Thursday, October 24, 2019

Can we escape trench warfare? -- Chapter One of "Polemical Judo" here for free.

Before diving in, may I vent? Yesterday, in the New York State lawsuit to access Trump financials, his attorney claimed that a sitting president can't be prosecuted, sued, or even investigated while in office. Based not on law but an opinion memo by the Justice Dept's Office of Legal Counsel, he asserted if a president murdered someone in broad daylight, any legal action would hamper the Chief Executive charged with national safety -- vastly expanding similar claims by Richard Nixon. Alas, the New York solicitors - our heroes - failed to answer with:

1) From Grant to Clinton, presidents obeyed traffic fines and deposition subpoenas.

2) One can limit legal snarls in a president's workday without setting him/her above the law.

3) What 'work'? Have you seen Trump's daily "presidential calendar"? (See note below.*)

A better solution: slow indictment.  "Any queue of pending legal matters can demand no more than ten hours a week of a president's time." Justice slowed is better than justice murdered. There's more on this in...


For You, Today -- A Free Sample!

My e-book Polemical Judo goes live Friday, 375 days before the 2020 U.S. elections, offering two things... a Big Picture of why we find ourselves at this critical juncture... and tactics against resurgent feudalism. Stacks and racks of tactics. I posted Chapter 16 already, appraising impeachment and chess moves Vlad & Rupert Murdoch may try, as Trump unravels. And counter moves our Enlightenment generals might employ.

Now here's Chapter One! After this, I hope you'll deem $4.99 cheap to get the rest. (See the Table of Contents.) I guarantee so many ideas seen nowhere else. If only someone in a good position will try them.


Introduction — 

The Need for Judo Polemic

Ch.1 of POLEMICAL JUDO,
a Brazen Guide for sane Americans to bypass trench warfare and win our life or death struggle for civilization

by David Brin


It was a brilliant political maneuver — and no Democrat will learn from it. In 1994, Newt Gingrich's innovative "Contract With America" made the Republican Party appear serious, pragmatic, reformist. No matter that every decent promise in the Contract later wound up neutered or betrayed. The electoral triumph that Gingrich wrought with this bait-and-switch was a historic phase change, demolishing what remained of the Roosevelt-era social and political compact.
The aftermath was even more tectonic. Even under Ronald Reagan, legislators assumed that their mission was to stake bargaining positions, then negotiate and ultimately legislate, adjusting our laws for changing times and needs. Gingrich retained that tradition for one more year — the anno mirabilis 1995 — making deals with Bill Clinton to get budget surpluses and welfare reform. Foreign policy was a collaborative neutral zone.
Revolutions often eat their own. Soon Newt was toppled by Dennis Hastert, whose eponymous "Rule" threatened political extinction for any Republican who dared to discuss tradeoffs or common ground with any Democrat, ever. Across America, "Tea Party" movements enforced the Hastert Rule on representatives with fervent passion. As a result, every following Congress — except for the brief, Pelosi-led 111th (2009-2011) — would be among the most rigidly partisan in U.S. history. Also the laziest, holding among the fewest days in session, or bills passed, or hearings (except those spent fruitlessly pursuing Clintons), but setting all-time records at fund-raising.
Oh, about the central architect of this era that bears his name — Dennis Hastert, chosen by his party to be Speaker of the House and top Republican in the nation? Hastert later served time in federal prison for lying about decades of grotesque, serial child predation.
Why do I begin with all of that, in a book about "Judo Politics"?
Because the key feature from that entire era was not Republican canniness, or laziness or turpitude; it was Democrats’ obstinate inability to learn anything at all. [1] What Newt Gingrich's "Contract" and the "Hastert Rule" illuminate is how liberals, moderates and Democratic politicians keep getting out-maneuvered, time and again, refusing ever to understand their mistakes — like Barack Obama attempting for eight years to negotiate across party lines with opponents who had literally and explicitly banished that phrase from their caucus. Yes, it was wise and mature to keep trying. And yet there are reasons why Obama failed.
Consider the Democrats’ two lonely triumphs, across the last 30 years. In both 1992 and 2008, frustration with Republican misrule boiled over. Massive outpourings of activism led to registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns, bringing millions to the polls who formerly sat out elections. In each case, the Democratic-controlled legislative and executive branches got busy, trying to steer the ship of state... only to lose control of Congress just two years later, in 1994 and 2010, when those new voters stayed home.
Is history repeating, yet again? Are the chess-masters already planning for 2022?
Repeatedly, Democrats and their allies are lured onto battlegrounds of the enemy’s choosing, as Donald Trump tweet-controls every news cycle. Sure, talk show hosts mine each day’s outrage for humor, indignation and ratings. But it’s rare to find even a single pundit (other than cognitive linguist George Lakoff) asking: "Hey, what actually happened, just now?"
What’s happened? It’s increasingly argued that we’ve entered a crucial phase — so far, not hot — of America’s 250 year old civil war, a battle for survival of the Enlightenment Experiment. Moreover, we've been tricked into fighting chest-to-chest, grunting and shoving, in the polemical equivalent of trench warfare. Or else Sumo wrestling.
David Axelrod put it well [2], citing how we respond to every Trumpian or Fox News provocation with righteous indignation.
"My advice to the Democratic nominee next year is: Don't play.... Wrestling is Mr. Trump’s preferred form of combat. But beating him will require jiu-jitsu, a different style of battle typically defined as the art of manipulating an opponent’s force against himself...."
Absolutely. Moreover, it must begin with un-learning our most comforting — and futile — reflexes.

ticking clocks and urgency [3]

It may surprise you that the author of Earth and Startide Rising, a lifetime member of environmental NGOs and a caring father who lives by pondering the near and far future, will write so little in this book about some of the critical crises facing our nations, citizens, and biosphere — like global heating, deforestation, water scarcity, mass species extinction, and the spread of populist fascism. I will get to them all! But they aren’t our main focus here.
That’s because I am both hyper-optimistic and super pessimistic, at the same time.
Just in my own lifetime, I’ve witnessed so many examples of humanity’s genius at innovating spectacular solutions to daunting problems. I know how far that record goes back in time and where it might take us, if truly fed and empowered. For reasons that I won’t go into, here, I think it’s likely that humans are rare across the cosmos — unusually creative, for a naturally evolved intelligent species. But that creativity only burgeoned to full strength and vigor recently, in one kind of society. One that found new ways to practice an art we’re taught to despise: Politics.
Politics is a competitive process — often cutthroat — but also cooperative when we use it to negotiate. It is politically that we define policy, which can either hinder or unleash the fecundity of science, amateurism, volunteerism and philanthropy, as well as markets that address new needs through enlightened self-interest. Using many tools and a broad stance, we know how to do those things! We used to do it more.
In a later chapter — "Can We make a Deal?" — I’ll go through many ways that adults might seek win-win solutions to our myriad problems. But I doubt that can happen right now, because our process of negotiation — politics itself — has been almost destroyed. And that happened deliberately.
Hence my combination of optimism and deep worry. I have many friends in science, engineering, activism and so on who are frenetically busy trying to save the world. We could do so much more, so much faster, except that — alas — all of our immune systems against error and our political mechanisms for problem-solving are presently clogged. They must be unclogged!
Alas, in order to do that, we’ll have to combat monsters.

