Saturday, January 05, 2019

Divisive economics

Let's step away from politics.... till the end of this missive... and look instead at economics:

== Fiscal Management ==

The Evonomics site -- where Adam Smith would post, today -- offers this: Economists Agree: Democratic Presidents are Better at Making Us Rich. Eight Reasons Why.

The difference is stunning and inarguable... an average of 4.4% annual growth vs. a piddling 2.5%... and it has been consistent across 70 years. How to explain it?

The eight hypotheses offered here are interesting and consistent with modern economics. (Which "Supply Side voodoo" is not.) But #7 will resonate with what I have been saying to so-called market conservatives for years:

7. Fiscal Prudence. True conservatives pay their bills. From the 35 years of declining debt after World War II (until 1982), to the years of budget surpluses and declining debt under Bill Clinton, to the radical shrinking of the budget deficit under Obama, Democratic policies demonstrate which party merits the name “fiscal conservatives.”

Now, in fairness, a cogent Republican would answer: "Hey, weren't there Republican Congresses during some of that time?" Yes, and that actually mattered once - during the anno mirabilis year 1995, when Newt Gingrich corralled enough GOP support and negotiated with Bill Clinton to give us both Welfare Reform and the Budget Act. We almost got a third miracle, when the bipartisan Danforth-Kerrey commission proposed a compromise Entitlements Reform package that would have secured our finances for decades while ensuring every American child got health care. 

We know what happened then. Led by Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert, the Murdochian Republicans rendered the Danforth kind extinct, ending all semblance of adult politics in America. (And Newt knuckled under, instead of fighting for America.)

Proof that Clinton, not the GOP, merits credit for the Clinton surplusses is simple. Those surpluses turned red almost overnight in 2001. What changed politically? A shift in the White House, not Congress, Cause-and-effect. Subsequent Republican Congresses were the laziest in U.S. history, passing almost no bills and holding few non-Clinton-aimed hearings, except for eagerly passing Supply Side tax cuts for the uber-rich. But that's another matter.

Alas, this list is incomplete. The best hypothesis for why the economy does better under democrats is left off is my addition:

#9: Under democratic presidents, regulators act to enforce the rule of law. That’s the chief function of the Executive Branch. And when there is a democratic president, his appointees actually try to make the duly legislated laws of the United States function in the best manner intended. 

Yes, there are anecdotal examples of that being a bad thing! But negative in general? Dig it. Across 6000 years, all flat-fair-competitive markets were destroyed by cheaters (mostly feudal lords), until the recent invention of regulatory law... As recommended in Wealth of Nations. As we see in professional sports, you only get competition that is flat and fair when there’s regulation. 

Yes, it is conservative dogma that all regulation’s bad! (On occasion, regulation can be cloying, as with the industry-captured ICC and CAB -- the examples relentlessly cited by Ayn Rand -- which were eliminated by... Democrats.)  But is faithful execution of duly-enacted U.S. regulatory law negative in general? The actual evidence – both from 6000 years and the last 70 or so – suggests that the dogma is just plain wrong.

Oh, see this important Evonomics article, too!  Want to Kill Your Economy? Have MBA Programs Churn out Takers Not Makers". Why has business education failed business?” If we and Russia were truly friends, we’d send them half our MBAs. Both economies would skyrocket!

And this Evonomics piece about Wall Street parasitism. These are the heirs of Adam Smith.

== The ongoing civil war ==

One of our best essayist-historians avows that "The American civil war didn't end. And Trump is a Confederate president." Yes, I've been saying similar things about a resurgent Confederacy for almost two decades. In this case, Rebecca Solnit proposes that we've been fighting the same Civil War for 158 years. Moreover, the Confederacy has now accomplished what it never could in the 1860s, taking Washington. 

Ms. Solnit further ascribes this phenomenon to a broad loathing of modern trends by White Males. (Though, indeed, weren't they a majority of those who fought and died under the Blue, in earlier phases of this conflict?)

Most of you know my version of this is a bit more broad -- that this "civil war" is a clash of culture going back much further, to the 1770s; it ebbs and surges in phases and we are now in Number Eight, a particularly nasty one that could go "hot" as described in Sean Smith's novel "Tears of Abraham." 

We agree (as always) far more than we disagree. Still, as a Social Justice Warrior - albeit a brilliant one - Ms. Solnit can only see this ongoing conflict in terms of racism and sexism. Those certainly play major roles! But as historical psychologists have long known, the deepest undercurrent of confederate culture is romanticism -- a tendency to clutch voluptuously resentful delusions and pledge fealty to a lordly caste. 

In the 1770s that caste was the British monarchy and aristocracy that made Southerners more loyal to the Tory cause, and made them deeply abusive toward the Scots-Irish, deemed as sub-human. In the 1860s it was fealty to plantation lords. Today it is a fast-rising world oligarchy that red (gray-confederate) Americans far-prefer over the Union's favored elites -- men and women of skill and knowledge and productivity and science. That has always been a key divide: meritocratic achievement over inheritance and blood.  Nazism was a notoriously romantic movement.

(An aside, one can understand the Gray Grudge better if you look what happens to small towns every June, after High School graduation, when the best and brightest quickly scurry off to blue universities and cities and all that impudent meritocracy-stuff. This annual trauma has been going on for more than a century, feeding an underlying simmer of hate, as we literally steal their children.)

This is not a zero-sum disagreement with Ms. Solnit. Attributing confederatism to embedded romantic culture does not excuse racism, sexism and all that! My explanation should only strengthen our resistance to this chronic, 250 year-old American affliction. See my earlier missives - Phases of the US Civil War...and about how phase 3 (1852-1860) needs especially to be remembered.

We've both shown that the average American is more likely to act heroically in any emergency, rather than with cowardice. (Solnit's "A Paradise Built In Hell or her latest collection of essays on American crises: Call Them by Their True Names.) I’m enough of a fellow-traveller and ally to be glad she's out there, spreading powerfully true memes. I still think calm generalship and tactics and understanding the enemy will matter, over the long run. But yes, there are occasions when pointed fury is more apropos than mere moderate militance! I am next to you, blue kepi on my head. We need altos and tenors, barritones and sopranos singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

== Again, libertarians wise up! ==

I keep reaching out to an intellectual community that some of you dismiss as "hopeless." Because I think it is worthwhile. And so I point to obvious things.

1. Flat-fair-open competition is the greatest creative force in the universe. Sound pretty “libertarian”? Ah, but for all of time, flat-fair-open competition was ruined by a destructive force... cheating. The mighty use their wealth & power to cheat and prevent competition from below, preserving their sons’ privilege to own other peoples’ daughters and sons. Across history this always wrecked the promise. Always.

3. The Enlightenment found a tentative way out of this trap. It gradually improved 5 great competitive arenas, markets, democracy, science, courts and sports.  All are tightly regulated to prevent inevitable cheating. And cheaters innovate! Hence a need for revised or new regulations. Imagine a sporting league without rules or referees, but with massive money rewards at stake. Watch Rollerball. 

3. Liberals tend to frown at the word "competition." Conservatives snarl at "regulation." When it is only Regulated Competition that ever worked! Yes, over-regulation can cloy or get captured. But again, who banished the captured ICC and CAB and broke up AT&T?  Replace GOP with POC… the Party of Cheaters.

4. Meanwhile libertarians have completely abandoned the "c-word" that should be their center... "competition" in favor of “property.”  Ignore that it’s Democrats who are ending the Drug War, who are taking the Law out of your bedrooms. It’s Democrats under whom entrepreneurialism always does better. That’s always. Ask any libertarian and he won’t care about any of that. The goal of Steve Forbes and Rupert Murdoch and the Kochs is to to have them hold their noses and vote Republican, because “the GOP is ‘slightly less bad”. And that’s enough.

Keep these Mensa-type, underachieving nerds ignoring 6000 years of history, Pay for some pizza and some ego-flattering meme-rants and they’ll  trust that the fast-rising conniving cabals of oligarchs won't re-impose the great enemy of freedom — feudalism. This time — we pinkie swear we won’t!. 

Oligarchs are blocked from total power by fact folks and civil servants… so pour hate on those dedicated folks!

Oh, those  5 great competitive arenas, markets, democracy, science, courts and sports?  They all thrive to exactly the extent that all participants can clearly see what's going on. Transparency. All five wither and dies amid clots and cancerous clouds of secrecy.

Rant-mode off!  ;-)

== End to Gerrymandering? ==

It is within range of possibility - one could pray and hope - that John Roberts will decide to personally save America and Western Civilization and all our hopes for an advanced and decent human future. One ruling - this one - could be how his name will echo down time, either like Roger Taney or like Earl Warren, perhaps reversing the cheating that has stolen American democracy.

Yes, one of the worst gerrymanderers is Maryland... one of the last holdouts amid a wave of voter-led reform in Blue States. Watch as Obama and Holder and other top dems file amicus briefs against Maryland democrats, in part because this crime is now MOSTLY a Red cheat, of course. But also because it is an outrageous crime.

How to fix it? Past SCOTUS rulings evaded the issue, saying they could not see a simple remedy. Bull. Almost any nonpartisan commission would eliminate 80% of the travesty. But we now know excellent mathematical metrics to maximize "voter efficiency." Moreover, I have offered a plan that answers every known GOP objection. Unlike all others, it even retains "state legislature sovereignty!" It allows one of each state's three chambers to be gerrymandered and STILL corrects the injustice !


