, etc., so your initial contacts would be minimized by necessity. Your initial contacts could initiate "trusted" receipts to increase your circle in short order.

Tim Wolter said...

Oddly, Colony and its variants has no etymologic link to colon.

Colonia is Latin. The meaning is well known.
Kolon, for large intestine, is Greek.

T/Tacitus

Jumper said...

"these things will not be going for sale. People still recognize the difference."

I meant the family is told that Uncle John's awesome photographs of WWII plus his uniform, medals and framed citation signed by Ike, all tastefully in cases, are given a value of $5,000 "at auction" but you know they're keeping it all in the family.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

Oddly, Colony and its variants has no etymologic link to colon.


I'd have found it odder if there was a connection.

I'm more curious how the word "rapture" came to be used both for the result of a harvest and for that euphoric feeling one's girlfriend is so good at faking.

LarryHart said...

Jumper,

I know what you meant. Tangents are just my thing--especially late on a Friday afternoon.

donzelion said...

Berial: Missed your post yesterday at 1:30 pm...catching up.

"There are 15 CCs spread all over [Mississippi]...Just like full colleges, some majors are more likely to lead to jobs than others. I think Hinds is the biggest CC in the state and it has 80 'programs' ranging from Accounting to Welding."

My lone foray into teaching at a CC in California, I was impressed by (1) the ability of some of the students to play the system (large number took out $20k in loans per year, applying that to buy giant trucks, even though they weren't supposed to be eligible for that since the college tuition was tiny, about $500/quarter), (2) the ability of some of the students to excel (in the Model UN program I ran for the year I ran it, about 60% of my students went on to 4-year schools, vs. 20% or less for the rest of the campus). Of course, that particular school was in an impressively right wing part of the country - where 15 Republican candidates demonstrated their platform during primaries based on which gun they thought best represented them. The locals sort of hated the community college. It was still by far the largest employer in that region, followed by the hospital and a CostCo.

"I didn't notice [Butler/Snow] until Haley Barbour became Governor."
Ah, a law firm...Butler Snow is a new name to me. Not a member of the top 100 law firms by revenue (I know many of those guys quite well), probably localized 'insider' practices...looking at their 'firm history' page, it's a one-line 'filler' (implying that they bought out someone else's practice and reformulated/rebranded themselves).

Mississippi lawyers play an interesting role in American politics - anti-tobacco (Dickie Scruggs, now a disgraced, disbarred consultant) to NAFTA (e.g., O'Keefe v. Loewen Group -
a ridiculous case in which local juries gouged foreign investors with a $500 million judgment in a case where the alleged breach of contract claim was less than $1 million in value...effectively ensuring that foreign investors steered clear of Mississippi for about 10 years without extreme political cover).

My eye is drawn toward intriguing legal matters - because that tends to be where the rich fight with the richer (and frequently, they settlements they reach enable them to gouge third-party bystanders).

"Every single one of them thinks the only thing that would change if the federal money dried up, is that they'd suddenly all be millionaires from the tax relief."
Delusions...and I can imagine who is selling these fantasies to them. I wish I had a solution...the one thing the rich tend to fear is someone bigger than they are bringing in bigger guns than they can hire, and the government is the biggest guns of all.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "the old tale is the winners prepare for the last war and the losers for the next. George Marshall knew this and utterly transformed the curriculum at the war colleges to teach the officer corps to worry and plan forward."

I have great faith in the capabilities of actual soldiers and officers to figure out how to prepare for the next war. I have great fear of the capabilities of politicians to thwart those efforts to prepare, demanding, e.g., a $150m investment in basing facilities for planes in their state that serve no actual national security purpose (but ensure 2000 jobs for well-placed cronies).

And yet, the intriguing aspect in this game is how few of the CEOs and inventors of most modern military kit become billionaires themselves. The era of Howard Hughes is over - instead, one finds a large pool of millionaires at the top, but not anything like what one finds in real estate/banking sectors. That suggests some factor reins in the propensity toward feudalizing...

donzelion said...

Locum: "Donzelion who creates arbitrary distinctions between Western Billionaires, African Dictators & Establishment-supported Corporate Oligarchies."

In what way am I creating an arbitrary distinction?

First though (LarryHart), notice that Locum isn't even squirming at the suggestion that his reasoning follows patterns of African henchmen who justified their own dictators as a defense against Western colonialists? Whether he's right, wrong, or indifferent, the fact he can even entertain the thought suggests someone willing to consider an alternative perspective (as in, evidence of a non-narcissist). And you wonder why I have hopes for Locum, that he will not turn his back on us when the chips are down (despite his protestations and firm declaration he will do precisely that)...

