Friday, February 23, 2018

Fatal flaws of our enlightenment?

I post this heading out the door to speak tonight at the California Democratic Party Convention, in San Diego. And yes, they even invite registered Republicans, when they have important ideas to share. Or at least vital questions. For example....

Is our Great Experiment in danger of coming to an end? Certainly, the world seems filled with forces pushing for Government of the people, by the people, for the people to perish from the Earth.

Ezra Klein summarizes the book: “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. Klein’s appraisal is cogent and very important reading in its own right. I urge you to find time for it, even if (like me) you lack time for the source material. As you might guess, I agree that Donald Trump is “not the disease” but a symptom, top-to-bottom. Here’s an excerpt:

‘“2017 was the best year for conservatives in the 30 years that I’ve been here,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week. “The best year on all fronts. And a lot of people were shocked because we didn’t know what we were getting with Donald Trump.”

"‘The best year on all fronts.' Think about that for a moment. If you want to know why congressional Republicans are opening an assault on the FBI in order to protect Trump, it can be found in that comment. This was a year in which Trump undermined the press, fired the director of the FBI, cozied up to Russia, baselessly alleged he was wiretapped, threatened to jail his political opponents, publicly humiliated his attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation, repeatedly claimed massive voter fraud against him, appointed a raft of unqualified and occasionally ridiculous candidates to key positions, mishandled the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane, and threatened to use antitrust and libel laws against his enemies.

‘And yet McConnell surveyed the tax cuts he passed and the regulations he repealed and called this not a mixed year for his political movement, not a good year for his political movement, but the best year he’d ever seen.’

I also agree that we face an existential moment in our experiment in Democracy. Every generation of Americans have experienced attempts by the oligarchs of that era to suborn our institutions and laws and cheat, in order to restore the standard human pattern of feudalism. These attempts correlate with phases of our recurring Civil War. 

But never before has a large share of the wealth elite chosen to foster open war against every single knowledge or fact-using profession, from science, teaching, medicine and journalism to the "deep state" FBI, intel agencies and military officer corps. This time it is all-or-nothing. Perhaps because the gnome families behind this putsch know that the Enlightenment Experiment is on the verge of its greatest-ever successes.

Klein – and the authors of  “How Democracies Die do suffer, however, from myopia. They give examples like 1930s Germany and more-recent Venezuela, for how democracies can fail amid whimpers, or else cheers of either right wing or left-wing populism. But this ignores the failure modes that ended earlier trial-runs, such as Periclean Athens and the Florentine Republic.

The lesson overall is that experiments in flat-open-fair -- or diamond-shaped --civilizations always result in spectacular creativity, fecundity, error-correction, science, art and unleashing of talent... but they are also unstable. Beset by oligarchic attacks and by cyclical waves of citizen immaturity-impulsiveness, they have always -- in the past -- succumbed and collapsed back into classic, pyramidal hierarchies of power. That, certainly, is the lesson -- to give up on any hope of wise democracy -- being pushed in confederate media and by world despots, allied in the cause of bringing down the West. 

It is the preaching of despair and demigod worship conveyed within science fiction by authors like Orson Scott Card. And by cyclical history buffs of both the mad far-left and the treasonous entire-right. 

Only... isn't 250 years a record for such an experiment to last? And, having restored it and re-invigorated it many times -- e.g. during the "Greatest Generation" -- can't we confidently imagine doing it again?

== Lift the banner of the Union ==

Even more biting – for those of you who weren’t angry and riled-up enough – is this essay in The Atlantic - Boycott the Republican Party, by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes -- asserting that the only way to save American Conservatism… and possibly the Republican Party … is to burn their political power to the ground, so that perhaps a phoenix of adult-sane conservatism can rise from the ashes. “The rule of law is a threshold value in American politics, and a party that endangers this value disqualifies itself, period.” 

Of course the gnomes and their servant-shills wage war against all fact-using professions because those are the “elites” who stand in the way of return to aristocratic rule by… well, imbeciles, of course. Because exactly what do these people think will happen when they make enemies of all the folks who know stuff and can invent and build everything from lasers to nukes to genetic codes to AI? How, exactly, is this supposed to work out for you?

In my novel Existence, I portray a much smarter aristocracy trying to forge a deal, instead, with the “boffin elites.” But, of course, just like the inventor-entrepreneur billionaires like Musk, Bezos, and Gates, the fact-folks will likely have no part of such treason.

See (below) how great new candidates are rising from the "fact communities" -- from science and from the military officer corps. But first...


== An alternative view… called “optimism” ==

Let's swing to a different tome that Bill Gates has gone all-out about, calling Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress, by Steven Pinker, “My new favorite book of all time.”  

Enlightenment Now is the follow-up to Steven Pinker’s groundbreaking The Better Angels of Our Nature, which angered both the far-left and the entire-mad-right by showing how especially violence - but also other metrics of progress - have improved everywhere that the overall progressive agenda has taken hold. Here, Prof Pinker presents the big picture of human progress: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.

Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? “Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.” review in Kurzweil News.

== And optimism mixed with paranoia? ==

Edward Snowden pushing a new privacy-sousveillance tech called “Haven” that lets folks with cell-phones to apply transparency at the powerful while protected against being discovered. The good news: this Haven thing is open source, offering some small hope that it might not turn into a snake that bites the user. Maybe. The bad news? This is really vague!  For example, only at the very beginning of the video, when Snowden says “spare android phone,” do we get a hint that this is not an app for your regular pocket-robot, but rather something you can use your old phone for, outside of the tightly controlled “networks.”

Also, philosophically, while I am a big believer in sousveillance and deem this likely to be helpful, especially in states and regions where power oppresses, it is nevertheless based upon an assumption and desire to counter asymmetries of transparency with your own asymmetries of transparency.  That is a dangerous game and not what I personally have fought for. Moreover, it's a game that’s unlikely the little guy will ever win for very long. Still, I hope some of you will join this Haven community and report back, from time to time.  I’d rather it were tried, than not.

== Fact people volunteers ==

Many of you recall my  essay calling for a "Year of Colonels". Well, Conor Lamb is everything (it seems) that I asked for, when I said we must run sane, pro-science and fact, purple ex-officers in every red district in America. Every State Assembly seat. Every State Senate, City Council and dogcatcher position.  This 33 year old retired Marine officer, federal prosecutor and devout Catholic has a chance to win a special election vs the GOP candidate (who's proclaiming "I'm more Trump than Trump!") in a solid-red district in Pennsylvania, where the former Republican rep had to resign... caught ordering his mistress to get an abortion.

If that means liberals in all those places will then have to negotiate with sane, decent, calm, science-respecting, rights-progressive, environmentally-responsible -- but temperamentally conservative crewcut types who sometimes go hunting -- instead of confronting today's insane, fact-hating traitor-shills of Rupert Murdoch... then live with that!

American conservatism won't die, but it can be shaken out of its current, nightmare fever or jibbering lunacy. Each of us must find one "ostrich" who might be wakened, and make him or her our mission.

A broad front... a Big Tent... and the intelligence to run the right people in each district... that's how the Union will win this phase (number 8) of the American Civil War against a risen Confederacy that's absolutely (as always) treason.

And here's a Mississippi biochemist who's also showing that fact folks can fight back.  

Step back from your suicidal putsch, oligarchs! If you succeed in bringing down the enlightenment experiment and "government by the people," you will reap ashes. We fact people know how to make and do stuff. As Bruce Banner put it:

"You won't like us when we're angry."

130 comments:

Antonym said...

One major way to avoid a reversal into Feudalism is to decentralize out infrastructure. Here is Sun Diego, I see more and more house with solar panels, even "not-so-nice" homes. The more individual homeowners, apartment complexes and businesses (with huge roofs) can buy into the solar energy revolution, the harder it will be for evil elites to "pull the plug" on civilization. Next step is to democratize/decentralize the internet, make it a true "web". With ubiquitous energy and information, we can develop and distribute the technology to make homes/neighborhoods water and food independent. I am hoping that a world of nearly free electricity can be applied to water desalinization to a degree that fresh water can be diverted back into Nature. Lets refill the Salton Sea!
In Harari's "Homo Deus" he posits that now that humanity has solved the whole "plague, famine, and war" problem that we should turn our attention to Immortality and other technological evolutionary upgrades. I however think we need to make electricity, water, food, and access to information so cheap as to be effectively free for every human.

Anonymous said...

You are just part of the patriarchy.

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/patriarchal-race-colonize-mars-just-another-example-male-entitlement-ncna849681

Treebeard said...

Haven't read the Pinker book, but John Gray has an interesting review here: https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2018/02/unenlightened-thinking-steven-pinker-s-embarrassing-new-book-feeble-sermon

It sounds like Pinker does what our host and members of ISIS like to do: tell simplified versions of history that paint a Manichean picture of good vs. evil, with his group playing the role of humanity's saviors against vast dark forces encroaching on all sides. It's a very old story, told by every priesthood who ever sought power. The basic monotheistic mindset, that there is one true god and way which must be exported to the whole world, is alive in well in Pinker's Scientism. And if its proponents get their way, we can expect it to provide the ideological justification for endless new crusades to topple regimes of regression and unreason wherever we find them. Because remember folks: this is an all or nothing war for nothing less than THE FATE OF THE UNIVERSE. Good luck with your cosmic jihad, but I think I'll sit this one out.

raito said...

From last time...

Jerry A,

Well, I'm an engineer. Or at least I studied it and that's what my job title says. But that doesn't mean I think there's any basis to race.

I also think that the most meaningful measure of a student's success isn't intelligence, but the relationship between student and teacher. Some careers are callings rather than decisions, and teaching is one of them.

Antonym,

The original Feudal Ages were at the same time more centralized than we are, and less. It depended on where you look. Food was pretty decentralized in production, but not in transportation. Certain goods were quite centralized, being as there were few who had the skills to produce them. And the feudal system itself hampered things by insisting that that good moved 'upward' before moving significantly 'sideways'. At least in that, we're better.

Water and food independence are all fine, but that isn't completely sustainable. Who fixes and replaces those solar panels? Everyone? Doubtful.

"How do you convince a child that their interests are not the Universe's interests?"

A good question, and an easy answer, though the implementation isn't easy by any means. You teach them to be an adult. Which you ought to be doing anyway. I'm not raising children. I'm raising adults. It just takes many years. More pertinently perhaps, you show what happens when what they want did happen in history, and the results.

Maybe Conor Lamb is what you want, but Kevin Nicholson isn't what I want.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

As Bruce Banner put it:

"You won't like us when we're angry."


Well, to be ridiculously technical, that was David Banner. Although God knows why they picked that name out of a hat. If "Bruce" was too gay for a television audience, it had already been established in the comics that his full name was Robert Bruce Banner. The tv show could have called him Bob.

David Brin said...

All Treebeard can do anymore is MadLibs. Take some traits you know the enlightenment guys fight against and ATTRIBUTE those traits TO them! Then watch as we sputter and object: "But that's the very thing we're fighting against!"

The beauty of this trick is that the troglodyte doesn't have to back it up. He knows that Enlightenmenters are complexity and self-crit junkies and sensitive to accusations of hypocrisy, or having missed something. Hence, we WILL look in a mirror and ask: "Am I subliminally doing the opposite of what I preach? Could it be so?"

Using our own most adult, mature, and advanced habits against us. It's a trick with some feral cleverness to it... until - that is - we grow wise to it. Then? Then, we recognize a reflex that's utterly pathetic and puerile!

We know who the jihadists are. The frustrated, would-be persecutors and enforcers of homogeneity and dullard stupidity and disproved nostalgia and never-ever-wise feudalism. We know you now, you confederate traitors and ingrates against every single thing that you hypocritically and utterly rely upon, every day. Including your supermarket, your warm couch, your refrigerator, your computer and internet. Including our protection and goodwill and the shelter of the very laws that you rave against and claim to despise.

We see you. And hence this trick is just pathetic, reflexive mewling.


Peewee had your answer. And it is: "I know you are, but what am I?"

The question goes unanswered, except by hilarious strawmen. You will never comprehend what I am. Blinking in sheeplike dullness, you imagine you are a wolf.

Poor kibble.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

It's a trick with some feral cleverness to it... until - that is - we grow wise to it. Then? Then, we recognize a reflex that's utterly pathetic and puerile!


Or better still, we've given you up for Lent.


Peewee had your answer. And it is: "I know you are, but what am I?"


I've been using that one for years now, even back on the old "Cerebus" list. Just about anything a right-winger accuses liberals of is something that more accurately describes their own selves. I'll even give some of them credit that they aren't intentionally lying, but they really do think that everybody is just like them (For example, that a black president (or mayor or police chief) would do unto white men as white men have done unto others).

Others are intentionally poisoning the well, as in Donald Trump calling CNN "Fake News" so that when we legitimately point out that FOX is fake news, it sounds like that's just what everyone shouts at everyone else.

LarryHart said...

This Republican congressman from Florida agrees with me more than Ilithi (apparently) does:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/opinion/brian-mast-assault-weapons-ban.html

The Second Amendment is unimpeachable. It guarantees the right of citizens to defend themselves. I accept, however, that it does not guarantee that every civilian can bear any and all arms.