== Miscellaneous thoughts ==

“Today’s (2018) Congress is dominated by party leaders and functions as a junior partner to the executive," according to an analysis by The Washington Post and ProPublica.

On the other hand, the newly elected Congress will be younger, more female and more diverse, than ever before.

Has there been electoral cheating? See my article on Medium: Henchmen: We are watching

Post-election, carry forward your determination to save civilization. Have a look at Lawrence Lessig’s new campaign — to end super-PACS in America.

90 comments:

Mike Will said...

Just a thought on romanticism. It seems to sow the seeds of its own demise. Lord Byron and Percy Shelley 'spawned' Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley, ushering in the most extreme form of rationalism yet seen: computation and artificial intelligence. I'm a slow reader, so I'm drowning in links, especially since all this Confederate talk is a bit alien to non-Americans (but intriguing). Aging minds gather cruft...

Chris Heinz said...

Rollerball, FTW!

You need to turn spell-checking on. "eocnomics" in the title. 2 3. list entries in what should have been a simple [ol].

Larry Hart said...

Donald Gisselbeck in the previous comments:

I was told you can't see Venus in the dark, shortly after admiring it while doing chores in the dark.


When my grandfather was young (in the very early 1900s, in Hungary), he was told by a gentile kid that, because they broke their covenant with God, Jews couldn't see the sun. He apparently flabbergasted the other kid by...whatayacall...pointing to the big yellow ball in the sky and going, "There it is."

David Brin said...

Mongolian heavy metal!
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/01/05/680528912/how-a-mongolian-heavy-metal-band-got-millions-of-youtube-views

Mike Will said...

Here are two emerging technologies that are showing some promise in the fight against the 'lordly caste':

Moving cryptocurrencies out of the casino and into the day-to-day economy (hopefully fulfilling the 'flattening' promise of blockchain):
https://singularityhub.com/2019/01/05/are-stablecoins-the-new-and-improved-bitcoin

Wresting computers (specifically CPUs) out of the hands of private corporations:
https://riscv.org/

yana said...


David Brin thought:

my version of this is a bit more broad -- that this "civil war" is a clash of culture going back much further, to the 1770s;

The cult of Adam Smith needs to start tapering off. Good prose, sure, but all he did was put down common knowledge onto a page. He wasn't the only guy who thought that way, the "new thoughts" of the 1700s. Link this: Wealth Of Nations would never have been published if there wasn't already an audience for it, decades before ink kissed typeface.

clash of culture going back much further

Much further than the 1770s, there is in fact only one war in human history, which goes from flare to remission everywhere, from now to then. It's the hill people versus the flatlanders. If you want to know how any conflict will run, you assess the resolve and resources of each side. But before you do that, identify who are the hill people and who are the flatlanders. Spoiler alert: they don't win every battle, but flatlanders win every war.

Naufragé said...

Hello David, as a long time libertarian having moved to liberalism reading (among other things) your blog, no this is not hopeless. Libertarian are individualists and appeal to reason works. In fact it will takes all the individualism we can to counter some worrying trends toward group thinking and against free speech on the left.

David Brin said...

Yana, sorry, the Mongols darn near conquered the world. And Smith truly did make serious breakthroughs.

Naufragé thank you. It helps to learn sometimes it gets through.

porohobot said...

>> yana said...
\\It's the hill people versus the flatlanders. If you want to know how any conflict will run, you assess the resolve and resources of each side.

I know it under name "conflict of fathers and sons".
While children are small and wholely dependant on parents -- all looks great,
but then children grown up and need their own place and authority...

Ever emerging conflict, which embodies clash between conservative and reformist forces.
That's why (practicing) communists have had their success... with their notion of dialectic. Exactly to that time when they themself multiplied it on zero, by neglecting need of changes. %)))


>> from the post
\\The difference is stunning and inarguable... an average of 4.4% annual growth vs. a piddling 2.5%... and it has been consistent across 70 years. How to explain it?

Did they checked possible correlations with economic cycles?

\\Across 6000 years, all flat-fair-competitive markets were destroyed by cheaters (mostly feudal lords), until the recent invention of regulatory law...

"flat-fair-competitive markets" in earlier times, what is it?
When robbery was as easy as unscabbard the sword...
do I need to continue here and state it flat out completely?

\\If we and Russia were truly friends, we’d send them half our MBAs. Both economies would skyrocket!

You are too late with your suggestion. %)
It was that famous lament of Lenin himself, about, that he ready to trade his heart-heated bolsheviks to bourgois clerks... in 10 to 1 proportion.

And they are ever ready to it. If only Putin was not so stupid and greedy (yep, that so called genious), your MBAs would be glad to make RFia great and superior to USA even... like they did for PRCia. %) For a good reward.

\\ Ah, but for all of time, flat-fair-open competition was ruined by a destructive force... cheating.

If only it be so simple. (sigh) %(((
Most part of "flat-fair-open competitions" are disrupted before it born.
By sheer lack of resources. %(((

And cheating -- its just a sign of coming shortage... as high temperature for influenza.

\\Meanwhile libertarians have completely abandoned the "c-word" that should be their center... "competition" in favor of “property.”

There is a reason behind it. You need to have some property to compete (and right to leave fruitful results for yourself, for it to make sense to compete).
Because without it, one can compete only in sheer strength and agility sports (e.g. war... or crime).
Because current populism with its socialist ideas, trying hard to dismine rights of private properties, isn't it?

Why it become fraudental... it's different question.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

Yana, sorry, the Mongols darn near conquered the world. And Smith truly did make serious breakthroughs.

To Smith, 'shoulders of giants' is the phrase which comes to mind. No wish to minimize, the help that putting all those ideas into one referential volume was to people who later put it to work making laws.

Re the Mongols, your statement is preposterous. Did they have a magical navy to conquer the three continents they'd never imagined existed, let alone Africa? They barely made it into Europe, far shorter incursions than the Huns or Timur-the-lame.

What did i say? Assess the resolve and the resources. Right? The further one gets from the Mongolian Plain, the lower the resolve. And the more varied the landscape, from the strength of cavalry on a steppe, the more problematic the military resources become.

As always, it's not just a problem of resources and logistics, but of political structure. Alexander would've solved that problem had he lived, but Chingis was still a slave to the system of government by kuriltai. Even the greatest of khans would have been hooted out of kuriltai, had he called for a horde to push past Budapest or Baghdad.

Anonymous said...

The Twentieth-Century Reversal: How Did the Republican States Switch to the Democrats and Vice Versa?
Andrew Gelman
Pages 1-5 | Received 01 May 2013

In the past few elections, rich states have gone for the Democrats and poor states have voted Republican, but 30 years ago there was no such pattern, and 100 years ago things looked completely different. The twentieth century reversal is not a simple story of voters standing still and parties moving. Examining patterns within states reveals that the reversal has happened at the state level but is more complicated locally, with urban/rural divides associated with many of the largest changes. Economic issues have been and remain most important in any particular election, but it is plausible that social issues can be the determining factor that can, over a century, reverse the electoral map.

Organic Welder said...

When you get right down to it, any serious call to the Second Amendment is an expression of treason.

We already know people are biased against treating hurricanes as the dangers they are when they are carry female names.

They *had* to call the one that knocked Love WhatsApp Status out Puerto Rico "Maria". Meanwhile, stay safe from "Nate", which looks like it will be paying a visit to the US on Sunday.

Has anyone else made the connection between Trump's "PR" disaster and Koch Industry products?

I think "Puerto Rico Nasty" could be an emerging form of expression.

reason said...

We should be very careful to avoid making a dichotomy between individualism and collectivism. Individualism requires collective protection. There is a great attraction in human thinking towards dichotomies that on reflection don't stand up. We need to resist it.

reason said...

What? Crytocurrencies are basically a fraud. They concentrate entirely on the wrong part of the problem (i.e. on how money is stored and not on how it is distributed). That is they are solving a problem that doesn't really exist in modern western countries and ignoring a much more serious problem. Shiny lights for the easily distracted.

Larry Hart said...

Does anyone remember back when the earth was still cooling in 2012, a prominent congressional Republican (I'm thinking Mitch McConnell, but it might have been Newt Gingrich or John Boehner) was asked why he supported Mitt Romney for president when there was a wide gulf between the respondent and Romney on policy. Whoever it was said he supported Romney because "He has four working fingers and a thumb," meaning that Romney's personal philosophy was unimportant compared to the fact that he'd sign whatever legislation a Republican congress sent his way.

Congress drives legislation--a president only facilitates or hampers it.

What changed between then and now, such that McConnell won't even send Benedict Donald anything to sign without a pre-approval guarantee? I guess the Republican Party no longer has an agenda other than "Make sure Trump's deplorables don't lose enthusiasm and defect."

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

Lord Byron and Percy Shelley 'spawned' Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley,


Thank you for loading me up with that image. :)

Larry Hart said...

reason:

Crytocurrencies are basically a fraud. They concentrate entirely on the wrong part of the problem (i.e. on how money is stored and not on how it is distributed). That is they are solving a problem that doesn't really exist in modern western countries...


Same with self-driving cars.

And e-voting.

And Alexa.

Apparently, in this day and age, "not being able to do something via the internet" is considered a problem.

