Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The dilemma - cars and guns

== Again, why aren’t guns treated like cars? ==

Ponder a stark contrast. We have two examples of how America facilitates possession of potentially lethal machinery in the hands of citizens. Deadly tools that can be owned by almost any adult.

In one case, there are more than two hundred million users, who operate the machines with stunning skill, aiming them to just barely miss each other, hundreds of times per day. They license and register the machines and get insurance.

Yes, thousands of lives are lost to these potentially lethal machines! But if you divide that toll by the sheer number of hours of use, then by the economic benefits and life satisfaction that folks get from mobility, then the pain is thinly distributed. So thinly that the social consensus is: "Let's keep researching ways to refine the regulations and improve the technology to make them safer, but let's keep using them.

"This is working."

The other class of potentially lethal machinery accounts for almost exactly the same number of deaths per year! 

Dig it - that's a "wow" realization. Almost exactly the same number of deaths. Even though the second class of dangerous tool is used far, far less often, especially when it comes to "self-protection." 

The ratio of deaths per hour of use is incomparably higher for guns than cars. Like contrasting a mouse to a planet.

What are the crucial differences?

Oh, sure, one major aspect of the difference of lethality is intent. I get that. But pragmatically, the stunning difference is our attitudes toward what's reasonable regulation.

In one case there are regulations concerning training, insurance and liability (not just by user-owners but also manufacturers) that successfully reduce risk while enhancing utility. 

In the other case, none of this risk/harm/liability mitigation happens. At all. Whatsoever. Institutions are forbidden to even study the tradeoffs. Knowledge itself is dogmatically banned.

== Two types of dangerous machinery. Two opposite outcomes ==

The experiment has been run. Cars are regulated with spectacular success, at all levels and in all ways. Even the DMV runs far better, nowadays, in most states.

A huge burden of proof falls upon those who proclaim that Guns should not be treated exactly like cars. At all levels and in all ways. And yes, if you want an assault rifle, fine... take extra tests and insurance like the driver of an 18-wheeler.

There is only one justification for refusing to go along with this simple and logical approach. The Slippery Slope to Total Confiscation of Firearms by an Orwellian State. (SSTTCFOS). 

That's it. That is the sum total of the argument against changing the DMV to the DMV&G. "I don't want my guns registered, insured and licensed because then the state will know where they are and come and take 'em."

Whereupon I shock folks by saying... I agree! 

SSTTCFOS is an actual concern! There is a germ of a genuine objection, deep down, underneath the NRA-fomented hysteria, and liberals are foolish to dismiss it, out of hand.  In fact, I favor some steel-hard protections of Americans' "insurrectionary recourse."

The criminal stupidity of gun nuttery is not that they fret about SSTTCFOS. 

It is their refusal to look for a win-win. A positive-sum outcome

I describe one possible solution -- that could give all of us what we want and need -- here. Alas, no one seems interested in talk of a potential win-win-win.

== A useful metaphor ==

One of you (out there in the Brin-o-centric ether ;-) made the following, amazingly cogent observation:

"Gun advocates maintain that any law that infringes an American's right to bear arms is unconstitutional. Only note:

"While the constitution guarantees the right to vote, we do place restrictions on the right to vote: citizens are required to register ( and change their registration when they move). There are rules about where citizens may vote - and when they can vote. And gerrymandering can weaken an individual's vote."

And indeed, in Red America there are huge efforts to regulate away voting rights for millions. Talk about a slippery slope!  But this comparison's true meaning is simple. Rights do not have to go un-regulated in matters of process. You can wave picket signs on sidewalks and in parks, but not in the street or blocking businesses, yet we still have freedom of speech.

Again, I GET the slippery slope that gun activists fear!  I actually share that strong worry and reservation! 

But they are as shortsighted as lemmings. If you want to see how to prevent any slippery slope and get a win-win...

== Another - even better - "win-win" ==

Again.

Again and again.

Here's the Fact Act.

It should be item number one, if the dems ever had the sense to imitate the one and only political action taken by Republicans in 30 years that was worthy of respect. Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America."

== An idea whose time has come? ==

Years ago I proposed we copy a technique used two millennia ago, to discourage male morons from committing heinous acts in exchange for infamy. The idea was pooh-poohed and ignored for two decades... untill Parkland.

Suddenly, the notion of denying these awful twerps the spotlight has be called-out by columnists who act as if they invented the idea.  It's actually the "Erastratos Effect," and here's where you can see it worked out... how we can keep total freedom to know and speak, while still deterring these jerks, by denying them any noteworthy mention in history.

Follow-up essays:

Names of Infamy: Deny Killers the Notoriety They Seek.

The Jefferson Rifle: Seeking a Compromise Solution.

116 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

(carrying over from previous thread)

@reformed tourist | It's not referred to in non-academic circles as the Dark Ages for nothing.

I admit to stretching the definition for 'inclusive'. I was thinking they'd include some of us locked up in stocks. 8) However, you might be thinking I'm focusing on European history too much. I tend to quote global population numbers when looking at whether the Feudal Game is positive sum. As long as our Malthusian limits creep upward slowly, SOMETHING positive sum is going on. Malthus can't be avoided any other way. Pre-history population estimates vary from one source to the next, but a rough estimate of 5 million before agriculture begins to take over to 500 million before the Liberal Game is invented in Europe is decent enough to make the point. Over 10,000 years, our population grew about 100x. That's a doubling rate of about 15 centuries (or a growth rate ~0.046%/year). Roughly. While ALL the bad stuff our host says happens under feudal societies, we still managed to double our population every 15 centuries or so. Think like a nobleman or priest for a moment and it's easy to see why this matters. Those people are the source of your rents because you own the land and that's what really matters when it comes to incomes.

From a Malthusian perspective, it's not difficult for women to keep up with an economic growth rate near 0.05%/year. We know from the 20th century they can manage 2%, though we would be insane to go for that again. Even 1% is huge. Quoting a single rate for the Liberal Game era is nonsense since it wasn't in effect everywhere equally, but where it WAS in effect we know the economic pie grew far faster than 0.05%/year. There is really good evidence that it grew far faster than women could keep up and much, much faster than they'd let guys get them pregnant. This isn't what positive sum means, but it is partial evidence of it existing. If we can grow the population at 1% and not collide with Malthus, we know the economic pie is growing faster whether we know how to add up all the wealth being generated or not. McCloskey showed all sorts of things that couldn't be the cause of that pie growing so fast, so by a process of elimination, we have a pretty good idea of what's behind it.

I don't think the feudalists are zero sum players. I think they are about 0.05%/year positive sum players. Since we know we can do about 5,000x better than that AND beat Malthusian predictions, we'd be nuts to go backwards. Grow fast enough and wealth is not measured in how many babies need to eat to pay rent later. With the Liberal Game we've had to find new ways to measure what we do. Got an education? Got clean water? Got children who live to have children... practically EVERY time? Got vaccines? The list goes on and on.

What I think is more interesting, though, is that we took a 15 century doubling rate and dropped it to around one long generation or 30 years by changing the game. Robin Hansen argues for a 10 century doubling rate after farming took hold and a recent world-wide economic doubling rate of 15 years. His numbers are close enough to my back of the envelope estimates that I'll accept anything close. If you examine Hansen's Em ideas, though, he offered a weak projection of a doubling rate near 1.5 years in an early Em economy and maybe something as short as a few months. Whether his em's are possible or not, we shouldn't assume another phase change isn't in our future. The Liberal Game as we play it now will look like a sub-lightspeed star voyage if it becomes possible to manufacture copies of minds, but I'd bet everything I have they will play an improved version of our game because the Liberal Game is an incremental improvement, from one iteration to the next, on the Feudal Game.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Okay. You said some things that deserve careful responses.

conservatives and progressives are now playing different games

I think you are correct here, but I sincerely doubt you see the games actually being played. First of all it is Conservatives, Liberals, and Progressives playing a three pole game where players shift around a bit. I intentionally distinguish liberals from progressives because some of what Conservatives conserve happens to be classical liberal traditions. Some of what Progressives use happen to be classical liberal methods. Even a three pole game is a weak description of it since there is essentially one bigger game with a few sub-games we play within our own identity groups.

conservatives win OR we all lose

You might think so, but that strategy has been tried before and demonstrated to be a loser. You'll impoverish yourselves and we will steal your children. You might burn a few cities, but we won't lose in the long run.

Secession Gambit as they have done most obligingly in California

Nah. That's all going to fail miserably. Even the idea of splitting into three states will get crushed. If you hear anyone pitching this as possible, you are hearing a wishful thinker. Drinking their own Kool-aide probably.

(3) Both sides continue to raise the stakes until one or both sides blink.

Delusions of power I suspect. The tail end of your post dribbles off into this dream of the Lost Confederacy, so I'll let it go without much comment. Someone on the radio said California is the 5th largest economy now (if we were measured independently) so I'll go along with the belief we must be doing something right.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | All innovation counts, but the question that McCloskey used as a focus was this.

Why didn't the Great Enrichment happen in earlier eras when smart, innovative people lived and civilizations emerged?

Why not in China where most everything that a European thinks they invented was ACTUALLY invented?

Why not somewhere between East African, Arab, South Asian, and Chinese traders who made the Indian Ocean a giant trading lake before grubby western Europeans could sail around the Horn?

Why not in Spain? Pre-empire Rome? Periclean Athens? Egypt of olde?

Why not earlier?

This leads quickly to...

Why among the Dutch of all people? What exactly did the English copy and then improve when they displaced the Dutch empire? [It's not like the Dutch suddenly got poor when that happened, so there are constraints on what it could be.]

These invert your question about why feudalism endured. I'll bet the answers are related to something the Dutch LOST and substituted with something else. Evolution and natural selection took over from there.

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

As for comparing guns to cars, that's just waaaay to rational to get any traction today. People have their panties in a twist and their hair on fire. 8)

Heh. Someone has to call for peace and calm when the rioting factions are about to clash and burn the city. I'm glad you are trying. Maybe we can avoid another '68.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"Why didn't the Great Enrichment happen in earlier eras when smart, innovative people lived and civilizations emerged?"

Because the underlying data and equipment base the "Toolkit" was not there!

In those other societies a bright idea would not game much - a small percentage gain that could be washed away by chance

If you have 90% of the tools to do something then you cannot actually do it!
In the real world being almost able to build a bridge is worth nothing

The difference between the "toolkit" available in the late 1700's and the 1600's - or in China was night and day

Not just available steels and measuring equipment and machining - but things like farming, and water distribution and brick making and canals and surveying

Tim Wolter said...

Only a minor quibble. When calculating gun deaths the majority, sadly, will always be suicides. If guns were not available it is possible that suicide rates would drop. A little. Guns give no time for second thoughts, no time to call poison control or EMS. But many would just find other means.

A much smaller number of gun deaths are what I suppose you'd call a good thing. Actual criminals shot and killed by police for instance. But that has become a fever swamp of controversy.

Just clarifying, I'm not a big 2A guy personally.

TW/Tacitus

Tim Wolter said...

To be more specific, guns factor into somewhere between 53 and 60% of US suicides. In Canada, although the suicide rate per 100,000 is in some measures about the same, guns as a method are much lower. I recall 25% or so.

Since the human toll is high with automobile accidents, and since a higher percentage are what I guess you could call "innocent bystanders" is it time to consider more draconian laws with respect to unsafe driving? Texting, revisiting the legal intoxication level, figuring out what to do with detection of other drugs in the system, etc?