For example, the purchase of fully automatic firearms is largely banned already, and I cannot purchase an AT-4 rocket, grenades, a Bradley fighting vehicle or an Abrams tank. I know that no single action can prevent a truly determined person from committing mass murder, and I am aware of other ways to commit mass murder, such as bombings and mass vehicular slaughter. Not being able to control everything, however, should not prevent us from doing something.

TCB said...

Dr. Brin said: "He [the end and his ilk] knows that Enlightenmenters are complexity and self-crit junkies and sensitive to accusations of hypocrisy"

Reminds me of a running comment battle I got into on another site (Psychology Today I think it was). Couple of researchers were looking at the topic of hypocrisy, and one example was global warming deniers accusing Al Gore of hypocrisy for flying around in "his jet plane". I pointed out that Al Gore has never owned an aircraft and travels on other people's planes just like the rest of us do. In came a fine squad of right-wingers in high dander, simply apoplectic that I or anyone would dare defend him. I think I managed to convince the authors (with no little help from the trolls!) that no study of hypocrisy would be complete without considering whether the accusations were actually in good faith... or not.

Here are a couple of simple tests to answer that question:

If you changed your behavior to remove any basis for the accusation, would your accusers respect you any more? If Al Gore lived in a mud hut and only traveled by walking everywhere barefoot, would they then say "Wow, I guess he IS serious about not using the Earth's resources and not contributing greenhouse gases!" I think not! Instead they'd say, "There goes Crazy Al! Don't listen to him!" Either way, if they can shut him up, they win.

Is the accusation likely engineered to weaken your advocacy? I call this the "Why aren't you poor" attack. "Michael Moore can't advocate for working people! He's a millionaire!" Okay, so what happens if he's too broke to make another movie? Why, then he has no voice. Bravo, silencing accomplished.

It's fair to accuse someone of hypocrisy if you and they both publicly espouse a given ideal or policy, but you think they are flouting it. If I and my pastor both believe in marital fidelity, but I find out he's cheating on his wife, I have a solid case for calling him a hypocrite. Call this the Inside-the Tent Accusation. It will tend to be in good faith (unless I'm cheating on my wife too! We can call this the Harper Valley PTA exception. Or pot-kettle-black.)

But is it fair ball to accuse someone of being hypocritical about a policy you don't even agree with? Call it the Outside-the-Tent Accusation. Gore's critics don't want to end fracking and coal mining anyway. But we can call hypocrisy on anti-gay conservatives who are themselves closeted. We can be suspicious of patriotism and still call Paul Manafort unpatriotic. I'd say it IS fair to accuse someone of hypocrisy from Outside the Tent. However: where bad-faith, cynically strategic accusations happen, they will tend to fall into this second category. Outside-the-Tent accusations should therefore be screened for strategic cynicism and bad faith.

The takedown of Al Franken (complete with Russian bot battalions) was certainly of this type.

Treebeard said...

Well anyway the review is worth reading. I've alway found Gray to be one of the more insightful, no bullshit, on the money Anglo intellectuals around—much more than the puffed-up celebrity intellectuals popular with the neoliberal elite (like Pinker).

I was particularly intrigued to learn that Pinker has apparently found the ultimate meaning of life, the universe and everything—all brought to you by SCIENCE. It has something to do with the 2nd law of thermodyamics and beating back the tide of entropy, which, come to think of it is the Enlightenment project taken to its logical extreme. But my understanding is that the 2nd law says the War On Entropy (WOE) can't be won, which suggests that whoever created this universe is a regressive old bastard at heart. Anyway it's something to contemplate, as Thulsa Doom would say, on the tree of woe.

David Brin said...

Wow. Apparently chastened, he actually tried to say something... cogent!

Alas Treebeard (notice the respect of using his name) You do not understand the 2nd Law. Life exists by huddling alongside GRADIENTS of energy, and drinking from the flow as entropy increases overall, in the universe... and using that gradient flow to create isolated islands of REDUCED entropy. Fighting the overall entropy increase is futile. But using energy to export entropy from isolated areas... our bodies, our farms, our cities, our civilizations... is exactly what we do.

It is your cult that tries desperately to fill the air with carbon so that heat radiation (the purest entropy) finds it harder to escape into space. And if you understood none of that, then fine. Your crime is not your dullard nescience. Your crime is knowing full well that neighbors (like most of us here) DO understand all this...

... and hating us for it, eager to tear down the whole thing rather than let us have to power to save you.

Anonymous said...

Humm There are new news. Bad news... It seems that now there is more precise data. Thirty years remain until the mass extinction in the oceans is at its peak. ¡Goodbye to mollusk shells! ¡Goodbye to the bones of the fish! ¡Hello to the millions of climate refugees from the fishing towns!
This is the linK:

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-acid-oceans-dissolve-coral-reef.html

Winter7

Laurence said...

"Well anyway the review is worth reading. I've alway found Gray to be one of the more insightful, no bullshit, on the money Anglo intellectuals around—much more than the puffed-up celebrity intellectuals popular with the neoliberal elite (like Pinker)."

Gray is well worth a read, but while he's good a skewering utopian fantasies of the left and right, he's very short on actual propositions of his own. I enjoyed his take-down of Pinker's hatchet job on Nietzsche, Gray's own assessment of Nietzsche isn't really fair either. (He gives a good assessment of Schopenhauer in Straw Dogs though)

Ilithi_Dragon said...

This Republican congressman from Florida agrees with me more than Ilithi (apparently) does:

Appearance due to a combination of my efforts at brevity, and focus on things other than fully explaining my own position.

I am fully of the opinion that 100% total bans on any conventional firearm/weapons system shouldn't be a thing, BUT that does not mean that I support the opposite, where all conventional firearms are freely available to anyone at their local corner store.

This is actually a big point of misunderstanding between the left and right, on the subject of "giving everyone a gun to stop crime." Few on the right actually support giving a gun to literally everyone, but when they talk about more people carrying guns, there is a baseline understanding in that culture, something that goes without saying so much, that they don't even think to mention it or make the clarification, which the left tends to not pick up.

That baseline understanding is that, if you're carrying a gun, you damned well better know how to use it and carry it safely. GUN SAFETY is an intrinsic part of gun culture, to the point of almost being second nature, and almost every gun owner I know mocks and disparages the "idiot with a gun" nearly as much as the left does! Having a thorough understanding of the dangers of firearms, we KNOW that there are plenty of people who have absolutely NO BUSINESS handling a firearm, even with training, and not a single republican or conservative I have met has disagreed with or opposed the suggestion that proof of completion of a basic firearm safety and training course be required as a prerequisite to purchasing a firearm.

The same goes with an additional/expanded course, along with a basic live-fire qualification course, being required to obtain a CCW. Not one republican/conservative gun owner I have asked has opposed this as a requirement, and many have readily supported this as a "no-brainer" kind of policy.

My personal opinion is that, instead of banning categories of components or styles of guns, we have a tiered licensing system that would allow those firearms to be purchased by civilians, with the proper licensing and training, which would be increasingly thorough the higher up the tier you go, with increased requirements to interact with communities and social groups to maintain a license to possess and use the higher-tier firearms, for the express purpose of those communities keeping an eye on each other for signs of psychotic breaks, etc. (with an additional incentive that, should a member of such a local group go on a shooting spree, the licenses for the whole group is suspended, pending an official investigation/review).

Another judo-style move the Dems could try and pull, is offer a bill to provide comprehensive firearms safety training in schools, in return for comprehensive sex education, both as a hard requirement of the bill. All conservatives support the idea of basic firearms safety training in schools (and this would also cut down on accidental deaths from kids finding or finagling their way into accessing their parents' firearms, and having no idea how to handle them safely), and safety training should not be incompatible with any Democrat policy or position, unless that position is "even touching a firearm is evil and corrupting," and it would be a tempting bait for conservatives to come to the table (especially if the Dems are smart, and make a lot of noise about their proposal, such that the Rep pundits can't completely brush it under the rug).

Ilithi_Dragon said...

Continuing on the subject of my own suggestions for potential solutions to mass shootings/active shooters, I have a proposal for how to respond to them once they have happened (and not just mass shootings - as Dr. Brin pointed out, China has severe problems with mass stabbings, and we and other Western nations have had some recent experience with other means of mass homicide). We try to prevent them as best we can, of course, but no defense is absolutely perfect, and you need to have systems in place to respond to threats that penetrate or bypass that outer layer of defense.

The police are certainly part of that, but they really aren't enough. Police response times are measured in minutes and more, which is a real problem, because the vast majority of all Active Shooter incidents are over in about five minutes or less, and nearly half of them are over in less than two minutes. That just isn't enough time for police to get the call, route it to emergency responders, get on scene, and mount an effective response.

My proposal is to create a volunteer "civil reaction force," modeled after volunteer fire and EMS systems that provide critical emergency services across the country. Members of this CRF would not be law enforcement officers, they would not have authority to make general arrests or enforce laws; their purpose would be to increase the chance of on-scene emergency responders in the event of an active shooter (or other mass homicide) incident, and respond to those emergencies only. They would be given a national CCW, that would authorize them to carry concealed even into gun-free zones, and have mandatory training on how to respond to mass homicide type emergencies (with emphasis on de-escalation when possible), as well as significant screening to weed out the problem types. They would also be trained to immediately surrender to police as soon as the police showed up, brief them, and turn the show over to them.

This would give us a decently-trained rapid response force with an increased likelihood of being on-scene in the event of an incident, particularly in high-population areas (just as a fire dept. can't guarantee a rapid response to a fire in a cabin in the middle of the woods, you'll never be able to get 100% coverage of all areas), give a "well-regulated militia" aspect for 2nd Amendment purposes, and also reduce dependency on the "protector-caste" while increasing civil defense and robustness.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

However: where bad-faith, cynically strategic accusations happen, they will tend to fall into this second category. Outside-the-Tent accusations should therefore be screened for strategic cynicism and bad faith.

The takedown of Al Franken (complete with Russian bot battalions) was certainly of this type.


Hmmm, I'd say Al Franken was assaulted from all sides of the tent.

Democrats imposing purity on their own ranks--I disagreed with some of the more strident ones, but I don't think "hypocrisy" is something any of them could be accused of. If anything, it was more like "a foolish consistency", which is a different...well, you know. :)

The hypocrites were the Republicans who howled for Franken's defenestration while excusing the offenses of Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and their ilk. What's the difference between that and us excusing gay Democrats while sneering at Larry Craig? The difference is that our position is consistent--consenting gay sex is ok; pandering to gay-bashers while secretly indulging in gay sex yourself is slimy.

In the Franken case, the analogous argument on the right-wing side would be, "Sexual harassment is ok; pandering to feminists while secretly harassing women yourself is slimy." If that was the accusation leveled at Franken, then the accusers themselves would not be hypocrites. But that's not what they say. Instead, they pretend to also be against sexual harassment, but they selectively look the other way for their own politicians. That's where they hypocrisy comes in.

Maybe Outside-the-tent accusations are hypocritical when they pretend to be Inside-the-Tent?



LarryHart said...

Here's a fallacy to watch out for in accusations of hypocrisy. I'll use a sports example, but I trust the application to politics is obvious.

I don't approve of the Designated Hitter rule in baseball. I think the sport was better without it. But, if I'm playing a game in which DH is the rule and the other team gets to make use of it, I'm not going to refuse for my own team to do so "on principle". My detractors would then call me a hypocrite for using a rule I say I disapprove of.

But I'm not claiming that the DH is a bad rule because it hurts a team to use it against a team who doesn't. I'm claiming it's a bad rule because it produces an inferior game to one without it. But once the rules of the game are set, I've simply lost that debate and moved on. Playing the game by a rule I didn't vote for is not hypocrisy.

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

I am fully of the opinion that 100% total bans on any conventional firearm/weapons system shouldn't be a thing, BUT that does not mean that I support the opposite, where all conventional firearms are freely available to anyone at their local corner store.


I apologize if I mischaracterized your position. I was reacting to your assertion that the Second Amendment is unambiguous about "shall not be infringed!" I took that to mean that your position was that no restrictions on guns were permissible.

I'm also not clear whether you consider automatic or essentially-automatic firearms as being "conventional firearms."

Ilithi Dragon said...

LarryHart:

By "conventional" I mean not CBRN - those should definitely be heavily restricted and controlled (insofar as we will be able to with the advent of relatively inexpensive home biolabs and chemlabs, etc.).

I do include automatic weapons, including select-fire rifles with semi-automatic and fully automatic options, and belt-fed machine guns in the category of "conventional firearms," along with grenades and RPGs (though explosive weapons would be in the highest tiers, and require the most licensing, training, screening, and certification, etc.). I don't have a PROBLEM with them being restricted entirely, either, but it's important to note that any such restriction or ban without an amendment to the 2nd Amendment, is still vulnerable to the "shall not be infringed" part.

Another casualty of my efforts of brevity, it seems. I don't oppose all banning. I think there are better ways to do it, particularly as the Constitution is written, but I'm not opposed to the banning or restricting of a limited range of weapons. What I was saying was that any such ban or restriction is not built on a solid foundation as the 2nd Amendment is currently written. An argument can be fairly easily made that, by the letter of the law, that "shall not be infringed" component means that, constitutionally, NO ban or restriction of Arms is legal.

