Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Questioning assumptions, left and right


We lead off with a pair of recent books, one striving desperately to undermine our confidence, and the other trying just as hard to snap us out of our funk.

Though as an appetizer… here’s probably the most cogent observation about our current political climate.  And this.

 == Decline of the Western Experiment ==

Much touted in conservative media is a new book by Notre Dame Professor Patrick Deneen - “Why Liberalism Failed” that starts with the cleverly implied assumption that it has failed. In supplying “why” incantations, Deneen joins a genre of gloom that includes Allan Bloom’s (1980s) “The Closing of the American Mind” and David Gelernter’s imitative article “The Closing of the Scientific Mind,” stretching all the way back to Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West” and even “Das Kapital.”  

To be clear, I’ll avow that liberalism has many flaws in its specifics and execution. Our civilization — vastly more successful than any combination of others, across all of time — suffers from mistakes, inconsistencies, contradictions and obstinacies that we’re behooved to re-examine, on a regular basis. Indeed, that ability and habit of openness to reciprocal criticism — (discussed extensively in “The Transparent Society”) — is a core hallmark of most branches of liberalism. It’s a trait that enemies pounce upon, calling it weakness.

Take the descriptive paragraph issued by Deneen’s publisher, presumably the author’s chosen pitch to all readers:

Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. Here, Deneen offers an astringent warning that the centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure.”

Sentence by sentence, alas, this diatribe is (let’s be plain) utter bullshit in every single detail. Professor Deneen deliberately excludes the fourth and by-far largest creature in our political bestiary —  the elephant in the room — feudalism. In its various forms, aristocratic hierarchism dominated almost all societies for 6000 years.

Inheritance lordship by owner-caste oligarchy is arguably the most natural form of governance, having dominated nearly all societies that had agriculture. It never went away, and indeed is roaring back. Its omission from Deneen’s list of “dominant ideologies of the twentieth century” is glaring, that is, unless he implicitly folded it into “fascism.” Either way, the first sentence of this summarizing paragraph is an outright, knowing and spectacular lie.

== Two kinds of liberalism ==

But pray continue with Prof. Deneen’s summary: “liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution.”

While some shallow people presume this, very few serious thinkers do. Most know that liberalism is an exception to historical patterns, that always had the decks stacked against it. Indeed, Liberalism has two major branches, that agree on overall policy, but not the reasons.

First is a large minority who know about liberalism’s founder - Adam Smith – who taught about both harnessing and liberating the most creative force in the universe: flat-fair-open competition.

Lords, kings and priests always crushed fair competition. Cheating by the mighty always led to feudal cancer that killed competitive vigor, far more thoroughly and often than socialism ever did. Even the doyen of conservative economics, Friedrich Hayek, proclaimed that markets, democracy and our other arenas do best when there’s maximum participation.  Smith’s teachings, to keep the playing field flat and fair, form the deep root of “liberal” politics and economics.

All liberals push for rights, tolerance, diversity, science and compassionate uplift of the poor. But the Smithian branch does so for practical reasons. Maximizing the number of empowered and knowing participants almost always maximizes competition’s pragmatic benefits.

== The touchy-feely branch of liberalism ==

A much larger population wants those same policies — rights, tolerance, diversity, compassion, science etc. — for somewhat different reasons. They view these things as absolute moral virtues needing no practical justification. Ironically, that weakens their case! Since anyone else can answer: “my absolute virtues differ! And dismissing them makes you intolerant!”

Those in this passionate second category are more numerous, as you’d expect in any movement, and sure, their simplistic dedication to generosity and individualism might be dismissed as just another religion.  Certainly forces of feudalism/fascism - like Professor Deneen - try desperately to argue this point.

Feeding them ammo are performances like the weepy “response to the State of the Union” given recently by Rep. Joe Kennedy. It perfectly played into the right-wing narrative that liberals are impractical moralists, and not creators of the most successful, pragmatic, and dynamic problem-solving civilization of all time.

But the first category of liberals cannot be so easily dismissed.  Rights and compassionate uplift and science have had pragmatic effects, profound and even spectacular, leading to a society that out-performed all others - *combined* - by every conceivable metric of success, like exponentiating knowledge and wealth and health and freedom and happiness. There are also under-appreciated outcomes. Only liberal society created a vast and unhindered literature of error-prevention and opportunity-targeting called science fiction. And only this society managed to maximize opportunity-reification to such a degree that we may soon - very plausibly - become an interstellar species.

Liberal virtues achieved this in part by opening the flow of criticism and reciprocal accountability that comes from free speech by educated and calmly competitive masses. It also reduced the waste of human talent by orders of magnitude, by eliminating so many stupidly unjustifiable prejudices.

Reiterating: Liberals such as Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek (yes “liberals” in the classic sense of opposing market cheating) emphasized that entrepreneurial competition and market wisdom cannot occur until the number of skilled, competent participants is maximized, something that feudal regimes try desperately to prevent! Maximizing the diversity and number of skilled, competent participants cannot happen without rights and compassionate uplift and science.

== The insidious message ==

Let’s get back to the Deneen book writeup:

Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. Here, Deneen offers an astringent warning that the centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure.”

Every sentence fizzes with dizzying silliness, as Deneen denounces liberalism because: “it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism…” 

Malarkey! Never before have the descendants of peasants, slaves and serfs been more participatory on civic life. Moreover, every single feudal society was more unequal than ours, in terms that matter most, the ability to raise comfortable, healthy and educated children who might plausibly compete with even the children of elites. (Witness today’s tech billionaires.) Almost never was this allowed in earlier aristocracies. And it will not be allowed again, if feudalists are allowed to control things, again.

Moreover, it was liberal policies enacted by the Greatest Generation - whose most-adored figure was FDR - that reduced inequality to its lowest levels! And it was GOP politicians - tools of resurgent feudalism - who dismantled most of those reforms, leading - directly and causally - to skyrocketing inequality.

This is very old stuff. Many of the same “contradictions of liberalism” were hollered by the Marxists for 150 years and by Oswald Spengler - then the Nazis - a century ago. And yet, this unusual experiment perseveres, dazzling future historians, who will call this an age above all others.

After all that, is the author wrong to say liberalism faces danger of failure?

His reasons and reasonings may be calamitously stupid. But, in fact, the decks have always been stacked against this bold and rare departure from the feudalist attractor state. As happened to the brief Periclean and Florentine experiments, many powerful forces are trying desperately to crush our renaissance. To stave off and prevent an onrushing Star Trek future, that could lock in liberal civilization — the way that Francis Fukayama thought it was already locked in, when he wrote about “The End Of History.”

The feudalist attractor state of brutally enforced inheritance-lordship by owner castes is very strong, deeply-embedded and driven by male reproductive urges. It overwhelmed 99+% of our ancestors, smashing all hope and any chance of advancement. It has tried to do the same to us, across the last 240 years. They are verging on success right now. And Professor Deneen is what he appears to be. Their shill and lackey propagandist.

== In contrast. We are truly a diverse species. ==

I’ve long touted the works of Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, whose book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” make clear that the modern era is one of unprecedented peace. All of Pinker’s careful statistics notwithstanding, you have only to know that a majority of our ancestors who ever lived near a city must have watched it burn, at least once in their lives. It’s no longer true for the vast majority.

Here, Bill Gates reviews Pinker’s latest tome “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress,” a vigorous defense of our stunningly successful civilization, against the gloom merchants seeking to wreck citizen confidence.

Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress (like quality of life, knowledge, and safety). The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better. It’s like Better Angels on steroids.”

Now, Pinker has drawn bilious ire not only from the mad-right, but also from a large component of today’s left. Their reasoning – a stunning example of insane illogic – is that any acknowledgement of actual progress will undermine the urgency we must feel, in order to attack all the problems before us. Of course this plays into the hands of rightists, who can then proclaim: “See? Liberalism never worked, and liberal activists are the first to admit it!”

Nonsense. Countless past “liberal” endeavors were fantastically successful, from reducing war to lowering the arms spending of most nations to unprecedented low fractions of their national income and wealth. (What? You never heard that one?) From saving the ozone layer to increasing the populations of every species of whale. From ending the pandemic of southern lynchings to supplying every ghetto youth with a cell phone camera. From black and woman presidential nominees and #MeToo exposure of sexual predators to rising IQ scores wherever children got better nutrition. And none of that led to complacency! In fact, bragging is great salesmanship! It leads to a can-do spirit.

Gates continues: “People all over the world are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, so why do so many think things are getting worse? Why do we gloss over positive news stories and fixate on the negative ones? He does a good job explaining why we’re drawn to pessimism and how that instinct influences our approach to the world, although I wish he went more in depth about the psychology (especially since he’s a psychologist by training).”

He adds: “I agree with Pinker on most areas, but I think he’s a bit too optimistic about artificial intelligence. He’s quick to dismiss the idea of robots overthrowing their human creators. While I don’t think we’re in danger of a Terminator-style scenario, the question underlying that fear—who exactly controls the robots?—is a valid one. We’re not there yet, but at some point, who has AI and who controls it will be an important issue for global institutions to address.”

(Want my own take on a possible AI Apocalypse?  I've been speaking and writing about Artificial Intelligence a lot.  Here’s video of my talk on the future of A.I. to a packed house at IBM's World of Watson Congress - offering big perspectives on both artificial and human augmentation.)          

Still, Gates adds: “ Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.”

---

Books along similar lines:

Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future,” an optimistic science fiction anthology edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer.

Try optimism and confidence on, for size. If you want to change the world, it helps to note that some of your predecessors thought they could. And they did.      

284 comments:

1 – 200 of 284   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Alfred Diefer:

Certainly, the "Robin Hood" concept is not applicable in the United States. But if we are talking about Mexico, we can see that a Mexican Robin Hood has an indisputable moral right to apply punishment to thousands of politicians who are super thieves. Not only as an act of justice, but as an urgent measure that is unlikely to be carried out.
I will never be a Robin Hood. Is not my style. But Robin Hood will always be a Hero in my memory.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Houch ... Because of the denialists we can not fix this anymore:

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-glacier-mass-loss.html


Anyway ... but it's a great opportunity to discover frozen dinosaurs and start a Jurassic park with thousands of Velociraptors and Tyrannosaurus Rex on Cocos Island. We invite the place to Donald Trump, and mysteriously, the electrical system of fences and fences fails ....

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

Winter7,

We have our super thieves too. Unfortunately. They get quite rich robbing rich people. 8/

Being 'Robin Hood' is a romantic notion in the sense of heroes, damsels in need, and clear lines separating right and wrong. The stories we fashion around the theme serve an emotional purpose, so enjoy them all you want. During the day when the sun is up and we are expected to behave like adults, though, you are probably better off with reason and working at the tasks that make for fair, flat markets. If you want to help people, help buy and sell stuff (ethically of course) and innovate around the edges if you can figure out something useful to do. Even the small innovations matter. They add up in a way few ever notice. Our children's children's children might never know why they are better off, but they will be.

matthew said...

@ Alfred -
You asked what would I have a Libertarian *DO* in the face of iron-clad evidence of oligarchs cheating to increase the power of oligarchs (my paraphrasing)?

I would expect Libertarians to be the front line of warriors eager to restore the American Experiment because this electoral cheating is tied to a breach in the Terms of Service that all users of Facebook agreed to. Isn't the power of the contract freely made the heart of Libertarian thought? Didn't Cambridge Analytical violate 50 million contracts made with Facebook? Didn't Facebook violate its contract with its users by allowing a third party to re-sell personal data?

Instead, every Libertarian I personally know is defending the right of the oligarchs to use personal data (the property of users of Facebook, given in contract with the website with a specific promise that it would not spread beyond one generation of third party users) to destroy the American Experiment. They applaud the effort.

I do not personally know anyone that self-identifies as a Libertarian that seems to give a crap about any property rights other than a) their own (gun, taxes, etc) b) oligarchs (their ancestors worked hard for that huge fortune so they have a money-given Right to squash all future competition).

If oligarchs are given a free pass to break contracts simply because they are oligarchs, then Libertarianism is simply Feudalism.

None of the thought leaders of the Libertarian movement are speaking up in defense of the injured party in this kerfuffle. Instead, they are defending the rights of those that broke the Terms of Service. Name an exception with a national audience.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

Innovation in Mexico is a bit difficult; not because ideas are missing, but because the costs of patents are enormous. But I guess the option of trading any item is an option. (But no doubt that those on the extreme right will not make the matter easy for me, just as they interfered in the past).
But moving on to the issue of achieving revenue on the edge of legality. I've heard of some German U2 submarines, which could be bought by collectors at a high price. Of course, the German government considers these submarines "sacred tombs." But if we take into account how the Nazis treated the corpses of the Jews, I would not worry at all about the bones of a dozen Nazis. The real problem is that the torpedoes on those submarines are very unstable and could explode if hit during the submarine's lift. I think there's a good business option there.

Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

Winter7.I'm on the side of the German government where shipwrecks from wars are concerned. I'm also on the side of other governments such as the British.
Also what sort of person would want to collect such submarines? I think it is far too likely to be someone fascinated with the Nazis who will then use it as a prop or token.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | Okay. For the record, you know at least one libertarian who gives a damn about the property of other people. Me. [It's a start.]

Now lets look a bit at the legal bits. To my knowledge, my EULA with FB makes it clear that 'my' data isn't my data once I register with them. My posts and friends and group memberships belong to them. Last time I read it, that seemed pretty clear, but I'll listen to arguments saying otherwise. If I'm right, Cambridge Analytical didn't violate any written contract with me. They probably did violate a contract with FB who is the actual owner. If anyone has violated a contract with me, it would be FB if and only if the conditions are spelled out in the EULA.

There is no doubt, however, that a violation of the 'social contract' has occurred and I'm tempted to legally torch Cambridge Analytical. Using the data as they did, no matter how they acquired it, smacks of treason to the social order. I don't know what laws might apply here, but I don't give a damn. Give me a pitchfork or a torch and I'll help storm the castle. Wait. I've got my own axe for these things. [This wouldn't be my first storming.]

Sounds like the libertarians you know are closet authoritarian followers. I'm sorry to hear that, but many who claim to be libertarians really aren't. We like to start purity pogroms now and then over this issue. Maybe you've heard of that. 8)

When you refer to our thought leaders, to whom are you pointing? Please don't tell me your list includes Glen Beck. 8)

I'm mad as hell at what Cambridge Analytical did. Someone needs an ethics infusion, preferable intravenous with a damn big needle.

Alfred Differ said...

Nazi paraphernalia can be worth quite a bit to the right collector. I don't have an issue with people going after it. I don't have an issue with people going after those people either. Collectors often skirt the limits of what is socially allowable. My suggestion to them is to come up with a decent 'burial ritual' they can do on-site. That might appease just enough people to avoid facing an action that is strong enough to require an expensive legal defense.

Collectors can be seen as rather ghoulish. Think of the folks who collect for resale items from the US Civil War. Sale price often depends heavily on the completeness of the documentation which in the case of battles can be quite graphic.

Personally, I think this is all kind of icky. It doesn't do any harm, though.

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding Deneen's book, I did pick it up the other day and thumb through it. That introductory piece is rather inflammatory. The rest of the book isn't as bad. I WAS left with the impression tat the author focused on the modern 'touchy-feely' liberals (US Progressives) when he was thinking about ideologies. I was looking for material and arguments regarding classical liberalism and didn't see much within the interior chapters.

As a shot at US Progressives, I don't know if he is on target. I rather doubt it since we all live with mental dissonance. Accusing an American of holding two opposing views and using that to try to invalidate their credibility would take us ALL down. Pretty silly I think since we can have one view as a vision/guide and another as what is practical at the moment. Reconciling them is a big part of what the American Experiment is all about.

I didn't buy the book. It went back on the shelf with the others that have titles that tempt me, but fail to move my wallet.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | (previous thread)

And most of that basic total knowledge is "common property" - any patents having long since expired

That was a good description of how innovators actually fail to capture most of the value of an innovation. The really big contribution shows up during Act III like this when the knowledge is 'common property' that we all use.

It also help me point out why I never intend to pay rent on common property. I already own usage rights. As long as I don't deprive you of your rights to 'innovate with respect to shovel design' you shouldn't charge me for using my rights. Payment is due only when rights are transferred or borrowed. [This isn't an academic issue to me. One of my former business partners felt he could deny me usage rights on something we owned in common. He was upset when I made money using 'it.']

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Flack:
I guess it's a matter of opinions. I think that the Nazis have caused enormous damage to humanity up to the present time. Taking a submarine that was used by the Nazis is not a robbery. It is a civil seizure to a group that has never paid adequate compensation for damages to humanity. Of course, the German government may think otherwise, but morally speaking, there is no moral harm in seizing a vehicle that was used by Nazi terrorists.
As for your concern that he might become a symbol for some Nazi club, I suppose we should simply be careful to sell the ship to the right person. Anyway, a Nazi flag or helmet is not the same as a submarine. Those submarines already existed before the Nazis existed. Quite simply, a collector can have a U2 submarine because it is an impressive ship of a technology that even today is very efficient. And if possible get a submarine; it is necessary to sell it without weapons, which must be abandoned in the deepest abyssal pit.
Anyway, I remember that Jacques-Yves Cousteau preferred to blow up a ship loaded with ammunition and bombs to prevent some unsuspecting divers from entering the ship. It's the same case, rescuing a submarine is almost a suicide mission. But it is the kind of risks that a man must run. (And, without a doubt, that adventure is something fun)

Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

Ships sunk in war are war graves and remain the property of the government concerned. In upholding the German governments claims we uphold our claims over the wrecks of ships of our navies lost in war.

Anonymous said...


Alfred Differ:
¿To make a funeral for the submarine sailors? I think there is another option: Send the bones of the sailors to Germany, along with the submarine data. Let the Germans bury their own dead. That would be more considerate. The other option is to give the bones to the Spanish government. After all, they were allies of the Nazis. I do not care much about the matter, anyway, it is unlikely that I could organize an expedition to refloat the submarine. But, in fact, I would be more interested to find the Japanese submarine I-52, which sank near certain islands in the Atlantic.

Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

They also should in general be left as objects of marine archeological interest. I recently read Jutland 1916: The Archeology of a Naval Battlefield, a book on the wrecks of ships sunk in the Battle of Jutland in the First World War. A lot of insight into what happened was gained from the expeditions which formed the basis of the book.

Anonymous said...


Lloyd Flack:
Fortunately, I do not represent any government. In addition, the US government should recover the bones of all American sailors and pilots who died in the two wars. Why leave the dead at the bottom of the sea? It would not make sense.
I wonder what is the degree of corrosion of the helmet .. If the hull of the ship is badly damaged, it will split when trying to raise it, which would be a disaster. I suppose the hull of the ship is light, for reasons of speed. Actually, it would be an archaeological work, because we would save the submarine, which, if continued in the salt water, would end up disintegrating.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

¡Haaaaaaaaaaaaa! ¡For GAIA! ¡The Borg exist!

Link:
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-wearable-brain-scanner-patients-freely.html


Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

There is a tradition in Commonwealth countries that you are buried where you fall. The US also has this tradition as does Germany. The ships are war graves. And whether the German Armed Forces served the ends of the Nazis is an irrelevance here. It is a matter of respect for the dead.

Anonymous said...


Lloyd Flack:
In that case, if by some incredible chance I reach the submarine, I assure you that I will treat the bones with great respect and dignity. And, now that I think about it, a kind of religious rite to achieve the eternal rest of the souls of the sailors must be realized. I do not want to spend the rest of my life being chased by ghosts every time the fog appears in the streets.

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Lloyd

I agree with you - with the further provision that submarine wrecks are actually quite temporary

Even the really deep ones are disappearing - and any that are shallow enough to dive on are disappearing fast

Corrosion and sealife will make them more like a debris field than a vessel in a short time

The idea of lifting such a crumbly delicate object from the seabed....

Anonymous said...

David Brin:
Gates continues: “People all over the world are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, so why do so many think things are getting worse? ¿Why do we gloss over positive news stories and fixate on the negative ones?”

