Sunday, July 29, 2018

The True Founder of our Revolution - Summing up.


If I seem repetitive, it's because some crucial points keep not being made, in the fight over where to steer civilization. 

Sure, moral issues -- like a narcissistic toddler who steals thousands of children -- belong front and center. But they cannot be the only battle front. Because confederates have been schooled to shrug aside moral arguments.


"While sappy-socialist liberals preach, we are the pragmatic competitors who innovate and invest and make America rich!"  By styling themselves as defenders of enterprise and creative markets, oligarchs offer a rhetoric that attracts populist fervor from hardworking farmers and auto mechanics, who know that life is -- and at some level should be -- highly competitive. 

By ceding this ground to the New Lords, liberals make their worst mistake. Because liberalism is justifiable in practical terms! In the health of creative markets. In terms of measurable outcomes. In the general, rising good of all. And especially in keeping faith with the Great Experiment of Freedom...

... and one of its principal founders: Adam Smith.

== A Great Rediscovery ==

The Financial Times (U.K.) is so vastly better than any of its largely lobotomized (or else oligarchy-suborned) U.S. equivalents. A recently published essay - How Adam Smith would fix capitalism - summons what I’ve pushed for years — a rediscovery of this co-founder — along with Franklin and those Americans — of our great, Periclean experiment. Writer Jesse Norman (a British Member of Parliament) gets Smith, showing that the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments was a deeply caring man, who wanted a balanced use of market forces to benefit everyone, truly raising all boats. 

Yes, Smith extolled the unmatched creative power of competition. But the author of The Wealth of Nations, gazed across 6000 years of wretched history and drew a clear conclusion — that humans who gain undue power tend to use it to cheat. To warp markets until they no longer function. 

We forget that the actual Boston Tea Party, and the American Revolution, were against a king and his crony oligarchs who commanded that all commerce pass through their docks, paying extortion to lordly monopolists on everything from paper to porcelain, rents that they never earned. The very cheating Adam Smith denounced… and the very opposite lesson of today’s raving “tea-party” confederates.

Those betraying Smith are the ones who most-often claim to extol him, yet do everything in their power to enhance cheating by today’s oligarchs. Says Jesse Norman: 

“…what matters is not the largely empty rhetoric of “free markets”, but the reality of effective competition. And effective competition requires mechanisms that force companies to internalise their own costs and not push them on to others, that bear down on crony capitalism, rent extraction, “insider” vs “outsider” asymmetries of information and power, and political lobbying.”

To Norman’s list, I would add two more vital ways that liberal “market meddling” is highly justifiable in Smithian terms:

1. Adjusting market forces to incorporate “externalities” like the good of our posterity, our grandchildren and the ecosystem they’ll depend upon. Adam Smith wrote repeatedly that a society’s values can legitimately be emphasized, so long as the resulting strictures (e.g. tobacco or carbon taxes) are simple, fair, consistent and not another excuse for cheating. 

2. Stop wasting talent. A nation that chooses to maximize the feedstock of confident, skilled, joyfully ready competitors is one that will maximize the effectiveness of markets. And hence it is a society that invests in children, in education and health and civil rights, maximizing opportunity without meddling overmuch in equalizing outcomes.  Even the doyen of conservative (not-fascist) economics -- Friedrich Hayek -- conceded this point.

Norman makes clear that this is a matter of survival for any system that seeks the immense benefits of flat-fair-open market accountability: 
     “This is a complex and nuanced message, as befits our ever more complex world. It is threatening enough to current orthodoxies that many on all sides, libertarian and socialist, will resist it. Properly understood, however, these Smithian ideas remain absolutely fundamental to any attempt to defend, reform or renew the market system.”

Now, for a shocker that should not surprise. Jesse Norman is the Conservative Party MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, and the author of a biography of Edmund Burke: The First Conservative.  And clearly, the word “conservative” has an older, better meaning, over there. He has a new book out in September: Adam Smith: Father of Economics.

== The rediscovery continues ==

Evonomics is back on high octane. Jonathan Haidt begins a series called 'Darwin's business' that starts by appraising the CEO of Sears, whose management approach - modeled on Ayn Rand - has taken an American giant and corporate icon to the verge of utter collapse. Also, Peter Turchin asks whether morality can apply to capitalism. 

Ironies abound. For example, Sears earlier (1992) abandoned its 140 year old mail order business at the very moment the first online stores set up on the Web. Can you believe that coincidence? Sears had been poised to own it all... to be Amazon-squared... and threw it all away! 

But the deeper irony in these two articles is simpler. It is only on a liberal site like Evonomics that you find bright folks talking seriously about Adam Smith, and whether it might be possible to rescue market competitive enterprise from its worst enemies across 6000 years...

...not 'socialists,' but cheaters and shortsighted fools.

Alas, liberals are supposed to be the smart ones, on this side of the Atlantic. But you’ll not find one in a hundred who know that their entire movement had a few fathers other than ol’ Ben Franklin and that crew.  And number one on that list was Adam Smith. Reclaim him.

== The roots of the Confederate Counter-Attack ==

I’ve somewhat famously - or infamously - called our present predicament “Phase 8” of an American Civil war that has recurred since 1778, when General Cornwallis knew he would find more romantics loyal to King and Lords, down south. Later, the plantation/slave-owning caste filled the top niche that all-too easily plunges into cheating, while crushing fair competition - the same corrupt modality that Adam Smith denounced.

What about the “Greatest Generation” (GG) that overcame the First Depression, smashed Hitler, contained communism, built American science, got us to the moon, and crafted the greatest middle class in history? Is that “when America was great?" (Ask that question incessantly!)

You mean back then the GG's favorite living human was FDR? In that era of strong unions and spectacular economic growth — when the great push to reform our racial and gender and other blindnesses began? When we achieved a social structure (for white males at first, but then others) flatter than any ever known.  Markets were regulated to keep competition flat, and the results were inarguable.

Except there were a few arguing for a return older ways. Based upon a core germ of truth — that government regulation can sometimes become cloying or stifling -- they began a cult that grew to declare evil any and all regulation to keep competition flat or fair…  a cult filled with incantations of loathing against the Greatest Generation’s methods for controlling cheating.

I’ve spoken of Milton Friedman, whose incantations led to the shrinking of corporate ROI (Return on Investment) horizons from ten years to today’s ten weeks. But in a truly scary article, Lynn Parramore describes historian Nancy MacLean’s book - Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America - about Nobel laureate James Buchanan, “who is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions.” 

In works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993).  Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them.

Never mind that feudalism -- (rule by the owner caste) -- had 6000 years to prove its case, and exactly zero examples of good governance. What Buchanan illustrates is the way that aristocrats and their paid priests have suborned our natural, libertarian instincts, so that today hardly any libertarians ever even mention Smith’s core notion of flat-fair competition -- the "C-Word" -- anymore, parroting instead Buchanan’s (and Pharaoh’s) worship of the word, “property.”

Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest.”

If you have time, look at this essay and realize how long we have been complacent about this counter-attack by the old enemy of human freedom and creativity and happiness, a cabal of zero-sum fools who will win nothing, if they succeed in this oligarchic putsch.

Nothing but a ride in tumbrels.


 == Aaaaand... more about... Adam Smith...

I wrote a lot about this fellow, who liberals should rediscover and embrace, in order to free him from the right wingers and libertarians who always, always misquote and betray him.  Well, since OpenSalon dumped my work, let me offer a few quotations here, and a link to 
Blogging Adam Smith. Or actually read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, a book that any politically-minded person should know, top to bottom. (See where I tie in Adam Smith with Hari Seldon and Isaac Asimov!) 

Start with what could be a slogan for liberalism.

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” 

The whole tenor of this next passage would, or should, outrage any Ayn Rand cultist. Smith certainly didn’t take the view that the important agents of capitalism were CEOs or even inventors.


“Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or day-labourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people whose industry a part, though a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation.”


Then there is the natural trend, described by Marx, for industries to drift into monopoly or conspiratorial duopoly, a trend that our parents and grandparents wisely fought down under both Roosevelts.

“The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly understocked... sell their commodities much above the natural price... The price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest which can be got. The natural price, or the price of free competition, on the contrary, is the lowest which can be taken....”


And another passage skipped over by the libertarians: “We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters [cartels]; though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour....” 

Modern context? See how Robert Reich explains the “Monopolization of America.” And be outraged that the Boomers let slide the wisdom of their parents and grandparents who adored Roosevelts for good reasons. (And why can't we find one?)

== Choose a side, libertarians ==

Finally, what all of this comes down to is a tactic for this civil war. Again and again I will remind you it is worthwhile ministering to libertarians! 

They share with you a central reflex -- Suspicion of Authority (SoA) -- though clever oligarchs have spent gushers to divert the movement away from ever casting that suspicious eye on them! 

Cozened into defending property at all cost, and forgetting the word competition, most of the libertarian movement is currently under complete control by those who bought and paid for it – Steve Forbes, the Kochs, and the lords’ wholly-owned propaganda arm, the Cato Institute.

It’s a pity! Libertarians – were they to learn from their endless failures at both election and prediction – might become a real force on the landscape of both ideas and political reform.  No one is asking them to stop questioning Big Government!  But to recognize a core historical fact:  that monopoly and feudal oligarchies have destroyed more glimmering eras of freedom and market creativity than all the government bureaucrats who ever lived.

Minister to them! They share so many of your basic, impudent, pro-freedom instincts. (See this FB group for "Cyber-Libertarian Democrats.") Tell your libertarian friends: 

"Stop letting the worst enemies of freedom bribe you into only hating on a secondary foe! The original American Revolution was not hatred of “government,” but a king and his cronies who used a gerrymandered Parliament to pass laws favoring the owner-lord aristocracy, forcing all American commerce through their ports and wharves, buying from their monopolies. Do fight to keep the hand of government regulation light! But also fight to keep the hands of oligarchy off of our republic."

Cite a fellow who no libertarian ever reads anymore, so much wiser and smarter and more effective than Ayn bloody Rand that they aren’t arguably the same species.


227 comments:

1 – 200 of 227   Newer›   Newest»
Lorraine said...

I gain a little more respect for Adam Smith with each passing day, despite my generally anti-market orientation. There's something to be said for the Invisible Hand. In theory, if you find the fruits of your best efforts don't even allow you to be self-supporting, it means your fellow humans (in the aggregate) have examined your putative contributions and found them wanting. I'm the socially phobic kid who never graduated from temp to perm (instead ending up as a permatemp), so I tend to take that personally. I can either hate humanity, or reject free markets. I actually acknowledge the essence of the Calculation Argument, that markets are superlatively efficient at efficient allocation of resources and that any attempt by mere humans to figure this out on our own is doomed. The difference between me and the pro-market types is that I see this as a bug rather than a feature of Reality (which, my secular instincts withstanding, I cannot help but think of as somehow Cursed). If I believed the Invisible Hand could "calculate" allocation on a person-weighted rather than dollar-weighted basis, perhaps I'd more joyfully give up all hope of inventing a technology of "manual allocation." But I don't see that as possible.

Nancy MacLean, on the other hand, uses the word "autistic" practically as a pejorative. I don't know if I can ever forgive that.

drf5n said...

Adam Smith's "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" is freely available on Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3300

Chris Heinz said...

For a Cliff Notes version of "Wealth of Nations", I wrote an extended review/summary, 1 book (of 5) at a time. The links to all these are here:
http://portraitofthedumbass.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-wealth-of-nations.html

To make the economy work better for all, if we get Dems/liberals in power ever again, some low hanging fruit would be to make stock buybacks illegal again.
Buybacks are where most of reduced corporate taxes are going now, & do nothing but line CEOs and other major stockholders pockets. Became legal in 1982, of course under St. Reagan.
With buybacks illegal, increased corporate profits might be forced to go into expansion and increased wages, as they are supposed to anyway.

Alfred Differ said...

I felt a little guilty on the last post hijacking what should have been a science fiction discussion. Now that our host as opened the door for economics, though, I’m going to let loose again. (This is a bit long.)

First, a couple of bits of context.

1) I don’t think anyone here is doing anything fundamentally wrong when it comes to economics dogma. Even our confederates aren’t that far off because both have mentioned behaviors at odds with what they claim to want.

2) I don’t think anyone here is beyond improving their game when it comes to understanding what humans can actually do when we set our minds to a task. This includes mistaken beliefs, though. Sometimes we set our minds to a task that translates roughly as “Assuming the Earth is flat, let’s map it all.” Turns out mapping it is quite possible independent of the mistake in the assumption.

Now for some common beliefs?

1) I am inclined to agree that humanity has been held by an attractor for millennia that has kept us essentially poor, but in a slightly positive sum situation. Our population has grown over the centuries as a result because our wealth grew slower that women could produce babies. Our host refers to the attractor as being related to feudalism, but no matter what name we give it, it is about a few people managing to steal most of the gains produced by others to ascend to the top of the socio-economic order, enforce their status, and have lots more babies that would otherwise be possible. This was an age of GAR.

2) Enlightenment civilization broke away from that attractor. Causes can be debated. Whether we continue can be the subject of much fretting. The fact that we have and that the number of people involved in the break away has been growing to be a larger percentage of humanity is NOT debatable by reasonable people. The evidence is clear.

3) In a moral sense, breaking away from the old attractor is Good. It is a fact that most humans live better lives that their ancestors did during the age when the attractor held them. It is also likely that humans live better lives today than their ancestors did from before the days of that attractor. Yes. I’m pretty sure the attractor did not hold our HG nomadic ancestors.

Alfred Differ said...

Now for some differences.

1) Advocates of GAR have improved what they can accomplish, but they aren’t better (even in times of war) than a free market is at producing the goods and services needed by a nation. The Soviets had to use firing squads. Mao made some colossal mistakes and his people (competent at maintaining at least minimal standards of civilization) starved as a result. GAR methods have improved, but they still suck compared to what free people can do. We keep going back to improve GAR, though, because a few think they know better and their objectives should be everyone’s objectives. Poverty and failure lie down that road. Always. Absolutely nothing ever designed by a few minds has ever beaten what can emerge from the minds of millions of free people UNLESS one enforces a measure designed by those few minds.

2) You cannot create a new attractor state. You all can become one, but not by the design of a few minds. If it happens at all, it will emerge like the previous one did. At best, you can clear away rules that hold us to the old attractor because we now know what that old attractor looks like and we have recent experience with our break away.

3) You can believe you can create a new attractor state, but your belief is local. It exists in your head and in the heads of others who have been persuaded. That belief might become a new attractor, but the odds are against it. It is far more likely that the universe of the future will be stranger than we can imagine at present.

4) The moment you take your belief and impose it on others who were pursuing their own, you harm your own potency. If you still manage to accomplish your objectives, you do so in spite of the harm you did to us. If your objectives were truly great, we will forgive you. If not, we should come after you with pitchforks and torches.

5) If others are imposing on you, consider picking up pitchforks and torches instead of imposing your beliefs as a counterweight. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.

6) If you truly want to make the world a better place, consider removing mechanisms people use to impose their beliefs on us. In the US we’ve managed to build a system of checks and balances because we know power blocs will exist. Consider removing their ability to use coercive power of any kind. Accept that your power bloc should accept a similar fate. This doesn’t have to be done over night and should not be done unilaterally. It should be done, though, because we are far more potent that way.

7) Yes. Cheating will happen. Want to do something effective? Cut off their balls. Nah. I don’t mean literally. I mean educate/empower women to cut them off. Most cheaters are men and we know damn well what they want. With our fertility rate as low as it is right now, they CAN be cut out if women are empowered fully over all matters pertaining to their own bodies and educated about the means. They already know what these guys want.

8) It will sound like I want regulations stripped so cheaters can cheat and get away with it where women are willing accomplices. We know that will happen, right? Yah. No. Just recognize that your belief that a particular behavior is ‘cheating’ has to have a great deal of support in society before I’ll bow to you imposing it. The consensus must be so strong that you can land 90%+ support for it. At that level, it is essentially moral law and it can be enforced safely. Below 80%+, things get dicey. Cheaters will have too much support in society and we will get to learn yet another Prohibition lesson.

9) This all starts with an understanding that we can make the world a better place, but not by making others make the world a better place as we imagine it. Accept that and one has to reject the possibility that we can guide all of humanity toward a better world. Instead, we remove some hindrances and offer up small, incremental improvements in the hope that humanity will accept them.

Alfred Differ said...

Finally, one of those ‘improvements in spite of ourselves’ observations.

If you want to cling to a belief in the existence of global optima that can be known in advance and pursue actions of any kind in support of that belief, please stick with a government that has checks and balances so you can never exercise your beliefs with anything close to absolute power. If you do that, the system itself will check you and prevent you from acting globally. At best, you will achieve local power, remove some hindrances that block you, and offer up your small, incremental improvements in the hope that others will accept them. In other words, we will get the method that works even if you don’t believe in it.

What I ask of Progressives is that they recognize the danger they present to us with their beliefs. The world would be better off if you all stuck to liberalism and accepted limits to your power to coerce.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

You continually miss the point - we are not talking about "creating another attractor" or even creating a new stable state IMHO neither one of those is possible

We are talking about continually pushing back to the center - and if one push stops working we try another - not moving the economy itself but rather trimming the horns of the ones that have too much power

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.
Louis D. Brandeis

And I would have said the same for economic stability

We can have "a fair and decent economy" in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.


We are NOT asking for "Control over the Economy" - but we ARE asking to hobble the power of those that DO HAVE "Control over the Economy"

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Pushing back to what center?

I don't mind you all acting against other power blocs... until you are a bit too successful and become one yourselves.

The only thing I keep coming back to with you is the one thing you do that undermines your argument. Other than that, I'm mostly supportive.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
the "power" I would like is to reduce the power of the existing power blocks - don't see how that could become a power bloc

Like unions - no matter how powerful a union is it's only a workers mutual society and can't be as powerful as the people in charge

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

5) If others are imposing on you, consider picking up pitchforks and torches instead of imposing your beliefs as a counterweight. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.


How so? It seems to me that you're asserting that two wrongs do make a right. Or at least that one wrong deserves another in retaliation.


6) If you truly want to make the world a better place, consider removing mechanisms people use to impose their beliefs on us.