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

An argument can be fairly easily made that, by the letter of the law, that "shall not be infringed" component means that, constitutionally, NO ban or restriction of Arms is legal.


And the part I still don't get is how this argument applies differently to guns from all other types of weaponry. I mean, restriction of some arms is a train that already left the station. Why are there separate rules for guns?

In fact, the only difference I see between firearms and (say) surface-to-surface missiles or hand-held tactical nukes is that only the former has a trade organization lobbying for unrestricted manufacture and sale of the product. That's why so much of this debate really is about the NRA.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hmm.... To provide clarity, here is a brief rundown on my Tiered Licensing system:

Purchase of any firearm or ammunition would require proof of completion of a basic firearms safety course (a course that can be failed - there has to be some kind of test or exam to show comprehension of gun safety). Tier 1 Firearms would require nothing more than this basic safety course, a background check (which is electronic and nationally comprehensive), and the purchaser be 18 years old. The same would also apply for the purchase of most ammunition (purchase of special ammunition, such as explosive, armor-piercing, tracer, etc. would require licensing for applicable higher tiers). Tier 2 Firearms and higher would require the purchaser be 21 years of age, be licensed for the applicable Tier, and register the firearm. Transfer of Tier 2+ firearms between family members is authorized with a simple change of ownership/registration form, but private sales of Tier 2+ firearms would still have the same requirements as a new purchase. The private seller/buyer may do all the paperwork themselves, and hold the liability for that, or they may take it to a licensed gun dealer for the transfer.

A national CCW permit would also be part of this system, requiring at least a Tier 3 license, plus additional training and certification on safely carrying a firearm, and the defensive use of firearms (both in actual use principles, and in legality), as well as a live-fire qualification requirement, with annual or bi-annual sustainment requirements.

The Tiers would be something along the following:

Tier 1: All manual-action long arms. Break-action, bolt-action, pump-action, lever-action, etc. shotguns and rifles, as well as ye olde muskets and muzzle-loaders (probably including muzzle-loading pistols).

Tier 2: Semi-automatic long arms.

Tier 3: Revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

Tier 4: Select-fire or fully-automatic firearms; high-capacity magazines (pistol magazines over 15 rounds, long arm magazines over 20 or 30 rounds); automatic fire-simulating accessories (bump-fire stocks, etc.).

Tier 5: Belt-fed machine guns; armor piercing, tracer, and incendiary rounds.

Tier 6: Explosive Weapons and ammunition (grenades, grenade launchers, rockets, etc.)

Tier 7(?): Vehicle-mounted weapons. (Maybe on this one.)


Tier 6 munitions would also have annual purchase caps, both total, and per type.

Higher tiers would also require participation (to increasing degrees) in community groups, gun or sportsman clubs and the like, with penalties to those groups if one of their members goes psycho (though laws would have to be such to prevent them from excluding people just because, or unfairly). This would have the benefit of promoting volunteerism and community building while also giving socialization to help prevent and spot people going down dark paths.

There are some more details that I'm missing/forgetting, but that's good enough for a rough overview.

Ilithi Dragon said...

LarryHart said...

And the part I still don't get is how this argument applies differently to guns from all other types of weaponry. I mean, restriction of some arms is a train that already left the station. Why are there separate rules for guns?


That's the point I was trying to make. By the letter of the law, the Constitution makes no distinction. There is strong legal precedent by the courts to make that distinction, but most of that is fairly recent, within the last half-century or so, and it is based entirely on interpretation by the court, "legislation by judicial interpretation" one might call it. All it would take to overthrow ALL of those bans is a court case where someone argues that no gun ban or restriction is legal by the letter of the law and that the court is bound to uphold the letter of the law, not interpret new meaning into it.

That is not without precedent. There have been a number of court cases, on varying subjects, where things that we currently find objectionable but that weren't always, or that hadn't previously been an issue, were upheld in court as legal as the law was written (often resulting in the law being changed, but not always).

Take the last boss I had before I joined the Navy, for example. The man's first divorce (he had finished his 3rd or 4th some time before I started working for him) is the only divorce in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to go all the way to the State Supreme Court. Because he raped his wife and locked her in a closet for four days. But he got off with it scot free because, at the time, by the letter of the law, raping your wife was legal (hence why it went to the State Supreme Court). The law has long since been changed, but even though what he did was undeniably reprehensible, and would be illegal if he wasn't married to his victim, and is illegal now, at the time it was perfectly legal, by the letter of the law.

Which is more or less what I mean by any ban or restriction on firearms, or any arms, being on an unstable foundation as the constitution is currently written. That "Shall not" is a hard stop that, by the letter of the law, technically makes any infringement unconstitutional.

David Brin said...

One of the Parkland kids said: “We don’t aim to eliminate private gun ownership. But we think you should have to WORK for your gun.”

How is that different than Ilithi’s: “That baseline understanding is that, if you're carrying a gun, you damned well better know how to use it and carry it safely. GUN SAFETY is an intrinsic part of gun culture…”

Ilithi, the only way you can maintain your “both sides are wrong” stance is if you assume the vast majority of liberals disagree with you! But they don’t!

Heck, The Ilithi Dragon “tiered training/licensing bill” has my vote. Where do I sign?

“My personal opinion is that, instead of banning categories of components or styles of guns, we have a tiered licensing system that would allow those firearms to be purchased by civilians, with the proper licensing and training, which would be increasingly thorough the higher up the tier you go,”

Nu? And that differs from my Jefferson Rifle proposal… how? Offer this compromise and 90% of democrats would leap for it. THEY HAVE OFFERED THIS "no-brainer" kind of policy.

“Not one republican/conservative gun owner I have asked has opposed this as a requirement,”

Then they are lying to be polite in conversation with you. I mean that, literally. Seriously. That is what’s happening. Absolute zero tolerance is the GOP cvore catechism. The NRA’s Slipperly Slope determination has prevented a ban on Bump Stocks fer cry-sakes!

To be clear, I would not object to there being a very secure gun locker in the Gym Coach’s office. It’s slower. But a big ex-Marine with a big pump shotgun — who shows up brandishing it, at fire drills — is a far better deterrent than a twitchy history teacher groping for a holstered glock that was just stolen from him by a quick-fingered nut.

David Brin said...


The insanity of Two Scoops is illustrated by his declaration that School Shooters are “cowards” who would be deterred… when most of them are suicidal! Looking for a gaudy, punishing way out! OMG how stooopid are reporters not to point that out?

====

LarryHart, I remember Don Drysdale hitting doubles and winning his own game. Alas, the mighty Sandy Koufax was under orders to always bunt.

LarryHart said...

@Ilithi Dragon,

I'm starting to feel we're talking past each other, which is understandable as I've sometimes changed subjects in mid-stream.

But as to guns vs "arms", I'm asking how someone could legally argue "that no gun ban or restriction is legal by the letter of the law" without also arguing that no ban on any type of arms is legal by the letter of the law. The letter of the law doesn't carve out special exemptions for things with triggers, muzzles, and bullets. Unless the law is willing to throw open unrestricted access to tanks, missile launchers, grenades, and fission bombs. I don't see the path toward successfully arguing that the letter of the law requires tolerance of weapons of war which happen to be firearms at a higher level than those other things.

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

That's the point I was trying to make. By the letter of the law, the Constitution makes no distinction. There is strong legal precedent by the courts to make that distinction, but most of that is fairly recent, within the last half-century or so, and it is based entirely on interpretation by the court, "legislation by judicial interpretation" one might call it. All it would take to overthrow ALL of those bans is a court case where someone argues that no gun ban or restriction is legal by the letter of the law and that the court is bound to uphold the letter of the law, not interpret new meaning into it.


Ok, here we might each be talking about different things using the same words.

When you say there is legal precedent by the courts to distinguish guns from other arms, you seem (to me, anyway) to be talking about the courts singling out guns for more restriction than other arms, and that such decisions could be overturned by an appeal to the letter of the Second Amendment.

When I ask why guns are presumed to be given special status that allows no infringement (including your tiered system, BTW), I'm asking what is in the Second Amendment which carves out guns in particular for less restriction than other WMDs or weapons of war? I'm asking on what grounds someone could argue for restrictions on chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, but that gun rights in particular are unfettered?

Jon S. said...

To point up the distinction LarryHart is trying to make here, Ilitithi, I'd like to point out (as I did once before, in a previous posting) that in the state of Washington, it is illegal to carry a knife with a blade longer than six inches, a switchblade of any sort, or a weighted clubbing device (such as a sap, or a sock with ball bearings in the toe).

However, long arms are readily available (although it is illegal to carry them in one's car while they're loaded), and if you want a concealed-carry permit, you apply, and the state then has seven business days to show cause why one should not be issued. (Still no long knives, though.) As one can imagine, that limitation on CC permits does mean that there are almost certainly a number of people walking around this state carrying hidden weapons that shouldn't be allowed to possess a butter knife.

Why are the laws so different? Why is the state not permitted to limit firearms the way they're permitted to limit literally every other weapon that one can use? I mean, I don't recall the last time I heard about a young mother being killed, and two of her children injured, in a drive-by coshing that happened when some schmuck got the wrong address from his gang buddies. Rapid fire from poorly-aimed semiauto weapons, sure, but not saps. And as Larry notes, the Constitution says "arms", not "guns"...

Deuxglass said...

I agree that Donald Trump is a symptom but not the disease but I also wonder why many people spend all their time attacking him dispersing their energies instead of addressing the underlying causes. The popular support is there for deep reform yet the Dems seem to be afraid to tap that resource. Perhaps they are afraid of unleashing something they can’t control and ending up like he Moderate Reformers did when Robespierre with the Reign of Terror, that is either guillotined or in exile.

Athenian democracy lasted from around 594 BC when Solon instituted the Ecclesia to when Phillip II conquered Athens in 338 BC, a total of 256 years. It started in revolution because a very small elite had turned all the others into debt slaves. Solon made the very deep reforms thereby avoiding civil war. It lasted for through many existential crises but was eventually brought down by hubris brought about by empire, a lost war and afterwards a general slump into insignificance all in 256 years. Our democracy started in 1788 so if democracies have a lifespan then we will reach our end around the year 2044. In the critical stage Athens produced Pericles, the best of leaders, but it also produced Alcibiades who was brilliant, from the best family and had been a pupil of Socrates but was totally devoid of principles. Who is our Alcibiades these days?

David Brin said...

Deuxglass, that one paragraph puts you in the running for Post of the Day.

David Brin said...

Yes, Athens went through wilder swings, across those 256 years, including stretches when the oligarchs resumed control, and others when democracy resembled more a mob than a deliberative assembly of adults.

Which brings us to this chilling revelation about foreign electoral meddling and our current ‘Infopocalypse Now.”

Those with less education are more biased by false information - even once they know it's false. Scientific American recently published an excellent analysis of the research on fake news, misinformation, and cognitive ability. The nut of it is this: those with low cognitive ability are more likely to believe false information even after they've been explicitly told it's false. Cognitive ability also correlates with education, which teaches meta-cognitive skills - the ability to monitor and regulate one's own thinking, which can be used to combat the effects of misinformation on worldview.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cognitive-ability-and-vulnerability-to-fake-news/

Among the disturbing findings:
· The Trump campaign targeted low cognitive-ability voters.
· Repeated exposure is more convincing than one-time exposure.
· Fake news is more viral than real news.

Case in point: "The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now. But now they're setting records. They're at a record level." - Donald Trump, to Reuters, quoted on msn.com.

You and I find it hard to believe we are members of the same civilization – nay, species – as people who are able to murmur such incantations, knowing full well that – if they allowed any fact person to speak, it would prove diametrically opposite to truth. The word “Idiocracy” comes to mind.

But is this surprising? The Confederacy always relied upon this: Aristocrats pay for propaganda to get the most dimwitted whites to march off and fight for the rights of the richest.


And yes, this is using democracy to destroy itself. When the war on all fact professions is done, and the aristocracy is the only power left standing, you can bet that democracy will be curtailed. The one thing puzzling me is how - once all the fact and skill professions are pounded down - the feudal lords expect that strategy to ultimately go well for them.


(Source: Berit Anderson's SCOUT site and the Strategic News Service:
http://www.stratnews.com/images/issues/2018-02-23/SNS-2018-02-23.pdf

locumranch said...


Parkland & these increasingly common mass shooting have revealed an uncomfortable truth about our declining western society:

(1) That Kinship Reciprocity is a thing of the past;
(2) That our so-called 'Protector Caste' is under no obligation to protect us as individuals; and
(3) That good people (like our host) will refuse to sacrifice their lives in order to preserve ours.

That's what I heard yesterday on MSM, over & over, despite their incessant professions of LOVE for their poor students & their vulnerable community.

'We aren't willing to DIE for your children', scream our doting teachers, 'that's the Protector Caste's job", whereas our Protector Caste is going to prioritise their personal pensions & welfare as per their official protocol, while both factions 'take cover' & 'call for backup'.

And what of our community-minded baristas, professional victims, enlightened scientists, university educators & progressive leaders?

They'll duck and cover, too, because they're way too smart to indulge in foolhardy masculinity & self-sacrificial heroism, leaving only our much despised Mercenary Military -- staffed as they are by mostly low class professional deplorables -- to take yet another one for an ever-so enlightened team that treats their designated protectors as DISPOSABLE.