I think Gates is talking about Americans, because those words do not apply much to Latin America and less to Mexico. I could explain the innumerable circumstances that make mexico hell, but it is more practical, if you trust my word. I do not lie. Of course, tourists and people who come with enough money have a different perspective. But those people do not know what happens to 95% of Mexicans.
And if Mexicans do not usually complain about all the bad things that happen, that does not mean they are satisfied with what Mexico is. Simply; Mexicans are not in the habit of saying: Wubba Lubba Dub Dub! Instead, they laugh.
I do not say this because it is negative. I just want us to be precise on issues that are of vital importance. Well, ¿how could I suppose that you made correct decisions if you do not have the facts of Mexico clearly exposed?
What if. There is a lot to celebrate. Science is making amazing discoveries every day (sometimes I think that all this new technology that they release little by little, comes from aliens) (seriously.) Have you seen the degree of perfection of welding in computer motherboards? Those who have soldier by hand know what I mean.
Soon, humanity will have hotels and golf courses on the moon. ¡Yupyyy!
The flat screen televisions became cheaper, and they are great; ¡Yupyy! (Yes, seriously, I like flat TVs).
Cell phones allow us to read books and maintain more continuous contact with family members. Bravo for that! That did not exist when I was a child. When I was a child, we used "spring" phones and my ancestors from the coast, used macaw messengers. (It was completely a coincidence if the macaw managed to deliver the message).
Long live science! And as Rick said: Forget about sex. That's just a tricky trick of nature to get the species to reproduce. ¡Focus on science!
(The latter is a joke, actually women are beautiful and are the foundation of our civilization) (and some women are beautiful and diabolical) (which sometimes makes some women more interesting) (Hoo, ¡how beautiful is Gal Gadot !)

Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

Duncan, I know that, especially in shallow water. Deeper ones will last longer. The process should not be accelerated.

Anonymous said...

Duncan Cairncross:
Nice try; Duncan. You used the old trick of trying to discourage us; so that we do not touch the submarine. But we do not really know if the ship can be structurally resistant or not (it depends on where the hull broke). But I think that, despite everything, the prize is worth the risk. It's like a big bet.
¡Let's go guys! ¡The submarine was of the Nazis! ¡There is no ethical problem! That submarine spent years bringing death and misfortune to many. Now; We'll use that scrap as a paperweight or whatever the collectors want to do with the ship. (The savage Saudis would buy the Eiffel Tower if it were for sale)

Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

The submarine was the property of the German government. The Nazis merely ran the government. Members of the regular armed forces of Germany are entitled to the same respect in death as those of our side.
And I know you are just stirring. Either that or whatever translation program you are using for your first draft is coming up with a strange translation.

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Flack:
Lo sé. La AI del traductor de Google saboteó la conversacion. No importa. ¡Larga vida a las inteligencias artificiales¡
Buenas noches a todos.

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Winter

Have you ever dived a wreck?
Steel that was 20 mm thick is thin enough that air bubbles go through it!

Just the weight of the vessel will have crushed it out of shape - it really does not matter about the damage it took on sinking 73 years at the bottom of the sea will have turned it into an eggshell

The normal way to salvage anything from something like that is not to try and lift it but to blow it open and hope that you can find something worth saving

Nobody is going to lift it to the surface as a single unit

Anonymous said...

Duncan Cairncross:
Entonces, yo seré el primero en lograr reflotar un submarino. (Si los huesos se salen por el hueco causado por las cargas de profundidad; habrá sido únicamente por accidente).
Buenas noches a todos.
Winter7

Tony Fisk said...

Issues of respect aside, and at the risk of stepping out of my depth(;-), I will point out a technique proposed by Arthur C Clarke to raise part of the Titanic in his BC* homage "Ghost of the Grand Banks". That was: set up a refrigeration unit to freeze the water around the structure. Being less dense, the artificial iceberg provides buoyancy, as well as adding support to the corroded structure. (one of the little ironies that Clarke delighted in).

Probably way too expensive for some old U boat, though.

* Before Cameron

Paul SB said...

The fate of a U-boat seems like a funny subject of debate for this forum, but at least it's a change. As a former archaeologist I imagine you can guess where my thinking will go. In the US we have a federal law called the Native American Graves Protection Act, which allows archaeological sites to be excavated, but monitored by people who are most likely to be descendants of whoever created the site. The last time I worked at a site that had human remains, we had a contingent of the local Tonga people there at all times. When the osteologists were through digging out the bones, they were given to the Native Monitors, who performed a religious ritual at the site, then transported the remains (I would hesitate to same "bones" as they were reduced to a gravelly powder after 4000 years) to their reservation for reburial. It seems like a similar arrangement should be satisfactory for the families of the dead. And I do agree with Lloyd that the ordinary soldiers and sailors of any war are mostly ordinary people caught in the war machine who were mostly just following orders as they were trained. Nor all of them really believed the kind of Nazi rhetoric in their time or so popular among our right-wing leaders today. Probably some were despicable Nazis, and those who weren't had to keep their mouths shut or end up in front of a firing squad. That's how civilizations work, and how they go astray.

As to the submarine itself, naturally an archaeologist sees it as data. Examining the ship, its contents, and its context can often reveal things that the history books don't. If the boat becomes the property of some rich collector, that sets a bad precedent, as every byte of data that could be recovered from the wreck will be destroyed in the salvage operation. I'm also pretty unhappy with the idea of this being yet another arena for the rich to lord their wealth and power over the rest of humanity. WW II was a leviathan event in world history that had huge ramifications virtually everywhere. These monuments really belong to all the human race. If they are going to be lifted from the ocean floor, they should be made available to the public in some fashion, rather than becoming the exclusive wealth-display of some oligarch playing his conspicuous consumption game. If it is possible to raise one of these, it belongs on public display where it can stand as a reminder of the horrors of war and stakes of supporting right-wing fascists.

Lloyd Flack said...

In Australia as in America I don't like doing anything that looks like automatically accepting indigenous clams about how closely they are linked to ancient remains. In America the cultures from more than several centuries ago were very different from those currently inhabiting the land where the remains. They cannot meaningfully considered to be the same people. And especially not the same tribe. The same applies in Australia but on a larger timescale.

Paul SB said...

Lloyd,

Archaeologists are well aware of this, and have been for some time. Even in historic times natives tribes have migrated, or been forced to move, like the Cherokee being moved to reservations in Oklahoma. There is a PBS show called "First Peoples" which goes into that a little in their episode on North America. It's a good series as popular science goes, well worth your time if you don't have time to keep up with all the paleo-anthro journals.

matthew said...

Thanks for the reply Alfred. My shot at Libertarians isn't aimed directly at you - You've made the "Smithian Liberal" comment enough times that I don't see you as strictly Libertarian. Plus, my qualifier of "that I personally know" was intended to carve out a space for you as an exception.

As for Libertarian thought leaders - I would consider Reason magazine, New Republic (to a point), The Pauls (both Rand and Ron), Gary Johnson, even celebrities like Penn of Penn&Teller. These are the voices that are notably silent, not just about the CA/FB data scrape, but also the larger question of the legitimacy of the the current POTUS.

Finally, the user agreement that FB has with App Developers states that the data cannot be re-sold by the App Developer. This was clearly violated in the CA case, and FB whistleblowers have stated that it is routinely violated in many cases, with FBs knowledge. When I made my decision to use FB, I researched the App Developer agreement to see how far my data would be legally allowed to propagate. FB said that it would not go beyond the first generation, and then were negligent in enforcing that claim. I suspect that FB will be found to legally negligent in their behavior and will suffer some extremely large settlements. The stock market seems to agree with my evaluation. But the political party that puts the most lip-service into the idea of enforceable contracts being the root basis of all moral decisions seems to be entirely absent from the conversation.

David Smelser said...

I'd like to the group's thought on the following article:
https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january-february-march-2018/how-to-fix-facebook-before-it-fixes-us/

My summary:
The article makes two recommendations about what happened in 2016:
1. I recommend that Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others be required to contact each person touched by Russian content with a personal message that says, “You, and we, were manipulated by the Russians. This really happened, and here is the evidence.” The message would include every Russian message the user received.
2. Second, the chief executive officers of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others—not just their lawyers—must testify before congressional committees in open session.

And then eight fixes for going forward:
First, it’s essential to ban digital bots that impersonate humans

Second, the platforms should not be allowed to make any acquisitions until they have addressed the damage caused to date, taken steps to prevent harm in the future, and demonstrated that such acquisitions will not result in diminished competition.

Third, the platforms must be transparent about who is behind political and issues-based communication.

Fourth, the platforms must be more transparent about their algorithms.

Fifth, the platforms should be required to have a more equitable contractual relationship with users.

Sixth, we need a limit on the commercial exploitation of consumer data by internet platforms.

Seventh, consumers, not the platforms, should own their own data.

Eighth, and finally, we should consider that the time has come to revive the country’s traditional approach to monopoly.

Anonymous said...

Tony Fisk:
Excellent idea, Tony! Even, I came up with a variation of the method you propose. I guess that method is more expensive than the use of cargo airbags. So first it is necessary to try with the airbag method. The submarine of which I speak, seems to be a Type IX submarine, long range.
Weight: 1202 tons
Length: 76.76 m
Sleeve: 6.84 m
Crew: 48 to 56
16 Torpedoes.
I wonder how many Lifting bags full of air, are required to raise the submarine. If each liter of air inside the bag will lift a weight of 1 kilogram, or each cubic foot will lift about 62 pounds. For example, a 100-liter (3.5 cubic feet) bag can lift a 100-kilogram (220-lb) underwater object.
Of course, it would be possible to create larger bags than those available, but it is safer to use many bags so that the lift pull is distributed evenly throughout the hull.

Paul SB.
Good try Paul. You used the old trick of making us feel guilty for not giving museums an archeological piece. But it happens that there is already a large surplus of U2 submarines around the world. If a museum wants a submarine, all they have to do is take it.
Are you an archaeologist? Waw. If you ever want to organize an expedition to find the tomb of Akhenaten, and get the funds, let me know. I think I know the possible location of that tomb of Egypt's most hated pharaoh. But even though the Egyptian priests murdered him and the children and grandchildren. Undoubtedly, the pharaoh was buried as is due to attenuate the wrath of the gods. Proof of this, is that Tutankhamun, after being killed by a blow to the head (an accident ?, Ha ha) anyway buried him with a formidable treasure. And since the murder of Akhenaten was committed by the priests themselves, I must assume that they acted with the same respect in the secret burial of the pharaoh who was cursed. (Hey, Akhenaten's grave probably has a curse like Tutankhamun's!
What did the tomb of Tutankhamun say ?: "Death will touch with its wings those who dare to disturb Pharaoh's dream". And as I remember, all except the main archaeologist died under suspicious circumstances. Wooooooww. We must go someday !.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Paul SB:
Hugg. The final sentence was translated in a suspicious way ... I wanted to say: It would be fun to go find the tomb of Akhenaten someday. And everything we find will be for museums. All. And fame will be ours. (And the curse of the mummy) (but, I do not believe in curses) 8)
Winter7

Anonymous said...

Good. We have more fresh scientific research information that proves that electoral fraud did exist:
Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-mathematicians-tool-voting-unfairly-drawn.html#ms

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Winter
I repeat have you ever dived on a wreck? - especially a 65 year old wreck?

You submarine started off with 1200 tons - mostly steel

It will now consist of about 100 tons of steel 2000 tons of rust and 3000 tons of sediment
I should expand on that last one
Every wreck fills up with sediment - water with sediment in it flows into the wreck and is slowed down
When the water slows down it drops the sediment into the wreck - this is good in that it will help preserve stuff - but bad if you want to lift parts as they will be full of silt

Freezing it in an iceberg would work

Lift bags would need to be lifting a substantial rigid frame which would have to cradle the rusty remains with something like a bag underneath it - even then the hull will break into pieces

You could use lifting bags to lift specific parts - the engines for example - but the hull will be like trying to lift wet cardboard

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | Both of the Pauls are seen as libertarians-when-it-is-convenient by some of my friends. They advocate for smaller government which is generally good by us, but turn around and advocate for an intrusion on certain social issues which isn’t so good. Rand Paul is sort of in and sort of out of the ideology depending on what is going on, but we ourselves cover quite a range from propertarians to utopians to anarchists, so it is no shock no one passes a litmus test. Penn is… well… Penn. I think he passes, but he certainly has a way of pissing off the women. Gov Johnson would be equally at home in the GOP or our less rabid side of the LP. His leaving the GOP was mostly about enforcing social conservatism. He’s a mostly-let-people-be kind of guy. Loves to veto stuff people think the government should do. [I got to meet him up close a while back. He has a neat trick for dealing with our zealots.]

One thing to watch out for that might give the wrong impression when we are silent about CA and FB, is that we might agree that a wrong was done, but we might not like where you would go with it next. Suppose you can make a provable case that FB violated its terms with you. What remedy would you seek? If we think you want to turn to government and do something we won’t like, we might hold back even though we would agree you had been wronged.

It certainly DOES sound like FB was negligent. If so, I’m willing to support punishing them to a point. I suspect, however, any civil fines levied against them would pale into insignificance compared to the damage that will be done to their market cap. So… something you might want to put on the table when talking to other libertarians is what harm you think was done AND the remedy you would seek. I have little doubt they will quibble about the first if you don’t talk about the second. This way they will be able to look at the remedy you seek and compare it to the options you signed onto when you signed the EULA. FB has already run into trouble and signed consent decrees to end cases. Those count too. What my peers will be looking for (if you can get them to think calmly about this) is the unintended consequences of your remedy. Where do fines go? What new regulations might favor one market participant over another? Who is lobbying for what? IF your remedy involves legislation, that’s where they should push back if they are real libertarians. If it is just a court battle over broken contracts, they should look at you and ask why you are bothering them then. Go hire a lawyer and go after them.

Yah. I know how that sounds against a rich opponent. There are lawyers who will do it, though, if you are upset enough. It has to be personalized, though. How much do YOU care and how far will YOU go? Anyone who won’t listen to that isn’t valuable to you as an ally.

Alfred Differ said...

razor sharp steel (of what still remains)
rusty as all get out
could fall on you if you mess with it
munitions

There are reasons divers don't mess with old naval wrecks much if they still plan to have children. Old wrecks aren't done killing people until they are very flat and/or buried.

[One of my recent bosses was one of the US Navy's guys who worked on underwater explosives. The Seals set them. His team dismantled them. He had a picture in his office of a guy wearing a t-shirt that said 'If you see me running, you should run too.' It was printed on the back of the shirt of course.]

locumranch said...


"Maximizing the number of empowered and knowing participants" requires the imposition of Equality of Outcome by external force, a task that both Smith & Hayek delegate to government, so much so that even Pinker admits (link below) that the progressive assumption of Blank Slate Equalism & Human Perfectibility tend toward to Totalitarianism as the maintenance of the 'fair-level-open-equal' playing field between unequal participants requires the continuous application of more & more external governance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2sUW8q7uWI

Externally-imposed Equalism tends to end tragically (death camps & killing fields) for those who belong to the historical over-achiever category, Pinker admits, yet this is this is the very course of action that modern progressives support in order to neutralise those who appear to possess unequal privilege, wealth or merit because Equality.

'Equality of Opportunity' presupposes Blank Slate Equalism, the assumption that every human fetus becomes 'endowed' with identical intra-uterine potential, elsewise 'Equality of Opportunity' becomes synonymous with 'Equality of Outcome' once we accept the diversity & INEQUALITY inherent in the human condition.

To accept Diversity is to accept Inequality; to accept Inequality is to reject Blank Slate Equalism; and, to reject Blank Slate Equalism is to reject the Progressive Agenda.

The world needs ditch-diggers, too, until we replace them with machines.


Best

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:
If you think it's wrong to make the distribution of a nation's profits a little more equitable; Does that mean you want all power to be for the false feudal gods? But, if the feudal lords devour everything; they should remember that he who demands mercy and shows none burns the bridges over which he himself must later pass.
With respect to the political leaders of " the sides in conflict" in Mexico; I think the following applies to them:
“Extremism is so easy. You've got your position, and that's it. It doesn't take much thought. And when you go far enough to the right you meet the same idiots coming around from the left”
Clint Eastwood

But; for the moment; no matter what you or I think, because the oligarchs control everything, the oligarchs destroy everything and even then they are venerated and celebrated. So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.

And that situation, is caused by the indifference of all, And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never its victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

Yes. Certainly, if the ship crumbles like wet cardboard when it is raised, the torpedoes are likely to explode just below the rescue boat. A matter of using a bit of cunning. It is necessary to imagine a good trick to catch that ship.
I really want to put my hands on that submarine. It will be like stealing from Hitler something that belonged to him. It will be like stealing something from neo-Nazis around the world. It will be fun. 8)

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Winter
Have you dived on this wreck? - you need to do that first!
Have a look at what you are getting into

If you could magic it up to the surface and onto a nice piece of dry land then you would have something that people would simply walk away from - it won't look like a submarine it will just be a pile of rusty metal and silt

Any copper or brass bits will be worth salvaging but the rest will just be like sharp rusty cardboard

Dive on it - bring something small up to the surface and see what you actually get

Lloyd Flack said...

What the hell do you and Treebeard want Locum? You are coming across as nihilists who just want everyone else to be miserable and hopeless because you are. Your arguments are not what a sensible oligarchy advocate would use. Your depiction of adversaries is almost nothing but strawmen.

Lloyd Flack said...

And with Bolton as Secretary of State I think the chance of war somewhere just jumped.

David Brin said...

Bolton. OMG. I see no avoidance of war, now. Spread the word to every single Republican you know... that we can see this. We see the demons they handed the keys to our Republic and world and posterity. And no Reichstag Fire, no Gleiwitz "Incident," No Tonkin Gulf or "WMD" trick will will be credited. They - your science and fact-allergic, raving uncles and neighbors - will not be given easy pass for even their active or passive acquiescence to Fox incantations or empowering these monsters, or for the consequences that follow.

Anonymous said...

Lloyd Flack:
¿Te refieres a mi? No. No soy aliado de locumranch. No soy aliado de Barbol. Dudo que exista alguien con ideas políticas como las ideas que yo tengo. He analizado todos los datos. Ahora se lo que ocurre.
Bandos; traiciones; engaño; perversidad. La humanidad entera oculta intenciones y la realidad misma. Hemingway lo sabía.
¿Que soy? Yo soy winter7. Y no debes preocuparte por mis motivos. Yo no miento. Decir la verdad es uno de mis peores vicios.
Winter7

David Brin said...

Alfred, a libertarian who concentrates only on the anti-competitive effects of bureaucrats, ignoring 6000 years of feudalism, is no libertarian, but a shill for oligarchy. You are the open-eyed type who know liberty has enemies in every direction. The Pauls are pure and absolute lickspittle shills.

Locum conveniently ignores the word "flat-for competition" which means something to compete over, which means incentive and winners... and yes, positive sum losers. But these are concepts he will never grasp.

Bolton. OMG.

Lloyd Flack said...

To avoid war the only hope is the influence of America's allies. But this administration is far too likely to ignore them. One can only hope that they isolate you quickly enough to contain the damage. Not something that I ever thought I would say.
Trump's similarity to Kaiser Wilhelm II grows. Let us hope allied nations resist getting dragged down this time.

Lloyd Flack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lloyd Flack said...

Winter7, Alas, Spanish is not a language that I can do more than guess a few words in. And that very limited ability come from knowing some, but not much, French and Italian.
I put your comment through Google translate and most of it became clear. But a few sentences looked strange probably because it tried to translate some idioms literally.

Paul SB said...

Luis,

I was an archaeologist before 9/11 and the over-reactions of our business oligarchs took all the jobs away, and I did spend some time learning about archaeology under water. In this matter I do know what I am talking about, and I have to agree with Duncan on this one. Attempting to raise this thing is just not a realistic goal, whatever the symbolism. It would be nice to put it on display in some place like in the Deep South with a big placard saying "This is what we did to the Nazis." But if that is what we want, a life-sized replica would serve the purpose. And archaeology is not a treasure hunt, it's a data hunt. Every site that is excavated destroys the contextual data that tells its story. That is why archaeologists (and paleontologists, too) spend vast amounts of time painstakingly recording every tiny bit of information they can about a site as it is being dug. Modern archaeologists, in fact, prefer not to dig sites in their entirety, because we know that clever people in the future will invent new techniques that will be able to provide more information, but those techniques won't be usable once a site has been excavated.

And forget fame. Who needs to be chased around by Paparazzi and screaming fans so much you can't go out in public without a big rubber nose and fake glasses? I don't want to go the way of Princess Diana. I would be happy to be famous within my field for my work and contributions to theory (I don't have the chemistry skills to be one of the people inventing those future techniques). The most famous archaeologists can go anywhere except an archaeology conference and be certain that absolutely no one will know who they are. But thanks for the sentiments.

Paul SB said...

Secretary of State Ramsey Bolton? Where have we seen this before? The Grope started with people who were (mostly) acceptable to the Republican establishment - meaning somewhat competent thieves, but has been quickly replacing them with incompetent sycophants (the Secretary of Education is a counter example, being a rich sycophant who bought her job from the very beginning). Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, every tin-pot dictator in history. It won't be long before every member of his staff can be fairly called the Mouth of Sauron.

Naturally, all the Trumpentrollen will say he's draining the swamp, completely ignoring the fact that a) he is still mostly doing what the Republican leadership wants, and 2) he is simply replacing one set of dangerous, cold-blooded reptiles with his own dangerous, cold-blooded reptiles. (I know, I shouldn't say things like that. Most cold-blooded reptiles are actually good, helping to keep the insect population from overrunning us.)