"(1) The role of Coloniser is preferable to the role of Colonist;"
It really depends. The lower segment of the colonisers gain almost no benefit, just hard work and risk of malaria, yellow fever, etc. These are the folks who get shot, sick, killed, and lose everything. There are far more of them than there are billionaires.

"(2) The role of Exploiter is preferable to that of Exploitee; and"
Again, it depends. Most exploiters are in turn exploitees of someone else. Always gonna be a bigger fish...and while it would be great to be the king, it's not so great to try to become the king - and far more likely to get one killed.

(3) "I'd rather be Hammer than a Nail" (sang S&G)."
Personally, I'd rather be a level than either a hammer or a nail. Merely finding a balance between extremes...and the level doesn't get 'used up' - unlike both hammers and nails.

Takes all sorts of tools to get the job done right...

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

And you wonder why I have hopes for Locum, that he will not turn his back on us when the chips are down (despite his protestations and firm declaration he will do precisely that)...


You probably also knew that Darth Vader would turn out to have good in him. :)

donzelion said...

Alfred: "Wow. That’s a pretty good fit." (comparing Locum's summary of red/rural feelings of oppression with African post-colonial complaints)

Thank you for that; it was a surprising observation for me (made even more gratifying by the fact Locum is comfortable with the comparison and willing to try to run with it...an actual bigot would be infuriated, or simply disengage...).

"I can see that I’ve seen that argument a number of times from people who have just decided that the markets are not serving their needs. What comes next is usually a form of thievery or war."
Possibly. There is also the possibility of community, joint action that bypasses and sidelines the whole affair (much as modern Africa shows doctors, mobile phone operators, and many others quietly bypassing the corrupt dictators and setting up their own parallel services). Not always, but it is possible.

When the community does so rashly (e.g., taking out the guns and lynching or sending a posse against the corrupt), it almost always backfires (the replacements prove just as corrupt). But sometimes, the community focuses on tangible measures and improvements - and sweeps aside corruption when it becomes an impediment, not in a fit of shallow indignation, but in a determined, long-term vision of improving conditions locally.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "You probably also knew that Darth Vader would turn out to have good in him. :)"

LOL, as a child, I wanted Yoda to kill Darth Vader.

As an adult, I would say that the suggestion that atrocious evil can be 'redeemed' (or at least, put to some use far more important than its own viciousness) is apparent in our legal system: as often as not, the 'wrong side' wins a case, but the 'right side' (all of us) benefits from the fight. Who could have foreseen that the horrific 'clear and present danger' doctrine (used to lock up disruptive folks protesting WWI) could, with a slight reinterpretation, turn the 1st Amendment into a solid defense of liberty?

Who could have foreseen that a rapist/murderer like Miranda could be used to stop police torture during interrogations nationally (the real purpose of the 'right to remain silent' - never about what a person says or doesn't say, all about getting a lawyer to that person before the police beat a confession out of him).

Who could have foreseen that all of Silicon Valley owes a debt of gratitude to a poor little fox that was hunted and killed centuries ago, leading to the common law theory of 'capture' and 'possession' (that in turn sparked the common law approach to patents...and land settlement)?

Since I see so many things I dislike or disagree with turned toward some greater usefulness all the time - perhaps even a few people I don't dislike but often disagree with will also be?

It isn't optimism or pessimism to say
That predator may serve the system as much as prey.
While hostis humanis generis generally dismay
Humans often can - and must - benefit from them one day.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Donzelion, I think your comment about technology growing improvements, wash-rinse-repeat, relates to Newton's quote: "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

Jumper, are you sure you aren't prone to visual (retinal) migraines? I started getting them 2-3 years ago; the first one freaked me right out until I researched what was going on.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | The socialist protagonist refers to an economic theory which I took to be sort of common knowledge among socialists circa 1907.

Heh. Yah. I’m sure it is a sophisticated theory too. 8) That was a time when many socialists still believed in the harder versions of their theory. No private property. No market systems. Central planners were exalted and no trust was given to individuals to know what was best for them. They had already demonstrated they couldn’t cope. See how much they had been crushed and their children enslaved by Robber Barons? Pfft. The treason against our civilization was impressive.

Capital is really just savings put into action. If you stash cash under your mattress, you are saving. If you spend it, you aren’t. If you lend it to someone at a price (>0% interest rate), it magically becomes capital. If you buy a home and avoid paying rent to a landlord, it becomes capital because it is ‘invested’. You are lending it to yourself. Putting savings to work ‘capitalizes’ it. Whether the investment pays off, though, is a different thing.

‘Capitalism’ is an unfortunate misnomer. It isn’t capital that is at the heart of our modern economic success. It is savings. We preserve stuff against the possibility of a future rainy day. Grain stashed against a possible famine is savings. Grain stored that way can also be capitalized. (My 401K is savings. A loan drawn against it capitalizes it.)