Enlightened Society will no longer sacrifice itself for its protectors, yet you act surprised that your protectors will no longer sacrifice themselves for you.

Welcome to the Brave New World where EVERYONE is disposable, NO ONE is invaluable, and only idiots assume otherwise.


Best
_____

Like the Insurance Adverts that claim to prevent illness & injury, the 'Protector Caste' designator is & has always been a misnomer because 'protection' implies a foreknowledge of specifics that human beings lack. Rather than 'protecting', our Protector Caste can only enforce and punish.

Our Protector Caste can use statistical modeling to predict general trends & risks for specific identity groups, yet statistical (and/or scientific) probability represents generalities that cannot be said to represent foreknowledge of individual perpetrators or events.

Katy Williams said...

locumranch: Are you saying that school teachers are part of the Protector Class and therefore should carry assault rifles to protect their students? That's what your comment sounds like.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Ilithi
Your approach to guns is nearly the same as the UK
Anybody can have a gun provided
They pass a police check (no record)
Have somewhere safe to store it
Are not a loony
Have a reason for that gun - target shooting/hunting
More powerful weapons require more training and steps - which includes machine guns

The only differences between the UK approach and yours is that we decided that small hand guns should be banned (minimum length of barrel) and that with the exception of Northern Ireland that "self defence" was NOT a sensible reason

This later is in recognition of the fact that there is no such thing as a defensive weapon - or at least nobody has invented one yet - and that all weapons are essentially offensive

Ilithi Dragon said...

@ LarryHart & Jon S:

Part of the point that I was making that all of those other "arms," including CBRN, knives, clubs, crossbows, and particularly devious slingshots, would be included in that "shall not be infringed" by the strict letter of the law.

Now, it is very important to note that our legal system is not based on a strict, by-the-letter-of-the-law system. Our legal and judicial system are also very much precedence-based, which is why legal precedent is so important in the US. Neither the letter-of-the-law nor legal precedent are the sole arbiters of US law, and both are very much relevant. Legal precedent, however, is not as... irrefutable? Is more... transient? than clear wording of written law. This has its pros and cons. The advantage is that it allows legal flexibility over time, as cultural norms and societal issues, etc. change. The downside is that precedent can be reversed or changed, because it is just that - a precedent, not hard written law.

I don't personally find it likely that any major upset in precedent on banning/restricting firearms would extend much beyond firearms (with a few other flare-ups over knife-restricting laws, etc. in the aftermath), again because of our legal precedent system (and for CBRN systems, the materials and components themselves can be outlawed, such that it is illegal to possess the nuclear material required to make a nuke in sufficient quantity to make a nuke, or to possess a preserved pathogen or chemical agent, bypassing the legality of the deployment system), but those would be included in a strict, by-the-letter-of-the-law interpretation of "shall not be infringed."

As for the history of laws and why specific laws exist, or specific quirks of laws exist, and why guns get special treatment, I can't really answer those questions. You'll need to find someone familiar with the histories of state and local laws to answer those kinds of "why" questions.


Dr. Brin: I did say that my tiered system was heavily inspired by/based on your Jefferson Rifle proposal, and I may have shamelessly stolen some key components/Good Ideas from it.
} ; = 8 P

I guess you could more appropriately call my tiered system an expansion to your Jefferson Rifle proposal.

"Ilithi, the only way you can maintain your “both sides are wrong” stance is if you assume the vast majority of liberals disagree with you! But they don’t! "

An important clarification: I am not saying that both sides are wrong, I'm saying that both sides are being stupid in how they communicate and address each other, and I did say that both sides mostly agree on most policies, once you get passed the difference in language and meanings used. That communication problem is deliberately engendered by groups that benefit from that failure to communicate, and the political conflict and polarization that results, as I'm sure you're aware.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Those agents provocateur aren't solely responsible for that breakdown of communication, however. The gun owners get stuck on their paranoia, and they get some of the biggest focus from that misinformation and paranoia-stoking, but the left also holds a fair bit of responsibility for the failures in communication. Some of that is tied with the strategic stupidity the Democratic Party has engaged in, but not all. Moderates on the left need to make a much greater effort to make themselves heard, and to distinguish themselves from the hardliners who want to ban or severely curtail gun ownership. Those hardliners on the left make a LOT of noise, and the paranoia-drivers amplify it towards the Right to serve their purposes, but as you've noted, Dr. Brin, they're not the majority - most liberals/progressives are fairly moderate. I've been trying to drive that into the heads of the conservative gun owners I know for a decade and a half, but the moderates haven't been making it very easy. Most don't make much noise (they usually don't; it's always the more radical types that get the most heated and make the most fuss), so it's hard to pull their signal from all the noise of the more crazy types. This is even further exacerbated when the moderates get lazy when they DO make noise, and use much the same language and wording as the gun-banners or harsh gun controllers, or just wave their flag in support of that general direction.

The moderates need to step up and start making more of their own noise, and they need to be seen/heard telling the gun banners/harsh controllers to shut up and simmer down. They also need to use different language; ideally, look up the language and meanings that the gun owners use, and tailor their words to be compatible with that language, because if they use the same key words and phrases that the hardliners on the left use, the gun owners on the right will immediately shut down and tune them out as just more unpleasant noise.

But that takes considerable work and effort, both in picking careful language, and making a lot of noise (especially while doing the former), and getting people motivated to do that, rather than jumping on and using the existing wagon and language of the hardliners on the left, is one of the big challenges.

As for the issue of the survival of democracy, and the cognitive infopocalypse, this difficulty in identifying and overcoming misinformation and propaganda is something that has long troubled me. I am absolutely certain that it is one of the great filters, at least for any species that thinks even remotely like we do, and it is a very HARD challenge. I haven't the faintest clue of any good, lasting solution to this problem. Even with cyberneural implants and human-AI integration, I see the issue still remaining, because at the fundamental level it is an issue with our perception of reality, and our ability to ensure that what we perceive as reality is really real.

I have long called for the need to increase teaching of critical thinking skills in schools, as an important step in defending/fighting back against misinformation, which is supported by those recent studies.

Unfortunately, as Dr. Brin and others have noted, there seems to be a powerful set of people set on undermining those critical thinking skills.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@ Duncan:

I didn't realize the UK system actually worked that way. I understood it as effectively a ban on most firearms.


Which is why I would very much be opposed to that particular component of your system: Have a reason for it. That, in practice, can all too easily be used as a means to arbitrarily deny people the ability to purchase a firearm. I suspect that that's why that component (not the right word, the word I need exists, it just escapes me atm) of your gun laws exists: by setting arbitrary standards for what does and does not constitute a "justifiable" reason to own a firearm, the government can arbitrarily deny ownership of firearms to anyone, with the effect of having a near-ban in practice despite not having a near-ban by letter of the law. I can also guarantee you that, at least in some parts of the US, such a provision (AHA! that's the word!) would be horribly abused for racial discrimination.

Treebeard said...

BTW in Pinker's defense, I think he is a bit of a Dark Enlightenment alt-righter, and certainly not as toxic as the leftist intellectuals we often find in academia. For example, he gave a Bell Curve argument for why Jews are over-represented at the top end of many fields, having to do with the fact that if your average IQ is 15 points above average, then in the upper small percentiles you will be a large fraction of the population. Of course he was attacked by leftists as a horrible evil racist, but that's almost a badge of honor these days, right?

locumranch said...


Katy & Duncan just don't get it.

The school teachers given a platform by MSM absolutely REFUSE to fulfill the role as protectors, believing this to be somebody else's job, as does practically everyone else in our declining west, including our baristas, shopkeepers, professionals, scientists, phone sterilisers, journalists, politicians & law enforcement personnel.

Would you take a bullet for a stranger, Katy? Are you prepared to risk significant bodily harm in order to correct injustice? To DIE for the greater good?

If not, then why do you suppose that anyone would sacrifice themselves to protect you?

Do not forgive them, Illithi_D, let them fail and fall for they know exactly what they do.


Best

Ilithi Dragon said...

Locum:

I enlisted in the military because it is my instinct and at the core of my character to protect others so that they do not have to protect themselves.

Why would I begrudge someone for exercising the very thing that I volunteered to defend?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Ilithi

The main reason that very few people have guns in the UK is not that they are not permitted - but that people simply don't want them!
90% of Brits could buy a gun if they really wanted

I'm now living in NZ - we have a similar system to the UK - but a bit looser - and there are LOTS of hunters - and lots of guns

But because we would NOT allow "self defence" as a reason we don't have the level of gun crime



Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Ilithi

I agree that you guys have serious problems with racism - and that a lot of places being the wrong colour with a gun means that you are shot on sight

But I don't see how having a such a provision makes that much difference! - Just having to join a gun club or have a hunting license

Although the acceptable reasons to own would have to be written down - NOT just the reasons that this Chief of Police will accept

In Australia some people believe the provision that to own a gun you have to
Join a gun club and participate in two "events" a year and fill out a couple of forms
Has effectively filtered out the sort of loonies who stage mass shootings

LarryHart said...

If pressed, I think I could argue that "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" means almost the opposite thing of what we presume it means.

The general perception is that the government cannot curtail ownership or possession of any particular piece of armament. I am free to carry an AR-15 because an AR-15 is an "arm", and my right to bear arms cannot be infringed.

However, an alternative view of the wording of the amendment is that the government cannot infringe on your right to be armed, but that it is free to limit and regulate just which types of arms are permitted. As long as it allows you some level of armament, the language of the amendment is fulfilled.

David Brin said...


Treebeard, very few deny there are genetic components to many “Bell Curve” traits like intelligence. Your need to posit that all moderate and progressive people declare all is nurture is an example of hysterical strawman clutching. Yes, liberals tend to “over-emphasize nurture” and for good reason! Because only some overcompensation will redress the cosmic stupidity of wastage of talent and opportunity and justice that resulted from stupid, counterfactual over-emphasis on false prejudices based on false or exaggerated beliefs that human differences are all “nature.”

But at least that was an assertion that had enough merit to argue-with. In contrast Ah, our regular locum is back. I skimmed… and again… every single paragraph of his missive beginning with “Parkland” is either hallucinatory or an outright lie. Every… single one.

Wow.

David Brin said...

Ilithi: “am not saying that both sides are wrong, I'm saying that both sides are being stupid in how they communicate and address each other, and I did say that both sides mostly agree on most policies, once you get passed the difference in language and meanings used. That communication problem is deliberately engendered by groups that benefit from that failure to communicate, and the political conflict and polarization that results, as I'm sure you're aware.”

I’m well aware. I just know of no elements in mainstream or moderate liberalism that fall into that pattern. Well, sometimes MSNBC hyperventilates, but no, Maddow does not fall into your categorization. The phenomenon you are describing is one-sided. Sorry.

“Moderates on the left need to make a much greater effort to make themselves heard, and to distinguish themselves from the hardliners who want to ban or severely curtail gun ownership.”

Again, please show us the latter? Please? It is a chimera. To any substantial demographic degree, that second category does not exist. Let me reiterate, it does not exist and hence there is no “radical gun-banning fringe” for moderates to distinguish themselves from.

The moderates utterly dominate Democratic politics and they have made absolutely and relentlessly clear that they do not seek banning of private weapon ownership, nor do they think it is remotely possible, nor would they try, since it would spark civil war. I cannot reiterate this enough…

…and hence the problem. We are polemically unable to speak in ways that get beyond caricatures that are beloved to the confederacy. It cannot happen. Obama tried for 8 years.

Lloyd Flack said...

In Australia there are multiple license classes allowing the possession of different types of guns. The differences are primarily based on what is needed for th gun owner's purposes. Thus there are firearms that are available only to those that need them for their work.

locumranch said...


I pursued medicine for the same reasons Illithi_D enlisted in the military because I, too, wished to protect others so that they do not have to protect themselves. And what is our reward? A lifetime of personal sacrifice, unrealistic expectations, selective punishments, indifference & ingratitude.

Those for who we sacrifice will discard us like yesterday's refuse, the very moment that we fail to provide cheerful utility, like the hundreds of thousands of US veterans who have suffered horrendous injuries only to be relegated to abject poverty, homelessness & neglect.

Reciprocity is dead -- it has been replaced by social narcissism -- and those for who we sacrifice feel that they owe us nothing in return. First, they call us deplorable. Second, they marginalise us. Third, they discard us.
Fourth, they disarm us.

And, fifth, comes self-erasure as almost any divorce-raped male can tell you.

Best
_____
Quite literally, every single paragraph of (my) missive beginning with “Parkland” is true & factually accurate as the only properly armed & trained law enforcement officer on site took cover outside, waiting for backup, while an armed gunman killed 17 genetically unrelated students. And why should that officer re-enact 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' for an unrelated other? For a paltry 17 US dollars per hour?? I've heard that he's been fired, of course, for following official procedure. Now, go ahead & disarm yourselves, you Marching Morons, because you'll buy anything for a quarter, including a trip off-planet.

TCB said...

In addition to Nature and Nurture, I always think "Don't forget Sculpture!" Nature is what your genes and congenital qualities start with, and Nurture is how you were raised (everything from quality of nutrition and economic statues to whether your parents were kind, cruel, or absent, and the society around you as you grew, with all its mores and taboos, religion and politics, unexamined assumptions and fond traditions, all of that).