zombies and vampires and were-elephants

The death spiral of U.S. political life has yet to see bottom. While most factual indicators suggest wary optimism about humanity’s overall trajectory, our public addiction to dudgeon and fury intensifies daily. Words like "negotiation," "deliberation," and "discourse" sink into quaint anachronism alongside "phlogiston."
For those who complain of "incivility" and preach "let’s find common ground," Chapter 2 of this volume explores deep, underlying currents that we — especially Americans — all share, deep roots that are seldom discussed and healthy reflexes that have been turned against us. I’d like nothing better than to apply those common values, resurrecting politics as an arena where — amid much fervent wrangling and dickering — positive-sum compromises rise to the top. Moreover, I’m known as a militantly-moderate person, a liberal-minded pragmatist reformer who sees much wisdom in Adam Smith and who willingly criticizes a sometimes obdurate far-left. My blog is called Contrary Brin because I’ll argue with any faction, always with an eye to finding that path where all can win.
But I’m now convinced the never-negotiate radicalism of today’s mad right — promoted avidly on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and by memes pouring from Kremlin basements, and even institutionalized openly by many Republican leaders — leaves us no choice. It’s become a knife-fight. Any reaching out will just win us a bloody stump.
As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman put it, in an August 2019 editorial: "Democrats need to win elections, but all too often that won’t be sufficient, because they confront a Republican Party that at a basic level doesn’t accept their right to govern, never mind what the voters say."
By any factually-supported metric, citizens should be taking torches to the shambling, undead shell of the party of Lincoln. Yet, 40%+ of the voting public in the U.S. (and with similar waves in many other countries) has been mesmerized by bilious incantations via Internet and TV — a phenomenon referred to by uncomprehending punditry as 'populism.'
In fact, something similar has happened whenever some new kind of media erupted, as in the 1930s, when radios and loudspeakers seemed to amplify the human voice to godlike proportions, empowering gifted savanarolas to very nearly take over the world. Or back when printing presses poured forth hate-tracts that stoked Europe’s 17th Century religious wars. Today's cunning Goebbels-equivalents have turned transformative Internet technologies against us. Against the very civilization that fostered communications breakthroughs with curiosity and science. Oh, someday, these technologies, too, will have the promised net-positive effects, as happened to books and radio. But till then, we must survive a violent time, incited by tsunamis of malignant memes. And that will only happen by thwarting evil geniuses.
Hence, while this book is aimed at helping achieve outright victory for the "Union" side in this phase of the U.S. Civil War, I am not here to praise Democrats, but berate them.
Getting mired in trenches while extending repeatedly a bloodied hand of negotiation is not working. Nor am I the only one demanding tougher, more agile tactics. Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, as of July 2019 started using "foul language" to describe the Trumpists. (Gosh.) David Faris, author of It’s Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics, says Republicans have all but destroyed democratic norms in America, and it’s time for Dems to take on the mantle of procedural warfare. Faris’s concepts include deliberately breaking up big states like California so that blue populations can match red citizens in "Senator Power." I have many doubts. But as Abraham Lincoln said about U.S. Grant, we can’t spare fellows like that. They fight.
This battle can only be won with agility. With maneuver. By using the adversary’s ponderous momentum against him. By appraising the advantages and weapons of those who hijacked American Conservatism, transforming it into a shambling zombie that would appall Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, or even Ronald Reagan — a tool of foreign tyrants, casino moguls, coal barons, petro-princes, Wall Street cheaters, tabloid pimps, mafiosi and resurgent Nazis — a cabal of forces who will end free enterprise as surely as they aim to finish off Enlightenment democracy and the impartial rule of law. Toward this goal they have refined a daunting array of effective tactics...
... that might yet be overcome and even turned to our advantage, with the political equivalent of judo, the art of using your opponents' own aggressive momentum against them;
 By slashing the bonds (or lies) holding their coalition together. (The very thing they do to us.)
 By confronting our neighbors not with familiar chasms, but commonalities. Things you and they both know to be true.
 By understanding how so many basically decent people insulate themselves against appeals to compassion.
 By going to the root of their own catechisms, like Make America Great Again.
 By making explicit what the Fox News hosts and fellow travelers never say aloud, like their open war against all fact-using professions.
 By using outcomes to destroy their comfy narratives — like the claim that conservatives are the practical ones — by proving Democrats are vastly better against deficits, at engendering a healthy economy and even at fostering open-creative-competitive enterprise.
 By proving there is common ground, e.g. showing your neighbors that we were all raised by Hollywood themes like suspicion of authority and individual autonomy, even if we disagree over which authorities are trying for Big Brother.
 By going directly after the two traits they find so appealing about Donald Trump — first his brash bully-bravado and appearance of macho "strength"...
 ... and second the way he enrages the same people who red-hat-wearing Americans hate most.
 By developing the one method that always corners them. A trick that makes a few opponents stop, think and reconsider… while sending the rest fleeing in panic and shame.
Oh, the list goes on and on. In this compendium, I’ll shine light on not one, or ten, but as many as a hundred memes and counter-memes, tactics and stratagems, polemical riffs and/or smart missiles that have nearly all been ignored by our 'generals' — the candidates and consultants and commentators who we count on to confront this madness. I’ll suggest ways to counter effective cult catechisms like "fake news" and "deep state" and the blatant, all-out war against every fact-using profession.
If even one of these tools or tricks winds up being used well by some effective public figure, then this effort will be worthwhile.

what lies within

Well okay, my regular publishers would be too slow for this election cycle, so let’s do a quick e-book touching on many topics.
 We’ll spin from the war on science and fact (Chapter 5) to racism and immigration (Chapter 22).
 From electoral cheating and gerrymandering (Chapters 4 & 8) to the economy (Chapter 11), to forging a big-tent coalition (Chapter 19).
 From saving the planet (Chapter 20) to the right’s obsession with symbolism (Chapter 17), to gun control (Chapter 21).
 From international relations and China and Russia (Chapters 9 & 18) to anti-government fetishism (Chapter 10) and our ongoing national family feud (Chapter 16).
 From “exit strategies” — Impeachment, Indictment, the 25th Amendment and all that (skip to Chapter 16, if that’s all you care about) to overcoming "splitterism" (Chapter 12)
 From conspiracies (Chapter 7) ... to the poison that is used to suborn so many of our leaders... to the antidote that might save them and us (Chapter 8).
 From ways we might all negotiate solutions off the hoary "left-right axis" (Chapter 13)... to resilience and readiness in case that fails.
And tactics, tactics, tactics that might — or might not — work. But shouldn’t someone at least try some of them?