It isn’t capital that is making us rich, though. That would be getting cause and effect backward and is what many people think of when they think about capitalism. We’ve become rich on our inclination to save combined with a willingness to lend against it to a supply of innovators. Savings->Capitalization->Innovation. If you have only the first two, you get rentiers. If you have only the first, you get what the vast majority of humanity has done since the dawn of Man. Capitalism really should be called Innovism, but that name sounds weird to a lot of people. What made us rich and caused this civilization to turn from pyramid to diamond is our new-found willingness to fund innovators. It is the last link in the chain.

I'm not remembering the end game very well, but I think that the need to have the surplus consumed (paid for) is what inevitably leads to war.

Hmm… Makes for a good story. I don’t think history backs that up well. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Locumranch | If you are feeling like a nail, there is a decent chance the hammer is a little closer to home than the urban blues of other states. Follow the numbers and the usual explanation in states with quatloo deficits can be tracked to local hammers… and even outright thieves.

Sure. The Blue Urbans deal with local hammers too, but we are considerably less loyal to each other. When we discover that one of them is our neighbor, scandal is a sure bet. That is less likely among Rural Reds who take loyalty more seriously than we do.

So… our progressive neighbors have a valid point when they lure your children away after high school graduation. They tend to lead less abused lives and would like that for your children. You can stop them easily, though. Just figure out which of those close to you are abusing your loyalty. Follow the money and examine WHY you have a quatloo deficit. It’s ain’t the blues stealing from you.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Hmm… Makes for a good story. I don’t think history backs that up well. 8)


Well, times and economic theories were simpler then. The book was published long enough ago that the Cubs would still win a World Series the next year prior to their 108 year drought. In fact, depending how early in 1907 it was published, the Cubs might still have had two 20th Century championships in their future at that time.

locumranch said...


Your statements have interesting governmental implications, Alfred, and it might be productive to address these questions more directly through the construction (via argument) of the more perfect society that we all seem desire here, from the ground up, instead of our usual default game of blame-shifting culpability in accordance with our various partisan ideologies.

We could start the topic by addressing (1) a reciprocal social contract, (2) governmental intent, purpose & limitations and (3) secular morality with (4) the deliberate exclusion of 'shoulding', 'oughting' & 'supposing' idealised human behaviours that lack historical precedence.

You'll note that Item (4) represents my pet peeve as most of our political conversations quickly devolve into Pinkerian fantasies requiring the creation of a 'new & improved' humanity capable of conforming to unrealistically dysfunctional social expectations.

Best

Tony Fisk said...


(1) The role of Coloniser is preferable to the role of Colonist;
(2) The role of Exploiter is preferable to that of Exploitee; and
(3) "I'd rather be Hammer than a Nail" (sang S&G).

So, we become the Hammer.


When you are a hammer, all problems become nails (never mind the wood)

A good carpenter has other tools.

David Brin said...

Notice not a single word of his attempt to channel the conversation in zero-sum terms addresses even remotely the elephant in our china shop... an attempted oligarchic putsch to restore feudalism and end democracy and science and any other potential competition vs aristocracy.

This blatantly happening. It is the huge fact of our moment in history. And those confeds who aid and abet it and help to distract from it are simply traitors.

donzelion said...

Locum: how many scientific breakthroughs started with someone somewhere noting, 'this should be that, but is in fact something else...why is it other than what I thought it should be?' To have normative reasoning as a pet peeve, when it is fundamental to the process by which we shape reality is...somewhat odd.

Besides, you're already guilty of presupposing at least one 'should' ('I should be a hammer'). And your conviction that the red states SHOULD be wealthier than they are is presupposed in your theory that it's the fault of the Blues. A plausible theory, but not one well-supported by evidence (particularly since California, home of Nixon and Reagan, was long a leader of the 'Reds'). Though if you count Trump as illustrative of the type of 'Blues' who are robbing the 'Reds' (he did come from NY, after all...), well, I would tend to agree.

But I do not share our host's fury at those who aid and abet feudalism. Most of those doing so know not what they do, and many of what he sees as traitors are just cynical, disillusioned. They may have to crucify their would-be saviours a few times, but eventually, they'll figure it out. I just hope they don't hurt too many along the way...

Daniel Duffy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy:

I usually applaud Bill Maher, but in this case, he seems to think Democrats can impeach Trump. They can't. Dr Brin has discussed reasons why they maybe shouldn't in any case, but the fact is that they don't have the votes until Republicans in congress decide to do so. All Democrats could do at this point is get blamed for a partisan witch-hunt that they will lose anyway.

LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Love does NOT trump hate. Hatred wins elections. Love is for losers. Democrats need to be just as vicious and dirty as the Republicans or Democrats will continue to be nothing but nice guys coming in last.