Sculpture is what you deliberately carve out of yourself. Yes, you have choices here! Within parameters to be determined by experience and learning, trial, error, planning and effort, and if you really care about knowing Truth, you'll have tools like the scientific method, mathematics, meditation, and who knows what else. There are actually ways of raising your intelligence, a bit (look up Win Wenger's books, for instance).

It may be that your nature and nurture have made it hard for you to make any progress at all with sculpture. But an honest effort, with even tiny results, if made by many people, would reap vast rewards for us all.

Jon S. said...

Ilithi, I think I see where error creeps into your logic. You appear to be taking our far-right countrymen at their word when they claim Da Left wants to ban all guns of any kind.

That, however, is simply a strawman. I imagine there are a few who would proclaim such a thing, just as there are those who bemoan the concept of "polluting outer space" - but none of them are in anything even vaguely resembling a position of leadership. The position taken by most in favor of restriction is just that - [b]restriction[/b]. Not "banning" guns, certainly not the fever dream of "confiscating" them, just restricting which arms are available and whether they should be permitted in the possession of, say, repeat physical abusers or those who might fail a standard psychological exam.

The problem is, ammosexuals have seized upon this ludicrous "slippery slope" argument - that any limitations will lead inevitably to total confiscation. This is, obviously, at variance with history - restrictions on fully-automatic submachine guns like the Thompson certainly didn't lead to wholesale gun confiscation. Trying to argue this point, however, is much like trying to nail jello to a tree - the arguments slide around every real point made.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Hillary is the true president of the United States; legitimizes it (Yes, legitimates, because of Donald's fraud) could have solved the problem.

The leaders of the rifle association defend the unrestricted sale of weapons for one reason: they are not affected by the actions of the gunmen. They have schools, much safer than Fort Knox.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Ho. Sorry. The previous translation went wrong. I did not realize. What I wanted to say is: Maybe the lovely Hillary Clinton could have solved the problem of guns. Women are more responsible than men.

winter 7

David Brin said...

"Reciprocity is dead -- it has been replaced by social narcissism " right. Yours.

Paul SB said...

TCB,

Did you come up with the "sculpture" thing yourself, or did you get that from someone else. If the latter I would like to see the source material. It's an important point that people miss in the whole nature/nurture debate, and one that, as a school teacher, I have made a point of discussing with students. Most of them just see this as a fancier form of preaching at them to behave and study, but this is a place where the neuroscience really does make a difference. Both "nature" and "nurture" leave us with the impression that human beings are completely passive in the formation of their character: they were either born that way and can never change, or the environment they grew up in made them that way and they can never change. Either way, human agency goes out the window. One of the most valuable things to come from the burst of insight made possible by medical scanning technology at the end of the last century was the recognition of neuroplasticity. Yes, our DNA plays important roles in making us what we are, and yes, the environment in which we spawned and grew also plays a huge role (except in extreme cases like PKU, a much, much larger role than DNA), but the choices we make also contribute to the sculpting of both the individual human brain and the genomic tools of those changes.

Unfortunately, the idea of "sculpting" has been around for a really long time, too (though I have never heard this specific term used for it). Think about Loyola's claim that if you give him a boy of seven years he will deliver you the man as you wish him to be, or John Locke's "blank slate." It is just as easily used for victim-blaming and damning anyone who does not conform to someone else's arbitrary standards as the other two. Whether a person was born with the "wrong genes," are up in the "wrong place" or made the "wrong choices" any and all of these concepts can be used as bludgeons by ladder-climbers and the kind of egomaniacs who can't feel good about themselves without denigrating others. You know who I'm talking about. Here there's just a couple, but the world is packed with them. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me like the US has way more than its fair share of these, though I admit I have never been in another country long enough to make a fair comparison. But the over-emphasis on individualism and downplaying of social responsibility makes for a very immature collection of supposed adults, many of whom never really seem to grow out of the ways they behaved in middle school.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFlUCr42qzI

Paul SB said...

"Reciprocity is dead -- it has been replaced by social narcissism " right. Yours.

Who was it, a couple threads back, who said that liberals think that most people are like themselves and are encouraged and empowered, conservatives also think that most people are like themselves and are terrified?

Pointing out projection to a willfully ignorant partisan will do nothing to change the partisan. In most of the wars of the Modern Era, captured soldiers were imprisoned, but captured partisans were just shot. If our democracy has become a war between two opposing armies, we may end up having to do the same - but with our modern Weapons of Mass Deception the bloodbath would be so vast that the survivors would be scarred for life and for the next several generations.

locumranch said...



LOL. Winter7 holds that 'Women are more responsible than men' in a western culture that almost never 'holds women responsible' for much of anything, proving that Orwellian equivocation transcends ethnicity, language & nationality, while a partisan Paul_SB cites the likely slaughter of partisans as grounds for partisan disarmament and other social narcissists blame everyone but themselves for the state of the world.

Apres vous, mes aimies, apres vous as some of us are scarred enough already.


Best

Robert said...

Funny you should say that, Locu. When a woman is raped, a common defense is "look at how she was dressed." "She obviously wanted this." "Why didn't she struggle more?" "She was drinking, she knew what could happen." And on down the line.

Women are held responsible for the actions of men in cases of rape and in many other areas. That you are blind to this added responsibility for other people's actions just shows you are part of the problem.

Rob H.

Paul451 said...

It's amusing seeing Loco trying to propagandise Illithi Dragon out of his oath. Given that Loco wants to see his nation fall, he would surely qualify as an "enemy within".


----


Illithi,
"I'm going to take an educated guess here and say that most of you probably have little or no personal experience with firearms (at least, most of the ones who have commented on the subject). "

and

"What you are doing, sir, is taking an array of valid points presented by the opposing side, and instead of addressing them, you are dismissing them by arbitrarily assigning them to an authority that you then arbitrarily dismiss as invalid."

Ahem. Pot/kettle/black.

--

Re: Mandating militia membership,

Article 1 (S8) provides authority for Congress to regulate the US militia. No additional constitutional power are required. And it has used this power to mandate firearm ownership in the past. The exact same authority could be used to mandate enlistment by firearm owners.

Whereas, I can't see how you think your own tiered system doesn't "infringe" upon the letter of the second amendment.

TCB said...

@Paul SB, yeah, 'sculpture' in this sense is my term. Self-improvement, obviously, is not at all a new idea, whole sections of bookstores being devoted to it. I just think people ought to remember that there is something they can add to nature and nurture. Take that possibility away and we instinctively know that we are missing some essential component of human life.

I'm in full agreement with what you just wrote. None of these three realms (nature/nurture/scuplture) is or can be the only one that matters, to the exclusion of the others. "Ladder climbers and egomaniacs" love to describe themselves as self-made men. Exhibit A is Donald Trump, who "got started in business with only a small million dollar loan from his father" har har are you kidding me? Money is a poor metric for whether a person has actually carved themselves into a better human; but money is easy to measure and makes it easy to pay people to agree with one's inflated ego.

And a successful sculpture will not look the same for me as for you. For whatever reason, the person I thought of as an example to emulate is Abdul Samad Sheikh, a 60-year-old rickshaw driver from Bangladesh. He's not rich. He doesn't have a diploma. All he did is plant 17,500 trees.

Paul SB said...

TCB,

I think your Nature/Nurture/Sculpture thing could be a great remedy to the kind of false dichotomous thinking that has dominated this discussion for far too long. Perhaps, then, people will pay more attention to the sciences of the brain and the genome and start to dig into the nitty-gritty details of what is true and what is possible in terms of genetic limitation and self-improvement. Few people go beyond vague generalizations, mistaking the volume and anger of their tone for factuality. But then, those vague and angry shouts are more politically useful than the truth, which is why political partisans want nothing to do with truth. Politics is about what side you are on, truth is the realm of scientific discovery. You know which one I prefer.

Paul SB said...

Luis,

If women are more responsible than men - a proposition I doubt, there are plenty of Sarah Palin types in this world - it would be largely a matter of how they are raised. Patriarchy means that boys learn to be a bit more reckless. They can afford to make mistakes more than girls can, because the consequences for them are not as severe. As equality settles into cultures around the world, we are seeing more and more that the few actual biological differences between the sexes mean less and less than was once thought. It's a complex subject, and one we will only understand if we approach it from that mindful perspective that seeks to understand, rather than to denigrate one and put the other on a pedestal. People are people.

Smurphs said...

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Seems perfectly clear and unambiguous, right? No room for debate or misinterpretation, right?

Well...


1- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Seems just as unambiguous, but there are many restrictions on speech and assembly. And a Free Press may not survive this current Administration. (I'm not gonna touch religion.)

2- "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Can you say Civil Asset Forfeiture? (And don't get me started on the FISA or IRS powers.)

8- "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

Our entire penal system is cruel and unusual punishment compared to just about any "First World" country, which we claim to be the leader of.


Not advocating a particular potion here, just reminding you all that the Constitution means what We The People decide it means. Anyone who depends the "letter of the law" argument has 229 years of jurisprudence to overturn. And if you argue Original Intent, well, just what do you really think the Founding Fathers would have done if mass murder via "arms" by an individual was even conceivable 229 years ago?

LarryHart said...

Smurphs:

1- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Seems just as unambiguous, but there are many restrictions on speech and assembly. And a Free Press may not survive this current Administration. (I'm not gonna touch religion.)


Even the words themselves are ambiguous. I've often liked to play with the meaning of the words "respecting an establishment of religion". The common interpretation is that it means congress cannot itself establish an "official" religion--"respecting" meaning "with respect to" and "establishment of religion" as a way of putting "establishing religion" as a noun.

However, I find it interesting that an "establishment of religion" could refer to an actual "religious establishment"--a church or a mosque or a temple, for example. So congress may not pass any laws with respect to churches, like those exempting "establishments of religion" from taxation. Or with a different but valid sense of the word "respecting", congress may not pass any laws which even recognize the existence or importance of religious establishments.

David Brin said...

Paul, I never thought of this! “The exact same authority could be used to mandate enlistment by firearm owners.” In other words… own a gun? Well, you’re in the Army now. Yeow!

Oh, talking about gender equality. there’s one OBJECTIVE criterion for the US taking sides in the Syrian mess. I mean other than the outright evil of the Assad family. That criterion is the gun-packing, eye-to-eye equality that Kurds have given their womenfolk! The Middle East needs this.

Whereupon... Misogyny is an over-used word, but we have a member here who clearly embraces its core meaning in a way that reflects personal life trauma. And like a lesbian who understandably came by her inclination partly from male abuse, this fellow may have had to deal with some genuine human monsters at the other end. I can tell you that female monsters do exist! Statistically, I’d wager his bitterness to be hugely exaggerated by personal-subjective rage-inflation. But we have none of the facts and (as I said) female monsters do exist.

What’s no supportable is broad brush generalization, portraying our the female side of humanity as more generally monstrous. Yipe! That’s just plain crazy. Take the present complaint that “one accusation can ruin a man’s reputation.” Um, yeah, that’s a problem. And we should work on a sliding scale that requires either repetition or seriousness before denials lose benefit of doubt.

Still… but, um, isn’t that the situation faced by all women for thousands of years? “One accusation can ruin a reputation.” Heck, there’s at least FIVE Shakespeare plays!

Deuxglass said...

We could take an approach from Robert Heinlein. You can own a gun with no restrictions but since you are therefore considered militia you can be deployed whenever and wherever the Military wants. There would be no age or medical wavers for whatever reason. If you can’t patrol because of a bad back for example, you could still clean latrines, iron uniforms and clean the boots of those soldiers who really fight. You would be their servant or orderly. If you can’t keep up or carry something then too bad. You would be left behind but hey, you wanted a gun.

As an aside, maybe he has an ex that would want to "eat his heart in the marketplace". That would explain it.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

There would be no age or medical wavers for whatever reason. If you can’t patrol because of a bad back for example, you could still clean latrines, iron uniforms and clean the boots of those soldiers who really fight.


Your wording evokes a line from "The Postman". I'm going from memory here, but I'm pretty sure this is an accurate quote, or accurate enough. General Macklin explaining to Gordon the true democracy inherent in Holnism:

"My own sons must kill to become Holnists, or else scratch dirt to support those who can."

Deuxglass said...

LarryHart,

I guess that makes ma a fascist. I better watch out for anyone giving plays from the Renaissance!

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Would that make a graph worth a thousand pictures? I have recently shut down a few TrumpTrolls on FacePalm with that US Net Wealth graph you posted a couple months back. It works like magic. Would you happen to know of any similar graphics that could shut down the anti-GMO loonies? Maybe something that shows world population versus how much population can be supported by non-GMO agriculture?

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

I guess that makes ma a fascist.


No, I'm pretty sure that line was Dr Brin making even his villains more interesting than mere cartoon characters. The Holnists practice feudalism, but a with a meritocracy of sorts rather than the hoary old hereditary version. Or at least that's what their promotional materials would assert.

David Brin said...

The best villains are those whose self-justifying incantations briefly sound ... well... a touch admirable.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

Yes, the excerpt from Nathan Holn's "book" within the novel sounded like it might have a point, until it segued into "...that evil genius, Benjamin Franklin."

