Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Mortality, morality and politics


Step by step, across four decades, American conservatism has reversed almost every stance on responsible personal morality.  Their love affair with casino lords and gambling is just one aspect that would have infuriated their own, Greatest Generation parents. Also, the divorce rates (and perversion rates) of their politicians. 

Or think of any American strength that helped to win the Cold War. Strong alliances, superlative science, a confident civil service and justice system and officer corps, a basic sense of shared purpose, clear recognition of the adversary, and the moral high ground. Can you think of one - even just one - that has not been systematically demolished by Putin's people at Fox, the GOP and now their agent in the White House? Go ahead. Name one. The entire mad right now kvells over Kremlin masterminds because they switched from hammer and sickle pins to orthodox crosses.

I have a dream that residually sane Republicans out there are planning a summer conference, even “convention.” Mitt Romney is certainly trying to organize one. But what we can see of McCain, Flake, Kasich, Collins, Murkowski and the rest suggests they haven’t more then three inches of spine among them.

== Politics and mortality == 

Does looming mortality affect your mood? Or is it the other way around? CBS News notes: "The 10 states with the lowest probability of premature death were: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington.

Life expectancy across the U.S.
"But the news wasn't good for all states. The 10 states with the highest probability of premature death included: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

"For young and middle-aged folks, there was hope in the majority of states. The odds of dying for adults aged 20 to 55 declined in 31 states and Washington, D.C., from 1990 to 2016, the findings showed.

"But in 19 states, young and middle-aged adults didn't fare as well. Decades of declining mortality rates were reversed in these states. And, in New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia, the probability of death for that age group not only stopped decreasing, it actually increased by 10 percent over the study period."

Any person with sense would say: "it may not be the fault of the governing party in those states. But anyone who says it's not a factor should bear a burden of proof."

Hence the all-out war on "proof."

== Were we boomers ‘poisoned’? It would explain a lot! ==

I’m going to give this soapbox over to a member of our Comments Community, here at Contrary Brin – one of the oldest and smartest such communities anywhere on the Web. 

Duncan Cairncross took note of the incredible science that has shown how the rise (in the 1970s - 80s) of U.S. crime rate was decisively correlated to lead in paints, in gasoline and in the air that young people breathed. The bills that banished this poison from gas and paints etc. (and see where I played a small role in this reform!) were among the most important ever passed by any legislature, ever, across all of human history. And the resulting eventual drop in crime rates (there were other factors, but none as important) proved decisively which political party – for all its many flaws – is in favor of children and the people and the future.  

What Duncan did was take a logical extension of this story, beyond youthful crime to the same generation’s pathological later politics. Over to him:

The Effect of Lead in Petrol

"The correlation between increases in violent crime and the later decrease in violent crime is very strongly linked to Lead on our Petrol and to it's removal. This can be seen U.S. State by State where the reduction in violence is linked to when that specific state made the transition and other in counties where the transition from lead was made a different times

"Lead exposure was related to the amount of petrol burnt - Which increased from about 250 Billion miles driven in 1930 to about 500 Billion in 1950, 1 Trillion in 1970 and 2 Trillion in 1980. I found "Gas Lead in tons per 1000 people" It starts at 0.3 tons in 1937 - moves up to 1.3 tons in 1972 then drops to 0.3 tons in 1986 

"So who got poisoned?
- The "Greatest Generation" 1905 - 1925 were adults
- The "Silent Generation" 1925 - 1945 - would have been slightly effected
- "Baby Boomers" 1945 - 1965 - the early boomers would have ingested some lead - and as the years went by the last of the Boomers would be ingesting twice as much lead as the early boomers
- "Generation X" 1965 to 1984 covers the very peak - and the drop off 

"So the Boomers and Generation X were poisoned as children! That accounts for their statistically-worse behavior during their twenties, when young males are most prone to ant-social behavior. Only then I was wondering if there was an effect on later voting patterns! When Boomer males are less violent, but just as prone to snarling rages due to… well… brain damage?

"May I assert a hypothesis: this is why so many of the Baby Boomers voted for Trump. 
And why the "Millennials" appear to be working out so well - behaving better than we did by every measure."
                   -- D.Cairncross

Brin here. How much sense this makes. Indeed, the Millennials I know are nearly all nicer, calmer people than we indigation-junky boomers.  Hey, kids!  Come out in November and rescue America! Rescue the revolution. Rescue humanity.

== Addendum ==

Look historically at who fought against the "meddlesome laws that removed lead. The very same folks -- and even the same Ad agencies and public relations firm - certainly the same party - that cried out: "Tobacco is harmless!" Revisit Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. 

Also: "Cars don't cause smog!" "Non-whites and women cannot excel." "It doesn't matter that urban rivers are catching fire." "An endless war on drugs is such a great idea!" "WMDs!" And so many other credibility-destroying nostrums.

Liberals, don't get too smug! You've had some howler-insanities, like desegregation through forced school bussing. And the "chain migration" rules for legal immigration. You are right a lot more often. That don't make you perfect.

And finally.....

Dr. Shannon Hader - running for Washington's 8th Congressional District - is a perfect example of what I've been calling for. A Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, combining scientific training with medical compassion, with military-style crispness and discipline. And I happen to know she is also open to fresh ideas. 

Consider - wherever you live - finding the nearest such candidate, even for state assembly, and pulling out the stops. Register young people. Offer incentives to vote.

Oh, and a Stargate?... The super-dupeunbelievable (really) reason for the coming war with Iran.

145 comments:

Darrell E said...

Stargates? I knew it!

Where do I sign up?

gkapple said...

This makes so much sense! Thank you!

matthew said...

It looks like the DCCC did a very fine job in avoiding the negative consequences of *too* much enthusiasm in the California Primaries last night. Kudos to the party apparatchiks for doing just enough to prevent any Republican / Republican matchups in their targeted races. A very hopeful sign that the party is getting (marginally) better at managing elections.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-congressional-california-20180605-story.html

Mark Gast said...

@Matthew

To paraphrase a quaint American saying, "Never Attribute to Intelligence That Which Is Adequately Explained by Luck".

Tim H. said...

For the boomers, it wasn't just the lead, industrial pollution was uncontrolled and atmospheric nuclear testing was still happening when most of us were children. Nothing to do but grin and wisecrack about a little something extra in the air when we were developing.

Treebeard said...

The thing that really addled the minds of baby-boomers was growing up in the post-war Pax Americana bubble where there seemed to be no limits of any kind, and they were free to consume the planet's resources while fantasizing about revolutionizing culture, saving the world and conquering space without seeming like delusional slobs.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the previous comments:

...Republicans, masters for fake news, screaming "Fake News!"


Does no one but me remember that "Fake news" was briefly a term used during the 2016 election season to refer to items like Facebook memes referring to incidents that never happened? Pizzagate was fake news. That sort of thing. And most of it was "news" meant to favor Trump.

The Trump team did a masterful job of re-branding the word to mean "Any news item Trump doesn't like."

The dynamic is pretty much standard Republican operating procedure now. Would Rudy Giuliani seriously be arguing that President Clinton (either of them) or President Obama can't obstruct justice because he or she is Justice? Or that any of those presidents would be justified in shooting an opponent dead and then pardoning himself for the crime*? But because it's Trump, he talks as if there's not even a debate over the subject.

* Rudy can't even get that right. If Trump shot someone on Fifth Avenue, he'd be indicted for murder by New York State, not by the federal government. No self-pardon for that one.

Unknown said...

Over on SlateStarCodex there was an excellent comment by Aurel on lead - relating it to rates of violence in Poland and East Germany during communism. I thought it was settled but reading the comment it has sown a seed of doubt in my mind:

http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/05/23/should-psychiatry-test-for-lead-more/#comment-633145

occam's comic said...

Ugggg
What a load of crap.
Taking a real theory that actually has good explanatory power (lead exposure and violent crime) and put it though a partisan political blender just so you can call Trump voters brain damaged. What is the causal connection between lead exposure and voting for someone Dave Brin doesn't like?


Why wasn't Obama's election due to brain damaged people voting for him?

LarryHart said...

@occam's comic,

Dr Brin is engaging in speculation here. "Here's a theory that might explain the facts as we know them." He's not claiming proof of causality so much as challenging (daring) you to explain the facts better. And if you can't, the fact that you don't like the implications of his theory is immaterial.


Why wasn't Obama's election due to brain damaged people voting for him?


So what if it was? If Obama's election was due to some freak accident, it was one that did very little harm. Trump's election, OTOH, amounts to the equivalent of a bridge collapse or a dam failure that kills thousands. It's natural to ask, "What caused this, and how can we prevent it from ever happening again?"

LarryHart said...

In for a penny...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun06.html#item-7

David Koch, one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party (and son of Fred Koch, a founder of the extreme right-wing John Birch Society) is seriously ill. His brother, Charles Koch, wrote a letter to Koch Industries employees that read like a eulogy.


In deference to Dr Brin, I'll leave further comment as an exercise to the reader.

Alfred Differ said...

@Occam's comic | Why wasn't Obama's election due to brain damaged people voting for him?

Some of my friends would argue it was. Replace aggression with soggy-thinking and their argument would sound similar.

@Mark Gast | "Never Attribute to Intelligence That Which Is Adequately Explained by Luck".

Heh. Maybe. I showed my sample ballot to my wife and she got this disgusted look at one choice I was going to make. Why would I want HIM for governor!? I told her I'd rather him in the second slot in November than these two other guys. Disgust vanished and was replaced with thoughtfulness. In the end, she chose not to throw my stuff out on the lawn. 8)

We will learn. We might even decide we'd prefer a ranking system. Who knows. We are a State inclined to place initiatives on the ballot by our own hand, so anything is possible.

David Brin said...

Matthew thanks, though my favored candidate didn't win the nom, at least the worst outcome was avoided.

This time, in fact, Occam's criticism appears to be well aimed and probably apropos. Hey buddy, notice when I concede like that. It may correlate with you being right sometimes... and often completely wedged.

LH, New York state has long been our bulwark against spectacularly organized oligarchic crime.

Berial said...

If all that lead in the air is what is causing a lot of 'brain damaged' people to vote ...poorly, doesn't that let a lot of the red states off the hook and move the side-eye at the blue cities? I mean red states are typically rural and would have a LOT less lead per person in the air, because there would be a lot less traffic and industry in their areas to cause the pollution?

Air Pollution tends to travel west to east with the wind so California's air pollution tries to go east but the mountains probably stop a lot of it from reaching the Midwest. The big cities on the East coast pollute themselves, but the rest goes out over the Atlantic. So mostly you have the big cities polluting themselves and their populations, while the rural folks have a lot less industry around them and much cleaner air for the trouble.

I know from personal experience that Mississippi has very clear air simply because there isn't enough businesses to pollute per square mile. I don't have any evidence in front of me (or knowledge on how to look it up), but I'd expect culture to have a much larger impact on voting trends than lead concentration.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I know a number of people who call BS on the romanticism associated with starry-eyed space advocates. I do too to some degree. However, their romanticism is very human and mostly harmless to people not sucked into it. If you are a former romantic who feels abused after the charm wore off, I can understand some anger. Former believers can be rough on current believers. It doesn’t change their opinions, though.