I also want Democrats to win, but I want them to still be the good guys when they do. Otherwise, those who say there are "no difference between the parties" and "both sides do it" and "What's the difference between a Democratic billionaire candidate and a Republican one?" will have a good point.

Good guys win. The Democratic Party is being particularly inept at it, and that's a problem (as the former Tacitus2 recently mentioned). But civil rights for black people were not won by being as brutal as the KKK. Gay rights were not won by beating up homophobes and chaining them to fences to die. The Allies kicked Hitler's ass without their own Gestapo.

LarryHart said...

...that was meant to read: Good guys can win.

Daniel Duffy said...

LarryHart:

"The Allies kicked Hitler's ass without their own Gestapo."

Will the Democrats lose their "soul" if they get down in the mud with republicans? Let's take an example from WW2. The Axis started the practice of bombing innocent civilians at Guernica, Rotterdam and Coventry. But those were mere pinpricks compare to what Allied air forces would do to German and Japanese civilians later in the war. We incinerated entire populations of helpless German and Japanese women and children at Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And the Allies were still the good guys.

The Democrats can get far more vicious than the Republicans (hey have much greater resources in media and technology to do so - if we chose to we could easily out hack the Russians and wage cyber warfare on both them and the Republicans) and like the Allies still be the good guys.

Tim H. said...

Robert Reich has another of his excellent rants:
http://robertreich.org/post/161358902975
"The art of the Trump Putin deal"

Tony Fisk said...

Hmmm...
in Australia we have witnessed a version of this which has come to be called "The race to the bottom". Neither side ends up looking electable. Now, I realise that the least unelectable would still get the prize (election), but it seems to me that following Maher's recipe will ensure that most people will just give up on elections in disgust, leaving the hyperpartisans to drive issues on both sides, not just one. (Voting is compulsory in Australia but, even so, informal votes have skyrocketed in recent times. I don't think it's because the voting process has become too hard.)

That said, Dems do need to learn how to pitch torrents of hot, sticky scorn on their opponents when appropriate. Maybe Maher could give them lessons?

LarryHart said...

Daniel Duffy:

The Democrats can get far more vicious than the Republicans (hey have much greater resources in media and technology to do so - if we chose to we could easily out hack the Russians and wage cyber warfare on both them and the Republicans) and like the Allies still be the good guys.


I'm not disagreeing with you there. I think we're on the same side.

I just don't want to go locum's "rather be a hammer than a nail" route. We don't win by beating up reporters or outing CIA operatives or threatening to jail opponentstoo. I would not like to see Democrats conclude that in order to win, we have to also be the party of Wall St and the party of climate change denial and the party of white privilege.

I see a big difference between playing (elections) by the same rules as the other side vs using power once elected the same as the other side. The Democrats are failing badly in the former area. It's like they won't use a designated hitter because they'd prefer to play "pure" baseball, while the Republicans's DHs keep racking up home runs. That is what has to change.

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

...it seems to me that following Maher's recipe will ensure that most people will just give up on elections in disgust, leaving the hyperpartisans to drive issues on both sides, not just one.


Yes, and in this country, when turnout is down, Republicans win.


That said, Dems do need to learn how to pitch torrents of hot, sticky scorn on their opponents when appropriate.


Agreed.


Maybe Maher could give them lessons?


Maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda too.

David Brin said...

TRUE THE DEMS NEED TO GET STRINGER AND MORE FORCEFUL. I'll be posting about how this calls for Colonels. Lots and lots of colonels.

locumranch said...


"Should', 'ought' & 'supposed to' are expressions of desire & preference insomuch as they need not correspond with reality.

We are happy when our desires & preferences align with reality; we are unhappy when they do not align with reality; we call it 'science' when we alter our desires & preferences (our hypothesis) to conform to objective reality (data); we call it 'magical thinking' when we demand that objective reality (data) conform to our desires, preferences & hypothesis; and the elimination of unrealistic expectations coincides with the elimination of disappointment even when it cannot make us happy.

In subtext, this is what Donzelion means when he says 'many scientific breakthroughs started with someone somewhere noting, 'this should be that, but is in fact something else...why is it other than what I thought it should be?', the error being the assumption of what 'should', 'ought' & is 'supposed to' be.

So, when Simon, Garfunkel & I sing about how "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail", this is a statement of personal preference. When Bill Maher prescribes a course of Democratic Party action, this is also a statement of personal preference. It is also a statement of personal preference when David tells us how the world 'should', 'ought' and is 'supposed to' be. And, personal preference need not represent either objective reality or science.

So, shut up already about how 'scientific' your personal preferences & desires are. They are NOT scientific. A preference for vanilla is not science, nor is a preference for chocolate, nor is a moral prescriptive about how the world 'should', 'ought' & is 'supposed to' conform to your personal preferences & desires.