Aren't pitchforks and torches a means of imposing their beliefs on others? The KKK and Nazis certainly think so.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post, quoting Adam Smith:

"... Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour....”


Complete tangent, but the phrase "wages of labor" pinged a memory.

For decades now, I've heard bible-thumpers quote the phrase, "The wages of sin is death," understanding what it meant in context, but never quite grasping where the word "wages" fit in there.

Your Smith quote caused the penny to drop. "The wages of sin" is not something the sinner is paid, but something the sinner is obligated to pay. Wages from the employer's perspective rather than the employee's. Wages not as a benefit, but as a cost of doing business.

David Brin said...

Alfred asserted many cogent things. But Duncan has a powerful point. There is one fiercely coercive and self-reinforcing attractor state, and that is bunches of males slaughtering others and taking their women and wheat, then hiring talky priests to justify passing it all to their sons. The surface incantation-chants don't have to be "feudalist" or religious... the Leninists used egalitarian chants that sounded "progressive"... yet were just as much cheating ways to suppress potential competitors.

The Periclean agora is not an attractor state, in that it lacks fierce natural forces drawing societies toward it. It is at-best metastable, if the citizenry are alert against destabilizers and cheating. And boomers took for granted the flatness achieved by the Roosevelteans, and lost all alertness.

What the Agora is, is vastly, vastly more productive and creative and successful at every other human accomplishment.

Alfred's reflex is to remind us that "progressives" can become feudal fief collectors too, arranging to gather power and prevent competition. I already avowed to that. And I denounce lefty SJW PC bullies. But the danger is not currently from that direction. Nor has it been much in the past. The older modes are currently roaring back.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Alfred's reflex is to remind us that "progressives" can become feudal fief collectors too, arranging to gather power and prevent competition...


Agreed, which tells us that leftists can be as bad as anyone else at using power to unfairly maintain power. But somehow, right-wingers have gotten Americans to equate liberalism with abuse of government power. As if the essential characteristic of "liberal" is that he uses government to force others to his will, and that the specific goals like social justice or level markets are incidental means to that end. That's a public relations coup that just keeps on giving.

The example of power is instructive toward the analogous treatment of money in Supply Side theory. Would anyone argue with a straight face that the way to assure more political power to the least of us citizens is to imbue those at the top of the chain of command with even greater latitude to use power over others than they already have, and that their power will somehow "trickle down" to the masses?

Larry Hart said...

This isn't entirely on topic, but isn't as off as it seems at first.

I just saw for the first time the movie, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" because Spider-Man is in "Infinity War" and I wanted a look at what the Marvel Studios version of the character was going to be like. Incidentally, anyone who still cares to avoid ***SPOILERS*** for that movie should stop reading now.

* * *

I didn't like the villain's destructive activities or total disdain for the consequences of his business deals, but I found his motivation (protecting his men, providing for his family, powerlessness against perceived cheaters) to be hard not to nod along with--even moreso than Spider-Man's reason for opposing him, the cliche that "Selling weapons to criminals is wrong." In fact, the good-guys' position was better exemplified by a minor villain who helped Spider-Man because he didn't want those weapons distributed in the neighborhood: "I have a nephew who lives here."

Marvel comics famously distinguished themselves from DC in the early 1960s by having their characters--especially the villains--seem to have real human motivations. From what I've seen, they're doing a decent job of recreating that feel in the movies. Considering that the comics jumped the shark years ago, that's nice to see.

Berial said...

@Larry Hart,
Have you seen the 'How It Should Have Ended' version of Homecoming? It's pretty good. (Most of the HISHE stuff is funny and almost obvious when you think about it.)

raito said...

But golly gee, Dr. Brin, we don't need that competition stuff any more. Haven't you heard? The War on Poverty is over!

Or so the current regime says.

At least people are flaming the idiot who said that Amazon and Starbuks are better than libraries. Or maybe the guy is a master of reverse psychology? Nah, Occam's Razor says otherwise.



donzelion said...

"But you’ll not find one in a hundred who know that their entire movement had a few fathers other than ol’ Ben Franklin and that crew. And number one on that list was Adam Smith."

There's actually a little scholarship on this: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3491575?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Worth reading to trace the role of Smith. Still, Wealth of Nations was published March 9, 1776. Our revolution sort of took priority over reading hot new thoughts from England (Scotland) that year.

Hume, Hutcheson, and most of all, Locke played a greater role, up through the Constitutional convention, by which point Jefferson (who didn't participate) and Hamilton had both acquired Wealth of Nations. (Theory of Moral Sentiments had far smaller impact in that era - again, Locke, Hutcheson, Hobbes, and Montesquieu played greater roles, not to mention the ancient classics).

Lorraine: "I gain a little more respect for Adam Smith with each passing day, despite my generally anti-market orientation. There's something to be said for the Invisible Hand."
A lot to be said...but first, overcoming the notion that any of it is straightforward, beyond the inefficiency raised by the 'visible hand' of government intervening to assist friends, at the expense of the non-friends.

Often, that sort of 'help' is subtle. Various 'fugitive slave' mechanisms would not appear as obvious 'subsidies' to folks in the early 19th century - they were simple 'law enforcement/moral rules' setting the stage. For an extremely thorough review of how subsidies/legal structures created segregation in the 1920s - 1950s (esp. using FDR's reforms), see Rothstein's excellent "The Color of Law": the biggest problem with the 'Invisible Hand' is that we often choose NOT to see, rather than letting the market see for itself. Our host for one thinks that 'school busing' was a stupid idea - largely because he doesn't see the bigger picture as to why school and other segregation persisted decades after it was deemed unconstitutional, and what forces had reshaped the 'invisible' market to erect modern urban decay while wrecking cities (the books doesn't dwell on Trump...but it could, since the Trump family fortune was created through use of these tools).

locumranch said...

Those betraying Smith are the ones who most-often claim to extol him, yet do everything in their power to enhance cheating by today’s oligarchs and, by the term 'today's oligarchs', I mean those who demand obedience to arbitrary authority.

By adjusting market forces to "incorporate externalities”, mostly in the form of moral commandments & blue laws designed to to arbitrarily pervert, deform and control market OUTCOME, these new oligarchs attempt GAR through the imposition of punitive penalties, sin taxes & moral incentives.

In the name of arbitrary outcome EQUALITY that they call 'fairness', the new oligarchy also "wastes talent" by demanding that all individuals behave in the manner of interchangeable performance units wherein the unique are deemed common, the common are deemed unique, the weak are deemed strong, the handicapped are deemed capable & the moronic are deemed intelligent via education.

Pure & simple, these new oligarchs are CHEATERS who style themselves as "defenders of enterprise and creative markets (and) offer a rhetoric that attracts populist fervor" by insisting that life should be FAIR rather than competitive.

Obedience to Authority is the Oligarchic Endgame for it is from this so-called 'ideal' that oligarchic greatness springs and, by the term 'oligarchic greatness', I mean the ability for the would-be oligarchy to demand that the subservient other commit atrocities & sacrifice self-interest for the exclusive benefit of the ruling class oligarchy.

Milgram (author of the infamous Milgram Experiment on the banality of evil) proposed three causes for this overwhelming tendency towards OBEDIENCE to oligarchy: (1) Preconditioning, (2) the Agentic State, and (3) Binding Factors.

Childhood, school, and job teach respect for hierarchy, rule obedience & accoutrements of authority in the case of (1); the second factor arises naturally from the subjects’ agreement to submit to hierarchical rule (2); and the third factor refers to the subjects' perceptions that the benefits of obedience outweigh the penalties of disobedience (3).

Obedience to Authority is embedded within every political system -- it leads invariably to some sort of 'oligarchy' (and/or feudalism) dedicated to the consolidation of money, power & influence -- the SOLE EXCEPTION being the libertarian model.

Whereas Milgram's rule-obedient citizenry demonstrate a perfect willingness to comply to the unjust rule -- as in the case of those GOOD rule-obedient German & American people who chose to transport the designated deplorable to either the gas chamber or the internment camp -- it is the rule-disobedient libertarian who said (and continues to say) "I won't".

In this sense, it is the libertarian who commits the singular unforgivable political sin of disobedience.

Hence David's insistence that the libertarian must "choose a side" & embrace the singular political virtue of oligarchic rule-obedience.

"OBEY", David seems to say, "OBEY the fact-using oligarchy of (his) choosing". Because why??

Because the RULES always favour the would-be oligarchy ...

Because to David & all other false libertarians, 'Obedience to Authority equals Freedom' in the Orwellian sense that 'Freedom is Slavery' and 'Ignorance is Strength'.

Or, so they & their would-be oligarchy would have you believe.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

A couple of things I should add now the sun is up here.

1) Now that I’ve listed all those assertions, I’m done with that urge for a while. I put them down in writing so it is clearer where I actually stand, but I understand they aren’t persuasive. They aren’t even attempts at persuasion. That itch is scratched now.

2) I’ll stand next to progressives instead of conservatives most days because y’all are a lot safer to be around. It’s not that y’all won’t use the levers of power, though. It’s because your factions tend to face off with each other and prevent a few of the things that concern me. For example, recall the folks who wanted a single payer system in 2009 for ACA. ‘Not good enough’ is often what they said of the compromises being made.

Duncan’s belief isn’t dangerous until his team is in power. Even then, there isn’t much danger. I like him, though, so I want to offer a small improvement that I think would eliminate even that small risk and leave him still able to make the world a better place.

@Duncan | don't see how that could become a power bloc

I know, but I do.

What I ask is a small thing. Set aside beliefs in knowable optima beyond local optima. You CAN know what is best for you and your immediate allies. You can’t know what is best for all. You can believe you know and that’s what I’m asking you to set aside.

Do what you can for your local optima and encourage others to do the same for their local optima. Trust the system to work out the rest, but don’t do it blindly. Pay attention, gather voluntary allies, and act.

This isn't all that different from what you do, right? It's the belief thing that can be improved for the sake of our safety. You don't lose any potency in this.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Aren't pitchforks and torches a means of imposing their beliefs on others?

If one uses them to coerce actual people, they are what you say. If they are used to affect people in the market, they might not be. Pitchforks and torches deployed against corporations are different than those deployed against people, hmm? At the risk of annoying my libertarian friends, deploying them against property is different than deploying them against people too.

What I’m after is opposition to coercion that doesn’t involve more coercion… or worse… more legislation setting precedents that an acceptable remedy to coercion is more coercion. Those precedents are poisonous to liberalism.

locumranch said...



In an outrageous misrepresentation, Larry_H would have you believe that "right-wingers have gotten Americans to equate liberalism with abuse of government power". This is patently false because it is the false progressive who argues that "liberalism equals government power", whereas it is the classical liberal (the libertarian) who argues 'liberalism equals an ABSENCE of government power'.

Disobedience equals Freedom & only a moronic simpleton would argue otherwise as no individual can be said to be 'free' unless they are free to disobey & disagree.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "I felt a little guilty on the last post hijacking what should have been a science fiction discussion."
Well, I at least was able to insert a 'Snow Crash' reference in discussions about the Hammurabi Code for a history of 'limited liability...' ;-)

"I don’t think anyone here is beyond improving their game when it comes to understanding what humans can actually do when we set our minds to a task."
First step though is understanding what humans already do...Humans think negative sum (theft happens). Humans think zero sum (I win, you lose, haha!). And humans think positive sum (hey, we're both better off! let's do this again!). We do it all, at different times, depending on context.

Pre-agriculture, 'negative sum' interactions between groups of humans probably dominated (your tribe had better hunting/gathering grounds than my tribe, so my tribe tried to take it from you, and your tribe realized my tribe would try to do that, so your tribe tried to eradicate mine before we could succeed in the effort).

Post-agriculture, 'zero sum' interactions dominated. Feudalism 'helped' prevent many cases of outright theft of lands (except for minorities). Trade happened, but was exceptional, rather than the norm. For most political/economic interactions, my side's gain was your side's loss - BUT that loss wasn't quite as bad as before...

Post-mathematic & Enlightenment, 'positive sum' interactions increasingly crowded out the 'zero sum' reality. Smith played a role in helping effect more 'positive sum' arrangements (just stop coddling zero sum actors, even when they claim to be heroic/sacred/traditional). Positive sum thought dominates our commerce today...but 'negative sum' and 'zero sum' elements are extensive even now, and have evolved as well.

Duncan: Brandeis is one of the best legal commentators for discerning tricks by which to penetrate the 'zero sum/negative sum' structures that generate a veneer of 'positive sum' legitimacy. Supporters of 'great concentrations of wealth' often asserted faux scientific justifications - 'social Darwinism,' or faux economic justifications - e.g., 'economies of scale' as the bases for their accumulation. His methods pierced those deceptive claims quickly, using expertise emphatically to cut through illusions. I've cited him with great deference elsewhere...

donzelion said...

LarryHart: re Marvel, I wondered if the folks who wrote 'Infinity Wars' and crafted Thanos had read 'Earth' and visualized a little more purple variation of Daisy (though iirc, she preferred 99.99% extermination to 50%).

Still...
"From what I've seen, they're doing a decent job of recreating that feel in the movies."
'Black Panther' asked an interesting real world question, "Here we are with all this power, and what the heck are we doing with it all? Don't we have a responsibility? Can't we use it to do better than those (white) people?" Most of them though, there's a simple '(1) take over the world, (2) slaughter everyone in the world, or (3) get revenge for previous wrongs by doing (1) or (2)' at work. Malekith? Dormammu? Ronan? Alexander Pierce? Darren Cross (Ant-Man)? Hela? Helmut Zemo? Ultron? Red Skull? Ego?

Spiderman:Homecoming slyly offers meta-poetry of Michael 'Batman'/'Birdman' Keaton as 'The Vulture.' It's ingenious. Take the story on its own, and it's fun (as most millennials would, who missed both of Keaton's earlier offerings). But take that apart, and there's a playful gambit at work for the audience to share - the producers knew the audience carried previous imagery into the present experience, and is gently tickled.

jim said...

Although culture and social structure are both important in understanding our current situation, it seems that many here forget that society rest on top of physical (and ecological) reality.

If you start your analysis with physical reality, it is undeniable that fossil fuels are what enables our prosperity. Newcomb and Watt are far more important than Smith, Locke, Ricardo, or Marx. It is surplus energy that is at the core of modern prosperity. Without the enormous "ability to do work" that comes fossil fuels the gains from modern social innovations would be quite small or non existent.

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: re Marvel, I wondered if the folks who wrote 'Infinity Wars' and crafted Thanos had read 'Earth' and visualized a little more purple variation of Daisy


I haven't seen Infinity War yet, but I'm familiar with the comics version of Thanos and the Infinity Stones, neither of which were created for the movie. There was actually a comics arc in the 90s--in fact, the story which gave the Infinity Stones their name--in which Thanos plotted to kill some large percentage of living beings in order to restore balance between life and death.


Spiderman:Homecoming slyly offers meta-poetry of Michael 'Batman'/'Birdman' Keaton as 'The Vulture.' It's ingenious.


Although I knew the actor looked familiar, I didn't realize it was Michael Keaton until the end credits. The absence of the wild "Beetlejuice" hair, I guess.

I found the character admirable (though tragic) in that his motivation had more to do with taking care of those he was responsible for than with personal power and wealth. Sort of an everyman version of Vito Corleone, I guess.

The Vulture of the comics is nothing like the movie character except that they both fly. But there are elements of the movie Vulture which seem lifted from the comics version of The Green Goblin--the father of a classmate who knows Spider-Man's secret identity. And the scene in which Spider-Man has to free himself from the collapsed warehouse is a modified version of a very famous early Spider-Man comics scene which many fans think of as the quintessential example of Peter's "never give up" character. Some of the hardware he had to lift in order to escape was specifically designed to resemble that scene from Amazing Spider-Man #33.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, give up on the Libertarians. They have been corrupted as thoroughly as the Republicans have, only they have embraced fascism more than the Republicans have. Even the intelligent-minded Libertarians that remain (those not chased out by the rabid Randians) end up spouting nonsense and hatred of Democrats rather than admit Republicans are a vile poison that is abusing the Libertarians and that they will get much further with their ideals with Democrats at this point.

Hell, you know how many Libertarians are turning anti-abortion, claiming that abortion violates the bodily autonomy of the fetus? And many Libertarians are pro-private prisons, despite the fact private prisons not only use slave labor but entrap the state and federal government with contracts that encourage imprisoning people for the pettiest of charges and then hit the prisoners with multiple infractions to deny them parole while forcing them to work for pennies on the dollar - money which doesn't leave with the prisoners because of the Company Store system built inside to give basic necessities to their slave labor.

No. Give up on the Libertarians, Dr. Brin. The truly intelligent have left already and are just Independent at this point. The rest are blind to the path their party is walking or are clinging to Republicans like abused women who fear leaving their partner lest that abuse turn to murder.

Rob H.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch is correct to advocate open borders, as the only violation they are guilty of is a civil infraction. They're born-free rule-breaking libertarians. Nice of loc to be on their side.

donzelion said...

Larry Hart: "I haven't seen Infinity War yet,"

Most fans have a very different emotional experience than I do. To me, it's an enjoyable popcorn flick: these stories are mostly irrelevant hangers from which artistry is hung, and the story is more about how the stitching was put together than the sequence of images shown. We have better sources of our own and lifetimes of literature to read for quality tales, so I have low expectations from Hollywood in that department, seeing every story as about as interesting as an average Christmas special, but watching even so as they're a form of 'community ritual,' which the stoic in me understands as a price of participating within a community.

We do not look at any particular Christmas tree expecting it to be more impressive than any other; it's just a spectacle...

"Although I knew the actor looked familiar, I didn't realize it was Michael Keaton until the end credits. The absence of the wild "Beetlejuice" hair, I guess."
I chuckled at some of the subtle homages to Batman/Birdman. Real film critics, or comic critics, doubtless caught a lot that I didn't.

donzelion said...

Robert: Libertarian leaders are about as corrupted as Evangelical leaders: they believe what they're told to believe, based on whoever pays their wages.

But libertarianism survives even today's corruption, just as religion will always survive despite centuries of corrupted leaders serving whoever pays their wages will too. It is never a mistake to call people to stand by good principles: if today's leaders ignore your call, and hurl harsh epithets in your direction, tomorrow's may listen.