My friends gave up on waiting for government to get us to space. They also gave up on big companies doing it as they tend to be contractors serving government. Their bread is buttered by this service, so they aren’t going to upset their customers. Opening the frontier requires someone else to roll up their sleeves and work. Fortunately, there are quite a few people who already believe this. I was part of such a group in the mid-90’s and worked at it to about ’07. There are a number of groups of groups that facilitate communication and act as industry support too. When I got in the typical investor wouldn’t take anyone’s call and for good reason. We were still too romantic. A lot of our pitches sounded roughly like this… “I know how to open the frontier. I just need you to round up a billion dollars or so. Can’t get that much? Okay. How about $100M?” Pitches like these were worse than nonsense to investors. They heard the sound of people who had no clue about business realities. After the dot-com bubble burst, though, some of our friends had been replaced by people with actual business experience. Those folks brought some of their own money and sounded very different when they spoke to the rest of us. We began to imitate them and met with more success in getting meetings and customers. Before I left the field for a break, the team I was on was being looked at by a multi-millionaire. He wound up setting up his own company (with good reason) and accomplished things. Nowadays, it is the billionaires who are involved, but you’ll still find the chronically underfunded teams and the millionaires working away to generate innovations that might make them rich someday.

You can give up on all the models besides the lifeboat one, but I’ll likely accuse you of being too cynical. I know people who have made money at this. They have accomplished things and the billionaire players are putting stuff in orbit. THEY aren’t investing in the lifeboat model. They plan to make money.

One part of the model you might have right, though, is the analogy we might make with human migration out of Africa. We people actually left and most of the population of the world descends from those few. That may happen in space, but I suspect we may see something more like migration waves as happened here in North America. The first people probably walked here and they had the place to themselves for a while. The second batch sailed here under wind, brought guns, germs, and steel and took over. The next batch sailed under steam and built a nation that dominates the world right now. There is no reason to believe our migration off world will happen once. It might turn out that way, but if civilization survives a while, it will probably happen a number of times.

locumranch said...


I've heard some hilarious howlers before but this one takes the cake:

David blames the American Conservative movement for FOR FAILING TO CONSERVE almost every stance & tradition on responsible personal morality.

The irony of such a statement is palpable, and it's the reason why your mother told you to be careful for what you wished.

The moral relativism that the left once considered to be 'progress', it now condemns, leaving (1) a largely 'demoralised' political right free to use the leftist strategy of identity politics to secure their own self-interests and (2) an increasingly sanctimonious left nostalgic for a GOP composed of gracious good mannered old school conservatives who once sought compromise and were easily neutralised by charges of hypocrisy & those dreaded -isms.

Welcome to Shameless America 2.0 wherein naked self-interest rules, shame & guilt are things of the past, and almost 'anything goes':

Anything goes in.
Anything goes out!
Fish, bananas, old pajamas,
Mutton! Beef! and Trout!



Best
_____

And, coming soon to a television near you: Shameless Europe engaged in the wholesale deportation of the invasive refugee who cries for mercy but finds none.

Anonymous said...

¡Aaaaaa! ¡I knew it!. I knew that it was not by chance that this hacker knew how to stop a virus worldwide. I do not believe in coincidences:


https://phys.org/news/2018-06-british-cyber-expert-accused-lying.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Remember the floating lamp that followed Paul Atreides' mother in Dune everywhere? The future reaches us in unexpected ways:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-japan-drone-brella-hands-free-sun.html


Winter7

Anonymous said...

And this news confirms that everything is possible if you have a lot of money. It is even possible to do everything in a totally ecological and at the same time, powerful way:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-microsoft-centre-scottish-archipelago.html

Winter7

donzelion said...

"Consider - wherever you live - finding the nearest such candidate, even for state assembly, and pulling out the stops. Register young people. Offer incentives to vote."

I did precisely that in the 39th. After decades of chemical poisoning, the EPA is considering listing a site which stores water for 2.4 million Orange County residents on the 'superfund' list; the business community opposes this, Dems in local offices support listing it, and the incumbent Reps are resoundingly silent. He took a look, asked his people to look further and verify, then came out in support of listing the site. Every Dem says they stand for the environment, but no other bothered to stand up on this. A pretty clear case of a candidate who listens, and then acts. Passed my test, anyway, and yesterday's primary was a tough test.

"Hey, kids! Come out in November and rescue America! Rescue the revolution. Rescue humanity."
Many of those kids were leading the charge in the 39th. We did well; I hope we win in November.

Pity about Colonel Applegate in the 49th. He could have used a few more friends.

"You've had some howler-insanities, like desegregation through forced school busing."
Segregation's defenders were more skillful in resisting integration than is commonly realized. Shutting down schools, closing classrooms so they could claim not to have availability, drawing lines that would make gerrymanderers wince in confusion... The school busing 'solution' was a remedy crafted in the face of precisely this sort of resistance. Unfortunately, people think it was the goal - when the actual effort was to force recalcitrant districts with very powerful local leaders to change (they didn't, Reagan won, integration faltered, and many schools declined).

donzelion said...

Mark Gast: "To paraphrase a quaint American saying, "Never Attribute to Intelligence That Which Is Adequately Explained by Luck"."

At least in the 39th, 'hard work' is the better explanation. We had dozens of volunteers targeting neighborhoods no one ever bothered fighting over before: this area in Orange County is Nixon's home town, proud of launching Reagan toward the presidency, proud of backing just about every conservative movement California has produced.

I cannot say whether the DCCC helped or hindered (evidence suggests the former though, but several old-timer activists still hate their involvement). But for now, their candidate made it through a gauntlet in a tough fight.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re School Busing

The NZ solution was much easier - Schools get MORE support the lower the wealth of the area they are in
So a school in a rich area gets less money than a school in a poor area

This has had the result that School to School performance is quite close here

I have no idea how you could have implemented that

Anonymous said...

Ups. My apologies. I'm not in the subject. I've revealed myself a little lately.
I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread…

I know that the ideal is for Republicans and Democrats to come together to restore the nation that all Americans felt proud of. But I think I am right in saying that Republican leaders have an agenda very different from that of the American people.
So. How to force Republican leaders to act with sanity and respect for the American people?
I think there is a way: "The marches of shame." That the democrats organize marches of thousands of Americans. These marches will stop at the offices of television stations and large newspapers and in front of the nation's congress, when the congressmen are inside the building.
The crowd will stop and a makeshift podium will be deployed and a speaker will say something like this:
Today, the American people march through the streets of the nation, to demand that the Republican politicians explain to us why they have sold our nation to the Russians.
We want them to explain why they have placed a puppet of the KGB in the presidential chair through electoral fraud; committing with these actions the most terrible betrayal of the fatherland.
We want the Republican leaders to tell us with what they will be rewarded by the Russian government for the betrayal of their own people.
We want Republican politicians to explain to us, why they have deliberately sabotaged all the institutions of our nation. Institutions that are vital to maintain freedom and justice in our nation.
We want the Republicans to explain to us the motives that led them to commit that cowardly and perverse betrayal of the American people.
In the face of such betrayal, we can only remember the words of one of our presidents who courageously confronted the betrayal of the Confederates:

“Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damages morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hung”
― Abraham Lincoln


Winter7

yana said...

Correlation between lead in the environment and aggressive behavior is known, but is it a real cause-effect here, today? I tend to discount the idea. First, check history. A popular explanation for Rome's imperial decline is plumbism. But if true, wouldn't they have had plenty of unhinged berserkers repulsing the Vandals and Goths? Between barbarian invasions, there might have been more crime, we don't know, there are no surviving records, no Imperial Bureau Of Statistics.

Next, check other possible correlations with the violent crime data. Aha, we already have a compelling theory: abortion laws.

http://freakonomics.com/2005/05/15/abortion-and-crime-who-should-you-believe/

"Five states legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade. Crime started falling three years earlier in these states ... from the period 1985-1997, when the post Roe cohort is reaching peak crime ages, the high abortion states see a decline in crime of 30% relative to the low abortion states."

So yeah, it might have been lead instead. Or not. Or a combination of lead and a drastic reduction in unloved babies. I prefer to think that it's just part of ongoing evolution. We stumble along, as a whole species, but even when we fall, we fall forward. Congratulations to Ireland.

Anonymous said...

Yana, do not forget this other correlation:

http://www.kansascity.com/news/state/missouri/article204292464.html

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3678366/us-girl-sherry-johnson-forced-marry-rapist-pregnant-florida-child-marriage/

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/article132277779.html


Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Yana
I will match your five states and raise you all of the other states and all of the other countries where there was no change in abortion law

The Abortion correlation does not work in the US States never mind the rest of the world

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Yana
I will also add that while Roe v Wade made a big difference to the number of LEGAL abortions it did not make a very big difference to the number of ILLEGAL abortions

And the people that did get abortions because they were legal - and would not have got illegal abortions - are also the ones who would not have brought up the kids as criminals

The people who were that bad at childrearing ARE the ones who would have got illegal abortions

Xanadan said...

The comment I highlighted above says the lead correlation does not work when you consider the Eastern European states had up to 5 times the lead in their blood compared to the Western European states but not a corresponding increase in crime - its a different situation but as I said (accidentally anonymously!) it does reopen the issue for me.

Evelyn Fledrich said...

I usually enjoy reading David Brin's thoughts very much, they are a great help for understanding the big picture. Amazing how right he was about Iran.

But... :)
The lead poisoning thing correlating to violence is wrong I think. There is one historical example that goes against it. The Roman Empire. It is widely known that the average Roman had a high level of lead in their body due to lead plumbing ad even its use as a sweetener.
Yet their empire fell because they were not able to recruit enough soldiers to hold on against aggressive tribes living in places closer to nature. So it should even have an opposite effect based on that fact.

Anyway, I believe the last thing we need right now is passive, calm people accepting the state of the world, especially the now dysfunctional Western culture today. If it was lead poisoning from having lived in Eastern Europe as a child that made my brain the way it is now, I have to say many thanks for it. Even with all the pain of simply existing in this dystopia, at least I have the required aggression to fight it, which is so much more than the vast majority is doing. Thank you lead :D

Duncan Cairncross said...

Xanadan
Re Eastern Europe - some parts did have a LOT of lead poisoning - but only some isolated parts

The thing that poisoned the westerners was lead in petrol
That is the one that went up and down sharply so that we can look for corelation

Eastern Europe escaped this simply by having orders of magnitude less petrol burnt - less cars and less driving
So the general population did NOT get the lead spike

If a town had a smelter or something then that towns population would have been exposed to a lot of lead but it would not have the rising up to a peak and then dropping again pattern so it would be difficult to pull out of the noise

Evelyn
The Roman empire and lead is speculation -
The lead poisoning from leaded petrol however has gone a long way beyond that point - it has made predictions and they have been confirmed

Being lead poisoned does not make you into some type of warrior - what it does is destroy your judgement - NOT what you want in a warrior or a citizen

As I said to Xanadan unless you lived next to a smelter or other source of lead fumes then you will have ingested LESS lead than us soft Westerners

occam's comic said...

Dave said
"This time, in fact, Occam's criticism appears to be well aimed and probably apropos. Hey buddy, notice when I concede like that"

Hey buddy, I did notice that, and I am glad that you don't think that lead exposure has a lot of explanatory power in understanding voting behavior.

And I noticed on the last post on space, you said that you gave a talk on the danger of the militarization of space. I do believe that you (space is the future, guys) should take that problem seriously, it is a difficult problem but it might be mostly avoided with lots of hard work and diplomacy.

And unfortunately, I think that sometime in the next 5- 10 years you will be forced by climate events to come to the same conclusion that I have come to, "that dangerous climate change is just something we will have to deal with, not something that we can avoid anymore."

Tim H. said...

Occam, I think you've got it right on climate, though de-carbonizing is worthwhile, as long as we don't expect to undo the work of centuries in our remaining lifetimes.

