Saturday, January 06, 2018

War on Facts and Reason... and vs Iran...

The predicted run-up to a U.S. Iran War is experiencing a hiccup, as massive street demonstrations in two dozen cities raise a slim possibility that theocracy might give way to a modern, moderate and reasonable-modern state. Slim, because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is large, rich, and highly motivated to keep their gravy train in motion. So what would be the best approach for a sensible, grownup and pragmatically enlightened U.S. policy?

Tweet-storms.  From a 'genius,' no less.

"In an interview, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic who now lives in exile outside Paris… warns that U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements in support of the revolt will be counterproductive. 'If the fear of outside intervention by the Trump administration and those allied with him who advocate the disintegration of Iran — namely Saudi Arabia and Israel — becomes strong enough, it will prevent a majority from sympathizing and joining the protests. In this sense, Trump’s tweets only serve to deflate the movement.” ...

Donald Trump and his cabal are very aware of this. Their worst nightmare is that a moderate revolution in Iran would erase all justification for a US-Iran War -- their goal for years, but now propelled by the urgency of getting a distraction from Mueller and all that. Compare U.N. Ambassador Nikki Hayley's recent harangue listing provocations by Iran -- none of which bear up under scrutiny -- and compare it to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech explaining the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war with Iraq - a pretext that all now know (and even Donald Trump admits) to have been based on lies and fabrications.

This article does a good job, but goes nowhere near far enough, tying together the cords that tauten tighter, every day, dragging us toward pre-planned disaster. Read it… then see far more detail here… and later here… where I describe how many factions would benefit, including the Iranian mullahs. And of course, the real master of the White House.

Even if you credit nothing else I say about this, remember that every Republican president after Eisenhower has rushed gleefully into war. 
Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Junior, and now the Trumpists... and you don't see a pattern of concocted war? Every single one. (Except Ford, who oversaw our final defeat in Vietnam.) 

Madness. And you are complicit, if you don't at least read up on this looming debacle, and speak up.

== Okay so you got your Big Tax Cut Grab; what now? ==

Brad deLong asks the same question posed in a few chapters of my novel, Existence - whether those in the oligarchy, who are pushing so hard for a return to feudalism, are being smart... or very shortsighted. 

In Existence, I portray savvy trillionaires holding conferences to appraise how a new aristocracy might rule not-stupidly (for the first time, ever.) Here, deLong makes crystal clear the alternative:

"In the America the politicians you support are building, it may well become the case that one day your grandchildren are in the center of a web of political influence, and the next day they will find themselves not: Some of them will be involuntary guests at the Wichita Ritz-Carlton" - (referring to the hotel in Riyadh where some of the world's richest princes are now held, by a state they thought they had controlled) - "The rest will try to make a run for it in the Learjet, or in the rubber boat.

"So is it really wisdom on your part to want to win this round?

"To be blunt: a social democratic middle-class society is much better society in which to have a large stock of entrepreneurial, inherited, or rent-derived wealth than is a communist society. But it is also a much friendlier society to the wealthy than is a fascist society. And social democracy and fascism—hard or, if you are lucky, soft—are the only options the future will allow: tertium non datur."

Interrupting, let's be clear: the leaders of the anti-west alliance know this. They are not rebuilding idealistic-if-bloody communism, but a fascism in which oligarchs may amass billions and live lavishly, but the state can expropriate and cut throats at any moment. (The Nazis did it to the Prussian junkers caste and to the industrialists, whenever they liked. It now happens annually in Russia.) Those who believe that strong socialism or traditional aristocratic feudalism are possible alternatives are dreaming. It's either true-liberal middle class Transparent Democracy or fascism, as deLong continues explaining to today's shortsighted American plutocrats:

"The political descendants of the politicians today you support who lead chants of “lock her up“ will be the greatest threat to the liberty, the wealth, and perhaps even the lives of those of your grandchildren and great grandchildren who are plutocrats. Look ahead into the future a little bit. Do not focus on the pile of moolah under your nose."

Looking beyond their nose is what I portray some "trillies" doing, in Existence. (Have a look at the amazing video preview-trailer, with incredible art by Patrick Farley!)

Alas, it seems increasingly clear that the intelligent aristocratism I depicted there is simply not an option. Nowadays, those zillionaires who are smart - whose wealth derived from creating new goods and services - are also Democrats (with a few libertarians). In contrast, the oligarchs backing today's putsch are mostly squatting atop piles that derived from rentier-inactivity (hence favored treatment for passive income in the tax bill), or golgafrincham finance parasitism, or inheritance or crony market manipulation. They have feral cleverness, but no sapient sense of history. Trying to show them the big picture, deLong is wasting his breath.

Do read deLong's whole short essay. Alas, these foxes now run the hen house. The confederacy has conquered Washington. And their stupidity can be lethal all around.

== The War on Facts and Reason: the Entire Right… and chunks of the Far-Left, too! ==

The Right Side’s war on science gets utterly open and explicit, with Donald Trump openly declaring the Bannonite meme of a "deep state," declaring war not just on science and scientists, but all the civil servants, law professionals, intel agencies and military officers who avow that they believe in facts.

 You've seen reports on the Trump Administration muzzling researchers, cancelling peer reviewed reports they dislike, Accusing (without any evidence) scientists of engaging in vast, conspiratorial hoaxes... and now this Orwellian policing of speech. But buried in this article is the real howler!

Instead of the forbidden words, "analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of 'science-based' or ­'evidence-based,' the suggested phrase is, 'CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes..."

Truly, the horror is now clear. Always obsessed with symbolism and incantations, the confederates are now reaching out to the other group who seeks to police science on the basis of "community standards" -- the far, postmodernist left.

Make no mistake. This notion of "community standards of truth" is a roar against objective reality itself. And while it pervades the length and breadth and all heights of the confederate madness that has hijacked American Conservatism, there is a far-fringe on the "left" that is gleeful, eager for the radicalization, the resurrection of symbol-based catechisms that George Orwell described in Homage to Catalonia.

The oligarchs who are funding all of this think they will win the Prize - a return to obligate inherited feudal lordship, as I depict in EXISTENCE. But they are stirring something monstrous at the other end of the spectrum. And if they succeed at rousing a True Left from its slumber, then they will inherit the wind.

As for the left:  
Repeatedly some of you demand that I “name one example of the left being crazy or anti science or anti-western”… and each time I stare, boggled that the Union side in this civil war must be hobbled by such ignorant people. Jiminy, ask anyone from Poland, Hungary and so on, how bad the left has been – or read Orwell!

Hey, you’re all about diversity, right? Not the dogmatic uniformity we see among confederates? Then why can’t you admit your side has a wide spectrum? And some parts of that spectrum are just plain nuts?

This is one of the most cogent brief articles I’ve read in some time, dissecting the logical lunacy of far-leftist postmodernism and how it collaborates – in a sly alliance – with the much larger insanity on today’s entire-right. No, it doesn’t go into an analysis of Derridan Semiotics or Sokal Hoaxes and all that. Just the core conceit that everything is subjective – there’s no objective reality - and science is an evil white-male-elitist plot!

Read this! As we’ve seen with Trump and his Geppetto, you don’t need an explicit plan and a handshake, for different enemies of the West to collaborate toward our demise. Yes, 99% of our attention needs to go to stopping the reinstatement of feudalism… which would end us all.

In contrast, the postmodernist, far-left loons are – for now – a minor, 1% irritation, who damage our fight primarily by giving Sean Hannity anecdotes to shriek-at. BFD. We can shrug them off.  For now.

But never lose your ability to swivel your head, alert for danger in all directions. Don’t just stare at the velociraptor in front of you! Trump’s extravagant theater has many purposes and one of them is to resurrect the crazy left. Young people have sent Google searches on “Karl Marx” skyrocketing, recently -- a zombie we thought safely buried. Steve Bannon giggles happily, rubbing his hands as it shambles from the grave.

Another way to look at it:

Sure, today’s mad ENTIRE right CONSISTS of troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.  

But the FAR left CONTAINS troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.

FAR is not the same as ENTIRE. And CONTAINS is nowhere near as bad as CONSISTS. So?

Take note of a tactical advantage: when you avow that your side does have a far-loony fringe that hates science, and say “we’re aware of our side’s few loonies… why can’t you conservatives do the same?”… that increases your credibility!

171 comments:

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod in the previous thread:

I pity him [Drollinger], but that doesn’t mean I won’t oppose all he stands for. From my own faith viewpoint, his is a twisted mockery of everything the Church was ever meant to be.


Also a mockery of everything America was meant to be.

TCB in the previous thread:

The United States is a country built on an idea, or several. It doesn't matter how many flags you wrap yourself in, or how you natter about the Original Intent of the Framers of the Constitution, blah de blah... if you are a traitor to the Idea, you are a traitor to the United States.


I'm no longer holding back on the word "treason" on the grounds that the traditional penalty for treason is death. Their stated intent is to essentially disenfranchise and exile all Americans who aren't part of their club. If it has to be them or us, I vote for us.

Catfish N. Cod said...

If I’d known we were going “onward”, I would have posted my commentary on the preacher acting as court shaman to this travesty on this thread, rather than the last.

“Community standards”. Whether you get those standards from a book of scripture, or a book of German philosophy, or a Roman tablet, or just the latest broadcast propaganda, the effect is equally damning: a demand that others act in accordance with their neighbors’ sentiments even when you know for a fact that they are delusional. A demand that we ignore reality for our preferred collective opium dream. An arrogance that our will can reign over that of the Supreme Author of Reality.

Hubris. It matters not if the incantation is Communism or Holy-Rollerism (as Heinlein described it), Postmodernism or Neo-Naziism. The actual content is trivial beside the failure to check if it works! To see if the everyday prophecies come true. To ask the Powers That Be to check your work and point out your flaws, and to ask yourself if you heard Their answer correctly — or if you are listening to the voices in your own head.

To put it in Christian theological terms: God does not care if you think you have “proven” the six-day theory of creation, or the deluge theory of geology, using clever semantics of record of particular revelations. S/He will keep on running the world — including maintaining the evidence of a different history — with or without you.

But pride will catch up with you. If you persist in the idea that you can fly by flapping your wings, sooner or later you will fall off a cliff and destroy yourself.

I just don’t want to be the innocent bystander killed in the process.

Anonymous said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

a fascism in which oligarchs may amass billions and live lavishly, but the state can expropriate and cut throats at any moment. (The Nazis did it to the Prussian junkers caste and to the industrialists, whenever they liked. It now happens annually in Russia.)


Exhibit A right now is Steve Bannon, in danger of having the following he brought to Trump expropriated by Trump.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

But pride will catch up with you. If you persist in the idea that you can fly by flapping your wings, sooner or later you will fall off a cliff and destroy yourself.

I just don’t want to be the innocent bystander killed in the process.


I'd find it an acceptable price to pay. The blood of patriots and all that.

TCB said...

I'm inordinately proud of my one-liner after the last "onward!" and so I will repeat it for visibility.

"You don't want religion in your government for the same reason you don't want the toilet in your kitchen."

LarryHart said...

The real world more and more resembles a Monty Python sketch:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/us/politics/trump-genius-mental-health.html

Mr. Trump’s capacity has been discussed openly since the 2016 campaign. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, then a rival for the nomination, called him a “delusional narcissist.” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another Republican candidate, said: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”

But fewer Republicans are willing to say that now that Mr. Trump is in office. Indeed, Mr. Graham in November chided the news media for trying “to label the guy some kind of kook not fit to be president,” even though he had said the exact same thing a year earlier.

LarryHart said...

@TCB,

"We don't swim in your toilet.
Please don't pee in our pool."

TCB said...

"Please don't throw cigarettes in the urinal.

It makes them soggy and hard to light."

Jon S. said...

And as long as we're on toilet humor... :)

A local bar had a bit of graffiti preserved by the owner: "Please do not drop toothpicks in our toilet. The crabs have learned to pole-vault."

balom said...

As much as i hear complaints about "feudalism", the Democrats master plan seems to involve a dash towards Venezuela via importation of Latin America's underclass to achieve a moocher majority. Maybe the oligarchs are bad, but when people income comes exclusively from the government are allowed to vote, unsurprisingly, they always vote for more free stuff. Maybe we need to cut back back the oligarchs, but we also need a poll tax to cut the moocher class of the teat.

Duncan Cairncross said...

balom
"but when people income comes exclusively from the government are allowed to vote, unsurprisingly, they always vote for more free stuff"

This is the Tyler Calumny
And for a "universal law" - as in "they ALWAYS vote for more free stuff"
It is remarkably non universal

In fact in all of history while there have been thousands of instances of the Aristocrats voting themselves "free stuff" (like the Roman republic) it's difficult to find a SINGLE instance when that has happened

Laurence said...

One of the key phenomena in modern politics is the migration of ideas from left to right. The hippies promoted individualism and rejection of social conventions, this was then adapted into Reganism and Thatcherism. Bush's neoconservatism was bascially Trotskyism of the right (and many neocons were former Trotskyists.) Trump has now welded leftish postmodernism with the anti-statist conspiracy theories of the post 9/11 left, and turned this into the guiding ideology of the right. If you want to know what the right will say tomorrow, look at what the left are saying today. Cuurently the left are openly questioning democracy, and declaring free speech to be an "act of violence". Be very afraid.

TCB said...

Or is it the Right who are declaring violence to be "free speech"?

The feudalists don't care about free speech any more than they care about states' rights. The want it for themselves, when it gives them power, they oppose it when it gives someone else power.

I can see the point about neoconservatives as Right Trotskyists (We will spread Democracy to the world!) but their central lie was that what they were spreading was democracy. In Iraq they filled oversight positions to inexperienced but reliable Republican campaign contributors and workers, cronies and fellow traveler ideologues. They removed the vicious but effective Baath regime and replaced it with a corrupt, clueless, unpopular and still often vicious US-backed regime with"free elections" (another thing the feudalists only like when they can control the result!).