David Brin said...

Rob H. I have attended a fair number of libertarian events, and have found that a substantial-large minority will argue - and argue with curiosity and agility and some willingness to learn something new - far more readily than any right winger and - in that one trait - more readily than any leftist and/or most liberals.

Yes, most of them are currently dupes and saps, cozened into a ritual incantation of just one type of authority, rather than the one responsible for most human failure across millennia. Only dig it, I find that some of them can be roused to notice this! Show me the almost-entirely wrong confederate who can do that?... or the general-direction-correct-but-oversimplifying-bully-leftist who can do that?... or the mostly correct but oversimplifying liberal...

Also, many libertarians are more vibrant communicators. I still believe that infecting even one of them with memes that widen their tunnel vision can be an effective and new way to widen the front against the monsters.


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

and argue with curiosity and agility and some willingness to learn something new -
...
Show me the almost-entirely wrong confederate who can do that?... or the general-direction-correct-but-oversimplifying-bully-leftist who can do that?... or the mostly correct but oversimplifying liberal


Are liberals like me really that bad at it?

Larry Hart said...

donzelion on Marvel movies:

seeing every story as about as interesting as an average Christmas special, but watching even so as they're a form of 'community ritual,' which the stoic in me understands as a price of participating within a community.

We do not look at any particular Christmas tree expecting it to be more impressive than any other; it's just a spectacle...


As a huge fan of Marvel Comics in the 1970s, I have some mixed feelings about the cultural success of the movies.

I'm ecstatic that the general public now knows minutia about Captain America and Iron Man, and that names like Ultron and Thanos and even Pepper Potts have name recognition.

OTOH, I feel culturally-appropriated, with people gushing over Disneyfied versions of the comics of which they have no knowledge or understanding.

OTOOH, today's Marvel Comics have lost their way, and the movies really do capture much of the feel that made Marvel so popular in my childhood.

* * *

They're not all the same mindlessness, though. I had looked forward to "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", but the actual movie seemed one big pointless fight scene without much plot direction. OTOH, I expected more mediocrity from some of the lesser franchises like Dr Strange and The Black Panther, and those movies pleasantly surprised me. I never saw "Infinity War" in theaters, but I do want to see it eventually because it looks like the culmination of many years worth of Marvel films leading up to it, which is the kind of spectacle that early Marvel comics were so good at.

Jon S. said...

Re: the minor bad guy in Homecoming:

That was Aaron Davis, who in the Ultimates line of comics was the uncle of one Miles Morales, the second Spider-Man. In the MCU, Earth-199999, it would appear Miles (the referenced nephew in the neighborhood) is still just a little kid.

(In Ultimate Spider-Man set in Earth-1610, he was bitten by a genetically-engineered spider his uncle had unwittingly stolen from OsCorp, then took on the Spider-Man mantle after Peter Parker was killed by the Green Goblin; following the Spider-Verse event, several universes were smushed together as a villain sought to destroy the entire multiverse, and several refugees from Earth-1610 wound up in Marvel's main timeline, Earth-616. Now Miles is working as a street-level Spider-Man, while Peter is operating more at the Avengers level of things.)

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | 'Snow Crash' reference

I DID notice that, but I’ve never gotten around to reading the book. It’s on my list with many others. 8)

I hadn’t thought about the impact of algebra on our ability to calculate the sums. I’ve delved into math history for a number of reasons, but most of them involve the uses of geometry. How in the world did we come to accept the lame ‘cross’ product for vectors for example? What was the hullabaloo around quaternions? Geometry matters in physics in a way that algebra doesn’t, but I do recall the battling factions doing arithmetic. Advocates of the abacus vs advocates of what emerged from algebra. Mostly, though, I remember a later phase in the 19th century when the mathematicians started to go very abstract and then in the 20th when it got hard for a lay person to recognize that they did mathematics at all.

When I was first exposed to game theory, it looked rather trivial. It wasn’t until I saw mixed strategies and randomized strategies that I began to see real power in that bit of our language. Prisoner’s Dilemma and Ultimatum are interesting and educational, but Public Goods and the basic approaches to hide a players intent are much more interesting. You’ve spoken of this here before. Know what the other guy plans and hide your own intent as best you can is a generally useful approach.

However, it was a roommate who analyzed a sparse set of evidence to conclude many other things that got me looking at the mathematics involved. (He picked apart a game I set up.) It was research quality stuff back in the 80’s and I know he’s used it since to look at major league baseball. It was more than Money Ball stuff. It got at the strategies of opposing teams and information they preferred remain hidden. Neat stuff.

locumranch said...


Some call it the Golden Rule -- others call it the Iron Law of Reciprocity -- but what it means is the rules that exempt and apply to thee & thine also exempt and apply to me & mine:

No borders equals no rules equals no penalties for each & everyone, so enjoy it while you can.

As of today, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the creation of the Religious Liberty Task Force, and many of the secular rules that you & you friends have exploited have changed. The full text of today's speech is available below.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-sessions-delivers-remarks-department-justice-s-religious-liberty-summit

Good night & have a pleasant tomorrow.

David Brin said...

drivel. The "War on Christmas" was folks saying "stop cramming Christmas down our throats 24/7 from before Halloween. It's not bullying to ask you to stop bullying.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "It got at the strategies of opposing teams and information they preferred remain hidden. Neat stuff."

Indeed it is. One of my 'Great Courses' classes reviewed the role of Simon Stevin as a mathematician, tossing in an offhand reference to, "oh yes, he upset the secretive banking cabal by deigning to publish their secret interest rate calculation tables.' Perhaps not really a 'secret,' just specialist knowledge that showed the general state of the art in the late 16th century. Those pesky Dutch... ;-)

I'm not sure 'Snow Crash' constitutes 'great literature' - but it's pretty iconic, and equivalent to 'Neuromancer' in quality and importance within the cyberpunk subgenre. The notion that ancient Babylonian voodoo included textual viruses is...a bit far out. Maybe law itself is a virus... ;-)

Duncan Cairncross said...

There were some comments about early commerce being slowed down by an inability to "do the sums" and calculate outcomes

To which I say bollocks! - this sort of thing may need decent maths to calculate exactly but simply sitting down with some counters and modeling the future is trivially easy and almost certainly predated mathematics

This token represents one bag of corn - that is how we think the earliest grain stores operated

Any expedition or caravan would have started with somebody using a pile of pebbles or tokens to see how much food would be needed

The maths came later - the merchants were like engineers using approximations that work until the mathematicians caught up

Larry Hart said...

@Jon S,

What, are you trying to out-nerd me?

:)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:
The "War on Christmas" was folks saying "stop cramming Christmas down our throats 24/7 from before Halloween.


You don't even have to go that far. There is a very compelling business reason for stores not to limit their customer base to those who celebrate Christmas.

Commercial advertisements have become more inclusive of non-Christian religions because they want everyone shopping during December, not just the Christians. What the Hannitys and Limbaughs and Coulters of the world mean when they weaponize "Merry Christmas!" is that stores should not be trying to welcome non-Christians, but rather make it clear that our custom is not welcome in their establishment.


It's not bullying to ask you to stop bullying.


It is to locumranch. You're infringing on his freedom to bully. You're shoving the anti-bullying agenda down the throats of those who don't agree with you.

He thinks he's scoring a point with his "No borders means no rules" false equivalence, but my response is that "Exalting the rule-breakers means no rules." So, you know, have at it. I had occasion to encounter a no-rules type over the weekend. My wife and I were on the elevated train platform waiting for the next train, when this big black guy with an obvious chip on his shoulder walked down the platform actually shoving people aside and swiping at them with his feet in passing. He didn't actually throw punches, but he was daring someone to challenge him to a fight, railing on about how he didn't care what white people thought. Of course, everyone there pulled out their phones and dialed 911, and the police arrived to give the guy a talking-to. And just as "of course", the guy disdained us for calling the police instead of daring to get into a street brawl. He obviously felt he won the encounter because he got to inconvenience a bunch of white people, and we couldn't do anything to stop him--except, y'know--call on the forces of the civilized society we live in.

That guy wasn't constrained by shame or rules. locumranch would have been proud of his brother from another mother.

Larry Hart said...

I don't know who to root for! :)

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/31/politics/trump-koch-brothers/index.html

President Donald Trump railed Tuesday against billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, accusing them of being against key components of his populist agenda and suggesting they're irrelevant in today's Republican Party.

Trump's public attack, following a weekend in which he was criticized at a Koch network summer meeting, comes amid speculation that the Koch brothers are reconsidering their typically full-throated support for Republican candidates during the midterm elections.
"The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don't need their money or bad ideas," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. "They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more."

...

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jim said...

.
It must take a special kind of accounting to consider modern humans economic interactions as positive sum. You know the kind of accounting that counts the benefits and denies or minimizes the actual costs. If you include the costs to the non-human living world our economic activities are profoundly negative sum.

So to recap, our present prosperity could not have happened without a vast, yet still limited supply of fossil fuels and our economic interactions are not positive sum games that produce prosperity but rather profoundly negative sum games with the cost being mostly paid by the non-human living world.

Human ingenuity is not the secret sauce that created our present prosperity (although it sure does play a big role in the details of how things are done.)

jim said...

Larry
I am rooting for Trump in that match up. I wonder how many Democrats will whore themselves out to the Koch brothers for campaign contributions? Will the DLC democrats drop to their knees for them?


Some Chinese trade specialist have an interesting take on what Trump is trying to do, and they are really worried that he might succeed.

This is what they think is going on with the US and Trump. They see his actions as coordinated strategy to reshape global trade in American interests. They don’t use the word Mercantilism but I think that they think that is the goal. Step one is to blow up the existing liberal (in the classical sense) trade regime. They think he is doing a great job at this. Step two is to start one on one trade talks with other countries and because of the imbalance in power the US will only accept favorable (unfair) trade agreements. Step three is to put a wedge between China and Russia. Step four?? And a war in the middle east that interrupts the flow of oil would be devastating to China if the interruption lasts several months.

I think that this attempt to reshape global trade will not go as planned but the death of the liberal global trade regime seems very likely.

Larry Hart said...

jim

I am rooting for Trump in that match up. I wonder how many Democrats will whore themselves out to the Koch brothers for campaign contributions? Will the DLC democrats drop to their knees for them?


Why would they have to. If the Koch's are disgusted with Republicans, they'll back their opponents for their own reasons. Even if they just didn't back anyone, that would be enough.

I'm not saying I'm on their side. I'm just still at "I don't know who to root for!"


...
I think that this attempt to reshape global trade will not go as planned but the death of the liberal global trade regime seems very likely.


If that's so, then why are you rooting for Trump?

jim said...

Well Larry,
I guess I hate the Koch brothers more. and I think the globalization has awesome for the global oligarchs and horrible for the American working class and ecosystems around the world. So I am fine with blowing up the current trade system.

Larry Hart said...

@jim,

Oh, ok. I thought you meant "the death of the global trade regime seems very likely" as a bad thing.

David Brin said...

Jim, much of your anger is justified. Much or your complaint about oligarchic cheating is justified and much-discussed here. You claim that externalities like the needs of our planet and grandchildren are under-represented in market forces and politics? Sure, welcome to hundreds of millions - including here - who talk about that a lot, and have successfully shifted that needle many time, and will - much more so - if power shifts back to people who listen to people who actually know stuff.

Only note: Your monotone of stylish, playground cynicism does no one a scintilla of good. How are you shifting any needles even an iotas, by wallowing in ingrate, solipsistic ("I invented these insights!") gloom?

Smugly self-satisfying... and utterly impotent.

donzelion said...

Duncan: "There were some comments about early commerce being slowed down by an inability to "do the sums" and calculate outcomes"

I hadn't realized I'd made a contentious observation. How best to respond? Cite a whole bunch of authorities (from 'history of mathematics' courses to scholars analyzing this)? Or just propose a problem that counting cannot resolve?

"Any expedition or caravan would have started with somebody using a pile of pebbles or tokens to see how much food would be needed"
Indeed so: but how would a creditor evaluate that caravan? If it's a 'known commodity' with decades of experience, that creates knowledge - but if it tests a new route, a new product? What terms are appropriate then? If it runs into a shortfall along the way, what terms should it accept from local merchants?

Credit is at the core of operations of modern commerce; in the period before the 15th century, expertise played a similar role, but did so slowly, with reluctance to adopt novel measures. New routes were risky, new merchants riskier, and any shortfall raised a probability that 'extreme non-commercial operations' would become necessary to make up the difference (e.g., viking traders became viking raiders).

jim said...

Dave,
Do you think our current economic system is positive sum if you include the non human living world?
Could we have developed our modern world without fossil fuels?

For me both of those answers are obviously no.
You talk a lot about positive sum relationships but how much of that is due to poor accounting of the costs?
And when you think about human inventiveness in the last couple of centuries most of the really important innovations are about widening the use of fossil fuels to support a growing human population. For example the "green revolution" was really about figuring out how to use fossil fuels to juice food production.

locumranch said...


Before you indulge in a David_B or a Larry_H level of reality denial, I suggest you actually READ Jeff Session's (artful) 'Religious Liberty' speech that I linked above.

It's a whole new ballgame people, one that qualifies "people of faith" for each & every secular 'right' currently afforded to each & every protected alphabet-soup minority identity group.

What the pseudo-liberals describe as "secular progress" has been re-appropriated (quite successfully, I must say) by the disenfrancised conservative castes in one fell swoop in the manner I previously described:

No borders means no trespass means no rules for both thee & me.

And, if you don't approve of minority status for ALL, then tough shit -- tell it to the 'new & improved & conservative' US Supreme Court.

It's what we call PROGRESS, people, and only martyrs, luddites & arsehats stand in the way of the steamroller that we call PROGRESS.

For without 'trespasses' by either thee or me, then there is no NEED for either apology or forgiveness, divine or otherwise.


Best
____

@Jim: In the sense that every western accomplishment has come at the price of some hidden environmental & sociopolitical cost, there is nothing 'positive sum' under the sun, 'But someday I'm sure your gonna know the cost, Cause for everything you win there's something lost', in much the same way that progressives everywhere are (just now) finding out what they've lost.

Treebeard said...

Oh nice, a peak oiler here in Cornucopianville. I love these guys. My turn to Dark Side began when I stumbled onto the peak oil/eco-doomer blogosphere and guys like John Michael Greer, Dmitry Orlov and Guy McPherson. Guys like these are what happens when scientists and engineers lose faith in Progress and go off the Reservation. Peak oil is like a dark gnosis: it allows you flip the whole progressive story on its head and feel that you are part of a special cult of people who know the dark truth while everyone else is still asleep. You walk around thinking: "Stupid zombies! Don't you know that this is all gonna come crashing down soon?" I was kinda like that for a few years. I didn't make too many friends, but I have no regrets, 'cuz it permanently shook me out of zombieville and I got a nice zombie-resistant “doomstead” out of it.

I remember when I mentioned the concept to a well-socialized, liberal math professor shortly after my endarkenment, and he gave me a blank look and then started to hint that he suspected I might be a dangerous dude, like some kind of borderline intellectual terrorist. So I do like peak oil for its ability to rattle people like that. But after a while you calm down and your interest wanes, because not much changes and B.A.U. (business as usual) continues. Then you find something even more outlandish and subversive, like the concept that nothing really changes, the world is neither gonna end nor experience a technological Singularity any time soon, and you go totally off the rails and become a Traditionalist or a Taoist or whatever.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

I suggest you actually READ Jeff Session's (artful) 'Religious Liberty' speech that I linked above.


Sorry, but I do not hear the words of traitors.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:
What the pseudo-liberals describe as "secular progress" has been re-appropriated (quite successfully, I must say) by the disenfrancised conservative castes in one fell swoop in the manner I previously described:


I can't wait for white Christians to acquire the right to be shot by police for a busted taillight.

David Brin said...

Uh... uh... uh... did I have a stroke? Um... when I kinda ... agree... with Treebeard? With... Tree- beard??????

Cue Twilight Zone music.

Alas, Jim, you answered ZERO of my challenges to you, to tell us what productive benefit your stylish cynicism does to anyone. Talk about negative sum. Fighting the worst errors can be complemented with praising/focusing/enhancing positive things. The combination can -- I assert -- lead to positive sum trends. You assert that it is futile.

Were this I wager, I would devastate your position with ten thousand examples of ways PS can and has happened, but that's not the point. If you are right, then why continue breathing? It is a net deficit to the world.

Locum isn't worth much attention. His "no borders" strawman ignores the pure fact that democrats have always been better at border enforcement. In fact, one of my top ten "ways democrats are idiots" is their failure to grasp how desperate Two Scoops is for his wall.

There is no huge damage or harm in letting him build some wall! In a carefully organized way, extort from him a "deal" to build some wall, in exchange for two dozen important concessions. He would fall all over himself!

But we are used to locum making up strawmen to yell at. And I am so bored that I Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

locumranch said...


Larry_H only proves that he's a bigoted, intolerant & hate-filled RACIST when he says that he "can't wait for white Christians to acquire the right to be shot".

Not only do his words appear to represent a criminal attempt to incite violence against a specific ethnic & religious identity group, but his words are also the very definition of what bigotry, religious intolerance & racism are:

The direction of prejudice, discrimination and ANTAGONISM against someone of a different religion, ethnicity or race.

I am absolutely shocked -- I am shocked, I tell you !!

Delirious, I even imagine that David just come out in favour of "border enforcement", Trump's Wall and nationalism.

Where is my fainting couch?? I swoon.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

If you include the costs to the non-human living world our economic activities are profoundly negative sum.

I have to smile a bit when people say things like this. They provide examples of the hubris that gets us into so much trouble with each other. Look at me! I'm so @##$ing smart that I know how to calculate these things! My valuations are the Truth!

We certainly can spot negative externalities, but they too are on a local scale meaning we can see the impact some of them have on some of the system. We are finite and the best we can do individually is pursue knowledge of some of the things about some of the system. Collectively, we can likely do more, but it's hard to know that at the individual level.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "There is no huge damage or harm in letting him build some wall! In a carefully organized way,"

Once the American Society of Civil Engineers raises the grade on America's crucial infrastructure from D+ to B-, some non-crucial infrastructure works, like a vanity wall, might be worth considering...Fix drinking water, power, roads, transit, wastewater, levees, aviation, dams first, and then once enough of that is done, new priorities can be considered...