Tim H. said...

I was amused by this essay:
https://thebaffler.com/latest/the-president-of-blank-sucking-nullity-roth

Jon S. said...

Rural areas in the US have less traffic. However, it's necessary to ride inside (or outside, if you like to ride in the bed of the pickup) of gas-burning vehicles to get anywhere, so there's no escaping the exposure just because there are fewer people. And interestingly, the rural areas tended to keep leaded gas longer, because so many farm vehicles were designed to use it and because so many rural folk tend to drive older vehicles. (And of course the natural tendency of red states to reject "government interference" except in the form of farm subsidies.)

I mean, if you live in, say, Sunnyvale, WA, or Broken Bow, NE, or Pinon, AZ, you're not going to get far enough on a bicycle to make any real difference, and there's no such thing as public transit, so...

Anonymous said...

Evelyn Fledrich:
Yes. Lead can cause more aggressiveness. But that aggressiveness is caused by a diminished capacity of reasoning. Actually, the biggest problem with lead is that it takes away the ability to learn. They make us useful fools as a cheap resource for almost slaves.

And I have not told you about the horror of other toxic substances used by the unscrupulous oligarchs. Those chemists are, exactly as the rebel general said in the movie "Apocalypse Now" ¡The horror!

Winter7

Pappenheimer said...

I'm about ready to recommend school FLYING. The resegregation of American schools is resulting in poorer educational outcomes for minority students on average, which will exacerbate social divisions in the future. (Does anyone think they are great today?)

The DOJ both pre-and-post Trump does not seem interested in stopping local redistricting that, whatever the reasons given, makes some (usually well-funded) schools whiter and surrounding schools more 'colorful.'

Include the DeVos-era push to divert funding from our main educational system and a rise in fundamentalists home schooling their kids, and the results will be even worse.

(Full disclosure- I went to a private school and my family needed to homeschool our high-functioning autistic son for part of his education. The second thing the state-appointed homeschool overseer did during her first home visit was to invite us to an anti-abortion rally.)

locumranch said...


The socially-aware progressive once attributed a higher prevalence of minority-related violence, teen pregnancy, all-cause mortality, lead poisoning & adverse social outcomes to institutional discrimination, entrenched social bias & economic impoverishment, so it is quite edifying to see David attribute the slightly higher prevalence of white rural violence, teen pregnancy, all-cause mortality, lead poisoning & adverse social outcomes to identity group-related MORAL FAILINGS, the implication being that the morally-abhorrent Trump voter deserves (and perhaps even CAUSES) these adverse outcomes.

Wow, just wow. No wonder none of you can see what's coming.

This a conservative characteristic, this new progressive tendency to protect their status quo by maligning & 'blaming the victim', and it is an hypocrisy that will not stand.


Best

Anonymous said...



Occam's comic:
“And I noticed on the last post on space, you said that you gave a talk on the danger of the militarization of space. I do believe that you (space is the future, guys) should take that problem seriously, it is a difficult problem but it might be mostly avoided with lots of hard work and diplomacy”

I am sure that all countries take space militarization seriously. Above all, the Russians, who managed to neutralize any American aspiration in that regard, ordering Donald Trump to spend the entire budget dedicated to space in order to place on the moon the casinos and hotels that are appropriate for prostitution operations, carried out by the Russian Mafia-KGB. (In fact, I suspect that prostitution is what the Russian government currently holds, probably accounting for a third of the nation's commercial profits.) (Poor Russian girls, the prettiest and poorest end up as sex slaves)

Winter7

Pappenheimer said...

Regarding lead in ancient Rome - as a percentage, very few people in the Empire lived in cities. Most were peasants and slaves who had little contact with tableware or plumbing and more to worry about than lead poisoning (hunger.) Those who did live in urban areas had, again, worse things to worry about (communicable disease, riots, etc.) I have never read a reputable historian who blamed the fall of Rome on lead (or any one other thing, either - one writer pointed out that Rome was 'falling' longer than most other states EXISTED.)

As a total aside -Dr. Brin, why did you name a South East Asian character from your novel Earth "Sepak Takraw?" That's like having an Englishman named "Skeet Shooting." Which I am immediately calling dibs on.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/opinion/trump-central-park-five.html


...
But it is the language in the body of Trump’s 1989 death penalty ad that sticks with me. Trump wrote:

“Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.”

He continued:

“Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them.”

That to me is the thing with this man: He wants to hate. When Trump feels what he believes is a righteous indignation, his default position is hatred. Anyone who draws his ire, anyone whom he feels attacked by or offended by, anyone who has the nerve to stand up for himself or herself and tell him he’s wrong, he wants to hate, and does so.
...
So I remember that. I center that. I hear “I want to hate” every time I hear him speak. And I draw strength from the fact that I’m not fighting for or against a political party; I’m fighting hatred itself, as personified by the man who occupies the presidency. That is my spine stiffener.

A.F. Rey said...

I'd like to thank you, Dr. Brin, for reposting Duncan's comment on lead and the anger it creates in people. You just may have helped restore domestic bliss in my household.

You see, when I'm doing various household maintenance tasks--like trying to clear a clogged drain, or pulling out deep-rooted weeds, or even wrestling with an rusted-in screw to change a light switch--I tend to utter certain proscribed words somewhat vocally. (Is that a nice way of saying I sometimes swear like a drunken sailor?)

My wife has blamed me for lack of self-control, but now I know the real reason why. I grew up next to a freeway in Pomona from the early 60's to the late 80's. I must have as much lead in me as a car battery by now.

So it's not my fault! It's the I-10 freeway's fault! It's because of the lead in my system that petty annoyances drive me up the wall.

You think she'll buy it? ;)

Paul451 said...

Occam,
Re: Lead and voting Obama.

Actually, defective decision making in Boomers/Gen-Xers would explain the liberal failure every mid-term. (The unicorn-syndrome that Jim Wright recently referred to.) Moments of delusional exuberance during the Presidential elections (IFF the Dem candidate gets their interest,) followed by complete disillusionment the moment the magic prince turns out to be a normal frog.

Yana,
Re: Abortion and crime.

However, unlike the lead hypothesis, the abortion hypothesis can't explain the rise in the crime rate.

LarryHart said...

A.F. Rey:

So it's not my fault! It's the I-10 freeway's fault! It's because of the lead in my system that petty annoyances drive me up the wall.

You think she'll buy it? ;)


I think she'll see right through you.

Heh, see what I did there? Sometimes, I crack myself up.

donzelion said...

Duncan: Re School Busing

"The NZ solution was much easier - Schools get MORE support the lower the wealth of the area they are in...So a school in a rich area gets less money than a school in a poor area"

Ah...this was attempted in parts of America, but California actually set the Conservative precedent (with Proposition 13) to prevent this from happening - now the rich schools get richer, then erect barriers to keep out 'undesirable' kids. Across America, most public schools are locally supported, primarily via property taxes: that results in vast differentials between the haves and have nots (and in the performance of their children). An awful lot of this was achieved by harnessing racism: folks seem to think Trump came from nowhere, but he's channeling a weed that has deep roots in America and was never uprooted.

"This has had the result that School to School performance is quite close here"
My guess is that you Kiwis have nearly as much racism in your history as we Yanks do - but you've had a general populace willing to take the hard medicine of trying to expurgate it, while so many of ours have embraced and nurtured it.

"I have no idea how you could have implemented that"
The trick Obama tried, and Democrats haphazardly raise, was to shift some funding to federal levels, then try to balance out - that was the part of 'No Child Left Behind' that sought to target the underperforming schools with additional resources. Those resources seldom came, seldom made much difference, and were primarily expended to punish 'bad teachers' and break up unions - the teacher's revolted when it became a game of test scores and financial incentives. But federal funding is less than 10% of what local schools cost - and raising that to 15% raises immense resistance.

School busing was a 'least worst' option: 'worst' was 'do nothing' and let the local municipal lords have their way. The lords won. School districts are a key element in property developer/manager plans - and that set made many billions by understanding how to exploit this tool for maximum profit.

donzelion said...

Occam: "...I am glad that you don't think that lead exposure has a lot of explanatory power in understanding voting behavior."

I recall the work of a professor who actually proved the effect of tobacco in changing DNA - FINALLY demonstrating the mechanism by which smoking causes cancer (decades after epidemiologists proved there was a link). Similar work would be needed to actually link lead exposure to voting behavior; until it's done, this is merely a hypothesis without credible evidence to support.

However, I imagine such work COULD be done...for example, if lead exposure is linked to anti-social behavior, one could identify markers showing a proclivity neurologically. Those same markers MIGHT make one crave a certain sort of expression of rage - e.g., a predisposition to seek 'anger-generating' media (e.g., craving FoxNews). It would be incredibly ironic if the FoxNews brand proved to be a symptom of excessive lead intake...and it would be interesting to compare anti-social markers in the 70s/80s with their manifestation today (e.g., shooter video games).

As for this -

"that dangerous climate change is just something we will have to deal with, not something that we can avoid anymore."
My starting assumption as well: BUT, I'm also savvy to the possibility that some folks have actually positioned to benefit from dangerous climate change - that an outcome harmful to the majority will still be helpful to a narrow minority, who will take action to guard their profits. I do not know if we can avert climate change, or limit it's effects: I do know we have tools available with which to avert parasites profiting off of the harms. That may not solve the problem, but it will help every possible solution. It could be enough.

donzelion said...

Locum: As always, you judge harshly. "...it is quite edifying to see David attribute the slightly higher prevalence....to identity group-related MORAL FAILINGS, the implication being that the morally-abhorrent Trump voter deserves (and perhaps even CAUSES) these adverse outcomes."

I interpreted Dr. Brin's argument as, "OK, you folks claim moral superiority, and let's look at the evidence." His purpose was not to blame the victim, but to disarm the claim of moral superiority through a variation on Biblical notion, 'by their fruits shall ye know them' (a sort of claim that comes straight from the Bible they claim to love, but routinely abandon whenever it shows them in an unflattering light). Trump called Chicago a 'war-zone' - but New Orleans, St. Louis, and many other cities in the 'Red Belt' are far worse. Once the ignorant moral claims are discarded, we turn back to facts and policies immediately and cease wasting time on blame (or isolate 'blame allocation' to a tiny minority of players tasked with a tangential function).

"Wow, just wow. No wonder none of you can see what's coming."
Oh, we can see many possibilities coming: we just don't believe any single possibility is prophetic or predetermined. Will there be a conservative fascist coup? (You were terrified of precisely the opposite conclusion as late as Summer 2016). Maybe. I guarantee there will never be a progressive fascist coup. Were we to truly embrace a 'blame shifting' function as a cornerstone of our ideology, we progressives would be quickly crushed by conservatives - blame shifting is not our native language (e.g., 'immigrants caused crime and every harm!' 'welfare queens!' 'meddling Yanks and other n!gger lovers!' 'pothead hippies!' 'Jews! Blacks!' - etc.).

"this new progressive tendency to protect their status quo"
No progressive ever had a tendency to protect their or any other status quo. This is by definition the distinction between progressives and conservatives. But given today's status quo, where pitfighting is a necessary skill, we can give as good as we get (better actually). Accuse us of moral fault, we can jab back harder, with evidence. But we know that all the jabbing doesn't build a bridge or a community, and prefer to stop and get back to real work. Fighting for its own sake is a futile sort of entertainment that just leaves people hurt without building anything meaningful.

donzelion said...