This had the wondrous effect of convincing millions of Iraqis, who yearn for freedom just like you and I do, to conclude that democracy itself was not all it was cracked up to be. In truth, the GOP occupiers sold them a counterfeit of democracy, which is how modern despots usually operate, because even a despot now needs to claim "a mandate from the People" which they usually wouldn't have in free and fair elections.

Is that progress? Maybe. I dunno.

Twominds said...

@balom

Not just the Tytler Calumny, also a nice example of false equivalency. "The Democrats are just as bad! See what they do with immigration!"

It's very implausible that Democrats want to create a 'mooch' state, why would they?

And: the richest few in America just managed to rake in the biggest handout yet. What was it, some trillions of dollars in extra government debt? For a couple of hundred families? How many 'latin-american moochers' would you need to cream off even a tenth as much? I challenge you to calculate.

They are not the imminent danger, and even if they would be in the long run, you can put up barriers against it, physical if necessary, rule-based preferably, as they are more effective.
The danger of the billionaire moochers is immediate, and much harder to handle.

I'll hear you Balom, when that problem is solved, and your bogeyman turns out real. Before that, just more inane bleating.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Why do you presume it will be voluntary, for you or potentionally thousands or millions of other citizens and residents?

TCB said...

>Why do you presume it will be voluntary, for you or potentionally thousands or millions of other citizens and residents?

Sorry, Catfish, I can't figure out to whom or what you are referring right now.

john fremont said...

@TCB

This had the wondrous effect of convincing millions of Iraqis, who yearn for freedom just like you and I do, to conclude that democracy itself was not all it was cracked up to be. In truth, the GOP occupiers sold them a counterfeit of democracy, which is how modern despots usually operate, because even a despot now needs to claim "a mandate from the People" which they usually wouldn't have in free and fair elections.

Is that progress? Maybe. I dunno.


Well, the elected Iraqi government did negotiate a troop withdrawal timetable with the Bush Administration after the Status of Forces Agreement could not be completed. The polling data from the Iraqis showed the people did not want a continued US military presence. So I guess there was some representative government getting established. Although with ISIS in power there is still plenty of turmoil in the region.

TCB said...

True, the Iraqi government were not total US puppets. But the fact remains that, during the remainder of the Bushist tenure after the invasion, the US government and its private corporate cronies basically did all they could to make it a quasi-colony of American energy companies and other corporate interests.

Here's a cute parallel: in 1945 the US established the Monuments Men to try to find and return art treasures which the Nazi had stolen from all over Europe.

In 2003, US tanks entering Baghdad took up positions to guard the oil ministry. They left the great museum to be looted of irreplaceable and historically important antiquities. The invasion force was similarly careless about the security of hospitals (looted), arms depots (looted, unmolested, over time, by convoys of trucks, providing the insurgency with arms and IED's for years to come!), and so on...

The true true here is that many of the Bush-Cheney circle made a lot of money off that war. Erik Prince of Blackwater, remember him? Yeeeah. Flies like Prince buzzed all over that get-rich carcass.

Roosevelt didn't get into World War 2 to make his friends money. We used to put profiteers in prison!

LarryHart said...

Laurence:

One of the key phenomena in modern politics is the migration of ideas from left to right. The hippies promoted individualism and rejection of social conventions, this was then adapted into Reganism and Thatcherism. Bush's neoconservatism was bascially Trotskyism of the right...


Conservatives now claim Martin Luther King and take credit for ending slavery. My old conservative buddy on the Cerebus list explained this as a good characteristic of conservatism. See, liberal ideas are disruptive, and therefore bad prima facie. However, a particular liberal idea that conservatives fail to abort may live long enough to stand the test of time and prove itself good. In that case, conservatives embrace that idea as defense of the (new) status quo.

They somehow never recognize the internal contradiction in this worldview--that the good ideas must all come from liberals and those ideas only survive long enough for conservatives to appropriate because of conservatives' own failure to destroy them.

LarryHart said...

balom:

the Democrats master plan seems to involve a dash towards Venezuela via importation of Latin America's underclass to achieve a moocher majority.


Uh, no, that would be a very bad cartoonish caricature of Democrats. Try learning about the world from a source other than FOX News or Br--tb-art for a change.


Maybe the oligarchs are bad, but when people income comes exclusively from the government are allowed to vote, unsurprisingly, they always vote for more free stuff.


Like Donald Trump you mean? Like the Republican Senators who just voted themselves and their family businesses the biggest tax break ever?


Maybe we need to cut back back the oligarchs, but we also need a poll tax to cut the moocher class of the teat.


You know what actually does happen in real life? Traitors to the bedrock concepts of America such as freedom of speech and religion get to vote their treasonous notions into law. What we need is not so much a way to prevent poor citizens from voting, but a way to prevent traitors from doing so. Guillotines might work.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Balom:

What powers your belief that immigrants are “moochers”? Why do you think they are not earning money?

If you’re going to send money to a particular class to juice the economy, which is better: poor (legal) immigrants or billionaires?

Per person, it’s billionaires, all the way. More money means more power, and billionaires can do big projects that look amazing and are politically dramatic.

But they will not move as large a percentage of the money through the economy. A large chunk of it will go to savings or other passive investments, pumping up prices but creating no new value.

Send that same money to poor, hardworking immigrants, and they will push much more of it into the economy, including entrepreneurial adventures that create myriads of companies and value. Moreover, since there are more of them, investing in immigrant small business is a safer move because there is less risk of a major loss by a single poor decision (as can happen in large-scale venture capital) or capital losses from market turns (as happens in speculation).

Billionaires and immigrants can *both* mooch. But only one class means that’s an immediate disaster.

Here’s another question to ponder. If a person whose sole income is from government funds is a “moocher”, what is a corporation whose sole customer is the government? If there is a difference, what does it entail?

john fremont said...

No argument there TCB. I recall at the beginning of the Iraq war buildup the Army Chief of Staff said that a force of 250,000 at a minimum would be needed in theater to occupy Iraq. Don Rumsfeld essentially had that general ROADed,Retired on Active Duty. That War on Expertise that our host posts about here became clear to me back then with this incident. Ironically, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh at the time who used to say, "don't just look at what a politician says, look at what they do." ( I took ElRushbo too literally, he meant only liberal DEMOCRAT politicians!Oops my mistake!LOL)
Here was Bush saying we will listen to our commanders and yet they snubbed the chief officer of the miltary that trains to fight land warfare, the Army. General Shaskavilli, IIRC, was advising the Bush Administration that the US would need more civil affairs and logistics troops to occupy Iraq to complete the mission and they just weren't available. During the Iraq war prelude, I was told that since we were successful in occupying Japan and Germany after World War II we'll be successful in Iraq as well.Since you brought up Roosevelt and WW2, the occupations of Japan and Germany were successful transitions to peacetime was because under the command of George Marshall, the Army had trained and equipped civil affairs units like the Monuments Men, to administer a full array of public services in these countries after the war. Many of these units were trained in civil engineering, accounting, public administration etc. The Army did not have sufficient numbers of these units in Iraq to handle the missions you referenced. Then again, as we can see , that wasn't the Administration's real goal. Yet, the military paid the price for it as local civil institutions collapsed in the aftermath. The Army and Marine Corps was then drawn into counterinsurgency warfare in the cities as guerilla units began forming. Urban infantry combat was something Central Command made a point of avoiding in their initial run into Baghdad. By 2008, the big debate was on the Surge, sending more troops into Iraq to win this thing!

David Brin said...

All they have left is their false equivalence: - But inconvenient to the narrative is:

(1) Labor unions plummeted in power while wealth and power have flooded into oligarchy. I hated communism, but excuse-making for feudalists makes these confeds traitors.

(2) Entrepreneurial/ inventive capitalism does better under democrats. Not occasionally but always.
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

(3) Every single cliche about “moochers” is diametrically opposite to true. Proved over and over. Clung to by imbeciles:
https://davidbrin.wordpress.com/tag/tytler-calumny/

Paul SB said...

John & TCB,

I would say that a big part of the problem here is that politicians don't think like and don't have the same goals as military officers. Politicians want to win wars, but they are fighting propaganda wars. Military victory or defeat is only relevant if it scores points with the voters. Think of the old adage that all politics is local. And this really does demonstrate a weakness of representative democracy. It is structured as a popularity contest - it favors leaders who are convincing, which is not the same as effective. If a politician can lie convincingly enough they could bring their nation to the brink of destruction and still win elections.

Funny how much this bolom sounds like a troll-in-net's-clothing we all know. That doesn't mean it's the same person. It would be more parsimonious to assume it's just another fool who fell for the same propaganda/lies, and like fools everywhere is too lazy to find out what the truth actually is.

Here's a little quote from one of my Brin favorites:

"Suppose you find yourself insignificant in the world, dwarfed by the mighty. How to feel important after all? All you need is a convenient conspiracy, one that’s keeping you from taking your rightful place as a leader toward the light.

Ego plays a huge role here. For the Big People it is an addiction that they have to keep feeding, but for the little people it provides the quick, easy justifications (excuses) for why they are not Big People themselves. All them damn furiners is takin' all the jobs I wouldn't take anyway. An' they take my tax-payer dollars and drive around in cadillacs, never mind that the CEOs suck a thousand times as much of my money as all them damn imgrints combined.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Every single cliche about “moochers” is diametrically opposite to true. Proved over and over. Clung to by imbeciles


I would guess that many of those loudly arguing for the rights of plutocrats hope to be one some day, even if they are poor working class today. Remember Joe the Plumber who mistakenly thought his $250,000/year business would lose money under Obamacare, that is whenever he got around to having such a business?

Likewise, the Paul Ryan types who are where they are today because there was a "federal teat" to suck at when he needed it, and now wants to pull the ladder up behind him. They don't repudiate federal largess so much as to want to keep it all for themselves.

TCB said...

LarryHart said: "They somehow never recognize the internal contradiction in this worldview--that the good ideas must all come from liberals and those ideas only survive long enough for conservatives to appropriate because of conservatives' own failure to destroy them."

Ooooh ah um that sounds like evolution! Liberals as the generators of political mutations and conservatives trying to kill every mutation until only the fittest mutations survive!

But errbody knows evolution is a dimmycrat lie! Politics was created by Gawd in Philadelphia in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention! Fossils of prehistoric political systems are fakes made by Satan to test our faith, and no further change is possible because that would be against Original Intent, which is infallibly understood only by conservatives.

(I'm kidding, of course. Nobody knows who actually wrote the Constitution. Some of the people we associate with the Founding are actually fictional characters in a Broadway musical. Some scholars argue that George Washington is a composite figure and the Revolution was actually won because British ships had to sail all the way to the inside of the hollow Earth, where the New World is.)

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Ego plays a huge role here. For the Big People it is an addiction that they have to keep feeding, but for the little people it provides the quick, easy justifications (excuses) for why they are not Big People themselves.


I've found that very many authoritarians are not expecting to be the authority figure themselves. They are lapdogs who figure that if they line up behind the right leader, then they will be given their own teat to suck off of. When they complain about "those people" sucking off the government teat, what they really dislike is the democratization of the benefits of society. They believe those benefits rightly belong to their little club.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

Ooooh ah um that sounds like evolution! Liberals as the generators of political mutations and conservatives trying to kill every mutation until only the fittest mutations survive!


I'd actually buy that justification for conservatism as long as they recognized their place in the scheme of things--that when an idea survives their obstruction and proves worthy, it's because in that case, the conservatives opposition was wrong. Instead what they do is lay claim to the good ideas, and then continue to maintain that all change is bad and the status quo is always good--but abolition of slavery or anti-racism is now their doing. Like J. Jonah Jameson on the old Spider-Man cartoon:

"You see? I knew it all along. My plan worked!"

Twominds said...

Laurence, does that mean that environmentalism will become a conservative core value (again) too? If so, better hurry. We need you against the crooks that stole your movement.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I would love to see the Ayatollah's fall and a more moderate, secular regime replace them. I think most Americans feel the same way. But the government--or at least the GOP--do not.
We've been here before. In 2000, polls strongly suggested the population was prepared to sweep the mullahs out and restore Iran to a pre-revolutionary lifestyle. The main reason this didn't happen was...the United States. Newly minted president Bush immediately began sabre-rattling, naming Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil" and proposing attack or invasion. As usually happens when people are threatened, Iranian citizens stayed with the status quo rather than risk regime change in the face of threats from a superpower.

john fremont said...

TCB

Not just political institutions but also cultural trends as well. A conservative classic, Richard Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences from 1948, has one of the most tone deaf screeds against American pop music ,jazz in particular, that I've read. Now even conservatives view jazz as cerebral, sophisticated music form worthy of appreciation. More recently, National Review ran an issue that included an article featuring Greatest Conservative Rock and Roll Songs of all time! A lot of the songs written by long haired hippies!

john fremont said...

...Politicians want to win wars, but they are fighting propaganda wars. Military victory or defeat is only relevant if it scores points with the voters. Think of the old adage that all politics is local.

Yes, I get that from watching the decline of support for the Iraq war over the last 18 years. Within the first year I was getting plenty of forwarded "Support the Troops" emails of how our military was rebuilding roads and painting classrooms in Iraqi schools etc. The liberals are wrong as always, we got Saddam and our troops are helping Iraqis. Fast forward a few years after public opinion began to sour and I remember Ron Paul at one of the presidential debates paraphrasing a quote , "We're spending all of this time and money to rebuild Iraq while bridges collapse right here in America!" It drew applause and helped Paul become a household name. Then of course, by last year, there was Trump stating he was always against the invasion of Iraq. Of course he was, because everyone could see that at the time! It obviously didn't hurt his Presidential ambitions as it would've back in 2003 to say that.