Mike Will said...

Cryptocurrencies are basically a fraud. [and self-driving cars, e-voting, Alexa]

What are these 'fire', 'wheel', and 'transistor' you speak of?
New does not equal fraudulent. I was born before manned spaceflight, when a single transistor cost several dollars and was the size of a dime. Today, we feel small if there's nobody in space and we each carry billions of transistors in our pocket. Heck, a robot probe just visited a rock 6 light hours away!! That's in one lifetime. It'll take more than shoes to gum up these machines. Science works. Get over it.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I'm not sure this qualifies for the Predictions Registry, but this article in today's Chicago Tribune addresses a subject that you weighed in on a while back. Humans have managed to separate sex from reproduction, and while this is most often thought of in the context of getting to have sex without worrying about the consequences, there are those going in the opposite direction as well--people who want children without the bother of romance. And as the second group passes on their genes while the first group does not, will "industrial reproduction" become more the norm over time?

https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/parenting/sc-fam-families-without-romance-0101-story.html

...

Family by Design, which launched in 2012, now has 30,000 active users and plenty of children (though they don’t track the number), all conceived by people who are together with for the sole purpose of making and raising children.

“I wanted to have a partner in terms of scheduling and time and financial sharing in a child’s life, and an emotional partner for the child’s life,” Spedale said. He found this arrangement via his own site, and is now co-parenting a 4½-year-old daughter with a woman who had those same desires.

It’s a more modern version of a family, reflecting the declining marriage rates and the choice to live with a partner without making it official, says Spedale.

But removing romance completely out of the picture and mating with the sole intent to have and raise a child gets a little complicated.

...

Larry Hart said...

@Mike Will,

I was the one who mentioned self-driving cars and Alexa, though I wasn't the one who posted that cryptocurrencies were a fraud.

I did, however, agree with the original poster that cryptocurrencies and those other things are meant to solve problems that don't exist.

That in itself wouldn't be a bad thing, except for the fact that they each introduce new problems which (to me) seem worse than the problems they intend to solve. And those new problems are typically overlooked or written off because it is seemingly essential that everything be done via the internet without human interaction.

Mike Will said...

LH: I know that you and 'reason' are two different people, I was just trying to reply to both in one blurb.
"they each introduce new problems which (to me) seem worse than the problems they intend to solve"
Tell that to Copernicus :)


There are indeed a lot of false dichotomies floating around. Here are some of the biggest:

Democrat : Fiscal Prudence (to stay on topic)
Pure Research : National Defense (google "Fermilab worth defending")
Young : Wise
Good : Powerful
Sincere : Famous
New : Correct
Classical : Fraudulent
Natural : Hierarchical
Science : AI
Art : AI
Natural : Computational
Man Made : Mathematics, Logic
Humanity : Machines


Larry Hart said...

@Mike Will,

You seem to imply that I'm arguing "Humanity good; Machines bad."

Whereas I'm actually arguing against "Machines good; Humanity bad."

We're both decrying false dichotomies. Just different ones.

Mike Will said...

@LH
You're right, the false dichotomies list was meant for general consumption, not aimed at you. Some spend their 'hobby' time arguing with Confederates (you know who you are :), some with flat-earthers, I spend mine arguing with 'Mathematics is the Revealed Truth of the Universe' and 'Nature doesn't know how to Compute' types :)

matthew said...

I'll be happy when we can bury libertarianism at the crossroads along with the GOP. David (and others here) argue for a brand of libertarian that *doesn't exist in meaningful numbers*. Maybe in 1975 "Libertarian" meant support of some measure of personal freedom, but it assuredly means "propertarian feudalist crony" now.

It's like the Republicans that argue that the GOP isn't racist because Lincoln freed the slaves - neither position resembles current reality. Libertarian "thought" is just oligarch ass-kissing and nothing more in this day and age.

And "appeal to reason" works on libertarians? That's the best pun of the day, but assuredly not true in practice. Witness the arguments over the "taxation is theft" idiocy that have taken place here. A easily disproven canard, "taxation is theft" is still taken as gospel by a movement most concerned with maintaining the privilege of inherited wealth and nothing else.

The intellectual underpinnings of the libertarian movement are built on a basis of utter BS, and it's just gotten worse over the last 50 years. Saying that it has *any* merit begs the question, "When has Libertarianism *ever* contributed to the well-being of *any* society?" I'll wait for an example. Real world, please.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I did, however, agree with the original poster that cryptocurrencies and those other things are meant to solve problems that don't exist.

Maybe you are looking too much at Bitcoin and not enough at Ethereum.

Some of the cryptocurrencies DO appear to be frauds, but I disagree that they all are.
Some remind me of the old trick of salting a mine, but others don't.

There is a particular business problem that the Ethereum adopters are trying to solve that has nothing to do with storage. It has everything to do with third party trust across borders, title, and title clearance. When I first read about Bitcoin I noted that it couldn't effectively be used for futures contracts. Ethereum's use of blockchain captures far more than the value of a transaction when they hold executable functions within contracts.

It's not ALL fraud.
Like with any upheaval, one must watch carefully and learn to distinguish actual rebels from war profiteers.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

You're correct that I tend to equate "cryptocurrencies" with "Bitcoin".

I wasn't arguing that cryptocurrency is fraud (that was someone else), but I did agree that the problem being solved--specifically that there was no central bank to manipulate supply--in practice is less of a problem than the one introduced by the wild swings in speculative value.

I think you've put forth the "inflation is theft" argument before, and I don't see that Bitcoin solves that problem. The changes in value over time in the US dollar that the Fed creates are quite small (in the short term) compared to the wild day-to-day fluctuation in the value of Bitcoin.

David Brin said...

LH: “I'm not sure this qualifies for the Predictions Registry, but this article in today's Chicago Tribune addresses a subject that you weighed in on a while back. Humans have managed to separate sex from reproduction, and while this is most often thought of in the context of getting to have sex without worrying about the consequences, there are those going in the opposite direction as well--people who want children without the bother of romance. And as the second group passes on their genes while the first group does not, will "industrial reproduction" become more the norm over time?”
https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/parenting/sc-fam-families-without-romance-0101-story.html


One of the flukes of human nature that might explain the Fermi Paradox is that we are the opposite to the Moties, in The Mote In God’s Eye. They are ultimate creatures of Malthus, doomed always to overpopulate as quickly as possible. We appear to have been saved – or at least have a chance – because human women are satiable, whenever they feel their children are truly safe and healthy, and seem to prefer having an average of about two. Yes, this happened in part because we can adaptably switch from High-R to High-K reproductive psychology swiftly, emphasizing care of high investment offspring. But another factor is the separation of the thing nature evolved us to seek desperately – sex – from actual reproduction. Both resulted in a species that appears capable of giving the finger to Malthus.

For now. I’ve long said we have a narrow window… perhaps 3 generations… before those who zealously want to have lots of kids start filling our gene pool with that compulsive trait, replacing sex as the nexus of avidity. We can deal with this either by spreading to the stars, as a plague, or becoming super-High-K and far-seeing-wise.

===

Matthew, I have succeeded in converting a fair number of libertarians, something I cannot say about high percentages of rightists or leftists. Moreover, I keep being invited to express unconventional views at libertarian gatherings, displaying a level of rambunctious willingness to argue ideas that belies the dogmatic image. Though certainly that image befits a majority of “libertarians,” aside from that large minority.

Crypto currencies have an exciting aspect, the utterly open-transparent ledger. And a dark side – anonymity of ownership.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Crypto currencies have an exciting aspect, the utterly open-transparent ledger. And a dark side – anonymity of ownership.


What they don't seem to have, although proponents like to pretend they do, is objective value. They have value to the extent that other people are willing to trade goods and services for them. And I hate to break it to the goldbugs, but fiat currencies also have value in that same manner. Not to mention that neither one is any good to someone who crash lands on a deserted island.

Mike Will said...

@LH What they don't seem to have, although proponents like to pretend they do, is objective value.

Bitcoin is a modern example of what Adam Smith called 'dead stock'.
See Paul Krugman's 2013 (!) opinion piece https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/adam-smith-hates-bitcoin

Some are working on more meaningful cryptos, aimed at advancing scientific research or helping the environment. These people are not hucksters, fraudsters, or goldbugs. They are smart and altruistic (most of them).

David Brin said...

LH "What they don't seem to have, although proponents like to pretend they do, is objective value. They have value to the extent that other people are willing to trade goods and services for them. "

Actually, I am on several coin advisory panels and it's complicated. Every coin is about in "inner world" where it can gain merit by accomplishing something... and an "outer world" where it is traded for dollars. This is much less about the details of blockchain than it is about ... World of Warcraft. Seriously. Steve Bannon made his first fortune running armies of poor Chinese guys playing WoW and earning magic swords which he then sold at huge markup.

Most "coins" are supposedly of some value as tokens within a utility... e.g. mediating exchange of computer clock cycles or memory space. Some would mediate exchange of credit for online accomplishments or crowd judging of posting accuracy... very few try to compete with Bitcoin as a medium of real world exchange. When the young guys create a coin, they issue page after page of denials that the coin is of any "investment value" in the real world and emphasize ONLY its inner world utility... because even a hint of investment promise could get them into prison uniforms. But wink-wink that doesn't prevent speculators from bidding up the outer world price.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Yah. I noticed the original comment came from Reason. I was tempted to respond directly, but you tend to write more in the way of details. 8)

The central bank is just one of the third party trust agents one deals with in markets. Some people are distrustful of them much like we had a right to be when princes shaved the silver content of coins they issued. Coin clipping is a kind of inflation.