A.F. Rey: "My wife has blamed me for lack of self-control...So it's not my fault! It's the I-10 freeway's fault! It's because of the lead in my system that petty annoyances drive me up the wall."

Well, she did buy YOU - including any lead addled synapses - so there's that at least. ;-)

A.F. Rey said...

I think she'll see right through you.

Ha! That's what you think, Larry. Lead is the one substance that Supergirl can't see through. :)

Well, she did buy YOU - including any lead addled synapses - so there's that at least.

Yeah, except that she keeps reconsidering her purchase. :( (Fortunately, there is no return policy that I know of. Otherwise I'd been toast long ago...)

locumranch said...



Not so, Donzelion. Let's take David's 'moral failings' argument to its logical conclusion.

Proposition:
(1) Conservative Moral Failings cause a higher prevalence of white rural violence, teen pregnancy, all-cause mortality & adverse social outcomes.

Generalisation:
(2) Moral Failings cause a higher prevalence of ALL violence, teen pregnancy, all-cause mortality & adverse social outcomes in ALL affected identity groups.

Conclusion:
(3) Moral Failings cause a higher prevalence of (urban) (minority) violence, teen pregnancy, all-cause mortality & adverse social outcomes in all affected minority identity groups.


Secondary Generalisation:
(1) If adverse outcomes demonstrate moral failure, then successful outcomes must demonstrate moral superiority.

Secondary Conclusion:
(2) Recent conservative election successes (in both the EU & US) demonstrate conservative moral superiority, whereas progressive election losses demonstrate progressive moral failure.


Best

Darrell E said...

The most significant problem with AGCC is not whatever the new quasi-final equilibrium conditions will be, it's the rate of change. Sea levels and growing regions changing slowly over hundreds of years is much easier to accommodate without much pain and chaos compared to having to deal with the same amount of change in a period of decades.

I do agree that there is no way to prevent serious change and that we need to be working on how to deal with those changes. I'd be very surprised to find out that David thinks significantly different than that. It seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that he denies it.

But it also seems very likely to me that there is still time for us to mitigate the extent and rate of change to some degree that would be beneficial. And vice versa of course. There is still plenty of time for us to fuck things up worse.

Regarding people positioning themselves with malice aforethought to take advantage of the effects of AGCC, I've no doubts at all. There will also be people that just happen to be in the right place at the right time who will also profit. Unfortunately in periods of rapid change there are always many more losers than gainers.

matthew said...

Fox opines that we need a permanent moon base for military use.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/05/06/forget-about-sending-humans-to-mars-need-permanent-moon-base-instead.html

Jim Lund said...

I think Brin is wrong in calling chain immigration a terrible liberal policy idea. Why, because white nationalists loudly oppose it? It is defended today by the Democrats, but was established as a bipartisan compromise decades ago, and it is the Right that changed.

The white majority in the US are all are descendants of immigrants. How did they get here? Did couples or single people immigrate? Was that the bulk of US immigration in the 1700's and 1800's? No, of course not. In the side of my family I'm familiar with, 3-4 generations back a bunch of them immigrated. One or a few came over first, sussed out the new country, found a community they could live in, found work, saved up money, and brought more of the family over. Immigration of extended families is the normal way of things.

The last of them made it in just before the second set of immigration laws were passed, ending open immigration--had to keep out those strange Southern/Eastern European immigrants, with their criminality, natural low intelligence and character, and strange food and religion.

This upsurge of anti-immigrant activity is a reaction to a new wave of immigrants that the white majority sees as 'others'. This time the US is a richer country, the technology of surveillance has improved, and the bureaucratization of society had made anti-immigration efforts easier and cheaper. This has made it easy for Republicans to tap into this xenophobic white nationalist sentiment.


LarryHart said...

A.F. Rey:

"I think she'll see right through you."

Ha! That's what you think, Larry. Lead is the one substance that Supergirl can't see through. :)


That's exactly the joke I was going for. I wasn't sure how obvious the connection would be.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

blame shifting is not our native language (e.g., 'immigrants caused crime and every harm!' 'welfare queens!' 'meddling Yanks and other n!gger lovers!' 'pothead hippies!' 'Jews! Blacks!' - etc.).


I'm pretty sure locumranch considers racist authoritarian fascists as just another identity group, and proof that our side "does it too" when we blame them for anything.

A.F. Rey said...

Jim Lund said...
I think Brin is wrong in calling chain immigration a terrible liberal policy idea. Why, because white nationalists loudly oppose it? It is defended today by the Democrats, but was established as a bipartisan compromise decades ago, and it is the Right that changed.


I think you're right. Here's an essay from WSJ by an NPR correspondent that shows it was designed to give more weight to European immigrants.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-curious-history-of-chain-migration-1516376200

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Generalisation:
(2) Moral Failings cause a higher prevalence of ALL violence, teen pregnancy, all-cause mortality & adverse social outcomes in ALL affected identity groups.


Wrong again. It's conservatives who claim exactly that. Dr Brin is pointing out that they either have to (in Herman Cain's words) blame themselves, or else their claim is demonstrably false. You criticize Dr Brin for making an assertion which doesn't hold up, and thereby make his point for him.

How does it feel to be so consistently wrong?

kvs said...

The problem with chain immigration, if I read David Brin correctly, is primarily that it crowds out other immigration so long as it applies to quotas. Since chain immigration has less impact on our resources (as there are family members to help with new immigrants), I would be in favor of chain immigration, but only if is does not apply to quotas (or does so less than non-chain immigration).

Treebeard said...

Hey kids! It's not the task nor the right of Americans to "rescue humanity". Humanity can get along just fine without you. Nor is the fate of humanity decided by the outcome of an America election. This kind of delusional, grandiose, America-centric thinking is what gave you President Trump. Americans love to be told how great they are, and Trump delivered. But on the downward slope of Pax Americana's trajectory, a more humble mentality is surely called for.

A.F. Rey said...

Maybe we should not try to "rescue humanity," but we should make the world a better place for all humanity, and not just us.

And that Trump ain't neither telling nor doing.

Treebeard said...

Yeah, except the rest of humanity may have a different idea than Americans of what makes the world better. How much have MacDonalds and KFC in every city really improved the world? Is American popular culture such an improvement on local cultures? Are foreign populations drifting into other people's lands in search of paychecks really improving the communities that were there for centuries? If this global neoliberal shit culture is America's idea of making the world a better place, maybe you should stop now before you do any more damage.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

If this global neoliberal shit culture is America's idea of making the world a better place, maybe you should stop now before you do any more damage.


Whatever amount of point you do have there, your Putin-worship makes you a less than credible advocate for it.

Alfred Differ said...

@Treebeard | We talk about rescuing humanity and to some small degree we work at it, but mostly it is other people rescuing themselves and using examples of success around them as partial models for how they go about it.

Your ‘not my problem’ approach would piss off a large fraction of humanity who would rightly see us as rich and inhuman. Such monsters are often chosen as targets for theft or worse. Choosing a future where there is a reasonable chance they will do that is choosing to play a negative sum game. We might come out ahead, but the average outcome is negative, thus several iterations lead to sucky outcomes for most everyone.

Different people DO have different ideas for what makes the world better. We mostly let them be in that regard too. There are obvious exceptions, though. If your idea of making the world better involves a child army, you might find some of us opposing you even if our nation doesn’t. Mostly because we do not create an ‘actual’ empire, most people are free to make a life for themselves if their local lords aren’t too domineering. The number of people who can do that probably numbers between one and two billion right now, so there is room for improvement.

Lloyd Flack said...

I see two problems with the hypothesis that increasing lead levels have lead tp increasing political craziness
One is that the craziness seems strongest in rural areas rather than urban ones as would be expected.
The other is that political craziness probably has a different mechanism behind it to violent crime. Violent crime is linked to poor impulse contro which is linked to lead. Political craziness is hypothetised as being linked to an addiction to outrage. This is a quite different mechanism and the factors that predispose people to it aprobably going to be different.
Suggesting that there might be a physical mechanism behind what has happened to politics is quite reasonable an lead poisoning is a reasonable suggestion but I think we have to look elsewhere for any mechanism. That said, comaring blood lead to some measure of political irrationality is worth doing.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Lloyd

"comparing blood lead to some measure of political irrationality is worth doing"

If the problem is brain damage caused by high levels of lead when they were kids then current blood lead levels will not show a link

We would need some measure of the actual brain damage

I think that the rural/city differences are different - I was looking at the age cohort differences and similarities

But it's definitely at the level of a weak hypothesis - we need some predictions that we can check

We have Trump and BREXIT - what about loonacy from some other countries?

Lloyd Flack said...

I should have said that I meant levels of lead in blood from when they were children or some proxy of that. And this might not be available.

donzelion said...

Jim Lund: "I think Brin is wrong in calling chain immigration a terrible liberal policy idea."

Concur, for all the reasons you indicated, and a few more to boot. There is absolutely nothing about chain immigration that restricts other forms of immigration (e.g., exceptionally talented people, investors, and others) - the thing is, the older system favored certain countries even more than the current system, trying to emphasize 'white culture' (as if there was such a thing). The grand failure in the immigration system is that it is so restrictive that it screws many of the hardest working people: one can never tell by DNA or other bases exactly how ingenious their children will be, but one can know with confidence that immigrants bring in far more to America than they cost.

"It...was established as a bipartisan compromise decades ago, and it is the Right that changed."

Absolutely.

Robert said...

Concerning leaded gasoline and rural regions... the naysayers are forgetting a couple very important factors here. I'll sum up with two words: indoor pollution.

More specifically, older vehicles were less air-tight than modern vehicles. If you were burning oil (because of a blown gasket for instance) you could easily smell it. In fact, you'd frequently smell gasoline fumes and emissions while running an engine (and to be honest you still can to some extent).

Rural areas were more likely to keep older lead gas-burning cars for a longer period of time (because you can't afford anything else). They would buy used lead-burning cars from urban centers and those cars migrated to the rural regions as air emission standards started being enforced more and more - to the point that until recently you could buy leaded additives to put in unleaded gasoline to run those engines.

You have an enclosed environment and when it's cold out or raining you are leaving the windows up and you're breathing those leaded gasoline fumes. And your KIDS would ride in old school buses that ALSO used old engines using leaded gasoline and you'd be smelling every emission from that old engine because THOSE things are leaky as sieves.

Given how long it took for rural areas to give up use of leaded gasoline... it's no surprise that there is an endemic problem with abuse, drugs, and other crimes. The structural poverty in the region has pretty much forced people living there to use vehicles unhealthy for them for a couple decades longer than urban America, and young people are now fleeing a diseased culture for urban centers as they refuse to live in those conditions anymore - being the first generations of children growing up to be adults in air that is not poisoning their brains.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...


Scientists, Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin warn us:
"The devouring capitalism, as it is now, must cease to exist or human civilization will be destroyed"

Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-scientists-history-environmental-collapse.html

Winter7

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

Rob, if political craziness and violence have the same cause then we would expect them to have the same geographical pattern. My impression is that they do not though detailed investigation is necessary. I think that if poisoning of some sort contributes to political polarization then the poison has not been identified yet as a contributor to polarization.

Lloyd Flack said...

And, of course, we need a measure of polarization and political insanity.

Lloyd Flack said...

This is why we need more conservatives in the social sciences. We need a critique of the measure of polarization.

Lead Fishing Tackle said...

Howdy,

Lead Fishing Tackle, here! Feeling a little neglected. Why do gasoline and paint always get all the attention? Freaking haters. My dumb stick is just as big as them's and I'll smack you hard, too, especially you DIY boys fabricating your own casts in the kitchen when the Misses is out. So put away your fake news and take a look at this here.