Twominds said...

I have a question about the furore about Wolff's book.

I read that Trump threatens Bannon with legal action, amongst others because Bannon lied about Trump and breached his NDA. When you lie about someone you have an NDA with, that seems to be more libel than something else. I'd think you can only breach an NDA with the truth, and if that is so in American justice, didn't Trump (through his lawyer) just indirectly admit that at least part of Wolffs book is true?

I have an image of a cartoon in my head now, pity I can't draw. The soul of the conservatives is being fought over, not by an angel and a devil like in the pious pictures of sunday school, but by two devils, Bannon and Trump.

Twominds said...

Pity we can't edit, I'd add another question.

Why did Trump go after Bannon in this way, not Wolff? I may have overlooked it of course.

Going after the author seems easier, especially if it's true that Wolff does have a reputation of embellishment. Wolff seems to be a much more vulnerable target, and attacking him gives more plausible deniability.

Is it just Trumps impulsiveness?

Twominds said...

Hmm, spamming the thread.

To clarify, I can read that Trump goes after Wolff, but it seems far less personal.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Twominds: I got the sense that attacks on Wolff are being left to subordinates, because Wolff is not an active political operator. He has the power of the pen, but is not a player in any other sense.

Bannon, on the other hand, aspires to be an active player at the table, and hoped to commandeer a portion of Trumpism under his own personal livery. This ambition has made him ronin as his liege lords, the Duke and Countess Mercer, have repudiated his oath of fealty. Trump is more concerned about knocking Bannon out as a popularity threat.

@TCB: Great insight! But the Republican ideology has stopped being about ideas need thorough testing in order to be trustworthy and started to be about these are the True Ideas, which cannot fail, only be failed. Not only have they stopped testing liberal ideas -- not only have they stopped testing their own ideas -- they have declaimed testing any ideas at all. Or if ideas are to be tested, it is scripture or sentiment, not concrete existence, that are the marks of righteousness. (Not rightness -- righteousness.)

In other words, they are thinking exactly like Communists did (and most still do). Only the names and incantations have changed.

Twominds said...

Catfish,

Yes, that makes sense.

Can you give me some insight in that NDA breach? Can you breach an NDA with lies, or does it need to be the truth?

john fremont said...

Wolff claims to have tape recordings to back up his book. So Trump may end up looking like a big loser going after this writer who sounds like he's got his guns loaded so to speak. Trump's political instincts may be smear Bannon so to discredit him. Bannon called out Trump's campaign as treasonous and foolish with the Russian meetings.

Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station, wrote a column last year titled Antipodes speaking to the quandary Trump is heading towards right now. The money quote

"...Trump pandered to the extremes. He continues to do so. But it’s the middle that has pragmatically moved on.

This, this right here will be Donald Trump’s Waterloo.
Trump will have to choose. The only way forward for him is to sacrifice either the rich or the poor. And he cannot make that decision.

He can’t.

It’s impossible and he’s starting to realize it.

He wants to throw in with the mansions, like Reagan and Bush and his billionaire friends.
But he can’t abandon the shacks, because his ego needs their cheering more than his wallet needs the billionaires’ money, that’s what the rallies are all about. That’s why he daily contradicts himself – because he’s trying to tell each what they want to hear and those things are mutually incompatible.

And so he won’t choose. He can’t.

He’ll try to please both extremes and end up pleasing nobody."

Trump needs his base but right now the base may be getting soft after the passage of the Tax Bill. Even among his base they see that it mainly benefits the super rich. Bannon's comments about the Russian incident may start to pick up some traction among Trump's base so it's better to kneecap Bannon in the court of public opinion.

My two cents.

Anonymous said...

Hi. It is me again. Luis.

Certainly, there is a 90% chance that the demonstrations in Iran are controlled by a powerful and evil group.
Hoo, it's amazing how easy it has been for the Ayatolas to control people through religion. Which reminds me of something.
As some know. Pray to God, is to speak with God. Simply, a conversation.
And here, apparently, the spirit of God floated over the mountains of Mexico. Then, Luis asked:
— "God, if you want us to continue supporting the chains of the oligarchy, give me a signal. Make appear a luminous sphere floating a few inches from my face. "
Luis waited a long time and nothing happened. Then he said:
— I'll take that as a no. He told God.
Luis; Seeing that God was not upset, he decided to take a risk and asked one more question:
—"God. ¿Do you approve of the righteous playing dirty (in what common sense allows) to free us from the chains of the oligarchy? If you do not agree, make a luminous sphere appear floating a few centimeters from my face. "
Luis waited a long time and nothing happened. Then he said:
—I'll take that as a yes. Luis said to God.
Afterwards, Luis asked another question. But I will not say what God's answer was (under the previous question and answer procedure) because I do not want to take away the faith from anyone. Faith in a god is a double-edged knife. It can be used to control the population and, at the same time, it can serve to keep hope alive in those who do not know a way to remove the chains.
Y. ¿How to live without hope? And I would add: how futile is the hope that is not based on one's own efforts to solve a problem.
And then Luis smiled with relief, because he had found a little more truth.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again. Luis.
Certainly, it seems that the followers of Donald Trump use the Orwellian DoubleThink.
In Donald Trump's DoubleThink, all those who work for Donald Trump are forced to use the DoubleThink that means power, the ability to hold two contradictory opinions simultaneously, two contrary beliefs held simultaneously in the mind. The intellectual of the Party knows in what direction his memories must be altered; therefore, he knows that he is tricking reality; but at the same time it satisfies itself through the DoubleThink exercise, in the sense that reality is not violated. This process has to be conscious, otherwise, it would not be verified with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious so that it does not leave a feeling of falsehood and, therefore, of guilt. (Of course, the DoubleThink, is based on conscious self-deception and is somewhat perverse)
By the way. I already put my last comment on Oumuamua in the previous discussion. I had not posted the answer because I was very busy doing repairs. A machine broke down (it's amazing how machines break down so easily, which is evidence that the Oumuamua computers broke down and it's a ship drifting)

Anonymous said...


Hello, it's me, again. Luis.
Correction of the previous comment: (What I meant was that Oumuamua is maybe a ship ... Maybe)
But going back to policy matters:
Doctor Brin could be an excellent president. I imagine that Brin could be an independent candidate. ¿Do they have independent candidates in the United States?
¡David Brin For President of the United States! ¡Is the moment to act!
I suggest all Democrats look for ways to support Dr. Brin's candidacy.
And let's find a way to create a law that puts the voting machines out of the hands of the Republicans! The vote counting software and the vote counting machines must be created by an institution that can not be controlled by political parties.
¡David Brin for president!

john fremont said...

Looks like Bannon has apologized to Trump. Miller's appearance on CNN today finished Bannon off.

matthew said...

Remember that the earliest stirrings of demonstration this time in Iran were started by centrist or even hardliners with the support of some conservative mullahs. Even now, the demonstrations are economic complaints, not demands for democracy.
My take is the demonstrations are more signs of factionalism within the mullahs and, as such, the results will mean a loss of face and influence of one or more ruling factions.
The democracy advocates are mostly sitting this one out. This makes Trump's "support" for the democracy advocates even more sinister.

LarryHart said...

john fremont:

More recently, National Review ran an issue that included an article featuring Greatest Conservative Rock and Roll Songs of all time! A lot of the songs written by long haired hippies!


Having grown up in the 60s, I was used to "rock and roll" being emblematic of the long-haired hippie left, something to be looked down upon by hard-hats and cops and straight-laced Republicans.

It came as a shock to realize in the 80s--probably as a reaction to disco, rap, and Latin music--that "rock" was now the music of choice for bullying white guys.

LarryHart said...

john fremont:

Fast forward a few years after public opinion began to sour and I remember Ron Paul at one of the presidential debates paraphrasing a quote , "We're spending all of this time and money to rebuild Iraq while bridges collapse right here in America!"


My brother, who was a high school teacher in Pennsylvania at the time, began hearing a lot of grumbling from students who had older brothers serving in Iraq about how we were being suckered into fighting a war for the benefit of Israel. These were right-wingers who didn't want to blame President Bush per se, but also felt something was wrong. The old, familiar scapegoat is never too far away in that situation.

john fremont said...

I find it interesting how Ted Nugent parlayed his Gonzo Motor City Madman act throughout his career. In the 1970's he bragged to High Times about deceiving his draft board during the Vietnam War. Sticking it to the Man. Now he's the Rebel taking on the Liberal Elites, Environmental Whackos and Gun Grabbers. Still sticking it to the Man.

David Brin said...

Luis thank you. But I have said too many different things to be a politician. Opponents would find a million things to call either offensive or contradictions. Nearly all are NOT offensive or contradictions. But I would be politically lost, trying to explain.

slither.io said...

More recently, National Review ran an issue that included an article featuring Greatest Conservative Rock and Roll Songs of all time! A lot of the songs written by long haired hippies! right?
word cookies answersaz
archery games
scratch games

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again. Luis

Dear Dr. Brin.
It is your decision; Of course ... But you would be a great president.
If you ever decide to be president. Remember that you have the right to play dirty against opponents. The Republicans broke the rules of the game of democracy. Well we can copy tricks to the villains. For example, in my country, politicians hold rallies (meetings) attended only by sympathizers. And these rallies appear in the media. That is to say. In my country, politicians base their strategy on the massive use of advertising on television and newspapers (Democrats must try to control many media if they want to balance the balance of power).

David Brin said...

Luis I wouldn't need to play dirty. I would issue fact-falsifiable wagers and taunt the cowards who refused. I would pay up the bets I lose, and savagely shame those who refuse to pay when they lose. The fact that Obama never used this approach is utterly shameful, since it is the only tactic that can possibly work, when weasels use a million tricks to evade looking at facts.

We are screwed if the Union leaders continue to be unable to see this.

LarryHart said...

Finally, someone states the obvious (in response to Steve Miller on CNN) :

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/07/politics/jake-tapper-stephen-miller/index.html


16. [Miller] : "You get 24 hours of negative, anti-Trump, hysterical coverage on this network ..."

[CNN] : This is something the Trump inner circle never gets about the media. We aren't anti-anything. We are pro facts. So, if you are fast and loose with the facts, then it's going to look like the media is against you. But, really, we are against people who don't tell the truth.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/07/opinion/trump-stable-genius-smart.html


...
At the very least, don’t the members of the House and Senate, who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, have an obligation to rebuke this president for his attacks on the press and free speech, both protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution?
...
You can’t say that you love America and not take a stand to defend it from harm.

These politicians are taking the politically expedient track for political gain or political survival. They would rather defend a compromised Republican president than have to live in the wake of a deposed one. They would like to try to manage the damage Trump may do, rather than prevent that damage from occurring.

And in so doing, they are moving dangerously close to the day when being a loyal Trump Republican could be seen as being an unpatriotic American.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Luis, I'd be very interested to get your take on this New York Times article purporting to be an in-depth look at local governance in Mexico. One paragraph seemed especially interesting to me:

Mexico’s establishment parties are more than parties. They are the state. Loyalists, not civil servants, run institutions. Officials have little freedom to stretch and little incentive to investigate corruption that might implicate fellow party members. Most are shuffled between offices every few years, cutting any successes short.

I note that the United States under the current Administration is trying to subordinate the civil service to party loyalists and suppress investigation of corruption in fellow party members.

@Twominds: IANAL, but I believe that information NDAs only cover the information listed in the document. If you lie about that information, you have not disclosed the true information. However, NDAs can be worded instead on topics, irrelevant to whether you spoke truth or lies. A topic NDA forces the parties into silence on a matter while the terms are in place.

This is why I said it was foolish to try to use both the NDA and libel/slander tools. An NDA suit, by itself, would not indicate anything about truth or falsity. But adding the libel/slander suit applies an acid test. If a topic is covered by the NDA, but libel/slander is not asserted, it is indeed a tacit admission of truth.

LarryHart said...

@Catfish N. Cod,

My understanding from (admittedly) left-leaning radio sources is that Bannon was technically an employee of the United States government, not of Donald Trump, and so an NDA between Bannon and Trump is meaningless.

raito said...

(from last time, I never seem to get caught up)

TCB,

There's a lot of implicit and explicit racism in early 20th century literature, expecially pulp literature. I recall reading a year's worth of one of the 'A' pulps (Amazing? Astounding?) off of archive.org (there was only 1 year there, I think is was 1939). I could barely get through some of the stories, it was so thick.

And recall the depiction of the Han from Armageddon 2419 A.D.

Twominds,

Yes, an NDA can be breached with lies. Some of the NDAs that I have signed could certainly be read this way. Catfish N. Cod has the right of it with the idea that they can be worded on topics, and saying anything on the topic is forbidden, even if false.

john fremont,

Jazz, to the extent that it still exists, is seen as intellectual, and therefore to be distrusted. After all, it was created bydrug addicted black musicians, right?

All,

So far, I haven't seen the one explanation for TOS aliens that rings true for me: that those species were invented to highlight a single human trait taken to the extreme in order to examine it.

You guys are looking in the wrong place for alien aliens.

As for the tax bill, I'm not looking forward to my first tax return under it. I don't think that a moderate increase in standard deduction and children, along with a slight decrease of the tax rate is going to make up for the removal of the personal exemption, and not being able to fully deduct state taxes.

I don't find it happenstance that both the upper middle class and the coastal blue states are going to be hit the most with this. Unfortunately, Wisconsin gets caught in the crossfie.

LarryHart said...

raito:

I don't find it happenstance that both the upper middle class and the coastal blue states are going to be hit the most with this. Unfortunately, Wisconsin gets caught in the crossfie.