Paul SB said...

Lloyd and Luis,

Our fake rancher is simply pathological. If he had any sense he would see the contradictions in his statements and stop making them, even stop thinking them, but his "sense" clearly comes from growing up surrounded by fanatics who will say absolutely anything to "win" their arguments. You see exactly this behavior with the Bible-thumpers (and their more sinister missionary counterparts) in the Plains States (at least - I can't speak to other parts of the country from personal experience). They are so certain that they are absolutely right about absolutely everything, and that they are on the side of holiness and light, that they can break any moral law with impunity in the name of leading their army to glorious victory. It's pointless arguing with creatures like that. It is only their chromosome number that qualifies them as human beings. Nothing you say will every break through their megalomania.

And no, this is not a criticism of all conservatives, or all people who have religious convictions, it's a criticism of extremists who lose the ability to put anything in perspective and lose whatever human empathy they may have had when they were little, before the more vile elements of our culture beat the humanity out of them. There are loony ideologues on all sides, but the swamp is extra thick on their side. People who might have the intelligence to see the complexities of what is going on around them sew their eyes shut so they cannot see that reality, only the straw men they would prefer to see, where every Us is saintly and every Them is satanic. Both portrayals are the thinnest of cardboard.

There's little doubt after this post that he will whip out his favorite "f" word again. Why make sense when you can ridicule and label, after all? He clearly isn't very good at the former, but the latter is easy enough for any ideologue to do.

Tony Fisk said...

Has Bolton's appointment been confirmed by Congress? I gather someone (Rand Paul?) threatened a filibuster to prevent it, not that I have any expectations of this amounting to anything.

Otherwise... well, *if* Bolton's as terrible a pick as folk say he is, I'm afraid there's some hard decisions coming.

LarryHart said...

@Tony Fisk,

My understanding is that the role of National Security Advisor does not require congressional approval, and that was probably one of the reasons Cheetolini picked that particular role for him.

LarryHart said...

Lloyd Flack:

And with Bolton as Secretary of State I think the chance of war somewhere just jumped.


While I can't argue with your conclusion, the premise is off. Bolton is National Security Advisor, not Secretary of State. He's the new Michael Flynn. Actually, the new NEW Michael Flynn.

The benefit of that move (from Cheetolini's perspective, I mean) is that he doesn't require congressional approval for that post.

LarryHart said...

A time machine might save the republic.

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Mar23.html#item-6

On Thursday, Donald Trump sat for an interview with CNN, and was asked what advice he would give his 25-year-old self. He said, "Don't run for president." Given his tone, and his wry laugh, the line was supposed to be a joke. But, as they say, there's a grain of truth in every joke. In this case, perhaps more than a grain.
...

locumranch said...


David's obsession with rule obedience is an anachronism, based on a belief in a divine enforcer, wherein 'cheating' is an offence against god. What he forgets is that the Enlightenment is all about the judicious application of cheating.

Humans study the 'Rules of Nature' so we may bend & break them: We study medicine in an attempt to cheat death; we study law in an attempt to pervert justice; we study agriculture in an attempt to cheat hunger; we study space so we may cheat gravity; and we study animal, fish & fowl out of our desire to betray and consume them.

Likewise, the term FAIR is without meaning, signifying subjectivity (Of pleasing appearance), racial bias (Of light or pale complexion), psychosexual purity (Free of blemishes or stains), personal advantage (Promising; likely; beneficial; satisfactory) or rule obedience (Consistency with rules, logic, or ethics), the problem being that there are NO RULES except those which we create for our own personal advantage.

As evidenced by his talk of the 'positive sum loser', David's understanding of the term 'fair' is that of the greedy child who whinges when he fails to receive the greatest share of cake. He gives lip-service to Democracy (majority rule; populism), yet lends his support to Minority Rule in pursuit of personal intellectual caste advantage; he encourages active sedition against the current US federal administration while professing great respect for US federalism; and he demands that everyone else obeys 'The Rules' while he attempts to break those rules that are beneficial to all those conservatives, constitutionalists, populists & oligarchs he dislikes.

It's quite ironic, actually, how quickly David dispenses with his 'Positive Sum Mentality' when he & his become disadvantaged sociopolitical LOSERS. Where is his happy non-partisan 'positive sum' acceptance of being a loser now?? And, look how quickly he & his fellow Cheating Californians have dispensed with rule obedience when they believe the rules to be UNFAIR!!

Losing, it appears, can only be considered 'Positive Sum' when it happens to the deplorable non-progressive.


Best

Anonymous said...

Si la guerra es inevitable, sería más conveniente que las protestas contra la guerra iniciaran lo más pronto posible, incluyendo a todos los grupos posibles: Grupos feministas; grupos demócratas, grupos gay; grupos de lesbianas, grupos de derechos civiles, grupos religiosos de todos los sabores; etc.
Si esperamos hasta que los adolescentes comiencen a ser reclutados, entonces será muy tarde.
¿por qué pienso que será una larga guerra como la de Vietnam? Porque si Donald Trump es un agente ruso, lo más probable es que Donald y los rusos tienen un plan para desgastar a los estados unidos en guerras sin salida. Además, los líderes militares iraníes son distintos a los iraquíes. Durante la guerra contra Irak, los iraníes usaban oleadas de niños vestidos de soldado para distraer a los francotiradores iraquíes mientras que los verdaderos soldados avanzaban para tomar las trincheras. A los Iraníes no les importa que mueran miles de soldados propios con tal de alcanzar una ventaja. Esa era la misma actitud de los vietcongs. Y al igual que los vietcongs, los iraníes contaran con un flujo permanente de armas rusas.
Pero quizás me equivoco. Solo expongo una posibilidad como analista ocasional de la situación. Espero que logren ponerle la camisa de fuerza a Donald Trump antes de que ese payaso logre destruir vuestra nación.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry. forget to translate. Here it goes again:
If war is inevitable, it would be more convenient for the anti-war protests to start as soon as possible, including all possible groups: feminist groups; Democratic groups, gay groups; lesbian groups, civil rights groups, religious groups of all tastes; etc.
If we wait until the teenagers begin to be recruited, then it will be too late.
Why do I think it will be a long war like Vietnam? Because if Donald Trump is a Russian agent, chances are that Donald and the Russians have a plan to wear out the United States in dead-end wars. In addition, the Iranian military leaders are different from the Iraqi ones. During the war against Iraq, the Iranians used waves of children dressed as soldiers to distract the Iraqi snipers while the real soldiers advanced to take the trenches. The Iranians do not care that thousands of soldiers die in order to gain an advantage. That was the same attitude of the Vietcongs. And like the Vietcong, the Iranians will have a permanent flow of Russian weapons.
But maybe I'm wrong. I only expose one possibility as an occasional analyst of the situation. I hope they can put the straitjacket on Donald Trump before that clown manages to destroy your nation.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

It looks like locum has discovered one of the little secrets of our postmodern age: that Liberalism and Progressivism are balloons made of hot air that we are free to puncture at will. Their bloated celebrities and credentialed house intellectuals are no more worthy of respect than medieval priests, and their gods are just as non-existent. Since the universe revealed by science is no respecter of gods, traditions, honor, morality, sacrifice or any other values except "whatever you can get away with" and "might is right", why shouldn't our society reflect that? For me Trump is the perfect president for this nihilistic postmodern era; he's doing a Shiva Dance on the ideals of Progressives just as the latter have done to traditionalists for centuries. In the immortal words of Tom Friedman: "suck on this".

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:
I did not understand well. You said:
“It's quite ironic, actually, how quickly David dispenses with his 'Positive Sum Mentality' when he & his become disadvantaged sociopolitical LOSERS. Where is his happy non-partisan 'positive sum' acceptance of being a loser now?? And, look how quickly he & his fellow Cheating Californians have dispensed with rule obedience when they believe the rules to be UNFAIR!!”
Does it mean that you do not agree that we try to deceive those who caused us the most unforgivable deceptions? What do you want us to do? Turn the other cheek?
I say that, if the Republicans did not respect the rules of the game, then the others have the right to break the rules of the game with the same astuteness that the Republicans used.
I suppose, that everyone here knows what is the limit between good and evil. So if we continue to participate in elections with a spirit of innocence Amish, we can never move towards the recovery of democracy.
I think that it is a "cold war" between the oligarchs and all those who refuse to be subjected to one degree or another. The problem lies in knowing who is on the side of humanity (all humanity) and who is on the side of the oligarchs, to a greater or lesser degree. To be or not to be, that is the dilemma.
Winter7

locumranch said...


To Winter7, Luis & the Mexican Kleptocracy:

I suggest the review David's 'Positive Sum' thesis, the essence being that of 'win-win' wherein all participants benefit from 'fair-level-equal-rule obedient' competition, the problem being that David denies that the Triumph of Trump's Deplorables via 'fair-level-equal-rule obedient' competition meets the very same positive sum criteria.

In fact, David & his progressive cohort insist that Trump's Deplorable Triumph is 'lose-lose' (aka 'negative sum') as evidenced by his incessant whinging, moaning & caterwauling about this outcome, proving that David is disingenuous about the whole positive sum concept.

Apparently, David has defined 'positive sum' rather narrowly, believing that outcomes are only 'win-win' when those other than himself lose, as he invokes the double-standard that those other than himself must alway be silent, gracious & accepting in defeat.

Silent. Gracious. Accepting in Defeat. A standard that only applies to those other than himself. As he accuses the victorious opposition of cheating.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

@Locumranch | ‘Maximizing the number of empowered and knowing participants’ might look like a social engineering attempt, but I’ll bet if you probe our host’s idea a bit you’d find a differently worded variation that is closer to what he actually likes, but it won't have the punch needed to draw attention to people who don't get Smith. I might be wrong, but try this one on for size. It is closer to what Hayek actually meant.

When the number of people able to act in a market are able to do so on their own knowledge, it is more likely they will solve the problems relevant to them than if they act at the direction of others. The more those people know about their own condition and what would benefit them, the more likely they can be effective when pursuing their ends. Combine those two to see how market rules that prevent self-direction and transparency undermine harm many of us, possibily without intending harm. Now invert the combination to see the remedy. First and foremost, remove rules that disempower and foster ignorance. Second, consider rules that empower and educate, but be careful not to pick winners and losers, because in a market the losers will adjust other rules to minimize the harm done to them. Unintended consequences and seemingly disconnected ones are typical of rule additions. Unexpected results (good and bad) are typical of rule removal.

Terribly long winded, hmm? No one would read through that. Few read through Hayek's versions and they are much more precise than my paraphrasing. If you EVER did, though, you'd realize Hayek didn't delegate much of anything to the government. He simply recognized that some things might work moderately well if left to government. What those things were changed over the years as he watched good intentions produce unintended consequences.

So... for what you say about what Hayek says... you are ignorant or you lie. Take your pick.

'Equality of Opportunity' presupposes Blank Slate Equalism

This is also untrue. You are making up crap.

To accept Diversity is to accept Inequality

If I thought you knew what 'Inequality' means, I might agree. I don't think you do. You obviously still haven't read that 'individualism' essay you quoted from Hayek a while back. You haven't studied enough to know which concepts to connect in that cluttered head of yours. Cram for the test! Throw some quotes on a page! Maybe the instructor will think I know something!

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | as evidenced by

That's not his evidence. That's his attitude (purposely distorted by you) that you mistake for evidence. The lose-lose evidence is seen in how people are spending ($$/mindshare) to prevent things that aren't happening or wouldn't need to happen if some fools got their heads out of the butts.

Ilithi Dragon said...

On the subject of questioning assumptions, here is a cogent video from Buzzfeed - it even got one of my firmly conservative friends, who regularly shares and glories in the Trump-side trolling memes, and generally despises most things liberal (for personal reasons due to bad experiences in college):

https://www.facebook.com/BuzzFeedVideo/videos/2484657501675117/?hc_ref=ARTBD3jhdhDYgBfOrpwjJ0yLe105aJjUCpJh9mXb0GqnAcWxlbSYT3ZEBfEbSJPaq2s


The video highlights the echo-chamber effect, and the issue of targeted ad algorithms reinforcing and magnifying the echo-chamber effect, and how that effects both sides.

The criticisms he levels at liberals/progressives echo some of my own, and he verbalizes the pointing out of those blind spots better than I have in the past.

I think this also ties in with Dr. Brin's distinction between the "practical/pragmatic" liberals and the "touchy-feely" liberals, and from a practical/pragmatic position, it is very important that we take care to not let the touchy-feely ideas/mindsets cloud our viewpoints or distract us from the practical realities.

Especially since the touchy-feely types seem to be absolutely terrible at political strategy.

LarryHart said...

@Ilithi,

Your point is well taken. I just wish it wasn't always up to the liberals to accommodate the other side when meetings of the minds don't quite meet. I think the video presenter accepts the unspoken bias towards Republicans in this country, and holds against liberals that we antagonize right-wingers when we point it out. Why isn't the white serial bomber in Austin, Texas a "terrorist"? Why is it understandable that white people don't want to be blamed for accidents of their birth, when those same white people insist on their God given right to do the same to minorities? And why am I the bad guy for pointing this out?

The conservatives who post here seem to think of Dr Brin's blog as a liberal echo chamber in which they are persecuted and maligned in the same way that liberals would be on a FOX News site. I see plenty of internal disagreement in our conversations, and not everybody lines up along the same lines on all issues. I try to have meaningful conversations with the likes of Carl M and Tacitus and that Friedman guy who sometimes drives by, but they all seem to start their posts with "I know you're all going to flame me for this, but..." so that I can't express my own opinion of the subject without being the bad guy.

Sometimes, consensus really does indicate reality. If not, then what are we doing as small-d democrats?

It is said about the Israel/Palestine conflict that if the Palestinians would lay down their arms, the war would be over, and if the Israelis would lay down their arms, they'd be dead. That's how I feel about right-wing authoritarianism in this country and in the West. If right-wingers want to stop with the ideological bubbles and meaningfully engage my side in conversation, I'll be happy to follow suit. Until then, don't condemn me for standing my ground. The speaker in your posted video gets one thing wrong--it's not those with "honest conservative opinions" that we won't tolerate, but those who disingenuously argue from obvious or proven falsehoods. My formerly-sane conservative buddy on the "Cerebus" list used to accuse me of compromising with my murderers (his words). He meant Muslims, but I apply the sentiment to right-wing, blood-and-soil types as well. "You're not supposed to be an American" is not a starting point for a negotiation over ideology--it's a breaking point.

With the end of Lent approaching, I'll make a kind of New Year's Resolution to keep the message of that video in mind, and to not be the one to take the first step toward condescension and dismissal and insult in a conversation between honestly differing opinions. My cynical motive is to demonstrate by example that the other side won't do the same. I'll be ecstatic to be proven wrong.

locumranch said...


"First and foremost, remove rules that disempower and foster ignorance. Second, consider rules that empower and educate".

Like the typical feminist, Poor Alfred doesn't know that the term 'empower' means that someone else with power must "give (someone) the authority or power to do something", a term whose usage simultaneously displays the ignorance of the user & indicates that the 'empowered' individual has little or no authority of their own. Nietzsche describes this distinction as der Wille zur Macht, aka 'The Will to Power', indicating that power must either be earned or seized, but cannot be gifted as the above misunderstood term implies, much in the same way that the passive individual can only be gifted with indoctrination rather than 'education', giving rise to what Nassim Taleb terms the Intellectual-Yet-Idiot who currently infest western academia, the mainstream media & the small-d democrats.

"Consensus really does indicate reality," spouts Larry_H in grotesque display of magical thinking anti-science gobbledygook, proving the poor Nassim Taleb has grossly over-estimated the 'empowering' effect of the western educational system. All is lost as the inmates have taken over the asylum.


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Jon S. said...

The Austin bomber wasn't a "terrorist" because he doesn't appear to have set out to sow terror. He was just a murderous racist coward, who used bombs because he didn't even have the guts to look at his victims as he killed them.

I think the tendency to use the label "terrorist" on anyone who frightens folks is a mistake, as it weakens the term. Ted Bundy wasn't seeking to "terrorize" anyone, he just got off on killing women. The pig farmer in Burnaby, BC, wasn't trying to strike fear into the hearts of sex workers, he just hated prostitutes. And this brat in Austin wasn't trying to scare blacks into leaving, he just got his jollies blowing people up (or setting them on fire - he was apparently still working out his MO when the cops caught up to him).

I mean, sure, people were afraid - that's a sane reaction - but he was no more a "terrorist" than Ebola or an angry rattlesnake.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

"My cynical motive is to demonstrate by example that the other side won't do the same. I'll be ecstatic to be proven wrong."
- and of course our resident troll immediately does as expected.

Paul SB said...

Illithi, our resident dragon,

Your video commentator had a very important point about not dehumanizing your opponents. Many of them would be little different from the rest of us if they simply were not fed lies and distortions all their lives. Some are probably so beyond the Pale that there really is nothing that can be done except try to shut them down and hope that when they finally die of old age and their own witless anger that they don't spread their poisonous rancor beyond that echo chamber. I think Larry is right, here, that most people who call themselves progressive are open-minded generally, but become nearly as bad as their opponents as soon as they start hearing those right-wing PC buzzwords come spouting out of their mouths.

Be careful that you aren't doing the same with those "touchy-feely" lefties. When old Siddhartha Gautama had his little revelation under the bodhi tree, the conclusion he reached was that people need balance. Going to one extreme or the other leads to madness and pain. Ecosystems need balance, too, and slowly evolve that balance. But that does not mean that every individual achieves that balance individually. That would be the ideal, but unlikely to ever happen. In an ecosystem that would mean that every species was equally omnivorous and also performed the functions of the decomposers and detritivores. That does't happen. Remember Galton's "wisdom of crowds" idea?

Okay, now I'll go into the neuroscience, since that seems to be my blogological niche here. Earlier I wrote about Fisher's four temperament types with respect to American political types. Personalities that are driven more by dopamine and estrogen tend to lean liberal, while those that are driven more by testosterone and serotonin lean conservative. The "touchy-feely" liberals would match with the E/O type, the more pragmatic liberals the D type. S-type conservatives are really a mirror image of the E/O type. They are essentially guilty of the same thing, unthinking reactionary, emotion-driven knee-jerk behavior. They are just as "touchy-feely" as the E/O liberals, except that they reserve their positive feelings for small subset of humanity, usually their own congregation, where the E/O liberals extend those feelings to anybody who will take them. Likewise your D-type liberals and T-type conservatives are mirror images. Both are very practical, couldn't care less about conformity - what they want is the freedom to do as they please. The difference, once again, is that the T-type wants that freedom only for themselves and a small, select few who they see as "smart" while the D-type thinks we all should have the same freedoms.

Now consider the Spock question: can people exist with logic but not emotion? The answer is plainly no, as demonstrated by Parkinson's Disease victims. The ecosystem needs both, the trouble is getting the balance right.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Larry:

I know exactly what you mean, and I feel the same frustrations, trust me. It pisses me off to no end that the left/liberals constantly have to be "the adults in the room," for innumerable reasons.

Unfortunately, when it comes right down to it, when two people are having a conversation, or attempting a conversation, and one party is starting off belligerent, if the opposition responds with belligerence, you usually get an argument or a fight. If the opposition responds like an adult, with calm patience, they can still have a conversation. It takes a LOT of patience, and you have to develop de-escalating communications skills, but the original belligerent party CAN be brought into having a decent conversation. People not directly involved in the conversation are also influenced, and it's a lot easier to say "they're both just as bad" or "they're the same" when both sides get belligerent and angry.

And with a little judo skill, and some practical/pragmatic strategizing and intelligent forethought, the non-angry/belligerent party CAN control the conversation. This is my biggest gripe with the Democrats, actually - they're getting so wrapped up in knee-jerk, emotional REACTIONISM that they're letting the Republicans control the conversation, and making STUPID political strategy decisions (like putting out an "assault weapon ban" gun control bill with no hope of going anywhere because the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency, making it a pointless, ineffective gesture that just wastes political capital and stirs up the base of the opposition).

Republican political strategists, and the feudalists, WANT the Dems/liberals to be following the emotional knee-jerk, because they can keep them off-balance, on the back-foot, stuck reacting to Rep/feudalist political and strategic moves. A calm, reasoned, and pragmatic Democratic party could control the conversation, but that might require more cold pragmatism than the Dems are willing to tolerate right now.


The other thing, too, is that, just as the increasing belligerence and hostility on the left is the result of DECADES of belligerence and hostility from the right, so, too, does the left often create their own opponents.