A troubled person who kills their self awful. A careless person who kills your child is worse. I don't think intent would matter much to a parent who has had such a loss.

TW/Tacitus

occam's comic said...

Deaths about 30,000 for cars and guns
For guns about 20,000 suicides and 10,000 non suicides

Injuries
Car 2.4 million
Guns about 60,000

If you count injuries cars are way more dangerous

Howard Brazee said...

"Gun advocates maintain that any law that infringes an American's right to bear arms is unconstitutional." Also not:

Do they really believe that felons in prison should not have their right to bear arms infringed?

reformed tourist said...

Uh guys -

I'm about to be provocative, buckle up.

Let's stop quibbling about statistics and talk deconstruct down to First Principles.

Can we all agree that the purpose of a car is transport? Can we further agree that is essentially a benign purpose, while accepting that such a devise can be used for violent purposes but that is not it's intended usage?

Now weapons are exactly that. A device intended to do violence at a distance. Is that an acceptable definiton? Yes, the skill involved can be absorbing - I find it intriguing and have been an indulgent. But, whether you are shooting at a paper target, a clay bird, a pop-up simaculum, or something constructed of tissue, bone, circulatory and other fluids, the purpose is to impact the target and do damage. This is true whether it is a hole in paper, the conversion of formed clay into powder, death of what will be your dinner, or that which threatens you or otherwise just don't like (or have been paid to dispose of...).

If we consider that society has a vested interest in the welfare of the community its individual members, does it not follow that such devices whose purpose is clear demand some structured demonstration of skill/safe handling/transport/storage.

Cars require it because they are utilized in a common space, not directly because of their violent potential, but rather because the use of public space requires some degree of cooperation to ensure that commerce (transport of goods/services/members of the community) is not disrupted. Additional factors include liability in case of accident or misuse.

And we all (well perhaps 99% or so) agree to the latter as it simply makes sense - we all use and are dependent on the common space on a continuous basis.

So why the hell is this an issue other than the neurotic aspect of a particular tool having a psychological aspect attendant to it. And that having to do with projecting force?

Okay, now we get to the social safeguard of having the last line in defense of one's liberty with the perceived risk that someone(s) will take that away. Well, you still got your car...

And back to statistics, let's drag out the now ancient studies about Switzerland and Israel regarding the distribution of weapons and their actual misuse in civilian society. And let's bear in mind that in those countries, training and regulation went hand in hand with handing out the guns.

reformed tourist said...

please excuse the typos above (sigh) posted without careful proofing...

yes, device not devise... a missing and at the very least &c &c (sigh again)

reformed tourist said...

Actually, in my haste I left out a salient aspect about the statistical comparisons:

The purpose of comparing statistical analyses is to demonstrate the danger - that equates to a cost/benefit comparison.

But let's call it for what it really is in this specific case (just like insurance companies use an actuary): an Acceptable Loss analysis.

Considering that most members of present society when considering most aspects of things they rely on have decided a Zero Accident tolerance is to be expected. As a result, society regulates the practice of medicine and law, operation of common carriers, and so on; again, why is this an issue?

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

So why the hell is this an issue other than the neurotic aspect of a particular tool having a psychological aspect attendant to it. And that having to do with projecting force?


It's an issue because the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution.

Having said that...

Okay, now we get to the social safeguard of having the last line in defense of one's liberty with the perceived risk that someone(s) will take that away. Well, you still got your car...


You jest, but the fact is that the Second Amendment does not specifically mention firearms at all. I have never understood how the sentence can be construed to prohibit any restriction on weapons with triggers that shoot bullets while allowing restrictions on anything else that might be used as a weapon.

Perhaps the sticking point is exactly what you allude to--that a certain subset of citizen believes his liberty is protected only by his right to bear arms against the government. Therefore, while it is permissible for the government to regulate use of cars in the public square, it is off-limits for the government to impose itself into your right to bear arms against that self-same government.

That explains the difference in attitude between regulation of cars and regulation of weapons. It still doesn't explain the difference between regulation of guns vs regulation of knives, swords, bioweapons, or tactical nukes.

sociotard said...

The United States does not have a right to vote as firmly enshrined as the right to bear arms. Compare: the one says it cannot be infringed based on race or previous condition of servitude, while the other just says it can't be infringed.

If I could slip one gun bill past all the BRA types, it would be for better tracking. Just to get better data about gun ownership. For example, I was making some graphs about violence (for funsies) and used gun ownership (% household with at least one gun) as a variable to compare states. But there were suspicious outliers. Hawaii had a higher ownership rate than Texas! I found out the data was found by a survey, and people lie. There is no good data with which to compare gun ownership to assorted kinds of violence.

A shame, because the (flawed) data showed low gun ownership states kill fewer cops than high. (Alaska has a REAL problem) and that was a fun chart to throw, just because cops are their tribe.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | I think you might be underestimating what the Chinese had in the 17th century, but at least your explanation can be examined. If the parts of the toolkit were laid out, historians could do the research to see who had what and where. An import aspect of that would be to look at whether the Dutch had all the parts too.

McCloskey's second book of the three is a long list of chapters that do these kinds of examinations.

reformed tourist said...

So it all hangs on the word infringed...

Up until the Industrial revolution and a bit beyond, the population required the use of a given tool in their daily lives that was dedicated to food gathering and protection from daily threats e.g. predators that might attack their livestock and or themselves plus the possibility of criminality in a society that was spread out and devoid of transport faster than a horse (making rapid law enforcement problematic for many). There was a secondary, albeit very important factor in the context of the times (we'd just fought a war of independence just before drafting the Bill of Rights, and I believe, we mention something about a well-regulated militia...).

Can't imagine what might have been on the Framer's minds.

The world we live in now is at least 90 degrees skewed from that one - somebody want to explain the meaning of infringed to me in context.

Which goes back to other ways to deal with the problem:

Let's let everybody have all the firearms they want. BUT, you can't buy or posses ammunition or its component parts without training, registration, certification and regular renewal... Won't work for sharp implements, but might work for tactical nukes and the more complex chemical/biologic weapons.

Just trying to move the question.

donzelion said...

Sociotard is quite correct here. No 'right' can be restricted or removed without due process; a privilege may.

Voting is complex, as it is a 'right,' (15th, but only with a narrow prohibition on restriction due to certain racial or religious factors), a 'privilege', and in another sense, 'duty.' It can be restricted far more easily than a pure right can be.

Driving, however, is always a privilege, and driving on a public road, a privilege in connection with a privileged use of public property. Far easier to restrict.

David Brin said...

I had been about to begin a 6 week speaking tour, and that was tiring enough. When a major Chinese corporation suddenly invited me to a conference with one WEEK's notice. Hectic and wearing. Ah well.

For a few of you… watch for the key words to show if I’ve been replaced or suborned!  I'll claim I haven’t been!  But then, that’s what “David Brin” would say! ;-)

Thrive & persevere and fight for civilization. And don't let even "me" talk you out of it. ;-)
db

donzelion said...

Alfred: fascinating that you and I agree about feudalism as a very slow positive sum game, but appear to differ as to relevant factors for consideration.

I'm impressed by the Dutch role, but also the French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Ottoman, and so many others. Many contributed pieces to the puzzle. My read on history resists seeing any single country as prime mover in creating 'the Enlightenment.' The Dutch moved a bit faster in some ways in the 17th, but could do so only after the Spanish/Italians/Hapsburgs exhausted themselves fighting the Ottomans in the 16th, a fight financed largely by old global trade networks newly reconstituted, as well as brand new discoveries/conquests - all of which were in turn the result of considerable developments - mills! guns, germs (animal husbandry), and steel...and many others.

Liberalism ultimately prevailed, not because of its inherent superiority, but because liberals deeply and pragmatically understood feudalism: they understood it well enough to assess interest rates for profitable loans to any side that compensated for risk. Liberals anticipated moves by feudalists, erred occasionaly, revised their methods, and got right many fundamentals the feudalists got wrong (e.g., soldiers fight better when paid, equipped, and professionally led than they ever fought to extend the glory or holdings of some feudal lord or to advance on specific claim about how to worship God).

David Brin said...

Alfred I disagree. Feudalists think in zero sum terms most of the time. A fair % sometimes will try for a tepid win-win positive sum outcome. But a great many have been negative-sum monsters.

Tim: gun suicides have a much higher success rate. Cleaner, I suppose, with fewer residual cripples to care for. But also no chance for concerned loved ones to intervene.

Occam: “If you count injuries cars are way more dangerous…”

Way more by numbers. But insignificant, still by harm divided by hours of use.

reformed: I’d be interested in what you think of my specific suggestion http://www.tinyurl.com/jrifle

The 2nd Amendment is astoundingly weak. Someday, a court WILL use the first nine words to reinterpret the “right.” I offer a stronger amendment as a carrot to lure compromise.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "It still doesn't explain the difference between regulation of guns vs regulation of knives, swords, bioweapons, or tactical nukes."

The 2nd amendment backers tend to revive the term, 'well-regulated militia' to define what arms are barred from restraint under this right: their claim is that arms which may be used by a well-regulated militia cannot be banned.

Bans on Tommy guns were upheld long ago, in cases that remain good law. Bans on 'assault rifles' at the federal level were also upheld (provided they were clearly written). If Congress wanted to renew the 1994 - 2004 assault weapons ban, they could. They do not, in part because the 1994 ban was an important piece in how Republicans took power from the Dems in the first place.

occam's comic said...

Is traveling all over the world on your speaking tour consistent with taking Climate Change seriously?

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: feudalists may think in zero sum terms, but humans still act in positive sum practices.

The problem of feudalism is that even when they engage in positive sum actions, as their interests are entirely focused on relative power, positive sum benefits will frequently be reversed by negative sum games (wars, feuds, raids). If the road you build to enhance trade will probably be used by a rival to move an invading army some day, one builds cautiously, and with an eye toward new costs of monopolizing the benefit of the road. Roads still get built, bringing positive sum gains, but slowly.

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: "Let's let everybody have all the firearms they want. BUT, you can't buy or posses ammunition or its component parts without training, registration, certification and regular renewal..."

Unless there's a federal ban, manufacturers in any state could produce all the ammunition needed nationally, buy out the local politicians, and secure their fiefdom. Congress is the only power that can act effectively here: it has dramatic powers even in the face of the 2nd Amendment to define which guns, which ammo, etc. are sold and where. But unless Congress acts, the states have very limited power to prohibit what is permitted elsewhere: privileges conferred by one state must be respected (in general) by others - and that applies with even greater force when a 'right' is at stake.

reformed tourist said...

Dr. Brin -

First, glad it's a Chinese Aerospace company and not Korean Aerospace Industries that's asked for you (for those who don't get it, do a quick current news scan).

Re the "Jefferson Rifle," remember it clearly and it somewhat informs my original post (just took a moment to reread it). It is a sensible notion, the drawback being that, as LarryHart pointed out in response to my "trap" (sorry Larry, but it seemed more effective to move the discussion that way) - we are dealing with an extant, integral part of the Bill of Rights. Any modification requires an almost insurmountable hurdle given the way Congress and the USSC is currently constituted. Even more alarming is how close we are to a new Constitutional Convention - for those who aren't paying attention, 32 states are under Republican control; you only need 34... Who do you think will come out to play for that beach party? Reference this article from the Economist:

https://tinyurl.com/yapbbo9l

For those reasons, I like going after the ammo as direct legislation. When you get right down to it, a gun without ammo is a somewhat unwieldy club...