Maybe next time, they wont vote for Republicans. I snark, of course, but Wisconsin is one of the reasons we have Trump. I take a certain pleasure (though an impotent one) in the pain suffered by Trump-supporting, Ron Johnson-electing Republicans as the result of their own actions.

Of course, Wisconsin was also ground-zero for voter suppression and possibly vote tampering in Johnson's case. In that case, my schaudenfreude is directed at those who engaged in such cheating and enabled it.

occam's comic said...

Dave Brin –
“Make no mistake. This notion of "community standards of truth" is a roar against objective reality itself.”

I really don’t think that is correct. I think it is far more accurate to say it is a roar against the notion that the human mind can perceive and fully understand Objective Reality. I am pretty sure that I can’t accurately perceive and fully understand Objective Reality and that you can’t either.

And when you look at how science actually is done “community standards of truth” sounds about right. Physicists have different standards and methods compared to biology. And they are both different from what is done in geology or sociology or chemistry etc. And mathematicians’ standards for truth / proof are completely different.

LarryHart said...

@occam's comic.

I'd say you and Dr Brin are both correct*, as far as that goes.

The term "science" is being used in at least two different senses. One is the mechanism of scientific discovery and advancement, which does involve much persuasion and consensus, and therefore involves "community standards" of a sort. The other is a catch-all for the actual "laws" of physics and such that describe the way the universe works. Those laws themselves are not subject to community standards--gravity affects believers and non-believers equally--but the process of discovering those laws is.

Also, "community standards" is often a euphemism for "what a community wants to hear", and that's just not science. It's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

* From "Fiddler on the Roof" :

"He is right? He is right? They cannot both be right."

"You are also right."

Alfred Differ said...

@raito | those species were invented to highlight a single human trait taken to the extreme

I'm sure you are right about this. The episode with the aliens who were black and white (split down the middle) made that really obvious to me as a kid. I didn't understand some of the other human moral lessons in other episodes until I'd grown up a bit, but they are usually there. Even when they did write about some rather alien aliens, it was to examine a human trait taken to an extreme.

No Kill I.

Alfred Differ said...

@Occam's comic | I am pretty sure that I can’t accurately perceive and fully understand Objective Reality and that you can’t either.

Individually, no. We are terrible at accurately perceiving and understanding objective reality. I'd argue we don't see it at all due to the way our perception methods work. We see a subjective model within our minds that gets a dribble of data from the senses to update it.

Collectively, though, we are pretty good at it WHEN we choose to be. We can surrender bits of our subjective reality for what the community says is true. If the community is using something close to one of the science methods, there is a decent chance what we abandon gets replaced with something consistent with objective reality. If our community is doing something else, then we are too.

David is pointing out that certain people making the community standards of truth claim are using it as an anti-science proxy. In general, it isn't anti-science, so they are guilty of using that as a shield for their intellectual fraud.

David Brin said...

Occam illustrates the Quibble Method.
You start by asserting something that is obviously true, like: "None of us can directly perceive objective reality."
Or "just being smart and knowing stuff doesn't automatically make you wise."

But then, with a sly wink, the implied general extensions are:

"Therefore science doesn't try to make models of the world that edge ever-closer to objective reality, disproving those that are clearly and decisively farther from objective reality. No, science is just a 'community standard' like any other and no better."

and

"All people who know stuff and are smart are hence unwise."

I'm a bit unfair here, running two threads in parallel. I am sure Occam has no place on the second thread. But it illustrates an insidious pattern.

Take an obviously true particular, and use it to imply an obviously crazy generality.

In fact, science is NOT about community standards of truth. It is about a community standard for processes of falsifying those models that prove farther away from objective reality than their rivals. The rival theories and models that survive this process are not raised up as gods, nor are they called "objective reality." If they survive, it is only for this round, because they will split into daughters that then repeat the process.

If we cannot directly perceive objective reality, then at least we can CORNER it! And we are doing (I believe with His blessing) to God.

Darrell E said...

Dr. Brin beat me too it. Damn, am I tired of the "science is not different than "X" crap. If it isn't any different then how come science, even science broadly construed, is so much more successful than any other methodology at modeling reality and thereby leading to new technologies & technological advancements?

occam's comic said...

I think that the metaphor of evolution is very useful here to illustrate my perspective.

Biological evolution did not produce sensory organs that accurately perceive the objective reality that organisms find themselves in, it produced sensory organs that provide the organism with useful information (in many but not all contexts).

And I think science is a lot like that. I think that science has done an incredible job of developing very useful ideas and methods for particular areas of study. And that science can greatly expand a community’s agreement on range of useful ideas and methods for a particular area of study. But I don’t think science leads us to the Truth it leads us to the useful. I consider that to be a very important difference.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again. Luis.
Dear Doctor Brin.
All right. But it is convenient that you try to imagine other strategies. Athletes who practice Judo do not stop at the practice of a single blow or knockdown. There are many techniques. Not all adversary techniques can be blocked in the same way.
It is not necessary that you use questionable strategies. But; considering the fact that the opponent plays dirty, it is convenient that you know these other techniques. Know your enemy. ¿What illicit strategies does the enemy use? ¿What strategies could be useful to neutralize the adversary's strategies?
The same text in Spanish:

Hola, soy yo de nuevo. Luis.
Estimado Doctor Brin.
Bien. Pero es conveniente que intentes imaginar otras estrategias. Los deportistas que practican Judo no se detienen en la práctica de un solo golpe o derribamiento. Existen muchas técnicas. No todas las técnicas del adversario pueden ser bloqueadas de un mismo modo.
No es necesario que uses estrategias cuestionables. Pero; considerando el hecho de que el adversario juega sucio, es conveniente que conozcas esas otras técnicas. Conoce a tu enemigo. ¿Qué estrategias ilícitas suele usar el enemigo? ¿Qué estrategias podrían ser útiles para neutralizar las estrategias del adversario?

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again. Luis.
Dear Bagre N. Cod.
The bureaucrats of intermediate and low level are suffering severe budget cuts. They have a lot of work, because the staff is cut. (politicians always look for a way to devour all resources).
But usually, high-ranking bureaucrats are usually inept, who got the job because they are loyal to one of the oligarchy's groups. These elements carry the full weight of responsibility in subordinates. These bureaucrat leaders tend to have vices of abuse against the employees under their control. And if we take into account that a job in the government is almost impossible to get ...
Once the oligarchs lose all sanity after generations of dictatorial practices, corruption spreads uncontrollably, because everyone thinks that it is the right thing to do, since the ethics of the high commands. That results in a series of perversions that are hidden under the carpet. But the stench of the oligarchy makes the situation evident. ¡Hoo! ¡ if I told you what really happened! Mexico is Inferno. And the United States is going in that direction very fast.

A.F. Rey said...

But I don’t think science leads us to the Truth it leads us to the useful. I consider that to be a very important difference.

But if Truth is not useful, what good is it? ;)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Even when they did write about some rather alien aliens, it was to examine a human trait taken to an extreme.


Most sci-fi is like that. Even superhero fiction. Back in the 80s, The Fantastic Four had two of their "Inhuman" characters marry in a ceremony which emphasized the idea that the ceremony is largely a formality--that the couple actually marry themselves when they decide they are married. My first reading of that scene was "Isn't that a cute way that the aliens do marriage?", but even then, the writerly voice in my head kept going, "No, even stories about aliens are really stories about us. The writer is saying that's what human marriage really is like!"

That same writerly voice in my head told me that "Darmok" was saying we human beings talk in metaphors and allusions.


The episode with the aliens who were black and white (split down the middle) made that really obvious to me as a kid.


That third-season episode really did hit us over the head with the fact that it was an allegory. Watch it again some time, and notice that the opening "captain's log" exposition actually mentions that they are traveling through the "southern part of the galaxy".

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

But then, with a sly wink, the implied general extensions are:

"Therefore science doesn't try to make models of the world that edge ever-closer to objective reality, disproving those that are clearly and decisively farther from objective reality. No, science is just a 'community standard' like any other and no better."


Asimov wrote an essay about the shape of the earth that says this much better than I can, but the gist is that just because we can never be 100% sure what the right answers are doesn't mean we can't rule out a whole bunch of wrong ones.

It is not a contradiction to assert these two truths:
* We don't know the precise shape of the earth
* We do know that the earth is not a pyramid or a cube.

Locumranch, in particular, likes to argue (essentially) that the first assertion precludes the second one.

More on the topic at hand, I'd say that a form of "community standards"--certainly consensus--helps keep science on the track of eliminating falsehoods and discovering truths. However, the phrase "community standards" has been co-opted to mean something else, just as "religious liberty" has. The Trump administration inserting "community standards" into scientific findings means that a group of people have the right to reject scientific claims based on how those claims (or their applications) make the community feel. That has no place in science.

locumranch said...


John_F's partisanship makes me laugh, especially the part about Trump trying "to please both extremes and end up pleasing nobody", because "pleasing nobody" is exactly why people supported Trump in the first place, not because they believed him wise in the ways of governance, but because he threatens to unbalance & smash the ever-growing government beast.

And, David, what can we say about Mr. Science who admits that he cannot "directly perceive objective reality", but believes "we can CORNER it" as it idles within our respective partisan belief bubbles wherein his every solution looks like a communist 'we-need-more-centralised-government' hammer & his every problem resembles a wealth-inequality derived nail.

Thus, we are left with a dichotomy of either progressive or incompetent hulks who only understand 'Hulk Smash' --- and smash they will with self-righteous enthusiasm.

Watch as Federalism is smashed by all players, first by Trump because incompetence, second by various big government progressives & conservatives because 'NOT my president' & third by 'NOT my federalism, chief justice or country' regional politicos like enlightened Gov J. Brown.

Watch the Left's Pyrrhic Identity Politic Victory as it villainises all white males, all males & all whites. Watch how it smashes one official narrative after another! Watch as Hollyweird mocks its target audience! Watch as 'Science' squanders its intellectual capital on ill-advised moral Passion Plays! Watch as all News becomes fake!

Watch as almost everyone STOPS watching, believing or caring.

Hulk Smash!!!


Best

LarryHart said...

...concerning the Inhuman marriage ceremony mentioned above,

I forgot to mention that my brother was so impressed when he read that story that he said "I want that speech read at my wedding!" Four years later, when he actually was to be married, I asked if he remembered what he said. He not only remembered; he insisted that I read the speech word for word during his wedding ceremony. Which I did.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Watch as almost everyone STOPS watching, believing or caring.


Oh, the irony.

Jon S. said...

Well, Inhumans are really humans, they just like the name. (Tens of thousands of years ago, either the Celestials or the Kree, depending on whether you want MU or MCU continuity, meddled with the human genome to make a subspecies with the capability of developing superhuman powers when exposed to a certain compound, dubbed Terrigen. The "Inhuman" gene complex was there all along, though. Then the carriers went and spread that gene complex around the planet...)

LarryHart said...

@Jon S,

"Watch as almost everyone STOPS watching, believing or caring."

I kid, I kid! I used to be a Marvel geek too, but I've lost interest because the backstories never stay the same anyway. And the fact that Inhumans were really human was established long before the Kree thing--way back in Fantastic Four #48 when Maximus's whatever-cannon, which was supposed to kill all humans but not the Inhumans, didn't actually kill anyone. Those were the days!

Darrell E said...

occam's comic said...

"Biological evolution did not produce sensory organs that accurately perceive the objective reality that organisms find themselves in, it produced sensory organs that provide the organism with useful information (in many but not all contexts)."

Sure, we can't ever be sure that we know any aspect of our reality with perfect fidelity, or even if reality is fundamentally as we perceive it to be, even as described by the most thoroughly validated findings of science.

"But I don’t think science leads us to the Truth it leads us to the useful. I consider that to be a very important difference."

Sure. There isn't anything that leads to the Truth. But the problem is with Truth, not science or any other method of finding things out. That's because Truth is an invalid concept. There isn't any Truths. Insofar as humans devise Truths out of longing for them, they are creating barriers for themselves.

Though there are undoubtedly individuals that believe science gives Truths, speaking of science generally that is a false accusation. A key aspect of science is that all of its findings are provisional. Some more so than others based on the degree and extent to which they have been verified by, among other things, empirical testing.

Sure, individuals practicing science may not understand that or for other reasons do bad science. Individual scientists can even cheat with malice aforethought. But if enough scientists do the process well enough, which in fact is the case, then the process will eventually discard the faulty work. Science is by no means a perfect way to discern accurate and useful information about our reality, but it is the only reliable way humans have ever devised.

Twominds said...

Catfish and Raito, thanks for the clarification on the NDA.

Now, back to the thread, I´m just half way.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again. Luis.
Dear Doctor Brin.
Dear Alfred Differ.
In Mexico it is very common for politicians to use the crooked logic for prevarication. Even when politicians gain a lot of control, corrupt politicians no longer try to justify crimes by using lies with true disguise. In Mexico. If it is discovered that a powerful politician committed a crime, said politician does not speak of the matter; the media do not talk about the matter and no investigation is carried out, since the whole justice system is under the control of the politicians who distribute the slices of the pie. That being the situation in Mexico, almost all the people ignore the real situation, because the media create an alternate and false reality that the people take for real with a depressing ease. ¡How many irrational sheep are there in Mexico!
Of course, Donald Trump seems to copy the tactics of alternate reality and double thinking that politicians use in Mexico. I wonder if the Republicans are getting advice on policy issues from the oligarchs of Mexico. For several years now, I suspect that there is a certain alliance between the oligarchs of all nations. Something beyond commercial alliances. Perhaps oligarchs around the world have a kind of action manual. Yes. That action manual probably exists. I wonder if we will ever see a copy of that text.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again. Luis.
Dear Darrell E.
You say that the truth does not exist?
What do you use then as a guide to your own existence?
Of course, I speak of the real truth. Strive to know the truth for yourself and you will not walk in shadows. But I'm sure you already know the truth. Why then do you try to distort the value of truth? If the truth does not exist, why do you take medicines to cure you of an illness? Well, according to you, not even doctors tell the truth.
The truth is important because in the truth the meaning of our most vital actions is based. Smoke clouds can not hide the brightness of truth from everyone. Maybe to many. But not all.
“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”

TCB said...