Bitcoin gets around only some of the entities who can steal from us and it does so in a manner that cripples it for use in markets where transactions are wrapped in contracts. Cash exchanges are just a sliver of what we do, after all. 8)

Bitcoin's volatility, however, has more to do with the motivations of buyers and sellers than it does with its shortcomings. One way for prices to rise is for a government to try to capture the wealthy people within their borders. Wealth can be moved out of country in many ways with bitcoin being a method of last resort. If you face a risk of losing everything, keeping half of it due to market volatility wouldn't seem so bad.

-----

I got to see some of the fraud and speculation David describes in my days where I built stuff in SecondLife. They had a kind of in-world currency (not blockchain) and an exchange rate with USD. In-world banks sprang up and people were impressively trusting of them. Of course, they had NO IDEA where these banks were incorporated or even if they were. When money vanished like a fart in the wind, it was no real surprise. When I saw the early cryptocurrency exchanges online I was expecting more of the same. Some intend to be legit. Some don't. Some can't be because they are captured by their local lords and priests who know how to do modern day coin-clipping.

-----

There are people working on the other third party trust agents and contracted transactions. The related crypto-currency I'm learning about now is Ethereum. Looks interesting. They've implemented a relatively simple stack machine VM and one writes code that can be executed anywhere. 'Miner's' are rewarded for doing the work of making distributed apps actually work. Gotta be careful, though, and not write buggy code. If done right, legal firms are going to need the software engineers who know the platform and best practices.

porohobot said...

>> reason said...
\\What? Crytocurrencies are basically a fraud.

Yeap! And combustion engine is nothing but way of scaring horses on streets. %)

Do you even know how it work? What does blockchain mean? ;)

As for one with so promissing nick name as "reason", you spouting a little too much of luddism.


>> Mike Will said...
//Man Made : Mathematics, Logic

That one... I do not see how could it be?
Math and logic is that way -- because humans is that way.
Even more precise -- each culture have it's own math/logic.
It's historical fact.


//I spend mine arguing with 'Mathematics is the Revealed Truth of the Universe'

If not in idealistic sense... I'm with you on it.

Have had dispute with some so called logician, who couldn't grok *definition* of materialism. And was trying to insert "there must be a place for math idealistic thingies"... yep,yep, somewhere in the physical vacuum alongside atoms do bouncing some "monadki". %)))

And I'm still curious -- how it could be???

\\ and 'Nature doesn't know how to Compute' types :)

And who care?

Before types there was groups, in before it quaternions and so on.
And after tipes there'll be something yet more new and yet more shiny,
which new mathematicians/idealists will try to staff Universe with, whole full of it. %)
It's what idealists do all the time. So, who cares? %)


>> matthew said...
\\I'll be happy when we can bury libertarianism at the crossroads along with the GOP

I ned to remind you.
There already WAS such people, who did it. Buried all burgeois... at least in one separate country...

Been there done that.(c)

>> David Brin said...
\\We can deal with this either by spreading to the stars, as a plague, or becoming super-High-K and far-seeing-wise.

Or... just die out. %(((

\\Crypto currencies have an exciting aspect, the utterly open-transparent ledger. And a dark side – anonymity of ownership.

And why it's "dark side"? It's just Power of Money. That facilitate fair trade -- if you don't know identity of buyer, you can't discriminate against him.


>> Larry Hart said...
\\What they don't seem to have, although proponents like to pretend they do, is objective value.

Oh, my... are you proponent of returning to Gold Standard??? %)
Do you know history? Why people abandoned it?

porohobot said...

Aphorism came to my mind.

Wisdom its ability to see something opaque there
where all was transparent even to earlier you.

Mike Will said...

@porohobot


//Man Made : Mathematics, Logic

That one... I do not see how could it be?
Math and logic is that way -- because humans is that way.
Even more precise -- each culture have it's own math/logic.
It's historical fact.



Yes. I was saying that is a false dichotomy (ie Math IS man made). Your statement is rather well put. Stephen Wolfram was once asked whether math is majestic, profound Revealed Truth or just some sort of artifact of history. His response was artifact of history. The deflation of the interviewer was funny.

The universe is a realm of computation and evolution. Math and other symbolic languages enable a vastly simplified model of reality to be held in a 3-pound hominid brain.

"But, but - pi and the Fibonacci sequence are seen everywhere in nature..."

Seen? Heard? Observed? Big whoop. Do snails and daisies know anything about mathematics? Trees fall in the forest all the time whether they're observed or not. Coal came from the Carboniferous period - a much less chatty time. It's not nice to anthropomorphize Mother Nature.

Calculemus!

porohobot said...

Mike Will... thank you for our Input.

\\The universe is a realm of computation and evolution.

I'd leave only evolution here. But either way is ok.

\\Math and other symbolic languages enable a vastly simplified model of reality to be held in a 3-pound hominid brain.

Simplifed? Or just separate realm? That is the question I see as (practicioning) philosopher. %) (e.g. when we look at Conwey's Game of Life... is it there some real dots which play by that rules? And what if not?)
Do our symbolic simplifications are strict sub-realms of general realm?
Is it possible to make "something unimaginable"?
Another way -- is space of meaning open or closed (same as our Universe are open or closed in the large)
And... what granularity of this space (can it be continuous, can't be).
To siege on The Main Question -- what is possible, and what isn't?

\\It's not nice to anthropomorphize Mother Nature.

For sure. But understanding that it's natural for that "3-pound hominid brain" to anthropomorphize... I see it as essential for XXI-century thinking.

porohobot said...

\\Stephen Wolfram was once asked whether math is majestic, profound Revealed Truth or just some sort of artifact of history.

Still... it's deeply historically and psychologically natural for mathematicians.
I even don't see what a merit in it for someone to be mathematician (especially theoretical one), without sharing such views.
(that said on behalf of diversity mantra)

Still, Wolfram is deeply idealistic himself, with his "New Kind of Science" thing.
Or, it's just I how see it that way... dunno.

Larry Hart said...

porohobot:

>> Larry Hart said...
\\What they don't seem to have, although proponents like to pretend they do, is objective value.

Oh, my... are you proponent of returning to Gold Standard??? %)
Do you know history? Why people abandoned it?


No, not at all. In fact, the opposite thing.

But many gold-bugs who do favor returning to the gold standard seem to think that Bitcoin has the same benefit. From their point of view, I mean.

Mike Will said...

@porohobot

I don't have a strong opinion on philosophers, except that many of my favourite ancients (eg Hypatia) are referred to as such. I know Asimov was big on them too. I've noticed an increase in Rome-America comparisons, in a Galactic Fall kind of way. This interview with an Hypatia biographer for example:
https://www.vox.com/2019/1/1/18139787/rome-decline-america-edward-watts-mortal-republic

I wish someone would leave a copy of the Federalist papers on the resolute desk for the President to rea... never mind.

porohobot said...

>> Larry Hart said...
//Oh, my... are you proponent of returning to Gold Standard??? %)
Do you know history? Why people abandoned it?

\\No, not at all. In fact, the opposite thing.

Sorry. My bad. Misread your message.


\\But many gold-bugs who do favor returning to the gold standard seem to think that Bitcoin has the same benefit. From their point of view, I mean.

Anyway, it exactly that case when jump to definition is the best idea.

"""The characteristics of money are durability, portability, divisibility, uniformity, limited supply, and acceptability."""

So, for crypto currencies it is (correct me if I wrong)
durability -- as far as device durability, portability -- same as above,
divisibility -- only technical problems, uniformity -- bits and bytes all the same %),

limited supply -- it's exactly what so called "gold-bugs" are relying on,
and by this property crypto is wa-a-ay better then, and definitely NOT same as fiat ones. (yeah, and Krugman are wrong with it, or doesn't grok that tech... because crypto is exaclty that Smith's "air wagon")

acceptability -- that is the one question where crypto remains in queston. ;)


>> Mike Will said...
\\I don't have a strong opinion on philosophers,

It was just a simple try from my side to name my position somehow.
In accordance with my current way of life, thinking habits and questions I ask myself.
But your opinion, maybe, as corrections from external point of view, will be humbly welcomed.

I tried other. But something like "free thinker" looks too pompous and not correct in essence.
I can't name myself a "scientist", because there is (yet) no science I can or like associate myself with. (except maybe (wanna be) Van Vogt's "Nexialist"... but it's non existent %( )
To name myself "futurist"... but as Lem's follower I tend to disregard this whole sphere. And there is too many self proclaimed ones anyway. %)

I could easily name myself a "crank"... but would like to leave that courtesy for external opinion. %))

Of course... it's shameful to name yourself philosopher without appropriate diploma.%)
But that ones disregarded notion of being philosopher themself.
As in "The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλόσοφος (philosophos) meaning "lover of wisdom".
...
A philosopher is one who challenges what is thought to be common sense, doesn’t know when to stop asking questions, and reexamines the old ways of thought."

To that last I sign myself fully. %)

Larry Hart said...

Mike Will:

I wish someone would leave a copy of the Federalist papers on the resolute desk for the President to rea... never mind.