Back to the Feudalism (and FACT ACT) thing - Alfred, the Hansen stuff is very interesting, but I still have trouble equating population growth as the primary determinant of successful survival strategy for sentient beings. If that is the case, I would have to support a full scale, no holds barred research effort to find ways to convert humanity into some form of insect as they have demonstrated far greater resilience than the rest of the biologic taxonomy combined. I have to believe that a Positive Sum game involves more than that.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Is traveling all over the world on your speaking tour consistent with taking Climate Change seriously?


Unless Dr Brin is flying in a private jet, the planes would be going wherever they're going anyway, whether he's one of the passengers or not.

occam's comic said...

"Unless Dr Brin is flying in a private jet, the planes would be going wherever they're going anyway, whether he's one of the passengers or not."

Then I guess no one has any personal responsibility for their actions?

occam's comic said...

Or is it an example of
"do as I say, not as I do."

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

Even more alarming is how close we are to a new Constitutional Convention - for those who aren't paying attention, 32 states are under Republican control; you only need 34...


That's what's been giving me nightmares lately, supplanted only by the inevitable consequences of our reneging on the Iran deal.

Not quite right, though. 34 states can indeed call for a convention, but I believe it would need to be ratified by 38. Still, way too close for comfort. I expect that Constitution 2.0 would contain something about our being a Christian nation, and which politicians are going to dare vote against that? Which would then end up justifying the new Nuremburg Laws. They'd probably do away with birthright citizenship as well, making a birth certificate insufficient proof. God knows what hoops one would then have to jump through to demonstrate citizenship, but you can bet the process would be designed to discourage liberal constituencies. I'd also guess there'd be an explicit ban on abortions, although that might rally enough backlash to sink the entire project. So maybe not. The religious right getting burned by the politicians whose d###s they suck--again. Who'd have guessed?

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

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Then I guess no one has any personal responsibility for their actions?


I don't see how that follows. Again, the plane will fly with or without Dr Brin on it. What would be gained by refusal? That's different from saying (for example) one should set the thermostat lower to burn less fuel, or not leave the shower running when you're not using it, or leave recyclables out of the landfill. Those things actually do save some common resource.

David Brin said...

Occam: "Unless Dr Brin is flying in a private jet, the planes would be going wherever they're going anyway, whether he's one of the passengers or not."

Then I guess no one has any personal responsibility for their actions?

Stunning hypocritical and ignoramus justification for sneering "hypocrisy!" Read the following very slowly and feel free to move your lips.

We could never have become a species that learned enough to become environmentalists if we had not developed industrial civilization that both engendered science and created world, cosmopolitan culture. Indeed, were we not confronted by the damage we do, it might have accumulated gradually and escaped notice, as it did for 15000 years due to goat herds and crude irrigation. Industrial civilization is a dangerous adolescent phase, but it brought us to a point where we can clearly decide to use its wealth to save everything... or not. And we can only move on in its context.

And swaying that decision is what I am about.

The folks who press for environmental science and improvement should go barefoot and never use combustion? Idiot! The plummeting price and rising use of renewables came after investment that was not carbon neutral. But now their footprint is net negative and getting better daily, because the innovators and investors were able to move about and do their thing. The effects will be to save the world.

And I do more to save the world in any given day than your smarmy-snarking ass does in any decade.

David Brin said...

You're welcome.

reformed tourist said...

LarryHart -

It's enough to make you think that RAH was either a time traveler or had a particularly clear crystal ball (with due respect to our host).

Let's see:

Donald Trump, Nehemiah Scudder, Donald Trump -> Mike Pence, Nehemiah Scudder, Donald...

What was that about impeachment we were talking about?

"If this goes on..."

A.F. Rey said...

Is traveling all over the world on your speaking tour consistent with taking Climate Change seriously?

Climate change is happening whether Dr. Brin flies on a specific flight or not. True, one the best ways to prevent it from getting worse is to severely cut down on carbon emissions, but that is only one of the strategies to combat it. There are literally thousands of ways we can do it, with various degrees of success. We all have to decide which is best for us all.

It is going to take a societal change to gain control of climate change. The science does not dictate how to do that. It only gives us a good idea of what will happen if we do or don't. Demanding that those who are convinced that climate change is happening to stop doing things while allowing those who aren't convinced to continue doing those things won't help anyone. We all have to agree on what to do, because we will all suffer the consequences.

So long as there are international flights available, there is no reason not to take them. It won't make a measurable difference if one person doesn't take a flight.

Cari D Burstein said...

Technically choosing whether to fly does contribute slightly to there being more flights, as if enough people chose not to do it, the airlines would run less of them. An individual flying or not once doesn't have much effect, but in aggregate it could matter (not unlike elections).

That being said, arguing that people concerned about climate change should never fly anywhere are usually taking an extreme reductionist view, primarily in their attempt to change the topic from dealing with climate change to "look at the hypocrites, we should ignore everything they say". So it's hard to take those comments seriously.

I do think it's good for everyone who cares about the environment and climate change to evaluate what they can do personally, with a reasonable cost/benefit analysis.

David Brin said...

The insipid argument was used against Al Gore. And inarguably he accelerated human attention to the problem.

Oh! The prefrontal lobes use up lots of body energy by trying to look forward and use judgement about future plans! Cut them out!

Viking said...

"And indeed, in Red America there are huge efforts to regulate away voting rights for millions."

This does indeed have unintended side effects. As the red states are requiring actual driving skills for blacks (but not whites), and thus failing the majority of them, in a convoluted scheme to prevent democratic voters from reaching the polling boots, the number of traffic accidents have dropped slightly, and due to the fact that disenfranchised blacks are lacking state driver's licenses, they are unable to obtain alcohol, which has increased their life expectancy. The drawback is that lack of driver's licenses has greatly increased the minority employment.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - Constitutional Convention

While it would be a large risk - it would also be a HUGE opportunity to bring the US constitution into the 21st century

Voting rights
Gerrymandering
Control of money in politics

Why do you think the Radical GOP would be able to hijack it? - they represent a minority of the population

Viking said...

I meant to say: " The drawback is that lack of driver's licenses has greatly increased the minority unemployment."

And of course polling booths, not polling boots!

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Why do you think the Radical GOP would be able to hijack it? - they represent a minority of the population


They represent a majority of the states. Almost a supermajority.

And they're sooooooooooooo good at messaging.

reformed tourist said...

Duncan -

Re-emphasizing LarryHart's point - Many people don't know about how government works in general, let alone how the various pieces and levels do (whatever happened to required High School civics classes... Oh, wait, I know, but that's another post).

I'm minded of the fellow who posted in the last thread declaring his satisfaction at deciding not to vote because there were so many better ways to spend his time (paraphrased). I suspect he's one that would be quite happy in a medievalist system, provided his liege lord didn't harsh his mellow - gotta hope for Lord and Lady Blaine to be the norm should that come to pass.

One of the happy(?) byproducts of the GOP's restructuring and re-focusing in the wake of Goldwater's 1964 loss was to purposefully build from the bottom up: dogcatcher, school board, STATE LEGISLATURE, and up the chain through Federal offices. I capitalize the one as that was in many ways the HAPPIEST of all milestones along the way that most people disregard at their peril.

We have the Congress we do because of gerrymandering. State Legislatures control the drawing and re-drawing of Congressional districts. State Legislatures, NOT registered voters, would vote for a Constitutional Convention. State Legislatures, NOT registered voters, would vote to adopt the recommendations of a Constitutional Convention.

That being a given, do you think it is remotely possible that such creatures would entertain any of the reforms you mentioned? Particularly when they achieved and maintain power precisely because they wish to restrict voting rights, rely on gerrymandering, and want to profit from their beliefs? Remember, it is the hijackers of the Republican party who would be calling for and controlling such a Convention.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Reformed

You are meant to be a democracy! - vote the beggars out!

To me the USA is currently locked into a flawed and faulty system - it is the only country that has managed to make that model work for any length of time
Everywhere else that has used the US model has gone - Gridlock - Strongman - revolution

A Constitutional Convention would enable you to move to a Parliamentarian model

matthew said...

Nice undercover work by CBS here should remind all of us that secrets are hard to keep. Especially when everyone forgets that a device has a memory.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/digital-photocopiers-loaded-with-secrets/

reformed tourist said...

Duncan -

A bit more -

The problem is us.

To be brutally honest (and I'm probably about to give away far too much identifying data, but the point has to be made), we have a disengaged, under-educated electorate, by design.

I mentioned the lack of HS civics classes a (negative) product of school underfunding when it should be a Must-Pass element in the curriculum to qualify for a HS diploma. Hell, it should be on ongoing part of the curriculum from elementary though college - (another shout-out to RAH: anybody remember the H&MP classes featured in the book, Starship Troopers, not the movie travesty?).

How about corporate control of journalism and the revolting development of "infotainment" and the replacement of "equal time/broadcast standards" with the universal application of "false equivalencies?" How much network time was spent on policy issues in the last Presidential election? Don't bother to look it up - less than 18% of all the stories broadcast. But, they definitely made the horse race exciting, didn't they? Don't you love the real-time graphics the commentators play with while they provide their insightful, colorful color commentary? Almost as good as Monday Night Football, 'ceptin' it's Tuesday (naah, nobody buys that one - they're all watching something real on one of the sports channels).

And, just to wrap a ribbon around it, what do you think the effect has been of the depression of wages, real purchasing power, etc on working America. Given that 2 wage-earner households have become much more the norm with adults working longer hours and less time to contemplate the world they live in (while CEO wages have risen from roughly 50:! to as much as 9 times that by some measures and at least 5 times that by conservative ones)? And how about the very concerted effort to blame low and middle income stagnation on those bad brown people who sneak across the border and those shiftless ones who talk to each other on Obamaphones. Do you remember the jokes about who's national holiday it was when the new model year's Cadillacs were released? How about Reagan's apocryphal Welfare Queen stories. And ask the average American what percentage of the Budget is spent on Foreign Aid (hint - they get it wrong by a factor of up to 10).

Healthy Suspicion of Authority has been supplanted by "damn them all, none of the bastids can be trusted - let's shake things up."

-see next-

reformed tourist said...

-continued-

So here's a personal story - we all know the size of the turnout in 2016. Much has been said about 2 depressing candidates depressing the vote. I call BS. Way too much at stake for anybody who hadn't allowed their biases to be force fed to them.

I recently prospectively resigned from the Chairmanship of my union local council (which is fairly large) due to a medical condition which places me on disability as far as the FAA is concerned - figured that even though it was legal to continue, it wasn't ethical to do so as if I couldn't fly, I shouldn't be representing those that were. I did so prospectively so that a normal election could be run for my successor.

Less than 10% of the eligible electorate participated in the Nominating Ballot. This morning I got the results of the actual election - a rousing 25.9% of the electorate bothered to vote...

Oh sure, we get 90+% participation for a contract ratification vote, but who the hell do these guys think sets policy, determines contractual goals and gives direction to the Negotiators, provides para-legal services in disciplinary proceedings and so on. The very people they depend on to safeguard the profession, deal with current threats, and figure out ways to enhance their careers. Over the course of an open voting widow that was 3 weeks long, 74% couldn't be bothered to sign in to a secure website, move the mouse and select a name who will be responsible for every aspect of their professional relationship with their employer and the government.

We get the government we deserve and thanks to the USSC's decision on Citizen's United, we also get the best government money can buy. Frankly, I see a real profit opportunity for people like me who know how the system works and how to work the system if they do call a constitutional convention.

locumranch said...


Speaking of Game Theory, something interesting happened to my daughter at her rather conservative American High School yesterday.