>Dear Bagre N. Cod.

Let me just say, I like this fellow Luis.

¡Hola, Luis!

Anyway, when he says Mexico is "inferno" and the US is headed the same way, I think we can point to the same cause. In Mexico, I hear it's called The 200. Two hundred families that run and own practically everything. Here in the Estados Unidos, it's the Thousand.

Regrettably, I've read that The Only Thing, Historically, That's Curbed Inequality (is) Catastrophe. Wars, revolutions, plagues, societal collapse: they knock everybody down to nearer the same level. Otherwise, it seems, winners win more and more.

As I have said before, here or somewhere, it's not even considered corruption when a King or Emperor does it... it's simply the perquisite of rule.

TCB said...

Luis said:

>For several years now, I suspect that there is a certain alliance between the oligarchs of all nations. Something beyond commercial alliances.

Oh, you REALLY owe it to yourself to see Jean Renoir's movie La Grande Illusion from 1937. It is one of the greatest of all films. It takes place during World War 1, in a German prisoner of war camp where French are held. The German commandant von Rauffenstein and the French officer de Boeldieu become friends; both are aristocrats and have much more in common with each other than they have with their own lower class countrymen.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"But I have said too many different things to be a politician. Opponents would find a million things to call either offensive or contradictions. Nearly all are NOT offensive or contradictions. But I would be politically lost, trying to explain."

None of which would matter [see present administration] if it wasn't for that set of blasted personal ethics you possess.

LarryHart said...

Dave Sim used to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald as saying something to the effect of, "Wealthy people are wealthy people first, and everything else a distant second."

Alfred Differ said...

@occam’s comic | And I think science is a lot like that.

Okay. I think we might be misinterpreting you then. If all you are doing is avoiding the assumption of the existence of an objective reality, you are following an established philosophical tradition. I do something similar as a sanity check when I do physics. Quantum philosophy has forced us to face the issue that if one can never actually know a ‘thing’, one should not be building theories that assume that ‘thing’ exists even if it remains unobservable in the theories.

You’ll confuse people, though. Not many scientists avoid the objective reality assumption even when they say they do. Deep down, they think it is there. It is even more fun to get people to surrender their assumptions about the existence of Truth. They capitalize it for a reason and are inclined to lump those who avoid it in with the post-modernists.

David is a believer. Frame his words that way instead of your way and you’ll see his point more clearly.

Also, I sincerely doubt the people who have him upset are doing as you do. One can reject the assumptions and be on well-trodden philosophical ground. However, most Americans are philosophically illiterate. It is more likely they are rejecting an inconvenient fact or two using 'community standards’ as rationalization hammer. If WE cast their statements as rejections of the assumptions, WE are probably rejecting a fact or two as well.

Alfred Differ said...

@Darrell E| Science is by no means a perfect way to discern accurate and useful information about our reality, but it is the only reliable way humans have ever devised.

I used to tell my students it is a pretty-darn-good way of finding falsehoods. If you keep weeding the garden of falsehoods, surely the flowers are going to be prettier.

What was that? What about weeds with pretty flowers? Maybe now is the time to talk about science theories once debunked. Plate tectonics? One of Lamarck’s ideas? Scientists who throw away ideas fail to understand that we are a field of philosophy where we are willing to let Creation refute us. (I usually chuckle at this point and comment on the hubris of ‘letting’ Creation refute us.)



It's been a while since I taught, but that first lecture for intro science students is one I've rehearsed and used dozens of times. When done right, it is more an interactive performance than anything else. I'd bet a few of us here have that performance inside them. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Maybe now is the time to talk about science theories once debunked. Plate tectonics? One of Lamarck’s ideas? Scientists who throw away ideas fail to understand that we are a field of philosophy where we are willing to let Creation refute us.


This may be off point, but I'm reminded of an early physics test question that asked some specific point about phlogiston theory. I was really upset that the professor had included that as a test question. Sure, he had lectured about the subject, but once my brain heard "discredited theory" or whatever the phrasing was, it decided not to bother memorizing the details.


(I usually chuckle at this point and comment on the hubris of ‘letting’ Creation refute us.)


Now, you're invoking one of my favorite lines to quote from Captain America. "It's not a question of "letting", mister. It's a question of getting out of our way!"

john fremont said...

".... not because they believed him wise in the ways of governance, but because he threatens to unbalance & smash the ever-growing government beast..."

He will not unbalance and smash one of the most successful government programs in history, the Almighty Dollar. As a matter of fact, he just told a bunch of his buddies that he just made them a whole lot of money by signing the Tax Bill. He is gonna horde more of that government program. Despite Ron Paul telling us our fiat money is worthless they sure have been scooping up lots of it. Keep laughing, but the joke's on you.

LarryHart said...

On the subject of whether reality exists...

I believe Orwell was the one who pointed out that deniers of reality eventually are forced to come face to face with it, "usually on a battlefield."

In a similar vein, I used to argue that we use the words "subjective" and "objective" exactly reversed. Any real world phenomena that we commonly call "objective reality" can be subjectively disbelieved. It is only when something helps or hurts us--that is, makes us feel good or bad--that we are forced to face a fact that we might otherwise not wish to. The demonstration of this is obvious to anyone who has had a three-year-old child. Once they start asking "Why?", there is no answer that you can give them that doesn't simply elicit yet another level of "Why?". It's all subjective. That is, until you finally give the exasperated response, "Because otherwise I'll smack you one!" That's objective reality.

LarryHart said...

john fremont:

Keep laughing, but the joke's on you.


Loc doesn't laugh. He gets revenge on everyone by being miserable all the time.

LarryHart said...

john fremont:

Despite Ron Paul telling us our fiat money is worthless...


A dollar is self-evidently not worthless as long as I can take it to the store and buy food with it. When a certain type of Libertarian describes fiat money as worthless, they mean it doesn't meet a certain expectation that nothing in the universe (including gold) actually does meet. What they seem to want is a way of indefinitely storing value, such that I can hold onto the dollar's worth of value I earned today and receive that same dollar's worth of value any time I want in the future.

The reason that can't work, even on the gold standard, is because the available value at the time you decide to cash your dollar in is not a function of the earlier time in which you earned the dollar. In 2028, I can only buy the goods and services that are available for sale in 2028. My money does not cause the available pool of goods and services here in 2018 to be put into suspended animation forever until I'm ready to claim them.

An easier example is if instead of money, we worked in exchange for pizza. I get best value out of that pizza if I eat it right away. If I save it in my mattress, or even in the freezer, it doesn't retain its full value. It degrades over time. The culprit there is not government, but entropy. If I want to buy pizza ten years from now, I have to choose from slices that are being produced at that time. If pizza had gone out of favor in 2028 and no one is making any, I'm out of luck. I can't store the value of the pizza that I earned today.

The gold bugs expect money to hold its value no matter what, and blame government for the fact that it doesn't do so. They therefore expect gold or bitcoin to solve the problem. It won't. Because available value is not preserved over time.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again. Luis.
Dear TCB.
I located the movie you recommend. It's on YouTube, in Spanish. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll see that movie soon.

David Brin said...

Occam: “But I don’t think science leads us to the Truth it leads us to the useful. I consider that to be a very important difference.”

Yes, we well understand that’s what you consider to be the case. Alas, dear valued member of this community. That statement is simply wrong and it shows you did not contemplate my earlier message to you. Hence I will try once to reiterate.

Science is not about achieving the useful. Sure, a cornucopia of useful things fall out naturally. But science is about carving away what’s not true. When I look at a chair and fondle it and smell it and measure it with instruments, I still cannot know what the chair is, with objective certainty. But I can eliminate one hell of a lot of things that the chair is NOT.

We CORNER objective reality by allowing less and less room for it to fool us. And since humans are delusional beings, that means using reciprocal-competitive processes to pierce each others’ delusions, using ever-more exacting evidence.

Let other priesthoods declare Truth! We … do… not… pretend to! They hate and fear us, because we can demolish their “Truths” the way we enjoy and thrill at demolishing each others’ theories! And when a theory proves to not be falsified by all experiments and attacks, sure, it gets temporary glory as our current model of the world. But that only means it will spin off sub-variants in finer detail, and we’ll smash most of those!

I have likened it to the Dance of Shiva, in which the god leaps upon a part of the world and destroys it… so that something better immediately pops up when he hops away. And he smiles, beats his drum, and says “I’ll be back!”

I try to correct your impression because it is so joyless! You don’t seem to grasp how much we relish this creative destruction, for its own sake. The competitive creativity, knowing that the thing we chase – objective reality and/or God – will keep escaping, giggling, into the remaining fractal and never-ending shadows. And we – learning every Godlike skill – give chase.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again. Luis.
Dear TCB.
I followed the link to the newspaper article. Very interesting article. I agree with the conclusions of Professor Walter Scheidel.
I clarify that I do not suggest the path of revolution. Maybe you thought that.
I hope there are many nonviolent options in the effort to level social inequalities. I try to discover what options may exist. Isaac Asimov said:
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent". So, I try not to be incompetent. But I can not demand the same patience from everyone. Well, as the ocean of inequality rises, I must assume that there are undoubtedly many with water up to the neck.
For me. I try to discover a crack in the wall that holds 99% of humanity.
New Zealand…. The government of that country was very generous with the citizens. I wonder, ¿how was that happy political situation in New Zealand born?
However, I do not know the political situation in that country. Maybe there we find an important clue.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I WAS thinking of you and your favorite Captain America quote this time around. 8)

Those older 'debunked' theories remain useful, but usually only to the scientists themselves. If your future is more about engineering, then the odd bits of history that help us get to a theory that has survived (mostly) the brutality inflicted by experimentalists don't matter much. I don't need Greek astrometrics ideas to calculate the position of Mars for the next lander mission. However, if I like to tinker with the theories themselves, it is important to remember the debunked ones and HOW they got debunked. I make use of Ptolemaic astronomy not for astronomy, but for economic theory analogies. It is amazing how kludgy modern macroeconomics is. If you learn both, the similarities are there and the histories of both become potentially ironic. I use early electromagnetic theory with its aether as a reminder for how we can posit something that not only isn't there (objectively), but it interferes with our ability to imagine was actually IS there. E&M is inherently Lorentz relativistic, but the aether concept made it much more difficult to give up Galilean relativity. It sucked in so many of us.

Science is a field within Philosophy and as such we should be keeping good documentation on all arguments and refutations. We have the agreed upon (scientific method) tests for falsification that other types of philosophy don't have, but otherwise we do much the same. Chasing into the fractal is part of the game, but perceiving the fractal requires a bit more long-term memory. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Hello Luis,

My brother married someone with Mexican citizenship while she was north of the border. He went south with her at one point when they moved the northern part of the family to invest along with some of the southern part. He spent over a decade in Guadalajara and still has business interests there. During that time, he and his wife pursued a lucrative opportunity that dried up real fast. I asked him about that a while later and he explained that federal law had changed (again) after a few rich people realized how the first change was going to impact their incomes. Poof. Their long range interests dried up instead, but they did manage to take some short term gains.

Those tactics aren't new to members of the US or Mexican upper class. They are truly ancient and can be found all through history where rich people set or influence the rules in proportion to their wealth. Whether it is direct control or currying favor with Kings, the result is the same.

Talking about them probably helps limit their power a bit, but from what I've seen they are more limited when they don't know what is going on. Hiding from them doesn't really work, but they DO make mistakes occasionally. When we are there to capitalize on those errors, they lose. When we are there all the time, they lose something important. Do that often enough and one creates a middle class that doesn't use Peasant Ethics. The Oligarchs are in real trouble then.

My brother got a chance to teach English for a while, but he didn't teach an academic version. He focused on how to use it to talk to people in the US. Since fluency isn't just a matter of knowing the vocabulary, he was doing his bit to get back at the people who could dictate rules. He is north of the border nowadays along with most of the kids he raised, but I'm sure they will all move about as they wish in the coming years. I don't think our politicians understand what this can mean anymore the the cheaters who dictate rules to prevent honest competition. They will, though, in the next generation.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Luis

New Zealand…. The government of that country was very generous with the citizens. I wonder, ¿how was that happy political situation in New Zealand born?

Care to expand on what you mean by that and I will try and give a Kiwi perspective - I've only been here for 16 years but I have studied the history and the political situation

TCB said...

@Duncan, you could start with the fact the New Zealand is just about the only place where Europeans tried to subjugate the indigenous people and instead got their butts kicked, so had to learn to live with them in harmony. (At least that's how I hear it).

Jon S. said...

"Maybe now is the time to talk about science theories once debunked. Plate tectonics? One of Lamarck’s ideas?"

I'm confused, Alfred. Are you maintaining that plate tectonic theory has been debunked at some point? The references I've found are all pretty sure it's not merely a current theory, but the most widely accepted one.

Darrell E said...

Dear Luis,

I guess you didn't notice the big "T" Truth, as opposed to little "t" truth. I should have been more clear. I am fine with the word "truth" and the concept it represents. That the Sun rises in the East, that humans are capable of compassion in the face of hate (as evidenced by, for one example, Sarah Silverman's recent act of compassion), that humans are capable of horrible acts against other humans, that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the visible universe, these are all truths. They all have significant amounts of good evidence that indicate that they are accurate claims.