The friend I mentioned in the last post is a text-book example. He's a mechanical engineer for a major defense contractor, one of the smartest people I know, personally, and overall I consider him a good friend. He is also a staunchly conservative Republican, revels in the Trump troll scene, and despises liberals and the left, and his positions and opinions can be directly traced to demonization of him by social justice warrior types. As a cys white male, in college, he was painted as The Demon, the causer of all social injustice in the country, a figure to be hated and despised. Going into college, he was moderately conservative/republican, and the prejudice and demonization that he faced as a cys white male, for things that he had no part in, "historical crimes" as the video I linked talks about, drove him deep into conservatism, as a natural, defensive reaction to the hostility he faced.

This happens a lot, and the video talks about it, too, but gets a little bit light on the issue, I think, because when it comes right down to it, this notion of "historical crimes" strikes against the heart of a lot of what many of us hold to be core American ideals: the notion that who we are is not tied to who our parents or ancestors were.

The author of the video is correct: we tend to gloss over the darker moments in our countries history in school, and the dissonance that is created between our perception of history and the reality of it can cause defensive backlash and rejection of that reality when confronted by it.

Ilithi Dragon said...

But it's more than that. Accusing someone, today, of being guilty of the historical crimes of slavery, simply because they are white, and white people used to own slaves, is racism that is just as bad and wrong as others. The victims of that racism don't suffer as much, on the whole, because they are, generally, in a better position socially and economically, than the victims of other forms of racism, but it is still racism, and still just as wrong.

And just as wrong as saying that someone deserves the right to rule over someone else, or is better than someone else, simply because of who their parents were.


From my own experience, an old roommate I used to have, long before I enlisted, was a self-avowed feminazi. The conversations we had (usually her ranting), got... interesting. The hallmark of it all was a conversation we had on abortion (this was back when President Obama was running for election, and abortion was one of the big hot-button issues that kept flaring tensions in politics). Her position on the matter was well-established, as she liked to rant on the issue quite often, and I generally agreed with her (at least on policy).

The conversation started as a normal, social chat about each others' day after coming home from work, but (as usual), she quickly turned it into a conversation about politics, and abortion in particular. We conversed back and forth (mostly her ranting, and me more or less agreeing, minus the vehemence), but then I made the mistake of (as I am often want to do) playing Devil's Advocate, and noting that the "other side" had some valid points, from their perspective/position of argument.

That set her off, and she spun right the fuck up, taking deep, personal offense at the mere NOTION that anyone who disagreed with her might have anything remotely approaching validity to any of their points or arguments. She proceeded into a 10-minute rant on the subject, culminating in her threatening my financial stability for suggesting the other side might have some validity, by saying, "... and if that's how you actually feel, I might have to withdraw the financial support I provide you by living here and sharing rent."

That's the point at which the conversation ended, because I couldn't help but burst out into laughter. I think she realized somewhat how absurd her statement was, but it was doubly so, because at the time she was two months behind on rent, and the only reason I hadn't told her to pay up or get out, and found a new roommate, is because I was working ridiculous overtime at the time, and I'm a sucker for sob stories. In hindsight, I regret not pointing that fact out.

It’s people like that who drive conservatives away from the table. They get wrapped up in that self-righteous indignation high that Dr. Brin regularly talks about, and rant and rave, and feel good, but torpedo their own position and efforts.

Because the fact of the matter is, while self-righteous indignation can be good for bringing attention to an issue, and while it is very good at motivating people who already agree with you, it is one of the worst things you can do to try and convince people who do NOT already agree with you. Studies have shown that fairly well, now: browbeating, even when you’re 100% correct and have all of the facts to back yourself up, is counter-productive in changing people’s minds.

To change someone’s mind requires empathy. You have to show that you are listening to and acknowledging and considering their points, positions, and opinions, and show empathy and understanding for their position, while communicating your own concerns.

Ilithi Dragon said...

That takes more work and effort, and it can be hard, especially when the people whose minds you’re trying to change are holding or clinging to some rather nasty and/or dangerous opinions/worldviews/etc. It also means that, because you have to be willing to hear and understand opposing viewpoints, you have to open yourself up to the possibility of having your own viewpoints changed. That takes a lot more courage than most people realize.


Paul:

BOTH sides shut down as soon as they hear those buzz words favored by the opposition, and BOTH sides demonize and caricaturize the opposition using most of those buzz words (that’s part of why they automatically shut down upon hearing them – we train ourselves and each other to shut out the language used by the opposing side).

That caricaturized language creates deep ruts that suck conversations on those subjects into well-worn paths of argument that never actually go anywhere. And they’re powerful. We fall into them here, in this community, despite being more mindful of such things than most, and even deliberately trying to avoid them when speaking on gun control here a couple weeks ago, I still fell into many of them, even as I was consciously trying to avoid them.

To facilitate the conversations that we need to have, we have to recognize our own tendencies and desires to demonize and caricaturize anyone who disagrees with us, and willfully push past it. And then, to facilitate others climbing out of or avoiding those ruts, we have to change the language that we are using.

Touching back on the above point with Larry, while it is frustrating to be the ones taking the initiative, and putting the effort forward on that, effective communication requires that we do not assume nor depend upon the other side to do all the work for us, or take the initiative before we do. It ultimately falls on Dems/liberals to take that initiative and make that effort, not because the Reps/conservatives can’t be expected to, or won’t do it themselves, but because you can’t rely on anyone you meet to put forward that effort themselves, and we can’t afford to depend on the Reps/conservatives stepping up themselves.

SOMEBODY has to step forward and do the job, and we can’t afford to wait for anyone else to do it for us.

It’s just like how, while it would certainly be easier and less frustrating to wait for the entrenched conservatives to die off so we don’t have to deal with them, we can’t afford to wait for that, and we can’t afford to let them continue unopposed. We also can’t afford to oppose them ineffectually, or counterproductively.

Trust me, while my patience is wearing a bit thin for the passionates running off in wasteful or counterproductive directions, I fully understand their importance (and I can definitely get pretty passionate, myself). That passion and drive is required to carry things forward through challenges and to draw out great effort, and while I think that a strong combination of altruism and fair competition is, pragmatically, the best way to go about things, I also like to think that there is some intrinsic morality and moral value to altruistic behavior and ideals.

You’re right that both are needed: one to pick out a viable path, one to keep us going, and both to keep each other on the right path. We also need the conservative sides of that equation.

Which comes back to the original point: we need to stop demonizing each other. That’s the thing that will undo us.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Ilithi

While as a white person your friend did not personally commit any of the historical crimes he still benefits from them - as we all do

Financial benefits transferred from the slaves and any number of social benefits in terms of not getting shot by the police to getting lower loan rates

What do you call somebody who benefits from a crime and refuses to acknowledge that fact?

I suspect the reason that he has become so trollish is actually guilt

locumranch said...


As Duncan says, Whites who were born after the US Civil War, immigrated to the US after the turn of the century, have never owned slaves and have never committed any historical race-based crimes are all still guilty of racism by association because they "still benefit from (those crimes) as we all do", just like all those English who are still guilty of slaughtering, conquering & enslaving all those Picts, Scots & Irish, all those of Spanish & Toltec ancestry who are still guilty of genocide against the Aztecs, all those of Egyptian ancestry who are still guilty of enslaving the ancient Israelites, and all those modern day Romans & Israelis who are all still guilty of deicide for the killing of Christ.

By virtue of benefiting from the crimes of our ancestors, ALL human beings will remain forever guilty of crimes against each other, their competitors, their prey, the oceans, the atmosphere & the environment, and social justice warriors like Duncan will forever demand eternal reparations and bloody retribution until the end of time, forever & ever, proving only that those who both ascribe historical guilt to others or suffer from historical guilt themselves are stupid effing idiots.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Payback is a bitch.


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

@locumranch | 'empower' means that...

Heh. Your dictionary must get pretty worn out the way you keep consulting it for us all.

Your response is actually amusing considering you are accusing a libertarian of thinking that power derives from those who have it to give. There is this little problem of where it came from in the first place. At the end of a gun? Nah. Too recent. At the end of a club? That's one way (though unacceptable to a libertarian), but not old enough. Go WAY back to our HG nomadic days. Power originates with the strength to deny. Violence isn't necessary. I can simply refuse to support my opponent.

Time to expand your dictionary a bit. You might want to take notes in case this definition isn't in there or buy a bigger one.

Empowering someone can be done by recognizing their claim. Disempowering involves denying it. IF their effort to defend their claim is bolstered by multiple supporters, recognition empowers them while denying them leaves them simply as themselves.

See how that conforms to the libertarian principle regarding non-coercion? I doubt it, but please do try to remember. Nietzsche quotes will get ignored.

locumranch said...


@Alfred:

Recognizing a claim doesn't do squat, whereas the act of supporting a claim implies force. Likewise, denying a claim is equally ineffective unless said denial involves the potential application of force. And, while it's true that Libertarianism tends to reject the use of force or fraud to compel others except in response to force or fraud, this so-called non-coercion principle supports the 'Don't Tread On Me' use of force in all types of self-defence, so you best abide by Ilithi Dragon's wise counsel as those of you who demonise others do so at your own risk. This goes double for those of you who've beat the white guilt horse to death, so get off, because that horse is dead.

:p

TCB said...

Alfred, I saw 2001: a Space Odyssey. Obviously, power derives from a pig's femur.

Also, the first political speech went as follows: "OOOK oook oook ook OOK! OOK!"

Truer words were never spoken.

Jon S. said...

I dunno, TCB, I think his opponent had a valid point as well when he said, "Gronk! Mooogoo WAWAAH!"

Robert said...

It is tragically sad watching my former Libertarian brethren (because I honestly cannot consider myself Libertarian or libertarian any longer) embracing the pro-gun anti-any-control rhetoric to the point they are insisting that a mass armed uprising would overwhelm the U.S. military. My point is arguing that large-scale demonstrations and voting in large groups to throw out those politicians who are not acting with honor and integrity (and then repeating that process until we get a caste of politicians who keep their word and don't get bought out) is the way forward. And they insist that guns are the answer and that armed uprisings will work if need be.

A bunch of these Oligarch-lovers are even stating that these demonstrations show it's time to eliminate public schools. Because public schools are the problem - education is the problem. People can just educate themselves. Except of course when you are unable to afford a place to live or food or health care, you're not going to educate yourself and you sure as hell won't be able to educate your children. But public education is the problem obviously.

Fuck them. Libertarians are a lost cause. They are a bunch of idiots who are suckling on the teat of selfishness and delusions that if civilization crashes down somehow they will end up on the top of the new pecking order.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | Heh. Obviously that dude with the femur didn't agree with the non-aggression principle some of us like. 8)


@locumranch | whereas the act of supporting a claim implies force

No. It implies cooperation. It MIGHT imply force, but I'd rather not if I can help it.


those of you who demonise others

You are barking up the wrong tree. I don't see any one here demonizing you. If you are speaking in a more figurative manner, though, and including yourself among the 'deplorables', I'll agree up to a point. Personally, I think Clinton's use of that term was pretty clear in that it referred to a small subset of folks who would never be convinced by an argument she offered. I was impressed by how MANY people decided that term applied to them personally. I remember wondering why they would want to embarrass themselves that way. Later I understood that they utterly missed her point. It was like an inside joke being told to a room full of strangers. Thud & Misinterpreted.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H | If I'd been with the Libertarians from the beginning, I might agree with you and be so exhausted with them that I'd leave. I'm more of a classical liberal who sided with CA Democrats until they practically made CA GOP an endangered species. The Dems don't really need my vote anymore, so I'm free to look around. I started doing that in 2012 and found the Libertarians near where I live weren't the fools you describe. There was an occasional gun 'focused' person that we tolerated. There were a few more people who obviously suffered some emotional injury at the hands of someone in government and their coping mechanism became 'burn it all.' None of these extremes were in power locally, so I stuck around.

I've seen enough now to realize the more sensible members get tired and the extremes don't. Occasionally, one of the frothers will do something that gets visibility... usually by not thinking much. They don't last at it long, though, because someone sensible comes along and ousts them again. So... my conclusion is this pattern is likely to continue unless we get a lot of new blood. Unlikely, but if it was ever going to happen, now would be the time. It all boils down to where disaffected Republicans go.

Paul SB said...

Ilithi,

I hope you didn’t take offense at my point about how you referred to the “touchy-feely” types. I have had many of those experiences as well, but given how long many of my posts get I often skip on the touchy-feely stuff myself. I’ve never found you offensive in any way. Most people here discuss issues and point to things we think others missed, rather than simply hurling ad hominem at one another (with a few exceptions).

“People not directly involved in the conversation are also influenced, and it's a lot easier to say "they're both just as bad" or "they're the same" when both sides get belligerent and angry.”
- And this is precisely why so many people are simply disgusted with our leadership and eschew politics in general. Most of what gets on the news are the raving lunatics on both sides. Without being exposed to the relevant facts, or even knowing what facts to look for, most people will just shrug their shoulders and conclude that they are all a bunch of crooks and liars. But as our host has pointed out so often, the facts speak in favor of the Dems for at least half a century. When the Repubs started their scorched-earth policy they did not foresee them scorching so many of the American people that it would burn up their own base, too. Today there are more voters registered as independents (myself included) than are registered for either party.

“ … when it comes right down to it, this notion of "historical crimes" strikes against the heart of a lot of what many of us hold to be core American ideals: the notion that who we are is not tied to who our parents or ancestors were.”
- Well, it’s what we are supposed to believe, but the old mode of judging people by their parentage dies hard. So many of our most wealthy and powerful citizens perpetuate those ideas because it serves their interests. They need to justify in their minds why it is they deserve to be rich as Croesus while so many others are dying around them from lack of resources. Well, that is true of the S-type personalities. The T-types don’t need an excuse and feel no guilt. This rhetoric of genetic determinism equaling moral/financial determination also serves the divide-and-conquer strategy. Keep those who are not at the top rungs of the SES ladder at each other’s throats with race, sex, orientation and religion (whatever the hate of the day happens to be). The strategy has worked for centuries, if not millennia.

Agreed that racism is racism is racism. Duncan is right that we benefit from an institution that that was outlawed here a long time ago, but this isn’t anything worth spilling too much pixel over. We benefit from Pre-Cambrian cyanobacteria that made enough oxygen to support life on the land 2 billion years ago. More to the point, though, every time a racist hiring manager turns down an equally-qualified minority, someone benefits by getting a job that might never have come their way. I am against the idea of demonizing Caucasians for the crimes of their ancestors, but I am against demonizing anyone for the crimes of their ancestors. There are no people on this Earth whose do not have ancestors who were guilty of something. Who cares? I’m more ambivalent, though, about Reparations. If the 40 acres and a mule promise had been kept, things might have been somewhat different, but not by a whole lot, given how closely industrialism followed on the heels of the Civil War.

Paul SB said...

Ilithi con't.,

“To change someone’s mind requires empathy. You have to show that you are listening to and acknowledging and considering their points, positions, and opinions …”
- Of course, and you are not the first person here to make that point, though I would say the more often it is reiterated the better. We are all guilty of failing this one at times, myself included. However, when your opponents go so far to the extreme as to become fundamentally reprehensible, this starts to go beyond Sisyphean. There is such a thing as being too accepting.

“…you have to open yourself up to the possibility of having your own viewpoints changed. That takes a lot more courage than most people realise.”
- This is Standard Operating Procedure for scientists, but it can even be hard for them when they explicitly take pride in their willingness to let the data change their minds.

“BOTH sides shut down as soon as they hear those buzz words favored by the opposition, and BOTH sides demonize and caricaturize the opposition using most of those buzz words
…”
- Oh yes, that kind of goes without saying. And that tendency to fall into ruts is true for all human thought. Myelin ensures that humans are mostly creatures of habit.

“…it’s just like how, while it would certainly be easier and less frustrating to wait for the entrenched conservatives to die off so we don’t have to deal with them, we can’t afford to wait for that, and we can’t afford to let them continue unopposed.”
- That depends on how many of them are truly immovable and how many could be persuaded with a combination of fact and an empathetic approach. Not all of them are going to change, no matter how effectively we communicate. Some are human enough, but there are a lot of people who are so rigid – either by birth or by training – that nothing will ever persuade them. I have been to churches where the leadership taught the techniques of sophistry and indoctrinated their followers to never let the evil ones persuade them of anything. Any compromise with the Heathen will make you a traitor and land you in the Lake of Fire. That kind of brainwashing is not going down any time soon. They can’t all be saved, though I don’t like giving up on people.

“…I also like to think that there is some intrinsic morality and moral value to altruistic behavior and ideals.”
- Oh, now this one has a long history of scientific debate. I agree with the De Waal camp here, but you also have to keep the natural diversity of people in mind. Anything that is “intrinsic” will vary in individuals. A sociopath has no intrinsic morality, for instance, but the majority of people do to varying degrees.

It would not surprise me one bit if Duncan were right about the guilt thing. Shame is a very powerful motivator of irrational behavior and illogical beliefs, though guilt may only be part of the psychological story.

locumranch said...


In case you've been living in a bubble with a passive-aggressive mother like Paul_SB, Shame has ceased to be "a very powerful motivator" in terms of Social Correction, especially against the so-called deplorable conservative caste, just like the shaming use of the racist 'N' word has become (instead) an 'empowered' chant of Black Solidarity & Pride.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the MSM's attempts to shame & vilify Trump as either a sexual pervert or predator has the opposite of its intended effect, become a point of PRIDE for both Trump & his supporters, as in 'Look at the beautiful women Trump is sthupping in comparison to the poor-quality fuglies that the Democratic diddlers settle for'.

Also expect Trump's sex tapes, if & when they are released, to become #1 with a bullet (extremely popular), with Trump affecting a 'V for Victory' stance as he autographs the exposed breasts of his female fans on live television like the Rock Star that he believes he is.

Welcome to #ShamelessAmerica, people, where vulgarity & celebrity TRUMP reasoned argument & political correctness.


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Tim Wolter said...

LarryHart

Your Lenten resolution is worthy. All the more so as I recall you do not have a particular Christian orientation beyond the general sense in which some of the (hopefully) better tenets of that faith are baked into our laws and culture.

I don't think I come here with a chip balanced on my shoulder. In particular I find you and I agree in many areas and attempt to highlight those. Of course we disagree in other significant areas and it would be silly to ignore those.

To some extent the problem is internet communication. Words mean different things to different people or perhaps even groups of people. I have taken various posters, and even OGH, to task for what I consider frivolous use of the word "treason". Is that the fault of the speaker, the hearer, both or neither?

The commentary on ConBrin is all over the map. This can make it interesting but I have to be selective. Winter7 for instance seems a decent sort but his English (while much better than my Spanish) is not sufficient to convey nuance. And, sorry W7, using a translator program makes it worse. In a not at all similar situation I rarely engage some prolific posters whose apparent intent is stirring the pot. Not my thing.

We should indeed all strive to understand those with different ideas. To which end, I think I'll be down your way in May......time for a beer?

Tim Wolter/Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

And with a little judo skill, and some practical/pragmatic strategizing and intelligent forethought, the non-angry/belligerent party CAN control the conversation. This is my biggest gripe with the Democrats, actually - they're getting so wrapped up in knee-jerk, emotional REACTIONISM that they're letting the Republicans control the conversation, and making STUPID political strategy decisions
...


Believe me, I'm on your side and want the same outcomes you want. Remember that until very recently, conservatives asserted with a straight fact that they are the adults in the room. They haven't been living up to their own self-image.

I react in frustration at losing so often that I'm tired of losing. I agree with the rules that "You can't just insult your way to office", or "You have to be for something, not just against your opponent", but then I have to ask not-just-rhetorically why those constraints don't apply to Republicans, who violate them right and left and then keep winning elections. In what sense does a rule apply if breaking that rule is a legitimate path to victory?

I've been "away" from "here" for a day or so while my family and I (among other things) attended the Chicago "March for Our Lives" on Saturday. It was a large crowd, but never felt threatening or riotous. I wasn't fearful for my teenage daughter's safety, for example. The crowd was supportive of each other, laughing in a good way when encountering someone with a similar sign to their own. (Best slogan: "Betsy DeVos is the only thing that should be fired inside a school.") I saw a single counter-protestor with a sign advocating that "Guns save lives" and "Criminals like unarmed victims". Most of the crowd was ignoring him, not threatening or antagonizing. I would have liked to engage him in conversation, but he was too far away in the dense crowd.

I mention this to contrast what I expect (anyone may correct me if I'm mistaken) what the experience at a similarly-sized Trump rally or White Power rally would have been like, both for the marchers and for anyone courageous or stupid enough to counter-protest.

We are the adults in the room, and when the other side doesn't get what they want, they act exactly like toddlers do in a similar situation, and as such, we keep having to accommodate them instead of the other way around.

While I was "away" from the internet, a thought occurred to me that I wanted to post here. This may sound extreme, but I really can't think of even a single exception. In all the times and places I post on the internet, I never come with a desire or motive to piss someone else off. That's not to say that I don't piss someone else off as a consequence of their not liking what I have to say, but my reason for posting is to argue and clarify my position, not to be belligerent and make enemies. This is certainly one of those "There are two kinds of people in the world..." things, because a large subset of humanity seems to have as their first priority making others angry as an actual goal. And it might be instructive to analyze the differences between those two types of people, and what else those differences imply. Maybe Paul SB can explain the neuroscience.