time for a few caveats

As I said, this tome largely gathers — with light edits — separate postings from Contrary Brin, so do expect both gaps and repetitions. Likely a lot of the latter. Apologies for that —
— and for my inevitable failures at the ever-changing linguistic exigencies of our ongoing campaign for diversity, uplifting a crude civilization toward greater awareness, acceptance and tolerance. (See below.) I’ll commit errors of terminology, especially re: this year’s gender-and-category identification rules. Still, while this codger firmly rejects extrema of PC-bullying, let me avow to being an enthusiastic, lifelong fellow traveler in our unprecedented drive toward the kind of just and better future sometimes portrayed in science fiction. I mean well.
Why is so much of the 'good stuff' packed later in the book, like "impeachment" and other fierce tactics? Because I’m a pedantic twit and there’s a lot of stuff about history, science and even philosophy I want to get to, first. I control the order of the table of contents. You control what you choose to read.
Finally yes, while most of the issues and points raised here are pertinent to any human society, especially those upholding enlightenment values, this volume is decidedly USA-centric. These chapters are about a pivotal fight for the soul of the "American Experiment." Friends out there, root for us — we still have a flawed-but-useful role to play. But carry on, if we fail.
Oh, for those readers who like to skim (I can get wordy and garrulous), go to later "pause" interludes where I try to distill down to zingers and one-liners. Above all, these political judo maneuvers aim to use the stratagems and momentum of today’s mad-right against them, helping us defend and revive the vital revolution that gave humanity its brightest hope. May some of our politician-paladins find weapons of practical value.
Next comes the first of several pause riffs between chapters, where I’ll focus on fundamentals that seldom get mentioned in our insipid "Left-vs.-Right" grunting and sumo-shoving matches. Some are traits that you and I share with a vast majority of our fellow citizens, even many on the other side... qualities that we might use to bridge the volcanic wrath now gaping between us.
A wrath that all-too many of them have foolishly fallen for... but yes, in some cases so have I. And so have you.
As lusciously pleasurable as it can be, we cannot afford wrath. There’s too much at stake.

THE END of chapter one. Continue reading this excerpt of chapter two or pre-order POLEMICAL JUDO for your Kindle ebook.
-------
A Final Note about presidential immunity. This argument insults one of America's top contributions to civilization, the assumption that we run the nation through systems of nested, interlocking laws and civil servants and unleashed private endeavor. A fundamental principle (discussed in Polemical Judo) is that our leaders themselves are (and must be) replaceable from vast pools of talent. The nation is not the leader. In fact, the system is supposed to work so well that we can survive even an incompetent or corrupt or bizarro leader... which history will show, if we do our jobs next year. Trump attorneys argue for the indispensable man theory that dominated almost every past society. (Even though hypocritically they'd have shrieked if Obama did even one Trumpian thing.) It is in disproving that theory America gets yet one more opportunity to prove real greatness.


159 comments:

jim said...

“Why do I begin with all of that, in a book about "Judo Politics"?
Because the key feature from that entire era was not Republican canniness, or laziness or turpitude; it was Democrats’ obstinate inability to learn anything at all. “

Totally agree but I think the reason Democrats elites did not learn anything is because the role of the democratic party is to be the Washington Generals of American Politics. (The Washington Generals were the strait men who the Harlem Globetrotters would play in a “game” of basketball) An inept opposition in a staged game.

Zepp Jamieson said...

One important tactic best used by the ground-level people: ridicule and lots of it. Granted, Trump is a self-basting turkey in that regard, but it's important to note just how ridiculous his followers are.

David Brin said...

Yes I can see you "think that," jim. and it takes some courage to admit it. Pretty good - if desperate - incantation that lets you evade even glancing at my five devastating rebuttals to splitterism. One of them is especially crushing to your meme... the way Dems govern on CA, WA, OR etc... blue states where there can overcome trog-feudalist-oligarch opposition.

David Brin said...

In today's LATimes: California’s most liberal governor ever, Newsom took on more than he could handle in his first year
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-10-24/skelton-california-governor-gavin-newsom-first-year

jim's simplistic crap portrays dems bought out by rich folks who universally are part of the oligarchic putsch (a putsch I fight harder, any hour, than jim does in a year.) But there are rich folks smart enough to see that that agenda means death for all. jim's inability to see that complexity... that some can see... is utter blindness.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Dr Brin:

One thing that gives me some hope is the old truism that California politics generally reflect America twenty years in the future. Twenty years ago, the Christian right was beginning to self-marginalize, and Republican voters were seeking more reasonable alternatives. Since then, California has thrown off Republican rule, and has been on an upward trajectory since. Much remains to be done (schools especially!) but the state is rapidly pulling away from the rest of the country economically and in terms of morale.

Bob Neinast said...

It looks like your link at the top does not point to "Polemical Judo".

Your link is http://davidbrin.com/nonfiction/polemicaljudo.html

The correct link (at least at the moment) is http://davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

David Brin said...

Bob Thanks. That was a whoops.

David Brin said...

Was Pence the "anonymous resister"? Bookies rank him highest because of the use of "lodestar" a Pence favorite term. But all that means is that "anonymous" is smart enough to toss red herrings into the verbiage. Which pretty much rules out all the other suspects mentioned in this article, because um the word "smart"? Except Kellyanne Conway. That calculation falls away if the resister had a partner with the capacity (capacitor?) to write well and cleverly do such ploys. Again, Kellyanne has one she shares a bedroom with, and I find it hard to grasp why Trump trusts her.

Why all the betting on famous stooges? Blatantly it's more likely the Resister and Capacitor are likely to be 2nd tier, or even senior civil servants.

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/10/24/pence-is-odds-on-favorite-to-be-anonymous-author/23846207/

Smurphs said...

Dr. Brin,

Looking forward to the book. I've got my pre-order in.


Larry Hart said...

Apologies for the ignorance of modern technology. I have not yet adopted an E-reader.

Can an E-book be downloaded to a regular PC, or does it require a Nook/Kindle/whatever?

Smurphs said...

All,

Is there any way to search previous posts on Blogger? Specifically, searching the comments for a particular phrase or commenter. I know the main post has tags, but this doesn't help much for the Comments section.

Bob Neinast said...

I second Larry's query. I do not have a Kindle, though my wife does have a Nook (which I have never used).
It looks like calibre is a nice program on Windows for reading Ebooks. However, on Amazon, it looks like the only choice for purchase is to download to a Kindle Cloud Reader. So, it does not appears as if there is any way to get it onto a computer (or a Nook, for that matter). Am I understanding that incorrectly?
Might there be a way to offer the Ebook in some additional fashions?
BTW, I have an embarrassingly large number of Brin hardcovers (not even paperbacks), so this is really new for me. (Existence, Earth, Glory Season, the second Uplift trilogy, The Uplift War--I have trouble waiting for the paperbacks. ;-) )

Bob Neinast said...