Maybe on Twitter?

Or maybe "Fox and Friends" could do a segment.

Larry Hart said...

porohobot:

So, for crypto currencies it is (correct me if I wrong)
durability -- as far as device durability, portability -- same as above,
divisibility -- only technical problems, uniformity -- bits and bytes all the same %),

limited supply -- it's exactly what so called "gold-bugs" are relying on,
and by this property crypto is wa-a-ay better then, and definitely NOT same as fiat ones. (yeah, and Krugman are wrong with it, or doesn't grok that tech... because crypto is exaclty that Smith's "air wagon")

acceptability -- that is the one question where crypto remains in queston. ;)


The area in which I see crypto falling down is something that some others consider a positive--that the money supply can't expand with the economy. Taking those decisions out of the hands of a central government might be considered a good thing, but I think it's a mistake to lose that capability altogether.

I don't want to see a situation where there is plenty of supply and plenty of demand for that supply, but no one can trade because there aren't enough Bitcoins.

Larry Hart said...

porohobot:

As in "The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλόσοφος (philosophos) meaning "lover of wisdom".


I'm glad you mentioned that so I don't have to. My daughter has a good friend named Sophia, so I was able to impress her by noting that her friend's name means "wisdom", and that philosophers love Sophia. :)


A philosopher is one who challenges what is thought to be common sense, doesn’t know when to stop asking questions, and reexamines the old ways of thought."


Sounds more like "has a love/hate relationship with Wisdom." :)

Larry Hart said...

You can't make this stuff up. :)

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Jan07.html#item-7

A petition started by MoveOn.org calls for the block of Fifth Avenue in New York between 56th Street and 57th Street to be renamed "President Barack H. Obama Avenue." Such renaming is not unusual. The New York City Council recently approved naming streets for the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G., Woody Gurthrie, and Audre Lorde. A section of freeway in Los Angeles has been renamed for Obama.

What is special about Fifth Avenue from 56th Street to 57th Street is that it just so happens to be home to Trump Tower. Donald Trump's reelection campaign will be headquartered there. If the city council approves the name change, the reelection committee's mailing address will become:

Committee to Re-elect President Donald Trump
725 President Barack H. Obama Avenue
New York, NY 10022

...

porohobot said...

All I can say... it need deeper (and wholier) understanbding of economy.

Not only financial side of it, but also PRODUCTION side too.

I do know one such try, appealing as for me...
lectures on Neo-Economics by Russian economist Oleg Grigoriev -- channel Neoconomica
on YouTube (sorry, in russian only %( )

He starts as real philosopher there -- from something that all other economists tend to leave without back thought -- what mean production, where it came from.

And... very basic summary. States that production itself, same as biocenoses in biology (my observation), do starts from some geographically local regions... where production cycles reside.
And continue his definition of economy through this cycles.


\\I don't want to see a situation where there is plenty of supply and plenty of demand for that supply, but no one can trade because there aren't enough Bitcoins.

Life itself show that problem as non existant.
If you feel lack of amount of Bitcoins... you alvays can make some other ...coins. %)


\\and that philosophers love Sophia. :)

Only hope she's not underage. %/ Anyway... that love is platonic one. ;)
So, you can reassure her on my (and all philosophers) behalf.


\\Sounds more like "has a love/hate relationship with Wisdom." :)

Exaclty. %)

The position of the philosopher is between these two groups. The philosopher is not wise, but possesses the self-awareness of lacking wisdom, and thus pursues it.

porohobot said...

upd:

\\My daughter has a good friend named Sophia, so I was able to impress her by noting that her friend's name means "wisdom", and that philosophers love Sophia. :)

...So.
Ones she need to be aware and wary off...
is not phylosophers... but sofists and especially proficient in rhetoric one... as their love is not sincere and hardly can be regarded as love at all.

But of course, they have their own ways to choose... oh, women. %)

porohobot said...

Larry... Mike...

I must say it... I appreciate this "igru v bisser"/glass_bead_game with you... very much.

David Brin said...

porohobot, whatever happened to "twice per day?" ;-)

yana said...


Look, fighting skirmishes can occlude your view, even if you're on the winning side. Flatlanders today live in cities, and they agree on fairness, tolerance and equality. Hill people, today live in the suburbs and work in the next suburb over. They have the luxury of romanticizing conflict, and a romcom is much more fun to watch than a documentary. Thus, a large political and economic establishment, bipartisan and broadband, all dedicated to suburban somnambulance.

There's no sense fighting that skirmish, to mix the hill and flatland cultures. The new communication revolution will do that for us automatically. The only fight worth taking on right now, is not really a fight yet. What conflicts will remain when the children of every tribe can talk freely without the adults knowing?

First, there will always be a need for a simply defined conflict for the aggressive parts of the people to apply themselves to. The bane of urbanity is that it breeds punks. Most youth rebel, and always (always) some part of youth will seek to stand out among peers, beyond natural rebellion.

At last, with the proliferance of photography, violence against other people is getting harder to justify, no matter what rebellion one claims as crutch. But even still, we're going to need to absorb natural rebellion in the future. It's time to pick and promote a couple strawmen, to be the objects of 2min hates later on.

Weather Preparedness seems an obvious career choice for the gung-ho, it's a fight that will never end, and note how the terminology might almost fly with a non-admission of guilt by any oil exec under a non-disclosure thingy. Throw the word "rescue" in the agency's subtitle, and you'll absorb twice as many sturdy rebellious young men.

Of course you know my fave suggestion, ridding this star system of any rocks which could hit the Earth. Also an endless conflict, and a task intrinsically labeled "heroic," we could even call it Star Hero Corps and not sound silly to the typical target enlistee.

The main idea is that if we want to stop making other people our enemy, which we all say we do, then we've got to have a new enemy to take our place. Peace On Earth and all that, but if we want to make it happen, then we've got to make an enemy of either the Earth, or of Space.

yana said...


Second, (remember we're listing things the new post-iPhone world will need, right?), second we're going to need new religion. Even a sizeable minority of libertarians identify as religious. Lately, the % of "spiritual but not religious" passed that of "religious" in the US, a few decades behind Europe. Why? Because the human race recently passed 50% cityfolk, the modern equivalent of flatlanders. Look at demographics worldwide, all religions have higher social status in suburban and rural places.

Bad for scaremongers, but the upheaval in islam the past 30 years is suspiciously similar to what christianity went through after printing went widespread. But our communication revolution is faster in both adoption and actual info speed. Should reasonably expect radical islam to peter out much faster than radical christianity did. This time, talking decades, not centuries. Doesn't absolve us, however, from the task of preparing an accepting place for both the post-radicals, and the post-spirituals.

Gawd, i hope it won't come down to some youtube prophet, what a painful cliche that would be. But the fact remains, that a % of the people will always be fascinated by numerological coincidences. If you're a confirmed atheist, blame vitamin B-12. If you're an educator, you're wrong if you think you can teach complete reasoning power to every pupil. There will always be a need to explain the universe in a dual way: in broad physical detail as well as a personal metaphysical relationship.

There will be a dozen new religions arising in the next decades, not a very bold prediction, but out on a limb one could predict that only a couple will feature dead bearded guys.

yana said...


Third, we will need an oracle. We will be our own oracle. WPedia is almost there. What it will come to, is a news/info site (app) which reports each news story, alongside a veracity rating, and a big yellow button that says "Where This Rating Comes From" right next to the headline. Click on the big yellow button, and you see how many +ups and -downs the story has, and see the geographical distribution of the likes and dislikes.

Tempers the power of trollfarms, yet increases the reach of personalities with a cadre of followers. Yes, that leads to 'factions' which the American Framers feared. But we don't have to fear it, because new media are much faster than a printer and a pony. In the past, the political party was an accretion of personalities, a superstructural creature of convenience when "the news" was still new three weeks later in the Latchy hollers.

The new internet oracle will be its own check-N-balance. If you're a normal person, you favor some elements of liberal thought as well as some items from the conservative menu. FOX and EIB may be nutters, but they have proven one thing: veracity can be overcome with personality. The orange guy isn't a Mule, he simply built on a known formula, and sidestepped the party structure. With a hyooj amount of luck too, but the lesson is that it worked.

The new check-N-balance will be this same lesson: anyone can do it. Orange guy proved that personality outweighs party. Obama proved that funding via crowdcloud can tru--Err, can "overmatch a particular card in denomination" compared to the money of a political party. Third leg of this thought table is, from above, that every personality has a range of positions from left to right on single issues.

The oracle of the internet, as soon as someone invents it, will be the end of political parties. Correct me if wrong, but it seems this outcome might have brought a wry smile to both George Washington and Karl Marx.

jim said...

After having a momentary bout with hope, due to the talk about a real Green New Deal, the Democratic Leadership in Congress stepped in and reassured me that they are only interested in appearing to want to do something to deal with climate change. We are getting a weak committee, with no mandate to generate real legislation. ( and hey, this lame ass change was endorsed by the proxy power environmental groups Dave wants you to support. )

The rest of you will probably wait to become disgusted with what the Democrats in will do on climate change. But I am willing to be what they end up proposing will be far less than “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” on what is needed to address the problem.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

porohobot, whatever happened to "twice per day?" ;-)


Your blog and all, but seeing how the guy is not a troll, I'd give him at least a little more leeway than that, especially to respond to other posts.