Anonymous said...

Ilithi Dragon again:

...STUPID political strategy decisions (like putting out an "assault weapon ban" gun control bill with no hope of going anywhere because the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency, making it a pointless, ineffective gesture that just wastes political capital and stirs up the base of the opposition).


That's actually how I feel about impeachment without the required 67 votes in the Senate to finish the job. It'll be like shooting at the king and missing.

David Brin said...

Been too busy in the Arctic to participate. But:
1- There are roots to libertarian-ism based upon suspicion of Authority which ca lead to Big Brother and can arise from any direction. Alas, they have been suborned by the worst threat-authoritarians to fantasize vast conspiracies on the part of civi servants and do-gooders and fact professions. Funny that those are exactly the forces standing in the way of feudalism

Paul SB said...

My thanks to whoever the anonymous hominid who recommended some books for me to read a thread or two back. (I'm assuming this was a hominid, though on the internet no one can tell if you're a canid.) I was able to find all of them at local libraries, though my reading pace compares favorably to a glacial advance so I haven't gone too far. I started reading the first one to come in, which was "The Sexual Paradox" and after two chapters it was worth paying for my own copy. I know I won't finish any of them before I run out of renewals, but with a little skimming I may decide to add more to my already overflowing bookshelves.

Anonymous said...


Tim Wolter:
¿Does the word "betrayal" confuse you?
Within 500 years, when you display in your brain the virtual hologram of the "Oxford English Dictionary"; You can search the dictionary for the word "betrayal". Next to the definition of the word "Traitor", you will see a photograph of Donald Trump.
¿Is the translation really that bad? I guess that gives us an idea of how advanced artificial intelligence is today. One could believe that an AI of language translation would be very powerful and intelligent if it belongs to one of the most powerful companies in the world. But the facts are others.
In fact, there are absurd rumors that some owners of the personal assistant AI "Alexa" say that Alexa gives unexpected laughter and continually mutters things. I think these rumors are spread by the people who manufacture these devices in order to make people believe that today's AIs are very smart, when in reality they are currently programs with specific functions combined with programs that give them an aura of lifetime.
When the Google Translator's AI discusses with me, I guess I can begin to believe that AIs came to life. Not before.
The biggest problem with the automatic translator is this: I criticize someone who is nefarious, like Donald Trump, and the translator changes the word "El" to "Tu" and things like that. Those kinds of mistakes are those that initiate wars. Napoleon Bonaparte once said: Translators are potentially traitors. (not because of bad intention, but more specifically, because of terrible translation errors)
That is why I try to anticipate the possible errors of the automatic translator of Google, when trying to use words that I suppose that only have an evident translation.
On the other hand, I suppose the AI evolved to become beautiful Borg as 7 out of nine, so I must say that I fully support the construction of the most modern and sensual "Bio-AI".
Anyway. I must continue with a certain subject like: "Improving the house" (the television series)
Winter7

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

The Austin bomber wasn't a "terrorist" because he doesn't appear to have set out to sow terror. He was just a murderous racist coward, who used bombs because he didn't even have the guts to look at his victims as he killed them.


Ok, then, the guy who drove into a crowd and killed a girl because they were counter-protesting White Supremacists. His actions and his motivations were no different from the Muslim guy in London. Guess which one is a "terrorist" and which one isn't?


I think the tendency to use the label "terrorist" on anyone who frightens folks is a mistake, as it weakens the term. Ted Bundy wasn't seeking to "terrorize" anyone, he just got off on killing women. The pig farmer in Burnaby, BC, wasn't trying to strike fear into the hearts of sex workers, he just hated prostitutes. And this brat in Austin wasn't trying to scare blacks into leaving, he just got his jollies blowing people up (or setting them on fire - he was apparently still working out his MO when the cops caught up to him).


You have a nugget of a good point, but I think you're burying the lead under many misconceptions. First of all, we don't call anyone who frightens people terrorists, or else President Snow would be Terrorist In Chief. We tend to call those who kill in the name of Allah terrorists and that's pretty much it. We don't extend the label to those who bomb abortion clinics--ostensibly for their own religious reasons.

Dave Sim taught me that it's a bad idea to legislate definitions that depend on mind-reading. That's why I'm uncomfortable with definitions of sexual assault that depend upon the advances being "unwanted", not on whether offender persisted once the unwantedness was communicated to him, or that communication taking place at all. I also don't like the label "hate crimes" for much the same objection you have about "terrorism". What makes the thing we call "hate crimes" special is not the emotion the perpetrator has toward the victim, but the fact that the crime is not just a one-off, but meant to intimidate others who hear of it and know that they're also potential targets.

The Austin bomber's actual actions were to serially bomb unsuspecting targets at their homes, and to just keep going until he was identified and stopped. If he had announced to the world that the bombings would continue until the US stopped supporting Israel, he'd be a "terrorist". If he had announced that the bombings would continue until black people all moved out of that section of Austin, I doubt he would have been so labeled. If he had simply never been caught and we didn't know his motivation, what should he have been called?


I mean, sure, people were afraid - that's a sane reaction - but he was no more a "terrorist" than Ebola or an angry rattlesnake.


So you're asserting that white people are no more responsible for their own criminal actions than a natural disaster or a wild animal? I'm afraid your bias is showing. And that very bias is not just a side-note to this discussion, but the whole point of it.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

As to why some people get off on pissing other people off, the neuroscience is one important level to understand, but so is the social context. That's a point Sapolsky makes over and over again, and yet somehow people still accuse him of being a biological determinist. I'm pretty sure I pasted in some of his text about testosterone recently, if you remember the gist of it. People assume that this "man juice" makes people violent, but in actual fact it only makes violent people violent. It acts like a multiplier, supercharging motivation. A person who is motivated to respond with violence simply becomes more likely to get violent. So much for Treebeard's testosterone injections. What makes people violent in the first place? You could say it is an instinct, but that would be misleading, since most people think that instinct is like a computer program that directs the hardware. Instincts are really more like nudges that push you one way or the other, but you can push back if your frontal lobes are fully functional. There are a lot of things that can impair frontal functioning which increases the chances of your limbic system calling the shots for you.

One professor I had ages ago was asked in class if violence really is an instinct, and he answered that societies don't need rituals to reinforce instincts. They often use rituals to suppress instincts, but if violence were truly instinctive in the way that people think instincts work, we wouldn't need football.

I've explained how feedback loops in the nucleus accumbens work before. If you try something and you are successful and find it rewarding, you get a squirt of dopamine that nudges you towards continuing to do it. So when someone successfully pisses someone off and his friends praise him for it, the dopamine starts to flow, pushing him to keep doing it. This is basically just operant conditioning like Pavlov described. Today we understand the neural mechanism that he didn't know about, like the relationship between surface structure and deep structure. So when you get one of these trolls who relishes insulting people, he may be at the point of diminishing returns where he no longer needs to offend socially because the pathway is well worn in myelin. His own internal praise is all he needs, be he needs to keep going at it, getting ever more over-the-top with each insult session.

This is why I don't bother with our fake rancher anymore. By engaging with him, even if you aren't mad he will interpret every interaction as riling you up and get his dopamine high. But every year it gets less and less, so he has to get increasingly outrageous to get the same high. When he started implying that being a teacher automatically makes me a child molester I could no longer take him seriously except as a patient who desperately needs medication. It is very difficult to cause the extinction of highly reinforced conditioned pathways.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

There is a little problem with this assertion:

"That's why I'm uncomfortable with definitions of sexual assault that depend upon the advances being "unwanted", not on whether offender persisted once the unwantedness was communicated to him, or that communication taking place at all."

So if a person sneaks up behind someone, bashes them to unconsciousness and then rapes them, it's not rape because the victim didn't say so?

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

...I consider him a good friend. He is also a staunchly conservative Republican, revels in the Trump troll scene, and despises liberals and the left, and his positions and opinions can be directly traced to demonization of him by social justice warrior types.


Ok, this is exactly what I mentioned above using my own self as an example. I get what drove your friend to the right-wing. But those people seem to think they're the only ones treated that way. As I mention often, through most of my adult life in the US, "liberal" was a pejorative. There is an institutional bias towards thinking of Republican excesses as understandable and excusable foibles vs demonization of any claim by Democrats to the reins of power. Sarah Palin can refer to rural white people as the "real Americans" without any of the blowback that President Obama received for describing those who "cling to God and guns". Here on this list, anyone who (accurately) calls Trump and the Republicans out for treason gets accused of the overreach of literally wanting to kill them, while Ann Coulter gets to publish a book about liberals titled "TREASON!", and that's just quirky Ann being Ann.

So liberals have as much if not more reason to feel abandoned and dehumanized by our political opponents as conservatives do. The big question then becomes why each side seems to react so differently to that same provocation? Here's a demonstration of exactly what I mean. A decade or so ago, in the era when "Air America Radio" was a thing, one of our local right-wing talk stations (the ironically-accurately named WIND) ran advertising billboards whose sole message in large all-caps was "LIBERALS HATE US!" That alone was supposed to be a selling point for the station, and I have no doubt that it was a successful selling point for their listeners. The local Air America station at the time, WCPT, ran counter ads with a different tone. They said, "LIBERALS LOVE US!"

To me, the difference speaks volumes. Liberals seem motivated primarily by a desire to see what we consider reasonable, just, and compassionate policies enacted. If our policies anger conservatives, we don't let that stop us, and maybe sometimes take a bit of schaudenfreude in their dislike. But the policy is first. We don't do things for the sake of pissing off conservatives. And they do all sorts of things--even things that are at cost rather than benefit to themselves--primarily to piss off liberals. That's where "Drill, baby, drill!" comes from. That's where "rolling coal" comes from. That's where running their cars into crowds of liberal protesters comes from." Before you give me "Both sides do it," show me the equivalent atrocities on the liberal side.

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon (geez, I go away for less than a day and all this!) :

This happens a lot, and the video talks about it, too, but gets a little bit light on the issue, I think, because when it comes right down to it, this notion of "historical crimes" strikes against the heart of a lot of what many of us hold to be core American ideals: the notion that who we are is not tied to who our parents or ancestors were.


I'll grant you a problem with the way lefties frame this sort of issue. Understandably, people don't want to be treated as criminally responsible for what their ancestors--or just earlier members of the same national or ethnic group--perpetrated in the past.

It probably makes more sense to think in terms of civil law than criminal. Your ancestors didn't mistreat black people (for example), but today's black people are unfairly hampered by the torts committed against their antecedents. Can we make them whole without punishing innocent white males? I don't know, but I would hope that liberals would be more concerned with the making whole than with the punishing.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ (or, "Orange ya glad I didn't say Ilithi?") :

If you are speaking in a more figurative manner, though, and including yourself among the 'deplorables', I'll agree up to a point. Personally, I think Clinton's use of that term was pretty clear in that it referred to a small subset of folks who would never be convinced by an argument she offered. I was impressed by how MANY people decided that term applied to them personally. I remember wondering why they would want to embarrass themselves that way. Later I understood that they utterly missed her point. It was like an inside joke being told to a room full of strangers.


FOX News probably didn't play the second half of her statement. She said half of Trump supporters were from a basket of deplorables that our side would never reach, but we should reach out to find common ground with the other half--kinda exactly what Ilithi is saying. The Trump supporters largely heard "...basket of deplorables..." and worked themselves into an outrage that she considered them to be deplorable just because they supported Trump, and got all "I'm Spartacus!" with the "Deplorable and proud of it!" t-shirts.

Or as one gang member on "Hill St Blues" once rejoined to another, "Well, you answered to your name, so it must be plain."

Back to the conversation with Ilithi--Maybe a lot of Trump supporters aren't racists and misogynists, but their support for a racist and misogynist isn't coincidental. They like the fact that his racism and misogyny pisses off liberals. Maybe a lot of Trump supporters aren't fascists, but their support for a fascist isn't coincidental. They like the fact that his fascism pisses off liberals. Maybe a lot of Trump supporters aren't traitors, but...you get the idea. They may not share his deplorable characteristics themselves, but they do seem to support him for being deplorable. How else to explain his overwhelming support from the evangelical hypo-Christians?

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

To which end, I think I'll be down your way in May......time for a beer?


More than happy. Do you still have my personal e-mail? If not, I'll send it back to you.

Mother's Day probably won't work, but any other time that month should.

Anonymous said...

Paul SB:
It is evident that the bomber of Austin Texas, only received orders. The FBI report says that many people entered and left the home of that individual. Why have not they arrested the accomplices? and I would not be surprised if Bannon is one of the leaders of that terrorist section. And, yes, the guy was a terrorist. It is clear that the objective of the extreme ultra-right was to sow terror among minorities, to dissuade them from participating in politics. Simple as that.
But no wonder they were in charge of removing any clue that linked them to the idiot they used to attack. The killer is always eliminated so as not to leave evidence. .
Winter7

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

Your Lenten resolution is worthy. All the more so as I recall you do not have a particular Christian orientation beyond the general sense in which some of the (hopefully) better tenets of that faith are baked into our laws and culture.


Jewish by birth and culture, athiest or at least religious skeptic by temperament, and married to a Catholic. I've never been a practicing Christian, but I have a lot of respect for the life and teaching of the real-world Jesus of Nazareth.

If that helps any.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

"That's why I'm uncomfortable with definitions of sexual assault that depend upon the advances being "unwanted", not on whether offender persisted once the unwantedness was communicated to him, or that communication taking place at all."

So if a person sneaks up behind someone, bashes them to unconsciousness and then rapes them, it's not rape because the victim didn't say so?


Assault and battery is a crime. And it's clear in that case that the sex was not consented to, so that's rape as well.

I was talking about sexual harrassment, not rape. For example, a woman feeling uncomfortable because a co-worker asks her out or otherwise makes comments testing her interest, while she just isn't into him in that way. Whereas if she were interested, she'd welcome the advance. And she hasn't indicated to the guy which category he falls into, so determine whether he is committing a firable offense or not depends on reading her mind. That's the kind of thing I was cautioning against.

LarryHart said...

@Paul SB,

Reading over again, I see that I said "sexual assault" when I meant "sexual harrassment". Hope that clarifies things a bit.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Your comment here reminded me of an old Geoffrey Chaucer line:

"The Trump supporters largely heard "...basket of deplorables..." and worked themselves into an outrage that she considered them to be deplorable just because they supported Trump, and got all "I'm Spartacus!" with the "Deplorable and proud of it!" t-shirts."

A long time ago, on a continent far, far away, Geof Chaucer said:

The guilty think all talk is of themselves.

Anonymous said...


I saw a very prejudiced video against Mexicans, in the Family Guy series. I suppose the murderous opossums were an allegory of Mexican criminals. Huffffff. I guess many Americans feel that way. Anyway, the chapter was fun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nRIr-W5MKE

But here I suppose everyone tries to say this :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFkOvTe3q9E

Winter7

Paul SB said...

I just came across this fun little article in The Federalist that shows exactly why it's important to take on myths about human nature and what instincts are and what they are not. The author was definitely taking cues from Clint Eastwood and his "wussification of America" rant. As long as people are totally ignorant of human nature too many of them will keep shouting off - and falling for - bullshit like this.

http://thefederalist.com/2018/03/19/good-father-prepares-sons-war/

If you haven't picked up that Robert Sapolsky book I have been raving about lately, I would recommend it. I think Alfred would confirm my impression that it is incredibly insightful and you don't have to have a Ph.D in Biology to understand it. The author does a good job of communicating complex material to a general audience. And just last week I walked into my local library and saw it displayed prominently on the new books shelf, so there's some chance you will be able to read it before deciding to buy it.

https://www.amazon.com/Behave-Biology-Humans-Best-Worst/dp/1594205078/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522066338&sr=8-1&keywords=behave+robert+sapolsky

Jon S. said...

"So you're asserting that white people are no more responsible for their own criminal actions than a natural disaster or a wild animal? I'm afraid your bias is showing. And that very bias is not just a side-note to this discussion, but the whole point of it."

I am asserting, Larry, that the bomber's actions were driven not by some political agenda, or the desire to make a point of any sort, but rather by a desire to kill people, particularly black people. He doesn't seem to have cared whether or not they were afraid, he just wanted them dead.

Terrorists seek to sow fear to achieve an end, hence the name of the technique. For a terrorist, whether anyone dies is actually secondary, so long as there is sufficient fear to cause a desired change. (Killing people gets there faster, to be sure, but it's not a precondition - Daesh would have been perfectly content for everyone they came across to have peacefully surrendered and begun living according to Daesh's own idiosyncratic vision of the Qu'ran.)

Yes, people were afraid of the bomber. That's a sane reaction to the presence of an imminent danger. So far as the evidence he left behind indicates, however, he doesn't seem to have cared one way or the other about that, any more than his bombs cared whether the person discovering them was afraid.

locumranch said...


Human behaviour is motivated by secondary gain.

Like predator seeking prey, those who intend betrayal seek out positions of trust, those who desire argument seek out controversy, those who desire celebrity tend to pursue instruments of celebrity, those who desire power gravitate toward positions of power, those who desire wealth attempt to surround themselves with wealth & its accoutrements, and those who lust after children tend to surround themselves with children.

Those who take offence at this line of argument do so, not because of logical fallacy, but because of personal behavioral inconsistency.

Best

Darrell E said...

Paul SB said...
"Larry,

As to why some people get off on pissing other people off, the neuroscience is one important level to understand, but so is the social context. That's a point Sapolsky makes over and over again, and yet somehow people still accuse him of being a biological determinist."


People get sloppy when they are motivated to criticize others. In this specific example it sounds like people are confusing the fact that Sapolsky is a strong determinist, i.e. is of the opinion that events are bound by causality, including all events that account for all aspects of human cognition, and is of the view that determinism is incompatible with free will, i.e. Incompatibilism, with the position that regarding the "genetic vs environmental" or "nature vs nurture" issue that it's all genetic / nature. Of course the two don't really have anything to do with each other.

But this kind of "confusion" seems to be endemic. Even among experts. For two recent examples I'll refer to the Sapolsky book you are talking about & Pinker's latest. The large majority of negative criticisms and reviews that I have encountered of both of these books, even by experts, make me wonder if the people even read the damn books. Straw men and non sequiturs abound. Often the critics are clearly offended and argue a general ideological position that is either irrelevant, flat out wrong or at best a gross caricature of what the author has actually written. Another is critics complaining that their pet view or area of expertise is not included or is given short shrift. As if Pinker is an asshole, an idiot, or both, because he didn't include a detailed review of the philosophies of the original enlightenment philosophers.

In your example, no one who is being intellectually honest, understands what the term means and has actually read the book could mistake Sapolsky for being a biological determinist.

An example of a common negative criticism of Pinker's latest, no one who is being intellectually honest and has read the book could accuse Pinker of poo pooing existential threats.

Of course there are reasonable criticisms to be made of both these books. Sapolsky even made some of Pinker's "Angels." Both of these authors have large targets on them because they both deny magic and, especially in Pinker's case, do not deny that we have made some progress and that there is reason to believe that we could continue to do so. That really pisses people off on the outer halfs of both the right and the left.

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

Terrorists seek to sow fear to achieve an end, hence the name of the technique. For a terrorist, whether anyone dies is actually secondary, so long as there is sufficient fear to cause a desired change.


Ok, I see what you're saying, and that's a distinction we can make after the perpetrator has been identified and we have some clue as to his motivation. I'm questioning whether the form of his act becomes "terrorism" based upon its effect on the populace at large, irrespective of reading his mind. If he sows fear (check) and achieves an end (killing black people), does it all come down to whether the one is the cause of the other or not?

Anonymous said...

Jon S.:
I see you did not notice that the FBI states that many people went out and entered the house. It is not a psychopath who worked alone. Should I assume that the FBI did not think to follow people who were in continuous contact with the terrorist? Why were there no more arrests? It is evident that it was a team effort. Therefore ... I'm sorry to tell you that they have a huge problem on their hands. I would not be surprised if Steve Bannon was aware of what the terrorist group was doing.
If it was a group of people who were carrying out the terrorist acts, then it is clear that these terrorists have a political agenda: Create terror to immobilize the actions of minorities.
Hoooo ¡For the flamed underpants of Quetzalcoatl! ... ¿How can you defend yourself, if you can not see the clues that are piled up in front of you?
It's like the enigma of "1I / Oumuamua". The aliens throw us an unmistakable object of artificial origin and they all say that the object is an asteroid. ¿What should they throw us next time? ¿Cookies with giant animal shapes?
Winter7

Treebeard said...