Here we got the states ranked by percentage descending of vote going to my boy, Trump.

WY, WV, OK, AL, KY, ND, SD, SC, TN, AR,NE, ID, MS,LA, KS, IN, MO, MT, AK, TX, OH, IA, GA, NC, AZ, FL, PA, WI, MI, *NH, UT

NV, ME, MN, VA, CO, DE, NJ, CT, NM, OR, IL, RI, WA, NY, MD, MA, CA, VT, HI
D.C.

Now here’s the states ranked by percentage of their populations who bought a fishing license!

AK, MT, WY, ID, ND, NC, SD, *MN , WI, *ME, *VT, OK, AR, UT, LA, *OR,*CO, WV, TN, MO, KY, AL, NE, IA, MS, MI,


NH, NM, DE, WA, *KS, *GA, *PA, *IN, *FL, *OH, *AZ, VA, *TX, *SC, RI, IL, MD, NY, CT, CA, NV, MA, NJ, D.C., HI

Yeah. So whatever. Freaking waste of time.

yana said...

Lloyd Flack:

we need a measure of polarization and political insanity.

There is one, it's called "mental illness". Neurochemical prescriptions blossoming like dandelions, that might simply mean science can identify more treatments and classify new disorders, or it might be a trend. In the past, all of us knew a few folks who should have been on meds, but weren't.

Or is mental infirmity actually on the rise? Suicides in the US up 30% in 17 years. Bad shootings up lately. Both of those could be attributed to more and heavier weapons in the hands of regular people. Or they might be a different trend.

By now, the 3rd comm revolution has created millions of little feedback loops. In past, each town might have had one person, we'll say, "of eccentricity." Now, they can find each other. Eccentricities can compound and grow. Yes, thousands of them will turn out to be beautiful and profound, but others will enfold various fears.

"Polarization and political insanity" are in lockstep with the rise of diagnoses of milder mental disorders. The increase of intellectual contact bereft of face-face interaction, these become feedback loops, and as they get larger, they get more immune to smaller perturbations. I.E., if the political fringes are getting even wackier then you can expect the political middle to swing more wildly.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Yana

"if the political fringes are getting even wackier"

I wonder what the age distribution of those "fringes" is like?

My generation was brain damaged as kids by lead poisoning - this led to more violent crime when we were at the "right" age -

I wonder how a damaged brain ages compared to how an undamaged one ages?

yana said...

Duncan Cairncross:
me: "if the political fringes are getting even wackier"
Dunc: wonder what the age distribution of those "fringes" is like?

From dictionary definitions, would expect the liberal fringe to trend younger, and the the conservative fringe to average older.

LarryHart said...

Lloyd Flack:

And, of course, we need a measure of polarization and political insanity.


Without trying to be snarky...

Polarization, to me would be some sort of measure on how voters line up on a diversity of issues. Normally, I would not expect the set of all anti-abortion voters (for example) to be the same as the set of all anti-Dreamers voters or pro-gun voters or anti-Obamacare voters. The Venn diagrams would have a lot of non-overlap. If instead, Republicans all vote in lockstep on every issue and Democrats all vote the other way on every issue, that (to me) indicates a high level of polarization. The trick would be setting up the measurement criteria.

Alternatively, polarization (again to me) suggests a high ratio of standard deviation to average. If the political axis is thought of as a football field, low polarization would have voters distributed all over the field, whereas high polarization would have them clustered around (say) the left 40 yard line and the right 25 yard line. Again, the trick is in what to measure, and how.

Political insanity, I suspect is largely defined in the eyes of the beholder. But perhaps one objective measure might be characterized by the line from Sandman, "Intent and outcome are rarely coincident." To the extent that voters keep favoring moves which end up producing outcomes opposed to their intent--that might be a kind of insanity, Your Honor.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

My generation was brain damaged as kids by lead poisoning - this led to more violent crime when we were at the "right" age -


This may be separate from what you were talking about, but we have to be careful about cause and effect here.

Does the same environmental poisoning cause high crime rates and a tendency toward the political right-wing? Or do voters skew more right-wing because they're more afraid of crime?

Tim Wolter said...

Ah, lead exposure. Complicated. It matters how much you were exposed to and how young. Clearly most lead in circulation is from auto fuel but when I was in med school back in the day the critical exposures, those that attained high levels early in life, were generally held to be inner city lead paint. Hardly bastions of Red madness those inner cities.

In general I have a very high resistance to using iffy science to "other" those I disagree with. PET scans showing different brain light ups...actual pets with toxoplasmosis, etc. Without discounting environmental issues I think other factors are much more consequential.

As it happens I've been seeing the results of lots of acute lead exposure. Back from my world war one archeology dig. Bones, live artillery shells, fellow excavators from all over. As it happens Adolf Hitler fought across the field we were digging. I envision one of the fallen soldiers we excavated taking an immediate dislike to the little Austrian wanker, raising his rifle to shoot him in the back but at that moment being laid low by a hail of lead shrapnel balls. Or maybe not. Perhaps the guy who fell would have been worse, a German Churchill with passion and competence......or elsewhere on the field perhaps the remains of a French Mussolini, a British Lenin....

T.Wolter/Tacitus

Tim Wolter said...

For those with an interest. Post includes The Best Work Photo Ever Taken....

https://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/2018/05/digging-hill-80-fourth-report.html


TW/T2

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

As it happens Adolf Hitler fought across the field we were digging


Too bad you didn't have a working time machine along with you.

A.F. Rey said...

Just keep an eye out for one in your digs. You might just be able to get it working again. 8)

(BTW, cool pics.)

LarryHart said...

Not necessarily recommending the article--just noting the part I excerpt below:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/opinion/wokeness-racism-progressivism-social-justice.html

These days we think of wokeness as a left-wing phenomenon. But it is an iron law of politics that every mental habit conservatives fault in liberals is one they also practice themselves.

locumranch said...


I don't necessarily disagree with you, Larry_H, even though you appear to deliberately misunderstand the point I've been trying to make about the irreversible effect moral relativism has had on David's now irrelevant anti-conservative moral hypocrisy charge.

In times past, when conservatives still claimed to espouse 'Christian Values' & hold the moral high ground, accusations of immorality (and/or moral hypocrisy) caused the conservative herd to turn on (and purge) their immoral political representative, but this is no longer the case at least among conservatives.

Since the conservative right has weaponised progressive moral relativism on their own behalf, it's a whole new ballgame, leading to the election of the morally repugnant Trumpenproletariat to fight on their behalf.

Yes, indeed. Most conservatives will admit that Trump is morally repugnant to their so-called Christian Values, while tacitly conceding that his morally repugnancy is not so bad RELATIVE to the moral repugnancy of their progressive opposition.

Let's call it the Roman Polanski Rule (as opposed to the Hastert Rule):

Why should anyone, especially the progressive Hollywood elite, condemn Hastert for his sexually perverted involvement with underage youths when the progressive Hollywood elite also celebrates & defends the same brilliantly sexually perverted behaviour in Roman Polanski or (until recently) Harvey Weinstein.

And, like David, which side currently condemns its opposition as sexual perverts & 'Nazis' while claiming the moral high ground ?

Why, it is the 'enlightened' & equally hypocritical progressive, who has turned on (and purged) its own political representatives in an ongoing frenzy of #MeToo self-righteousness.

Said Dame Judi Dench in 'The Chronicles of Riddick' (2004):

“In normal times, evil should be fought by good, but in times like this, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil”.

Enjoy the decline triggered by progressive moral relativism for, when god is dead, everything & anything is permitted.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

And, like David, which side currently condemns its opposition as sexual perverts & 'Nazis' while claiming the moral high ground ?

Why, it is the 'enlightened' & equally hypocritical progressive, who has turned on (and purged) its own political representatives in an ongoing frenzy of #MeToo self-righteousness.


What are you calling hypocrisy here? Republicans support sexual perverts and Nazis as long as they pass tax cuts, deregulate business, and allow bullying of people they don't like. Democrats also have sexual perverts (though no Nazis I know of) among them, but they self-righteously purge them from the ranks after discovering them. And you see the Democrats as being hypocrites in that situation? Why?


Since the conservative right has weaponised progressive moral relativism on their own behalf, it's a whole new ballgame,
...
Enjoy the decline triggered by progressive moral relativism for, when god is dead, everything & anything is permitted.


You seem to acknowledge here (though probably unintentionally) that the Republicans are the ones who did what you refer to as killing God. If God exists, then He exists whether or not non-believers acknowledge the fact. If the supposed believers in God don't care enough to follow His laws, then they're the ones doing the "permitting".

The converse of your assertion is what is true: If all is permitted, then God (qua Enforcer of morality) does not exist. Apparently, the religious are tacitly acknowledging that atheism has been correct all along.

Robert said...

Rather than murder Hitler... if you wanted to change the future, just kidnap him and bring him to the future. And then leave him there. Now it may be that while you can change the past, you can't alter your present by doing this and that you created an alternative timeline branching off where Hitler didn't rise to power (but others might have)... you would still have Hitler in this day and age and seeing Jews with their own country, his name hated and detested... and Germany an economic powerhouse that dominates Europe but who considers him an abomination.

I think that would be a fate worse than death for him... to live knowing that if he comes out as Hitler most people won't believe him or will lock him up as a madman, and knowing that his effort to create a new Germany died in fire only for those he detested to end up in power.

Rob H.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: I find Locum's assertion that progressives are moral relativists rather infuriating.

Bentham? Mills? Smith? Hume? No moral relativists there: just folks who find moral pandering 'nonsense on stilts.' Kant? Shucks, even Aristotle describes 'liberalism' as among the highest possible virtues (conservativism? nowhere), and his concept of liberalism as 'wise use of wealth' - neither the vice of hoarding nor the vice of profligacy - is precisely what Democratic progressives strive for (compare their effect on the deficit to 'conservatives' - and the most 'liberal' states like California are running a budget surplus).

The thing is, conservatives were ALWAYS moral relativists ('the old tradition is right, the status quo is the work of God, acknowledge thy feudal lord and obey!') - they haven't appropriated a language of relativism, so much as reverted to their historical norm. Temporarily, they tried to effect a moral posture in America, but Trump trumped that effort. Progressives, historically, questioned all those assumptions and demanded an explanation as to why a moral claim was justified - a position that always aroused ire from 'conservatives' who prefer not to have their relativism disclosed.

donzelion said...

By the way, within the liberal tradition, there's always been space for conservative claims of moral relativity (typically expressed as 'the old ways are best') - there's a burden of proof that must be met before advocating any change, which isn't easily met.

That's one of the reasons Locum's fear of 'not finding a place' in a liberal, progressive world, are so hilarious. He'll always have a place here, no matter how irksome his claims. That's NOT the case in a morally relativistic world in which powerbrokers selectively identify 'convenient enemies' as targets for disposal.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

That's one of the reasons Locum's fear of 'not finding a place' in a liberal, progressive world, are so hilarious. He'll always have a place here, no matter how irksome his claims.


But not a safe space, which seems to be what the conservative snowflakes demand of us.

Once again:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/opinion/wokeness-racism-progressivism-social-justice.html

These days we think of wokeness as a left-wing phenomenon. But it is an iron law of politics that every mental habit conservatives fault in liberals is one they also practice themselves.


That's why the correct response to right-wing rants about liberal moral failings is always, "I know you are, but what am I?"

locumranch said...