Her instructor divided the class up into factions, choose a slightly controversial topic, encouraged competition & commenced what appeared to be an educational Argument Game. My daughter joined in good faith, adjusted her argument in order to both strengthen & distinguish her position, when the game suddenly shifted to become one of 'Odd Man Out', placing my daughter in the clear minority. Name calling ensued; the instructor proceeded to chastise my daughter for defending the despicably indefensible position that he had assigned to her; and my daughter became emotionally distraught & was forced to leave school early.

In retrospect, this appears to be what has been happening here. As I do dearly love an argument, I have joined our discussions in good faith while attempting to inform & educate others in regard to the mindset of my rural Red State brethren, and only now I realise that the controversy (and/or topic) under discussion is most often incidental, a distraction or a deception really, and not the true object of the game. Trump & never-Trump are not the issue; intolerance & otherness are not the issue; facts & lies are not the issue; cars & guns are not the issue; and better angels & nazi aerospace engineers are all besides the point.

The true object of these discussions is Odd Man Out, the separation of the urbane managerial caste from that of the labouring provincial, and a reinforcement of group-specific identity. Our communications would necessarily lead to the acceptance of disparate viewpoints, increased intergroup accommodation & the devaluation of caricature if this were not the case, yet our Blue Urban host & his preselected in-group continue to stereotype their rural Red State opponents as ignorant inbred slack-jawed yokels, a charge that would be considered politically actionable hate speech if it was directed against any identity group other than the much shamed & blamed white conservative male.

As open debate & communication has proved ineffective, it appears that the time for open debate & communication has reached an end, and what remains of our constitutionally protected rights to engage in self-interest, self-government, free speech, free association & self-defence will not be amended, restricted or infringed. Talk has proven itself to be both cheap & ineffective, and the Ancient Greek term for "Come and take [them]" springs abrupt to mind.

Compromise appears increasingly improbable and, as every student of history knows, (1) the likelihood of a peaceful resolution diminishes rapidly in the absence of compromise and (2) the most likely casualty of this type of confrontation is the urbane managerial caste to which I too belong so, if it is of any consolation, you & I will in good company when our backs are placed up against the proverbial lead-impermeable backstop.


Best
_____

Notice how David's spendthrift approach to fossil fuels in no way affects his climate change identity group credentials because he is a beneficent *believer* rather that an evil but less spendthrift *denier*. Ergo, it is reasonable to suspect that the climate change identity group has little or nothing to do with actual CO2 reduction but with the creation of a blameworthy denier out-group.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/business/china-davos-climate-change.html

Although China's CO2 emissions have surpassed the combined outputs of both the USA & Europe as of January 2018, we must place our trust in David's 'Better Angel' as he can easily prove his commitment to CO2 reduction by condemning his Chinese host & donating his entire speaking fee to some climate change awareness charity in very sensational & public manner. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys
Finally fought my way through "Behave" by Robert Sapolsky

Great book - but quite hard going and LOOONG

Couple of comments
"the most interesting part of the brain evolved to be shaped minimally by genes and maximally by experience"
Which is why I am very suspicious of people saying that intelligence is a strongly hereditary

"hunter gatherer violence"
He thinks that it's overstated by Pinker - as far as I can see everybody who has got any actual figures agrees with Pinker - the arguments against are a combination of "I don't think it was bad" and "No true Scotsman - THAT society was violent but it wasn't a "Real" hunter gatherer society"

"The homunculus"
As far as I can see if random chance and some filters (Evolution) can produce all of the life-forms we see then something analogous can easily produce "free will" -

But quibbles apart an excellent book

reformed tourist said...

Duncan -

Parliamentary models are no panacea. by a very long shot. I got nothing against them, but the same problem exists. Just made more interesting at the form-the-government hootenannies.

The ideal answer is education and a sense of community made large.

The practical answer, from one who has been in the trenches and jungles for much of his professional life, is that just as the Republican's learned, a small percentage of the citizenry can move the entire body politic. It requires dedication to forming and maintaining affinity groups that work in consensus identifying areas of weakness and exploiting them. In military terms its referred to as asymmetric warfare. In realpolitik it means playing the long game (oy! a sports metaphor - none of us is immune).

The Republican party had the advantage of money, lots of it - so much that it convinced the Democrats that it was necessary to get with the same program. The "reforms" of post-Watergate were mutated into serving the very master they were intended to defeat (cf. Greider's "Who Will Tell The People."

Nevertheless, one, no, we must persist.

drf5n said...

Dr. Brin,

I thought you might like this article: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pervertjustice/2018/05/10/body-cams-in-virginia/

It says that the voluntary transparency of the good cops with body cams in disputed situations will help normalize body cams & push towards public pressure for transparency in all disputed situations. Hey, you cops have body cams, what are you trying to hide?

Alfred Differ said...

David | That the feudalists THINK in zero-sum terms is a given. That they were pretty successful at making it that way isn't in doubt either. We were talking about this from a game theory perspective, though, so I was looking at the whole game. I think there is good evidence for feudalists being less than perfect at capturing all the gains produced by others.

World population grew at a rate that is glacial by our standards, but they grew. Average real income did not. That implies Malthusian conditions. The game is slightly positive sum or there would be no new resources to feed new babies, but Malthusian conditions ensure zero gains per capita.

Feudalists ARE quite good at raking in the gains and then, as Donzelion suggests, blowing it all with wars and defensive spending that is inherently negative sum. City-sized star fortresses and thick church doors that can be barred and defended don't generate win-win returns. However, they aren't perfect. The sliver of positive sum left in the game is probably the result of innovation they failed to capture in spite of their best efforts.

However, I'm not arguing for a big positive sum rate. A growth rate of 0.05% could easily be viewed as a round-off error away from zero. Add in the occasional plague, famine, and mercenary looting event, and the locals certainly WILL see it as zero. Over a multi-century span, though, it wasn't.

Kal Kallevig said...

Alfred,
" I tend to quote global population numbers when looking at whether the Feudal Game is positive sum. As long as our Malthusian limits creep upward slowly, SOMETHING positive sum is going on. Malthus can't be avoided any other way. "

Most of that population growth has happened since the start of the industrial revolution, and as Duncan has said, the tools had to be available.

What was also available at the same time was the availability of vast amounts of energy that we then were learning how to harness. We did it so well that now our Energy Slaves may have revolted to the point of wiping out in the near future most or all of the positive sums that resulted from our having the slaves.

I think NJ Hagens from the U of Minnesota says it very well. The following is from a working draft of one of his upcoming books:

Energy Slaves

As you recall - and as we’ll discuss in greater detail as the course goes on - every American has over
500 invisible energy slaves working 24/7 for them.52 That is, the labor equivalent of 500 human
workers, 24/7, every day of the year, mostly derived from burning fossil carbon and hydrocarbons.
Every American thus has a veritable army of invisible servants, which is why even those below the
official poverty line live, for the most part, lives far more comfortable and lavish with respect to energy
and stuff than kings and queens of old (but obviously not as high in social status). Being long dead and
pulled from the ground - and thus a bit zombie-esque - these energy slaves don’t complain, don’t sleep,
and don’t need to be fed. However, as we are increasingly learning, they do inhale, exhale, and leave
behind waste. Since they’re invisible, we don’t think about these fossil helpers any more than we think
about nitrogen (which happens to be 78% of what we breathe in, but hey, it’s just “there”, so why think
about it?) Same with our 500 energy helpers. The extent we think about them is when we fill up at the
pump or pay our electric bill – and then only as an outlay of our limited dollars.

We use the “slave” metaphor because it’s really a very good one, despite its pejorative label. Energy
slaves do exactly the sort of things that human slaves and domestic animals previously did: things that
fulfilled their masters’ needs and whims. And they do them faster. And cheaper. Indeed, it probably
wasn’t a big coincidence that the world (and the USA) got around to freeing most of its human slaves
only once industrialization started offering cheaper fossil-slave replacements.

The things we value are created with a combination of human and energy-slave work combined with
natural capital (minerals and ores, soils and forests, etc.). There are huge amounts of embedded energy
in the creation and operation of something like an iPad and the infrastructure which makes it work.
When we tap our screen to view a kittycat picture, the image is pulled from a furiously spinning hard
drive which may be halfway around the planet, propelled by some fossil slaves, and routed through data
centers which are likewise fueled. The internet uses over a tenth of the world’s electricity - that’s a lot
of energy slaves.53 The infrastructure itself has taken decades to build, and requires constantly
increasing energy to maintain. But we don’t think much about that either.


You can find many of his talks on YouTube or his bio on LinkedIn.

David Brin said...

Interesting "Odd man out" anecdote and if true... horrible. But of course, locum has absolutely zero credibility. He makes up astounding delusions to support... well... he never says what he supports, except the toppling of dictatorship by smart people.

I do know that every debate class and team in America has strict rules and all teams practice debating all sides and this suspiciously convenient "odd man out" thing would have been eviscerated instantly in any school I know.

Mind you there's the infamous Stanford Experiment. Perhaps the teacher was trying to make that point. Someone else look this up? Because we can trust locum's testimony about as much as a crackhead's.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I don't think McCloskey would argue the Dutch did it alone, but she likely would argue that they did something no one else did. What I find intriguing about her argument is that the Dutch did NOT try until after a rebellion against the Phillip II in which they lost something very significant in the 16th century. They lost their earlier attempts at unity to preserve some independence, they lost confidence that the mercenary armies they faced could be held back from sacking cities (see Antwerp), and they lost powerful nobles. By the time the southern provinces made a separate peace, William of Orange had converted to Calvinism and SHARED power with the remaining provinces to secure the needed internal peace of 'his' forces.

Wars cost serious money that the original William I or Orange and his noble allies did not have. After a few heads rolled, he had to flee. On his return leading an army, he made progress until he ran out of money which lead to the disintegration of his army and the destruction of the armies of his allies.

Dutch nobility was practically purged. Faith change among the Dutch purged the other group of feudalists, but neither purge causes the enrichment. They remove hindrances, but that is not enough. People were left in a position where they have to surrender... or innovate. The southern provinces chose the former. The northern ones chose the later. What the northerners 'invented' was pretty small, but it enriched them enough to fight off the Hapsburgs and eventually changed the world. They created a culture that dignified innovation and rewarded those who tried, but not by grants of rights from nobles. Remember the nobles either weren't there or they were sharing power. The rewards arrived in the market.

The hole that had to be filled can be seen in how in the early years the States-General sought a monarch to be their sovereign ruler. The Duke of Angou accepted, was installed, but was rejected in Holland and Zeeland. After making a mess of his attempt to take Antwerp he left. Elizabeth I rejected them. With options exhausted, they fell back into becoming a republican body (no one appeared to want to piss off the Spanish Crown) and a later Prince of Orange was made Captain General of their forces.

The success brought by small cultural changes can be seen in how they grew in power AS they fought off the Hapsburgs. While they fought, something that is normally negative-sum, the real incomes of the average dutchman grew. No doubt a 12 year truce helped because they used that time to build a navy they used later to turn their rebellion into a world-spanning war. Their 'victories' in the Battle of the Downs and colonial outposts demonstrated that a republic could make fighting them expensive at home and abroad. There is no doubt Spain could have done more if they had been able to focus, but that is not a luxury to be experienced by a ruling Power.

That a close-to-home, former property turned republic could harass a Power into a peace treaty AND grow real incomes for their average citizen should not go unnoticed. That they accomplished this AFTER adopting a culture change should catch the attention of anyone disliking their own local feudalists. It wasn't an easy path and took generations for them, but we've seen replays in more recent times by people who possess a refined playbook. It's still not easy, but it's been shown to work in about one to 1.5 generations.