Alfred Differ said...

@Treebeard | I used to follow Greer too for awhile. Talked to him a couple times about his doom and gloom. Got the sense he was profoundly worried, but understood that things might go better than he expected. He qualified his position once in a way that left me wondering what I was getting out of participating in the funk. I wandered away shortly afterward.

I've met 'dangerous dudes' too. Most of them just like to think they are. In a real collapse, they'd be wide-eyed with fear and probably get shot by their neighbors who didn't trust them.

BAU does indeed continue, but what occurred to me over the years is that BAU is moderately good often enough that it adds up. Progressives want more of their goals met and faster. Traditionalists want more of theirs met and a few others prevented. Between them, and maybe even in spite of some of them, we muddle along and trip over solutions to problems no reasonable person thought we'd ever solve.

David Brin said...


L: "David just come out in favour of "border enforcement", Trump's Wall and nationalism." imbecile.

donzel: "Once the American Society of Civil Engineers raises the grade on America's crucial infrastructure from D+ to B-, some non-crucial infrastructure works, like a vanity wall, might be worth considering...Fix drinking water, power, roads, transit, wastewater, levees, aviation, dams first, and then once enough of that is done, new priorities can be considered..."

Baloney zero sum thinking. We should be spending $100B a year on infrastructure, in part to fix wealth disparities and money velocity and to "opposite" insanely disproved Supply Side. One percent of that on a dopey-harmless... even solar equipped... wall? In order to get the other 99%? A no brainer.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I can't wait for white Christians to acquire the right to be shot by police for a busted taillight."

Incitement, or 'insightment'? LOL...recall how Locum railed against the 'loss of due process' for 'victims of #MeToo'? White Christians already feel persecuted - their own religion rejects their politics, so even a crosswise glance by a police officer is proof of persecution for your beliefs.

Projection is the name of the game: sin as you wish, so long as you own the means to accuse your 'enemy' of all that and worse loudly enough that nobody looks at facts: your friends will overlook your sins, and others will pay the wages thereof, at least in this world. In a world where everyone is their own projector, it's hard to consider how cameras rein in conduct.

In practice here, I tend to glance at what he writes, roll my eyes, then turn back to folks with interesting things to say.

Alfred Differ said...

With respect to the actual post, I'd like to point out that adding 'cheating methods' to the list we all should oppose requires something a bit more thought out than writing them down or getting legislators to make them crimes. We have a number of laws on the books already where a small group managed to get legislators to choose their view of morality. As a result we have a number of laws that are fundamentally unenforceable..

So... suppose behavior X is a new candidate you want to propose as a 'cheat'. How should we get it added to the list in a way that actually works? Maybe X is 'shifting costs to those not involved in a contract for negative externalities'. What would an approval process for this look like?

Larry Hart said...


Larry_H only proves that he's a bigoted, intolerant & hate-filled RACIST when he says that he "can't wait for white Christians to acquire the right to be shot".


On the contrary, locumranch confirms he's the hypocrite we already know him to be when he whines about rural red-staters finally getting to demand the same rights minorities have while not recognizing what it would be like to be in the position those minorities are in. You want parity and equality with the special rights afforded to blacks and Muslims? That means accepting that Your Lives Matter as little as theirs do. No, what you want is to keep your white privilege while demanding the compensation due to oppressed minorities. Just as your fuck-buddy Jeff Sessions wants to allow only Christians the "religious freedom" to be mean others and to not have the same thing be done unto them.

Your bold-and-caps filled baby whines convince no one. As Dave Sim so eloquently put it, "It's not that I don't understand what you're saying. I just don't agree with it. And I'll keep on not agreeing with it no matter how many times you say the same stupid thing."

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

but his words are also the very definition of what bigotry, religious intolerance & racism are:

The direction of prejudice, discrimination and ANTAGONISM against someone of a different religion, ethnicity or race.


Do you even effing listen to your fool self?

First of all, let's overlook what everyone but you who knows me here understands perfectly--that I was using sarcasm to make a point. Let's presume that my intent was really to encourage police to shoot white Christians...

What I actually said was that white Christians should "acquire the right" to be shot by police. The same "right" that blacks and Muslims apparently have. You want parity with minorities? That's what it looks like. I'm calling for white Christians to be treated exactly the same as the minorities you think are so privileged. Exactly the same.

But that is not racism. That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

donzelion said...

Jim: "I guess I hate the Koch brothers more."

Your prerogative. For me, I find that neither the Southern slaveowners nor Russian serfowners particularly sympathetic, however they paint themselves. But this -

"and I think the globalization has awesome for the global oligarchs"
Hmmm, "the system is screwed up, so let's bring in the clowns who screwed it up and ask them to fix it..."

"So I am fine with blowing up the current trade system."
Sound's great! Why not start with that portion of it in which you participate first? Your computer, cell phone, and internet connection are all creatures of the current trade system: if you really were 'fine with blowing it up,' you might start with that.

Oh wait, you're not fine with that? What you really want is to blow up OTHER PEOPLE's stuff. I see. Blow up other people's livelihoods so you can feel more comfortable? Hmmm...there's a word for that too...

Larry Hart said...

locumranch redux:

Delirious, I even imagine that David just come out in favour of "border enforcement", Trump's Wall and nationalism.


Dr Brin disagrees with me on the wall. He imagines that in exchange for a small, harmless stretch of wall somewhere out of the way, Trump would gladly concede significant items to Dems which would help America. He doesn't realize that Benedict Donald is like a shrew of a wife, who once you give into the smallest of demands just keeps upping the ante.

No, the only thing a Trump victory lap on the wall gets us is his base ecstatically voting for Republicans. Add to that the symbolic damage to America morphing from the Statue of Liberty country to the East Berlin country. We can't give in on that one.

But feel free to swoon. Don't let me stop you.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "So... suppose behavior X is a new candidate you want to propose as a 'cheat'. How should we get it added to the list in a way that actually works?"

Taxes are a rather effective way of going about that, particularly nuanced taxes that focus on where the cheaters profit most (capital gains, rather than income).

"Maybe X is 'shifting costs to those not involved in a contract for negative externalities'."

Impose taxation on the proportion of the benefit a taxpayer receives from the state - an old (Smithian) maxim that accounts for externalities of cost shifting without implementing a permitting restraint. When one party causes its assets to inflate by being relatively preferable to alternative assets they actively caused to deflate in value, the differential can be disgorged through carefully operated tax enforcement favoring property over income.

(BTW, for an interesting treatment on that, see the chapters dealing with 'county assessors' and their role in enforcing segregation rules through property taxes in America in 'The Color of Law'...there's actually amazing flexibility at work in simply marking properties to market - though that has sadly been utilized more to oppose 'racial undesirables' than the spread wealth.)

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Credit is the tricky think as Donzelion has pointed out. It has one of those many-term sums in it that involves exponentiation. (Astronomy has one too and we eventually invented calculus and then real analysis to do it.) Prior to the arrival of algebra in Europe, the difficulty of the calculation was probably enough to discourage even thinking about the financial contracts that needed them.

I was looking through my math history books again at the time when advocates of the abacus and the old Roman numeral system were battling algebraists. Not many people know that war even happened. The former method was so profoundly defeated, we treat a abacus as a child's toy nowadays. There was a time, though, when the Hindu-Arabic numerals were illegal in Florence. People who used them were accused of hiding fraud. The accusation was that the point OF the system was to do exactly that.

Mathematics is a language, so changes to it change how we think and about what we think.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | Impose taxation on the proportion of the benefit

That's more focused on how one deals with the cheating than on getting people to agree that cheating is happening.

I'm more interested in how you get people to go along with it in the first place. I'll offer to make it personal. How do you convince me and people like me that behavior X is a type of cheating? Is majority rule good enough for you? (It isn't for me when it comes to rules that give shape to what we mean by 'justice.'

Lorraine said...

Reminds me of the "new math" battles (and more recently the "common core" battles), also the metric system battles.

Lorraine said...

I even remember during the Carter era there were some US gas stations posting prices per liter and a lot of the public thought that was some kind of scam. I wonder how much of movement conservatism even today (especially the fascistoid chest-thumping America Firstism) is basically backlash against Carter.

Larry Hart said...

@Lorraine,

Try driving into Canada some time, and you're suddenly paying by the liter in Canadian dollars with road distances marked in kilometers. It's like an alien planet or something.


also the metric system battles.


I remember watching Spock recite measurements in metric in some episode of TOS. Even as a teenager, the thought occurred to me that metric sounds more science-y--more like something a Vulcan would use --but in fact, every dimension of measurement in the metric system is very much earth-based. The meter is a percentage of a line of longitude, the second is a percentage of the earth's daily rotation, and the kilogram depends on the weight of a volume of water. Centigrade temperatures are based on the freezing and boiling points of water at earth-normal pressure.

Real aliens would be no more likely to use the metric system than they would to speak in Latin.

David Brin said...

Alfred, a very large part of elimination of cheating is transparency. Enough of it and you get fewer laws over the long run, not more. But short term? You bet some wretched cheats will be illegal.

"He doesn't realize that Benedict Donald is like a shrew of a wife..."

I realize it. And I haven't time for impractical purity. If I can get 20 million poor people good jobs on infrastructure we desperately need, then let DT crow that 1% is going to his wall. He'll be hated on by the oligarchy masters if he lets infrastructure happen. And you are not strategic enough. This weak-minded toddler can be cozened toward the light. Not completely, but enough to realize the monsters are his enemies.

Alfred Differ said...

David, one of the things I like about your transparency argument is it shows up in Smith's writing as part of the recipe for avoiding self-delusion. It's not that I need to see what others are doing to check them. It's that I need to see what others are doing to imagine what I should NOT be doing. I can delude myself easily, but I don't fall for fantasies others spin to delude themselves. It's the non-intrusive side of your CITOKATE process too so it all ties together.

In the sort term, though, are you willing to require more than majority rule in order to ensure the wretched cheating methods are illegal and those laws are strongly supported? Prohibition had decent support early and many were willing to go along and try to make the nation a better place. That support died over the years as people learned what it took to support a moral law that didn't have a massive consensus behind it.

I'm with you on declaring a number of behaviors as cheat, but I worry about getting them accepted as such for the long term. Negative externalities are an obvious cheat to anyone with a broad horizon, but not so for someone with a short horizon of inclusion.


oh... you might want to take a peek at Jim Wright's concerns about merit immigration that he posted a couple days ago. I think he makes a good case for burying merit procedures. His argument reminded me of one I encountered regarding merit bonuses at work that I chose to accept years ago and I've been happy about it ever since. Merit is something we all do as judges, but it is a dangerous thing to give as power.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | We recently abandoned the Earth-based measure for time. The second is tied to the frequency of a particular emission line from Cesium I think. We also fixed the speed of light at some number and work backward from that now to deal with distance.

It's getting better.

Don't forget parsec and light year, though. The first is based on the size of the Earth's orbit (semi-major axis to be more precise) and the other on the period of Earth's orbit.

We'll get there some day. 8)

jim said...

Treebeard,
I would say my perspective is Ecological which is an older, deeper, broader perspective than Peak Oil, but they are compatible outlooks. They both agree that looking at how energy flows through a system tells you a whole lot about that system.

Dave,
I disregard comments about style when discussing facts. And it is quite factual to say that there is no way modern society could have developed the system we have and the prosperity we currently enjoy without using fossil fuels.
And it is quite factual to say that when you include the large and rapidly growing number of extinctions, the massive, global loss of natural habitats, the widescale poisoning of the environment with insecticides, fungicides and other biocides, and the massive stress that climate change will put on ecosystems all over the globe it is very clear that the last couple of hundred years of rapid growth of the modern system comes at the expense of the non human living world.

And as far as positive sum relationships it is Loco that believes that the do not exist, not me.
Ecological succession I think would be a good example.
Fermenting foods is another good one.
There is the possibility that some of the south American natives in the amazon may have been in positive sum relationship with Amazonian jungle.
It is your claim that our modern prosperity is due to PS that I think is BS.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

And I haven't time for impractical purity.



If I can get 20 million poor people good jobs on infrastructure we desperately need, then let DT crow that 1% is going to his wall.


If I thought your premise was correct, I would agree with you. I don't trust any deal Benedict Donald or congressional Republicans would agree to. They already tried to claw back the Democratic bits of a budget agreement. Why wouldn't they (say) pass an infrastructure bill including funding for the wall, and then pass another bill taking back all of it except that part? Or simply divert the allocated funds to the wall? They have zero credibility on promises, which is why there's no point giving them anything they want in exchange for anything we want--because they will renege on the deal. Not "might", but "will".


He'll be hated on by the oligarchy masters if he lets infrastructure happen. And you are not strategic enough. This weak-minded toddler can be cozened toward the light. Not completely, but enough to realize the monsters are his enemies.


You give him much undeserved credit for self-awareness. He doesn't care about what his oligarchy masters think (witness his war on the Koch Brothers). He cares about the adulation of his rabid Brownshirt base. Sure, they want the wall, but even moreso, they want to "own the libs". They want to harm people they don't like and make do-gooder liberals feel bad. The wall is one means to that end, but they won't back off from that greater goal for it. Trump's not about to give Democrats anything of substance that would disappoint the Nazis.

Strategic? What we need to do is to drain the energy from those Nuremberg rallies of his. Giving him the wall would do just the opposite.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

We recently abandoned the Earth-based measure for time. The second is tied to the frequency of a particular emission line from Cesium I think.


Ok, and if I recall, the meter is defined as the length of a particular piece of platinum-iridium stored in some vault somewhere. But those are both simply alternative ways of standardizing the measure that was originally defined in terms of Earth. Aliens might tie their measures to the speed of light or to cesium frequencies, but it's unlikely they would come up with the same length or frequency that we did.

Not to mention that the entire foundation of the metric system is built on powers of 10, so again, very Earth-centric unless all aliens have ten fingers. (Admittedly, the ones on Star Trek did tend to have hands just like ours.)

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Thanks for the notice that Stonekettle Station has a new post. Sometimes, after a month or so, I forget to check. :)

http://www.stonekettle.com/

jim said...

Donzelion
Well the current system of globalization was put in place so multinational corporations could engage in labor and environmental arbitrage. So I am fine with it coming to an end.

And as far as taking my cell phone and computer away, I would be fine with that. I lived most of my life without a cell phone and let me tell you the cell phone has not improved my life one bit. But I don’t understand why you think those things couldn’t be manufactured in the US.
And from the business I am in, we would greatly benefit greatly from excluding products made with horrible environmental controls and using near slave labor.

And this “Oh wait, you're not fine with that? What you really want is to blow up OTHER PEOPLE's stuff. I see. Blow up other people's livelihoods so you can feel more comfortable? Hmmm...there's a word for that too...”
Right back at ya, because that is exactly what happened with the implementation of globalization.

Darrell E said...

Alfred Differ,

What are your thoughts at this point regarding the "is Trump illegitimate" question?

He seems to be acting more and more as if he has been, or fears he is about to be, caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Have you seen some of his more recent tweets? For example . . .

"Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!"

locumranch said...

Let's HATE on Trump because Hate is Great: Go, Hate!!

In a rough equivalent of Harvey Weinstein sporting his "I'm with Her" button, Larry_H (and Darrell_E) would now have us believe that their bilious disparagement of other identity groups is just SARCASM.

Apparently, hate, discrimination & potential genocide are just HILARIOUS when directed against non-minority identity groups, presidents, governments, religions & males in general.

Well, har har hardy har har.

This "it's a joke only when progressives say it" stance has become emblematic of the Left's ongoing political hypocrisy, and an increasingly humourless Right is no longer laughing or buying it.

As in the complex interrelationship between the Eloi & the Moorlocks, it's LMAO funny how 'positive sum' equality can & will come back at you for shits & nibbles.


Best

Larry Hart said...

Larry_H is out of fucks to give about what you believe.

Darrell E said...

Poor locumranch.

Alfred Differ said...

Darrel E ,

If all he had done was obstruct the investigation, I would argue the election was legitimate and he was impeachable.

It appears now that he also conspired with the Russians and that there will be sufficient evidence for an indictment.

I am strongly leaning toward thinking the election was illegitimate and I want Mueller to demonstrate it formally.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | If you can't detect what I think is their rather obvious sarcasm, you might want to skip using sarcasm yourself. I'm sure they will oblige at some point.

donzelion said...

Jim: "Well the current system of globalization was put in place so multinational corporations could engage in labor and environmental arbitrage."
You neglected tax arbitrage, which is actually a bigger driver than labor or environmental. ;-)

Corporations could always do this, under current system, or any previous one.

The 'previous systems' (there's actually been at least two other globalization waves) tended to work through colonial control, actual slavery, and mass genocide, while arranging the world in such a way as to ensure that elites would eventually foster warfare to break tariff barriers. You really want to go back to that? (Of course not, nobody wants another global war...it's just folks don't realize why they haven't happened for a couple generations...)

There are folks who hate cities, hate the infrastructure, think the best path is 'burn it all down and start over with something that isn't so corrupt and decrepit.' We typically regard such folks as villains.

You will never succeed in building a better city by leveling the old one and starting afresh - and any call to 'destroy the old structure' works about the same: all of those who depend upon it will rise up to defend it, and all of those who despise it will sell out to those who can pay their food/rent bills as soon as possible. 'Tear it all down and do it better' has never worked - not for the environment, not for labor, and not for any other cause worth defending.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I don't see a way to avoid the historical dependence on human factors when defining our unit system. I've toyed with variations in my own work, but the best I can see happening is removing current dependence or eliminating the unit completely. For example, the difference between seconds and meters is based on a confusion brought about by a belief that the world around us is three dimensional and time is just a universal scalar measure. Netwon's absolute space and time essentially. If you ditch that for a 4-D world, velocity is just a rotation of sorts, so time and distance should use the same units. The light cone associated with any one event is an event horizon of sorts, thus the speed limit, hence there is no real need for units to describe it.