Apparently, the religious are tacitly acknowledging that atheism has been correct all along [Larry_H]

The above moral hypocrisy 'gotcha' quote offered up by the doofus (formerly known as Larry_H) just proves my point about how progressive 'shame & blame' tactics have become irrelevant to political discourse, much in the same way that it has become impossible to shame & blame 'stunning & brave' deviants for socially-celebrated deviancy.

As I said, it's a whole different ballgame now, and the death knell for those progressives & conservatives who fail to adapt.


Best
____

@Donzelion: Claiming that the modern progressive movement is the philosophical equivalent of classical liberalism is like claiming that modern US Republicans are the party of Lincoln -- Irrelevant & false, even though technically correct.

What else you got?

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I find Locum's assertion that progressives are moral relativists rather infuriating.


You obviously aren't a reader of Dave Sim, whose late-in-life conversion to monotheism made clear the bit of wisdom that converts are the worst zealots. To him, all that matters is that you're on God's team or you're on God's Adversary's team. And conservatives are on God's team and liberal/progressive/feminist/gays are all on the other side.

It's infuriating, but once you understand the premise, none of the conclusions are surprising.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

As I said, it's a whole different ballgame now, and the death knell for those progressives & conservatives who fail to adapt.


Fair enough. Now just which of those sides do you think is worse at adapting to change?


What else you got?


Michael Avenatti !!

donzelion said...

Locum: "Why should anyone, especially the progressive Hollywood elite, condemn Hastert for his sexually perverted involvement with underage youths when the progressive Hollywood elite also celebrates & defends the same brilliantly sexually perverted behaviour in Roman Polanski or (until recently) Harvey Weinstein."

Why indeed? It's a fair point. I guess that's why Hollywood has expelled him last month, and why Hollywood (actually, LA) prosecutors continue seeking his extradition.

"Everyone is trying to back this movement, mainly out of fear..." said Polanski. "I think it's total hypocrisy."
It WAS total hypocrisy. Now, it's just that they tolerated hypocrisy for decades (pending a final court judgment), but once enough other victims speak out, they started a purge by which far more powerful figures are being held accountable. Cosby and Weinstein can claim it's unfair - in court, where they'll be amply represented by excellent counsel (far better than the counsel available to those bringing allegations ever had).

"Enjoy the decline triggered by progressive moral relativism for, when god is dead, everything & anything is permitted."
Bentham? Mill? Smith? Kant? Aristotle? Dworkin? We have entire systems of morality that will endure just fine - and God never cared for conservative morality anyway: God would rather be dead than Red.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Nope, not a reader of Dave Sim. That said, his Manichean theory sounds like a religified variation on Carl Schmitt, probably the most important thinker to understand modern day Trumpism. Bush Jr's cabinet liked Strauss because he was USEFUL and justified what they wanted to do - not because they ever believed any of it (same with Reagan's 'supply side' theories - it was always voodoo, but such useful voodoo).

Trump's cabinet likes Schmitt because he's gospel - without even knowing what he wrote, they've embraced it hook, line and stinker - it's all 'friend/enemy' logic.

"It's infuriating, but once you understand the premise, none of the conclusions are surprising."
I get the premise. I just have higher expectations of Locum. I am not silly in having those expectations either. I simply think Schmitt gets it wrong - the 'political' is not a game of distinguishing 'friend/enemy' - but interaction about community. Locum's a part of our community - neither a friend nor an enemy, but just a part.

donzelion said...

Locum: "Claiming that the modern progressive movement is the philosophical equivalent of classical liberalism"

Who balances budgets? In the world's largest economy? In the world's 5th (or was it, 4th?) largest economy? But I do not claim Aristotle's definition of 'liberalism' is the same as 'classical liberalism' (even though it has far lengthier heritage, and served as a basis for Catholic thought for at least eighteen centuries).

If you wish to debate my claim that progressivism is and has always been the best reflection of classical liberalism, I'm happy to correct your erroneous views. But you were making a statement about relativism - and THAT was always the conservative position (just relativism based on status quo, sanctified by numerous claims that the world is as it is for reasons that must not be disturbed).

Conservatives shrugged aside utilitarianism (progressives didn't - and invented economics as a means of formalizing a field to study utility), shrugged aside deontology (progressives didn't - and invented psychology), shrugged aside process ethics (progressives didn't - and invented the modern American administrative state). Conservatives kept getting hit from every fruitful field progressives invented, each growing from progressive commitments to moral ideals of one sort or another - so much that a few clung to a distorted 'dummy God' - rejected their own religious texts which presented a very different picture of the God they claimed to love - and now spin in the wind with whatever powerful man claims to be 'better than those other nasty people.'

donzelion said...

LarryHart: My claim: "That's one of the reasons Locum's fear of 'not finding a place' in a liberal, progressive world, are so hilarious. He'll always have a place here, no matter how irksome his claims."
Your response: "But not a safe space, which seems to be what the conservative snowflakes demand of us."

LOL, indeed. "Oh, those tyrannical women and their twitter hits are denying us due process! How dare they oppress us! Oh me, oh my, I am crushed and destroyed by their laughter and mockery! Political correctness is the greatest national security threat! If I cannot say the word 'n1ggr' whenever I please, then I am oppressed and enslaved! Woe! Woe! Rise up and crush our oppressors!"

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:
Said Dame Judi Dench in 'The Chronicles of Riddick' (2004):

“In normal times, evil should be fought by good, but in times like this, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil”.
Then, locumranch; You say that's your motive to be an anti-hero. Somebody bad that accepts as necessary the own badness to be able to fight against the evil.
In my country, among university students, I met many who justified their bad actions with excuses similar to yours. The problem with using that justification is:

A) That could make you believe that you are justified to commit all kinds of evils, without limit and ... you would say to yourself: It does not matter, in these times that is necessary.

B) An anti-hero judges others more quickly, and without compassion, accordingly; An anti-hero could attack an ally by identifying him as an enemy because of a detail or two. (And if we take into account that we all have a detail or two) It is what we call "receive friendly fire" When you attack those you identify as enemies, without realizing that they are possible allies. (ho, how fast are the elite in my country to judge and seek to destroy)
I guess Batman also uses a similar justification. But; even that character knows there are limits.
That's the important thing, Locumranch. Know that there are limits. That's what makes Batman and the Joker different.

“It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.”
Batman.

Winter7

Treebeard said...

Donzelion, it's funny that you mention Carl Schmitt, I was just reading something by him. Schmitt's point that politics is defined by enemies is proved on this blog all the time, as we hear about the dastardly Confederates, evil Putin, calls for war, etc. America could not exist without enemies, and this goes for progressives more than anyone, since they are more driven to save the world and crusade against evil than anyone else. But prog universalism can't ever succeed, or it would no longer have something to crusade against and would lose its purpose. The prog lives to “progress”; just letting things be is not their thing. A world without deplorables would be like Star Wars without the Sith; there would be no purpose and no story, just thousands of years of people being what they are, instead of trying to become something else, which is apparently a dark horror to the prog mind.

donzelion said...

Winter7: “It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” That quote #2 among the most misleading/wrong quotes that appeared wise, but was not - right behind #1, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."

Who we are underneath IS what we do before we will ever do anything.

donzelion said...

Treebeard: Our host may call certain people "the most vile man in America" (e.g., George Will, George HW Bush, and many others) - but if he saw them behave differently, he'd change his tone in a hurry. The point of calling certain enemies 'confederates' is ultimately based on hope: we are confident they don't actually want to be, and hope (perhaps expressed with exasperation) they will prove us wrong.

The 'calls for war' I've seen here were 'militant factism' (as opposed to fascism), or militant 'moderation' (as opposed to extremism). Very weird calls for war if one actually followed Schmitt into the 'friend/enemy' cesspool.

Most of all though, the fact that Locum keeps coming around, taking rhetorical swings, means he's NOT really a troll (they go hang out under bridges with one another in pissing contests). You're probably not either. And there's absolutely no evidence Dr. Brin actually hates him (he could block him if he wanted to) (I expect there's actually a sort of fondness for him from most of us, which is why we respond to him all the time).

"But prog universalism can't ever succeed, or it would no longer have something to crusade against and would lose its purpose."
That's the thing: 'prog universalism' is not defined as crusading against anything. On the contrary, we're the 'anti-Crusaders.' Crusaders go about bashing Jews and Muslims or Protestants or excommunicated Catholics - whoever their leaders designate as an 'enemy.' We reluctantly resist 'friend/enemy' until there is no other option: then we want to destroy the enemy completely, totally, permanently, and move back to having babies and building cities and exploring the universe. That's how we also avoid the Nietzsche trap and refuse to become our enemies.

Our enemies are boring and stupid. They offer tedious propaganda. Locum cannot BE my enemy, because he's entertaining (and you are too quite often).

"The prog lives to “progress”; just letting things be is not their thing."
Indeed: higher, faster, further, stronger, ever ever on. Have you mastered a craft? Prove it! Aha, but here is another master - can you top that? Ever, ever competing, improving, growing. Think you've built the best city! Hah, we can top that!

"A world without deplorables would be like Star Wars without the Sith;"
Which is why Star Wars is a silly fantasy - we want our Sith restricted to those fantasies, not appointing our judges. In a world without deplorables, there would still be starving people (but we'd get much further feeding them), homeless people (but we'd get further housing them), sick people and injured people and all sorts of challenging problems to grapple with - problems we must grapple with anyway, but could do so much more easily if people who despised problemsolving weren't intentionally trying to muck things up.

"there would be no purpose and no story"
There would be NEW purposes, new stories. Stop rehashing 'ultimate evil v. innocent good' in a thousand different variations. In thousands of years of people being 'what they are' - well, I suspect we will remain story tellers, and possibly better story tellers than we were when we were riven by folks who wanted to reduce every story to "hot dame gets rescued by white dude, saves the universe, keeps dame.' That's not always a BAD story, just too limiting...there are so many others to tell. You have one of your own, after all, and may not fit with that story, but could still be a good one.

locumranch said...


Donzelion & Larry_H remind me of the final scene from '10 to Midnight', starring Charles Bronson, 1983, in which the villainous William Stacy tries to neutralise Bronson with what amounts to a legal moral hypocrisy argument:

"Go ahead, arrest me", says the villain, "Take me in. You can't punish me. I'm sick. You can't punish me for being SICK! All you can do is lock me up. But not forever. One day I'll get out. One day I'll get out. That's the law! That's the law! That's the LAW! And I'll be back! I'll be BACK! And you'll hear from me! You and the WHOLE F##KING WORLD!"

The Bronson character then proved himself 'a hypocrite' but, as Larry_H is known to quip, "Now that we know that, what do we know?"


Best
_____

The modern progressive movement commits the following logical errors in their pursuit of political victory: (1) It accuses the political opposition of being 'law breakers'; (2) It relies on the political opposition's respect for the law to protect them from the consequences of these allegations; and (3) It forgets that such allegations about the political opposition can only secure victory if they are FALSE. A progressive 'victory', then, can only prove that progressives are (in fact) false lying liars, whereas only a progressive loss can confirm the potential veracity of their 'law breaker' allegations.

Please note that Trump used exactly the same strategy (above) in order to secure his US Presidential Victory in 2016, proving something we all know -- that he is a false 'lying liar' -- but knowing that, what do we know? Apparently, we know nothing of importance.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Apparently, we know nothing of importance.


Depending on the meaning of the word "we", that might be the truest thing you've posted.