Enlightenment Civilization requires those small cultural changes. It rewards those who play the game in ways humanity had never before seen.

Alfred Differ said...

@Kal Kallevig | One of the drawbacks to using global population numbers is they one can't see local doubling rates. If we switch to estimates of national census numbers, though, one can see that the population doubling rates ballooned in places that 'went Dutch' BEFORE the industrial revolution started.

Malthus was writing about population concerns as the industrial revolution got underway and before anyone realized that real incomes for the common man were increasing. Economists missed the later point for decades. Schumpeter was scornful of Malthus for missing the very thing going on all around him and fearing too much that there were too many people. Of course, Malthus was right if one focused on English history in the two centuries before 1348 and during Elizabeth I's reign. More people meant less land per person and less grain per person, therefore rents for nobles could not improve.

By 1830, the industrial revolution WAS well underway and at least the historians (like Macauley) were beginning to notice the change. Not only was population doubling faster, but wealth was doubling even faster.

I put to you that those who focus on the tools being needed are guilty of putting the cart before the horse. What you need first is people. What you need immediately after that is a way to keep them from starving. Malthus can't be ignored. This combination HAD to have occurred, though, because populations in areas that 'Went Dutch' grew before industrialization. They didn't have lots of cheap energy. [They were tapping water power where they could.] They didn't have lots of cheap materials either. What they had was a population that was around 5 million near 1700 and near 8 million around 1800. [5 million was their pre-plague peak four centuries earlier.] A 60% increase and half of it arrived well before the steam engine. People first... then tools.

The question to be explained is how starvation was avoided. It couldn't have been industrial tools that arrived decades later.

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

@reformed tourist | I'm not a big fan of treating population size AS the best measure of our success as a civilization. I'm just using it as a proxy for the economic growth rate during times when Malthus rules. What tickles me pink about our civilization is we are the first to figure out how to grow faster than women CAN produce babies. That means that during the modern era, my proxy can't do more than provide a lower bound. The reason I find it so neat is that arguments promoting hard and fast limits to our growth don't account for how we change ourselves. Our nomadic HG ancestors grew at a doubling rate far, far slower than the feudalist one. Our doubling rate is a quantum leap higher again and has grown large enough that we actually have to try to measure economic quantities instead of the babies mouths proxy. We might be in the midst of changing ourselves again if one considers as possible anything close to what the singularity folks believe might happen.

We are far better at this than insects, because we are social AND our individuals are intelligent. Still, there is one aspect of having a higher population that should be considered as a success measure. The more of us there are, the more variety there is among us. Even if we count only the genetic variation, large numbers means we are exploring possible ways to survive. Primates have a heck of a time lasting very long as a species and we might go the same way, so variety might be needed. If we count memetic variety, though, we've NAILED it. Every intelligent person out there granted enough dignity to try something new and enough freedom to act by whatever motivates them is a potential innovator. Educate them all and we might become god-like. Hmm... I suppose the ghosts of our nomadic HG ancestors might argue that we already are.

Use whatever measure moves you, though. My personal favorite involves the expansion of our footprint across formerly hostile ecosystems.

occam's comic said...

Flying all over the world
1) comes with a huge carbon foot print
2) is typically a voluntary activity
Dave will do what he wants to do and will rationalize it any way that makes him feel better.

I guess it is too much to expect that wealthy white liberals who say climate change is causing problems now and will cause even more problems in the future to actually change their behavior.
And if it is asking too much from wealthy, white, climate change believing, liberals to make even minor changes (like not flying) then it is ridiculous to expect Exxon, the Koch brothers, and coal miners to give up their livelihood.


locumranch said...



I also celebrate the total destruction of the potentially hostile non-human ecosystem through rampant deforestation, the judicious application of selective toxins & the liberal construction of vast lifeless parking lots which represent a great testament to the human 'can do' spirit.

Selling Out has such a noble history.

If memory serves me right, ex-President George Bush Senior received a $1 Million USD speaking fee just for saying nice things about his Asian hosts while having a humiliating romp with a Panda back in the 1990s, so we can only hope that David does as well by fawning over the globe's A Number One CO2 Producing Climate Changing Totalitarian Criminal.

Union negotiations & revolutions tend to FAIL for this very same reason, no matter how noble their beginnings, once the union negotiator & revolutionary learn that they can attain great personal wealth by selling out everyone & everything they represent for beaucoup Euros, Dollars & Yuan.

As the saying goes: Whose Bread I Eat His Song I Sing.

The same goes for the "97% Consensus among Climate Scientists", I suspect, as no one ever achieved wealth & power by concluding that their services were unnecessary.


Best

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

But of course, locum has absolutely zero credibility.


A point I've been trying and failing to make. Yes, there's nothing to prevent one from lying...except that one's reputation is sometimes very important.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

something interesting happened to my daughter at her rather conservative American High School yesterday.


And you no doubt blame progressive liberals for the sins of that "rather conservative" high school?


I have joined our discussions in good faith while attempting to inform & educate others in regard to the mindset of my rural Red State brethren,


That's not the impression you've given. Just sayin'


and only now I realise that the controversy (and/or topic) under discussion is most often incidental, a distraction or a deception really, and not the true object of the game. Trump & never-Trump are not the issue; intolerance & otherness are not the issue; facts & lies are not the issue; cars & guns are not the issue; and better angels & nazi aerospace engineers are all besides the point.

The true object of these discussions is Odd Man Out, the separation of the urbane managerial caste from that of the labouring provincial, and a reinforcement of group-specific identity.


I think that perception says more about you than it does about this blog. I just don't see us as that monolithic. Many are more tolerant of the legitimacy of Trump than I am. We're hardly all on the same page as concerns privacy vs transparency. Or TPP, for that matter.

Many prefer the in-the-weeds science or sci-fi discussions than the political ones which most fire me up. Many know way more about subjects like genetics, nuclear power, Middle East politics, etc than I ever will. No one else cares about Cerebus or Hamilton.

I'm often motivated to post my POV in order to make sure I'm not crazy or to get a meme out there in public that I don't think has the visibility it needs. But I don't expect (nor even desire) a bunch of "likes" and dittos.

If you're seriously contending that you've been playing a character in your posts, and that we've unfairly maligned you for the sins of your character rather than your own, well, at some point you have to make clear what you're up to. I could imagine myself deciding to reply to every post in the manner I imagine Donald Trump would, in order to make the point that his worldview is unflappable in the face of...well, anything. But if I did that and never let on what I was doing, it would be hard to blame the group for reacting to me as if I really was the cretin I was role-playing. As Kurt Vonnegut put it in the introduction to Mother Night:

"You are who you pretend to be, so be careful who you pretend to be."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

this suspiciously convenient "odd man out" thing would have been eviscerated instantly in any school I know.


Maybe bullying is accepted practice in a "rather conservative American High School"?

LarryHart said...

Appropriate insight into some recent conversations here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/11/opinion/intellectual-dark-web-red-pilled.html

...
To the alt-right, of course, being red-pilled means abandoning liberalism as a lie. It means treating one’s own prejudices as intuitions rather than distortions to be overcome. The act of doing this — casting off socially acceptable values in favor of those that were once unthinkable — creates the edgy energy that has, of late, attracted Kanye West. (West’s sojourn on the alt-right has been facilitated in part by Candace Owens, a conspiracy-minded African-American conservative who created the website Red Pill Black.)

Because the red pill experience is so intense, progressives should think about how to counter dynamics that can make banal right wing beliefs seem like seductive secret knowledge. Attempts at simply repressing bad ideas don’t seem to be working.

To be clear: I don’t think the members of the alt-right or the Intellectual Dark Web — which overlap in places but are quite different — are repressed. The latter regularly appear on television; write for the op-ed pages of leading newspapers, including this one; publish best-selling books; and give speeches to large crowds. They haven’t been blackballed like Colin Kaepernick, who lost his football career for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. No state has passed laws denying government contracts to critics of political correctness; such measures are only for supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

But online life creates an illusion of left-wing excess and hegemony that barely exists in the real world, at least outside of a few collegiate enclaves. Consider, for example, how an online mob turned a Utah teenager who wore a Chinese-style dress to her prom into a national news story. The sanctimony and censoriousness of the social justice internet is like a machine for producing red pills. It makes people think it’s daring to, say, acknowledge that men and women are different, or pick on immigrants, or praise the president of the United States.
...

LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what we already know:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/opinion/trump-food-stamps-agriculture.html

...
In the end, I don’t believe there’s any policy justification for the attack on food stamps: It’s not about the incentives, and it’s not about the money. And even the racial animus that traditionally underlies attacks on U.S. social programs has receded partially into the background.

No, this is about petty cruelty turned into a principle of government. It’s about privileged people who look at the less fortunate and don’t think, “There but for the grace of God go I”; they just see a bunch of losers. They don’t want to help the less fortunate; in fact, they get angry at the very idea of public aid that makes those losers a bit less miserable.

And these are the people now running America.

Treebeard said...

You can burn as much carbon as you want; the trick is to convince yourself that by doing so you are doing more in a single day to save the world than all the peasants will do in their entire deplorable, worthless lives. Because you have Science, Enlightenment and Steve Pinker on your side, are a man in the process of becoming a god.

locumranch said...


I apologise for making David the target of my personal self-loathing.

You see, I've been prostituting myself for years because that's what responsible citizens do. Responsible citizens prostitute themselves by trading "personal service" for material reward and "selling out" their moral principles for pecuniary consideration, much in the way that our society compels the moral baker to supply wedding cakes to & associate with those who are given to immorality.

Welcome to the Orwellian Future where our Enlightened Society believes that moral principle demands the universal abnegation of moral principle, democracy means a submissive polity dominated by a fact-using elite, and empowerment refers to the privileges afforded you by others.

The duty of the good progressive is clear:

Sell Out, Conform & Submit for the greater gooble-gobble good because 'Freedom is Slavery', 'War is Peace' and words mean the opposite of what they used to mean.

Good Luck in China.


Best
_____

The funny sad thing about my (tolerant; empathetic; sensitive) daughter's experience at her 'conservative' American High School is that she was condemned for defending the conservative views assigned to her by hypocritical individuals who made her look like a progressive Hollywood leftist by comparison. As she is the daughter of a fact-using professional like myself, she will ALWAYS be the 'Odd Man Out' in the community of her birth & in the eyes of her soulless mother.

reformed tourist said...

Alfred -

I'll respond to your comments, but first there is a duty I must attend to.

locumranch - I find your statement: "Union negotiations & revolutions tend to FAIL for this very same reason, no matter how noble their beginnings, once the union negotiator & revolutionary learn that they can attain great personal wealth by selling out everyone & everything they represent for beaucoup Euros, Dollars & Yuan." not only incorrect in its facile, overly-broad characterization, but personally insulting.

I have been a negotiator on several occasions and recently was instrumental in setting policy and giving direction in a negotiation that doubled the value of the company's initial offer (a final increased value of just under $1.5B, yes, B as in Billion). I assure you that my involvement and those of the others directly responsible for this outcome was neither driven, nor did it realize any profit for us other than what the rest of the membership received through improvements in our contract. In fact, over the years, my and other's involvement has deprived us of the opportunity to enhance our flying compensation due to the time commitment required, not to mention that such commitment denied us time with our families and other pleasurable activities.