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart: be careful. Better be anonymous. Tweeting something so obviously unpatriotic could get you targeted by Trump supporters. Who can get nasty IRL as well as online.

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/npr-declaration-of-independence_us_595c6525e4b0da2c7325bd50?ec_carp=5822705355812273075

yana said...


Fourth, war becomes policework with hypercommunication. The diffusion of authority-sounding voices by social meeds, in some places leads to cadres of militarized police, in other places to a French family anticipating a Saturday stop by a vested roadblock, and thus packing a picnic lunch they can randomly enjoy a hundred metres offroad from the 'front lines'.

Not knowing where you'll be stopped makes a picnic that much more adventursome, and remember that nothing cures absurdity quicker than irony. Especially in France.

Perhaps by coincidence, perhaps no, the NGO with the most strength of irony in their philanthropic mission is Doctors Without Borders, originating from France. They send the most highly trained people in the world, right into the places where human life is the cheapest, between where hill people and flatlanders still tussle with guns.

https://www.msf.org/donate

yana said...


Well heck, if i've got the floor this Monday, there is only one more fulcrum of history which a prescient can ascribe future prosperity to, and that's the education of African women, both current residents and of their Western diaspora. I can not collapse the whole history of oppression over African women to a pithy phrase or peppy uplifting 'hang in there' aphorism. All i can do is say what my gut tells me: smart young women in Africa are good for the whole human race.

https://camfed.org/donate/

David Brin said...

yana, sorry but I have to say that your scenario is flawed. The “hill” people have grudges that I have described, and they are not easily solved.

- They prefer a view of TIME that held in 90%+ of past cultures, that we are damned beings, fallen from an earlier (romanticized) state of grace. Our recent enlightenment (RE) placement of this Golden Age in the future, to be built by confident humans, is not just a disagreement. It is utterly anathema and they find it terrifying.

- They do not want a new religion. They are heavily vested in certainty that their existing religion damns us city folks. Why would they shift to one in which we provide the priests. They are already at allo-out war against all our “priest” professions.

- I’ve many times described the crime we regularly commit against them, by stealing their children. Who race off to our universities (Mordor or Sodom) and even if they return, it is as changelings, suborned over to the Dark Side. There is nothing more traumatic and it happens every June, in every small town and it has been happening for 100 years.

- They do not want check-sum oracles. Their only defense is utter rejection of modernity. And it does no good to point at the hypocrisy of their using the Web etc as an instrument of rejection.

But there is a ralm of overlap. Many Christian churches send out missionary groups who must do physical good to justify their preaching presence. Those missionary teams do come back changed.

==
Jim. Utter bullshit. This is not a phase of the game when a long pass will accomplish a damn thing. This is a game of yards, right now. And the House of Representatives is not where we can expect anything but gestures, for a while (plus investigations.) We need those gestures to be maximally effective and damaging to the putinists. But,…

The action is out here, in the Republic. Tell me. How many fence-sitting fellow citizens have you converted, with your gloom?

I get mail from folks who have shifted away from the GOP madness because of my writings. What have you accomplished?

Larry Hart said...

Anonymous:

No point dying a thousand deaths. Come into the light.

Dr Brin:

This is not a phase of the game when a long pass will accomplish a damn thing. This is a game of yards, right now. And the House of Representatives is not where we can expect anything but gestures, for a while (plus investigations.) We need those gestures to be maximally effective and damaging to the putinists.


Exactly.

It took a lot of effort to get the House back. For now, we can be thankful that Republicans can't just pass whatever they want. Democrats aren't in a position to pass legislation on their own, nor can they prevent Benedict Donald and the Senate from stacking the courts.

We can't afford to punish the House Democrats for accomplishing less than we'd prefer by withholding support, thereby electing Republicans instead. That attitude is what got us where we are today.

Republicans are not the solution to our problem; Republicans are the problem.

yana said...


David Brin thought:

your scenario is flawed. The “hill” people have grudges that I have described, and they are not easily solved.

Those are already solved for us, coming soon to a trailer park near you. If anyone has an inkling of the future, seems they're duty-bound to tell the rest of us, so do tell? How have your outreach attempts failed, so that we, the remainder of human hope, might succeed?

I say the future world will need an outlet for natural human aggression, and you say "flawed." I call for a mediate step between a male god with flowing white whiskers and some nebulous life-force, and that's also "flawed"?

I see the obvious rise of crowdtruth, and you say "flawed." Are you drunk? Do you do alot of p-delics? No shame mind you, intoxications are both the folly of youth and the right of the aged.

"we are damned beings, fallen from an earlier (romanticized) state of grace"

That's a playground concept of religion. As easy as it is for you to shuffle off that mortal coil yet still live miraculously, your putative "realm of overlap" still involves dozens of daily moral decisions. But in the end, it's just a skirmish, isn't it?

Hoped i had named the skirmishes worth fighting today, apart from the ones which are an utter waste of time. You offer four bulletized points where you confess failure to "convert" the highest of Hill People with your most florid prose. Gotta say, looks like you're twirling a screwdriver on a nailhead.

"Hey why won't these desert people buy my sand?!? It's great sand, what's wrong with these people?"

yana said...


yana thought:
"looks like you're twirling a screwdriver on a nailhead"

Hey sorry, sometimes forget that people on the internet are not always as thick-skinned, it's fair to admit that most of my metaphorical barbs dig deeper than needed, in every case it's only selfish, because i learn more when i pry more. Don't take it personal.

David Brin said...

yana I am not responsible for your diametrically opposite interpretation of my response.

The look-back view of the time flow of wisdom is fundamental and anathema to the look-forward view. Yes they look forward to a resurrection, but only in miraculous terms, earned by loyalty, not through the cooperative actions of billions of people making a better world.

Likewise, much of Christianity and Buddhism and Hinduism disdains the physical world -- "creation" -- as flawed and inferior compared to a promised paradise. Never considering that this is an insult to the Creator.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I don't want to see a situation where there is plenty of supply and plenty of demand for that supply, but no one can trade because there aren't enough Bitcoins.

In case it helps, remember that digital currencies can be finely divided in ways real coins can't. It isn't easy to buy something for $0.001 unless one buys a lot of it. Not so with Bitcoin.

You can grow the money supply or you can shrink prices as the economy grows. You can do both at the same time if you like. Historically, we've done both and you can see this if you use a different exchange rate. Measure the price of the clothes you wear not in USD, but in hours of labor paid (to you) after taxes. Marx would have understood this exchange rate and anyone advocating a labor valuation system would see that the supply of labor grew AND prices shrank as national economies grew.

It doesn't matter if the gumball in the machine costs 1 penny or 25 pennies if what one has to do to acquire the needed sum is essentially the same. It does matter to a child if they have 1 penny and their central bank inflates the currency causing the child to need 25 pennies IF she can't offer something else for the 25 tomorrow that would net her 1 today.

[McCloskey goes on and on about this 'real' pricing system. Thinking about trade in terms of currencies risks becoming nonsense in a world where big things happen and happen fast. That's what's been happening in The West for about 400 years.]

yana said...


You and i both know there is no outside creator. I don't understand where your hostility comes from. Do you think i'm a religionist? Haw, more fool you, or more fool me for leading you on, though i can't recall how i might have done that.

"The look-back view of the time flow of wisdom is fundamental and anathema to the look-forward view."

Which is what i've said, there is future wisdom to be gleaned. Peering back is fundamental and peering ahead is fundamental, but what, in your view, is the "anathema" part of the process? Did i misunderstand something you feel is a 'given'?

As a creator of some of my fav fiction, you get a free pass to argue deeply, but adding "fundamental" to "anathema" as adjectives a the same noun, ehhhh, you gotta 'splain that, Lucy.

Alfred Differ said...

yana,

Actually... he IS a believer. Mostly benign stuff as they go. Interesting twist on some of it too.


The 'Look back' people are those who think the world was better in the past.
Things get worse from here.

The 'Look forward' people are those who think it is getting better as we crawl out of our ignorance.
No need to bash ancestors TOO much, but we are better off now than they were. Smarter and wiser too.

It's difficult to reconcile these.

yana said...


Alfred Differ thought:

"Actually... he IS a believer. Mostly benign stuff as they go. Interesting twist on some of it too."

Then why the adversarials? I know a thing or three about people, and it really looks like pride. Know the twists, red the books, that's a tuffet of laurels to rest upon. But there's apparently something i'm missing about this blog.

Are we supposed to entreat the host with fluffy gloves fitting an ego more fragile than i had assumed, when stumbling in here?

Are we to function as a fleshing-out corps around ideas the host wishes to have colored in, and no straying beyond?

Are we to serve as a panopoly of "other" ideas, against which the host sharpens his thoughts before "important" lectures and presentations?

All of that is OK with me. I would love to think i suggested one half-sentence in a talk to an extracurr lunchtime lecture at Annapolis. But instead, it seems like the host here kinda takes philosophical disagreement as a proxy for personal attack.

Is there a level of glove treatment which you, Alfred Differ, have found to work? Short of outright flattery, i mean.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

In case it helps, remember that digital currencies can be finely divided in ways real coins can't. It isn't easy to buy something for $0.001 unless one buys a lot of it. Not so with Bitcoin.