But "Truths" are not the same thing. That word typically means absolute truth. It specifically negates any possibility that it may not be accurate. That is the entire point of the word "Truth." Once a Truth is discovered there is never any reason to consider its accuracy again. Upper case "T" "Truths" is used in a variety of ways. Typically in contexts such as spiritualism, religion, ideology, theology, etc.. A common characteristic is that people arrive at Truths via reflection and based on how they feel rather than because there is a significant amount of good evidence to support it.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | I WAS thinking of you and your favorite Captain America quote this time around. 8)


:)

My work is done. And while it would be a stretch to say "I knew you were", it would be accurate to say "I had a feeling." Let's just go with "That doesn't surprise me."

I see what you mean about trying to make copies of myself. I know you're claiming the impetus comes from loved ones wanting to copy rather than from oneself wishing to be copied, but I'm thinking it works both ways. Just as someone can wish both to love and to be loved. Our host's Existence clearly depicts a good evolutionary reason why "wanting to have copies of ourselves out there" makes biological sense.

For whatever reason, knowing a part of myself has burrowed its way into someone else's thinking is a source of satisfaction.

locumranch said...


For those of you who recognise the difference between 'big "T" (as opposed to little "t") of truth' and liken Science to "to pierc(ing) each others’ delusions", "demolishing each others’ theories", the "Dance of Shiva" and "creative destruction", I say that you have more in common with the Steve Bannons & the Donald Trumps of the world than you care to admit.

What are the these Big T truths of which you speak? How does Cheating differ from 'Competitive Creativity'? Where is the Kindness, Charity and the Inherent Goodness of Humanity? What is the boiling point of Romantic Love? And what is the atomic number of Mercy?

These are a few of the tiresome Delusions of which you speak so endlessly and, once pierced, all we are left with is the mechanics of 'How to Do a Thing' but not the wherefores, whys and why-nots. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.


Best

LarryHart said...

Watch as almost everyone STOPS watching, believing or caring.

Robert said...

One reason the entire present-day right is loony is that a sane conservative who speaks up is purged immediately, and rebaptized as a "leftist" by Foxworld. Meanwhile, the center often welcomes the purgees, but ignores them after a while. The Left, I need hardly add, doesn't welcome them. Ever.

I think Nixon should get at least some credit for reducing America's involvement with Kennedy's Big Mistake - the other one, not going to Dallas.


Bob Pfeiffer.

raito said...

LarryHart,

And the culling of wrong answers is currently used in an anti-science manner.

Because, gosh, if those smarty-pants guys keep spending money on research that only shows they're wrong, they're not so smart, are they?

As far as deniers, I run into them on the sports field. A lot. You're that great? OK, let's play. You lost? If you're so great, why did you lose? Rinse and repeat enough and they either wise up (and either work hard enough to make themselves fit their mind's eye, or accept that they don't have 'it'), or go home. The score doesn't lie.

The worse ones are those who loudly declare their expertise, but refuse to play. And even worse the one who decry your expertise, but also refuse to play.

Dr. Brin,

So you're describing scientific process as calculating an epsilon? I get it, but those not up to calculus might not.

Only slightly aside, I'm amused a bit by the flat-earth homemade rocket guy. Now, we all know he's just a barnum, but one phrase of his stands out. "That's not science, it's just a formula." Where does his persona think that formula came from?

As far as Marvel goes, I've been trying to work my way through the various Netflix Marvel series. I don't find them very good, completely aside from the fact that they're not MY Marvel guys. Iron-fist as a rage-filled PTSD guy (in a series with comparatively little kung fu)? Zombie Harold Meachum has a son? Geez.

Still, the idea that the Defenders series takes place in a New York where the last Avengers movie trashed half the city, and various scum are trying to profit off either the misery or rebuilding or both could be interesting.

LarryHart said...

@raito,

Re: Marvel movies...

While the Marvel film that I really like is a rare exception, I do admire the fact that they've managed to recreate that "unified Marvel universe" feel of the old 1960s comics. I would have thought that to be a difficult thing to pull off with movies, but they seem to have done it.

Re: Sports, and those who won't admit when they lose...

There's always the Tonya Harding types who cry excuses for everything. "My shoelace came untied!"

David Brin said...

She caters to people with too much money and not enough smarts ...

https://boingboing.net/2018/01/06/rectum-damn-near-kilt-im.html

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

As Niven (and the late Pournelle) would say, "Think of it as evolution in action..." :) :(

Alfred Differ said...

@Jon S | When plate tectonics was first proposed, it received a big raspberry from geologists… laughter too, but not the nice kind. The eastern coast of South America DOES fit rather nicely up against the west coast of Africa, but back before anyone knew of the giant rift running along the sea floor between them, the notion that they drifted apart was ridiculous.
It happens mostly to revolutionary ideas. Unfortunately, the few times they've made a comeback is enough to motivate a world full of crackpots to send us there ideas for consideration. Like other fields within philosophy, naïve arguments are usually not worth spit. Occasionally, they are, but the Ramanujan’s of the world are hard to find.

Equally unfortunate is the fact that all science theories eventually fail falsification tests to be replaced by improvements motivates deniers who want to avoid the consequences of what we've learned. Even failed theories like geocentric astronomy still work to calculate the position of the planets from Earth's perspective. We replace the explanatory layer of a theory even if the predictive layer keeps working. In fact, the old predictive layer is a constraint on future explanatory layers. It must be.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I'm thinking it works both ways

It does. 8) Our host’s favorite economist pointed this out almost 2.5 centuries ago. We want to love and to be love-able. Smith’s “Theory of Moral Sentiments” goes into it in some detail. I’d argue that sane people want both and strive for them even if they don’t quite realize it.

"I had a feeling."

Yah. That would have been the small bit of me lodged in your head pointing out the truth. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I'll happily consider that possibility when I see Trump issue these words and mean it.

"I could be wrong."

"Thank you for your constructive criticisms."

occam's comic said...

Sorry Dave, it is not that I don’t understand your position on science (it is very close to how I use to think about science) I just don’t think it accurately captures what science actually does.

Now we both agree that science does produce useful ideas and methods, but you go and make the giant assertion that these useful ideas corner Objective Reality / God. That is a leap of faith that I am not willing to take anymore. It is easy to prove that science can produce useful ideas but impossible to prove what you say about science.

And as far as my perceptive on science being joyless, that has to be your own hang up. I work as a development chemist and I use carefully controlled experiments, scientific instruments and scientific ideas on nearly a daily basis in order to come up with useful ideas and processes to solve particular problems. And there is great joy in finding useful solutions regardless of whether or not that the ideas that were used are an accurate description of reality.

LarryHart said...

@occam's comic,

Obviously, Dr Brin has to answer for his own self, but to me, you're arguing semantics. I doubt our host means the same thing that you do by "accurate description of reality", and I'm guessing that his definition would consider "useful solutions" to fall into that category.

locumranch said...


@Alfred:

As if you would ask a cat to deny its cat-ness or a horse to deny its horse-ness, you would ask a Trump to deny its Trump-ness? How boring is that?

By attempting to erase the antagonists from History, you commit perhaps the most unforgivable progressive Pinkerian sin as there can be neither 'story' nor hero protagonist without villains, antagonism or conflict.

TASAT (a great many of them) confirm that it is most often the Asshat who embraces necessity, moves the action forward & accomplishes great things, while the progressive hero merely blame-shifts all the bad towards the villain & claims credit for all of that villainous good.

Science only provides 'useful reality-based solutions' that can neither confirm or deny the so-called '"accurate (subjective) reality" of our host's moral preferences, delusions & vanities because Science can only show us the observable 'is' but NEVER the imaginary 'is' of what 'should', 'ought' and 'supposed to' be.


Best

Torches and Pitchforks said...

I think the whole point and benefit of having massively unrivaled wealth and power is specifically so that you can do it stupidly.

Frankly if ever the mega wealthy elite wanted to do things smartly, then they'd simply create a system where they would be only modestly wealthier then everyone else. One need not be anywhere close to a billion or trillion-air to have all advantages, food, luxuries, and primacy of influence on society.

The whole point is that mega-wealthy Forest Gump, lives like the king of kings. He wields the power to his whim. The world bends at his desires. HE, has ultimate freedom.

Convincing rich to do things smartly is not a reliable solution.

Anonymous said...

"Brad deLong asks the same question posed in a few chapters of my novel, Existence - whether those in the oligarchy, who are pushing so hard for a return to feudalism, are being smart... or very shortsighted."

I’ve been thinking about the question of how can a group of people, who apparently act in an individual and very shortsighted manner—and the essence of greed is shortsightedness—produce, what appears to be a long term conspiracy, to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. And I think I have come up with an answer.

I was reading a reference to Adam Smith’s the invisible hand of the market wherein individual transactions for mutual profit develop the emergent property of the organized market.

There is no grand plan to reshape the world. What we have here is that all the individual instances of greed and market capture develop the emergent property of a push towards a monopolistic, feudal system. The invisible hand of greed I call it.

Dave Moore

Winter7 said...

Hello, it's me, again.
Dear Alfred Differ.
Your brother married a woman from Mexico. He had difficulties to prosper in Mexico. That shows how hard it is to live in Mexico, because even those who have money to start a small business, can not prosper under the unjust situation in Mexico.
Without a doubt, your brother has noticed that, in Mexico, everything is terrible. In fact, currently Mexico has become a very dangerous place. But the publicity to attract tourists makes believe that Mexico is a safe place. It is not like this. Foreign tourists are frequently kidnapped for various purposes. Your brother was wise to return to the United States. Do not let your nephews go back to Mexico. Although land is cheaper than in the United States, in Mexico nobody is safe. Probably already they are annoyed of my moans by the situation in Mexico. But it is necessary to warn them that the danger is here. Let's leave that then.
Moving to a different issue ... You mentioned that you can calculate the trajectory and position of the planet Mars. By Quetzalcoatl! . You are a physicist and Software Engineer of NDTI ... Software.
Maybe my question seems silly to you. But your answer may one day prove vital to perform a bit of ... "Magic". (in the sense described by Arthur C. Clarke).
Do you know how to create software capable of calculating the exact position of Mars 95 years ago in the past? And the exact position of Mars in 500 years? (margin of error, 700,000 kilometers) ... Do you know how to create that software ?. I suppose it is possible in a range of 100 years. But, 500 or 2000 years in the future? For such long periods of time, I suppose we have to consider the translation of the solar system around the galactic center and the path of the Milky Way.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again.
Dear Darrell E.
I get it. You criticized the great "truths" that it is forbidden to question; as, for example, the infallibility of the decisions of the church. To the Catholics in mass, they make us recite the creed from children. Whenever we attend mass, in part of what we recite we have to say that we believe in the infallibility of the church. But we have all seen that, throughout the history of mankind, the church made terrible mistakes. The Inquisition tortured and burned alive all those who denied the beliefs of the Catholic Church. They even tortured children and burned them. And the reasons for these acts often actually originated from political motives; reasons of ethnic hatred; and very often, for the mere pleasure or personal convenience of the inquisitors. And if we take into account that in Mexico the people have two faces, on the one hand, the people have an irrational Catholicism, and on the other, it is very frequent that Catholicism is mixed with superstition, which allows the shamans, and sorcerers cheat people with enormous ease (even people with a university degree) (yes, really) Several television channels have programs used by sorcerers to cajole people. In the television programs, false religious leaders are also frequent, who found their own church, and who promised the unsuspecting, the support of the angels in exchange for money.
Certainly, lies do great harm when they are imposed on us as truths. Hence, I do not really believe in the infallibility of the church or in the politicians who serve the oligarchy.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Winter7 (are you also Luis?)...

"Do you know how to create software capable of calculating the exact position of Mars 95 years ago in the past? And the exact position of Mars in 500 years?"

Yes. In fact I can do it for thousands of years. You have to get up to tens of thousands before chaos theory effects even start being an issue. The best models (which I can't write, not being familiar enough with the gigantic source data required, but others can) go up to millions or tens of millions of years before becoming chaotic.

@locum: Have you read Hogfather by Prachett? Your questions about "the atomic number of Mercy" ring familiar. If you haven't, then you should -- the answer lies therein.

occam's comic said...

Yes Larry, the whole discussion we are having is about science means.

For Dave it seems to mean that science is a progressive project that develops ideas and methods that get ever closer to Objective Reality/ Truth /God. (Dave - I am not trying to put words in your mouth, that is just my understanding of what you have said.)

For me, Science is a game played by tool using, story telling chimpanzees that helps them develop useful ideas and methods for relating to various aspects of the world around them.

Winter7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winter7 said...

Hello, it's me, again!

Dear "Torches and Forks".

Certainly, it is possible to change the opinion of the Republicans who were deceived by Donald Trump. But it is not possible to change the opinion of an oligarch in chief or the high officials of an oligarch. The high officials of an oligarch, have a total loyalty to the oligarch, based on selfishness and convenience. The oligarch chief and the officers of the oligarchy can not be convinced, because they know that they act premeditatedly with evil. Thus, it is not necessary to convince an oligarch that he is a villain; for it is the path of darkness that he has chosen. We can only convince those who are not strongly under the control of the oligarchs. Convincing those who are not yet dominated by darkness is certainly possible. Hence the vital importance of Dr. Brin's tireless work. Because of Dr. Brin strives to make everyone understand the importance of the truth.

Winter7 said...

Dear Bagre N. Cod.
Yes. I'm Luis.
Then it is possible to create that software. All right. It is excellent news. Thank you.

TCB said...

@Luis, yes, as Catfish said, the software can be done. But when the timeline is long enough, chaos is the rule and no software can possibly predict after that.