Twominds said...

@TCB and Paul SB

Interesting discussion about Nature/Nurture/Sculpture! I like this use of the word, TCB. I'm going to find a snappy translation of this triplet and use it over here too, if I may.

Sculpture implies that you need to work with what you have, not that you can just do or be anything you want if you want it hard enough. Much more realistic.

Thanks!

Paul451 said...

Just to clarify, when I say "enlist", I didn't mean in the Army, just the militia of all gun owners, nor did I mean deployment overseas or any other burdensome duty. I'm not advocating punishing law-abiding gun owners. That would be stupid and self-destructive.

In Australia, we require membership of a gun-club and to take part in some contests. That's it. "Ve demand you go out viz your friends und hef fun shooting!" It's a trivial inconvenience, and yet it's been enough to deter wackos for two decades so far.

In the US, you have Article 1, Section 8, Clause 16, which says,
"The Congress shall have power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."

Which gives the Congress sufficient power to make similar requirements for US gun owners, administered by the individual states.

There's also legal precedent, in both previous militia requirements (such as 1792, mandating gun ownership) and the army draft, that the US government can arbitrarily define and regulate who is a member of the militia and what is required of them.

But it doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, unreasonably burdensome. Just turn up a few times a year to your local state-authorised militia club, probably your local shooting range, where you conduct shooting practice under instruction (and possibly hold contests).

[I'd suggest a Federally funded scheme to also provide additional training, not just in safe gun use, maintenance, etc, but optionally in useful emergency skills: first aid, communications, disaster response, etc.]

Paul451 said...

Smurphs,
(correcting the number)
"4- "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Can you say Civil Asset Forfeiture? (And don't get me started on the FISA or IRS powers.)"


Not to mention stop'n'frisk, airport searches, sniffer dogs, etc etc, plus any amount of financial reporting.

TCB said...

@ Paul SB and Twominds, thank you, you make me feel useful!

You know, one of the best things about modern society (liberal version) is that in theory at least, it strongly promotes the idea that everyone should have access to 'sculpting tools' such as free public education, free libraries, freedom of travel, of speech, of association, of religion (or FROM religion)... just plain freedom. Even if you were born in the lowest of stations. If FDR had lived a little longer he could probably have rammed through the major aspects of his Second Bill of Rights, such as universal healthcare and free college.

The feudalists are against all of this. They want to sculpt you into their tool, and leave it at that. All those freedoms and opportunities are for them, not for you. This is one of the things I recoil from about them: for them, it's not enough to rule the world. They want to rule your mind.

Paul451 said...

Aside,
from the main article:

"Edward Snowden pushing a new privacy-sousveillance tech called 'Haven'"

It's just a glorified motion sensor. Nothing deeper.

--

Pinker's book and the New Statesman critique,

I actually agree with one of the points the critic made before going off the deep end. Writers like Pinker (and Richard Dawkins), tend to focus too much on "reason" and "logic", as if that was the dividing line between the Enlightenment/science and what came before. But religion, oligarchy, etc etc, all had their scholars, their logicians, their deep reasoning. They were brilliant thinkers, not superstitious fools. What separates us from them is empiricism, not reason. Our agreement that the universe itself will serve as the judge in endless wagers made between people over the nature of reality.

Paul SB said...

Twominds,

I hope you can come up with something that preserves both the meaning and the rhyme, or failing that alliterates. There's a reason people respond so predictably to simple slogans, especially when they employ musical elements like rhyme and rhythm. Dutch is at least in the same language family as English - imagine trying to do this for Irish Gaelic or Chinese?

"Sculpture implies that you need to work with what you have, not that you can just do or be anything you want if you want it hard enough. Much more realistic."

Certainly much more in line with what the science of brains and genes have both proven in these last couple decades. Older analogies to agriculture (cultivating, harvesting) don't really capture this as well. Sure, it's obvious enough that if you sow your wheat in soil that has poor nutrition your plants will not be able to grow to their full height and productivity. That's a good analogy for why the rich seem so much smarter than the poor - they have so much more opportunity to develop their brains in an enriched environment, compared to the poverty of stimulation available in poor neighborhoods. This does a whole lot more to explain so-called "racial" differences in intelligence than any purported genetic differences. There is always genetic diversity within any given population, but when entire populations are economically subjugated it stunts the growth of even the best of them.

TCB,

Ruling your mind has always been the point. For hundreds of thousands of years peer pressure was how humans maintained some sense of social harmony amongst themselves, with pretty mixed results. Once the agricultural revolution set in, allowing the population to explode, peer pressure no longer worked, so ideology and/or religion was needed to keep people in line. The more modern way of thinking, which cares less about what people believe and more about what people do, is exactly the kind of transformation that will allow the species to keep going now the population is way beyond what traditional agriculture is capable of supporting. The new way is in many ways a return to the much, much older way than the measly six millennia of agricultural tyrannies. It's a return to individual empowerment over the monopolistic interests of kings, priests and merchants. That is why technological innovations like distributed solar networks and localized vertical farming are so important - they are ways of allowing humans to return to something closer to their nature than was possible when population was too high to have stability without allowing the most selfish and brutal variants to consolidate power in their own hands and run the show.

It's ironic that access to libraries was largely facilitated by 19th Century Social Darwinism, a philosophy that was intended to support dictatorship and class warfare. The idea was in one way an improvement over the old Aristocratic self-justification set. It accepted the possibility that some poor people might be "naturally" intelligent and therefore deserve to have access to knowledge that would allow themselves to pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps. It's sort of like a trickle up economics - better than the 100% rigid hierarchy of agricultural despotism, but still nowhere near the more realistic understanding science is giving us today. Herbert Spender's hate-filled philosophy inspired Andrew Carnegie to build his famous libraries as a form of charity deemed more worthy in his time than preventing the poor from starving (and no doubt causing the real Darwin to roll over in his crypt).

Douglas Fenton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Twominds said...

@Paul SB

Often, the English phrase is used, I didn't find a consistent translation of nature/nurture. It seems it isn't discussed all that much here anyway. But if I find a discussion and I want to enter it, I will use TCB's addition. In English if need be, it has a bit of alliteration already.

john fremont said...

@Douglas Fenton

Either the state militia or with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT ) that Dr Brin has mentioned here. I myself trained into it here in Colorado. To complete the training, I had to spend 4 Saturdays in classroom and practical application. The last Saturday was an incident exercise that occurs rain or shine. Our scenario in Colorado was an F5 tornado that took out a housing development. The thing of it is CERT requires one to interact with strangers. The anti-social types don't hang around for long. A few of the survivalist types dropped out after the first weekend of CERT when they found out there wouldn't be any marksmanship training and that firearms would not be required for any of the disaster exercises. Although the deputy sheriffs did say in a real disaster one may have to carry a firearm for self defense but for training purposes it's a distraction and a safety issue. Our instructors said don't bother bringing your guns to CERT exercises and the next week some of those guys dropped out.

Douglas Fenton said...


I was thinking of Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” (the book, not the film) where only those who had served could vote. That sounds very restrictive but if someone wanted to serve then the military would take them even if they had disabilities. The recruiter said that they would find them something to do even if it was just scraping paint off of bulkheads. The important thing was that they made the sacrifice to serve and therefore became a citizen. I just extrapolated that out a bit to gun ownership. If you own a gun then you would automatically be in the state militia and have to train on weekends with no pay like in colonial times. You could make it progressive. One gun equals one weekend of duty. Ten guns equals all your weekends plus some weekdays for example. I think that would make the cost of owning a gun high perhaps not in monetary terms but very expensive when it comes to time and effort.

Darrell E said...

Paul451 said...

"Pinker's book and the New Statesman critique,

I actually agree with one of the points the critic made before going off the deep end. Writers like Pinker (and Richard Dawkins), tend to focus too much on "reason" and "logic", as if that was the dividing line between the Enlightenment/science and what came before. But religion, oligarchy, etc etc, all had their scholars, their logicians, their deep reasoning. They were brilliant thinkers, not superstitious fools. What separates us from them is empiricism, not reason. Our agreement that the universe itself will serve as the judge in endless wagers made between people over the nature of reality."


I think even that criticism is off the mark. Both Pinker & Dawkins are staunch proponents of the scientific method and when speaking or writing about the topics that they engage with they mention it, including empiricism as one of the key tools, all the time. Both have often made the same point you make here, that the key difference between religion and other "ways of knowing" versus science is that science has a way to actually verify which claims, ideas, hypotheses are accurate while the others don't. All of the so called Gnu Atheists have a habit of hammering on this point in order to illustrate their contention that religion is not useful for acquiring knowledge and that religion and science are not compatible.

Douglas Fenton said...

John,

My proposal would I hope weed out the those who the gun nuts, the wanabee soldiers and those that just aren't stable. The militia service would principally teach skills like in your CERT classes and members would be graded. Most of the time they would be learning jobs that are necessary like logistics and repairing rather than be on the firing range, the boring stuff that you need to master. You could also task the problem ones with picking up trash.

In principle you still have the right to bear arms for self-defense, the establishment of a militia as in the Constitution is satisfied and there would be enough trained people in the population to prevent government tyranny.

raito said...

locumranch:

"I've heard that he's been fired, of course, for following official procedure."

False, and provably so. He resigned. And no mentions of 'procedure'.

https://www.google.com/search?q=parkland+deputy+resign

Your hearing seems to be impaired.

Dr. Brin,

The best villains aren't necessarily evil, or at least aren't driven by it. Such as Marc DuQuesne. And maybe Lens Larque (gotta love a book where the hero takes his revenge... Then completes the villain's enterprise!).

Darrell E said...

I hesitate to enter the gun rights fray, but here goes.

The idea that armed private individuals would make everyone safer, and especially that arming teachers in public schools would be a good idea, is nuts. Trained law enforcement professionals that train regularly average 18% - 20% hit rates in real life scenarios and hitting bystanders is not rare. Given those statistics who could think it would be a good idea to give teachers some half ass training and arm them? Or think that a some concealed carry heroes are likely to save the day? Come on.

By definition 50% of any group is below average, and look at those stats for professionals again. And we are to believe that private gun owners are thoughtful and responsible enough to make sure they get themselves adequate training and keep it up? That only a small number of gun owners are yahoos that give the others a bad name? These are not reasonable views. Just take a look at the average driver on the road, something that is highly regulated compared to guns. How many people drive like idiots? The only reason there isn't far more fatalities is due to the decades of evolving road design, driving rules and regulation by governments to apply pressure to constantly improve the safety of the vehicles. Guns have none of that. In my state I can go out and get a concealed carry permit by taking a course that is nearly impossible to fail and that takes only hours of my time. And the problem is, so can anyone else.

And this interpretation of the 2A that the right to bear arms CAN NOT BE INFRINGED to mean that guns, or any kind of weapons, can't be regulated by the government, you know that that is a new thing, right? At least in any kind of legal sense? New as in 2008. Prior to that it was never the predominant interpretation and is most certainly not the original interpretation. The 2A was never intended by the people that wrote it and passed it to be a barrier to the regulation of weapons and this can be verified by anyone willing to look at source materials rather than propaganda. Weapons were absolutely regulated before, during and after the revolution and the 2A. This interpretation that gun rights proponents insist on is historical revisionism and unpatriotic.

Tim H. said...

Haven't a URL, but Paul Krugman's 02/22 column "Nasty, Brutish and Trump" was an entertaining riff on Thomas Hobbes. After reading it I thought "Reactionaries, pawing through the litter box of history in search of offensive philosophies.". Could wish that sort of humor was a bit harder to come by...

David Brin said...


Paul 451 is on a roll. e.g. the militia riffs. And: “But religion, oligarchy, etc etc, all had their scholars, their logicians, their deep reasoning. They were brilliant thinkers, not superstitious fools. What separates us from them is empiricism, not reason. Our agreement that the universe itself will serve as the judge in endless wagers made between people over the nature of reality.”

Douglas F. In STARSHIP TROOPERS the line was a deaf blind volunteer could still “count fuzz on the backs of caterpillars.” In fact, I think liberals should make lists of conservative points they’d be willing to concede, in exchange for truly major confederate retreats from stuff like electoral cheating and cruelty to young Dreamers and outright treason.

For me the list includes:

- The damn wall. Seriously. It's just an uglier and more expensive version of what we were doing, anyway.

- Work requirements for assistance, even disability… so long as it’s “Show up 5 days a month and it’s up to us to find something you can do that’s at least a little useful and won't exacerbate your pain."

- Reduce family reunion immigration in favor of rewarding endeavor.

- Voter ID that’s phased in while states invest heavily in helping all citizens get ID.

- … there are more. But key is to restore the notion: “If I can get things from my high priority list, then I’m willing to trade some things that matter to me less, but that seem way important to you. It’s called negotiation. And destroying it has been the core and central goal of oligarchy for a quarter century.
=

locumranch said...


David only supports 'negotiation' when contract-breaking suits his progressive purposes, but he calls it 'treason' when contract-bound confederate deplorables attempt it.