I realize that your approach to these discussions is, what, unique? idiosyncratic? intentionally provocative? Even so, you might have more impact if you admitted error from time to time.

reformed tourist said...

locumranch -

As I was writing the above, I missed your last re apology to David until after I posted.

Well Done on that!

As to the rest, not so much, but extend my sympathies and support to your daughter's efforts.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The funny sad thing about my (tolerant; empathetic; sensitive) daughter's experience at her 'conservative' American High School is that she was condemned for defending the conservative views assigned to her by hypocritical individuals who made her look like a progressive Hollywood leftist by comparison.


You say that's "funny" (not ha-ha) in the sense that one wouldn't expect hypocritical bullying behavior from conservatives. I do expect it, and I'm rarely surprised.

I'm not arguing against your indignation on your daughter's behalf, but note who you're arguing about. It's not liberal urban progressives.

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

not only incorrect in its facile, overly-broad characterization, but personally insulting.


Welcome to my world.

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

As I was writing the above, I missed your last re apology to David until after I posted.

Well Done on that!


You're being awfully generous, or else your sarcasm meter needs fixing.

reformed tourist said...

LarryHart -

Yeah, the meter has been making some funny noises as of late - should probably take it into the shop.

reformed tourist said...

locumranch -

I'm a big proponent of leading and teaching by example, so allow me to correct an example and admit to hyperbole:

Just received the certified numbers from our national ballot and election certification board - after checking for only eligible voters and subtracting out those who were in arrears or otherwise not in voting status, our participation turnout was not the paltry, exaggerated figure of 25.9%, but rather the rousing increase to 27.55%.

I stand chagrined, but feel much better for admitting my mistake and ensuring the record is accurate.

See how that's done? (stole your line, Larry).

Also, FWIW, I've been a revolutionary, too - was successful in effecting a regime change; not only didn't personally profit, but also didn't command that all should henceforth wear their underwear outside their clothes. (I realize that using a Woody Allen referent is not terribly PC these days, but a good line is sometimes just a good line.)


LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

See how that's done? (stole your line, Larry).


Close. I said, "See how that works?", which I in turn stole from an issue in the #50s of Ultimate Spider-Man. As if more proof of nerditude was required.

(I realize that using a Woody Allen referent is not terribly PC these days, but a good line is sometimes just a good line.)


I can't argue with that.

donzelion said...

Alfred: In general, I think you and I are very much on the same page about feudalism: "slow growth over the long haul, but positive sum growth nonetheless." Probably a better institutional structure than anarchism, 'barbarism,' or any form of non-institutionalized tribalism (which have antecedents going back even further than feudalism - perhaps tens of thousands of years).

For me, the reason to respect feudalism is not at all because I want to revert to it: I want to obtain at least the same degree of familiarity that the old Dutch brokers possessed (along with many others) - because sometimes, the tricks they used in playing one batch of feudalists against another (while profiting themselves immensely) may have modern corollaries.

If the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Americans, or any of the others assumed that "all feudalists are our enemies" - none could have played one set of feudalists against another, as each did to considerable and crucial success at certain points (and also, occasionally, disaster - the Dutch embrace of the French was helpful until a betrayal, and the American embrace of slaveholders was helpful vis-a-vis the British, until the slaveholders turned out to be traitors too). I perceive a nuance in 'liberal/feudal' relations today which can work much as it did centuries ago. Indeed, by my measure, we never 'extinguished' feudalism at all: it coincided along with all industrialization and modernity - evolving, slowly, but surely.

donzelion said...

Locum: "Responsible citizens prostitute themselves by trading "personal service" for material reward and "selling out" their moral principles for pecuniary consideration, much in the way that our society compels the moral baker to supply wedding cakes to & associate with those who are given to immorality."

Actually, what our society does is compel the moral baker to refrain from raising himself from a mere banker into a judge and arbiter of morality. If he claims to be a baker, he's forced to actually bake when he offers his services as a baker, and another accepts that offer: they've entered a contract, which the moral baker may not void even if he deems the other 'immoral': that baker is a baker - had he sold services of a preacher instead (and had they bought that service), he could dispense his moral judgment - but that's not what they bought from him.

To the extent we have an "Enlightened Society," it's not because we require universal abnegation of any moral principle. Rather, a "fact-using elite" will dominate the 'moral-abusing' non-elite (in an Enlightened Society), largely because facts raise moral principles in a way that is measurable - forcing moral principles raised in the absence of facts to give way.

A.F. Rey said...

I guess it is too much to expect that wealthy white liberals who say climate change is causing problems now and will cause even more problems in the future to actually change their behavior.
And if it is asking too much from wealthy, white, climate change believing, liberals to make even minor changes (like not flying) then it is ridiculous to expect Exxon, the Koch brothers, and coal miners to give up their livelihood.


So what is your suggestion, occam? That it's all hopeless, and we should just hang ourselves now and get is over with? :)

Because global warming is happening and its almost undoubtably caused by humans. So we will suffer the consequences if we don't stop adding carbon into the atmosphere, for the reasons that David (among others) have outlined previously.

If we don't follow the suggestions of wealthy white liberals, then who do we follow? Old white conservatives? They've just denied that there is a problem at all, and intend on making it worse.

Feel free to criticize David for hypocrisy if you will. It is a valid criticism; we all should be cutting back our carbon footprints more than we do. But now you need to tell us your better solution to the problem. If it's good, we'll back it. But if it isn't better, or (God forbid) it's worse--well, you may have some hypocrisy criticism coming your way, too. :)

locumranch said...


Reformed_T cites an excellent reference ('Bananas', 1971) wherein 'The Odd Man Out' quickly learns to distrust the stated intentions of his significant other, his friends, his coworkers, his government & various identity groups, providing support to the cynical proposition that all humans are untrustworthy & all idealists are fools until proven otherwise.

Our Culture of Moral Relativism (which argues that one individual may not judge or compel another individual) amounts to little more than a publicly sanctioned 'Odd Man Out' game which condemns the individual for the exercise of moral judgment (the 'mere baker' in this case) while validating the moral right of the mob (aka 'a collection of individuals') to judge & compel any another individual as in the case of the 'mere baker'.

Like the current Anti-Bullying or Anti-Incel Crusade that indulges in bullying by promising to break the legs of the Odd Man Out, it's the Ultimate Hypocrisy for a society to indulge in the very behaviours that it forbids.


Best
_____

Indulging in the very behaviours that it forbids [See 'tolerance', the progressive definition] [See 'hypocrisy']

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

[See 'hypocrisy']


I think we're looking right at it.

reformed tourist said...

LarryH -

Hypocrisy, yes, but in the spirit of positive reinforcement, it should be noted that locum has made one intellectually honest object statement today buried within his "apology" to David at 10:29 this morning:

"...my personal self-loathing."

One trusts that we all join in hoping that locum will recover from his affliction.

Beyond that, we should admit to being in the presence of a Master - David made reference at one point to College Debating tactics, to which I'll add my experience with office holders and candidates who "answer" a question with what they want to say rather than a substantive reply to the actual query (there is a large subset who know only what ALEC has provided them, typically a single line that they use over and over again to follow-ups). But I digress.

Locum's art is not merely to cherry-pick, but rather to pick the merest sliver of a given cherry that provides the opportunity (in his mind) to continue supporting the toot-de-jour, content or context be damned.

A breathtaking display (or perhaps it is the gag reflex I'm experiencing).

David Brin said...

Hey Occam. Neener. Show me the calculations. Actually put them down as a rational argument backed up by estimates of my carbon footprint, vs the good I have done with books like EARTH and speeches and debates that have left denialists shattered and policies changed.

REFUTE my argument that using an advance technological society to move forward to post-carbon levels will work better than renunciation, a stupid prescription you share with all the old feudalisms.

Again, I do more for a better world in any one day than you do, in a year. And this time (since you ignored it and yet decided yet again to provoke me with another scratch at my ankle) I’ll repeat it.

I do more for a better world in any one day than you do, in a year.

Hey locumranch! All my life I have know snarlers who kept up the same chant: “I’ve been a sucker - my goodwill taken advantage of - all my life, but now it stops! I’ll show you who’s a pushover!” Funny thing. Folks who shout that generally shouted the same thing last year, and the year before, and all the way back to childhood, rationalizing their victimhood justified doing nasty things to others.

I am glad, though, you have a decent relationship with your daughter. That’s sweet. If ironic. May her peers never be “redistributed’ to incels.

Steven Hammond said...

locumranch said:


Like the current Anti-Bullying or Anti-Incel Crusade that indulges in bullying by promising to break the legs of the Odd Man Out, it's the Ultimate Hypocrisy for a society to indulge in the very behaviours that it forbids.

Hmmmm...I'd say the current Anti-Bullying movement is, perhaps, ineffective and half-hearted as adopted by many schools and other institutions---lots of hand-waving and promises, but basically ineffectual. Not really seeing anyone's legs being broken. I'm hard pressed to see anti-intel as "bullying" but perhaps you have a good argument? I wouldn't doubt that some number of Incel people were pushed to their views BY bullying.

How powerful can the anti-bullying movement be if Melanie Trump is its most prominent spokesperson? Don't get me wrong, I find her fascinating (and I pity her) and love seeing those Gifs where the Donald tries to hold her hand and she pushes him away. Good stuff!

Anyway, In high school football players can still get away with being total d*cks and in University, fraternity members can get away with sexual assault and leading pledges to alcohol fueled death--with eventual reinstatement of the frat. Sororities undoubtedly have their own trail of shame and "mean girls" in HS still rule the roost. It's hard to change culture--but it CAN be changed as Pinker points out in regards to murders by noblemen declining in late medieval Europe.

I'll take your story about your daughter's experience as an honest narrative and not something fabricated by a persona. I'm very sorry for her experience and the pain and humiliation it caused. I hope she's moving on from that and doing, OK. I have children of my own and bullying etc has been an issue at times as well.

Oh, that reminds me--have you or anyone else here watched the Youtube show, Cobra Kai? It's basically The Karate Kid--35 years later. BUT, the protagonist is Johnny Lawrence who got the crane kick to the face in the original movie. The series is surprisingly good and nuanced with enough cheese to make it pretty damn tasty. It delves into bullying in a major way as well as the institutional impotence regarding that. Some interesting dives into violence, wealth, class and family. It's pretty funny as well. Not sure how women overall would view it. I watched it with my wife after watching it by myself. She was as hooked as I was but something about some of the very implausible plot-points drove her crazy. I told her Shakespeare did that too, but it didn't help--alas. ;) I know she'll what the next season, though.

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

there is a large subset who know only what ALEC has provided them, typically a single line that they use over and over again to follow-ups


Who can ever forget Marco Rubio going "Let's not pretend he [President Obama] doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing!" over and over again. Even Chris Christie made fun of him for that.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

All my life I have know snarlers who kept up the same chant: “I’ve been a sucker - my goodwill taken advantage of - all my life, but now it stops! I’ll show you who’s a pushover!” Funny thing. Folks who shout that generally shouted the same thing last year, and the year before, and all the way back to childhood, rationalizing their victimhood justified doing nasty things to others.


It's in the origin story of every DC supervillain and many of the Marvel ones too.

Could have been me too. I'd like to think I passed a test that certain others did not. I'm almost 60 and having the best time of my life.

LarryHart said...

Steve Hammond:

anyone else here watched the Youtube show, Cobra Kai? It's basically The Karate Kid--35 years later. BUT, the protagonist is Johnny Lawrence who got the crane kick to the face in the original movie.


Strangely enough, I just saw an ad for that show on a barroom tv screen at lunch yesterday. I didn't catch all of the nuances that you described, though.