By the time one starts to fold in what we've learned in the last 1.5 centuries, though, one loses the general public. Chances are high that I won't convince anyone to reference all speeds to 'c' as a ratio with no units. 8)

Oh... not everything is base 10 either. Your digital devices think in base 2 and you've probably adapted to a mix of the two bases. I still think base 3 would have been better, but that fight ended long ago.

donzelion said...

Lorraine: "I wonder how much of movement conservatism even today...is basically backlash against Carter."

Not so much 'Carter' per se, but using Carter's image as a symbol for why they're superior to the last 'failed' liberal that is in common mindspace, and for the superiority of their answer - 'St. Ronnie.' For baby boomers, Carter is far preferable to evoking Johnson, since the conservative answer to Johnson was not just a deceitful presidency, but one that signed off on the Equal Rights Amendment, created the EPA, supported Roe v. Wade (on some level), desegregated more schools than Kennedy and Johnson put together...the Johnson->Nixon transition isn't a heroic moment in conservative thought they'd wish to revisit, nor is the Clinton->Bush Jr. - neither works nearly so well as the Carter->Reagan transition.

sociotard said...

https://www.vox.com/2018/7/31/17637426/robert-mueller-ukraine-lobbyists-tony-podesta-vin-weber-greg-craig

Mueller has referred to Manhattan prosecutors the names of some lobbyists who may not have reported their ties to the Ukraine. These include:

Tony Podesta who runs the Democratic firm of the same name.
Greg Craig former Obama White House counsel.

jim said...

Donzelion
I think post WWII Germany and Japan both show that you can burn it down and build something better.

I think that the economic and political process of globalization that has been ongoing for the last ~30-40 years is over and that a neo mercantilism will be tried by the US and that will likely turn out very poorly.

But this stuff really doesn't matter because we refuse to come to grips with the fact that we are deep into ecological overshoot. There are tons of stuff we could be doing to make the situation we are in far less horrible if we actually recognized the danger and acted.

By some coincidence, today is EARTH OVERSHOOT day.

donzelion said...

Alfred: My solution (actually, Smith's solution) - "Impose taxation on the proportion of the benefit" - your response - "That's more focused on how one deals with the cheating than on getting people to agree that cheating is happening."

You'll seldom get people to agree which common practices constitute cheating: their stakes and incentives will guide their definitions. You'll never get there at all by looking at established practices that grew up within prevailing norms. Cheaters typically 'contribute' to such efforts by shifting blame to some other group (preferably, an illusory group of 'phantom cheaters' - some racial minority is ideal). So...

"How do you convince me and people like me that behavior X is a type of cheating?"

Start with the tax structure, then move back to the cheaters: do it Smith's way, by going after those who derived the largest benefits from the state, then once incentives are properly adjusted, try to reduce the benefits of cheating while increasing the benefits of 'fair and honest play.'

Only after you've set proper incentives can you build a larger, stronger, healthier, richer unified opposition to the cheaters. The first task is not to convince anyone anything at all about 'cheating' - simply to set basic accounting rules and ensure that failure to abide by them cuts off access to wealth creation. Then let the insiders enforce those rules, and build upward from there to achieve social/policy goals one seeks.

The Enlightenment insight was not that 'cheaters are bad' - we've opposed cheating since long before Hammurabi, and all that demonizing never got us very far. We'll never fine tune our guillotines and pitchforks to capture only cheaters - but we can adjust incentives so a much larger group profits by rejecting cheating, and then let them enforce rules and norms against it.

"Is majority rule good enough for you?"
Bounded majority rule (aka 'constitutionalism') is good enough for me, at least until someone shows me something better. I'm aware of some alternatives...

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

Jim: "I think post WWII Germany and Japan both show that you can burn it down and build something better."
(edited for clarity)

Indeed: Germany and Japan were rebuilt in the GATT-ordered globalized universe, so that we could prevent any further emergence of wealthy elites who saw the easiest path to profits through ethno-nationalist exploitation. You're looking to burn down the system that rehabilitated them.

Bezos/Koch/Adelson might be 'bad' in some sense - but would you really want to trade them for Nazis and imperial Japanese? Or do you think that the system that rehabilitated good, productive countries with proud civilizations behind them failed to rehabilitate them enough, so it must be punished because it didn't stop a few billionaires?

Are you really so confident you can do it better? Or is it that you're convinced human nature has evolved so much since the 1930s that we wouldn't fall right back into the same gambits that typified German and Japanese behavior then once the shackles come off?

"I think that the economic and political process of globalization that has been ongoing for the last ~30-40 years is over and that a neo mercantilism will be tried by the US and that will likely turn out very poorly."
It might. Trump's gambit is not what most people take it for. He's got Bush Jr's people guiding him, and their game plan 15 years ago was slightly more sophisticated than most realized: it was never about steel tariffs then, but about union-busting (even if the price required breaking a few big corporations and sacrificing orthodoxy, the value of flipping Wisconsin/Michigan was worth it to them).

Today's mercantilism was never about China (or Europe, or anyone else) - it's about California, the single economy most dependent upon trans-Pacific trade (that trade IS our housing valuation, IT system, the base behind education, entertainment, and a host of other industries). The supply chains that grow from that trans-Pacific orientation are what made California the 5th largest economy: dismantling it and moving pieces East (where they've prepositioned with warehouses and hotels bought on the cheap) is their plan.

donzelion said...

Jim: Let me go a bit further on this story. Before 'Pax Americana,' the world enjoyed 'Pax Brittanica.' How much did it enjoy that? Let's see -

-Opium War with China so that a handful of useless British lords could trade goods at Harrods from the profits they enjoyed overseas through Hong Kong
-Waves of starvation in Ireland, India, and other British imperial assets, as each was exploited and gouged - sometimes justified as being done 'for their own good' even if it was really for the benefit of British feudal lords, who even then were being pushed aside by capital

And that was the 'better' form of colonialization, relative to the Dutch/Belgian imperialism ('Heart of Darkness'), Russian imperialism (where do you think the security state started?), French imperialism (North Africa, Vietnam), and...well, just about all the rest of Africa. And that was merely the consequences at the periphery: life in London, for the non-elite, sort of sucked (how many died from cholera per year in Victorian England? folks moving to the cities then did so for the cheap rent - rent that was cheap because the life expectancy was worse in cities than in countryside)

Think things are so bad in a Bangladeshi sweat shop? Well...sure. But take a look at life outside the sweatshop and you'll understand the options a bit better...and similar tales from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In the sweatshop, there's a hope of unionizing, fixing conditions: outside, it's generally a struggle to survive in a gray market, where the best prospect for improvement depends upon connections of one form or another.

Think the current system destroys the environment? In Indonesia, Brazil, the feudal land barons chop down the forests - better run corporations with long-term profit horizons are the best check upon that power. Same applies to every other form of 'commons' - a large fishing fleet can survive catch limits, but small fishermen will rail against any lmiits that threaten their ability to make payroll and keep their ships afloat.

Some folks feel 'globalization stacks the deck against us.' That's an illusion. The deck was always stacked against 'us.' Thing is, globalization enables reshuffling it by hard work, rather than power and connection. Lifting billions of people out of poverty is the main fruit of globalization. If it's not working for you, bear in mind that it's worked out a lot better than the alternatives ever did - and also bear in mind that the only revolutions that successfully weakened the power of oligarchs did so by rendering millions of other people dead in the process. Are you really comfortable with that?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

If you can't detect what I think is their rather obvious sarcasm, ...


As usual, it's the conclusion that's mistaken. When I said my remark was sarcastic, I didn't mean it was "just a joke" or that I didn't intend for it to be taken as stated. I meant that calling for white Christians demanding "equality" with favored blacks and Muslims required them to understand what that equality consists of, including the fact that their lives would be routinely in jeopardy from law enforcement. That's a subtly different thing from calling on cops to kill white Christians out of hatred.

The sarcasm is in presenting the possibility of white Christians being treated as if Their Lives don't Matter as something that might ever really happen.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I don't see a way to avoid the historical dependence on human factors when defining our unit system.


I wasn't saying there was anything wrong with the metric system, or any system based on human or earth-based measurements.

I was just noting that there's nothing universal about such a system--nothing that would make it more...logical...to expect Vulcans to be using. For purposes of a tv show, I understand that metric sounds more science-y, just as Latin does. Just noting the illusory nature of that.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Oh... not everything is base 10 either. Your digital devices think in base 2 and you've probably adapted to a mix of the two bases.


It occurred to me quite young that had humans evolved with eight fingers instead of ten, we'd probably never have conceived any reason for any base other than a power of 2.

kvs said...

Larry Hart:
It occurred to me quite young that had humans evolved with eight fingers instead of ten, we'd probably never have conceived any reason for any base other than a power of 2.

Historically there were number systems (or at lest partial number systems) based on 12 and 60 (the remnants seen in 12 hours per 1/2 day and 360 degrees in a circle). This was because 12 and 60 are highly composite (informally lots of factors) which is independent of base. (In a base 8 world, they may have used 48 instead of 60, but 48 was more likely than 64).

Larry Hart said...

@kvs,

Older number systems subdivided things into 12s or 60s, but I can't think of one that used either of those numbers as a base, in the sense of digits representing 12s, 144s, 1728s, etc.

With the possible exception of the fact that a gross is twelve dozens.

jim said...

Donzelion,
I am very familiar with the last 500 years of world history, so you are not telling me things I don't already know.

I am curious do you understand what the phrase "deep into ecological overshoot" means? Because it is a really horrifying situation that we are in.

kvs said...

@LarryHart

Sources such as (http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/BabylonianNumerals/) (and Wikipedia) indicate that Babylon really had a base-60 system (which in later years became positional). Also while Roman numbers were essentially
base 10, the fractions were base 12 (source Wikipedia plus a number of internet sources, although I didn't find a good authoritative one).

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re Taxation in line with benefits

IMHO that is only one of the things that you want taxes to do

A more important task of taxation is in removing the "great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few"

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.
Louis D. Brandeis

Taxation should be used to reduce the "Great Wealth" which will otherwise distort both government and the economy

We talked about corporations as entities
One of the problems is that a paper entity cannot be penalised for bad activities the way a real person can
The only current deterrent is a fine

We need to be more creative about detering bad behaviour - rather than a fine what about sentencing a company to pay additional tax for five years?
Or to pay for additional oversight on it's activities?


Duncan Cairncross said...

The "meaning of" - "deep into ecological overshoot" ?

Simple
That is just bollocks written by people who don't understand ecology or numbers

David Brin said...

Sociotard so? Clean up the dems too. You won't find anything systemic.

Jim, I wrote EARTH and have been in Greenpeace/Sierra since before you were born. Try looking at the one society that invented environmentalism and unleashed hundreds of millions of environmentalists, and all the pro-Earth propaganda that you suckled, becoming the man you are.


As for hate... Such irony. In fact, I don't hate Two Scoops. You all know I've been the one suggesting some possible outreaches to him. His cranky-toddler, unsapient fear and depression-rage is a danger to us all and I'd much rather strike "deals" that he's desperate to "achieve" and let him narcissist-preen, if that would keep him calmly unharmful while we fix this.

I hate Rupert and the Kochs because they betray us knowingly. I respect and oppose Putin, whose logic behind fighting us is perfectly clear and consistent... if based upon an evil worldview that will kill us all. I hate George F. Will, despite his hard work on the good side, now. I'll work with him. Forgiveness is another matter.

My relentless opposition to Two Scoops is what a negative sum mind would call 'hate.' It isn't I am fighting for my country and civilization and children. Hate will cripple my ability to do so with agility, and I urge all moderate and mindful Americans to eschew it.

donzelion said...

jim: "I am very familiar with the last 500 years of world history, so you are not telling me things I don't already know."

Then why would you ever want to go back to anything before the 1945 era?

"I am curious do you understand what the phrase "deep into ecological overshoot" means?"
Conceptually, I understand problems of 'overpopulation,' 'overfishing,' 'overconsumption.' In general, the more I look into each of them, the less impressed I am with 'top-down' efforts to restrain them, and the more convinced I become that bottom-up efforts are the only reliable solutions to problems - BUT the role for top-down influence can be useful in shifting incentives.

Women with an education + an effective social security system curb 'overpopulation' better than any state-operated family planning system ever could anywhere: take either piece away, and you get a partial solution.

You can pass every regulation you want to restrict burning down rain forests - you'll get absolutely nowhere if the incentives operate to make that the best practical means available of accessing wealth in biodiverse ecosystems in a hurry. And so on.

"Because it is a really horrifying situation that we are in."
We choose whether to regard it as horrifying or not, then we choose what to do about it. No matter how much humans wreck the climate, Earth will be easier for humans to live on in the conceivable future than any terraforming on any world's discovered yet. We take better care of it not through alarmism, but by understanding what is afoot, and why, and using what exists effectively, rather than deeming it irredeemable and selling it at a discount.

Indeed, if oligarchs are your concern, bear in mind how the biggest among them profited immensely by looking carefully at 'lost causes' and betting big on certain hopeless cases (e.g., Bill Gates with Apple, Buffett with a host of industries, Slim with Mexican industries, Bezos with booksellers, and so on). Success arises from finding something of value others overlook more often than it will ever come from despising what others value. Our system, warts and all, is incredibly valuable to us both.

Larry Hart said...

Are we illegitimate yet?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-presses-sessions-to-end-federal-probe-on-russian-election-interference-1533133585

WASHINGTON—President Trump urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the Russia investigation “right now,” as negotiations continued between his lawyers and special counsel Robert Mueller over the terms of a possible interview.

The comments renewed public pressure on the nation’s top law-enforcement official to halt a probe that has resulted in charges against his former campaign officials and more than two dozen Russians.

“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Mr. Trump wrote Wednesday in a series of Twitter posts about Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

...

Jon S. said...

Vulcans use metric measures on Star Trek and its sequelae for a very logical reason - they have to standardize with somebody's units of measure, and the United Earth Space Probe Agency's Star Fleet provided the organizational nucleus for the UFP Starfleet (Vulcan and Andoria had just completed a prolonged cold war, so there was no way Vulcan reps were going to accept the Andorian Imperial Guard as a template, and similarly the Andorians would look rather askance at anything based on the Vulcan Defense Forces; Tellarites, meanwhile, have a society based on arguing every single point to death. Only Earth was able to provide a basis for organizing that didn't rub someone else the wrong way.)

Not trying to out-nerd you, Larry - but welcome to the concept of autistic perseveration. :-)

Speaking of perseverating, why is anyone still reading loco's drivel? He made it plain to me years ago that he has no interest in either discussing matters openly, or learning anything he hasn't already ingrained years back. New matters and new insights need not apply. Haven't paid any attention to him since, and in my opinion my life has been far better for it.

Jon S. said...

Oh, and speaking as we were earlier about comic books - Jim, you're starting to sound like a classic comic-book villain. Your ideas aren't that different from those of Thanos in the Infinity Wars movie, and provide as little account for what might come after.

(For that matter, I'm reminded a bit of Dr. Horrible, from the musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, particularly the beginning of the song "A Brand New Day":

This appeared as a moral dilemma ‘cause at first
It was weird though I swore to eliminate the worst
Of the plague that devoured humanity it’s true
I was vague on the “how”...
)

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

...Thanos in the Infinity Wars movie,...


Ok, I've been lukewarm about getting involved in the Marvel movies because I expect to be disappointed by 2010s characterization of characters I remember from the 60s and 70s.

But Infinity Wars looks interesting enough that I went and watched Spider-Man: Homecoming because I know the new Spider-Man appears in IW, and I figured I'd get the backstory first. So now I find out that Marvel's Spider-Man (and The Black Panther too) actually premiered in Captain America: Civil War--a movie I actively avoided several years ago. And that one is full of in-references that I'm not even sure which movies they're from.

So I might end up having to binge-watch all the Marvel Studios movies in chronological order to get the full story. This is how the comics roped me in in the 70s.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "So I might end up having to binge-watch all the Marvel Studios movies in chronological order to get the full story."

I can think of worse ways to blow 40+ hours. But I find binge-watching results in a really different memory effect relative to binge-reading.

The Marvel cinematic universe is odd in that pretty much all of it is inoffensive (to me, as a non-comic fan). I confess to being curious how you'll experience it, whether it grates or is great. That said...another piece of me remains somewhat bothered by the whole fixation upon demigods, and how that shapes what we recognize acknowledge as 'leaders.' The era of Westerns certainly manifested in certain recurring themes for American character. This era...perplexes me.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I don't know that watching Civil War is all that necessary. The intro scenes for Black Panther are rather typical. They motivate a fight as is normal when the author wants two good guys fighting. The intro scene for Peter Parker was a bit more amusing, but not so much that I'd watch the whole movie for it.

However, Marvel Studio certainly does string their movies together. What doesn't make the cut gets inserted as the post credits scene. Two of those if needed. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Use of base 12 for fractions had to do with their preference for writing fractions as sums.

5/12 = 1/12 + 1/3

If you have a preference for 1 as your numerator, you'll choose a highly composite denominator as your base and one that isn't too big lest you get too many primes between 1 and that base.

If you were a student of arithmetic, you'd have been taught a number of tricks for writing fractions this way.
Our modern way of dealing with fractions in decimal expansions would have been seen as quite vulgar.

My favorite, though, is a positional base 3 system using 1, 0, and -1 for digits. Something like +, 0, -.
There would be no need for a sign bit and modern digital electronics could handle it if the transistors used can have currents saturate in both directions. No expansion of chip sizes and a slightly higher information density. Back in the early days, it was considered by some, but not for long.

Tony Fisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Fisk said...

@Larry

The more movies you see the better, but the ones that are essential to understanding Infinity Wars is Ragnarok (IW is a continuation), Black Panther (Wakanda being a major setting), and maybe Age of Ultron (it introduces Vision and Scarlet Witch)

Of course, that assumes those movies are stand alone ;-)

Larry Hart said...

@Tony Fisk,

I haven't seen any of the Thor movies yet, but I hear they are good, so I probably will eventually.

I skipped Age of Ultron because I don't like Ultron as a character, and I was all like, "Really, they're spending a whole movie on him???" But given the continuity and all, I'll probably have to see that one too.

I did see Black Panther, but didn't realize the character had already been introduced in "Civil War". I'll probably have to see it again to recall how we were introduced to the backstory, like the death of T'Chaka.