@Smurphs:

You can use the Google site selector. As an example, I can find all of my comments (or those in which I was quoted) with the following Google search string: "site:davidbrin.blogspot.com neinast". (Having a relatively rare last name is sometimes useful.)

Darrell E said...

I'm not sure about all formats but generally speaking you can download a reader application onto your computer that allows you to read e-books. For example, navigate to Amazon.com, type "Kindle App for PC" into the Amazon search bar and it will come right up. There are Kindle Apps for just about anything, Android, tablets, etc.

scidata said...

The push is on to replace algebra (and higher 'formulaics') with data science in schools.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-10-23/math-high-school-algebra-data-statistics

I disagree. We should be teaching BOTH. Data science is not simply a new math. Σ and ʃ use inductive and deductive reasoning respectively. A sentient being needs both to grok the universe. It's like abandoning quantum physics totally in favour of quantum mechanics. Why are educators always so binary?

Darrell E said...

I'd purely love to see well done movie adaptations of Startide Rising and The Uplift War. Done right I've no doubt they could be groundbreaking for the genre. Who to direct such an endeavor? Some hybrid of Denis Villeneuve, James Cameron and Guillermo del Toro?

They need the epic visuals of big budget science fiction films like Star Wars and Avatar and the pacing (rather than nonstop frantic), characterization and "intelligence" of films like Arrival and Pans Labyrinth. Science fiction films usually only manage one of those things, if any at all. The first one that manages all of those things will leave a mark.

Larry Hart said...

@Darrell E,

I think the tv miniseries is a better format for thoughtful sci-fi. It doesn't require the story to be crammed into a time-frame suitable for a single sitting.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

I think you are absolutely correct about that. But . . ., somewhere deep in my hopelessly romantic soul lies the contention that these stories, the epic vistas that David evokes in them, need the Big Screen to do them justice.

Though they were not as good as they could have been I think Peter Jackson did show that you can tell longer stories in movie format and not take 40 years to do it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: There is a superb freeware program called Calibre that will allow you to read any e-book on Windows, Linux (and I believe Mac).

Zepp Jamieson said...

Bob: Calibre can read Kindle format book just fine. It can also convert them to the other popular formats, including PDF.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

Though they were not as good as they could have been I think Peter Jackson did show that you can tell longer stories in movie format and not take 40 years to do it


True, but note that he did so as a series of movies (though not as drawn out as a tv miniseries would be). In fact, the movie series is becoming more of an acceptable thing now. It combines the best characteristics of big screen and miniseries.

And maybe it's the my conditioning with comic books talking, but some stories really benefit from the sublime agony of the well-placed "To be continued..." pause. The wait between Brightness Reef and Infinity's Shore was so much a part of the reading experience for me that I repeated the yearlong break when I re-read them later. The break between the two films of the last "Hunger Games" book felt like an essential pacing element as well. Even watching Game of Thrones on DVD, my wife and I resist binge-watching too much at once, because the wait between chapters is part of the experience.

Speaking of Brin novels, it's been what...at least 25 years now. While you're still among the living, are we ever going to hear from Tom Orley again?

David Brin said...

Yeah, yeah. That's the supposed total goal... Had full plates...

scidata said...

Darrell E: Some hybrid of Denis Villeneuve, James Cameron and Guillermo del Toro?

Canadian film industry defined.


Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

Indeed! And who else was on board the skiff at the end? Hikahi, Creideiki, Keepiru, Dr. Dart, Toshio and Dennie?

David Brin said...

Best of my knowledge

Smurphs said...

Bob N., thanks. That works much better than the complicated search strings I was using. I still haven't found what I was looking for, but I have had fun browsing some old comments of mine (and others).

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. It’s not enough to try to save civilization. We want more dolphin stories too. 8)

Bob Neinast said...

Zepp, I have no doubt that Calibre can read Ebooks just fine. My question was more about what happens on Amazon. The only option listed there for delivery is "Kindle Cloud Reader". If I have Caliber on my PC, does is magically go there instead? Somehow I tend to doubt it. So, what is the process?

Or maybe I first need to get the "Kindle app for PC" Darrell suggested, and then either use that to read it, or after getting it, transferring to Calibre. (I just hate to spend the money, if that minimal amount, if I end up left hanging by the technology.)

locumranch said...


Heads I win, tails you lose.

"Polemical Judo" is a remarkable work for two reasons:

First, it is remarkable in that it is a Zero Sum game plan that was written by a self-styled expert in Positive Sum outcomes who (1) portrays his opposition as ignorant, evil, irrational & subhuman, (2) calls for the complete destruction of his dehumanised opposition for the betterment of all REAL humans, and (3) does not allow for the possibility of either a Win-Win solution or a political compromise with said opposition.

Second, it is remarkable in that it assumes (and even demands) that the opposition must LOSE with the genteel graciousness of rule-obedient dilettantes, lined-up like either inert 9 Pins awaiting a bowling ball or the British at Concord & Lexington awaiting slaughter by american patriots crouched behind stone walls.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Bob: I see what you mean. You can read Kindle books on-line at Amazon, but there doesn't seem to be a mechanism to simply right click and d/l the book itself. Even on the 'free' titles, which makes no sense at all.

George Carty said...

On the previous post our host asked me "how's the Kremlin basement koolaid taste? What utter drivel-hogwash. So some dems take some money from some 'corporatists."

Whoa there! I'm not telling Americans not to vote for Democrats, merely suggesting that its current economic structure in which prosperity is concentrated in a handful of coastal cities (more specifically in monopolistic firms and landlords based in those cities) is something which must be dealt with as part of any longer-term solution to the neo-Confederate threat.

David Brin said...

Locumranch I normally shrug off your strawmem since they are waaaay over there, hallucinated version of me that caper about and you masturbate to.

But this time I can only say you lie. You lie in every sentence and diametrically opposite to true phrase. And every aspect of your being. Indeedou hang around here because we tell you, now and then. And strangely, that comforts you. Knowing we're here, shining a light down the tunnel to your cave. Offering (someday, perhaps, should you choose) a way out.

locumranch said...



Perhaps I misunderstood what David's intentions are:

Perhaps he wants to COEXIST & COMPROMISE with a political opposition that includes trolls, splitters, anarchists, conservatives, racists, Nazis, white supremacists, cannibals, climate change deniers, evangelicals, islamic extremists, anti-semites, misogynists, oligarchs & dominionists.

Because he CARES about them...

Because he wants them to triumph...

Because he wants a positive sum outcome for EVERYONE.

And, to prove that I (for one) LOVE to compromise, I am quite willing to lie, cheat, steal, rape, murder, discriminate, deny, pollute & destroy the environment just a little bit every day. Please, o please.

I promise that if you grant me just 6 little murders every week or so -- just SIX tiny murders -- then I promise that I'll behave, be a good listener, keep my desk tidy, and even sort paper & plastic into separate rubbish bins.




Best
_____

Compromise (reciprocal verb)

If you compromise with someone, then you reach an agreement with them in which you both give up something that you originally wanted. You can also say that two people or groups compromise.