I watched it with my wife after watching it by myself. She was as hooked as I was but something about some of the very implausible plot-points drove her crazy. I told her Shakespeare did that too, but it didn't help--alas. ;) I know she'll what the next season, though.


Try reading Dickens some time. I mean, A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books, but some of the coincidences wouldn't be plausible on a daytime soap opera. The first time I saw the movie Oliver (I was eight or nine at the time) I thought I must have missed something. "Wait, the random guy on the street whose pocket he tries to pick just happens to be his grandfather?" I gather that's par for the course, though.

reformed tourist said...

It does occur that we may actually be succumbing to locumranch's real intent - to deflect the topic such that we are all talking about and at locumranch...

Think I'll do a little empirical testing of that theory by not.

Alfred Differ said...

Hah. He has that effect on us at times.

The solution I use (it works only occasionally) is to limit the time I spend trying to figure out what he is saying. If the limit is reached, I move on without responding.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I'll go along (grudgingly) with the need to play feudalists off against each other. It is a skill we still need. I'd rather shoot the lot of them, but I'd be violating my own principles if I actually tried to follow through on it. They are supposed to give cause first. Even a tiny cause. Maybe even just a hair out of place. 8)

We certainly haven't extinguished them, but they did suffer a huge setback with the Soviet collapse. We had bragged that our way was better than theirs. They got to space first. We went to the Moon. They captured Eastern Europe. We helped rebuild Western Europe. When they collapsed, though, they gave an unintended notice to all the others who tried to follow them. Every would-be dictator in their style knows how it could end for them. No bang. Just a whimper.

Feudalism CAN die, but it won't be because the would-be aristocrats surrender. It will be when their peasant support base abandons them. The fight worth winning is the one that converts peasants to bourgeoisie. That was the part of the Cold War I think was worth the risk we created to the existence of higher-order life on this planet.

Steven Hammond said...

LarryHart said:,

Try reading Dickens some time. I mean, A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books, but some of the coincidences wouldn't be plausible on a daytime soap opera. The first time I saw the movie Oliver (I was eight or nine at the time) I thought I must have missed something. "Wait, the random guy on the street whose pocket he tries to pick just happens to be his grandfather?" I gather that's par for the course, though.

Oh,man! I DO love 19th century novels. From Sir Walter Scott (under appreciated) to Dickens (wonderful! With names leading to Uriah Heep and really great stories. Love seeing him on Doctor Who) to (my favorite) George MacDonald. Can't leave out the Russians Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy (learned more about theodicy from discussions with people who leaned on Ivan and his argument than just about anything else--which may explain my fondness for Process Thought). Tolstoy led me to think about pacifism in a serious way for the first time but, though I didn't find that completely convincing, I do find his other stories wonderful and his characters so true that I forget they are not only fictional, but characters living over 100 years ago in a very different culture.

I do find it interesting that I accept weird, random plot twists without a thought and yet it makes my wife pull her hair out. She reads Jody Piccoult and Maeve Binchey which I don't read. We both read and enjoy Alexander McCall Smith who has all sorts of improbable plot-twists, but maybe there's something about his approach that makes that acceptable. I suppose the most interesting thing in regards to my wife's review of Cobra Kai when I asked her was, "it's very male." I'm not sure what that means and as I respect her opinion and she won't be more specific , I would love to know what other female viewers of that show think , especially--but males as well. As I said, she pretty much binged it, but was also critical in this vague way (to me, a male ;) .)

Slim Moldie said...

Straying further away from the target than my three year old's 6 AM pee pee...I know our host references Fox news frequently, but I'm wondering how many of you are like myself and never actually watch or read fox news. If so, take a brief journey with me to the land of Fox and twitter. It's a small world after all.

We'll begin with Tucker Carlson. 1.94 Million followers. Quoting:
A: The Muller probe is no longer a law enforcement investigation. It's a hit job.
B: The biggest threat to America isn't Putin, but China
C: Closer ties with Russia would make a war with Iran more complicated...
D: Is college worth it? (A series) Classes teach less than ever, unless it's extremist political ideology...
E: Crying College Kids (I didn't read it, but it sounds like if you get triggered too much they have cry closets for you. What's next lactation rooms?)
F: How long before CA is Venezuela?
G: Is MS-13 getting more Dangerous?
H: Anti-gun control parkland teen interrogated like a criminal.
I: Tech Tyrany (an ongoing series) Big digital monopolies have too much power...

(Next we go to Slammin' Sean Hannity, whose profile features the ham man himself armed with a football poised to throw to us the audience. Yo Tucker? Is Hannity the Manatee? Does he really have 3.65 M followers? BTW if you like your under pants on the outside like Adam West as Bat Man. BOOM! This shit is that good.)

A: Nancy's Nightmere. Pelosi gambles. Trashes. Slamming...
B: Schumer's Meltdown.President Trump unloaded on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Thursday, blasting the liberal legislator...
C: Doomed Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slammed President Trump’s approach to North Korean diplomacy just months ago.
D: Firebrand Congresswoman Maxine Waters continued her anti-Trump crusade...
E: Disgraced former FBI director James Comey continued his anti-Trump crusade.

(Good news for every Hannity's fannity; we got pictures! The accompanying images appear to have been curated by a fiercely disgruntled National Geographic wildlife photo editor who can't get a job at PEOPLE and only accepts image submissions rendered by amusement park caricature artists and gargoyle fabricators. )

Lastly, Ann Coulter. Check out her latest column! "OLD MUHAMMAD HAD A FARM, JIHAD, JIHAD ... OH!" Spoiler alert! If you actually read the article, you'll learn that as a result of the irrational demand for guest workers, we got the Agricultural Amnesty Act -- and, with it, not one but two of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.

FWIW there's nothing xenophobic about this at all. So, don't melt your little snowflake tears in the crying closet...because there were two, t.w.o farm-worker terrorists. And one plus one is two. And that's why both towers blew up. Because there were 2 guest workers. Two, you turd! T.W.O! And one minus one is zero. Just like the Challenger and the Columbia. They both exploded! Because Michelle Obama got rid of vending machines at schools. And that is why you'll never be as smart or successful, or beautiful, or wealthy as me. So if you're smart, don't go to college. ROSIE O'DONNELL!





David Brin said...

"I'd say the current Anti-Bullying movement is, perhaps, ineffective..."

Utter bull puckey. Assholes attempted to brutalize me monthly, in Jr. High, till I bloodied enough noses that they went elsewhere looking for softer victims... like my brothers.

My kids not only reported none of that. At all. But reported seeing or knowing nothing like it. While you have all seen me get very sharp at the genuine "PC bullying" of leftist jerks, that is the obscene froth on a completely wholesome wave.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "I'll go along (grudgingly) with the need to play feudalists off against each other. It is a skill we still need. I'd rather shoot the lot of them, but I'd be violating my own principles if I actually tried to follow through on it."

LOL, yes, you will always be the Pitchfork Patriot in this respect. Personally, efforts to just shoot them...turned out so badly (French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolutions), that I'd prefer to avoid that tactic wherever possible.

In my view, from about 1932 through the Cold War, American would-be feudalists were in something of a panic: existential threats (nazis! nukes!) posed by the Soviets made any long-term designs for ensuring the ever-increasing size of estates tenuous. The feudalists receded somewhat, though the scions of the feudal powerbrokers of the 19th and early 20th centuries remained preeminent in America. Dormant, but never defeated.

"Feudalism CAN die,"
In certain formulations, sure, but rather than 'die out' - so long as those who amass vast holdings can develop strategies that ensure those holdings transfer intact to their heirs and most likely their grandchildren and beyond, some sort of feudalism can and most likely will persist. The peasant support base may embrace them now, renounce them tomorrow - but they're wily enough to have that covered; the ones that do not will lose when they miscalculate, and new ones will replace them.

"The fight worth winning is the one that converts peasants to bourgeoisie."
On this, we are absolutely aligned.

But I'd look for allies among SOME of the feudalists: there are billionaires who recognize the existential threat climate change may present to their vast estates, and then there are those who devise means of profiting from messes likely to recur. We need the former. We do not need the latter.

Slim Moldie said...

Dr. Brin,

On bullying. "The obscene froth on a completely wholesome wave" is apt. But I think the issue is more complicated. (This is my 18th year teaching middle and high school and while I agree the frequency and magnitude of overt verbal/physical bullying has diminished--you might be neglecting the veracity of social media. We're on the cusp of Vinge's "Rainbow's End" in some ways and social media has opened a whole new can of worms. You describe bullying in 3-D. Verbal. Physical. Time and place. Now you might say it's going on in 4-D because the one time incident rotates and translates and reflects across time and location as for example somebody picks their nose or grinds on someone at a dance. The moment is gone in less than a second. But another kid takes a 1 second snap chat of it. It goes viral and half the school has seen it, and they watch it over and over and the adults don't know about it and then you have a kid who doesn't show up for two days or with their head down at their desk. Don't take my word for it. Go to fast food restaurant and ask a teenager if they experience bullying or something of the like. There's a whole other world going on under their desks, behind purses, books, backpacks and calculators that's going to make chiropractors and therapists employed for years to come. That said, I DO agree with you because the culture in my buildings has improved and more and more I do see kids tolerate each other, accept differences, diversity, hardship, disability, intelligence, bad hygiene you name it. They are for the most part behaving nicer as humans more in the flesh, and they are more mellow--but maybe I'm just projecting as this is anecdotal.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Slim

One of my hobby horses
US High schools and colleges have a very nasty and counterproductive "Sports" culture
We have sports here (NZ) but we don't have huge stadiums and the "Coach" is just another teacher
When I went to Glasgow we had 12,000 Scots - but no "Jocks"

And "Cheerleaders" !!!!! - getting schoolgirls to dress in suggestive outfits and shake it all about - you have got to be KIDDING!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

Steven Hammond:

to Dickens (wonderful! With names leading to Uriah Heep and really great stories.)


It was only a few years ago that I finally got around to reading Great Expectations, and I was wryly amused to see that there was actually a character in the book called Master Bates. I wondered if that was a knowing wink to the 19th century audience, or if it was expected to go over their heads.


LarryHart said...

Oh, apparently Master Bates is a character in Oliver Twist, not Great Expectations. My bad. They all run together, except for A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities, neither of which can be confused for anything else.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

And "Cheerleaders" !!!!! - getting schoolgirls to dress in suggestive outfits and shake it all about - you have got to be KIDDING!


Over here, cheerleaders have been part of high school and college sports since forever. The small town girl whose social career peaks in her high school cheerleader days is a pretty well-worn cliche.

It was when professional teams (i.e., Dallas Cowboys) started having cheerleaders that it started to feel creepy.

reformed tourist said...

Thought there was some topic drift, but upon considering I see the following:

Prime topic: Guns (a device to compel through actual or threatened violence) with carryover of Feudalism (a political/economic system that compels obeisance in all things through High, Middle, and Low justice administered by {and for} a single Alpha and his descendants). -->

Divergence into locumranch's divergence -->

Bullyism (anybody need a definition?) -->

divergence into 19th century literature/Fox "news" -->

Bullyism/Feudalism...

Yes, I suffer from a pattern-seeking compulsion to, in my own words, connect thigh bones to thyroids, but from the eponymous title of James Gleick's BBC show, Connections (?)

reformed tourist said...

whoops - forgot and not sure how to include cheerleaders... benign (mostly) sexual bullying?

reformed tourist said...

Oh, should have added note re Fox "news:" informational (negative) bullying

have to work on link between Dickens and Murdoch

reformed tourist said...