I admit I don't understand the finer points, but I thought that some sort of virtual possession of the coin itself, as well as the inherently limited number of coins, are essential to the nature of Bitcoin. If several individuals can own pieces of the same Bitcoin, then I really don't understand how the system works.

Not your fault. :)


The 'Look forward' people are those who think it is getting better as we crawl out of our ignorance.
No need to bash ancestors TOO much, but we are better off now than they were. Smarter and wiser too.

It's difficult to reconcile these.


Is it? Things improve as knowledge and experience accumulate and wheat is sorted from the chaff. That we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors doesn't reflect badly on them for what they had to work with in their time.

Larry Hart said...

yana:

Are we supposed to entreat the host with fluffy gloves fitting an ego more fragile than i had assumed, when stumbling in here?


To me, it looks like you're the one with a chip on your shoulder. Dr Brin doesn't agree with your thesis--as far as I can see, that's all he said. You're the one who makes that a justification for insults and personal confrontation and complaints of thin skins.


Which is what i've said, there is future wisdom to be gleaned. Peering back is fundamental and peering ahead is fundamental, but what, in your view, is the "anathema" part of the process? Did i misunderstand something you feel is a 'given'?

As a creator of some of my fav fiction, you get a free pass to argue deeply, but adding "fundamental" to "anathema" as adjectives a the same noun, ehhhh, you gotta 'splain that, Lucy.


If you've heard the term "sealioning" (which I only learned on this blog), that's how you're coming off here, intentionally or not.

Jon S. said...

Yana, one must question whether you've actually spoken much with believers in a Golden Age. It used to be the most common viewpoint out there, as enshrined in multiple writings, both religious and what once passed for "history" (the legends of King Arthur, for instance, or the children of Ameratsu). You can see it clearly in, for instance, Tolkien's The Silmarillion, which repeatedly refers to "ancient times" when both humans and elves were stronger, wiser, and far longer-lived than they are in these degenerate days. You can also see it in the slogan "Make America Great Again", which calls back to a legendary (and mythical) past time in which this country was, in some poorly-defined way, "greater" than in our own threadbare era.

Thing is, Golden Agers fear progress of any kind, seeing it as falling further away from that Golden Age. Nothing we moderns produce can, by definition, possibly be as wonderful as the miracles of the past, and if by some chance they're forced to admit to a degree of utility to our new technologies and philosophies, it can only be by claiming that using them damages the Greatness of the Soul, making us moderns "weaker" and "more degenerate" than our Noble Ancestors Who Didn't Need Such Things. And Looking To the Future is, to them, an existential threat to their own attempts to become as Noble as the ancients. They see no wisdom to be gleaned from the future, because they don't believe such things are even possible.

I'm unclear why you take our host's attempts to explain this as personal attacks - are you that thoroughly bound up in modernity, that you can't even approximate the thought processes of the Look-Backward crowd?

Addressing the Bitcoin phenomenon - I admit, I still don't understand what exactly cryptocurrency is supposed to do that isn't already done. Then again, it might help if I could find an explanation of the process that didn't:

a) assume I already know all this and just need persuading; and

b) sound suspiciously like an email from a Nigerian prince.

matthew said...

My problem with crypto is the energy demand from those mining. The last thing this world needs is more resource energy being devoted to imaginary money. I suspect a big part of those propping up crypto are those that want to prop up fossil fuel valuations by increasing energy demands. It's obscene.



Mike Will said...

@matthew

Ok, I'm breaking my rule about linking to my own blog in Dr. Brin's. Only because this post includes a link to some of his stuff too :)
"Adam Smith Loves Gridcoin" http://www.scidata.ca/?p=1691

Alfred Differ said...

Yana,

and it really looks like pride

Mmmm. Yes and no. It’s more ego and one he feels he’s earned. Occasionally he will admit his ego is about the size of a main sequence star. Sounds about right too. As for pride, I think it extends to all of us, though. He understands the difference between personal pride and team pride.

Are we supposed to entreat the host with fluffy gloves fitting an ego more fragile than i had assumed, when stumbling in here?

No. He’s made it clear that his most precious resource is attention span. You can see that outside his fiction work too. My first encounter with that position was with his Holocene project. If he is paying any attention to you, take a measure of it and you can use that as a guide to whether you are doing what he hopes you’ll do here. Don’t bother with flattery, though. It doesn’t work. You can see what happens if you watch people on FB try that approach. 8)

Read Existence and follow the reporter character as she interacts with her expert network. That’s what he’s aiming for here. Add on a layer of conflict among us so we test each other and that’s pretty close to what happens here.

When we get out of sync, the fall back is a simple method. Try paraphrasing his words back at him. This works with most of us, but David has been explicit about it. If you can paraphrase him correctly, he will say so and then treat any disagreements in a different way. For example, locumranch can’t really paraphrase any of us. When he tries, it comes out as if he is paraphrasing himself or his alter-ego in the mirror. Never us.

I don’t think you’ve personally attacked him, but I haven’t been paying close attention over the holidays. I think you add value to the network here, though, so I think we should make the effort to show you where the value is. He gives when he receives like a decent person should, so think on it.

Is there a level of glove treatment which you, Alfred Differ, have found to work?

Hah! My ego is only the size of a moderate terrestrial world and I think I’ve earned mine too. No kid glove treatments offered here. Respect where it is due? Sure. No one is my superior or inferior and I participate while it is in my interest to do so. This little expert network appears to serve our host, but it also serves me. That’s the nature of social networks, though. I suspect we can all say that.

Alfred Differ said...

matthew,

energy demand from those mining

Couldn't the same be said of any of our economic growth where you don't see the value in the activity?

I'm not trying to be snarky. It is the nature of a market that people disagree on the value of things. That's why we are willing to trade them.

Can you see no other value in what miners do (including Ethereum miners) than the dark motivations you assign to them?

jim said...

The idea was for the Green New Deal committee to come up with a legislative plan that was to be the size and breadth to actually deal with the enormous problem of climate change. But the lame ass Democratic “leadership” in congress wasn’t even willing to go along with a plan to make a plan that really deals with climate change. If the people who say they believe that Climate Change is the biggest threat we face ( I hear this all the time from the Democratic “leaders” in congress) wont even get on board with a plan to make a plan to deal with climate change we are truly fracked.

Alfred Differ said...

Climate change isn't the biggest threat we face. Trump is.

On top of that, Democrats don't have enough power yet to legislate a fix. The House isn't enough. You'll need at least two branches of the federal government and a large number of States on board.

jim said...

Alfred
I guess you are having a little problem with reading comprehension. The goal of the Green New Deal committee was to come up with a comprehensive plan to actually deal with climate change , not to pass it in this congress. If the Democrats take the senate and the presidency in 2020 they would have a plan in hand that could be passed in 2021.

You know, Time is the probably the most limited resource we have in dealing with climate change, the longer we wait to take effective action the harder the task is. Having a plan in hand could save a year or two.

matthew said...

Debt is just another set of handcuffs. Neil Gorsuch seems to understand this.

I'm surprised to see that Gorsuch is apparently a Sixth Amendment supporter. Dr. Brin, this (new to me) data point that Gorsuch cares *a lot* about the 6th, is a good argument for your avocation of using it.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/01/sotomayor-gorsuch-supreme-court-dissent-criminal-restitution.html

Larry Hart said...

@jim,

If Alfred has a problem with reading comprehension, then I share it.

This is what you said the first time:

After having a momentary bout with hope, due to the talk about a real Green New Deal, the Democratic Leadership in Congress stepped in and reassured me that they are only interested in appearing to want to do something to deal with climate change. We are getting a weak committee, with no mandate to generate real legislation. ( and hey, this lame ass change was endorsed by the proxy power environmental groups Dave wants you to support. )


"with no mandate to generate real legislation"--As Alfred said, they're not going to be able to generate real legislation until we get more political power first.

"endorsed by the proxy power environmental groups"--Maybe they actually know something? You sound here like the 2016 Bernie Bros who (after Bernie endorsed Hillary) insisted that Bernie himself wasn't Bernie enough for them.

And is there any doubt that, had Hillary been elected rather than Trump, the Bernie Bros would have been exponentially better off (in terms of policy) than they are now? Especially if Democratic Senators also won on her coattails? Likewise, getting rid of Trump and possibly getting a majority in the Senate would be much, MUCH more helpful to the environment than would a plan which the Senate won't consider and the chief executive won't sign.


jim said...

Yeh but by the third post I made it was crystal clear why my momentary bout with optimism was crushed. The Democratic “leadership” in congress would not even get behind a plan to make real plan to deal with climate change. And the fact that the proxy power environmental groups were ok with this change just shows me how compromised, lame and ineffective they are.

Lat year mankind released the largest amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ever, however we will most likely top that amount this year. But it is too much to expect our “leaders” to even make a plan to make a plan to deal with it. I suspect that the only thing that will actually motivate us to act is global (or near global) famine. Of course when that gets here it will be too late, there will not be any good options left.

more weight said...

I can't understand the idea of mathematics being man-made, or arbitrary. I mean, you could spend a lifetime in a room trying to add 2 spoons to 2 spoons and come out with anything but four spoons. Math doesn't bend. Pythagoras' theorem is true: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAkMUdeB06o. You can't make the physical structure of the Universe tell you anything else. Millions of people have studied mathematics for thousands of years and no one has managed to find a hole in it or caught God in a mistake. But, you're all smarter than me, what am I missing?

kvs said...