It is hardly propaganda to point out that Illithi_D is bound by his oath regarding military service (much like I am bound by my hippocratic oath), but such oaths are personal: His pledge to support, defend & obey is binding only unto him in a unilateral, non-reciprocal & legally enforceable fashion, insomuch that anyone & every agency that he pledges to support is free & 'at liberty' (literary 'unbound') to screw him over if & when it suits their nefarious purposes, even though mutually-binding reciprocity is often implied but only in an extralegal & non-actionable sense.

We've talked about our now defunct social contract all too-often, and I am of the opinion that more & more individuals will opt out (neither pledging nor honouring oaths) when they discover how badly they are being taken advantage of by society in general, whereas the more optimistic among us are of the opinion that the West possesses a near inexhaustible supply of suckers who are incapable of learning.

Time will tell -- it is telling rather loudly -- but 'They would not listen (and) They did not know how'

Perhaps they'll listen now.


Best
_____

@raito: The distinction between 'resigned' or 'remaindered' is largely illusionary.

@Darrell_E: The application of minimax strategy to the question of rearmament invariably results in a conclusion that supports rearmament.

raito said...

Darrell E,

"By definition 50% of any group is below average"

Completely false. And regardless of the rest of your arguments, you open yourself up to having to defend against a logical fallacy (that because a single point is wrong, the entire argument is wrong).

Your statement keeps getting repeats, and is wrong every time. The average is the sum of the data divided by the number of individual items in the data. For example, take a set of numbers that look like this: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,1000. The average of these is 1045/10, or 104.5. 90% of those are less than average. See the problem.

Sure, half of a group is under the median (unless you have some on the median), but that doesn't help much, either. Because that half can be close to the median, or far from it. And the median doesn't necessarily correlate with anything outside itself.

Yes, some of you will point out that the assertion is true for a Gaussian distribution (aka Bell Curve). But in order to use that, you'd have to prove a Gaussian distribution first, and Darrell hasn't done that. In my experience, people saying what he said don't know the difference. Bit of a hot button for me, isn't it?

Not that I think that somehow having more bullets buzzing around is safer. It isn't. It sort of ties in with my take on Illithi Dragon's 'hard point' analogy. He's right militarily, but wrong diplomatically. Yeah, you make something difficult militarily by hardening it. Which may result in bad guys finding softer targets (though that's not really what we want). At least until someone reads Lind's Maneuver Warfare Handbook and manages to soften the target by bypassing and isolating it. We have to go back further, to Clausewitz ('War is an instrument of state."), to figure out what we want.

If we're going to apply a war analogy here, what we want isn't hard targets that persuade the enemy to attack elsewhere. What we want is an end to the war.

Still, it might be briefly fun to entrap someone in a discussion where you pick a date when the 2nd was used to require gun ownership and militia membership and congress (or even states) upheld various odious racist laws. Get them to say that that year would have been a good one. Then spring the trap.

Dr. Brin,

With regards to work requirements, show up where? Part of the problem here in most of the state is transportation.

Anonymous said...

I hope that in Proxima b, have a lot of sunscreen:

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-proxima-centauri-good-bad-day.html



Winter7

Robert said...

I agree with Laurence that John Gray is interesting - I was pleasantly surprised the our ent cited him. Treebeard would have been wise to provide the link and then get out of the way. David would have someone genuinely formidable to argue with. I suspect if Gray's lidless eye ever landed on the ent, he'd be a pile of ashes in seconds.

I was delighted with both articles David linked us to, Rauch's in particular. Rauch's general position, with the resulting dilemma, and the ultimate solution - I can just see the clothespin on his nose! - are much like mine (Andrew Sullivan comes closest). However, Republican-leaning intellectuals without tight institutional ties were among the first to jump. Abu Ghraib for Sullivan, the looting of the Iraqi National Museum for me, were the last straws. And then there was Sarah Palin...

If David was talking about Deuxglass' Athenian democracy capsule as the Post of the Week, I second him. I really liked the lifespan he gave. Even if we only allow for the period after Peisistratos, we still end up with a long lifespan for democracy in Athens. I agree with David about the "voting themselves goodies" bugbear - but - war fever, witch hunts, and empire are disorders that any form of government, democracy included, can fall into, and any class, high or low, can join in. My own suspicion is that turning the league against Persia into an empire doomed Athens by providing Sparta with a large number of otherwise undeserved allies. Was the Parthenon really worth that?


Bob Pfeiffer.

Darrell E said...

Hello raito,

I was using the term as a tongue-somewhat-in-cheek figure of speech not making a formal statistical claim. It does seem to be a hot button issue for you. I must say you do dick quite well.

Would you care to argue about the actual meat of my claim? That evidence strongly suggests that a gun carrying populace or armed teachers, neither of which remotely approaches the weapons training let alone situational training of professional law enforcement personnel, would result in fewer gun related casualties? Judging by some of your other points I'm guessing no. But go ahead and unload the other barrel, I can take it.

Anonymous said...

locumranch:

¿What are you trying to say is that the loyalty of the soldiers should be with the American families and not with the clown of Donald Trump?

Perhaps, the future oaths should be to American families and not to a leadership that, as we have seen, can be usurped by the enemies of the American people.

But certainly, American soldiers are smart and know that no oath can force them to betray the American people. For all American families are the basis of the nation. This is even more important, when it is increasingly evident that leaders have a very different agenda from that of all American families. However, these questions are not clear to 95% of the simple people.

Winter7

Deuxglass (Douglas Fenton) said...

locumranch,

Since you ended with a reference to a song about Vincent Van Gough let me continue with another.

All Along the Watchtower
There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth

No reason to get excited, the thief, he kindly spoke
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

By Bob Dylan 1967

Wrote during a time of great troubles.


Locumranch, are you one of those that think life is but a joke? I don’t think so but let’s stop talking falsely now. Stop speaking in riddles because the hour is late. If Babylon falls will you laugh or weep?

Twominds said...

Funny, Locumranch did me a favor tonight, I have a very pleasant earworm now. DonMcLean's Starry Starry Night is a favorite of me, bringing many good memories of singing it with a friend.

Twominds said...

@TCB

If I remember correctly, it was you that brought The Authoritarians to our attention. I found a link to a second article from Altemeyer: The Other Authoritarian Personality.

I haven't read or even stimmed the pdf yet, but I thought you might find it interesting if you didn't know about it yet.

The article itself was from Slate, about the conservative mindset and gun rights, Why Are Conservatives So Obsessed With Gun Rights Anyway?

Interesting discussions here on the gun topic, I'm not going to participate, just look at it from the sideline, as I could bring little more than my gut feelings to the table.

Anonymous said...

It seems that if human groups live in healthy areas, violence decreases:

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-crime-gun-violence-stabilize-neighborhoods.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

¿Would the members of the rifle association be willing to go through annual psychiatric exams for the sake of greater safety of the population?

Winter7

Anonymous said...

¡Hora de comer brócoli!

Winter7

Deuxglass (Douglas Fenton) said...

Robert,

I think Dr. Brin was also thinking of the role of Alcibiades in the demise of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Strangely there are very few biographies of him although in my opinion the war in many key times revolved around him. Perhaps it is because he is a very painful actor for the historian or the reader. He was of a rare brilliance with gifts both natural and developed yet he saw life as a big game and he wanted to win this game at whatever cost not because he had a vision. He wanted to win because it was fun to win. It gave him a thrill when he manipulated people to do what he wanted; Everything he did was for selfish reasons. Every student of democracy should study him because he is exactly the type of leader that destroys democracy and society not because he hates it but for the Hell of it. Unfortunately I see more and more people like him on both sides of the aisle.

Deuxglass (Douglas Fenton) said...

Dr. Brin,

I find your list very interesting.

LarryHart said...

Tim H.:

Haven't a URL, but Paul Krugman's 02/22 column "Nasty, Brutish and Trump" was an entertaining riff on Thomas Hobbes.


Happy to oblige.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/opinion/guns-nasty-brutish-trump.html

locumranch said...


Would I lie down by the waters, the waters of Babylon and weep for thee Zion?
Sure.

Would my all weeping alter a single outcome in an indifferent universe?
No.

Spilt milk, failed culture or stymied hopes:
It makes absolutely no difference to EMOTE over it.

But, we can remember thee, remember thee Zion...
And try to do better with less entitlement next time.


Best

Deuxglass (Douglas Fenton) said...

locumranch,

The reference was not about Boney M dico music but about Isaiah 21:5-9:


5: Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

6: For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
7: And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

8: And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

9: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

You locumranch would just laugh I think because deep down you don't give a shit.

Jon S. said...

Winter, US military personnel take an oath not to the President, or any other leadership, but to the Constitution of the United States. The document overrules the orders, not the other way around.

(Of course, individual soldiers can fail to understand, apparently, which is why we have a court martial process in the first place. They are the exception rather than the rule, of course.)

Tony Fisk said...

I hear the resident commented "I don't get to be here that long."

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, the Chinese Communist party has just voted to change their constitution to remove limits to the Premier's tenure.

Tim Bray's reaction sums it up: "a process-bound tyranny with an orderly succession mechanism is immensely more stable than a one-man Führer-ship. The only path to power now is by planning a coup, and so people will do that. China just became immensely less stable."

Anonymous said...

I notice in the news reports I get up here that there were armed police officers outside the building who didn't enter. There was a school resource officer on-site, and up to three others there outside waiting with guns drawn when a different police department finally entered the school.

According to a friend of mine who has (Canadian) police training, they were following their training: don't go up against someone with a longarm when you only have a revolver. Call it in, contain the situation, and wait for backup with better weapons.

I'm puzzled by a few things that don't make sense to this non-American:

1) The school clearly had the NRA's "armed officer on-site", which the ex-student presumably knew about. It clearly wasn't a deterrent, and the armed officer didn't stop the shooting. He might have even made the decision he was trained to make (no idea how his training differs from Canadian police training). Why isn't this being rubbed in the NRA's face?

2) Up here teachers make less than cops. I know teachers in the US are even worse paid. Are Americans really expecting underpaid teachers to be braver and more effective than trained police?

3) What's with the gun fetish? Why are other, less-effective weapons banned while military assault rifles are apparently sacred? (And why only rifles and not, say, the Queen of the Battlefield? If you need your gun to protect yourself from the government you'll need something more than an infantry weapon.) Given the origins of the 'right to bear arms' in slave-holders militias, I wonder if it's really just another way to keep 'those people' in their place. Remember when the NRA supported gun control? (https://www.snopes.com/nra-california-open-carry-ban/)

4) Your country has already accepted so many infringements/modifications of constitutional rights. Why are guns what brings out people's emotions? Why aren't people as upset over government (and corporate) surveillance? Homeland Security? Civil asset forfeiture (which apparently provides a nice chunk of some police budgets*)?


For some reason I'm reminded of Peter Watts' commentary on Edmund Burke's famous dictum:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Burke)

"If you do nothing, what makes you any fucking good?" (Watts)


This Jim Jeffries video might amuse:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rR9IaXH1M0

(I admit I quite like skeet shooting. Not enough to want the responsibility of owning a gun, I'll borrow or rent at the range, but it's a fun hobby.)


*http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/10/11/asset-seizures-fuel-police-spending/

Paul SB said...

Twominds,

What you said about the nature/nurture debate not being discussed where you are (does that count for Europe generally?) is pretty revealing. I don't know if you have ever read Stephen Jay Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man." It's a book that shot down the so-called scientific racism of Hernnstein and Murray twelve years before they even wrote "The Bell Curve." Gould was able to do that because, as he pointe out in the introduction to the edition that was issued after that "The Bell Curve" stared to get attention, that American scholars who have a racist agenda have been using exactly the same playbook since Binet's I.Q. test was used here in 1904. They work from the assumption that it is all nature, and misrepresent the statistics on the assumption that not a lot of people understand the statistics well enough to argue with them - a sort of mathematical "shock and awe" approach. I could be wrong, but I get the impression that Americans may be the only people simple minded enough to truly believe that IQ tests actually measure some unchanging genetic trait (that somehow correlate to completely unrelated traits like base melanin levels), and that the answer to the question "is it nature or nurture?" is always "nature." If the issue is not often discussed, does that mean that most Europeans understand that the answer to that question is "yes?"

Paul SB said...

Deuxglass (or Doug, if you prefer, though I am not referring to Doug the Dog, obviously),

Heinlein's model was most likely Sparta, where everyone who voted served, even the blind. They famously sent blind soldiers to run messages. As I remember, two were sent out from the Battle of Thermopylae. One managed to get back in time to die in battle, the other was shamed for the rest of his life because he didn't. One thing you have to think about is, did Heinlein intend the society he portrayed in "Starship Troopers" as an ideal we should reach for, or a warning of what could happen if we continue following old patterns?

David Brin said...

A confederate traitor would not know a solemn oath if it bit him on the nose. All the blather is just words.

Robert, Athenian democracy self-destructed several times but came roaring back. See Thrasabulus.


Jon S. said...

As I understand Heinlein's own commentary on the story later, Starship Troopers was intended as a sort of meditation on duty and honor, and Heinlein just used that society because it seemed like it might be fun to write about. (One of the History & Moral Philosophy instructors - I think the one at OCS, but could be mistaken - said that the reason they kept their society wasn't because it was especially good, or highly ethical, but because it was working for them.)

Robert said...

Okay, how to put it...