Alfred Differ said...

Because he CARES about them...

Because he wants them to triumph...


Oops. Your thought train got derailed there.


No. He doesn't want them to triumph if they are against the Enlightenment Civilization.
That doesn't mean they can't win something... it just won't be everything.

Alfred Differ said...

(1) portrays his opposition as ignorant, evil, irrational & subhuman, (2) calls for the complete destruction of his dehumanised opposition for the betterment of all REAL humans, and (3) does not allow for the possibility of either a Win-Win solution or a political compromise with said opposition

What a bunch of crap.
Now I have to go clean off my keyboard and screen.

Can you recognize any of us as human? At all?
Might we possibly understand something useful that you do not? Even a little?

David Brin said...

Blither-blather, jibber-jabber. Hasn't read a word and cannot comprehend. But the most salient trait is fear-rage. Alas.

mythusmage said...

You're all missing one thing, it's endless. You can't slack off, you can't relax. It's a constant effort and you can't give your opposition the opportunity to rebound.

You can't stop calling out the vote, for the other side won't surrender in this generation. Or any generation for that matter. Get used to it, or run away.

David Brin said...

mythusmage, sorry, you are right... and wrong. Our civil war cycles through phases and confederacy is a fever. When it burns hottest it threatens to kill us all and every hope of enlightenment. But we've never let it come to thatEven when phases 3 and 6 led to darkness and evil, the nation rose back up, though at cost and pain.

And in between those phases? There can be lulls when our crazy-fearful feudalist romantic neighbors stop trying to kill all hope, and decide instead to negotiate like adults. I talk about all the things we have in common, in Chapter Two, and there's plenty!

We'll end this phase by using democracy's tools to defend it... and with malice toward none and charity for all.

mythusmage said...

As long as we persevere.

locumranch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A.F. Rey said...

You have to understand that progressives are more than willing to live with "deplorables." What they are not willing to live with is deplorable behavior.

This is an important distinction. Progressives don't hate the person himself, but the attitudes that cause harm to others. We want to change the attitudes. Because once the attitude is changed, the behavior automatically stops. People don't do what they don't want to do.

Once that is done, there is nothing left to hate, and we can live peacefully with them.

This is in contrast to bigots and such, who hate who they perceive the other other person to be--brown, black, from a "shithole country," genetically criminal, etc. There is nothing a person can do to change their status.

Of course, if a deplorable's who sense of self is tied to the deplorable attitude, then not only are they less likely to change, but they see any threats against their deplorable attitude as a threat against themselves. Thus your confusion about "that the progressive left does not intend to either compromise or coexist with the deplorable game-playing contingent anywhere."

Which brings us to your game theory remark.

Brinkmanship works when the other side is willing to compromise on the situation--when they find the intolerable situation that the original side is creating is worse than what they are trying to do, and are willing to forego their goal, at least for the short term.

But what happens when the other side is not willing to compromise? How do progressives compromise on the subjugation of the weak (women, minorities, LGBQ-etc, etc.)? After all, brinkmanship is the favored strategy of the tyrant and the bully. And what are progressives is not those who oppose tyrants and bullies?

If the other side won't compromise, brinkmanship is another word for war.

Which means the deplorables have to ask themselves a question--are they truly willing to lose everything they have and everything they will ever have to keep their deplorable attitudes?

David Brin said...

Boldface screaming is trashed without looking. It's what happens when you've lost all credibility.

David Brin said...

I have said this for a decade. Liberals have biases, just like humans do, and one of the worst is reflex rejection of folks like this, despite the pure fact they've been defending us against the Foxite-Putin-Trumpist madness for years. Nearly all the 2018 electoral gains that made Pelosi Speaker and let impeachment proceed were won by crewcut or hair-bun veterans - who love facts and science and justice and compassion - who forged into purple or red districts and did what they were trained to do. They TOOK TERRITORY from the confederate traitors... Meanwhile the "Squad" - admirable in their own ways - merely primaried older dems in safe districts. So whom should we admire?*

The Putin Party is desperate to discredit and crush the civil servants and intel/FBI/military officers who primly follow the rule of law. The "Deep State" insult toward a quarter of a million loyal, mature public servants has our Greatest Generation parents spinning, and they will rise from their graves and shamble to Washington, if we don't stand up and do our jobs

Read this whole thing. Do. Then ponder how we can "arm" today's heroes. I have a few suggestions.

---------
* Both, of course.

https://www.salon.com/2019/10/26/who-is-bill-taylor-ive-known-the-guy-who-rocked-capitol-hill-this-week-for-50-years/

Treebeard said...

Zepp, if California is America 20 years in the future, then I guess we can expect huge homeless populations in every American city. So much for that upward trajectory; but then I suppose most of the homeless don’t work in tech, aren’t PhD’s, LGBTQXYZ activists or climate change experts, and are rather retrograde and deplorable in many respects.

A. F. Rey, your use of the term “deplorable attitudes” reminds me of some medieval theocrat speaking of “heretical attitudes”. It’s not language that suggests you are willing to compromise, but that you arrogate the right to veto and change these attitudes at will. “We don’t hate you as people, we just demand that you learn to think exactly like us” seems like a pretty good summary of the Progressive mentality—which sounds suspiciously like “don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin (and stamp it out)”. It’s this Puritan arrogance that turns people against you—do you realize how you sound, and how much you assume?

As mythusmage points out, the war you’ve declared is unending and gives you no rest. Like other jihadists, you’re stuck in a story that requires eternal war until the whole world submits to your values. It’s reasonable to be wary of such people, but some pity is also called for. The god of Progress is a cruel deceiver that drives its devotees on an unwinnable war and puts them in a state of perpetual paranoia and dissatisfaction with the world as it is. The Buddha called this dukkha and gave some advice for overcoming it. Progressivism, it seems to me, is dukkha on steroids and made into a religion. Fortunately, one of the other marks of existence that the Buddha spoke of is anicca (impermanence), whichmeans that this, too, shall pass.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

"We don’t hate you as people, we just demand that you learn to think exactly like us” seems like a pretty good summary of the Progressive mentality


No, but it sounds just like the conservative caricature of liberals. "I'll get along with you if you get along with me", met by your "How dare you demand that I get along with you degenerates!" "Live and let live" met by your "How dare you demand anything of me!"

You are basically arguing that someone shooting at me is no excuse for my intolerance of his actions. Which is a pretty funny position to take for someone who almost certainly supports "stand your ground" laws for white people.


—which sounds suspiciously like “don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin (and stamp it out)”. It’s this Puritan arrogance that turns people against you—do you realize how you sound, and how much you assume?


Aren't you the one who thinks we should be more religious and less scientific?

David Brin said...