Was Helmut Zemo an established movie character prior to "Civil War"?

Lloyd Flack said...

Larry,
Zemo's motivations come from what happened in Age
of Ultron.

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

I can think of worse ways to blow 40+ hours. But I find binge-watching results in a really different memory effect relative to binge-reading.


Time is an issue. I simply don't have the time available to watch dozens of hours of movies in a shot. It's going to have to be one at a time. And I've seen some of them already (the first Captain America, Iron Man I and III, the first Avengers) but without some important context like "What led up to Loki already being a prisoner?"

My goal here is mainly to understand the chronological order of what story elements the first-run audience would have been exposed to.


The Marvel cinematic universe is odd in that pretty much all of it is inoffensive (to me, as a non-comic fan). I confess to being curious how you'll experience it, whether it grates or is great.


For twenty years now, if not longer, the comics have tried to be so "edgy" and shocking that I've pretty much lost interest. And I presumed that the movies would totally go in that direction as well. But from what I've seen, if you can get past the comic-booky technology, the movies are very character-driven in a style that reminds me more of 1960s and 1970s Marvel than I had expected. I expected a bad interpretation of the comics, and instead I'm finding a decent substitute for what I've been missing from the comics.


That said...another piece of me remains somewhat bothered by the whole fixation upon demigods, and how that shapes what we recognize acknowledge as 'leaders.' The era of Westerns certainly manifested in certain recurring themes for American character. This era...perplexes me.


I share your concern about the appeal of demigods, but in this, I don't think Marvel is so much to blame as they are the beneficiary of that particular zeitgeist. Marvel Studios type movies probably wouldn't have taken off in (say) the 1970s. The time and the cinematic technology all converged to make them popular now.

DC actually seems to be trying harder to do the demigod thing with their superhero movies, and the tone just turns me off. You can get away with a dark, sinister Batman, but Superman just isn't supposed to be like that. I tried watching some of the latest DC movies, and the only one I could stomach was Wonder Woman which (except for a framing sequence) had nothing to do with any of the other movie characters.

jim said...

Dave,
Did you mean for EARTH to be an environmental novel?

Wow, I really mean wow, I thought for sure you intended it to be a sort of Techno Cornucopian Uber Alles novel.

It has been a long time sense I read that book, but aren’t the bad guys the environmentalist and the good guys with their scientific techno know how, take what those silly treehuggers think is totally awful and turn it into an amazing new technology. Those silly treehuggers thinking that black hole pollution would be a bad thing, what they don’t realize is with some techno gumption (and a really rich guy) you can take those black holes and make a super awesome BLACK HOLE GRAVITY LASER and then launch biosphere II into orbit (or was it sent to the moon?). Then doesn’t Gaia show up and give our heroes a pat on the head or something like that ( I am kind of fuzzy on She did but I do remember Her showing up). With the moral of the story being science and technology can fix any problem and turn it into something awesome if you let it.

I guess this is good example of reader response theory in action.

Larry Hart said...

I may be slow of mind, but I just realized what the 1-on-1 meeting with Putin was probably about. Benedict Donald was asking for advice on how Putin would handle a Mueller-like investigation going on in his country.

jim said...

Duncan and Jon,

Thanks for giving me two really great examples why I so pessimistic about mankind’s future. It not just that the situation that we are in is objectively horrible, its that when so many intelligent, seemingly well intentioned people when confronted with the situation respond with “you are stupid and don’t what you are talking about” or “you are villainous bad person and I am not going to listen to you”. So we will continue on as we are doing until the tempo of cascading crises overwhelms our capacity to handle them.

Darrell E said...

jim,

If, as you say, so many intelligent, seemingly well intentioned people don't see things the way you do it is possible that the problem is with you, not them.

For one example, you argue as if your purpose is to be a dick rather than arguing ideas and evidence. Now, I'm one that thinks some level of dickishness can be just fine under certain circumstances but when it's your primary tactic is just doesn't work.

David Brin said...

Jeez we appear to have a liberal version on locumranch here, now. Negative sum and hand-rubbing gleeful over humanity's well-deserved collapse, waving stylish cynicism as a proud, preening banner. Take THAT you foolish believers in problem solving!

1. Exactly what are you aiming to accomplish by yowling "all is lost"? Is all that hot air meant to uplift? Certainly not to spur corrective action. Possibly the curled-lip sneer that gives a high to nerd-mockers on the playground?

In EARTH, there are those who see us past the ecological tipping point, as Jim does, but they get off their asses to save something. The Africans doing it incrementally in their counties and ritually, one meter at a time. The Life Arks established by Jen Wolling are assertive measures taken when things are far worse than now, when extinctions are hitting the genus and not species level. The arks offer hope to replenish, after we fall.

2.Daisy McClennon is not a villain but a tragic lunatic genius, representing a wing of the movement that deems humanity to be a cancer on Gaia. I give her position plenty of air time. You want it depicted prevailing? Try THE BRIDGE by deMano. Meanwhile, the other metaphor is humans as pimply adolescents, who must learn or die, but may give Gaia her one chance at the stars.

3. Putting aside all irritation, your stance is inconsistent with facts. Much depends on the trends in population, efficiency, concentration and policy, all of which are heading in better directions. Population has a clear upper asymptote instead of runaway. Efficiency means there's a real chance of providing a comfortable life at Dutch or Japanese levels of resource use, while American are actually reducing their pig/hog/outrageous over-consumption. Just a few technologies are deal-changers. LED lightbulbs are huge. Reliable wind farms are surging and geothermal is just beginning.

Will it be enough? Who knows? YOUR cynical-lazy head doesn't know, that's for sure. But some of us see that tension as a call to action, when any of us may tip the balance.

4. Urbanization could lead either to hellish Soylent Green or plague wipeouts... or maximal efficiency in delivery of life sustenance via local manufacturing and local food production, relieving some of agriculture's burdens on the Earth, especially if the raising/slaughtering of herd animals is eliminated. Are you involved at all in that? In helping it happen?

I could go on. But as with locumranch, I must strive not to be drawn in to futile arguments with couch-cynics. So, here it is. Simple crux time...

....I have done more to help save this planet in any one week of my life than your lazy ass has, across any decade. Recruited more members of environmental NGOs. (How many have YOU joined?) Changed more minds. Got more conversations going. Fought harder with my pinkie than you have with mind/body/soul. I find your jibes...

...ennuyeuse...

sociotard said...

Ah, its systemic you want. Lets talk FEMA personnel chief Corey Coleman. I have no indication he is a Democrat, but he was promoted to his position and directly reported to an Obama appointee. Under the nose of that Obama appointee, Mr. Coleman fostered an environment of sexual harassment. Quoth FEMA Administrator Brock Long, this was a “systemic problem going on for years.” Mr. Long was put in place by Mr. Trump.

David Brin said...

Dang, sociotard. Bad actors are bad... men in power have abused it and were rewarded with reproductive success for aeons. These revelations are a counter reformation finally kicking in, and it will take a while. Your inability to see that one party pushes WITH this revolution, while the other pushes against it, is kinda pathetic.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Jeez we appear to have a liberal version [of] locumranch here,


Maybe they'll be like matter and anti-matter and cancel each other out.

That led by a very circuitous mental route to this thought: Has this sci-fi/fantasy/horror premise ever been written yet--A person is tried for murder after he prays for misfortune to happen to someone and the fatal misfortune does in fact happen? The verdict would have to rest on the court deciding that prayer does or does not produce results in the tangible world. Sort of a variation on the climax of Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street in which a court had to decide the existence of Santa Claus.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

... one party pushes WITH this revolution, while the other pushes against it,...


I had a similar thought this morning in a slightly different context. It's pretty evident that a blue wave is building among voters, despite some argument about whether it'll be enough to take a congressional majority or not. The argument is about how big the blue wave is, not about whether there is one.

So in a normal, functioning democracy, you would expect the politicians to be trying to align themselves with the sense of the voters. Instead, we see them trying as hard as they can to prevent those voters from voting, or to make sure their votes don't count.

A system in which thwarting the will of the voters is the path to victory is democracy in name only.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I share your concern about the appeal of demigods, but in this, I don't think Marvel is so much to blame as they are the beneficiary of that particular zeitgeist."

Had they been raking in billions of dollars when they were just a comic book company, perhaps they'd merit blame, but if things teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, then they bear less blame than artistic vision slightly ahead of the times. I know the lawyer who represents the estate of Stan Lee...which is not what you'd expect it to be. He gets paid an honorarium for his cameos, which MCU producers decided would make his input something of a brand, something of a game...

"The time and the cinematic technology all converged to make them popular now."
Folks tend not to realize that the sudden plethora of vampires on screen owed a great deal to advances in lighting controls in the late '90s, and the sudden plethora of zombies owe a great deal to makeup advances. In the past, Westerns became far cheaper to film when camera sizes shrank to make mobile filming far easier...

Hollywood is a mini-Silicon Valley with tech startups serving very specialized niches. Space, as most of us will ever experience it, really is made in a Hollywood basement (well, a warehouse, anyway...).

sociotard said...

Brin's ability to say that powerful men abusing power is endemic to the human race in the same paragraph he claims one political party is fighting the other to change that is absolute cognitive ballet.

Both parties have men abusing power, including abuse to get sex. Full stop. Outside of reproductive rights, I see no distinction between the parties in terms of fighting for or against abuse of women.

I certainly don't see Les Moonves loosing his position like Ailes did.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I haven't seen any of the Thor movies yet, but I hear they are good, so I probably will eventually."

LOL, I'd rather not spoil them...but...well, keep expectations low, and you may be surprised how easily they can be exceeded. 'Winter Soldier' is a considerable improvement on 'First Avenger'...

An interesting aspect of 'Civil War' isn't the story per se, but why all three major superhero franchises offered 'good-guys-v-good-guys' tales in 2016. Another major 'battle' was underway in America that year...these tales were background noise influence the minds of millions of viewers somehow...

Larry Hart said...

@sociotard,

That's because no one knows who Les Moonves is.

You certainly don't see Jim Jordan losing his position like Al Franken did.

I find it to be self-evident that one party's reaction to accusations of sexual misconduct is to reluctantly sanction their own violators while the other's is to deny and then celebrate the misconduct as a way of "owning the libs". The only "absolute cognitive ballet" here is your ability to deny or ignore that fact.

That we still at least nominally have Mr. "Grab them by the pussy" occupying the White House is exhibit A.

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

LOL, I'd rather not spoil them...but...well, keep expectations low, and you may be surprised how easily they can be exceeded.


Heh. I'm reminded of the reviews I kept reading or hearing about "Guardians of the Galaxy" being the best super-hero movie ever, even for people who don't like superhero movies. I was very unimpressed with the actual movie and wondered what was prompting those reviews.

As to "Winter Soldier" and "Civil War", I'm tainted by already being familiar with the comic book versions of both story arcs. The extended story that introduced the concept of the Winter Soldier was so compelling a read that I almost literally cried at its reduction to a glorified destruction fight scene. And the fact that Cap didn't know who the WS really was until the end eliminated so much of the personal connection that drove the comic book plot.

The comic books had done "Civil War" many years prior to 2016, but your point may be more accurately that they chose that plot--out of the myriad possible storylines available to them--to make into a movie in 2016.

Larry Hart said...

And since we're hijacking this thread to talk about Marvel movies already :) ...

In "Homecoming", the Vulture and company are making use of technology from a crashed "Chitari" alien ship. My understanding is that the "Chitari" is the movie version of Marvel's alien Skrulls. Where in movie continuity did that alien ship come from in the first place?

sociotard said...

Yes, we were left with the choice between a guy who brags about sexual assault, but might not have done it, and a woman who aided and abetted her abuse-power-for-nookie man.

I voted for Hillary, but I can understand people who accept that bragging about sexual assault that didn't happen is gross, but not as bad as denouncing sexual assault that did.



sociotard said...

Yes, we were left with the choice between a guy who brags about sexual assault, but might not have done it, and a woman who aided and abetted her abuse-power-for-nookie man.

I voted for Hillary, but I can understand people who accept that bragging about sexual assault that didn't happen is gross, but not as bad as denouncing sexual assault that did.



sociotard said...

Denounce is probably the wrong word. I accidentally hit publish. "Claim it never happened". Something like that.

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

An interesting aspect of 'Civil War' isn't the story per se, but why all three major superhero franchises offered 'good-guys-v-good-guys' tales in 2016. Another major 'battle' was underway in America that year...


Marvel, DC, and...which third franchise are you referring to?

Don't forget the final "Hunger Games" two-parter which gave us a sort-of-Hillaryesque resistance leader who may (or may not) have been worse than President Snow. What does that remind you of?

jim said...

Wow that reader response theory really has a lot of truth to it.

Because I don't know how Dave thinks that I am hand rubbingly gleeful over something I repeatedly describe as horrible and awful.



"
....I have done more to help save this planet in any one week of my life than your lazy ass has, across any decade. Recruited more members of environmental NGOs. (How many have YOU joined?) Changed more minds. Got more conversations going. Fought harder with my pinkie than you have with mind/body/soul
"

Is that what you say when you put on your big carbon boots and fly and stomp all over the world?

donzelion said...

Sociotard: "Both parties have men abusing power, including abuse to get sex. Full stop. Outside of reproductive rights, I see no distinction between the parties in terms of fighting for or against abuse of women."

You see what you wish to see, not what is in front of you for seeing.

How much did National Enquirer pay Monica to buy the rights to her story, then silence it How much did Bill pay her to shut her up? When did he convert to become an evangelical Christian, and did he do it before or after paying for her silence?

Democrats, meanwhile, have roasted and jettisoned anyone with a whiff of sexual harassment charges. Al Franken? Three state Dems forced out over sexual harassment allegations, and you don't see any of that? Open your eyes!

Yet the Dems never ran as paragons of moral primacy: they just abide by rules. The Reps always did - asserting unquestionable morality (which has mostly become 'anti-questioning' morality). When you say "they look the same to me" it's because you've gouged your own eyes out.

"I certainly don't see Les Moonves loosing his position like Ailes did."
The charges aired in New Yorker on July 27. Except for kangaroo courts, investigations take time, and New Yorker is neither a judge nor a jury. If your memory works by suggesting "Ailes was dumped in seconds" - then it's as faulty as your eyes.

Larry Hart said...

sociotard:

I voted for Hillary, but I can understand people who accept that bragging about sexual assault that didn't happen is gross, but not as bad as [discounting] sexual assault that did.


Two things.

The Access Hollywood tape was Trump bragging about sexual assault that did happen.

To me, enabling sexual assault that is happening as an ongoing thing is worse than having had a less progressive attitude about such things 20 years ago. I don't think Dr Brin claimed that the Democrats were always angels on the subject historically. Just that one party embraces the new attitude about such things while the other doubles down on the old. To the deplorables, sexual assault is a feature, not a bug of their candidates.

sociotard said...

I was under the impression we had not identified any women whom he had grabbed by the genitalia without explicit consent. I have read accounts of him kissing women without consent. That is gross, but not as gross as the genitalia thing.

Berial said...

@Larry Hart

Marvel is picking and choosing plots from their past, simplifying and modernizing them a bit for film, and cashing huge paydays from the nostalgia of us 'olds' and the excitement and raw consumption of the 'young' fans being exposed to the stories for the first time.

I do not think the Chitari are supposed to be Skrulls. The Chitari were an alien race that were working for Loki in his bid to take over 'Midgard/Earth' in the first Avengers movie. I think they were REALLY working for Thanos behind the scenes but I'm not certain.

I think we will probably get the Skrulls from the Captain Marvel film coming out next year.

Berial said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Skrulls have been introduced to the MCU through the TV series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D". I haven't seen that part of the show myself but I've seen/heard it mentioned by friends watching the show.

Larry Hart said...

sociotard:

I was under the impression we had not identified any women whom he had grabbed by the genitalia without explicit consent.


Ok, I'll give you consent, or at least "consent" in that Trump's bragging was that when you're a celebrity, they let you grab them by the pussy.

Stormy Daniels admits that she consented to sex with Trump, even as she already felt at the moment that having given consent was a bad idea. That's kinda what I felt about what Trump was bragging about. Women may let him grab them by the pussy, but it's not so much that they want it as that they think it would be worse to make an enemy of him. I'm sure many of Harvey Weinstein's conquests went that sort of way too. Not as criminal as "assault", but still more creepy than "mutual attraction."

David Brin said...

“Is that what you say when you put on your big carbon boots and fly and stomp all over the world?”

You are a jibbering-jealous loony who cannot lift a finger to help, and gets off screeching at those who are making a difference.

Yes, including carbon footprint, I do more in any week than any of your decades, you stunning hypocrite. A decent person would have replied with: "This is what I am doing." Or at least: "Here are the NGOs I send money to fight for the world on my behalf. Here are actions I've taken." But I sure read you right, didn't I? Yep a lazy-ass, no-use-to-anybody snarker.

And no one invited you to call me “Dave.”

Bugger off or stay, I had hopes for another sapient member of this community. But all there is is another hollow tube that uses polysyllabic words.

David Brin said...

“Both parties have men abusing power, including abuse to get sex. Full stop. “

No, you are a fool. One party CONTAINS some who cannot adapt to a new era and still (or in the last few decades) give in to ancient temptations that must be overcome with social conditionings, positive/negative reinforcement and punishment and cauterization of infectious outbreaks. That party makes clear the aim is to seek out such and reduce the frequency toward zero.

The other CONSISTS of enablers and perpetrators and pushes back against these changes. The fact that you cannot tell the difference is symptomatic of a very serious mental deficit, sir.

“I see no distinction between the parties in terms of fighting for or against abuse of women.”

Yes, you admit your serious perceptual defect. Good start.

BTW Ailes was proved and the actions truly heinous. Moonves is accused of aggressive flirting and then accepting “no.” Accused. A week ago. May you be accused and tried instantly some time. What? you’ve done nothing to be accused of? I’d ask you to ponder that plaint and how it would be judged, by your own standards. But it is futile.

We desperately need a grand conclave of feminists to issue a set of sliding scales for us to consider and use as guidelines! Because what was done to Al Franken was devastatingly counterproductive to the entire movement.

Larry Hart said...

This might be a better illustration of what I meant about consent.