And WTH, one more bit of data. Somebody upstream mentioned Bob Sapolsky...his first book (non-academic publication) was....drum roll.... "The Trouble with Testosterone."

Steven Hammond said...



"I'd say the current Anti-Bullying movement is, perhaps, ineffective..."

Utter bull puckey. Assholes attempted to brutalize me monthly, in Jr. High, till I bloodied enough noses that they went elsewhere looking for softer victims... like my brothers.

My kids not only reported none of that. At all. But reported seeing or knowing nothing like it. While you have all seen me get very sharp at the genuine "PC bullying" of leftist jerks, that is the obscene froth on a completely wholesome wave.


I have to wonder, though, if physically violent bullying had already declined before the current anti-bullying movement. Might the decline in violent bullying be attributable to--banning leaded gasoline?

I'm not entirely convinced that cyber-bullying is on the decline (and I include adults being bullied such as the whole "Gamergate" situation and Twitter bullying)

David Brin said...

Steven, Mark Twain attributed the Secession Treason and the Confederate madness to the popularity of the novels (and romanticism and worship of feudal lordship) of Sir Walter Scott.

David Brin said...


Slim Moldie is eloquent about the SnapChat bullying. I never claimed that human nature had changed. But putting bullying in steep disrepute is an accomplishment.

See my blog posting: “Was 1957 America Better Than Today?”
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/10/was-1957-america-better-than-today.html

Steven Hammond said...

Hi David,

I do think that's an interesting point and in the last thread (I know you weren't around for a lot of it) donzelion was wondering about the continued attraction of feudalism. I'll just go ahead and copy my response here:

donzelion said:


The point, rather, was to consider why feudalism endured, why it is attractive to so many even now, when liberalism is so self-evidently superior in so many ways. There are very few folks advocating the abolition of cars and asphalt for horses and cobblestones today. But feudalism itself has so many adherents looking to revive it in some form that the "liberal game" remains underway only with considerable effort.

That's a very interesting question. I wonder if many of the adherents of "feudalism" in the political sense are actually more "medievalists"? The attraction to medievalism is much more apparent, I think, and continues in so many ways in popular culture. Medievalism

I'll just add that I am no fan of feudalism, but I do continue to enjoy works of popular fiction such as Tolkien, JK Rowling (mentioned in the Wiki link above)and, yes, Sir Walter Scott.

locumranch said...



Guns = Feudalism = Bullyism = Communism = Fox News = Testosterone

I fully expect the next assertion to be 'Feudalism = Climate Change'.

The pattern I see is rampant equivocation substituting for reasoned discourse, a tactic that allows the practitioner to conclude that all things & actions equal their opposites.

(1) White = non-Red; Black = non-Red; and non-Red = non-Red. Ergo, Black = White.

(2) Feudalism = BAD; Climate Change = BAD; and BAD = BAD. Ergo, Feudalism = Climate Change.

I therefore conclude that all who disagree with me are Nazis because all negative evaluations are EQUAL.


Best
_____

How, exactly, does an act of redefinition like putting any thing or action "in steep disrepute (represent) an accomplishment"?

This is medicare-grade bureaucratic nonsense. First, you assign a negative evaluation to an event. Second, you declare that such negative events 'should', 'ought' and 'are supposed to' NEVER happen. Third, you declare that negative events or actions NEVER happen because they are not 'supposed to' happen. Medicare does this. It calls such occurrences 'Never Events' & declares them 'non-existent' for medicare reimbursement purposes.

Toot-toot-toot. I have declared all human failings & infirmities to be "in steep disrepute". Now, congratulate me because I have successfully banished all human failings & infirmities by magical declaration.

David Brin said...

Stop assuming we are like you! We do not think like you. That is what terrifies you most, about smartypants modernists. We understand you pretty well, after 6000... make that 100,000 years. There is a dark pool of zero sum inside us all.

But you show no sign of even the faintest glimmer how positive summers think. When you try to parse us in your terms, it's like dealing with aliens, which is what you think of us.

reformed tourist said...

--> does not equal =

locumranch said...



David says "Stop assuming we are like you! We do not think like you".

Is this yet another magical declaration like 'Get thee behind me Satan'? Does this mean that you 'should not', 'ought not' or 'are not supposed to' think like those deplorables who have been erased by "steep disrepute"? Me thinks you doth protest too much.

What David does here is argue that the western exception EQUALS a general rule, his assertion being that those who share his positive-sum worldview represent something 'universal' (and therefore 'correct') rather than WEIRD exceptions & statistical outliers.

His trip to China will be educational, I suspect, once he is confronted by a truly universal human worldview that conflicts with his rather perverse & unique one.


Best
______

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/05/weird_psychology_social_science_researchers_rely_too_much_on_western_college.html

"WEIRD subjects, from countries that represent only about 12 percent of the world’s population, differ from other populations in moral decision making, reasoning style, fairness, even things like visual perception".

donzelion said...

Steven Hammond: Thanks for lifting back to that - Alfred, Reformed, and I suppose I have carried the thread into a few tangents, but I do think it's a good and fair question, and certainly one of our host's preoccupations.

I think distinguishing feudalism from 'medievalism' may help: consider how a 14th century lord would have invoked without even recognizing it logic derived from the 'Great Chain of Being' - principles of Aristotle, Augustine, and many others justifying his estates, and the absolute need of the peasants to respect his property. Few 19th century feudalists applied the same sort of logic - except perhaps slaveholders - who argued 'this is good for the slaves!' with a line of logic lifted from much older sources, mutating some bizarre interpretation of Philemon in their Bibles, missing most of what Jesus said. Post-slavery, the feudalists shifted very quickly to rents, loans, and more sophisticated tools than a 14th century lord would have ever utilized, but for the same purpose of maintaining peasants in subject states.

Late 19th century, the feudalists adapted a mutant variation on Darwin to justify their power - but attained it less through constant raiding, than through trusts (and monopolies that followed). Those feudalists built the world of WWI - and their collapse in 1932 brought what seemed the 'last gasp' of the struggle: a 3-way war of all against all - feudalism v. socialism v. capitalism (liberalism).

But today's feudalists are neither interested in drawing authority from medieval traditions nor capable of doing so. They work through the most powerful AIs imaginable - to amass fortunes through finance, which magnify holdings in lands, rents, and local fiefdoms. They're nowhere near what they were 100 years ago - at the dawn of the federal income tax. Trump is a throwback to the cronyism that dominated presidents of the late 19th century - and the politics of interest that made 'railroad barons' among many others. But it's not a medieval approach: their fortunes are linked inextricably to global trade (the better to arbitrage rules and usurp them). Overtly, they stand against it to better exploit it covertly (and dominate through an entirely separate nativist discourse that consciously instills intellectual dishonesty and magnifies ignorance - anti-news 'newsy entertainment').

The pieces are there. But this does not mean they've taken power, or even that we're on the verge of them doing so. When they do, they'll lift a whole new framework to justify their wealth, erect gated neighborhoods where they derive rents from select peasants, and elevate preferred servants dependent entirely upon allegiance to their lords to hold their positions. GRAVE concerns - but not fears, just understanding, are the order of the day.

Slim Moldie said...

Reformed Tourist looks like you have some experience keeping a meeting on course, too.

so here's a few takes on how Fox might spin the "The dilemma - cars and guns."

T.C. <>
<>

It's too nauseating to continue, but it's easy. Question. Deep state. AI. Self driving cars. Enemy name. Replace you. Technology. Guns. Take away. Negative connotations. Fear. Question.


Slim Moldie said...

Oops! Reformed Tourist looks like you have some experience keeping a meeting on course, too.

so here's a few takes on how Fox might spin the "The dilemma - cars and guns."

T.C. Are guns really safer than cars? Why the liberals might want to take away your keys.
Can more guns keep you safe on the road? Why proposed gun restrictions will spill suicidal millennials onto our roadways. While tragic, most teenage suicide by unsecured firearms are a private affair, but what will that same teen do if they take away our guns? Will the gas metal replace the trigger?

It's too nauseating to continue, but it's easy. Question. Deep state. AI. Self driving cars. Enemy name. Replace you. Technology. Guns. Take away. Negative connotations. Fear. Question.


donzelion said...

Stephen Hammond: As an aside, (a) I share your love of Tolkien, Rowling, and Scott (in descending order of preference), and (b) there's some component of our host who also loves the romantics he claims to despise...a modicum of love that occasionally shows itself with extreme expressions - "Yoda is the most evil character in all of literature!" "George Will is the vilest American of them all!" - romantic affectations that raise the objects into positions of importance, albeit by attacking them.

Show me a novelist who puts forth a work of beauty at great personal cost and joy who isn't on some level a romantic, who puts that work out there to be judged by others, who wants it to be perceived as beautiful as he perceived it - if they're really not a romantic, then they'll shrug any judgments aside, and look to what their work does 'in the discourse,' financially, without an emotional pang of ownership. We are lucky though, as our host isn't just a novelist; he can criticize what vestiges of romanticism he finds in himself or others (and will doubtless flay me for daring to presume what has driven him if he even reads this).

Tolkien, more than Rowling or Scott, also had a separate role, and looked at his hobby as a bit of a joke, cognitively dissociating from a masterwork of literature that he found preposterous (yet fun, maybe even obsessive). In Rowling, I see a shy yet devoted lover of Tolkien, Lewis, and mostly, children - when she tries to cover 'deep, serious problems' - she falters, because she doesn't really want to do the 'good v. evil' thing, so much as just play, enjoy the banter, let kids be kids (and dreads the thought of her own facing a grave world). When forced to do so, she tries her best, but that struggle was never her real interest.

Medievalism is NOT romanticism. Indeed, the structure of 'lord - mob - peasant' opposes both a romantic ideal of independent individuals, and an enlightened ideal of diverse groups working in fellowship to achieve great things together: a medieval tradition THROUGH a romantic lens recasts the era as 'rugged, heroic knights' - but a medieval tradition through a medieval lens puts forth chivalry less to honor knights than as a strategem to discourage their persistent abuses of the peasants.

donzelion said...

Slim Moldie: Up until December 2017, Fox's other Janus face (the one that actually reaches to millennials) offered a whole other strategy: the NewsCorp side pursuing aging angry white men, the 21st Century Fox side pursuing a somewhat more diverse population, bringing us a litany of wonderful (and occasionally hideous) films and shows. Now that Disney owns it (after the $52bn buyout)...I wonder what to expect.

The film side raised some of these questions too: look through their top 100 grossing movies, particularly the SciFi offerings, and see how they are asked and answered. Star Wars? Be wary of droids, BUT they're more likely to be friends or at worst, not very convincing enemies. Keep your guns handy, and drive a car like Tom Cruise's in 'Minority Report.' Teenagers are more likely to save us than kill us, particularly from the evil blonde witch behind the plans in 'Maze Runner' series. It's an eclectic set of questions - not nearly as fixated as the News Corp realm, and actually, full of possibilities.

Do I trust Disney more than Fox? Well: they veer 'center right' in orientation, but strive to avoid any clear orientation (and 'center right' these days votes Democratic; the Reps have left them far, far behind). ABC is surely a storied piece of 'traditional media' that Trump & Friends routinely skewer (but like any traditional media, they sing for their suppers).

Can we imagine a world where we can shift so many eyes away from the Faux-stream that it recedes in importance?

David Brin said...

Onward to a big one. I'll be traveling a bit. This next post is important. Please all, spread the word.

Good luck to us all...

and onward

onward