Now, if you want to talk about how we can use our scientific knowledge of objective reality as the means of achieving more of our personal preferences & desires, then that's 'Science', but don't be surprised (or disappointed) to discover that your personal preferences & desires are not shared by the entire world.


Best

donzelion said...

Locum: "So, shut up already about how 'scientific' your personal preferences & desires are. They are NOT scientific."

Never asserted they were scientific. Only that to the extent one can, one SHOULD aspire to apply the same principles of using evidence and applying it to theories that is demanded in the sciences to other contexts.

Doing so is what made America - and modern science as we know it possible. That endeavor is a good one that SHOULD continue.

donzelion said...

"but don't be surprised (or disappointed) to discover that your personal preferences & desires are not shared by the entire world"

I would be shocked and disappointed if they were. Nor do I have any interest in driving the world to conform to my why of thinking. But I similarly do not believe the world SHOULD be a place where the strong abuse the weak, exploit and derive their pleasure from doing so, nor do I believe the weak SHOULD try to become strong by oppressing the even weaker. Since all of us will be both strong and weak at different points over the course of our lives, I am reasonably confident that MOST of us would agree. When that does not happen - and majorities elect someone determined to hurt the weak, I become perplexed, even vexed.

It is an odd, sad, and small world where those oppressed and beset by one set of folks decide their best course of action is to aid and abet the oppressors and join them in railing against the problem solvers. Do they hope they'll direct the oppressor's attention at softer targets than themselves? Silly ploy. Such folks defer their own turn being a nail. For a season, they may feel 'stronger...' - but they will never wind up better off for long.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin - I actually like the idea of a strong cadre of candidates in the Democratic primary. Shucks, you could run and represent science, Applegate represent another aspect, and Levin run and represent bureaucracy (and science too, since he is a longterm global warming activist). When the other side is a useless rogue, having a team of 4 or 5 candidates attacking what Issa has done (and what he hasn't) may prove a better means of motivating and mobilizing those last 2000 votes needed to oust him from power.

That said, Applegate is a good man, but there are other colonels in Congress with whom we would both disagree (though even then, they tend to be much better men than the rest of that ilk).

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

We are happy when our desires & preferences align with reality; we are unhappy when they do not align with reality; we call it 'science' when we alter our desires & preferences (our hypothesis) to conform to objective reality (data); we call it 'magical thinking' when we demand that objective reality (data) conform to our desires, preferences & hypothesis; and the elimination of unrealistic expectations coincides with the elimination of disappointment even when it cannot make us happy.


You're confusing expectations of unguided processes vs guided processes. We call it 'technology' when we build processes which cause reality to conform to our desires and preferences in a specific instance. Everything from your refrigerator to your water heater to your house to your car is an instance of making reality conform to your desires. Do you consider that to be "magical thinking"?

You conservatives love putting offenders in prison. What is the point of that other than encouraging human beings to act in ways that they "should" rather than the ways that they do. Is that "magical thinking" as well? What crime have illegal immigrants committed other than acting other than they "should"?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

So, shut up already about how 'scientific' your personal preferences & desires are. They are NOT scientific. A preference for vanilla is not science, nor is a preference for chocolate, nor is a moral prescriptive about how the world 'should', 'ought' & is 'supposed to' conform to your personal preferences & desires.


If you're allergic to chocolate, then an assertion that you "should" avoid chocolate is science, even if you prefer the taste of the thing that will make you die.

You don't get that "should" is always conditional upon what one is attempting to accomplish. Dr Brin's "should" items generally presuppose that one wishes to have an environment that will support human life for many generations to come, but they also work if one merely wishes to avoid near-long term cost explosions. Sure, you can say you don't care about any of that and therefore no one can tell you what you "should" do. Just don't be surprised (as Dave Sim continually is) that the people who do want those things consider you an enemy and a traitor to humanity. But still, no scientist is forcing you to do anything. Unless you consider "hurting your snowflake feelings" to be coercion.

donzelion said...

Daniel Duffy: "The Democrats can get far more vicious than the Republicans (hey have much greater resources in media and technology to do so - if we chose to we could easily out hack the Russians and wage cyber warfare on both them and the Republicans)"

I have no doubt of it. The second militia men learn what a well-programmed, well-operated drone can do despite all their pretty little collections of Glock & Friends, they'll spend their fortunes on drones themselves (and enrich the blue staters who build and sell them...as well as Chinese, and many others). That said, I don't expect them to dabble in the true power of genetics...too much science needed to do that, and the mere process of learning how would alter many of the people who might otherwise try to do it. Thankfully.

"and like the Allies still be the good guys."
The Allies deployed hatred to destroy a country. In the case of both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, our modern judgment asserts that those were countries that deserved to be destroyed.

Deploying that hatred against Americans is a sure way to destroy this country.