Do any of you follow Jim Wright's Stonekettle Station? Any idea why - after I've plugged him lots of times -- he hasn't plugged POLEMICAL JUDO? I did write to Wright.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I said California was America twenty years in the future, not that it was America's climate. (Although that's not out of the question now, is it?). California has a high number of homeless because, in addition to the failures of the capitalist system in the state itself, it gets many who fell through the cracks in backward red states, where the social safety net is a joke, and people who lose jobs start out with less because the pay there is so bad.
Didn't take you long to blow the "but the gays" dog whistle, did it?

Zepp Jamieson said...

" Liberals have biases, just like humans do... "

"Phrasing" as they say on Archer.

David Brin said...

Waaaa! treebeard calls our war of defense outright, unearned aggression. "You Polish and Jewish partisans came roaring out of that forest attacking we poor Wehrmacht tourists, for what? The free fireworks displays we gave all of your cities and the free camps we sent your relatives to?"

This is not he-said, she-said. You putinist traitors wage open war on all fact using professions and against the men and women who defended us from Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden. You refuse all fact-based wagers. You promised us Clinton-Obama convictions and got NONE while spending 25 years and half a billion dollars on screech-howls that froze all of our institutions. (Proving - ironically - that Clintons and Obama led the most honest administrations in all of human history.) You destroy our alliances and sciences and institutions and declare openly that your fear-drenched Fearless Leader could shoot people on 5th Avenue and remain above the law.

And when we gather to take back the nation that a minority of fanatics - aided blatantly by hostile foreign powers - outright stole by cheating the popular majority... you howl: "YOU are aggressors who aim to KILL all of us!"

No, that's YOUR value system and YOUR way of viewing the world. We oppose you, so you think that must be our goal.

Because that has been your goal for us, all along.

Waaa! Waaa! The cry of schoolyard bullies whose nerd victims punch them back. Unable to remotely grok positive sum, you cannot conceive mentally that we aim to restore what you destroyed - the politics of negotiation among adults. Mentally, you cannot conceive that's our goal...

...though in your heart and soul you are absolutely counting on it.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Oh, right. California. Homelessness is non-fungible, fool. The better things get in one place, the more it ATTRACTS those who want a better life.

HYPOCRITES! You demand the US secure its border and limit the number of immigrants; and if you weren't hypocrites, you'd taunt California thus: "See?" Life there is even better in your state than the rest of America, so YOU CALIFORNIANS SHOULD BUILD A WALL to keep out Americans desperate for a better life!

Do I favor that? No. What I do favor is billing every state that puts its poor/disabled on buses with one way tickets to Santa Monica, evil, evil people.

And it's past time we denounced %$$$g hypocrites.

Bob Neinast said...

Just an update for those who want to get the book but don't have a Kindle.

As pointed out here, you can get "Kindle app for PC" from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Digital-Services-LLC-Download/dp/B00UB76290

It downloaded and installed just fine (so now I'm busy reading!). Then I purchased the book and brought up the Kindle for PC; the book was there. Yay! I did try to load the book into Calibre, but did not succeed. However, that's pretty much moot since the Kindle reader for the PC works just fine.

locumranch said...


AF Rey opines that 'progressives are more than willing to live with "deplorables." What they are not willing to live with is deplorable behavior' which is quite analogous to demanding that gays, blacks & jews should just stop acting gay, black or jewish in order to become socially acceptable to bigots everywhere.

And, most assured, Blue Urban Progressives & self-styled Defenders of the Enlightenement have much more to lose in terms of comforts & entitlements than the typical squalour-loving Red Rural deplorables do in terms of brinkmanship.

I'll repost my last Game Theory comments without the use of any of the 'screaming boldness' that our host finds so worthy of censure:

Sometimes my sarcasm runs away with me & for this I apologise, but the fact remains that the progressive left does not intend to either compromise or coexist with the deplorable game-playing contingent anywhere, but rather to suppress, restrain or eliminate them.

In the EU & the US, the facade cracks, and sordid truth bubbles up like sewage through shiny layers of socioeconomic plaster or whitewash, that the Enlightened West has chosen to replace the race-based slavery system with the PROPORTIONAL SLAVERY of a legal system, tax code, free-rider class & family court system run amok that still requires the ceaseless obedience of those who labour in harnesses & yellow vests.

The impending collapse of our enlightenment-based system has been foretold, not any biblical or religious tract, but by GAME THEORY, which predicts how the 'strategically dominated' are likely to act when they find their actions restricted to only those bad choices that can only confer further loss or failure.

Left with only BAD CHOICES, these players often fail to act as you would like them to, leading to an outcome will be uniformly bad for everyone, referred to by Thomas Schelling in "The Strategy of Conflict" as BRINKMANSHIP, wherein the strategically dominated player attempts to force the accommodation of another player by making the game intolerable for everyone.

This is where we are now -- in Chile, the UK & the US -- leaving us with a SOLUTION to this dilemma which is as easy as it is unthinkable.


Best

David Brin said...

Gosh I am tolerant. I skimmed two maniacal-cackling "my pretty!!!!" sentences and decided, I am a REALLY tolerant guy.

And if we win, history shows that's what we'll be. While if they win, we go up against the wall.

We're motivated. And when the Union... America... gets motivated, perhaps ... but I speak at lunacy. Actions.

Larry Hart said...

I wonder if SNL will show the "David S. Pumpkin" sketch again tonight.

the hanged man said...

Larry,

I love me some David S. Pumpkins, too.

Enjoy

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rS00xWnqwvI

Alfred Differ said...

A.F. Rey (and Larry a bit too)

I haven't annoyed progressives enough lately and it seems you've given me a chance to correct the situation. 8)

We want to change the attitudes. Because once the attitude is changed, the behavior automatically stops. People don't do what they don't want to do.

Ugh. Yah. I get that. The problem is you've described why so many of us see y'all as the Thought Police. Y'all can be just as bad as the Theists who pursue Heresy and Wrong Belief. [I'm capitalizing for A Reason. Proper nouns/names are different from run-of-the-mill nouns.] Tempts me to say "F@#$ Off" and then go vote against your folks and I resist only because their's are worse.

Basically, you are way beyond your rights as a free human being trying to adjust my attitude. You MAY act to try to stop my behavior, but you MAY NOT try to adjust who I am. Fail to respect that and there will be consequences.

I make exactly one exception to this rule and expect y'all to offer the same exception to me. That exception is spelled out (if you abstract the religious stuff) in Matthew 5:16.

_______

How do progressives compromise on the subjugation of the weak (women, minorities, LGBQ-etc, etc.)?

Historically speaking, you pick one to save today and leave the others for the next generation. Look up your own history of accomplishments. They don't happen all at once. They can't because the other side would simply shoot you all. Incremental successes DO occur and liberate more of us with each generation.

I'm not being harsh here. Just real. I'm not a member of a racial minority and I AM a guy, so few would think I'm one of the liberated people, but they'd be wrong. I'm an atheist. I have a very definite attitude about how a marriage ceremony should not involve a religious component if the two to be married do not wish it. Not in the vows. Not in the Officiant. Not in the licensing authority. It wasn't all that long ago that I would not have been able to acquire a marriage license without bending on that particular belief, but social progressivism AND liberalism worked long enough in parallel to free me of committing a fraud to get the license. That was not the case for my mother… so… thank you progressivism and liberalism. I admit that isn't as big as the trauma faced by minorities, women, so-called deviants, but life as an atheist has a definite 'in the closet' phase for many of us. It's just easier to hide it.