While the concept that two objects next to two objects makes four object is pretty universal, the concept of 2 and 4 as separate concept is probably man-made. Also most of mathematics is man made and don't necessarily correspond to the real world. For example Euclid's definition of a line is a man-made abstract of straight things, but does not really exist. Mayans were able to make complicated astronomical calculations without them.

My memory of the Uplift books is that the concept of real numbers was a "wolfling" concept -- given enough processing power one can live in the finite world as we suspect that world may very well be inherently finite.

Mike Will said...

"2+2=4"
You can't really prove a definition.

"Math doesn't bend"
Sounds pretty man-made to me.

more weight said...

@Mike Will you don't need a definition, you just need to try to put .. with .. and see if you can end up with anything other than....

Trying to bend mathematics, for instance believing that exponential population growth can continue indefinitely. An infinite number of people can't fit in a finite space, or subsist on finite resources. Or can they? Is a finite number bigger than infinity? If people want it to be?
@kvs oh sure straight lines square roots etc. are abstractions that only exist in brains that can generate them, (if that's all that's meant it's true but boring), once you've got abstractions, though, you can't control the way they work, or their stunning correspondence with reality.

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

It's not a reading comprehension problem. When I bother to read everything, I have no trouble comprehending most people. I don't guard my attention-span as jealously as some here do, but I DO gist as I go. That means I might miss some stuff.

It's not just you that I gist. I'm doing the same to some of the new Democrats in the House. It's not that I don't care what they are saying, but it is true that I care about some other things that are happening much more.

To the topic, though, I'm not sure there is a lot of value-add to coming up with a detailed plan right now. I'm not opposed to you all putting in the effort because I sincerely hope it is not a waste of time. For now, I'm devoting attention-span to the immediate battle present on the field.

I used to focus a great deal on climate change discussions about 10 years ago when the Democrats owned the federal government and could legislate. I was interested in moving some moderates into action by getting them to own at least the small part of a solution space they could control. Over a span of a couple years, though, I could see that the actual problem involved the political snipers on the side of the field of battle. Snipers have a disproportionate strength for suppressing action. The problem was that both sides deployed them, so the moderates within my reach were understandably keeping their heads low.

Please DO come up with good plans. I don't see why you need federal government support to do that, though. That is better done by NGO's especially the non-profits. I used to lead a 501(c)3 and know they can be quite potent when well funded by caring donors.

Alfred Differ said...

Twitter amuses sometimes....

Looks like Stormy Daniels is offering to stream 8 minutes of her folding her laundry while dressed in her underwear opposite Trump's air-time tonight and in support of boycott advocates. Not that I'm tempted of course.

I think I'll wash my hair... or something like that. 8)

Jon S. said...

I would watch the important programming (Stormy Daniels' laundry saga, of course), but I'm afraid I have a previous appointment with post-apocalyptic West Virginia. If Donnie says anything important (which seems unlikely on the face of it), I'm sure someone will let me know.

David Brin said...

jim, climate change is hugely important… and we must win this in the trenches, each of us grabbing a troglodyte and dragging him screaming into the light. THIS IS NOT SOLVED BY POLITICIANS. Not this year. This must be solved by forcing neighbors, one-at-a-time, to admit that their side has gone insane by pouring hate on all fact users.

If we restore primacy of fact, then the importance of climate change will be automatic.

Alfred thanks, from one astronomical-ego to another. And yes, I am sometimes terse or ignore responding because I have very limited lifespan and many demands on what I have.

And yana you are welcome here. You are taking more insult than I offered you.

David Brin said...

Jon S. What book is the 1632 series up to?

locumranch said...


"If the people who say they believe that Climate Change is the biggest threat we face (...) wont even get on board with a plan to make a plan to deal with climate change (then) we are truly fracked"[Jim]

Finally, Jim acknowledges the logical 'Tragedy of the Commons' in a way that our overly idealistic host cannot, that we are well & truly fracked because collective ameliorative action on climate change (and, indeed, on any global issue) is a veritable impossibility...

Assuming EITHER the presence of representational regional government OR the absence of global fascist totalitarianism, that is.

Supply & Demand principles dictate that an increased supply of any fungible product (be it beef, petrol, water, oxygen, etc) may lead to an increased demand for the same, rendering the unitary collective solution inconceivable.

Burn less gas & oil, you eggheads, so there's more gas & oil for me!!


Best

Larry Hart said...

Stormy Daniels was awesome! :)

Ok, inside baseball: In the mid-70s, a Marvel writer named Steve Englehart wrote a Captain America story arc in which the villain turned out to be Nixon. Well, they never said it was him, but you could tell. And with the real Watergate crisis plunging on ahead, he had to wrap that story up more quickly than intended, because what was supposed to be a clever whodunnit plot was becoming trite.

This is part of a column that the writer published in a later issue (Captain America #173, May 1974) :

-> Basically, I wanted to do a story about Cap's being attacked
-> by certain unscrupulous politicians--men who hated this
-> powerful symbol's not being under their control.
->
-> But, as I said, this was over a year ago--in other words,
-> before most of the country had recognized the significance
-> of the Watergate scandal. Thus, in those more trusting times,
-> it was eventually decided that Cap's enemies could not be
-> government officials--and they became advertising men.
-> Nevertheless, I thought I still had a good story in mind--one
-> that would be the basis for many interesting months of
-> adventures.
->
-> The trouble is, after I locked myself into this plotline
-> and began work on it, Watergate did break wide open, and each
-> day's new revelations have slowly but surely changed America's
-> understanding of itself. One very minor side-product of this
-> change is to make the underlying assumptions of my plot obsolete.
-> Crises of confidence in much bigger men than Cap have become
-> not only commonplace, but old-hat by now.


Reading between the lines, Englehart himself seemed to be--or at least to consider himself--an early adopter of the idea that President Nixon was a criminal, but had to wait a year or two until public perception caught up to the reality he understood all along.

I certainly sympathize. :)

David Brin said...

"Bah! Nothing gets better!" Screams the perfect example of a Look Back personality, for whom the very idea of progress is terrifying.

onward

onward

porohobot said...

>> David Brin said...
\\"Bah! Nothing gets better!" Screams the perfect example of a Look Back personality, for whom the very idea of progress is terrifying.

A-bomb it's a progress. A-bomb looks terrifying.

No... I'm not loop-backer %)

But for progress to work the RIGHT way, it need a little MORE backthought, than just blaming(or proselytizing) others...

I thought that I finally found that place, where I can discuss (my) ideas:
about building on Mars, about space lifts, about cities growing like forests...
tough luck, one must say. %)


\\ I have very limited lifespan and many demands on what I have.

Isn't it more important issue, one think anybody would start from in his agenda?
Especially in current time, where something like this (can) become really possible?
Or you are look-backer yourself, who refuses to see latest possibility?
And think "what was good for our fathers might be good for us too"?
To throw everything -- and coming problems, and coming joy,
on next generations... "let's throw them in water, to teach am how to swim... or to drown". %\
Because... there could be really NEW GAME CHANGER tech, not like that VR molecule viewing you posted to me...
NEW TECH, that can change all perspectives and solve all(most) problems (but introduce bunch of new, of course)...
and that scare shit of you, so it's better to waste your precious time in stupid political brawls... as did our fathers all previous times...
because they see no and really have no, other choice.

But YOU do have this choice... but maybe don't see it??? I dunno.

\\porohobot, whatever happened to "twice per day?" ;-)

I understand greavance of my deeds. Sorry.


>> Alfred Differ said...
\\Climate change isn't the biggest threat we face. Trump is.

(am I allowed to show such humor?)
Fatting from overeating is never the biggest threat at face.
That damn double burger I cannot properly chew out... is. %)))))

\\but in hours of labor paid (to you) after taxes. Marx would have understood this exchange rate and anyone advocating a labor valuation system would see that the supply of labor grew AND prices shrank as national economies grew.

All what "labor valuation system" good for -- modern slavery, if you still didn't know about it.
It's what USSR heavily used on it's own peasants, to squize some more oily juicies to burn in furnace of Cold War, Industrialization and Fight of Systems. %(((


>> Larry Hart said...
\\than would a plan which the Senate won't consider and the chief executive won't sign.

And that'll make that idea obsolete and hard to rise it again in more favorable circumstances.
It's sad, but it's like human mind works. "Ah... I heard that one. Isn't it never worked? Why do you came to us with something proved non-working. Dummy!". %))


>> Jon S. said...
\\Addressing the Bitcoin phenomenon - I admit, I still don't understand what exactly cryptocurrency is supposed to do that isn't already done.

Read about blockchain. I have had link to simple explanation, but can't find it.

Really, it's ALL the difference. Because all other -- need to secure it with shifers, need to have online servers, need to manage transactions -- is the same as with your credit card using.

Blockchain is important -- because it allows Bitcoins to HAVE NO NEED of trusting mother institution -- bank, or government.
That's all.


>> Mike Will said...
//Ok, I'm breaking my rule about linking to my own blog in Dr. Brin's. Only because this post includes a link to some of his stuff too :)
"Adam Smith Loves Gridcoin" http://www.scidata.ca/?p=1691

Saddly. I never was able to open it. It shows "Not found" every time.
Is there some problems with configuration?
Maybe I can suggest something with my little but still sysadmin skills?