Suppose instead of women, Trump was talking about guys, and he said, "When you're a celebrity, they let you punch them in the nose!" If it was clear that he really did punch guys in the nose and actually enjoyed doing so--even if the guys in question were somehow cowed into giving him permission to do so--would his character still not suffer in your esteem?

I thought of "grab them by the pussy" as a form of assault similar to "punch them in the nose." I suppose it's possible to interpret GTBTP instead as something that can be enjoyable to the grabee--something there's a chance she would have asked someone who isn't a powerful celebrity to do in other circumstances. I don't see it. He's bragging that his status allows him to get away with assault, and if you really want to quibble over whether "assault" applies when permission is given, I'd say that "they let you" doesn't mean they gave him permission--just that they didn't put up a fight. If someone points a gun at you and says, "Give me your wallet," and you willfully comply with the request, it's still assault.

Treebeard said...

This exchange is a good example of what I mean by the ability of peak oilism to rattle people. Everything that is touted as progress can be re-framed as draining non-renewable resources, destroying the environment, etc. Fortunately we have superheroes like our host, fighting to save humanity and the world from the supervillains, whose powers far exceed our own.

I used to think like this too, back when I was a huge comic book fanatic around age 11 (I collected old issues from the Silver Age, and was particularly obsessed with anything by Jack Kirby, Thor and the Hulk. Of course I didn't touch DC). But I put all that away at some point, so it's a little jarring to realize how many nominally intelligent adults are still into all that, including the worldview that goes with it.

jim said...

Well jeepers, let me apologize for calling you Dave, I honestly had no idea that you would take offense at someone addressing you by your first name.

You seem to be kind of filled with rage.

sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, your emotions are running too hot. This?

No, you are a fool.

This is not acceptable discourse. I did not call you names. Please don't continue calling me names.

The other CONSISTS of enablers and perpetrators and pushes back against these changes. The fact that you cannot tell the difference is symptomatic of a very serious mental deficit, sir.

This sounds like a situation where we should go look at data. We need to figure out what data would illustrate that Democrats have done more to combat sexism in the workplace. It isn't enough for me to see that Donald Trump is gross, and a Republican, because one datapoint is mere anecdote. I'd wager I could find nearly as many gross things Lyndon Johnson did. Maybe Johnson and Kennedy combined. Between Kenney's affairs and Johnson showing off his genitals, it should be doable.

Lets see, I could look at representation. I know that, even with a Republican majority, there are nearly three times as many women Democrats as women Republicans. That doesn't feel right though; that only shows Democrats more willing to accept women as representatives, not Democrats protecting women from abuses.

No, I'll have to think on this. something with hard crunchy numbers in it.

BTW Ailes was proved and the actions truly heinous. Moonves is accused of aggressive flirting and then accepting “no.” Accused. A week ago. May you be accused and tried instantly some time.

I will try to read that as you advising me to be patient, and that the investigation is ongoing. Valid. I am not optimistic.

I will say I am disturbed by your concept of aggressive flirting.

As Douglas attempted to turn the focus back to work, Moonves, she said, grabbed her. “In a millisecond, he’s got one arm over me, pinning me,” she said. Moonves was “violently kissing” her, holding her down on the couch with her arms above her head. “What it feels like to have someone hold you down—you can’t breathe, you can’t move,” she said. “The physicality of it was horrendous.” She recalled lying limp and unresponsive beneath him. “You sort of black out,” she told me.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

so it's a little jarring to realize how many nominally intelligent adults are still into all that, including the worldview that goes with it.


Then we're even. I find it jarring how many of my generation are still into white nationalism including the Putin-worshiping worldview that goes with it.

Larry Hart said...

sociotard:

It isn't enough for me to see that Donald Trump is gross, and a Republican, because one datapoint is mere anecdote. I'd wager I could find nearly as many gross things Lyndon Johnson did. Maybe Johnson and Kennedy combined. Between Kenney's affairs and Johnson showing off his genitals, it should be doable.


I think we should look at data describing the #MeToo era, not ancient history. The contention isn't that Democrats were always better about sexual abuse, but that they've come to be so now. And Republicans haven't. In fact, not only haven't they caught up, but they revel in their troglodytity.

sociotard said...

Okay. What statistics should we gather showing that the modern Democratic party is better at aggressively dealing with sexual harassment?

Is it really just that Donald Trump is gross? The one data point?

Treebeard said...

Larry, in comic book terms, I see Putin as a Dark Knight. A judo black belt, rugged outdoorsman, ex-KGB operative, fighting global supervillains like George "Ra's al Ghul" Soros -- he's like Batman or a ninja, with nukes! And he clearly has a heart of gold, as this video proves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeS3Eq4e8Qs What supervillain kisses puppies?

Jon S. said...

"Well jeepers, let me apologize for calling you Dave, I honestly had no idea that you would take offense at someone addressing you by your first name."

Whatever, Jimmy.

Jon S. said...

There haven't been any Skrulls in Agents of SHIELD - yet, anyway. We have, however, met a version of the Kree, and discovered that in Earth-199999 they want to harvest Inhumans for use as weapons in an unnamed war. Given that the comics had them embroiled in a war with the Skrulls for centuries, it seems likely that the only reason we haven't seen Skrulls so far is because they were tied up with the Fantastic Four rights. And since Disney was able to come to a sharing arrangement involving Spider-Man, perhaps we can see something similar about Skrulls?

sociotard said...

Heh, as I was pondering ways to put numbers on whether Republicans or Democrats were better at combatting sexual harassment, I found this bit in that old conservative rag, The Atlantic:

In the GOP, the people taking the harshest line against Moore are congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell. They want Moore to withdraw from his Senate race largely because they fear Democrats will use him to tar other Republican candidates as sexist, as they did in 2012 when Todd Akin, the GOP’s Senate candidate in Missouri, said it was impossible for women to get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” But McConnell and company have been stymied by local Alabama Republicans—and Donald Trump-supporting media personalities like Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity—who won’t abandon Moore. In the GOP, it’s the Washington establishment that wants Moore gone. Grassroots activists and the right-wing media want him to stay.

In the Democratic Party—so far—it’s largely the reverse. As of Thursday night, not a single Democratic senator had called on Franken to resign. While decrying his behavior, they’ve mostly called for an investigation by the congressional Ethics Committee, which isn’t all that punitive given that the committee—as The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey has noted—has “not issued disciplinary sanctions against anyone in nine years.”

The pressure on Franken to resign is coming from the bottom up. While Alabama Republican politicians have stuck with Moore despite pressure from Washington, in the Democratic Party, it’s local Minnesota Democrats who are demanding that Franken go. On Thursday, Minnesota State Auditor and gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Otto called on Franken to resign. So did Megan Thomas, who runs the Minnesota party’s Feminist Caucus.


I suppose this raises a clarifying question: Do we look at the attitudes of party representatives or party voters?

David Brin said...

Sociotard: I had not seen the specific allegation by Douglas. Okay. That’s not aggressive flirting, it is assault, and if proved, he should pay big time, even taking into account 1980s standards. Still: it is simply mind-boggling that your “contrarian” reflex — welcome here — should make you lean so far to be ornery and questioning that you lose all credibility.

Grapple the issue! What will you do when (tomorrow) you face an allegation from the past that you proclaim to be false? The testimony of women was repressed for millennia and some overcompensation in the other direction is called for! Victims deserve the benefit of the doubt! Moonves (and you) should be investigated hard(!) if accused. But that’s not the same thing as ASSUMPTION of guilt without appeal.

And to assert that the Democratic Party, in both policy and pragmatic action, is no different than the GOP on this issue is just flagrant and willful raving. The burden of proof is on you, that your millions of neighbors -- who sincerely care about this issue and also sincerely believe one party is fighting to change -- are fools.

Hey, where’d YOU get all virtuous, hm? By imbibing the same “we’ve got to do better” memes the rest of us have been taking in. Your cry that you are so much better and more enlightened than everyone else - including all the activists and involved women who are running as democrats - is pretty sad, especially since — like “Jeff” — you show no reasons why we should give you special credibility.

My engagement with the world is an open book. What’s yours been?

David Brin said...

As for “Jim,” we all could hear the sneer in your use of “Dave.”

You made insulting assertions, sneered at the millions who are striving hard to save the world, then squirmed to grab at more insults, when cornered by "What have YOU done?" Nada. Zip. And cornered by that truth about your lazy-cynicism, what's your next recourse?

They say patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. (Samuel Johnson.) But when patriotism is in such ill repute as today (not with me), the refuge for guys like you, when cornered, is running to the meta.

Instead of answering even one of my challenges, you scurry to accuse me of rage and rudeness. Exactly what confederates do, when cornered by a demand for wager over stuff like climate change.

You'd be right at home suckling Fox.

sociotard said...

But that’s not the same thing as ASSUMPTION of guilt without appeal.

True. My assumption of guilt has no burden of consequence (prison or unemployment), so when I see a guy with six accusers and a score of supporting witnesses, I don't feel shame in assuming he is guilty. When I see that he will retain control throughout the investigative process, I assume that he is in no danger, regardless of the evidence, especially as this is still just in-house-corporate justice. Then I ponder how if I, as a little guy, would not just get to carry on with my day while the evidence was weighed. People like me are far more likely to be put on leave or just fired out of convenience.

That is one tricky thing I do get contrary about but I'm still not sure how to address. Women shouldn't feel threatened at work, right? We can all agree on that. So, when a guy has been shown to be a predator . . . what should happen to him.
We've already shown prison isn't an option. The standard of proof is too high to reliably hit.

So we fire them. That's easy in the US. It isn't France or something. But . . . then what?

If he just goes to work somewhere else, womankind hasn't gained anything; the problem has just been shuffled around like a pedophile priest to a new parish.

If he never works again, fine, but what is he supposed to do? Welfare? Petty crime? Starve? I mean, Kevin Spacey can just stop working, but most workplace predators are not Kevin Spacey rich. So what happens?

And I don't really feel like I can talk about this, without coming off as anti-MeToo or something.

Sorry for the ramble. I can be internally contrary.

And to assert that the Democratic Party, in both policy and pragmatic action, is no different than the GOP on this issue is just flagrant and willful raving. The burden of proof is on you, that your millions of neighbors -- who sincerely care about this issue and also sincerely believe one party is fighting to change -- are fools.

So it is my job to prove millions of democrats are fools for believing Democrats are better at fighting sexual harassment, but it is not your job to prove millions of Republicans are fools for the same?

I already acknowledged one area of policy where Democrats are more favorable to women (reproductive rights) and one stat that shows Democrat voters are more amenable to women (more lady Democrats in Congress), but I am stymied by any way to find Democrats are less likely to be harassers or have better anti-harassment ideas. More likely to be supportive of some feminist/metoo/anti-harassment group, sure, but that means nothing. Acknowledging that a man with six accusers who have a score of corroborating witnesses might be innocent, Les Moonves was a member of the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace and a public supporter of MeToo.

Are we doing better about sexual harassment than in the past? Sure! Is it possible we can improve the situation more if we work hard? Maybe, but not if we don't look at Republicans and Democrats as equals. Yes, Democratic policies are different, but Democratic men in power are just men in power. Democratic politicians are just politicians.

donzelion said...

Sociotard: "I found this bit in that old conservative rag, The Atlantic:"

Often, a 'neo-conservative' rag...

Interestingly, I note that this "Nov 17" was followed days later by Democrats uniformly condemning the conduct and demanding an investigation, during which period, more women came forward, so that Franken announced a resignation on December 7.

Contrast that with Moore: McConnell claimed "I believe the women," yet the PACs under his control continued sending him millions of dollars.

Franken was charged with sexual harassment - a serious offense, but in these circumstances, not a crime. Moore was charged with child rape. That's usually a more serious offense. And despite the charges, rather than call for an investigation, Republicans donated $5m to his campaign, along with hours of time, activist support, and more.

And you see 'equivalence...'!?!

"I suppose this raises a clarifying question: Do we look at the attitudes of party representatives or party voters?"
Look wherever you please: how many millions of dollars did Democrats donate to Franken after the charges were raised? Whether you look at the top, the bottom, or anywhere else, you'll find these two are NOT equivalent.

jim said...

OK Dr. David Brin ,

I work in product development in a chemical company. I have reformulated about a hundred products that use to contain endocrine disrupters, they do not now. Preventing tens of millions of pounds of endocrine disrupters from entering the environment. I have formulated dozens of new products for new more energy efficient processes.

I know that you write and give talks, have you invented something that reduces or replaces the flow of dangerous chemicals or increases renewable energy or something like that? I honestly don't know if you have, you probably would have been capable of doing that if you were in the right place. But if it is just the writing and speaking do you want some portion of the credit for what other people do?

donzelion said...

Sociotard: "Sorry for the ramble. I can be internally contrary."

When it comes to issues of sexual injustice, internal contradictions are themselves justified: we want to know that women are not victimized, we also want to know that innocent are not victimized in turn.

When a nerve gets struck, some people look more closely to see what is really happening, others avert their gaze, often declaring, "That's not important! They're all the same! Leave me alone!"

Let's revisit Adam Smith and how he recommended proceeding (observations care of Ronald Coase): a wordly man might feel bad about the death of a hundred million strangers somewhere else, but probably wouldn't lose any sleep over it. But cut off his pinky and he'll feel immense distress. YET if you asked that man, "Would you give your pinky to save 100 million strangers?" - often, he'd say yes. In this context, scores of millions of American women report being harassed. You cutting off your pinky won't stop that harassment from happening, but opening your eyes and deciding to look and recognize the differences between the two parties on this issue could.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

it seems likely that the only reason we haven't seen Skrulls so far is because they were tied up with the Fantastic Four rights. And since Disney was able to come to a sharing arrangement involving Spider-Man, perhaps we can see something similar about Skrulls?


I'm tellin' you, the Chitari are going to be the Skrulls. They were in the Ultimate line of comics, and I don't see why the movies would use the same name and they not be the same thing.

Larry Hart said...

sociotard:

So it is my job to prove millions of democrats are fools for believing Democrats are better at fighting sexual harassment, but it is not your job to prove millions of Republicans are fools for the same?


I don't think that Republicans believe Republicans are better at fighting sexual harassment. They think Republicans are better at not fighting sexual harassment because sexual harassment is a perk of manhood. They think Republicans are better at forgiving sexual harassment at at making liberals angry about it. They're not wrong.

David Brin said...

"So it is my job to prove millions of democrats are fools for believing Democrats are better at fighting sexual harassment, but it is not your job to prove millions of Republicans are fools for the same?"

Um... duh? Except your sentence is badly parsed. But hell yeah. "Everybody knows" isn't always right. But a burden falls on those proclaiming that a fact agreed upon by millions on all sides is diametrically wrong.

---
Jim. Funny how - cornered - you finally decided to argue like an adult. Still a nasty-cynical one, but actually addressing the issue at hand. You are paid well to do those replacements and YOU would be replaced if you weren't there doing that task. But sure, it's a net benefit at the end of the work week.

It doesn't let you off the hook from joining NGOs that might use your $50/year dues to measurably save the world, as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club do. As I push here:
-http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/proxyactivism.html
And the mail I have received from folks who have followed just that one prescription (out of many dozen) suggests that my "mere" agitation and ideas and inspiring new kinds of action - yes - far outweigh anything you do.

But the issue here was (1) can we act now to make a difference? And my critique of your playground-cynicism stands...

...and (2) your snarky-nasty attacks, which I very properly crushed. You deserved every bit of it, especially now that I see you can do better.

David Brin said...

Oh... those "replacements" you concoct? Are you sure they won't be next-generation's crime? Oh, I'm a pragmatist and incrementalist and I won't be the one denouncing steps in what seems a good direction. But crum, you are still a hypocrite.

Duncan Cairncross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Hart said...

@Treebeard,

I'm sure you cheered for President Snow against Katniss as well.

Treebeard said...

Larry I might, if I knew who they were. Pop cultural references after about 2008 will probably be lost on me, since that was the point when I stopped paying attention to or patronizing it. I'm always amazed how many nominally intelligent people still care about this crap culture long after they should have grown out of it. I mean seriously, 50+ year old men discussing comic book movies? What would your forefathers think? This must be the most juvenile culture of all time.

donzelion said...

Treebeard: If you cannot imagine your forefathers arguing, "Who wins in a fight? Samson or Hercules?" you have a narrow picture of intelligent discourse.

"This must be the most juvenile culture of all time."
A claim that's been made of every culture in all times...

There are probably thousands of billion dollar industries that one could seriously discuss. Most aren't as interesting as Hollywood's silliness, and offer far less eye candy. Where manly men might debate the relative merits of two kinds of fighter jets they'll never pilot, others may discuss silly demigods besting one another with similar sobriety.

David Brin said...

For any of you who deem yourself leftists (I don't) here's ammo:
https://www.dataforprogress.org/polling-the-left-agenda

Mind you I do support many of these proposals. Like letting poor people get free bank accounts through the post office or federal reserve. And finally negotiating drug prices. And others.

But the last thing we need is internal bitterness and litmus tests. Ideally, the GOP gets crushed so badly that the DP splits and lefties have to negotiate with sane, cautious, pro-enterprise, fiscally-prudent Jerry Brown liberals, plus a lacing of sane, government-suspicious libertarians.

Alfred Differ said...

@jim | have you invented something

You really should do a paper and patent search on someone before asking that question.
I suggest you consider doing so for a few of us as our host isn't the only talented person here.

Until then, you are just going to embarrass yourself.

Alfred Differ said...

@Treebeard | You are missing the point with the pop culture references here. Our host writes science fiction well enough that his ideas can become part of the language we use to talk about the future. Stories are terribly important for creating new phrases and extending what we can think and talk about. Think about what someone might mean if they spoke about Trump on one sentence and then said 'very 1984'. Anyone fluent in our stories is going to know what that means.

Fluency in a language is fluency in a culture once one gets deep enough. Bringing comic book stories into the discussion is just more of the same. Some of us have those cultural references. Some don't. For example, I miss many of Larry's "Captain America" phrases because I was never a fan of the stories. Larry explains them, I limp a bit, and eventually become more fluent. (I preferred the mutant stories, but you won't hear me talking about the movie versions of them much. I think the movies are mostly terrible.)