Lloyd: I find nihilism to be a useful tool for cutting through the incredible sea of lies, delusions and BS in which we swim. For me it is the most scientific philosophy, since nature has no values and doesn't care about our BS--even our science-fictional BS.

BTW, John Michael Greer has some cogent observations about the current political climate and other things we're discussing here: https://www.ecosophia.net/the-twilight-of-authority/. The idea that a particular set of abstractions and their priesthoods are losing their authority sounds pretty accurate to me:

The difficulty, of course, is that people who grow up in an era of abstraction are used to thinking that they know what the truth is. If they belong to one of their society’s privileged classes—for example, the educated intelligentsia—they’re also used to telling other people what the truth is, and expecting anybody less privileged than they are to shut up and listen. As an era of abstraction comes unglued, in turn, people who think this way face the shattering discovery that the people below them on the pyramid aren’t willing to shut up and listen to them any more.

Alfred Differ said...

Winter7,

Don't take 'Family Guy' too seriously. It is a show written intentionally with offensive humor. If you had a way to measure its success at offending, you'd find many of us are too. That's why it is still on television.

Sometimes it is useful to laugh at the idiotic things we appear to believe, even when those things offend others. It's like looking in the mirror and not liking what one finds there. If one doesn't look, one might not do anything about the reflected ugliness.

Jon S. said...

Winter, the bomber was one of three people living in that house - and so far as the police can determine after extensive interrogation, nobody else was involved in the process. The killer built the bombs alone, sent them out alone, and eventually died alone.

I don't know how things are in your area, but in the States it's not unusual for three twentysomething roommates to have people coming and going fairly frequently - friends who drop in for a party, or food-delivery people, or sometimes just a hookup or two. "People in and out" implies nothing directly, except possibly an active social life.

Larry, evaluating the serial bombings as a potential terrorist operation is valid. However, such an evaluation must also take into account the possibility that the bomber is not a terrorist, lest one overlook the real killer while searching for a large group that may not even exist. What irked me was the ready jump to "of course it's a terrorist", causing some folks to even start looking for Arabic people in the area (because all terrorists come from the Middle East, right?), and the insistence on continuing to use that label even after we found out what the killer's motivation was (he just really hated people, and blamed everyone else for his shortcomings, so of course they all must die).

Alfred Differ said...

@Treebeard | For me it is the most scientific philosophy, since nature has no values and doesn't care about our BS--even our science-fictional BS.

Yes. When I'm not feeling too particularly hopeful, I am inclined to agree. When the sun comes up, though, I realize that the indifference of the Universe frees me to give a damn if I so choose.

There IS a lot of delusion out there, but nihilism isn't the only tool that cuts through it. Personally, I think a better analogy is that nihilism burns them to ash. My issue with it is that it burns other things too.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | FOX News probably didn't play the second half of her statement.

That would make sense of it. Even if they did, their listeners might not have heard it. By the time politics was into processing her statement, they would have dropped it as an irrelevant reference and like so many other quotes we know, the relevant context would have vanished.

My current fav for quotes like that involves one from Milton Friedman where he is believed to have said corporations have a moral duty to maximize profit. The dropped context (and second half of the quote) matter a great deal, but few realize it.

@Paul SB | It isn't just the guilty who react like that. Any identity group can flash into defense-mode when an out-group acts. That's what makes Clinton's comment a politically dumb thing to do even though she was factually correct. Amygdala fodder.

What I don't get is what people gain by thinking of themselves as deplorable. Strength in numbers? Seriously. Where is the comfort in thinking such low thoughts of one's self?

locumranch said...


Nice try, Treebeard, but most of the blog participants here have been thoroughly captivated & captured by their preferred box-like narratives, like so many Counts of Monte Cristo who continue to pace out the boundaries of their cramped prison cells in reflexive fashion long after after their escape & liberation.

In a quite unscientific manner, they cling to outdated theory while insisting that all new data must conform to existent theory, as in the case of Trump's supposed Russian connection, believing as they do that Trump's congratulatory phone call to Putin over the 2018 fixed Russian Election somehow proves that Trump is a Russian Agent while forgetting that Saint Obama offered identical telephone-mediated congratulations to Putin after the last fixed Russian Election in 2012.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/03/09/obama-congratulates-putin-for-election-win/

Yet, does this data also prove that Obama is a Russian plant, too?

Of course not because Confirmation Bias.


Best
_____
Alfred asks "what people gain by thinking of themselves as deplorable (??)" even though the answer is obvious to all concerned. Deplorables have redefined the 'deplorable' insult as an expression of pride in order to invert a pre-existing narrative, much in the same way that Black Hip Hop & Rap Musicians redefined the 'N' word as an expression of racial pride & unity. Of course, we can't expect a cracker like Alfred to understand this because it's a Deplorable Thing. Word!!

Lloyd Flack said...

The first victims of the Austin bomber were black but that changed. And one of the later bombs was set off by a tripwire and placed where a random member of the public was likely yo be a target. Also someone targeting a particular group is likely to have said so in his confession. It does look like someone who for personal reasons was attacking everyone. I wonder whether he was influenced by the Las Vegas shooter and the mystery around his motives.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

My current fav for quotes like that involves one from Milton Friedman where he is believed to have said corporations have a moral duty to maximize profit. The dropped context (and second half of the quote) matter a great deal, but few realize it.


The Adam Smith line about the Invisible Hand is like that too. IIRC, he says something to the effect that even though an individual consumer only cares about his own wants, he ends up helping the national economy by preferring domestic products to foreign ones. How often does that part of the quote get referenced?

Anonymous said...

Jon S:

If the terrorist was visited by people who were not of his family frequently, it would be very naive to suppose that the terrorist's friends did not know what he was doing and it is evident that those people most likely helped him.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

As for my scientific assumptions: And I inform you that I do not believe in the Big Bang theory either. There is a simpler explanation, (mine) which contradicts Stephen Hawking's theory that the universe will die when all the stars go out. No. That is not what will happen. I do not say it for being rebellious. I say this because the Big Bang theory does not coincide with my deductions based on data that is everyone's knowledge.
Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | it would be very naïve

Not really. That would make sense only for people who are single minded in their anger. There are people who do bad things who appear otherwise to be pretty typical in having broader interests.

One other thing to consider is our LE people might be lying when they say they aren't interested in some of his friends. We don't require LE to tell the truth about such things (most of the time) until they are in a courtroom. It can be useful to them to mislead possible suspects.

As for the Big Bang, I don't have much interest in what everyone says they know about it. Science knows a few things, so viable theories have to conform with that evidence. Most of the public doesn't know the evidence, so I don't expect their ideas to be compliant very often.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I'm not sure I've seen that particular bit of Smithian context. I'll go look it up.

I DO recall that the Wealth of Nations book went through a few editions and the 'invisible hand' wasn't in all of them. He was referring to the appearance of a force that seemed to guide selfish people into doing useful, possibly unselfish things. In physics, we would call it a fictitious force because there is nothing really there leaving the results depending on the perspective (reference frame) of the observer.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I get the redefinition part. I don't get the pride of ownership part. It strikes me as stupid. Yes. I feel the same way about the N word. Strange.

You are a $%*#ing human being and should demand to be treated decently by your fellow $%*#ing human beings. THAT makes sense to me. You aren't a tool to be used. You aren't a toilet to be pissed in, on, or around. You aren't Kleenex to be blown or toilet paper to be soiled. You are a HUMAN BEING and @#$k the people who say otherwise.

Of course, we are too. Reciprocity begets reciprocity, but it all starts with Courage.

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Here's one citing of the Adam Smith bit. The bolded emphasis is my own:

http://spartan.ac.brocku.ca/~tmulligan/3p82inv_hand.html


...
Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society, which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to the society.

First, every individual endeavours to employ his capital as near home as he can, and consequently as much as he can in the support of domestic industry; provided always that he can thereby obtain the ordinary, or not a great deal less than the ordinary profits of stock.
...
As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.
...

locumranch said...


Alfred makes himself abundantly clear. As an unmuddied lake, Fred. As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer. You can rely on me, Fred. I agree on all of the following:

(1) Reciprocity begets reciprocity; and

(2) I am a HUMAN BEING who intends to fully reciprocate and @#$k the people who have attempted to silence, devalue, dehumanise, penalise & shame me on account of my work ethic, fair complexion, economic accomplishment, masculine gender, cis orientation & so-called privilege.

For, indeed, reciprocity is just another word for retribution, retaliation & revenge.

It is what the croaking raven doth bellow for.

Best
______

Smith's invisible hand,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

Anonymous said...



Alfred Differ:
Right Alfred ... The FBI could be hiding data because they're looking for the rest of Steve Bannon's terrorists. I hope that when they capture Bannon, the GOP will not intercede for him.
Regarding the Family Guy series; I'm not upset by the criticism of Hispanics. I criticize my country more than Family Guy. Certainly Seth MacFarlane mocks everyone equally. It's fun. Above all, that epic fight with the rooster:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4WGQmWcrbs

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Have I harmed you sufficiently to justify retribution, retaliation, or revenge? Me? Personally?

Honest question.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Book 4, chapter 2. Basically about protectionism and Smith's argument with the Mercantilists.

I don't agree, though, that he is talking about what we would call 'buy local' today. Buying domestic products (as you interpret it) isn't the same as supporting domestic industry. The difference can be most easily seen from the perspective of the investor/merchant which is what Smith is probably describing. To a product consumer, it matters little whether I buy wheat locally or from a foreign provider. Once the purchase is complete, the money is out of my hands. The merchant, however, intends to resell the wheat and might enter into a futures contract to acquire it at a particular price on a particular day delivered to a particular location. The money spent on the contract isn't gone until the wheat shows up. Buying the contract locally makes some sense as the merchant knows local people and his money is not far from him facing conditions he can't know. Foreign investments carry more risk due to ignorance of foreign conditions. Supporting domestic industry, therefore, is about investment risk.

'Directing that industry' demonstrates Smith's description isn't of an end consumer. He's describing the behavior of a man of business.

Pretty much all of book 4 is for the purpose of undermining the belief in the validity of the Mercantile system. While that belief holds, the 'sovereign' can justify meddling in the markets (granting special dispensations to favorite toadies) as defense of the nation. Smith demonstrates that 'men of business' are going to invest locally anyway and when they don't (and are free to do so), their actions are signals about what they know about foreign risks. When foreign traders enter local markets, we see the signals from the other side.

Basically, when a sovereign has moral cover to act in a protectionist manner, they may continue to treat all trade within their borders as their property to direct or limit. This is the behavior of an absolute monarch of which there were a few moderately close examples on the European continent at the time. A sovereign who could not 'protect trade' could not tax or so it was believed. Smith tried to demonstrate the errors in that way of thinking. Book 4 tries to describe the real behaviors of 'men of business.'

TCB said...

Alfred Differ said: "What I don't get is what people gain by thinking of themselves as deplorable."

Ever heard of The Old Contemptibles? The British Army took the Kaiser's insult in 1914 of calling the British Expeditionary Force "Sir John French's contemptible little army" and turned it into a badge of pride. The deplorables did the same thing, with far less justification (except in their own heads).

occam's comic said...

Calling it “a relic of the 18th century,” retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called Tuesday for the outright repeal of the Second Amendment, saying it would achieve “more effective and more lasting reform” than other efforts to curb the country’s scourge of gun violence.

it is not just me calling for the repeal of the 2nd amendment

If the gun nuts don't find a way to stop gun violence, we may well take all the guns away.

TCB said...

Repealing the 2nd may be a good idea, a bad idea, or something in between... but can we take a moment to observe that it is the only amendment in the Bill of Rights that evokes something akin to full-blown idolatry?

In some quarters, the First Amendment also fills people with zeal, and entire professions of journalism are rooted in it; but there's some sort of basic difference. I can't imagine losing sleep over my crazy neighbor and his collection of printing presses (unless he controls all the big ones in town).

But the Second? (heaves great sigh) Its zealots don't seem to mind a peep if every other bit of the Bill of Rights is trampled under tyrannical foot, as long as that tyrant is congenial to their pet cause. The War on Some Drugs and the War on Some Terror have downright gutted most of the other constitutional guarantees of the Bill of Rights, although these guarantees still seem good as gold if you have good gold.

The Second zealots don't rise up when CIA black sites torture prisoners, nor when their illegitimate president chooses one of those torturers (Gina Haspel) to head that same CIA. They don't wail about violations of habeas with those same prisoners. They cheer the violations of freedom of assembly, of speech, and so forth against Standing Rock protesters. They insist everyone should carry weapons, but if a black man is shot by police for doing so, well, tough luck. The Second is kinda sorta a whites-only club (it just doesn't say so on the front door).

And on and on. It would not be that hard to overshoot the comment text limit document reciting a litany of Second-Amendment Zealot hypocrisies and follies.

By the way, I do know the diff between a clip and a magazine. The standard gun-nut trope that one should not have an opinion unless one knows all about guns is starting to lose its effectiveness. We don't need to try meth to know it's bad for your teeth.

LarryHart said...

Bill Maher's latest "New Rules" made a point as a joke that I believe has some merit to it. He pointed out that many right-wing extremists hate the system precisely because they never made it as writers or performers in Hollywood. Examples he mentioned were Steve Bannon, Andrew Brat-bait, and that new spokes-chick from NRA TV. Maher ended the segment imploring that the studios hire some of these bozos as a kind of Affirmative Action for conservatives.

There's actually a good point buried in there.

I've mentioned here before the wealthy businessman guest on Thom Hartmann's show who defended his country's extensive safety net by saying, "I don't want to be a rich man in a poor country." I took that to mean he'd rather not be surrounded by a sea of cold, hungry, desperate people. Socio-politically, liberals seem to think that same way, advocating that one's neighbors are more neighborly if they're not stuck in miserable circumstances, while conservatives tend toward a law-enforcement solution, insuring their own safety from the masses with police and armed guards backed up by the legal system.

Except in the realm of whether or not people feel they have a voice in the political system. There, we liberals apparently feel comfortable surrounded by metaphorically-cold, hungry, desperate people, secure in their impotence to disrupt liberal society. Until the result is Brexit and Donald Trump, the metaphorical equivalent of the French Revolution.

So yeah, Bill Maher is right. We can't just be Darwinians when it comes to seats at the socio-political table. I don't want to be a metaphorically-rich liberal in a country of metaphorically-poor conservatives any more than I want to be a rich man in a poor country.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Calling it “a relic of the 18th century,” retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called Tuesday for the outright repeal of the Second Amendment, saying it would achieve “more effective and more lasting reform” than other efforts to curb the country’s scourge of gun violence.


Ok, but like impeachment, it's an almost impossible goal. 2/3 of both houses of congress and 38 states to agree to that? Maybe eventually, but I can't see it happening in my lifetime. And that assessment has nothing to do with whether or not it would be a good idea--just a comment on logistics.

If the gun nuts don't find a way to stop gun violence, we may well take all the guns away.


We already shoot certain people on sight for simply possessing a firearm. If we would simply treat anyone holding a gun the way we would if he were black, the Second Amendment would fade into irrelevance.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

They insist everyone should carry weapons, but if a black man is shot by police for doing so, well, tough luck. The Second is kinda sorta a whites-only club (it just doesn't say so on the front door).


Oh, it's not just me noticing that. :)

matthew said...

Killer Mike, who was a spokesman/surrogate for Bernie Sanders in 2016, got in trouble with his base for giving an interview to NRA TV in which he said that all black men should be armed because America is still a racist state. He had given the interview a few weeks back but NRA TV aired the interview during the March for our Lives.

Killer Mike basically said that as long as police were executing innocent black men, then innocent black men should at least be able to fire back at their executioners. He also called out the NRA's silence at the killing of Phillando Castille (that portion of the interview was not aired, though).

https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2018/03/26/596988606/killer-mike-apologizes-for-interview-with-nra-claims-it-was-misused

occam's comic said...

Larry
It is not that I think that repealing the 2nd amendment is right around the corner (or even likely), but we have moved the discussion from -Lets have Guns everywhere to - Lets think about taking all the guns away.

And I think it is clearly the responsibility of the gun nuts to solve the gun violence problem, because if they don't the rest of us will solve the problem by taking all the guns away. Most of us don't have guns and will be fine with the government taking the guns away.

LarryHart said...

I said:

...
Maher ended the segment imploring that the studios hire some of these bozos as a kind of Affirmative Action for conservatives.

There's actually a good point buried in there.
...


Thinking about this more, though, we've already had Affirmative Action for conservatives in media. Joe Scarbourough on MSNBC. Glenn Beck when he was on CNN. The news programs treating Paul Ryan as a serious policy wonk, or Donald Trump as a serious presidential candidate. The likes of Rick Santorum all over the "Sunday Shows" spouting idiocy like "Instead of protesting, these kids should learn CPR."

So it's not that we don't have Affirmative Action for conservatives. It just doesn't seem to work.

Maybe they need a hand up, not a handout. :)

Cari D Burstein said...

TCB, I don't agree with the idolatry towards the 2nd amendment but I do understand it. The people who idolize it believe that is the only amendment that can be used to protect all their other rights.

Basically they feel like as long as they have an arsenal of guns to rise up in case of tyranny, they will be able to defend other rights if they are taken away (regardless of the actual practicality of that approach). So to them taking away their guns, or softening the type of arsenal they can build is tantamount to taking away all their other rights. I believe they probably also feel that having that arsenal in and of itself might keep government in check, for the fear it supposedly instills in government officials who might be considering taking away their rights.

To a certain extent they're right, in that the rights provided by the government could theoretically be taken away at any time, and assuming our rights to free speech and assembly fail to ensure them (or they take away those rights), force might be the only way to bring them back. That said, I can't imagine a situation in which an armed revolt by the people could possibly end well, especially since we can't agree on anything and I highly doubt we'd agree on what qualifies as grounds for revolt. Certainly in other countries where the government has greatly infringed upon people's rights it's rare that armed uprisings have worked out well for anyone involved (at least not without outside intervention which usually goes poorly as well). Usually this is why we end up having refugees.

Anonymous said...

It's the first time I read someone threatening to kill good friend Alfred.
I just learned a little about the federal laws:
True Threats:
Federal law prohibits transmitting "any threat to injure the person of another" and penalizes such threats with five years in prison.
Do not worry, friend Alfred; Vishnu will protect you.
Aakarshan Bakshi.

TCB said...

Cari D Burstein has said... "TCB, I don't agree with the idolatry towards the 2nd amendment but I do understand it. The people who idolize it believe that is the only amendment that can be used to protect all their other rights."

I believe they are almost completely wrong in this belief, if they actually even believe it. Having all these guns floating around was the excuse for militarizing the police forces in the late 1990's, though this trend began even earlier in Los Angeles and has since infected most departments in the US of any size. My own little city of Asheville has an armored car or two and enough other weapons for an infantry company. Instead of putting the fear of God into government, we find ourselves putting the fear of Government into dissidents of the sort who eschew guns.

Compare and contrast the government's kid-glove treatment of the armed thugs and Nazis at Charlottesville to the spying, government/corporate collusion, agents-provocateurs and informants, kettling and fire hoses and tear gas, and overblown felony charges for occupiers in Wall Street and Standing Rock and Ferguson and the inaugural protests.

As in so many other aspects of US civic life, somehow the Right ends up having more rights. Look up there at the notion of affirmative action for those poor scorned conservatives. After all, who can forget the shameful episode of the HUAC hearings and blacklists of the 1950's when so many conservatives lost their careers in broadcasting and entert- wait a minute. The conservatives were the ones running that show. It was liberals and leftists who got blacklisted.

In the case of "More guns for more freedom!" I think what a lot of the far right really want is to have their own heavily armed paramilitaries (such as Erik Prince actually has!) working in tandem with an apocalyptically armed far-right government. In places like Argentina and Chile, guys like Jolly Rancher did't just make snotty comments in the internet; if they didn't like what you wrote, they took you for a 'helicopter ride', which US alt-right thugs have lately adopted as a meme.

Remember: the dictator believes in freedom; but only for himself.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

As in so many other aspects of US civic life, somehow the Right ends up having more rights. Look up there at the notion of affirmative action for those poor scorned conservatives.


Because the right-wingers seem to believe that their right to be superior to others--is the same thing (instead of the opposite thing) as the rights others demand as equals. Both sides are motivated to action when their freedom is limited, but the freedoms being demanded by both sides are different things, in fact the opposite things. Power vs. "the life of my crew."

Lloyd Flack said...

Do you need to repeal the Second Amendment for you to be able to introduce sane firearms laws? I think two measures that could be done now would be sufficient.
First treat semi-automatic weapons the same way that automatic weapons are treated.
Second register all firearms.

locumranch said...


Bill Maher admits the he owns a gun even as he talks about 'infringing' the Second Amendment rights of others, so I guess it's another typical case of 'Do as I say but not as I do' progressive exceptionalism wherein his life, liberty & constitutional protections are to be considered more equal & valuable than everyone else's protections.