As this quote from the Wikipedia page on Timeline of the Far Future

"3.3 Billion [Years from Now:] One percent chance that Jupiter's gravity may make Mercury's orbit so eccentric as to collide with Venus, sending the inner Solar System into chaos. Possible scenarios include Mercury colliding with the Sun, being ejected from the Solar System, or colliding with Earth.[67]"

If you've read a bit on chaos theory (and I bet you have) then you'll know that when scientists use the word 'chaotic' they mean that it is no longer possible to predict or simulate accurately the thing being discussed (though the range of possibilities is still predictable). Weather forecasts, for instance, also become chaotic if you look ahead more than a few days, even with all the data we have.

A.F. Rey said...

For Dave it seems to mean that science is a progressive project that develops ideas and methods that get ever closer to Objective Reality/ Truth /God. (Dave - I am not trying to put words in your mouth, that is just my understanding of what you have said.)

For me, Science is a game played by tool using, story telling chimpanzees that helps them develop useful ideas and methods for relating to various aspects of the world around them.


It sounds like you has an unstated premise that there is an Objective Reality/Truth/God out there which is ultimately unknowable by Man.

If this is correct, then what makes you believe that the universe is so complex that men can never "truly" understand it?

Duncan Cairncross said...

"Do you know how to create software capable of calculating the exact position of Mars 95 years ago in the past? And the exact position of Mars in 500 years?"

"Yes. In fact I can do it for thousands of years. You have to get up to tens of thousands before chaos theory effects even start being an issue. The best models (which I can't write, not being familiar enough with the gigantic source data required, but others can) go up to millions or tens of millions of years before becoming chaotic."

Thousands of years - OK
The problem is that the error bands grow larger - after tens or hundreds of thousands of years the error bands are getting as large as the orbits

You can't go millions of years and get a sensible answer

There are mathematical methods that produce "stability zones" and we can therefore be sure that the various planets stay in their respective orbits - but we simply can't run the orbits back and forth for millions of years - the error bars add up too fast

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

But "Truths" are not the same thing. That word typically means absolute truth. It specifically negates any possibility that it may not be accurate. That is the entire point of the word "Truth." Once a Truth is discovered there is never any reason to consider its accuracy again.


In my experience, people who actually use "Truth" with a capital T are trying to imply an extra level of importance to some particular belief of their own. Not so much that it has been proven beyond further question, but that it is so freakin' obvious that there's something wrong if not evil about anyone who would question it. "The Emperor's New Clothes", for example.

To me, there cannot be multiple capital-T Truths. If the concept of capital-T Truth (singular) has any meaning, it would be something overarching, on the order of "the sum total of all true things", or "the quality shared and reflected by all true things."

David Brin said...

Alfred, the way Wegener was treated, re Plate Tectonics, is way, way exaggerated by mythology. He was NOT cruelly treated or laughed-at! Because he only raised it at every other conference - and alternated with other, solid work - he was listened to by colleagues who shook their heads and demanded “HOW could this be happening?” He had no answer. Some called him obsessive but that is not exactly persecution.

Occam, Jiminy, what definition of Objective Reality do YOU use, other than “That layer that makes a consistent experiment always give the same answer”?

Still, everyone should look at your posts to see examples of Attempted Paraphrasing, which is what adults do, followed by one of the sacred questions of maturity: “Did I just paraphrase you right?”

Naturally, locum has no idea what the preceding paragraph remotely means. Hence, he’ll never paraphrase and thus never create anything but hallucinatory strawmen and fire volleys off in directions where no one is standing.

locumranch said...


I really can't compete with a professional wordsmith like David as (1) he writes with greater proficiency & clarity than an amateur such as I can ever manage, whilst (2) the term 'paraphrasing' is defined as "express(ing) the meaning of (the writer or speaker or something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity".

In the interest of both clarity & proficiency, then, I only offer up David's words:

"Science is not about achieving the useful. Sure, a cornucopia of useful things fall out naturally. But science is about carving away what’s not true. When I look at a chair and fondle it and smell it and measure it with instruments, I still cannot know what the chair is, with objective certainty (...)

We CORNER objective reality by allowing less and less room for it to fool us. And since humans are delusional beings, that means using reciprocal-competitive processes to pierce each others’ delusions, using ever-more exacting evidence.

Let other priesthoods declare Truth! We … do… not… pretend to! They hate and fear us, because we can demolish their “Truths” the way we enjoy and thrill at demolishing each others’ theories (...)

I have likened it to the Dance of Shiva, in which the god leaps upon a part of the world and destroys it… so that something better immediately pops up when he hops away. And he smiles, beats his drum, and says “I’ll be back!”

I try to correct your impression because it is so joyless! You don’t seem to grasp how much we relish this creative destruction, for its own sake."


Communicated with the utmost proficiency & clarity, it's all there in black & white, from David's inability to recognise a common object with "objective certainty", his admission that humans are "delusional beings" & his scientific refusal to pretend possession of "the truth" to science analogised as "the Dance of Shiva" (and/or a relish-worthy "creative destruction") replete with a grinning, hopping & drum-beating doofus of an imaginary god.

Even so, our HUMAN host offers up his self-confessed ignorance in regards to "objective certainty", expects others to accept this self-confessed uncertainty as the truth revealed, and fails to address the "wherefores, whys and why-nots" of scientific revelation with its attendant assumed-but-unproven 'Duty to Act'.

Said Oppenheimer after helping to create the first Atom Bomb, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”: Wherefore, Why or Why-Not. Where is this ASSUMED 'Duty to Act'?


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@David | Okay. I'll add a few more sources to what I know of Wegener's experience. I know from my own advisor's experience that there are paths to reputation destruction that don't look cruel from the outside, but are so crushing they can lead to suicidal ideation. I might be thinking about that too much and mapping it to others. 8)

Regarding Occam's perspective on science, I don't think it is all that rare. It's a philosophical position we see some quantum theory people take. If you can't measure it, should it be mentioned at all in one's theory? Is there another way to build the theory without it?

It has been my experience that when two ideas explain essentially the same phenomenon yet contradict each other in their internal constructions, it is the internal constructions that should be set aside. They probably don't matter. IF one can find an experiment to distinguish them, by all means run it. After a certain level of exhaustion, though, it is time to ditch the internals and consider options. Belief in an objective reality is one of those I'm willing to ditch on occasion much like causality when working E&M problems. Turns out they aren't needed. They might actually interfere with the spawning of theory spinoffs to be tested by the next generation.

I know you don't have a ton of time for these things, but things are afoot. What the QB'ist folks are doing to our once familiar quantum turf is important. I've tried working through d'Espagnat's book, but I've had to restart a few times. I was taught to ignore philosophy as I learned physics, but I'm now thinking our teachers wished for a distinction that should not have been tolerated.

Occam's views on science aren't all that strange. His side might actually be on to something useful.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7/Luis | I wasn't quite clear enough. My brother and his wife have actually done well. I just thought they were going to do even better. They had multi-year plans that got cut short with rule changes. They still made a tidy sum, though. They could have been multi-millionaires by now if the rules hadn't changed, but they might have lost it all too in a fair market. What he explained to me was that the market wasn't fair, but they still manage to run off with enough money to make it worth it. 8)

What the American public knows about conditions in Mexico could fill a tea cup at best. I actually read security briefs (public information if you have a subscription to Stratfor) that tells a very different story. Even with all that goes on, there is an interesting under-story that suggest improvement. Your neighbor to the north isn't making it easy, but we aren't monolithic. The idiocy on the east coast doesn't rule on the west coast for example.

Regarding orbit propagation, that isn't what my employer pays me to do. It is, however, something I wanted to learn years ago when I was looking into technology readiness for solar sails. Simulating them for commercial purposes required better propagators than I thought existed at the time. So I set about learning the details. What I learned is that long duration propagators tend to sacrifice exact prediction capabilities in exchange for getting exactness for orbit parameters. You need six numbers to pin-point a planet on an orbit. (sma, ecc, inc, asc node, periapsis angle, and true anomaly) If you are only projecting a few centuries, it's pretty easy with modern computers... if you stick to coordinate systems you know. For really long periods, though, one can't beat chaos. Knowing where Mars will be requires knowing where Jupiter will be... and Earth... and Saturn... and etc. The further out you go in time, the less we can say with precision. The first thing sacrificed is usually where Mars is on it's orbit. In exchange we study how the orbit itself changes.

You don't have to write any of this as software anymore, though. I have no doubt several internet sites will tell you where Mars was 95 years ago... or 500 years hence. If you still want to learn to write them, though, I used two books after learning Mechanics. Bate, Mueller, & White's “Fundamentals of Astrodynamics” and A E Roy's “Orbital Motion”. My books are old and it appears they both come out in newer editions. It doesn't really matter which programming language you use to write these as long as it isn't ancient and you know how to use it. It's a WHOLE lot easier to use someone else's code, though. And usually smarter too.

This stuff is fun, but I eventually moved on from sails when I finally understood I was thinking about a 5th generation problem when we still couldn't get off the ground reliably. Fun can be found chasing problems at any level.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | You don't know me very well, so I can understand your mistaken views about my positions. I did 'science' for a while. It is a very human enterprise and story no matter how it is idealized by others. I should say 'stories', though, since there are millions of us in the enterprise nowadays.

Most asshats are just that. They don't add to the enterprise. It takes quite a lot of hubris to believe one adds anything at all, let alone while doing it as an asshat. As for those who follow them... well...

♪ Don't it make my red nose brown. ♫

[apologies to Crystal Gayle]

Alfred Differ said...

@Torches & Pitchforks | Convincing rich to do things smartly is not a reliable solution.

It has been my experience that the rich are not the only folks who can't be taught to do things smartly. 8)

Seriously. We can't agree on what 'smartly' is let alone persuade immovable objects to budge. Most of us have to come to our realizations ourselves... often in a difficult way.

Humans are stubborn and ornery... and repeat themselves. 8)

David Brin said...

Dang! By his lights, locum actually tried to paraphrase me! Or at least thought he did. In fact, he just offered an excised extract followed by blather while IMPLYING that he believes that objective certainty is possible… without offering any asserted example. Hey! Of what are YOU objectively certain, fellah?

Tell us what’s objectively certain. Since this time you actually tried to aim in our actual direction (better than any other time in months) we’ll reward you by answering.

Duncan Cairncross said...

E A Roy!!
Doc Roy was my Astronomy lecturer at Glasgow
Astronomy was offered as part of the Civil Engineering options
We had to shoot the sun in January in Glasgow and calculare where the university was
Bloody difficult - not much sun then

The first thing he showed us was Neil Armstrong on the moon - Doc Roy won a bet with Ladbrokes - I think he won 100,000 pounds

And I attended a lecture he gave at the BIS - about orbital mechanica and stability zones

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I found Roy's book in a used bookstore in Sacramento where I met the woman I eventually married.

Of the two books, I liked his more because it described the algorithms better. Start here. Do this. Do this other thing next. Very specific. On top of that, he lays out the perturbations on Earth orbiting satellites in detail and the pre-PC numerical integration methods. Useful for checking any code I built.

Not intro stuff. Definitely old-school classical mechanics. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

The next slide that Doc Roy showed us was an HP programmable calculator and one of the old fashioned wind the handle calculators
He said that last year he had spent six months doing a series of calculations with the wind the handle machine and that with the HP he had done something similar in less than a day!

We used six figure log tables - takes two hands to pick one up

I was in the first year that was permitted to use calculators in exams

Winter7 said...

Dear Alfred Differ.
I wrote down the books. But I wonder if there is already software available. Undoubtedly NASA has many. The precision with which propeller probes can be remotely controlled is impressive.
As for the problem of increasing chaos as plane trajectories are predicted far away in time. With 300 years would be enough. But to calculate the trajectory up to 3000 years in the future, that would increase the chances of achieving the trick. Getting the location of Mars 2000 years in the future would be an ideal amount of time.
I wonder if the following book uses the most recent programming language:
Orbital Motion in Strongly Perturbed Environments: Applications to Asteroid, Comet and Planetary Satellite Orbiters (Springer Praxis Books) Apr 19, 2012
by Daniel J. Scheeres.
Thank you. I hope that in the future the software we are talking about will be easy to acquire. I imagine that you could navigate with a sextant on an interplanetary ship using a pocket calculator and a notepad. (A solar flare could roast a ship's computers) Perhaps all astronauts can navigate without using computers.
Navigating from one planet to another using solar sails and ionic engines should be fun (bringing many novels for the trip).

Winter7 said...

Dear Duncan Cairncross.
For many years now, I heard rumors that the citizens of New Zealand enjoyed many benefits from the government. In such a way, that the economic prosperity allowed the young people of that country to become great travelers, for mere fun.
And from Wikipedia we can read:
New Zealand is a developed country and ranks in international comparisons of national performance, such as health, education, economic freedom and quality of life. Since the 1980s
All this makes me suspect that it is not necessary for a country to be left to adopt a generous attitude towards citizens. I have total confidence that an ideal political system is not on the left or on the right. I believe that democracy can use what is useful and good from other political systems and discard obsolete things. We can create a better democracy. We can create a democracy that can not be just a mask for the oligarchs.
By the way. I did not know that New Zealand is a colony that belongs to your country, Great Britain.
If you're English ... have you considered looking for the Excalibur sword in the legendary place where Nimue lives? (The lady of the lake) You use a metal detector and then dredges with a hook the place where the metal detector was activated.
If you find the Excalibur, you could be named Sir Duncan by the queen.
One question: why are there so many redheaded women in Scotland? Redheaded women are the most sensual women in the world.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Winter7

New Zealand was colonised later and the Maori were also "recent" colonists

The Maori arrived in NZ in about 1200 AD - as Polynesian Islanders and castaways
They immediately changed to an expansion culture eating the untapped food of NZ
By the time the Europeans had arrived they had expanded to about 200,000 people and changed to an agricultural existence and were starting the type of warfare cycles seen on the other polynesian islands
When the Europeans arrived the Maori welcomed them and learned a huge amount from them before buying muskets and conquering their neighbours
The Maori are the only indigenous people to defeat the British Empire - but recognising their own vulnerable position (vulnerable to other Maori) the leading chiefs consolidated their position by effectively joining the Empire
Maori got the vote in 1852 followed by women in 1893
Miles ahead of everywhere else!