"I just don't want to go locum's "rather be a hammer than a nail" route."
Again, Locum SAYS that, but I really do not think he means it. There are myriad places in the world where he could go and actually be a hammer, rather than a nail - and yet, here he is, with us, getting mocked, challenged, questioned - and coming back for more. He is venting a desire not to be a victim, but prefers small victimhood (oh no! the PC police are coming by and telling him not to say 'n1gger!' so oppressive!) (wait, he didn't even want to say n1gger in the first place...but it's still oppressive!) to attaining and utilizing actual power to hammer anyone.

LarryHart: being a 'good loser' against a rogue keeps both sides from going rogue. It keeps the country alive. If baseball players carried guns onto the field, the game would cease to be baseball, and become something else. Some might be even more entertained by it, but to me, it would be an ugly game. Better to lose for a season than risk destroying the game forever by cheating.

Paul451 said...

A small late observation, regarding those complaining about the relative levels of US/Euro defence spending, and particularly complaining that Europe gets an unfair economic advantage from America's defence profligacy.

The complaint suggests:

1) That the complainer wants to reduce US military spending. If not, what are they complaining for? (If my friend is going to paint the whole wall himself anyway, am I lazy if I don't paint over his paint? If we share the job, if I can ease his workload, then sure, I'm not a good friend if I don't. But if he insists on not only painting every inch himself, but painting many many more coats than are required, who gains from my adding yet another unnecessary layer?)

2) That the complainer believes that nations which reduce their military gain an economic advantage.

Interesting then that the complaint comes only from those who are strongly advocating increasing US military spending.

I mean, I don't disagree with those two points, but apparently they do. So what is their complaint?

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

The Allies deployed hatred to destroy a country. In the case of both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, our modern judgment asserts that those were countries that deserved to be destroyed.

Deploying that hatred against Americans is a sure way to destroy this country.


Some right-wingers and (I'd wager) many Trumpsters think America does indeed deserve to be destroyed. Trump is a feature, not a bug, for them in exactly this manner.


"I just don't want to go locum's "rather be a hammer than a nail" route."
Again, Locum SAYS that, but I really do not think he means it. There are myriad places in the world where he could go and actually be a hammer, rather than a nail - and yet, here he is, with us, getting mocked, challenged, questioned - and coming back for more. He is venting a desire not to be a victim, but prefers small victimhood...to attaining and utilizing actual power to hammer anyone.


I attribute that to inertia, the same thing that kept me in an increasingly sucky job for twelve years. The less-charitable way to say that is "laziness". Actually oppressing people is hard work.


(oh no! the PC police are coming by and telling him not to say 'n1gger!' so oppressive!) (wait, he didn't even want to say n1gger in the first place...but it's still oppressive!)


"What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?" :)


LarryHart: being a 'good loser' against a rogue keeps both sides from going rogue. It keeps the country alive. If baseball players carried guns onto the field, the game would cease to be baseball, and become something else. Some might be even more entertained by it, but to me, it would be an ugly game. Better to lose for a season than risk destroying the game forever by cheating.


In the metaphorical scenario you describe, the only way to win is not to play. You then rely on the audience to let MLB know that they have no interest in watching this new version of the "game". The problem with the real world scenario is that the Republicans are being deplorable and winning with that strategy. You and I might say, "Better to lose than to get down in the mud," but it's not just a game--the winners get to decide how this country is run and get to have real effects on your life and mine.

At some point, you have to separate the game from the prize. When I say "I want to be the good guys when we win," I mean that I want the Democrats to rule wisely when they have power again. I don't want them emulating Republicans under the mistaken notion that the voters demand right-wing policies, when what's really happening is that the voters have embraced the GOP brand. No one likes the actual things Trump is doing now, but they still vote Republican because Republicans (in their minds) are the real American leaders, and Democrats are uppity advocates for bad people. If Democrats try to embrace Republican policies, it is just the worst of both worlds.

But I separate that from saying we won't play the election game itself by the rules that the Republicans play it by. That's tying our own hands and guaranteeing that how we would govern is a mere hypothetical exercise, because we'll never govern again. The beef I have with Republicans is that they change the rules on the fly to advantage themselves (like, Mitch McConnell will not refuse to confirm a Supreme Court nominee proposed in Trump's last year. He won't even pretend there's a reason to do so). But once the rules of the game are in place, we have to win by them. We can't say "I'd rather this rule didn't exist, so I won't make use of it, even though my opponent will without suffering any penalty." The Democrats basically did that in 2016, and we're living the result.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: being a 'good loser' against a rogue keeps both sides from going rogue. It keeps the country alive.


The good loser shows respect for the game. It's a demonstration of long-term thinking beyond the one game or the one season. In politics, long-term thinking also has to take into account, "If those guys acquire enough power now, they'll fix the game permanently." It's not enough to keep our hands clean while losing. In this case, the prize matters more than the game does.

donzelion said...