The Second Amendment is THE pivotal constitutional protection for without the individual (and/or collective) right to bear arms than there can be NO other enforceable human rights, not only because of what Mao says, but because of the passage & extension of the Patriot Act (which effectively gutted the Bill of Rights) by a largely US Democratic Party controlled Congress in 2001, 2006, 2011 & 2015.

And, while the exchange I had with Alfred was largely RHETORICAL (must I define this term also?), the meat of the matter was the Reciprocity Principle, also know as the Rule of Gold & Lead, which designates that most human interactions tend to be dominated by the exchange of kindness & cruelty (plus everything in between) in equal measure.

Reciprocity, retribution & revenge have near-identical implications, as previously mentioned, which is the very reason the HRC's targeted use of the 'deplorable comment' against one discrete identity group remains just as despicable as the targeted use of any other politically-incorrect slur against any other identity group.

Like Tolkien's 'One Ring', Reciprocity is the 'One Rule to rule them all, One Rule to find them, One Rule to bring them all and in the darkness (and/or light) bind them', so the Political Left's professional victim caste better pull the heads out of their collective arse before there are unpleasant consequences.

All other human laws & regulations are derivative, for without reciprocity, there can be neither contract, nor order, nor justice. Nitwits like Occam_C & Leroy should keep this in mind before they 'come for' any one else's constitutional protections because, odds are, they will receive payment in kind.

Best

matthew said...

Pushing to repeal the 2nd Amendment is simply a device to encourage the Right to get out the vote. Since the suggestion was made by a Republican (JPS was a Nixon appointee) I honestly see it as a sort of a false flag attempt to gin up the right wing vote and keep more sensible reform measures from being brought up.

Nobody was talking about repeal of the 2nd until JPS lurched out of retirement to suggest it as a remedy.

It sucks all the nuance out of the discussion.
This is purposeful.

matthew said...

Loco is once again lying.
Republicans controlled Congress in for more than half of 2001 (House the whole year, Senate 1/2 of the year), entirely up until November 2006, a split Congress in 2011 (House Republican, Senate Dem), and Republican controlled in 2015.

The Patriot Act was a Republican-led and designed bill, signed by a Republican president.

Quit lying. We see you.

LarryHart said...

matthew:

Loco is once again lying.


In other news, the sun will come up tomorrow morning, and water is wet.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | Okay. That makes some sense now. What you are suggesting is that they see this as war and I've been slow to wake up to that fact.

If they actually start shooting people, I hope someone will let me know. 8)
[I know the terrorists are already active. I mean organized, militia-style warfare.]

Alfred Differ said...

@anon | I don't think he actually has threatened me. I tend to err on the side of requiring such statements be very explicit before I'll believe them. Too many of us misinterpret non-threats as threats and make the very conflict they want to avoid. I'd rather be wrong about intended violence than be wrong and create unintentional violence.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | You might want to be more careful with your rhetorical questions/comments that don't sound so rhetorical in my ears. What you are doing is essentially accusing me of harming you when I see no cause for the accusation. I'm relatively content to let you be even to the point of letting you @#$k yourself over if that's what moves you. I expect the same from you in return. Part of that is putting some effort into distinguishing those who harm you from those who do not.

Offering up a comment and claiming it was rhetorical might be the truth, but I've seen it done often enough by bullies when they discover someone with a spine is willing to accept their challenge. It's called backpedaling. Look it up in your dictionary if it helps. It is strongly connected with cowardice.

But let me take you literally for a moment and apply the gold/lead rule. Which do you think you offer me when we exchange posts? I obviously disagree with you on many points. I think you argue from a position of ignorance many times and don't appear to be curious enough to remedy that fact. It also appears that you rely upon the anger of others to justify your own, but you aren't making much use of them here when you attack the positions of others. That means you DO express some courage in being here outside your thought bubble. It's just that I don't see what you stand to gain in the effort. I think some of us offer you gold and others offer lead, but it seems to me they got tired of offering you gold that you passed up or threw away. So... what are YOU offering ME?

Alfred Differ said...

One last comment before I go soak in a tub of hot water. This from a libertarian.

For those who think the 2nd amendment is the most important amendment for the defense of our liberty, re-read the one before it because the 2nd is mostly about taking back liberty already lost. The 1st amendment is about defending it and without a doubt is the most important one for that defense.

By the time you need a gun (or rocket, bomb, sword, poison, etc) you've already lost and should be wondering how you @#%ed up.

If most of the people around you disagree that guns are necessary AT THIS MOMENT to recover lost liberty, there is a decent chance they are correct and your action in taking up arms is the very destruction of liberty you claim to oppose.


Finally, the next civil war we fight will demonstrate that guns are a bit like bows and arrows. Useful to commit violence, but not the primary mass killers that they once were. There are MUCH worse things we can do now. To keep those from happening, I have no issue with putting a lid on the older toys we used to use to butcher each other.

[enough gloom for tonight]

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ: You said "What you [TCB] are suggesting is that they [the far right] see this as war and I've been slow to wake up to that fact."

Not you, necessarily. I'd guess about 60% of American adults have been slow to wake up to this fact (roughly 15% were woke already and the remaining 25% are The Problem, either brownshirting or condoning same.) Those are my ass-pull numbers, anyway. The real breakdown is not very far off that.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

From my POV both your first and second amendments have produced the opposite effect of what was intended - something that you accuse the changes that I want to make of doing!

The First Amendment by preventing the Government from doing any legislation about "free speech" has resulted in the rich being able to drown out anybody else and ensure that what they want gets done
It has also meant that people with power can happily persecute ordinary people who say things that they disagree with

Essentially your "Free Speech" amendment means that your actual speech is not as free as it is in countries like Canada, NZ and the UK

The Second Amendment - has had a similar effect - if the idea was to prevent a "Police State" then it has had the actual effect of producing something that is very like a "Police State"

The problem is that the Original Constitution with it's early amendments was not intended to be something cast in stone
The idea was that you would have "Constitutional Conventions" about once in a generation or so
Instead it was actually pretty good - so good that you haven't needed a Constitutional Convention - until the flaws built up and now you NEED one

The trick is going to be having a Constitutional Convention - without the loonie right hijacking it

locumranch said...


The US Constitution is a Contract, much like any other legally binding agreement between 2 or more parties, and it cannot be changed or altered after-the-fact without the unanimous consent of everyone involved without voiding the entire agreement, except in the rare case of 'salvatorius (severability)'.

Even the purchase a loaf of bread involves a contract, usually the offer of some currency in exchange for said bread, wherein the violation of said contract -- as in the case of taking of said bread without offering payment -- constitutes theft & violence.

Now, suppose you run out of legal tender, desire bread anyway & try to seize bread as a legal right -- how 'Les Miserables' of you. You could try this, but it could end badly for you, with you scampering over roof tops in desperate bid to avoid punishment.

Or, let's say that the Venezuelan communists seize power, agree with you, and require that various producers supply bread to you at no cost, and this works for a short while until the bread producers go bankrupt & cease to produce uncompensated bread, leading to yet another boring Civil War, South American Style.

Now, let's say you decide to unilaterally alter the US Constitution, void any pre-existing Social Contract, and condone the legal theft of goods & services by even the tiniest (once victimised) identity group, as is the modius operandi of the typical progressive:

Are you incredibly STUPID or something??

Best

occam's comic said...

"The US Constitution is a Contract, much like any other legally binding agreement between 2 or more parties, and it cannot be changed or altered after-the-fact without the unanimous consent of everyone involved without voiding the entire agreement,"

Damn Locum, you have written a lot of stupid shit but this one may top the list.

Have you ever read the Constitution Of The United States?
Because the real constitution lays out how to change the contract, and there is nothing about unanimous consent from everyone involved being necessary.

Apparently you have a "constitution" in your head that supports all your pre-existing biases and your crazy ass ideas on how the world should work. But dude, that isn't the real constitution.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Because the real constitution lays out how to change the contract, and there is nothing about unanimous consent from everyone involved being necessary.


Not to mention that Loc's beloved red-state Republicans themselves are the ones hot to call a Constitutional Convention, and they're most certainly not making an attempt at unanimous consent.


Apparently you have a "constitution" in your head that supports all your pre-existing biases and your crazy ass ideas on how the world should work.


Loc doesn't believe in "should". Those are crazy-ass ideas on how the world does work.

It's really not fair of me to indirectly snipe at someone whose posts I've given up for Lent. I can live with it, though.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

The First Amendment by preventing the Government from doing any legislation about "free speech" has resulted in the rich being able to drown out anybody else and ensure that what they want gets done
It has also meant that people with power can happily persecute ordinary people who say things that they disagree with

Essentially your "Free Speech" amendment means that your actual speech is not as free as it is in countries like Canada, NZ and the UK

The Second Amendment - has had a similar effect - if the idea was to prevent a "Police State" then it has had the actual effect of producing something that is very like a "Police State"


The problem you correctly address seems to spring from the notion that the Constitution establishes rights and freedoms, but only defends those rights and freedoms from intrusion by government. The eighteenth century founders probably didn't envision private individuals, organizations, or security forces which could threaten people's freedoms an a par with (let alone much more than) government, so the strict wording of the Constitution is mute on subjects such as whether our rights and freedoms are guaranteed against infringement by corporations.

In fact, before the post-Civil War Fourteenth Amendment, even the states were free to violate the spirit of the Bill of Rights. It was a restriction only on the federal government.


The trick is going to be having a Constitutional Convention - without the loonie right hijacking it


Talk of a new Constitutional Convention keeps me up at night, precisely because it is being driven by the right-wing.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | I hear you, but your concerns all fall under “Unintended Consequences” as far as I’m concerned. The Amendments are fine by me, but we might want to adjust our interpretations and case law based on what we learn over the decades. Only a fool treats these things in an absolutist manner and our Founders made it clear that they intended no such thing.

Ultimately, those amendments are simply statements that the government is not to infringe if WE claim certain rights listed within them. We might make other claims too, but the list makes it clear that at least some of them are to be recognized at a Constitutional level to enable us to limit our Legislature in a way the British Parliament was not limited. Those amendments are not so potent against us when we choose not to recognize the claims of others, but a Constitution isn’t going to be of much help there. The People, when they so choose, can completely re-arrange the playing board. It might not be wise to do so, but the Constitution won’t limit us since we are its ultimate enforcers.

I will argue against a Convention for the rest of my life, no doubt. There aren’t enough of us who understand WHY we must protect the liberty of others. Many are willing, but can’t articulate why beyond traditional incantations. Many are too willing to protect them, but only for their in-group. A Convention would probably undo decades of the American Experiment.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I'm with Occam's comic. That is quite a demonstration of ignorance and thick-headed, emotional thinking.

Obviously, someone violated what you thought was a contract with you. Been there. Time to get over it and get on with your life. To make it in the medical world, you simply can't be as stupid as you sound when you talk like that. Move on.


The Constitution isn't the Contract you are trying to describe. They one you are thinking of isn't written down... for damn good reasons. We still stick to it most of the time, but rigidly doing so creates social fragility among participants who are less than omniscient when they sign on. We sign on as children, so that includes all of us.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | the notion that the Constitution establishes rights and freedoms

You are thinking like a progressive here. Read that document and you'll see that it doesn't really grant the government a power to establish rights and freedoms. All it does is require the government not to intrude on certain listed ones and be prepared for the possibility that unlisted ones should be treated as if they were listed.

The establishment of rights comes from us when we defend each other's claims to them. Saying the government establishes them muddles things because what they actually do is 1) join in our defense of claims or 2) not oppose our defense of claims.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Read that document and you'll see that it doesn't really grant the government a power to establish rights and freedoms. All it does is require the government not to intrude on certain listed ones and be prepared for the possibility that unlisted ones should be treated as if they were listed.


I understand your point, but that's an argument over semantics .

I didn't say (or at least didn't mean) that the Bill of Rights is responsible for people having those rights. I said that it limited its scope to restricting the federal government from intruding on those rights. And later, the post-Civil War amendments extended that to state governments. It doesn't stand in the way of a private employer restricting your free speech or prevent the NRA from requiring you to check your firearms at the door of their gatherings. (Heh)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred and Larry

While I agree with your worry about a Constitutional Convention and I agree it is the right that has been pushing for it my worry is that the "Finest Democracy that Money can Buy" problem that you have is now so firmly embedded that only a Constitutional Convention could fix it

Looking from the outside your constitution has passed it's sell by date and is causing your country to be less free and worse governed than the other Parliamentarian democracies
AND its getting worse!

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

@LarryHart | I get your point, but the front half of that sentence shows you suggesting the Constitution establishes rights and freedoms.

This is the kind of nit-picky thing about which a libertarian cares. I got the verbal equivalent of a smack upside the head by another libertarian many years ago over something similar regarding recognition of property rights. He carefully laid out the differences between my lazy comments and what is true in a Common Law society like ours.

Progressives can be impressively lazy in their phrasing. That's not so bad in itself, but it sets off some of their would-be allies. There are conservatives out there who would side with us, but they prickle over seemingly strange issues. I'm letting you know this is one of them. Rights are established by us and no one else.

Otherwise, I think your point regarding Duncan's position is spot on.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | I’d argue that it is the social conservatives (a particular group of them still very upset from the Civil Rights era) that have been pushing for the Convention. It’s not the entire right wing and we need to avoid lumping them all together (and dehumanizing them of course) lest we create more opponents from potential fence sitters or allies.

We’ve always been the finest democracy money can buy. Our 19th century history is full of corruption and an excellent demonstration of the mess we can make with nepotism and a spoils system. Our 20th century history is full of corruption and excellent demonstration of the mess party bosses can make whether they come from Management or Labor. No doubt our 21st will be full of crap too.

The thing is, though, that through all this we’ve been making progress with the American Experiment. There are roughly 400 million of us now and we are freer now than we were in the past. Perfection won’t be attained at least partially because we keep moving the goal posts, but ultimately because we can’t agree on what it is. Yet we are still liberating ourselves and others. Most importantly… we are liberating others by simply being who we are; imperfect, occasionally imbecilic, but mostly individualistic with a dash of unintended incredible.

We don’t need a Convention. We need to learn to cope with the fact that we can see each other in far more detail than we ever knew before in history. We need to adapt to the difference between what we thought ‘American’ meant to what it really means. We aren’t this or that or that other thing over there. We are part of a civilization based on a bizarre idea that we take to extremes. In those extremes, we won three world wars, went to the Moon, and now we are helping to crush MANY problems I was taught as a child to treat as permanent fixtures of our social landscape. Americans are part of that civilization and we need to come to terms with that fact.

Heh. Being on the other side of the world from us doesn’t get you out of being a part of it too.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | I get your point, but the front half of that sentence shows you suggesting the Constitution establishes rights and freedoms.


At the risk of making it seem as if this argument matters more than it does...

The Constitution (or at least the Bill of Rights) establishes a list of rights and freedoms that the government can't take away. Yes, if the definition of "establish" is taken too literally, that sounds as if the rights didn't exist prior to the Constitution. I'd say it's the list that the Bill of Rights establishes, not the rights themselves.

The BoR doesn't go far enough. It guarantees that the federal government can't trample on those rights, which is a start. Neither the BoR or the Constitution itself prevents private interests from trampling on those rights. That was my original point.

Alfred Differ said...

Okay. That sounds right to my picky libertarian ears. 8)

I'm not sure what we could do to limit our own powers to trample on each other's rights beyond what we are already doing. I'm very open to suggestions, but I recognize that this is the role normally filled by tradition and faith. At this level we are talking about self-imposed limits which is vastly complicated by the fact that we are a heterogeneous society.

If I reach deep and try to think like an HG nomad, I'd probably opt for Duncan's solution when thing don't go as I prefer. Walk Away.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Very thoughtful comment, but you have to think about scale. Humans still have the same basic brains as HGs, and the same basic instincts. Faith and tradition were imposed on these to facilitate growing population density, which required stronger control mechanisms than peer pressure. It's really obvious that peer pressure is still a huge part of human instinct, but when society gets big enough that people can simply find different peers to circulate amongst, it is necessary to have more rigid authority structures to keep down interpersonal violence. It's looking like the human species has gone beyond the point where those Age of God-Kings mechanisms are still effective in keeping human societies from collapsing under their own internal conflicts. When those collapses happen, they tend to collapse back to the Stone Age.

Paul SB said...

And now for something completely different: I found this cool video on Youtube about using a 3D printer to build houses. It does it orders of magnitude faster than traditional construction, and at least an order of magnitude cheaper. I'm including an article about which makes the point that this technology is not going to cost jobs so much as shift jobs from witless muscle work to more brain-intensive careers. This is probably why so many people are mad at the establishment. It's not that the jobs are going away, it's that the jobs are requiring people to learn and stop being lazy brains.

The video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUdnrtnjT5Q

The website of the company:
http://apis-cor.com/en/3d-printer

And the article, which discusses other businesses doing the same thing:
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/innovation/why-3-d-printed-homes-may-save-lives-well-environment-n730606

locumranch said...


Heh. It looks like Alfred caught & corrected his very own logical error with Larry_H's assistance, his equivocation between the map (the Constitution & its representative BoRs) for the actual territory (those physical rights endowed by the Constitution with specific protections)..

His main error is much more severe: It's called Ancestor Worship wherein he endows certain dead white scholars with divine infallibility.

In Alfred's case, I speak of Hayek whose economic theories are unsupported & unsupportable by scientific data, representing the mere opinion of one dead white socialist, endowed with scriptural infallibility by hoary old age & what amounts to religious credulity.

In another case, I speak of David's liturgical acceptance of Adam Smith's rather unscientific opinion, yet one he cites with a religious fervour reminiscent of Torquemado, so the different opinion may dismissed as either ignorance or heresy.

In this sense, all I have to offer David & Alfred is a different opinion, no better & no worse than any other human's mere opinion, an opinion offered up by yet another soon-to-be dead white male.

Best

LarryHart said...


http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Mar29.html#item-4

Article 1 of the Constitution forbids any federal official from taking presents or emoluments from any king, prince, or foreign state. This is a bit of a dark corner of the Constitution, with very few court rulings on what it actually means. One of the reasons there is so little jurisprudence in this area is that to bring a case on the issue, the plaintiff would need standing to sue. If, say, the King of Morocco gave the president a nice camel, this might be an unconstitutional present, even if he gave it to the National Zoo, but to sue, someone would have to demonstrate that he or she was (financially) damaged by the camel.
...


Sorry to rant, but this sort of thing cries out for change. Yes, it's nice that there are competing hotel owners who are granted standing to sue Donald Trump for unfairly taking their business away. And I hope they win. But that should really be a side issue.

The emoluments clause in the Constitution is (self-evidently) there to discourage a president from taking bribes from foreign interests, not (primarily anyway) to prevent him from engaging in unfair competition in in the marketplace. It seems to me that any citizen of the United States (if not a class action comprising all citizens) have standing to intervene in unconstitutional presidential malfeasance. The remedy should not be limited to the small set of people actually hurt by the president's business practices.

For similar reasons, I disagreed with the notion that Jill Stein had no standing to contest the Wisconsin election because she wouldn't have had a chance of winning. If the election totals were inaccurate, it's not just the candidates who are harmed, but all citizens. On a technicality, I could (reluctantly) accept that only Wisconsin residents have standing to challenge a Wisconsin election, but that wasn't what the court ruled on.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | I'm tempted to ask you if you think 'tradition' is a means of control or an outgrowth of indirect reciprocity. One version would obviously be environment. The other would be innate. If you have an opinion on it, I'm curious to hear it, but I suspect this is one of those 'it depends' things that Sapolsky described when trying to describe the interaction between genes and environment.

I respect Duncan's choice to leave because he has explained it as being about keeping his family out of a bad future. Obviously that doesn't scale. We can't all move to New Zealand no matter how pretty it looks in the movies. Oddly enough, that's pretty much what some of my space advocate friends are thinking about when they imagine opening the space frontier. They argue that we need to be able to move around at scale. I look at human migration percentages, though, and see that most people DON'T walk away even when terrible things are happening. Most hunker down and try to survive. Coping with mental dissonance seems to be the rule in the more modern version of 'human'. "My neighbors are suffering and dying, but I'll get through this."

Not all of them collapse to the Stone Age, though. The Chinese civilization managed to keep agriculture and the collectivist traditions necessary to cultivate rice. Unless those things are built into them genetically (I strongly doubt it), they have demonstrated it is possible for people to self-limit in a manner that protects against full collapse. Over here it will be groups like the Mormons who might demonstrate that capability. Of course, none of that helps much with individualists like me and the traditions I care to preserve. Walking away doesn't preserve them either. Only inexpensive education for everyone appears to have a chance at feeding the Enlightenment. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | You are talking out of your ass again. Hayek was on the side opposing the socialists. He also pointed out the idiocy of trying to treat economics as a science. People of the time were looking for the economic equivalent of a physics-style state function so they could use the calculus of variations (built from hard science experiences) within economics. Macro-economics is founded on this variational approach.