Larry Hart said...

the hanged man:

I love me some David S. Pumpkins, too.


I haven't watched SNL as a regular thing for years. But last year, I just happened to have it on the weekend before Halloween, and my wife and daughter just happened to all be in the room together. They re-ran the David Pumpkin thing, and we were all in agreement that it really shouldn't be that funny but that somehow in spite of its lameness, it was freakin' hilarious!.

On the internet, we discvered that the sketch was already two years old, so I figured everyone at work would have already known about it, and that I was late to the party. But when I started talking about it that Monday morning, it seemed as if no one had heard of the thing. I gained some minor fame (or infamy) by introducing the YouTube video to my colleagues. It adds a whole new dimension to meetings when someone says, "Any questions?"

locumranch said...


The Union springs into action, Kalifornia-style:

To pay 50% more for electricity than the national average & cower in the dark, subject to rolling black-outs, as their countryside burns on an annual & predictable basis, after simultaneously (1) failing to make even basic attempts at fire amelioration and (2) bankrupting their electrical producers with punitive taxes & regulation, as their food supply spoils due to a lack of refrigeration, they actively pursue public policies that mandate electricity-based transportation & their representative government lays the blame for these many failures squarely upon everyone but themselves.

And, after witnessing this utopian dumpster fire, we're literally quaking in our Confederate boots out here in flyover country, let me tell you.


Best

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Tempts me to say "F@#$ Off" and then go vote against your folks and I resist only because their's are worse.


Bill Maher made that exact point on his show Friday, and even speaking as a liberal, I'd say he has a point. His complaint is that all Democrats have to do to beat Trump is to come across as less crazy than Trump--and that they're blowing it.

It's sometimes hard to distinguish the "real news" straight lines from the joke punch lines on Maher's show, but I got the impression that Beto O'Rourke was actually campaigning on the right of transgender females to have abortions. That's straight out of Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Basically, Maher implored the Dem candidates to stop trying to appeal to Twitter and to appeal to real voters instead.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:
life as an atheist has a definite 'in the closet' phase for many of us. It's just easier to hide it.


Try running for public office some time. :)

Atheists are way behind women, blacks, Hispanics, even gays at this point in that realm of acceptability. There are voters who would literally vote for Satan over you, because Satan at least acknowledges that God exists.

Zepp Jamieson said...

California and PG&E reflect a vast failure in the private sector. Back in the reign of Governor Wilson, the Republicans managed to ram through a bill privatizing the power generation plants in California; most of which were promptly snapped up by Radiant and Enron, two of the biggest corporate swindles and catastrophes in the history of the country. When the state finally brought the corps somewhat to heel, most of the money was gone, stolen by your corporate masters. But the state assumed responsibility for the swindle, and rebated thousands of dollars over the following three years to California households. The present situation with PG&E is similar: the state utilities board allocated $400 million extra in the permitted fees so PG&E could engage in brush clearance and line maintenance. Nearly all of that went to the pockets of corporate head, which resulted in hundreds of deaths, tens of thousands of homes destroyed, damages in the tens of billions, and consumers and the state stuck with the costs of amelioration. In a different era, the board of directors of PG&E would have been hanging from lampposts long before now.

scidata said...

The staged mimic pic of the takedown yesterday - absurd but funny.
Thought bubbles:
DT: I'm missing Real Housewives. I wonder when KFC closes.
Brass: I gave up a posting near home to babysit this pantload???

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

There are voters who would literally vote for Satan over you, because Satan at least acknowledges that God exists.

Yah. Many years ago when Newdow was pushing his case through the Court to do battle with the Pledge of Allegiance, I ran into a co-worker with 'strong opinions' on the subject and on him. Her description of his was essentially that of a demon. I thought we got along well enough that I decided to take a risk. I told her I knew him. I'd sat through his presentation to here directly and decide what I thought of it myself. I don't her he was basically a decent guy who was in the middle of a custody battle with his ex-wife that involved how their children would be raised. The Pledge case was, at the root of it, about how his wife chose to have his daughter educated in a state that required recitation of the Pledge by school children. I barely got past the 'battle with ex-wife' part before she began to look at me as if I'd sprouted horns. 8)

His case was weak in one important sense. The Court could strip him of his rights as a father and then avoid deciding the other portion of the case. That's what they wound up doing. With no parental rights, he had no standing in Court on the other issue.

As for voting for Satan over me, it's actually worse than that. The truth of the matter is that I don't CARE if God exists or not. In many ways, that is worse than what Dawkins does when he enrages believers. I ran out of @#$#'s to give about that ultimate question long ago. I'm like the orphan kid who grew up on the street never learning to read who later in his adult life can't imagine why he should care to learn. I'm doing fine without the nonsense because I've learned to commit fraud when necessary to avoid perturbing the feathers of believers.

TCB said...

Pre-ordered. There's a Kindle around the house somewhere.

duncan cairncross said...

Pre-Ordered??
I'm most of the way through mine!

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

It's much worse than you described. I used to work for CAISO and got to hear how things went down in quite a bit of detail. Most Americans remember 2001 as the year of 9/11. The CAISO folks remembered it for being raped by folks at Enron and the like.

The privatization effort was more of a deregulation effort and it was done in a half-assed way. Anyone with experience in economics would tell you what happens when you change market rules like that. The participants search all the possible ways to make money and some do better than others. The ones doing better get copied and a new equilibrium settles in. Where? No one knows in advance. What CAN be predicted is that the carefully laid plans of the rule changers are unlikely to work. They can't imagine all the possibilities. That's what markets ARE FOR. Exploration of possible actions.

Many people want to blame the private sector, but we knew better. There was enough blame to share with everyone including the city owned utilities who can be MUCH worse than the investor owned utilities.



One trivia tidbit is that Enron could have made more money than they did if they had known one trick. They were stymied on the bidding system when they couldn't figure out how to put more 9's into the price of the bids on the form they all used. There WAS a way, but they didn't know it.

Wilson lost his nerve.
He should have used the Guard against them.

TCB said...

God is the noise we make when we run out of answers.

Alfred Differ said...

Yah. Kind of reminds me of kids who can't help it with the sensory stimulations. Boys on the spectrum fluttering their fingers before their eyes, hitting their heads, or vocalizing screeches all get something from it. The rest of us looking on see it different, of course. Some of it is damaging and has to be displaced with behaviors that do less harm.

Our minds are never truly silent until we are dead. The ever spinning need for input doesn't go away. Some of us can shift our attention outward to our senses and inward to our perception models without too much difficulty, but some can't. Some can't sometimes. I'm inclined to let people be to believe what they wish and help them learn coping methods for when transition is difficult. Like when we experience towering anger. Damn difficult to pull out of the internal model and notice reality.

the hanged man said...