An interesting story: 3 Californians dive into shark-infested waters to save woman attacked

I prefer my headline to the editor's. If this woman survives, she ought to marry the boyfriend who dived in after her when the shark pulled her under. Or one of the men who leapt out to help her. I want more Americans like this; I am proud of the Californians among them. Fun-loving, thrill-seeking, and brave enough to fight deadly sharks to save a woman in trouble. For me, worth pausing and pondering before turning to politics...

"Deploying that hatred against Americans is a sure way to destroy this country."
Whenever Trumpsters plot to destroy America, they are claiming they want to 'save it.' Well, before challenging means, it's worth asking what it is that is worth saving. I will think today of those Americans who dived in, and wonder what their health insurance covers, or doesn't. The woman who was attacked is a mother of three; I will wonder who and how her children will be cared for if she does or doesn't survive. Whether they will have health care, educational opportunities, jobs, homes, as good a life as possible. And the families of the men who tried to save her. I am pro-life: their lives, and those of millions of others.

I will quietly seethe with rage at the wannabe tyrants who see all these people as sheep to be fleeced. I will seethe with a bit less rage at the misguided fools who think they are serving freedom by supporting the fleecers.

If Locum has the bad taste to mock these people ("meh, surfers...idiots had it coming...") - I will seethe a little, roll my eyes a bit, then mitigate my own self-righteous instincts, and remind myself: perhaps, one day, it'll be me on the beach, and him coming to save my ass. Or his son or daughter, or a friend, or someone else who but-for his help, could not have been there.

That possibility is one reason why we cannot indulge in hatred toward our fellows.

"What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can't have babies?" :)
LOL, precisely. I wondered who would see it first... ;-)

"In the metaphorical scenario you describe, the only way to win is not to play."
Exactly. If the game is political football, play 'science softball' - show the superiority of this game (and attach far bigger stakes to it), rebuild neighborhoods around this game - and then those who still want to play political football can be sidelined in a much bigger game. The cosmos is so much bigger than the feudalists wish it to be.

Indeed, the great problem of all feudalists everywhere is that they shrink the contours of possibility to perpetuating their own comfort at everyone else's expense (and yes, Dr. Brin, if you read that as an indictment of the Saudi royal family as it is now and has been, it is intended precisely so - this is the real problem I have with every feudalist everywhere, not secretive cabals or conspiracies, but simply a system that denies wondrous possibilities when they are so humanly, humanely realizable).

"The problem with the real world scenario is that the Republicans are being deplorable and winning with that strategy."
They haven't won just yet. There's a mother at Scripps Memorial Hospital fighting for her life right now, who has a fighting chance because (a) brave men did more than their duty, and (b) that hospital, and all its capabilities, exists - a product of our society, the work of many tens of thousands who contributed. And whether she lives or dies, her children will be cared for, by a community that recognizes what is really valuable.

So long as we keep working, contributing, they will never win - they'll just inflict a bit more misery so they can afford gold-plated golf carts and mega yachts, and post their selfies showing off. Distasteful, but not exactly fatal.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "In this case, the prize matters more than the game does."
The prize is America, and for a season or two, one side has the political reins, just as they've long held the financial reins. But this prize is bigger than a couple types of reins, and better.

I'm sick of losing too, and certainly have advocated diving into the ugly (I really, really wanted the 2016 circus to include a refrain in which Christian evangelicals struggled to justify how Jesus supports strip clubs at Trump-branded casinos) - but such tactics cannot work...it's not enough to point out hypocrisy, and laugh at the hypocrite, because we're all guilty somewhere or other. One has to still love the hypocrite and strive to make his plight better, because end of the day, we're all guilty.

Love really does trump hate. It may take time, and the victory may be a subtle one, but it is the only one worth winning. Indeed, the form of love has to be carefully chosen: a colonel who loves his service, his country, his troops - a social organizer? A lawyer? All have their place, and shared loves can override a lot of hurt and despair.

LarryHart said...

@donzelion,

Hate is the dark side of the Force--"quicker, easier, more seductive."

The good side can win, but it requires almost constant vigilance. The problem being that the type of person for whom "constant vigilance" is an acceptable way of life is the same type of person most seduced by the dark side.

If your goal in a war is to win and then end the war, but your opponent's goal is to keep fighting no matter what--because he enjoys fighting and you don't--then your task is that much harder. Republicans enjoy being in campaign mode all the time.

locumranch said...



LarryH makes the most common linguistic error of the politically correct. He equates that which is preferred & desirable with that which is "correct" and conflates this moral correctness with factual truth. This merits repeating.