SOME of the comic book stories are pretty lame and/or immature. Most of them are too into demigods to be exemplars of good behavior in our civilization. However, one can still make use of them to modernize old lessons. Philosophers can discuss the difference between good and evil for centuries, but a decent story with explain it better, faster, and to a broader audience.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | prays for misfortune to happen

I think you are describing a simple variation on every witch trial that ever happened.

I'll retreat into Monty Python, though, to keep it light.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

I mean seriously, 50+ year old men discussing comic book movies? What would your forefathers think?


Geez, I don't know. What would your forefathers think about your siding with Nazis and Russian dictators?

I can understand not wanting to indulge in particular areas of popular culture. It's not a terrible thing that you don't know "The Hunger Games", but accusing it of being a comic book movie just makes you look as ignorant as you obviously are. Cultural illiteracy isn't a badge of honor.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I preferred the mutant stories, but you won't hear me talking about the movie versions of them much. I think the movies are mostly terrible.


The movies I've been talking about here are the ones produced by Marvel Studios. The whole point of interest is the cross-movie continuity between those movies.

The earlier (Tobey McGuire) Spider-Man films and the X-Men films are not part of that set. And I agree that some of those--especially Days of Future Past were nauseatingly bad--even moreso to a fan of the original comics. That's exactly what I was expecting from the Marvel Studios movies, but they really seem to know what they're doing.

Alfred Differ said...

I noticed the different studios running with the various characters. I accepted that as part of the earlier bankruptcy resolution and kept my expectations low. When writers don't get the characters, one shouldn't expect anything better than an annual.

That's okay, though. Mutants are demigods too, so I'm not that interested nowadays. Unless they write stories where essentially everyone gets in on the game, I'll continue to expect them to re-hash the old stories. Originality is not expected.

Mostly I got tired of everything being about Logan.

sociotard said...

Okay, one supporting argument:

Here's a list of political figures accused of sexual misconduct

Democrats:
Bobby Scott
Ruben Kihuen
John Conyers Jr
Al Franken

Republicans
Trent Franks
Roy Moore
George HW Bush
Blake Farenthold

That's four and four. Either NBC is trying REALLY hard to be apolitical, or there were roughly equivalent numbers of Republican and Democratic harassers accused.

Alfred Differ said...

The measure I use isn't how many accused. There are plenty enough of them to go around.

I look for people making excuses for the people doing it... and there are a lot of them to go around too. It's not quite even, though.

I'm probably going to shift to a new measure after this next election. Show me the number of women elected. I suspect a few things will change in a party was women gain more power within the party. We shall see, though.

Winter7 said...

Someone mentioned a book by China Miéville. Find out about that writer some things. But the information on the internet is not clear. It seems that he was one of the leaders of a left-wing political party in England. It seems that some leaders of that group sexually abused women who were working for that group.
¿Did China Miéville sexually abuse women? . ¿Anyone know anything about that?.


Moving on to another issue: The PAN Nazis in Monterrey managed to commit electoral fraud and seized the mayor's office. All through a combination of aggression and a tactic that I will not mention for tactical reasons. And notice, to the delight of the feudal ones, that before the elections I was certainly under continuous harassment.
Because of that situation, now, Monterrey becomes the largest center of operations of the Nazi party in Mexico. I must say that it is not pleasant to live in a city; literally under the Nazi occupation. It's like living in Berlin in 1943.
¿What kind of "magic" should I ever use against the Nazi beasts?

Winter7 said...

I think I now understand Magneto's anger better.

Jon S. said...

"I mean seriously, 50+ year old men discussing comic book movies? What would your forefathers think?"

Well, my father once said he was going to keep watching Star Wars until Chewbacca got his medal. His father, as I recall (he died of cancer when I was pretty young), had some strong opinions about the Flash Gordon serials. Going back much farther than that, they'd probably be too amazed by the quality of modern motion pictures (or, a couple of generations earlier, the idea of motion pictures at all) to care about which ones we were discussing...

Zepp Jamieson said...

"For any of you who deem yourself leftists (I don't) here's ammo:
https://www.dataforprogress.org/polling-the-left-agenda"

No surprise here; America has always been bother more liberal and more leftist than the propaganda machines admit to. Americans really do not want widespread poverty, filthy air and water, education for the rich only, or the ability of corporations and churches to run roughshod over everyone's rights.
Something to remember when dealing with Republicans--without the propaganda machine and tons of money, they are a nasty little fringe group.

Winter7 said...

Donzelion:
“You'll seldom get people to agree which common practices constitute cheating: their stakes and incentives will guide their definitions. You'll never get there at all by looking at established practices that grew up within prevailing norms. Cheaters typically 'contribute' to such efforts by shifting blame to some other group (preferably, an illusory group of 'phantom cheaters' - some racial minority is ideal). So...

"How do you convince me and people like me that behavior X is a type of cheating?"

Start with the tax structure, then move back to the cheaters: do it Smith's way, by going after those who derived the largest benefits from the state, then once incentives are properly adjusted, try to reduce the benefits of cheating while increasing the benefits of 'fair and honest play.'

Only after you've set proper incentives can you build a larger, stronger, healthier, richer unified opposition to the cheaters. The first task is not to convince anyone anything at all about 'cheating' - simply to set basic accounting rules and ensure that failure to abide by them cuts off access to wealth creation. Then let the insiders enforce those rules, and build upward from there to achieve social/policy goals one seeks.”

Donzelion, what you have said is very important. I think it would be very beneficial if you delved into that detail. What makes the oligarchs infinitely powerful are all those tricks they use to loot the nations and steal the lands. Money is the blood that nourishes the monster that we can call "The world oligarchy".
Since the oligarchs control the rules of the game it is difficult to eradicate feudal politics. But, if by some strange accident in the forces of the universe, we had the opportunity to change everything. It is important that we clearly define what tricks are used by feudal thieves and what exactly are the new rules and new punishments.
Who knows ... Maybe one day we need that knowledge to restart human civilization.
Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.

Winter7 said...

And while US institutions have been tied up and sent to look for unicorns, the Russians take full advantage of the time and new technology donated by Russian agent Donald Trump:


https://www.newsweek.com/russia-new-nuclear-torpedo-consume-us-cities-giant-radioactive-waves-901089


¡With a demon! Something happens with my computer. Drastic paralysis…

Todos los programas se están paralizando.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "I preferred the mutant stories, but you won't hear me talking about the movie versions of them much. I think the movies are mostly terrible."

Maybe, maybe not. I suspect when they were first written, the concept of 'super-humans' who were a persecuted minority distrusted by the majority would have grafted itself into a civil rights discussion in the 1960s/70s, insinuating into sports conventions among a small set of people who didn't even realize the coding that they were picking up...sort of how Superman sold 'white bread' (anti-Semitic) Americans on certain white refugees (from Europe), most of whom they closed their doors to in 1939, but afterwards...a few reconsidered that.

The Xmen movies started out playing similar riffs, but the lines proposed were coded subtly, veiled references to public acceptance of homosexuality (occasionally a bit hamfisted). In 2004, that sort of discussion was 'red meat' thrown out to drive turnout by gay-bashers...something has changed fundamentally, and while those changes were afoot, the superhero memes exploded. Correlation? Causation? As with every other social change, no one can point to the precise difference (any more than one can point to the precise moment when scientists started conversing on paper - doing what the humanists did a century before them with rediscovered ancient texts that suddenly carried new resonance, even if it was just scraps about long dead demigods)...

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | You'll seldom get people to agree which common practices constitute cheating

Let me offer some possible counter-examples.

1) There are times when my wife and I walk through neighborhoods where the residents are wealthier than we are. She will point out a home and say she wants it. I’ll offer the usual joke involving scheduling for when we go kill the current owners and take the place. Both of us understand fully that using that approach would be cheating. It is so bad we have a harsher name for that particular crime.

2) There are times when I change the joke slightly and suggest she marry the current occupant. (Sometimes it is obvious their is no woman in the house.) The joke is that she should have two husbands. There is a name for that crime too, but people won’t react as strongly if she tried it, so as cheats go, it isn’t as bad.

3) In my darker moods, I’ll suggest she dump me and marry him. She doesn’t think that’s funny at all, but it IS legal. Our relatives would consider that cheating, though, and will continue to do so as long as they see me as a relatively nice guy. I don’t offer dark responses to her often. We’ve been married 23 years now and I prefer to keep it that way. 8)

We CAN agree on some of what ‘cheating’ is and get super-majority support. My concern is over how to get that because I don’t like creating legislation that acts as ‘moral law’ without huge support.

Start with the tax structure, then move back to the cheaters

Uh oh. You want me to start with taxation? You want a libertarian to start with taxation? Are you sure? I do occasionally agree with my friends about it being a legalized form of theft.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Theft is one of those cheating methods for which we have a formal name.
You want me to accept one and reject the other? Sorry. Not likely.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I have no doubt the Marvel mutants were a civil rights variant once Claremont got involved. The earlier 60’s versions? Not so much. Converting the message for the movies to acceptance of homosexuality? Hmm… That’s not what it looked like to me. No doubt the bashers took the bait, but the earlier movies seemed to be more about enforced conformity and the usual crap involving paranoia of powerful people. If they have a power, they will use it to do harm! Kill them now while we still can! Uber lame I think.

Before the mutant movies became all about Logan, the issue I had is they put way more character development into the villains than anyone else. Magneto made some sense because they borrowed straight from some of the older Claremont stories. The original X-men, though, were 60’s inventions and too damn flat.

One thing I learned while going through that phase of my life when I collected these things is that a writing failure utterly destroyed my interest in the storyline. It didn’t matter who penciled or inked. Writing made up for almost everything.

I vividly recall one year during the 80’s when people were pay WAY too much for these things when a start-up company came out with a number of comics. The characters were just as super-charged as the big brands were, but the writers took pains to have the stories me more realistic in how people would actually react to demigods. That company didn’t last long, but after watching one character make a dumb mistake and accidentally ‘nuke’ half the planet, my curiosity about these demigods was satiated. I was able to let go and be very happy they didn’t exist in our real world. (They played that one out a few issues. The survivors were utterly numb with shock and had no real idea what happened. Why would they? Anyone close enough to witness it died. Many years later this story line popped back into my head when I finally read V Vinge’s first Zones of Thought novel and saw how it ended. Who would be witness?)

Larry Hart said...

sociotard:

That's four and four. Either NBC is trying REALLY hard to be apolitical, or there were roughly equivalent numbers of Republican and Democratic harassers accused.


Your list doesn't include Dennis Hastert.

Even if it were...what's the difference between how those cases were handled? Al Franken was forced to resign, even by politicians who would have preferred he keep his Senate seat. Harvey Weinstein was a huge source of Dem financial support, but he had to go. The only one of your Republicans who suffered any repercussion was Roy Moore, and that's a pretty dang low bar.

Larry Hart said...

...and all that happened to him was that he lost an election. He wasn't forced out of participating in the normal process.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I vividly recall one year during the 80’s when people were pay WAY too much for these things when a start-up company came out with a number of comics. The characters were just as super-charged as the big brands were, but the writers took pains to have the stories me more realistic in how people would actually react to demigods. That company didn’t last long, but after watching one character make a dumb mistake and accidentally ‘nuke’ half the planet, my curiosity about these demigods was satiated.


I can't quite place which new company you're talking about. At first, I thought you were describing First Comics, which was actually headquartered in my then-home of Evanston, IL ("First" stood for the first comics publisher that wasn't in NYC).

But I don't remember the "nuke half the planet" thing. Was that part of Marvel's "New Universe"? I purposely avoided those, because to me, one universe was enough.

Larry Hart said...

BTW, help me out here.

It's juvenile for grown men to reminisce about comic book movies, like say, Superman or Thor: Ragnarok, so instead we should be discussing Nietzschean ubermenchen and Wagnerian operas like Twilight of the Gods?

donzelion said...

Winter7: Thanks for that nod...one concern though:

"Since the oligarchs control the rules of the game it is difficult to eradicate feudal politics."

They have immense power - but the rules of the game are at least partially in your hands, and probably, a larger part than you may realize. They can finance an army. But if you can perceive more clearly than they, that can overcome even an army of mercenaries.

"It is important that we clearly define what tricks are used by feudal thieves and what exactly are the new rules and new punishments."
I would recommend first looking at where they're using normal, routine, 'non-tricks' to get ahead, how that worked. Then look closer to see if that is really what happened: they'll offer a 'somewhat true' story, then gloss over the details, encouraging people to look at the wrong place, to test the wrong flaw...then look closer still...

Oligarchs love to assert that they made their money through skill, through deep moral reasoning, through ingenious strategy. Most often, that's a post facto justification: a totally different story lurks behind the scenes, one they want no one to know. Until you reach to that stage in the story, regulations - and defining cheating - will miss the true source of how they built their power (and how they opted to maintain it).

"The sleeper must awaken."
Indeed: and look, and then look again, and still again. They're not infinitely powerful: actually, they're quite vulnerable. But they SEEM quite powerful from one vantage.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "I don’t like creating legislation that acts as ‘moral law’ without huge support."

Most 'moral law' is akin to 'traffic law' - choose the right side of the road or the left side, but by all means, choose a side, and do not be 'reckless' on the road. We do not get very far parsing the term 'reckless.' We can inject a few key phrases (don't drive while inebriated - and here's precisely what that means) - but again, most of it is 'this speed in this space' - 'this maneuver is prohibited' etc. The 'morality' - to the extent we realize it at all - comes from the understanding of the entire system in operation, and why. We 'know' speeding is 'wrong' - and many do it anyway.

That sort of 'cheating' on the roads puts lives at risk, but saves us seconds/day. Similar sorts of 'cheating' in finance puts fortunes at risk, but saves others millions/year. Regulating it is far harder than cracking down on speeders, and would have an even greater backlash.

Hence, "Start with the tax structure, then move back to the cheaters"

Now, I realize libertarians may occasionally deem Adam Smith 'pariah' - just as a lot of devout Christians reject portions of the Bible they just don't like (seriously, show me a single Evangelical who will quote the sections of the Bible where the Christians acted as socialists - except to claim "this was then, we live now" - a veiled claim that they are more righteous and wise than the Apostles).

"Two wrongs don’t make a right."
No doubt. But Adam Smith never walked that back: the 'wrong' is that one who receives a massive benefit from government support and doesn't pay the fair share for the benefit received, making others pay for it in turn. He advocated taxes set up a certain way for reasons that were central to his theory. Pick and choose which parts to keep, and libertarians become like today's Evangelical Christians - believing whatever they're told by the folks who sell them silly fantasies - 'demi-gods of industry' with super-hero powers, rather than a mix of gambling (with other people's money), skill, and cheating.

It's no accident Annie Randy had to repudiate Smith's moral theories to develop her own 'economic' theories. Alas, they're as close to economics as the mutant stories are to evolution.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "The only one of your Republicans who suffered any repercussion was Roy Moore, and that's a pretty dang low bar."

Unlike most others, Roy Moore was charged with child rape. His punishment: receiving ONLY $5 million for his campaign. A fair portion of which came from people who, like McConnell, publicly stated that they believed the claims against him. And then walked even that back.

Hence, the harshest criticism levied against Moore amounted to: "Well, I believe he's a serial child molester, but if that's good enough for Alabamans, we'll find a spot for him, and here's some money to help..."

locumranch said...

Like the good leftists that they are, David & his cronies promote the hereditary guilt argument by asserting that "The testimony of women was repressed for millennia and some overcompensation in the other direction is called for! Victims deserve the benefit of the doubt!".

It follows that we now must assume that ALL men are GUILTY because their ancestors devalued the "testimony of women for millennia", meaning that the accused have ZERO legal rights under our new & improved women-friendly legal system (but only if they're men).

But, why stop there?

Let's apply this ASSUMPTION of heredity guilt to Men (in general) & to specific Races (in specific) so we can natter on about race-specific PRIVILEGE and demand restitution for every identity group that we deem 'oppressed'.

I, for one, wish to extend this assumption of hereditary guilt to each & everyone, including the rich for their sin of wealth, the successful for their crimes of merit, those evil Brits for banishing those Australians, those South Pacific islanders for their history of cannibalism, those Homo Sapiens for their crimes against the Neanderthals, those who have been blamed for killing Christ & those children of Cain for their crimes against Abel.

Let's kill 'em all & settle the score.

We are ALL guilty of hereditary crimes: God Bless us everyone.


Best

Berial said...

@Larry and Alfred

Was the 80's comic series you're talking about where 'half the planet got nuked' the 'New Universe' series? Star Brand was the first book of that series I think. If it was then that was Marvel trying to set up a separate comic universe with new heroes.

I do remember that the 'superman' of that universe (Star Brand) tried to move his power to an inanimate object and it blew up. That might be what you were talking about. I thought it 'only' blew up Pittsburgh though.

I was collecting comics back then and got the first half year or so of that 'New Universe' before I simply lost interest and abandoned it. I may even still have some of those comics in a closet somewhere. I'd bet they are worth even less now than what I paid for them back then.

donzelion said...

Locum: "some overcompensation in the other direction is called for!"
When they start burning rich men at the stake, I'll start worrying about overcompensation. Until then, a few tweets and articles that deny men the means to buy their fifteenth house hardly constitute 'murder.'

"Oh dear, the women are attacking me on Twitter again! I might have to unfriend someone!"

"Let's kill 'em all & settle the score."
Please watch Black Mirror, "Hated in the Nation" - not because that's a good episode, but because everything you're saying here was (1) thought already, (2) with greater originality, (3) years ago. When your insights amount to bad scifi cliches, it's best to develop new ones.

Incidentally, I just won a defamation claim against a certifiable lass who concocted her own #MeToo rant against an innocent man - and another against a certifiable gent who believed that every school program in SoCal was defaming him. In some ways, the more deranged people getting their law degrees from Google University, the easier it gets to slap (or slapp) them down.

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

seriously, show me a single Evangelical who will quote the sections of the Bible where the Christians acted as socialists...


I find it amusing that most political Evangelicals seem more interested in the Old Testament. For example, they love to quote Leviticus as a reason to hate gays, and they insist on posting the Ten Commandments in courthouses. I never hear them mentioning the Sermon on the Mount, though.

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