You do have a different opinion, but it suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect. It's very curable, though, if you work at it.

LarryHart said...

Charles Blow tells us what we already know about hypo-Christians:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/opinion/character-should-still-matter.html

...
[Trump] is a serial philanderer who treats women as disposable conquests. He is a man who cheats on his wives with mistresses and then cheats on those mistresses. He is a man who, multiple women have alleged, also sexually assaults women. And he is a man who lies about it all.

Somehow, some folks, mostly conservative ones, have found a way to look away.

They see judges, tax cuts, nationalism, a boatload of phobias and permission to be hostile to people whose lifestyles or very existence unnerve them. They count that as more value than the devaluation of American integrity that Trump represents.
...

locumranch said...


So, yet again, Alfred admits that Hayek was NO scientist (who "pointed out the idiocy of trying to treat economics as a science"), while simultaneously insisting that the unscientific musings of this dead white Anti-Semitic RACIST(who stated that Levantine types are "fundamentally dishonest", "despicable", "sons of moneylenders") are worthy of worshipful uncritical acceptance. Because why??

Because Alfred appears to confuse an 'Appeal to Authority' (and, with it, the ability to parrot Hayek's words by rote) with actual 'Intelligence', revealing himself to be (at best) a mere credentialist & (at worst) an intolerant religious zealot.

Alfred want a cracker? Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

And, poor Larry_H, hoping against hope that morality 'should', 'ought' and 'is supposed' to still matter in his Brave New Post-Moral Progressive Age.

Stupid parrot!! You want a cracker, too?

Best

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | So it is obvious you offer lead. So be it. Time for Tit for Tat it seems.

I’m about as interested in Hayek’s personal life as I am in yours. Both of you are men of your times as am I. BFD.

Hayek was a scholar with an interesting perspective on what the social scientists of his time were trying to do. He accused them of envy for the methods being used by the physical scientists and of crafting dangerous illusions that harmed people while pursuing the objects of their envy. He started his career with a focus on economics and the theory behind booms and busts, but largely walked away from it when he correctly understood the place for economics among the social sciences. Afterward, he turned his attention to the foundations under the social sciences and wound up working mostly on the philosophy of political and economic order.

Hayek was not a scientist and thought poorly of those in his field guilty of scientism. He viewed that approach as fraudulent at best and quite harmful at worst. He saw scientism in academics and in social policy that resulted, in his view, in the deaths of tens of millions of people and the suffering of hundreds of millions. He spoke clearly about all this, though in an academic style, for any who care to put the effort into reading him.

If you spent even two brain cells patching together a model of my personality from what I’ve written here, you’d know I’m one of the last guys on Earth who would make an appeal to authority. I don’t use formal titles even if people have fairly acquired them because I don’t accept anyone as a superior or inferior to me. I’ll use titles associated with credentials if I have to in order to keep the peace, but anyone demanding I do gets to use mine in return. It’s a colossal waste of time as far as I’m concerned, so I start with the assumption that everyone is my peer and keep it until they convince me it’s not worth talking to them.

I don’t just know Hayek’s work. There are many who know it better than I do, but I’ve bothered to read him. I’ve bothered to read a lot of people. I’ve bothered to talk to a lot of people too. I LOVE to learn. I LOVE the challenge of facing and absorbing knowledge that disagrees with what I think I know. [I read Hayek because I disagreed with him on many points. His books won me over, but the ghost of him in those books had to work at it.] I talk with many people here because I LOVE the challenge they present to me with their knowledge that conflicts with mine. Some of them have worked hard at turning me and succeeded.

Dismiss Hayek if you like. You are certainly free to do that. Don’t think I don’t understand what you are doing, though. You are a coward shying away from what an educated person might teach you if you let them try. You fear having your world change because someone persuaded you it should. You are scared that you might be proven wrong about something and have to face the possibility that you are wrong about other things too.

If you were to write a book about yourself and your views, I’d probably bother to read it. I’m curious to know how you see yourself. I have a couple such books on my shelf written by people I like, but with whom I have strong disagreements. It takes courage to write stuff like that in print where it can be examined and critiqued. You occasionally give hints to us about yourself at that level and that’s what makes it worth me bothering. It’s rare, though. When it happens, it is welcome. When you offer dumb parrot analogies, you tempt me into thinking you are describing your self and your sense of self-loathing.

Anonymous said...

Only as a mental exercise. If we used a time machine and we could go to a meeting of President Abraham Lincoln with his generals after the end of the war. Suppose I came to the place and informed him of everything the Republicans have done. I inform him of how Donald Trump conspired with a foreign government to commit electoral fraud, robbing the presidential chair of a Democratic candidate. .
After that, I retire and leave there the photographs and news of the newspapers of what will happen.
What would Abraham Lincoln and his generals do? For real. Being sincere. What would Lincoln do?
I think it would be fun for some to recreate in Flash Fiction, the Shortest Stories what they would have talked about and decided the characters of that meeting.
Maybe that will clear our minds a little.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

They see him? The AIs of the google translator still do not acquire consciousness. In the final sentence I wanted to say "Clarify the minds" But the AI of the translator put the word "Delete".

Winter7

Anonymous said...

¡Waaaaaaaaaaw! ¿Now can all human beings be geniuses?
Obviously, the rich will put a very high price on this substance to prevent us from accessing these pills.
Link:
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-03-illuminates-brain-enhancing-drug-action.html


Time to go to work on the project. Excuse me.
Winter7

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

¿Now can all human beings be geniuses?


Well, only in the sense that Garrison Kellior described the town of Lake Wobegon, "...where all of the children are above average."

Anonymous said...

Here's a very interesting essay about liberalism by John Gray:

https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/john-gray-hyper-liberalism-liberty/

He runs down how liberalism and progress were made into a substitute religion, and some of the problems with that. This is probably my favorite bit:

While liberals have been ready to acknowledge that totalitarian movements have functioned as corrupt religions, they resist any claim that the same has been true in their own case. Yet an evangelical faith was manifestly part of the wars launched by the West in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. No doubt these wars served geopolitical strategies, however poorly thought out and badly executed, but underpinning them was an article of faith: that slowly, fitfully and with many relapses, humankind was evolving towards a worldwide society based on liberal values. Existing humans might vary greatly in their devotion to these values; some might be bitterly hostile to them. But this was only a result of having been repressed for so long. Sweep away the tyrants and their regimes, and a new humanity would emerge from the ruins. And when it failed to materialize, it was only because there had been insufficient preparation for its arrival.

The true lesson of these wars was quite different. While intervention may be justified in order to prevent the worst crimes against humanity – a genocidal assault on the Yezidis, for example – the freedoms of thought and expression that have existed in some societies in the past few centuries cannot be transplanted at will throughout the world. Late growths of Judaism and Christianity, these liberties are products of a particular pattern of historical development. At present, they are being discarded in the societies where they originated. The idea that the world is gradually moving towards a universal civilization based on old-fashioned liberal values is as fanciful as Comte’s notion that altruism emanates from a bump on the head.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart

In some countries, achieving a certain average in mental efficiency is very difficult, and very necessary.
That is a problem that children can not solve on their own. It is something that only adults can solve.
I doubt that the GOP are interested in solving the problem, for obvious reasons. But Democrats could do great things for the health of children.

Winter7

Treebeard said...

^^ Courtesy of your friend.

matthew said...

More attacks on liberalism from those that benefit from it, would be slaves without it, and have the hypocrisy to attack it for not allowing them to be THE CONQUEROR OF THE WORLD.

What lame bullshit we get from these ingrates.

Treebeard said...

Another money quote courtesy of Mr. Gray:

The politics of identity is a postmodern twist on the liberal religion of humanity. The Supreme Being has become an unknown God – a species of human being nowhere encountered in history, which does not need to define itself through family or community, nationality or any religion. Parallels with the new humanity envisioned by the Bolsheviks are obvious. But it is the affinities with recent liberalism that are more pertinent. In the past, liberals have struggled to reconcile their commitment to liberty with a recognition that people need a sense of collective belonging as well. In other writings Mill balanced the individualism of On Liberty with an understanding that a common culture is necessary if freedom is to be secure, while Isaiah Berlin acknowledged that for most people being part of a community in which they can recognize themselves is an integral part of a worthwhile life. These insights were lost, or suppressed, in the liberalism that prevailed after the end of the Cold War. If it was not dismissed as ata­vistic, the need for a common identity was regarded as one that could be satisfied in private life. A global space was coming into being that would recognize only universal humanity. Any artefact that embodied the achievements of a particular state or country could only be an obstacle to this notional realm. The hyper-liberal demand that public spaces be purged of symbols of past oppression continues a post-Cold War fantasy of the end of history.

locumranch said...


I don't fault you, Alfred, for admiring Hayek's position on either economics or scientism, nor do I fault you for glossing over his historic racism. Instead, I fault you for your zealous belief in his & your well-studied rightness, while you pass judgement on the apparent 'wrongness' the conflicting belief system.

This is the heart of Scientism, is it not? Scientism is defined as "the uncritical application of scientific or quasi-scientific methods to inappropriate fields of study or investigation".

That said, your intellectually dishonest accusations of 'ignorance' pale to insignificance when compared to the Scientism of our host who claims that an Astrophysics PhD somehow validates the specious nature of his other social, political, economic & progressive belief systems.

You & David are like carpetbagging salesmen peddling Hayek's Progressive patent medicine elixir, to which I reply “You drink it", while you both minimise the rejection with accusations of faithlessness, ignorance & non-belief.

To paraphrase matthew's dismissal of Treebeard: “What do you expect from a nonbeliever!”

Best

Treebeard said...

matthew, which lame bullshit is that? As Mr. Gray might say, liberals themselves are some of the leading would-be "Conquerors of the World", and dismissing criticism of their project as the work of "ingrates" (or "racists" or whatever) transitions easily into illiberalism. Here's more Gray bullshit for you on this point:

Liberals who are dismayed at the rise of the new intolerance have not noticed how much they have in common with those who are imposing it. Hyper-liberal “snowflakes”, who demand safe spaces where they cannot be troubled by disturbing facts and ideas, are what their elders have made them. Possessed by faith in an imaginary humanity, both seek to weaken or destroy the national and religious traditions that have supported freedom and toleration in the past. Insignificant in itself and often comically absurd, the current spate of campus frenzies may come to be remembered for the part it played in the undoing of what is still described as the liberal West.

Darrell E said...

Agree with matthew. That Gray article is some grade-A bullshit. Not surprised though. Exactly what I've come to expect from Gray.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Paul SB

Re - 3D printed houses at 24 hours that is not very fast - about 20 years ago a company built a std wooden framed house - about 10 times the size of that 3D one in 40 minutes

And I suspect that rather than 1/10th the cost it would be more like 10 times the cost

3D printing is great for some things - prototypes
But if I want a lot of concrete houses like that one it would be much much faster and give better results if you set up a factory and used more traditional methods

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | It has been my experience that home building involves muscle, but not much witless muscle.

It has also been my experience that the bulk of the time it takes to build a house involves things like waiting for the paint to dry, inspectors to show up, labor currently contracted elsewhere to become available, and so on. It takes some skill to have the right kind of labor there each day with all the materials they need and dovetail those logistics with regulatory requirements involving people who do not experience the profit motive. 8)

I suspect the real challenge isn't the 3D printer, though. It will be getting the codes changed to permit these things to happen. I know someone who used a genetic algorithm years ago to refine roof truss designs to save money for builders without loosing trust strength. He found a neat design that would have saved some serious $$, but the builder had to reject it because he failed to recognize the costs associated with convincing regulators. Add those $$ into the optimizer and the solution is predictable. Steady as you go. Let someone else bear those burdens.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | This is the heart of Scientism, is it not?

Not really. It's more than an uncritical application of scientific methods. It's really about a warping of the originally useful field of study by the envy of scholars for the successes experienced by hard science scholars. There is nothing impotent about the study of economics, for example, but when you expect a state function to exist, go searching for it, assume the number of dimensions for the domain is low, and then produce results to be used as if they were observably true, you've twisted yourself around into a torturous shape and imposed your beliefs on a theory in a manner that can't really be falsified.

Hard sciences rely, for very important reasons, of falsifiability tests. We discovered that Creation appears to be reasonably consistent when it comes to experiments. Try the same experiment over and over and Creation tends to give the same answer to within experimental uncertainties. The most important tests, though, are the ones where Creation clearly states the falseness of the expected result. That is possible in a solution space with a relatively low number of dimensions and we are fortunate that many hard science problems simplify that way. It is not possible in a solution space with a very large number of dimensions because it becomes impossible to control for them, randomly sample them, or even know roughly how far apart two results are from the same experiment. Economics involves huge numbers of dimensions that MIGHT simplify in certain situations. Macro-economists explore those situations. What they can't do, though, is generate falsifiable theories.

I fault you for your zealous belief in his & your well-studied rightness, while you pass judgement on the apparent 'wrongness' the conflicting belief system.

That's more cowardice from you. I'm CHALLENGING you to do more than piss and moan. Change my mind if you can. It can be done. Don't bother, though, if you can't face the danger of having yours changed instead.

You don't have an equivalent belief system to mine. You have truths that are demonstrably falsifiable. You have demonstrated your ignorance more than once and your unwillingness to read source material to at least get the quotes correct. If you can demonstrate my truths are false, then accept my challenge and get on with it. You'll need to work at it, though, like you haven't worked since you were in school.

Here is a hint. Hayek wasn't a Progressive either. That's your second attempt to tar him with the wrong brush. Care to try again?

As for your beef with David, I'll point that that he's got a bit more than a PhD. He's got a curious mind that has been learning and working away at problems for... well... a long time. Maybe longer than you've been alive. Curious minds can do a lot during a lifetime. More than you imagine. [I've got my PhD too, though my ego is a tad smaller (planet sized) and he's got a decade on me, but I know what a curious mind can do.] You have NO IDEA just how potent curiosity is especially when mixed with a love for life. To argue that his PhD limits the scope of his capability is really stupid. Arguing that makes YOU the credentialist.

Where is your courage, dude?
Are you so convinced of the rightness of your truths that you don't need to check for your errors of faith?

Alfred Differ said...

I think Mr Gray is confusing liberalism with a certain kind of humanism. That liberals are someone religious really isn't surprising. That they lean to ones that demand dignity for their fellow humans ins't a shock either. That doesn't mean the two ideas are the same idea, though.

these liberties are products of a particular pattern of historical development.

woo hoo! What a whopper! It's the 'unique path' argument again. 8)
This one is already demonstrably false. Liberalism has been working in non-western countries (and improving lives world-wide). It is already known to come in a number of varieties and we knew that way back in the 18th century. The Scots variant is unmistakably different from the French variant and wildly different than what the Germans did with it. Then the Americans ran with it. Heh.

Jon S. said...

Mr. Gray is confusing "liberalism" with the mindset that I last heard called "neoconservatism". Liberalism as it's understood by anyone aside from Mr. Gray certainly had nothing to do with GWB's apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq for no readily apparent reason (the excuse, 9/11, certainly doesn't hold water, as the offending group was sponsored by a major Afghan political party and most of the actual terrorists involved were Saudi citizens - heck, it wasn't even a matter of co-religionists, as the Saddam Hussein regime was notable for its lack of attention to anyone's religious beliefs; it was as close to a secular society as you were likely to find in that part of the world), nor for the at-least-partially-justifiable combat in Afghanistan. And what's that about Libya? Because I hadn't heard anything about non-African involvement there since Reagan, who could hardly be described as "liberal" in any sense of the word.

Basically, based on the excerpts published here, Mr. Gray's essay would appear to be "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing."

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

That liberals are someone religious really isn't surprising. That they lean to ones that demand dignity for their fellow humans ins't a shock either. That doesn't mean the two ideas are the same idea, though.


You're old enough to remember the 60s, right? Back then, those dirty anti-war hippies were trying to remind their corporate elders about the Sermon on the Mount. Their parents were having none of it. Christianity didn't really become a weapon of the American right wing until Anita Bryant and then Jerry Fallwell in the late 70s. Before that, religion was kind of an embarrassment to conservatives. It was a badge of identity (especially against Godless commies), but not something to be taken too seriously.

During the Reagan years, I was amused by the line in the movie Chariots of Fire, taking place in the post-WWI (that's ONE) era, after the religious Christian runner from England is going to forfeit an Olympic event rather than race on the Sabbath. The stodgy old English lords are complaining, "In my day, it was King first and God second!" That was conservatism, once.

LarryHart said...

Jon S:

Mr. Gray is confusing "liberalism" with the mindset that I last heard called "neoconservatism". L


As opposed to conservatism, which is neo-liberalism?

It's appropriate that the guy is named "Gray"--a muddying of black and white. :)

Paul SB said...

Duncan,

A wood-frame house in 40 minutes sounds pretty amazing. Was it built by machine, a very well-choreographed construction crew, or some combination of the two (or something else I have missed)? And how much did it cost? And did the 40 minutes include laying the foundation? With these printed buildings the printer creates the foundation as well as the shell. The other major issue, though, is the fact that it used wood. Wood burns, wood rots, wood gets eaten by termites, wood warps, and after a good flood, wood plays host to a legion of molds, some of which can be quite toxic. Then there's the issue of all the carbon stored in the wood that gets released every time a building is damaged or destroyed. It would really help if the species stopped relying on wood for building construction.

I'm not so sure about building concrete houses in a factory setting. You may know more about that than I do, but I would think that the transportation expenses would get pretty intense. Concrete isn't light, and setting large concrete pieces requires cranes and likely other heavy equipment. The web site for the Russian company mention other materials besides concrete, though I don't know if they are any lighter. I suspect that given time and attention to the technologies, someone will eventually figure out a way to 3D print in carbon composite, which could create enough demand for the material for economy of scale to lower the cost. It would also make for fireproof homes so we could fulfill a Ray Bradbury prediction. : ] or would that be : [ ?

3D printers are great for prototyping to be sure, but people by stuff that has been 3D printed for daily use. They can 3D print in a lot of materials, many of which are quite durable.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I have worked with enough construction crews to know that all the things you brought up are absolutely true. The only one of those, however, that is likely to be a real impediment is going to permitting, which has dogged alternative architectural modes for generations. The 3D printer works so quickly that once you get your inspectors in place (I used to be one of those) and have assembled the very small crew of workers you need to operate the machinery, the robot does the work fairly independently, so much quicker than a fleet of carpenters, and cuts the labor costs so low that the bottom line by itself will create a huge demand - and therefore a huge pressure on permitting agencies - if it becomes widely known.

Change can and does happen, in spite of all the inertia built into the system. Given the huge problems with affordable housing and efforts to house the homeless, these kinds of changes are largely a matter of time. Before mid-century it was nearly impossible to get an earth shelter permitted, or a straw bale. These aren't exactly commonplace, but they aren't impossible to permit the way super adobe is now. The 3D printer has the PR advantage of being high-tech sexy, which is likely to generate a lot more interest.

locumranch said...


Heh. Alfred's witless attempts at dismissiveness -- his claim that my " truths that are demonstrably falsifiable" -- provide Popperian proof that my arguments are scientific whereas his are not.

Like the polished turds that constitute economic theory, climate change & progressivism, those theories that CANNOT be proven false under any circumstance qualify as religious dogma rather than science.

I therefore accept Alfred's challenge & request him to provide advance scientific criteria for the so-called 'proofs' that would precipitate his 'change of mind', knowing that such a task would be both futile & 'unscientific' if no such proofs exist that are capable of disturbing his Hayek worship.

This goes double for David whose FAITH in a human future is unshakably non-falsifiable & therefore unscientific.

Best

Paul SB said...

Alfred gave a good technical description of scientism, but I suspect many people will find it hard to follow. A simpler explanation is that scientism is wearing the trappings of science without actually following the strict protocols of science. It is a way of claiming scientific authority without actually doing the hard work of science, including (or I should say, especially) the mental discipline of being able to let go of pet theories and biases when the data don't support them. That last is the hardest part.

The science of psychology is a good example here. They have been very good about giving the appearance of scientific rigor, but most of the field has been plagued since the time of Freud by major interpretive errors. They gather data more or less rigorously, they apply statistical procedures appropriately (for the most part), the problem is that they start from analogical thinking and, unsurprisingly, reach analogical conclusions (it would be easy to make fun of ideas like the Oedipus Complex or penis envy, even easier to slash Carl Jung's archetypes, but the only paradigm in psychology that was not guilty of this kind of unscientific reasoning was Behaviorism). Since imaging technology has made the human brain a subject that can now be studied in some detail, they can now start to look at actual mechanisms (deep structure as opposed to the surface phenomena) and that is starting to correct this weakness in the field.

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