Politically New Zealand is about the same as Europe - our "right wing party" is to the left of the US Democrats - so by US and I suspect Mexican standards we are very "left"

We have a proportional representation system with at present five parties having seats in parliament
The present Government is an alliance of Labour, Green and New Zealand First - New Zealand First is essentially a pragmatic whatever will work party run by an eccentric Maori/Scot

There are some things that NZ does very well - and we do lead in a number of aspects
https://www.acc.co.nz/ Is worth a visit

All of our government is done on the web - you can read and comment on laws before they are finalised and voted on by parliament

Education is by way of loans - but they are zero interest and you don't have to pay them back until you earn decent money

I'm a Scot - calling a Scot "English" is a grave insult! and the reason that the Scottish women are the most beautiful is that the Scottish men are the most handsome

Although the only time I visited Mexico I was struck by just how beautiful the Mexican women were

George Carty said...

Good to see that another strike against partisan gerrymandering has been made as North Carolina's district map has been declared illegal...

Darrell E said...

George Carty,

Good news, thanks for the link. The take-away quote for me from that article . . .

"At the time of the 2016 debate, according to the order, House redistricting chief Rep. David Lewis attempted to justify the criteria by saying “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”"

Is this an example of a stupid crook or an honest one? Or, worse and most likely, one who doesn't fear any repercussions because he and his ilk have been getting away with just about anything and everything for years without suffering any negative consequences. Their base eats it up.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

I have total confidence that an ideal political system is not on the left or on the right. I believe that democracy can use what is useful and good from other political systems and discard obsolete things. We can create a better democracy. We can create a democracy that can not be just a mask for the oligarchs.


You sound a lot like a radio host named Norman Goldman. He insists on dropping divisive labels like "liberal", "conservative", and "progressive", and just finding issues that most Americans tend to agree on. He calls his philosophy transpolitical, and uses the slogan "A new politics for the next America".

I realize that you are in Mexico, but he has a website on which you can listen to his show live (5pm - 8pm Central time) and on which the first hour of past shows are available for free. If you're interested.

https://www.normangoldman.com/


By the way. I did not know that New Zealand is a colony that belongs to your country, Great Britain.


Hmmm, I'm an American, but I have to believe that New Zealand only used to be a British colony.


One question: why are there so many redheaded women in Scotland?


I think the answer to this one is that the Vikings really got around in their day.

George Carty said...

LarryHart: "I think the answer to this one is that the Vikings really got around in their day."

Actually Vikings were mostly blond – it is Celts (including the Irish and Highland Scots) which have a preponderance of redheads.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

"At the time of the 2016 debate, according to the order, House redistricting chief Rep. David Lewis attempted to justify the criteria by saying “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”"

Is this an example of a stupid crook or an honest one?


Most likely, an example of the unspoken American bias I've been talking a lot about here, that Republicans are the rightful leaders, rules are meant chiefly to constrain uppity Democrats, and extremism in defense of Republicans is no vice.

That quote sounds a lot like one I remember from the mid 2000s when liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz tried to get Armed Forces Radio to carry his show the way they carry all three hours of Rush Limbaugh. The response he got was something to the effect that our troops (in Iraq at that time) don't need to hear three hours about how terrible America is.

Granted, that was a response from the Bush administration, but I think it goes beyond mere partisanship. The idea that Rush Limbaugh is good for morale and progressive talk would be as demoralizing as Tokyo Rose is not just propaganda pushed by FOX News. It seems to be taken as unquestioned truth across much of America.

This also helps explain why, when fictional Democratic President Bartlet (on "The West Wing") was being investigated for lying to the American public, his administration announced that a committee of Republican congresspeople would do the investigation, and this had the imprimatur of "The results will be credible because the opposition is doing the work." But when Tacitus recently mentioned that certain members of the FBI investigation of Trump might have voted for Hillary, this sounded ominous, as if "The results won't be credible because the opposition is doing the work."

I'm sorry, what were you talking about again? :)

LarryHart said...




New York state has races for governor, senator, and attorney general in November, and so far every plausible Republican candidate has turned down the opportunity to run. The state party is already in full panic mode because taking on popular and very high-profile Democrats like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and AG Eric Schneiderman is going to require a lot of money and a long time to acquire name recognition.


Sounds like Illinois in 2004 in which the Republican Party finally had to recruit Alan Keyes to run for Senator against Barack Obama. Even among the state's Bush voters, Keyes only received votes from about half of them.

LarryHart said...

I forgot the link to that above snippet:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jan10.html#item-8

Jon S. said...

Re: Nordic hair colors:

"Genetic studies have shown that even back then there was a healthy mix of blonds, redheads and dark-haired people, just like today.

There were, however, more blond Vikings in northern Scandinavia in the area around Stockholm, Sweden, while there were more redheads in western Scandinavia, which Denmark belongs to.
Facts

The Viking Age spanned the late 8th to 11th centuries, where the Vikings lived as farmers, tradesmen and warriors who went on raids.

In the early stages of this period, the regular Viking man fulfilled several roles at the same time, but later on in the Viking era, the community became more specialised, with some focusing on being skilful farmers, while others mainly functioned as warriors.

But not everyone in Viking society was of Scandinavian descent:
'There was a mixture even back then because other cultures came to Denmark,' says Harvig."

(Source: http://sciencenordic.com/what-vikings-really-looked)

The article also notes that writings from about 200 years after Viking raids ended in England indicate that the chief danger of having them visit wasn't rape as such - they were considered so handsome and clean (they bathed once a week, and changed clothes "frequently"!) that there was considerable hazard that they would seduce the local women away. (That's one of the reasons I've come to despise the ancestry.com commercials so popular on cable channels like The Weather Channel. If your family comes from Ireland, of course you've got genomes indicative of Nordic or Germanic ancestry, you ahistorical idiot!)

As for why so many redheads hail from Scotland and Ireland, well, that's just one of those weird little quirks of mutation, along with the fact that the gene complex for red hair is what's called an "incomplete dominant" - a child will be born with bright red hair only if inherited from both parents, otherwise it will "blend" with the other parent's hair-color contribution, giving us such combinations as auburn and strawberry blonde.

dennisd said...

Apropos past political conversations here.
Good news for citizens in CA-46th congressional district--the incumbent, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced today that he will not run for re-election. Perhaps Douglas Applegate (D) can win this seat on his second try.

dennisd said...

My mistake. Darrell Issa represents CA-49 (not CA-46).

TCB said...

As others may have mentioned here, the wave of GOP retirements from Congress and Senate may have to do with how many of them got Russian money laundered into their campaigns via the RNC.

Likelihood of Mueller investigation finding out in the next year if you got some of this dirty money: 50%.

Likelihood they ALREADY found out: 50%.

Likelihood you got some and they can't trace it: I have decided not to seek reelection. (nervously googles statue of limitations)

TCB said...

(By the way, I got a kick out of seeing a spontaneous orbital-mechanics conference break out here). (I'd rather sweep the floor in a smart room than pound the gavel in a dumb one).

Zepp Jamieson said...

May Issa have the post-Congressional life he deserves.

LarryHart said...

As Thom Hartmann often reminds us, that's "Convicted felon Darell Issa".

So now, a Republican can't get re-elected in Orange County? The times, they are a-changin'.

TCB said...

Also, this has been in the back of my head for MONTHS.

Mueller knows what Giuliani, Prince, and the NYPD/New York FBI cabal did to Comey. We haven't heard a peep about it lately.

I'd bet there is a really really secret FBI investigation of the various crimes that crew committed (and they know it's illegal, which is why the blogger they worked with has never revealed his identity. He's FBI and he knows he broke the law).

David Brin said...

Ah, here in California's "Fighting 49th" we are shocked... shocked!... Is-a Issa outta here? Meesa sees-a cause for joy-sa.

occam's comic said...


Dave Brin,
Occam, Jiminy, what definition of Objective Reality do YOU use, other than “That layer that makes a consistent experiment always give the same answer”?

To be completely honest I don’t have a definition of Objective Reality. My belief is that our explanations for why we see consistent results from consistent experiments will always fall short of an accurate understanding of the phenomenon under study. I have found that useful theories will often time let you ignore most of what is going on and allow you to focus on what is believed to critical in that situation.

For me, science in practice is far more interested in the useful than the True. Good, useful, scientific theories distort and simplify the phenomenon under study allowing you to ignore most of what is happening and allowing you to focus on what previous researchers have found useful in the past.

Locum-
Paraphrasing is a great technique when you really want to communicate your ideas to others and when you want to understand what another person is saying. (Rather than trade insults).

Alex would say something like paraphrasing is a technique to help ensure that the mental model you have of another person’s position actually reflects that person’s position. Otherwise you are just arguing with straw men of your own construction.

Zepp Jamieson said...

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/10/astronomers-may-be-closing-in-on-source-of-mysterious-fast-radio-bursts

Obviously, it's an Episiarch experiencing REM dreams

locumranch said...


Pfftt! At least I can recognise a chair when I see it.

That's problem with all of your polite & pleasing little lies:
(1) The little lies reinforce the big whoppers; and,
(2) The big & little lies blind you to both big & little truths.

But, keep telling yourselves that you are 'truth seekers' because it's much funnier that way when reality blindsides you.

A review of Mark Twain's 'The War Prayer' would teach you much.

Best

locumranch said...


Oats are the common historical denominator that Duncan_C searches for but cannot find to explain his Scots heritage: The English fed their oats to horses and raised fine flatulent horses but unfit men, whereas the Scots fed their oats to themselves and raised fine flatulent men but unfit horses.

It's also the probable reason that the Scots preferred kilts to inflatable pantaloons.

According to Boswell.

LarryHart said...

re: oats,

Who is this humorous person, and what has he done with locumranch?

Berial said...

I know this is just a drive by comment and doesn't really add anything, but every time I drop by this conversation I keep having this one thought strike me.

"You can't reason someone out of positions they didn't reason themselves into."

Just had to get that off my mind.

David Brin said...

In a way, he's right! We who know contingent science WILL be blindsided, occasionally, when our attempts to corner objective reality miscalculate and O.R. slaps us good! It happens!

Whereas he truly is invulnerable. In utter denial that O.R. exists at all, his fealty to desperately-believed subjective incantations is so strong that he'll ignore contrary evidence and relentless failure. It's the feudalist-romantic-confederate way. And while it resulted in utter poverty and misery for humanity, for millennia, it has one advantage, You never have to admit: "I might be wrong."

Coughing, eviscerated and surrounded by devastation, they will reject O.R. and expire in an endorphin rush of sanctimony, that it all proves "I was right!"

David Brin said...

But yes, he was better! So I answered.

Now onward

onward

Winter7 said...

Dear Dr. Brin
Those of us who have an appreciation for science usually got our first knowledge of science in science fiction novels. And although not all science fiction was "accurate, that circumstance did not matter, because the important thing was that thanks to science fiction, people get the necessary impulse to be interested in science. So, science fiction has a double purpose (for me): To bring children and young people to science and entertain. And I've noticed that science fiction has that effect on the youngest of my family. For that reason, I am happy to see the new series for young adults created by Doctor Brin: The series of books "Out of Time".
A question Doctor Brin: You collaborated with other writers in those books or those books are located in the universe "The Uplift Saga".
I had not seen those new books on Amazon.

Winter7 said...

Dear Duncan Cairncross.
Then, you are Scottish. All right. The Scots have a rebellious heart, and that; Coupled with courage, it is very necessary in these times.
I suppose then, that you are Catholic, like me. I hope I have not bothered you much with my criticism of the Catholic Church. Criticism that I consider fair and many other things I will have to accuse the Catholic Church.
You say that the citizens of New Zealand discuss the proposals on websites. Excellent idea! And I think even better, if these political proposals are read and explained to citizens by representatives of all political parties and representatives of various civil associations. (lest all political parties are controlled by a single group) (as in many countries)
Maybe, there is something good in the old systems of government of the Maori kingdoms. Maybe these Maori customs impregnated politics in New Zealand, creating something better. I should investigate more about the Maori culture.
Something has happened to me! : How about a political system, in which only a certain number of elders from all communities are chosen at random to represent those communities? But we should find a way to prevent the oligarchs from succeeding in hacking the random selection machines. And it would be necessary to find a way to prevent the oligarchs from nullifying the power of the representatives that are not under the control of the oligarchy. (Being proactive is everything, oligarchs are very cheating).
And there is something more to foresee: The oligarchs will seek to bribe the elected leaders at random.
I know. This is not democracy. But, perhaps we can merge this system to democracy, partially or together with more changes. We will have a strange political system, because everything that is new is strange to us. But that does not mean that such a system is absurd.
Perhaps there are ways to test the effectiveness of such a system, on a small scale. Maybe even perform simulations on computers (Sim city) But even a small city could serve. Even at the university level it would be possible to test such a system.

All right,. Excuse me. I must finish an issue.

Jon S. said...

Occam, if you can't define "objective reality", then how can you be so certain we're not seeing it?

LarryHart said...

@Luis,

As you might not know, when Dr Brin posts "onward!", that means he has a new post up on the main site, and we typically move on to that one.

onward...

onward

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's me, again.

Dear LarryHart.

I did not know, I did not know it. Thanks for the clarification.

David Brin said...

onward

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