Donzelion & Larry_H remind me of the final scene from '10 to Midnight', starring Charles Bronson, 1983, in which the villainous William Stacy tries to neutralise Bronson with what amounts to a legal moral hypocrisy argument:

"Go ahead, arrest me", says the villain, "Take me in. You can't punish me. I'm sick. You can't punish me for being SICK! All you can do is lock me up. But not forever. One day I'll get out. One day I'll get out. That's the law! That's the law! That's the LAW! And I'll be back! I'll be BACK! And you'll hear from me! You and the WHOLE F##KING WORLD!"


For some strange reason, I actually saw that movie scene. Even back then, the punch line wasn't a surprise. John Byrne did the same thing in his version of Superman when a trio of Kryptonian villains threatened that they'd find a way to escape the dimension they were imprisoned in and come to destroy earth before Superman exposed them to kryptonite and killed them. I think the ending of Dark Man was similar as well, with the bad guy saying, "If you kill me, you'll be as bad as me!!!" and Dark Man replying, "I can live with that."

In none of the cases (ok, maybe Superman) was the volte-face the shock or surprise to the audience that it was apparently meant to be. You could see the punch line coming from a mile away.

What I don't get is what in my (or anyone else's) political arguments here remind you of that scene? Do I come across as smug in my assurance that the rules of liberalism will prevent right-wingers from doing me harm, and then oh boy am I in for a surprise when the bad guys win? 'Cause actually, I've been losing so much that I'm tired of losing. I know that lying, bullying, and cheating can be a winning strategy. That's not going to make me cheer for the bad guys, though.

As Captain America once said, let's make sure we're still the good guys when we win.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

But prog universalism can't ever succeed, or it would no longer have something to crusade against and would lose its purpose.


Geez, project much?

It's you tribalists who have to have an enemy to give meaning to being part of the in-group. Once the Nazis killed all the Jews, gypsies, and gays, they'd have had to turn on finer and finer subclasses of their own in order to have someone to blame for 2 + 2 not exactly being 5. To misquote a line usually said about Israelis and Arabs, if liberals put down our guns, we'd be dead. If conservatives put down theirs, the war would be over.


The prog lives to “progress”; just letting things be is not their thing.


But only your side imagines that progress necessitates battling with an enemy. In fact, George Orwell had it right that endless war, by using up the public's time and resources on worthless endeavors, is a means of distracting people from actual progress.


A world without deplorables would be like Star Wars without the Sith; there would be no purpose and no story, just thousands of years of people being what they are, instead of trying to become something else, which is apparently a dark horror to the prog mind.


Stories require conflict. Real life is supposed to be something different from stories. The conflation of real life with stories is probably responsible for many social ills. Kurt Vonnegut says that people who imagine their lives as stories can't stand "living in an epilogue", which is what America has been doing since 1945.

Treebeard said...

Donzelion, as you get older, weaker and slower, what now? Suicide seems to be increasingly popular. There's a cost to this neurotic mentality of becoming instead of being, which is all around you if you look. For 99.9% of our history this isn't how humans lived or thought; it's really an ideology of total pathology. I think of progism as a virus like Christianity, that infects people's minds and convinces them that they have a special mission to spread their virus to other people in order to save them by making them just as crazy. It's pretty comical actually.

Anonymous said...

Donzelion:
“It’s not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us.” That quote #2 among the most misleading/wrong quotes that appeared wise, but was not - right behind #1, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
“Who we are underneath IS what we do before we will ever do anything”

What you are trying to say is that it does not matter if you do good deeds. If a drunk driver crossed in green and almost collided with you, for what you thought: Haaaaaa! I'd like to beat that damn Nazi to death! Then we are bad. Because it does not matter if we behave like angels. The sin of our occasional bad ideas condemns us forever to be out of paradise. (A very Catholic criterion, fortunately, I know for a long time that it is never possible to be perfect before all)

Winter7

locumranch said...


Success!!

Donzelion confirms propositions 1 thru 3 of my above logical argument on the how & why progressives set themselves up for failure by admitting that "The point of calling certain enemies 'confederates' (monsters) is ultimately based on hope: we are confident they don't actually want to be, and hope (perhaps expressed with exasperation) they will prove us wrong".

To bad, so sad, that such a 'shaming & blaming' strategy is self-defeating, leading to a limited number of potential outcomes which include:

(1) The inculcation of shame in the opponent in order to trigger a submissive or repentant response (the intended response);

(2) Densensitization (aka 'habituation') to the shame-inducing stimuli followed indifference & increased hostility toward shaming tactics; and

(3) Identification with the accusations leading to the display of truly monstrous behaviours.

As the 1st outcome has proved unlikely despite the best progressive intentions, we are left with a choice of outcomes 2 & 3 wherein outcome 3 represents an especially delicious irony in view of David's preference for shame-inducing anti-Confederate statements that actually increase pro-Confederate sentiment.

In view of the above information, the reasonable progressive would consider CHANGING HIS TACTICS but, as such a change would require the progressive to acknowledge the validity of the conservative, confederate, red rural, anti-EU & anti-establishment viewpoint (accompanied by material compromise), we all know this ain't gonna happen, so the uncivilised 'we' may as well prepare for war as our more civilised brethren choose suicide.


Best
___

@Larry_H: Exactly who do you think the conservatives & liberals are in your Israeli & Arab equation? The Israelis are clearly the conservatives as they are attempting to 'conserve Israel', whereas the Arabs are trying to 'liberate' Israel from the Israelis. Contradict yourself much, you Orwellian terrorist, you?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry Hart

Larry Niven wrote a short story about the time when progress had moved forwards and fixed almost everything

http://variety-sf.blogspot.com/2007/12/larry-niven-safe-at-any-speed-short.html

locumranch said...


Treebeard, you sycophant, you earned David's eternal gratitude when you referred to Progressivism as a 'Giving Plague'. My compliments, btw, for offering up such a brilliant analogy.

Best

donzelion said...

Treebeard: "Donzelion, as you get older, weaker and slower, what now?"

Hopefully, we've planted seeds and reap a harvest in terms of relationships that enrich, achievements that mattered, and the rest.

"Suicide seems to be increasingly popular."
Odd: the NPR episode I heard on that topic yesterday + Bourdain bears that out. Unfortunate. These things come and go.

"There's a cost to this neurotic mentality of becoming instead of being,"
The thing is, 'being' is always 'becoming' - with immense changes happening all the time among the synapses, but even after they're dirt, they never stop 'becoming.' There's no sense fighting it, and good sense embracing it. I've had my days when I hurt myself to see if I still feel. All part of being/becoming.

"I think of progism as a virus like Christianity,"
Well, it is a little like Christianity in that it can be infectious, but it does tend to repudiate the more exclusivist claims raised by some (but not all) Christians.

"they have a special mission to spread their virus to other people in order to save them by making them just as crazy."
I don't intend to spread any viruses to you. Truth will spread on its own via osmosis, so long as it doesn't get choked off by falsehoods, intentional ignorance, cruelty.

donzelion said...

Locum: Ah, it hurt when I accused you of whining?

As I say, there have been times in my life when I hurt myself to see if I still feel. I also hurt others sometimes. That's not intentionally cruel though: if you feel a bit of pang, and a bit of jubilation at confirmation, even if inappropriate, well, at least it proves something. Sentio, ergo sum.

"To bad, so sad, that such a 'shaming & blaming' strategy is self-defeating,"
That depends: if you stop whining about the MeToo nazis trampling upon due process rights with their brutal tweets, you might look up and notice people actually getting trampled, actually getting denied due process...and even if you don't, others will. Bill Cosby probably got more legal aid than a hundred thousand refugee candidates, and certainly more than 10,000 children.

Now, if I thought you likely to experience shame at your whining, I would hesitate more before calling your attention to what it is, but to be honest, I expect neither submission nor penitence from you (and don't even call you a Confed). The stimulus being met by no reaction cannot generate desensitization (even if desensitization worked that way in any psychological sense - a claim that I'm skeptical about).

"in view of David's preference for shame-inducing anti-Confederate statements that actually increase pro-Confederate sentiment."
Do they? In you, personally? Well, perhaps in some audience members. The balance of the effect is hard to assess, as we're a tiny microcosm of the world.

"the reasonable progressive would consider CHANGING HIS TACTICS but, as such a change would require the progressive to acknowledge the validity of the conservative, confederate, red rural, anti-EU & anti-establishment viewpoint"
Nobody rejected the validity of conservativism (but it is moral relativism, always has been, and indeed, I've embraced it as both valid and important even so). It's the primacy of conservativism I disdain, and even then, only a mutated variation upon conservative principles, which real conservatives would also disdain. Setting a burden of proof before changing things is not the same as finishing an argument: were it otherwise, no one could ever be convicted of any crime ever, nor could they really offer any convictions.

"uncivilised 'we' may as well prepare for war as our more civilised brethren choose suicide."
Bourdain is one man. There are many others. We grow...steadily.

donzelion said...

Winter7: "What you are trying to say is that it does not matter if you do good deeds."

Not at all, only that our thoughts are themselves deeds, and they drive everything else. It is silly to claim 'our actions define us' when the very act of defining ourselves as ourselves is itself an action. Good deeds, bad deeds, good thoughts, bad thoughts - they're all actions. Who we are 'deep down' underneath the visible actions is as important as anything anyone will ever observe - perhaps even more important.

Suggesting that our thoughts are themselves actions is hardly my original observation, nor was it Jesus's original offering - it was an old idea even when he expressed it. But whatever standards of perfection we seek, or imperfection we display, simply trying to grapple with the terms and understand them is also an action - and understanding, ultimately, is more important than most of the other 'actions which define us.'

donzelion said...

Oh, and Locum, the flow of 'blame/repentance -> desensitivity -> monstrous conduct' is still utterly distinct from your earlier 'logical' argument. The translations, generalizations, and mutations in that proposition are a series of contentions - none flowing from the previous: not a 'logical' argument in any system of logic, but merely a sequence of contentions. Try again (a great course on formal logic is available from these guys - teach12.com - strongest recommendation).

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Someone may have addressed this already [I’m behind in reading], but….

Does the same environmental poisoning cause high crime rates and a tendency toward the political right-wing? Or do voters skew more right-wing because they're more afraid of crime?

If I were trying to construct Duncan’s argument, I’d pick the first and argue that lead exposure leads to higher RWA scores (see Altemeyer). I’d try to construct a narrative using Sapolsky’s first chapter or two to argue for how the neuron damage impairs interconnections with the forebrain in the mid-20’s that are a sign of ‘maturity’ and likely lower our RWA scores.

I doubt the second question is actually measurable. Causation would require knowing far more of the possible variables than we probably do. It would be like asking if Gene X is responsible for Behavior Y when that question is like asking if Length L is responsible for Area A. The answer would come back as Yes/No/Depends.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Larry_H: Exactly who do you think the conservatives & liberals are in your Israeli & Arab equation? The Israelis are clearly the conservatives as they are attempting to 'conserve Israel', whereas the Arabs are trying to 'liberate' Israel from the Israelis.


Back when the quotation was apt, Israel was the liberals. Now that they've become as authoritarian as Russia and China, the quote is no longer apt, and yes, they're the conservatives now. You can tell by the fact that the deplorables love them. They didn't make sure they were still the good guys when they won.

Casting the Arabs as liberals, though, is a stretch. Ronald Reagan liberated Grenada, but that doesn't make him a liberal. The Middle East is more like the Ted Cruz conservatives, with Israel playing Donald Trump "conservatives".