Yes, people will expect teachers to pick up guns and out-gun armed gunmen storming their schools while having to pay for their own guns, their own ammunition, their own insurance, and their own training. They will have to do this on top of having to buy school supplies out of pocket without being able to deduct it for tax reasons like they used to be able to do until Trump decided billionaires need money more than teachers. And if a teacher accidentally shoots the wrong child that teacher will be vilified and people will demand teacher wages be cut drastically, their unions destroyed, and schools privatized. Any who do not demand this will be called a communist traitor and reviled by the "base" American conservative.

And gun nuts have this fetish about being able to stand up to the government with their AR-15s. When I pointed out to one diehard Libertarian about how idiotic his views are, he pitied me and how "crushed" my spirit is. He insists that my view that the government would use armored vehicles and drones to kill "patriots" from outside the range of their weapons was wrong and idiotic. When I pointed out about the Trail of Tears and the internment of Japanese-Americans as proof people still get put in camps despite guns, he said they should have fought back. He then never responded to my statement that Native Americans did this, they had guns, and... they... lost.

You have to understand. As long as they have their guns these people believe they can win back their freedom should they choose to do so. They do not realize that the National Guard will crush them using military hardware even if they have AR-15s and other powerful weapons. And Republicans realize this. This is why they allow the guns. They tell their base "Democrats will take your guns and your freedom!" and let them keep their guns while they take their freedom.

In short... the gun nuts are insane. They truly believe they could prevail against the U.S. government if they actually "need" to rise up. But they won't rise up so long as they retain their guns. Because then "they're still free."

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

One thing you have to think about is, did Heinlein intend the society he portrayed in "Starship Troopers" as an ideal we should reach for, or a warning of what could happen if we continue following old patterns?


I just read that book within the year, mainly because it kept being mentioned here. I didn't find the earth society to be dystopian or horrific at all (the bugs, sure, but the existence of such aliens has nothing to do with choices we make as a society). I saw the book more as an explanation of how someone could find a home in the military.

David Brin said...

I don't go as far as RobH. The siege of Sarajevo showed that several hundred dads with bolt action rifles on rooftops could stymie an aggressor army that doesn't carpet bomb. And make it hard for one that does.

And the whole question is whether US soldiers would even obey orders to savagely repress a rising in some US city. For all these reasons, I am willing to concede that the possibility of citizens rising against an oppressive government is not impossible. Yes, it's almost absurdly unlikely. The resistance will resort to other tools, especially if all the smart techies are among the oppressed. (They sure are, now.) Still, I won't make that my bone of contention with gun nut romantics.

The crux is the slippery slope to confiscation. My Militia Rifle compromise... under which all OTHER weapons are licensed, trained insuranced, like cars,,, is a good faith effort, accompanied by A BETTER AMENDMENT than the pathetically weak 2nd. It is their refusal to recognize its weakness that betrays how stupid and loony many of them are.


Twominds said...

@ Paul SB

What you said about the nature/nurture debate not being discussed where you are (does that count for Europe generally?) is pretty revealing.

What does it reveal to you?

I think here it was never seen as a dichotomy, an either/or.
When I was looking for an existing Dutch phrase, I found little, and few recent mentionings or debates. Most people would react to the question whether it's nature, nurture or both, with a 'duh, both of course'.
Which does not mean that no-one is using the concept for racist purposes. I know at least one person who says that Africans are so poor because they're too lazy to work. Implying that's a central, unchangeable part of them.

I don't know if the debate is more alive in other parts of Europe, I just looked at the Dutch situation. And maybe I didn't search well enough, and I missed important places.

Paul SB said...

Twominds,

That is exactly what I was suggesting. It was a European - the Englishman Herbert Spencer - who made the idea of "scientific racism" popular in the 19th C., but maybe after the horrors of WW II such ludicrous notions are generally frowned upon there. But then, Holland has an exceptional reputation for tolerance and basic human decency. I have no idea what I would have grown to be if I hadn't been raised by a Dutch mother, given that my home town largely comprised the kind of right-wing fascists who think diversity is a dirty word, and that wealth is objective, empirical proof of their superior intelligence and morality. Maybe I'm autistic enough that if I had been raised by my Alabama-bred father I still might not have absorbed that mindless hate and arrogance that fills so many people here. But there are small-minded, petty shits everywhere on Earth, in any tribe you care to name. The "born lazy" line is so common here that people don't even need to say it anymore, it's just assumed. Look at recent efforts in right-wing states to force disabled people to work for their health care. The assumption they are making is that disabled people aren't really disabled, they are lazy people who have faked their disabilities so they can sit on their butts all their lives and die of boredom and social isolation.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

It has been decades since I read the book, and of course every individual will interpret things their own way. I read it as examining the social correlates of endless war. He wrote it, after all, at the height of the McCarthy Era. He had been a Navy officer in the war, so I wouldn't expect him to have a particularly pacifistic attitude toward the military, to be sure, but living in a perpetuate state of warfare isn't exactly healthy for either individuals or the societies in which they live. The words people say, the justifications they concoct, their very ambitions and desires are moulded and channeled by the paranoid state of constant fear - a state that serves the purposes of a state that wants to control its people pretty rigidly. Communists aren't bugs, but the propaganda tried to convince people that they were, making people feel revulsion and forget empathy for their fellow human beings and conflate the actions of a corrupt government for the human worth of the people under its thumb. Maybe I was in a particularly morbid phase when I read it back then.

occam's comic said...

Look at who is excited about lower launch cost and reusable rockets.
Remember that orbital superiority is global superiority.

US Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein


“[It’s] time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today,” he said.

These are some of the strongest words yet from the Air Force chief of staff to get the Pentagon thinking about space—and to recognize the U.S. Air Force as the service branch best suited for the job. “I believe we’re going to be fighting from space in a matter of years,” he said. “And we are the service that must lead joint war fighting in this new contested domain. This is what the nation demands.”
“[It’s] time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply to air superiority today,” he said.

Paul451 said...

Darrell E,
"The idea that armed private individuals would make everyone safer, and especially that arming teachers in public schools would be a good idea, is nuts. Trained law enforcement professionals that train regularly average 18% - 20% hit rates in real life scenarios and hitting bystanders is not rare."

Throw in that in most mass shootings, the shooter is known to the victims. And that in mass-shootings, there is often chaos over the identity and location of the shooter. So if you hear gun-fire from somewhere in the building, and pull out your handgun/shotgun to "run in", everyone who sees you running in is going to assume that you are the shooter (or one of them). That means that anyone else with a gun is likely to target you, and, much worse, that you are likely to push fleeing escapees back towards the actual shooter. (We know this from witness reports from actual shootings.)

Even uniformed military fall prey to "friendly fire". Why would random civilians be immune?

Oh, and when the police arrive, who are they going to target?

--

Raito,
"Your statement keeps getting repeats, and is wrong every time. The average is the sum of the data divided by the number of individual items in the data."

This was a bizarre post. Immediately after this, you demonstrated that you knew that the mean-average was not the only kind of "average", and that you knew that Darrell meant the median, not the mean, and hence you knew your "objection" was nonsensical.

So why make it?

[If you want to make a stats snipe, how about that vaguely labelled, unitless graph in the phys.org article. And speaking of...]

--

Winter7,
Re: Prox.Cent flaring.

It was known to be a variable. Many (most/all?) red dwarfs are. Prox b. is already assumed to be tidally locked.

Paul451 said...

David,
Re: Work-for-the-dole/disability.

As I've said before, the problem with such schemes is they are always adversarial systems. Always intended as a punishment for daring to be poor/disabled. And hence the recipient is constantly living with their last lifeline being held over their heads by whichever interpretation of the rules the random underresourced supervisor feels they have to apply or risk their own jobs. Paul SB has talked about what continuous threat does to people's brains.

If the point is to maximise potential participants in society, then such schemes are a terrible choice. They reduce the capacity of recipients and those scheme-supervisors. (With the follow on generational harm to their children.)

Ironically, in Heinlein's version, "only" the citizenship/vote was at stake. Not your ability to function. You had a choice not to participate. (Of course, in the real world, ST's system would not be stable. There's no way it wouldn't trend towards oligarchy/dictatorship.)

--

Jon S.
"US military personnel take an oath not to the President, or any other leadership, but to the Constitution of the United States."

"....and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States...."

--

Anon,
Re: Armed "officer" at Parkland.
"Why isn't this being rubbed in the NRA's face?"

Because he's already being set out as the villain. Almost as much as the shooter. (Leading to Trump's latest idiotic brag/fantasy.)

Paul451 said...

Occam,
Re: Space warfare
"and to recognize the U.S. Air Force as the service branch best suited for the job."

{laughs} For decades, the "fighter mafia" that runs the USAF has treated their rocket/space command personnel as second-class citizens; serving there is career death.

I've suggested for years that it should be handed over to the Army.

Jerry A. said...

Paul451: The enlisted oath includes obedience to orders of the President and officers. Neither the military officers oath nor civilian government oath require obedience to orders, but rather to uphold the laws & the Constitution of the US. There is no personal loyalty oath to the President in those oaths, and in fact _any_ personal loyalty oath would be a violation of it. Arguably, even an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) is a violation of the civilian oath.

Paul451 said...

Apparently the Chinese censors have been so overwhelmed trying to keep a lid on the online discussion over the constitutional changes, they've taken to banning random letters. Such as "N".

https://twitter.com/underbreath/status/967771313413668866

Paul451 said...

Jerry A,
However, the National Guard officers oath does include the "....and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States...." part.

Robert said...

David - you're entirely right about Athenian democracy. So far, our own is holding - just. Definitely better than implode-and-rebound. The absence of an underlying consensus and near-universal commitment to our institutions (the earlier GOP possessed both) is very troubling, though. That won't just come back if Trump disappears in a cloud of smoke.

Bob Pfeiffer

sociotard said...

20 States sue that Obamacare is no longer constitutional. It kind of makes sense, because the earlier ruling was based on Obamacare being a tax, and the constitution gives the federal government the right to tax. As the Republicans repealed the Tax part of the Affordable Care Act, they may have a point.

Add in that my own state is in flagrant defiance of Obamacare and so far has faced no legal opposition, it looks like Obamacare is done for. If you'd asked me just before Trump took office, I'd have guessed that so many people were benefiting from it that the ACA would be around for a long time, with maybe some needed tweaks. Nope!

David S said...

I hear a lot about the second amendment being used in the civil war scenario (I call it that because that is what an armed insurrection against the government would be), but I haven't heard anything about the other end of the spectrum.

Can someone point to case law where someone successfully used their 2A rights as their legal defense when they shot at tyrannical government employee?

I see a lot of people angry at the government from native Americans who don't want pipelines through their land, to anti-abortion activists who want to stop the death of millions of fertilized eggs, to libertarians angry about taxes as government theft, ranchers who want to graze on public land and not pay for it, to men who have lost child custody cases.

Where is the line where it is legally OK for any of these people (or should that be all of these people?) to shoot at the government?

raito said...

Darrell E,

There's no other barrel. The problem with making tongue-in-cheek statements is that they are not detectable in text. The problem with that particular one is that many people actually believe it.

Much better to make every part of your statements irrefutable. It make it less likely to have your entire argument refuted on the basis of a single part being incorrect.

Just as I apparently missed your intent, you also missed mine. But I took care to only attack your statement.

As for the meat, more bullets does not equal less casualties. And good guy with gun vs. bad guy with gun, in the absence of a script, won't always turn out the way you want.

Twominds,

You get Don McLean. I get Deborah Harry screaming in my ear.

Anonymous said...

Republicans refuse to believe that the shooting problem is real, simply because they are not directly affected by the shootings.
I think the only way to get some sense on the part of the Republicans, would be legally forcing the Republican leaders (and all Republicans) to go to the morgues to see the bodies of the children killed in the shootings.
At the end of the Second World War, the Germans refused to believe that the holocaust was real. They stubbornly refused to believe that their own government had caused the extermination of all those who were different. But the American army forced the German citizens to visit the extermination camps and then the Germans realized the truth.




Possible detection of traces of life on Saturn's moon:
https://phys.org/news/2018-02-alien-life-solar-hints-saturn.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

¡Hey! ¡this is new! ¡A scientist says that our planet can be the victim of extraterrestrial hackers!
For certainly, if the first to capture extraterrestrial signals follow the instructions of the aliens, then, they could be duped by the aliens, and create without being aware of it, something that would destroy us all.
This is the link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-scientists-space-aliens-hack-planet.html

Winter7

David Brin said...

Thanks Winter7. What old cliches... but fun...

onward

onward

Drew Hamblin said...

I’m taking the time to comment for the first time in ages because so many here seem to be surprised by the “gun ownership is the same as militia membership” solution that has been my favorite for years, almost since my first HS paper on the 2nd amendment. That this solution is novel to the the folks here surprises me. It was how we formed the army for the first nearly hundred years, and repeatedly dealt with conflict in the frontier areas for that whole time. The only major downside I see is the role which white militias had in perpetrating slavery and terrorizing our fellow citizens once they were emancipated, and I don’t doubt that there are those who would attempt that garbage,

Given that I want to suggest my solution to the police brutality problems we have as a nation in a requirement that officers carry private, individual malpractice insurance. Let the inevitable insurance discount for having a good record make chest cameras ubiquitous.