LarryH argues that that which is preferred & desired equals (or SHOULD equal) that which is correct, true & factual, as an article of faith or a rhetorical ploy, just as David uses this same construct to condemn the CC non-supporter as a CC denier.

Donzelion intuits the meaning of my words without directly understanding them. I never said that I desired to become a bully, fascist or hammer. Instead, what I said was this:

If forced to choose between being EITHER a whipping dog (nail) OR a hammer (bully), then I would choose a hammer, as this is the most reasonable 'either-or' choice for the non-masochist.

Ideally, though, I would prefer to be neither a hammer nor a nail, assuming that I had that third non-partisan option. Yet, our NWO no longer offers the neutrality option because any indifferent 'meh' against the 'cause du jour' immediately identifies the meh-sayer as a luddite, denier, misogynist or monster.

By no coincidence, this is also the cause of the Alt-Right ascendancy & the Labour Left's humiliating defeat in the recent EU & US elections, but these avoidable misunderstandings continue despite the extended definition of 'should', 'ought' & 'supposed to' that I provided above.

Human magical thinkers are crazy-cooperative this way. Call them a monster often enough & they will become a monster; lambast them for being hateful & they will become filled with hate; and demonise them if you wish to become the very demon you despise.


Best
_____

A prior lifeguard, rescue diver & ambulance attendant here. Why would I mock the protector caste to which I belong? The public will provide such mockery soon enough when it seeks to monetise the harm that any rescuer was unable to prevent. Then, the lawyers will come to visit & demand compensation for an imperfect rescue and, soon, the protectors will learn to doubt & 'second guess' the wisdom of their bravery, self-sacrifice & good intentions.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

LarryH makes the most common linguistic error of the politically correct. He equates that which is preferred & desirable with that which is "correct" and conflates this moral correctness with factual truth. This merits repeating.


No, what it merits is explanation. What statements or assertions of mine are you referring to? I don't recall saying that anything was "correct"--policially or otherwise--here recently.

Donald Trump is the one who does exactly what you're talking about, though in the negative. So any news that he doesn't like is "fake".


Human magical thinkers are crazy-cooperative this way. Call them a monster often enough & they will become a monster; lambast them for being hateful & they will become filled with hate; and demonise them if you wish to become the very demon you despise.


There is truth in that. The converse is also true. Demonstrate that you are a monster or hateful or a demon often enough, and eventually someone will notice and call you on it. Shutting the messenger up doesn't make the message false. Neither does your magical wish that reality was other than it is.

Anonymous said...

Re: self righteous indignation

"The greater the hatred the less the reason"
http://markhumphrys.com/laws.html#no.2
Humphrys examples are all of groups of people hated for no rational reason. However, his observation also applies to ideas, eg: evolution, or technologies, eg: vaccination, nuclear power, or GMOs.

Jim Baerg

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion
It does not detract from the men's heroism but they were in little or no danger from that shark

Sharks eat fish and nearly all fish are predators - a shark will attack a fish about 1/3rd of it's own size - bigger than that and the risk is too high

The problem is that in bad visibility or on a surfboard the shark does not see a 5 ft long human but a hand or foot or a fin - so a moderately sized shark will take a bite - it won't stay around when it finds it's mistake

A shark big enough to see a human as prey is about 15 ft long and an attack is not survivable

The other time a shark will attack is a spear fisherman - the shark sees him/her as stealing it's lunch and will attempt to drive the dastardly interloper away

You can see the different type of attacks in the wounds - the "I think you are a small fish" attacks are bites with tissue bitten off
The "Damn interloper" attacks are slashes with no tissue bitten off

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Why would I mock the protector caste to which I belong? The public will provide such mockery soon enough when it seeks to monetise the harm that any rescuer was unable to prevent. Then, the lawyers will come to visit & demand compensation for an imperfect rescue and, soon, the protectors will learn to doubt & 'second guess' the wisdom of their bravery, self-sacrifice & good intentions.


That's understandable and all. What I don't get is why you think this particular community--none of whom I would daresay have any intention of doing what you just described or of validating those who do--are the ones to vent your hostility upon. None of us think it best to be a hammer or a nail, yet you blame us for the choice being foisted upon you.

You seem to commit the error of a comedian (or Dave Sim) lambasting his audience for being so small. His anger is understandable, but he's taking it out on the ones who did show up--the last ones he should blame.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

It does not detract from the men's heroism but they were in little or no danger from that shark.
...
The other time a shark will attack is a spear fisherman - the shark sees him/her as stealing it's lunch and will attempt to drive the dastardly interloper away.


Well, if the shark thought the woman was prey, it might have thought the men were spear fishermen. Just sayin'

David Brin said...

onward

onward

George Carty said...

That German referendum paper isn't from the 1934 referendum, but from the 1938 referendum on the Austrian Anschluss.

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