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Donzelion confirms propositions 1 thru 3 of my above logical argument on the how & why progressives set themselves up for failure by admitting that "The point of calling certain enemies 'confederates' (monsters) is ultimately based on hope: we are confident they don't actually want to be, and hope (perhaps expressed with exasperation) they will prove us wrong".


Somehow, I missed donzelion saying this, but I was going to post something similar myself.

You mistake the target, though. We don't (for example) point out that 2 + 2 = 4 and that Trump doesn't exemplify Christian values in order to shame the Trump supporters. Hillary was correct that the actual deplorables can't be reached. Who we hope to shame are the real Christians; the real fiscal conservatives; the real American patriots. Or failing that, forcing them to realize that they are Trumpists first and Christians (or fiscal conservatives or patriots or whatever) a distant second if that. If they can imagine spending eternity in the afterlife knowing that that's exactly who and what they are, then good on 'em, they can go with God. I expect, though, they really hope that they themselves don't notice their own moral lapse--by their own moral standards, I mean. And I'm opening the door for a peek into Hell for them and metaphorically asking, "Are you sure you're ok with this?"

LarryHart said...

Calling out the opponents' moral lapses only makes us look like school marms and encourages sympathy for them; is that the notion that locumranch is pushing. So we should go high when they go low, like John Kerry did because that's such a winning strategy for liberals?

Anonymous said...


Donzelion.
I suppose then that we do not agree on that important detail. important because as our actions define us; in turn, it is our actions on which our hope and the future of all can be based. Without action nothing changes. But actions can change everything. Thoughts rarely change anything if they do not leave your mind to the real world through the actions driven by the ideas that you consciously approved to be carried out. Of course, some ideas can be powerful in themselves, if you communicate them effectively to millions of people who could appropriate them and carry them out in their own way.
And, in case you suspect something ... I'm not Batman. Not so far.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

I get the impression that 80% of people in the world believe with sincerity that their evils are approved by God in the scheme of "under these circumstances, a certain level of evil is justified".

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Ups ... I just remembered that I had tried to play something dirty to counteract the infinite evil of the feudal leaders. Haaa It's confusing.
Was throwing those two atomic bombs over Japan good?
Was responding to the bombing of Germany with other bombings correct?
And so many other things ... Confusing from the moral point of view. From the strategic point of view everything is clear.
I see that on the conscience of the generals there is a great weight after making difficult decisions. Perhaps whoever saves humanity can never save themselves if God exists.
No. I'm not Batman.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Now, CO2 is the new snake oil to cure everything:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-06-carbon-dioxide-belly-fat.html


(Donald Trump will need almost a third of the planet's CO2 if he has to reduce that huge belly fed daily with two huge snowballs)

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | I suspect that 100% of us are capable of rationalizing our evil. From what I see, it is a basic human trait.

I'm not being cynical when I say this. I'm pointing out that most of us think we are capable of thinking and comprehending at least some small part of this universe. We often act without thinking deep first, but we can follow up such acts with the thought we didn't do first. Rationalization is easy.

Alfred Differ said...

Thoughts are actions because they change YOU. The outwardly observable effect might not be noticed or might not be noticed for a while, but they still count in the sense that a falling tree in the forest with no one nearby to hear it still makes sound.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I'm not sure going low OR high is a winning strategy. The only one I've seen work is for us to be who we are, succeed at it, and let their kids decide who they are going to imitate/learn from. It's slow, but it IS a winning strategy.

Anonymous said...

Then, we have finally come to a conclusion: Lead is the origin of 90% of fascist puppets and teenage gunmen.
¡May all of you agree raise their hands! Let's see ... Back in the background, ¿are you raising your hand Loccumranch or are you scratching your ear? . Well ... then all agree. Yes. A good and well reasoned conclusion to a responsible and logical discussion.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Of course. We must also give 90% of the blame for the evils of the world to the hate speech of the fascists. (Raise your hand those who agree ... Well, everyone agrees then ..)

Winter7

Ioan said...

I have another observation. Perhaps lead poisoning may have something to do with sexual drives? I mean, Millenials and Gen Z wait much longer to have sex and have less sex in general. Perhaps lead poisoning is correlated with sex drive somehow?

Anonymous said...

Ioan:
Apparently, people exposed to lead have trouble deploying the telescopic antenna. A very common problem in certain obese presidents who need "special sex" in order to be aroused.
Link:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17727353

And apparently, lead causes underdevelopment in all aspects in children. (Even smaller telescopic antenna) (evidently I was not affected by the lead):
Link:

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep43608

And, of course, something related to today's main theme:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/07/violent-crime-lead-poisoning-british-export

At the end. What everyone really wanted to know. The origin of Donald Trump's misogyny:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0187953

Winter7

donzelion said...

Alfred: two well-thought, well-writ, and beautiful statements:

"Thoughts are actions because they change YOU. The outwardly observable effect might not be noticed or might not be noticed for a while, but they still count"

And this

"I'm not sure going low OR high is a winning strategy. The only one I've seen work is for us to be who we are"

As I cannot improve upon either, I can smile and be grateful at your having written them. Yes.

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LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

I think of progism as a virus like Christianity, that infects people's minds and convinces them that they have a special mission to spread their virus to other people in order to save them by making them just as crazy.


This actually put a useful thought into my head which I was mulling over while falling asleep. It turned into this:

You all know that cats spread a disease that makes people like cats, and thus secure their place as beloved and pampered pets. Furthermore, this disease also works on prey such as mice, causing the infected mice to run toward the cat rather than away from it. This isn't something I'm making up or speculating--there have been plenty of news items describing the phenomenon lately.

And that's kind of what Asimov's "Mule" character does, right? Alter people's motivations so that they do what's in his best interest instead of their own?

So what if the same is true of Donald Trump? Could he be spreading some sort of disease that makes his supporters act against their own values (and not mind) and do what's best for Trump instead? A sort of dark mirror "Giving Plague"?

If you remember the dynamic of the 2016 primary season, every Republican candidate was disgusted by Trump, but one by one, most of them came aboard the Trump train. Chris Christie? Marco Rubio? Ted Cruz was one of the last holdouts, but he was turned at the last. Isn't this exactly how The Mule conquered Kalgan, then the Foundation Itself, then the independent trader world of Haven? Sure there are some holdouts who either never got exposed or are not susceptible to the disease--John McCain, John Kasich, maybe Jeff Flake. There were holdout worlds in the war with the Mule as well: Memnon and Iss.

Like any good story, it explains a lot.

If cat owners can be persuaded to take such disgusting feral animals into their house and love them as adorable pets, surely a similar mechanism might be responsible for persuading Christians, fiscal conservatives, and American patriots to embrace a lying, cheating, philandering Nazi-enabling thug. What better explains it, actually?

And if it is a disease...could there be a cure?

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

...
Was throwing those two atomic bombs over Japan good?
Was responding to the bombing of Germany with other bombings correct?
...


"You offered me the lives of my crew."

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I suspect that 100% of us are capable of rationalizing our evil. From what I see, it is a basic human trait.


True 'dat. This is why Dr Brin's "CITOKATE" is so important. We rarely catch our own errors in judgement. And this is why both the prosecution and the defense argue their case in open court. The deciding factor in a trial is not "Do you have a case?", because virtually everybody does? Instead, the deciding factor is whose argument is more plausible.

LarryHart said...

I said:

If cat owners can be persuaded to take such disgusting feral animals into their house and love them as adorable pets,


And in this, I myself am an analogue to Captain Han Pritcher. I know I have the disease and that it alters my perceptions, but they're soooooooo cuuuuuuuuuute! <3

Maybe that makes me immune to the Trump disease. It's like cowpox immunizing you from smallpox.

locumranch said...


I detest the sloppy & imprecise use of language.

To argue that 'thoughts ARE actions', as Alfred does, is magical thinking & Orwellian newspeak. Thoughts are quite literally 'not a thing' (being immaterial) which is not the same as arguing that thoughts are 'nothing'. One may argue that thoughts equal a 'potential' for energetic movement (which may or may not be 'realsed') though, whereas actions are literally 'movement') which equal kinetic energy by definition.

Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I detest the sloppy & imprecise use of language.
...
Thoughts are quite literally 'not a thing' (being immaterial) which is not the same as arguing that thoughts are 'nothing'.


O.........kay..........

Anonymous said...

After having broken up the business relations of the United States with the rest of the world, now, Donald Trump has asked the group of 7 to allow Russia to join the group.
We can see that Donald Manchurian has an agenda with obvious purposes.
¿When will the generals act? ¿How long will you wait? ¿What are you waiting for?

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Alfred. Yes. I understand the importance of ideas as a factor of change in all individuals. Quite simply, I am of the opinion that, especially in Mexico; Only actions can change everything.
I know that ideas can be a factor of social change. For example. What was it that allowed the national socialist party to gain power in Germany? The hate propaganda or the violent and mafia actions of the members of the Nazi party?
Both things without a doubt. But the mafia actions were in my opinion what was more important.
So that; In both good and evil, actions outweigh ideas.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

If we needed more evidence for the Mule/cat-disease/theoretical-Trump-disease hypothesis, what else explains this?

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun09.html#item-8

Mitt Romney is the man who once said, "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University." However, Romney is now running for the U.S. Senate as a member of the party of Trump, and so that has encouraged a certain...reassessment. Speaking to a group of big-time GOP donors on Friday, Romney had many flattering things to say about the President, including a prediction that he would sail to reelection for two reasons: (1) The growing economy, and (2) The likelihood that the Democrats will nominate an unelectable far-leftist.

Treebeard said...

I think it would be pretty cool if Trump had mental superpowers like the Mule. I grew up on stories about a future where psionic powers are real, and mutant, Bene Gesserit, Jedi, Sith, Scanner and Psi Corps mind tricks are part of an exciting, magical new world. It's been pretty disappointing how that vision hasn't panned out any more than space colonization has. At this point a Force choke by a president would restore my faith in the future.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:

I went to the link you quoted. What I read is impressive. The president could forgive all those accused of high treason (so as not to be implied by those who might feel abandoned by the leader of the presidential KGB leadership) and if Donald is guilty of high treason, he simply forgives himself itself.
Without a doubt; At this moment, the Russians are saying with a smile of Pálpatin: Checkmate.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:

In the article they mention "socialized medicine". I do not think we should completely omit some ideas just because they look like "communism".
Let us take from all the philosophical variants what is useful and mix it with our own salad. Fair is fair, regardless of whether it is of a different color or flavor than the usual brew prescribed by the feudal lords.

Winter7

Slim Moldie said...

Browsing the news this headline caught my eye. It wasn't the title: "Newest Mars discovery tells us something miraculous about Earth" By Michael Guillen Ph.D. | Fox News. What's interesting and insidiously clever--given their stance--is that Fox is choosing to cover science news like this clearly labeled under the frame of OPINION, which allows more editorializing so the story becomes less about the fact that "NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars" and more about questioning what those facts mean. If you call BS on any of their editorializing, they can just point to the fact that they're reporting this news in their opinion section. And you have to read the whole piece to get to the "miraculous" part alluded to in the title, which is a talking point for your annoying uncle.

"At a time when we are arguing about CLIMATE CHANGE, therefore, NASA’s announcement reminds us that Earth's warmth IS A COSMIC BLESSING – one of the critical fortunes that make it possible for us humans to exist and endure."









LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

At this point a Force choke by a president would restore my faith in the future.


At this point a Force choke of the president would restore mine.

David Brin said...

Been traveling and engaged in stuff. Lots of stuff.

But let me say that the previous note by LarryHart shows why he's an American, and the ent is a traitor to everything the Great Experiment stands for.

onward

onward

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