Alfred,

When I was in the first grade I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because I wasn’t sure I entirely understood what I was pledging. My teacher scolded me in front of the class and peeled the gold star for Citizenship off my progress report — I’m pretty sure she thought I was the devil’s spawn. She was the same teacher who spanked me for writing with my left hand.

Alfred Differ said...

Yah. The preferred remedy was simply to avoid using the Pledge in the morning 'patriotic exercise'. Other religious groups had exceptions carved out for them, but it's actually kinda dumb overall since kids aren't likely to understand oaths of fealty... which is essentially what the US Pledge is. It's also bass ackwards. I'm supposed to take an oath if I enter service to my country. Most citizens have not entered such service and it is the nation who serves them.

Anyway... Congress is within its Constitutional powers in setting the Pledge as is. Until someone can demonstrate harm, we have no standing in Court to challenge them... in Court. The correct Constitutional remedy is at the ballot box. Not likely to happen in this generation since as a progressive challenge it hardly ranks up there in priority with protecting women's health options. I'm okay with that for now.

Zepp Jamieson said...

One market manipulation where the consequences are very easy to foresee is when you offer investors something that has a small but steady return, based on public need, and tell them they are essentially free to charge what they want. Prices will explode. I'm sure you remember quite well, but I'll remind the others that we had "electricity shortages" in California--after 85 nears of incredibly rapid growth, California was experiencing its first shortage in ability to provide electricity -- in March and April, when consumer electric demand is at its lowest! The answer, of course, wasn't to provide more power, but to raise prices to lower demand. It was summed up in a derisive rejoinder by one junior speculator, asked about harm it would do consumers, "Screw Aunt Milly".
Since Medicare 'reform' by the Republicans in 2005, where the government was forbidden to negotiate drug prices or even seek competing bids, we've seen a similar, even vaster swindle. Insurance companies gleefully joined in, knowing they had a captive market.
Yes, government contributes to this, but the worst element are the 'fiscal conservatives' who believe government should serve the whims of the public sector and create false monopolies (such as phone and cable) and eliminate anything that might impede profits.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

When I was in the first grade I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because I wasn’t sure I entirely understood what I was pledging. My teacher scolded me in front of the class and peeled the gold star for Citizenship off my progress report — I’m pretty sure she thought I was the devil’s spawn.


I don't think the Pledge is something that should be coerced. I understand that refusing to do so gets one the Colin Kaepernick treatment, so one takes one's chances when one makes a stand.

That seems an entirely separate issue from whether the objection to the Pledge is the words "under God". I mean, I hope everyone here is old enough or well-read enough to know this, but in my parents' schooldays, the Pledge went "One nation, indivisible..." with no intervening clauses. "Under God" was a retcon, added during the McCarthy era in order to essentially proclaim that our nation was unlike Godless Russia.

So pardon my metropolitan upbringing in a solidly Democratic city, but is refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance really considered not just a breach of patriotism, but of faith?

scidata said...

In ancient times, when I was a little kid, we used to sing "God Save the Queen" every morning. I didn't understand the historical context - just as well, because I'm a Scottish Canadian. And yes, that was the same queen. Amazing woman.

Apparently the words "under God" were added to the US Pledge in 1954. Hmmm. Configuration drift as we say in IT. It seems that MAGA has selective amnesia.

Don Gisselbeck said...

The original pledge was written by Baptist socialist Francis Bellamy who championed "the rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources, which he believed was inherent in the teachings of Jesus". (Wikipedia)

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

And yes, that was the same queen. Amazing woman.


While I'm not 60 yet, I can see it approaching pretty quickly in the windshield. And I'm amused that the Queen of England (or whatever her full title actually is) has been the same human being throughout my entire lifespan.

It also impressed me to find out that King Louis IV reigned as king of France for something like 75 years. Not "lived to be 75" but was king for 3/4 of a century. It's impressive enough that a man of the 17th Century had a long enough lifespan to do so, let alone to do so without dying of intrigue, as it were.

Larry Hart said...

I meant Louis XIV, of course.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The Queen's ascension was in February 1952, which means she only has to last another seven years to match old Quatorze. Of course, she would be 101 years old by then--not out of the question, given that while frail, she appears to be in good health and receives top-notch care.

David Brin said...

Apparently at the time of Ramses the IInd's death no living Egyptian had ever even been alive when he wasn't Pharaoh. Outlived (almost?) all his sons.

I simply leave out words during the Pledge. Among those left out: "flagof the". I vow allegiance to the republic, not a piece of cloth.

THM: I hope that teacher, properly chastised by purgatory/bardo, is much nicer wherever she's gone on to.

locumranch said...


Interesting factoid:

Author of US Pledge of Allegiance & notorious socialist, Francis Bellamy, was related to notorious futurist Edward Bellamy, author of the science fiction classic, "Looking Backwards" which stands to reason, considering that Socialism (including any of its assumed applicability to the greater human condition) remains a work of SPECULATIVE FICTION unrelated to our current socioeconomic realities.


Best

Larry Hart said...

Charles Blow pulls no punches:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/opinion/trump-benedict-college.html

...

Later in the speech, Trump made this proclamation:

“I will always fight against abuses of power from any source. And I will always champion the right to due process, the right to a fair trial, the right to good legal representation for every American, regardless of race, background, position, right?”

Wrong. This is exactly the opposite of what Trump has done. Witnessing this spectacle was like falling under the glamour of a vampire.


Me again--Of course, Benedict Donald might have good reason for all of a sudden becoming a champion of due process and the rights of the accused.

Alfred Differ said...

There were at least two levels to the market manipulation.

1) Generation facilities were owned by a variety of owners (public/private, federal/state/investor), but supply could be curtailed by a few for the purpose of creating a shortage in a market where there wasn't much margin between supply and demand.

2) The market 'regulator' strove for supply stability while the suppliers strove for price. A few suppliers willing to strive for instability could achieve price volatility and make more money in the spot markets than the futures markets.

Imagine I own company A and we own 5% of supply. If I now the maintenance schedules of other suppliers, I'll know the right time to have an unfortunate shutdown in 1%... or 2%... or 3%. Oh look. I'm having issues at this site and it uses similar equipment as these other two sites. To protect my assets, I'm bring them down a few days so engineers can examine things and review safety limits. Meanwhile, spot prices change and what I can earn on the remaining supply I own might make up for what I choose to idle.

Now imagine my golf buddy at company B understands the game, but doesn't know my exact plans. I'm not allowed to tell him openly as that is quiet illegal. He notes my mishap, catches the hint, and announces some of his supply might have similar issues. Company B idles a portion of their supply too and the spot market buyers begin to panic.

"Don't Worry" we say. We will get our supply up and running soon... which we do... and then find other issues we can use to bring them down again. The spot market AND futures market begin to whipsaw.

etc

For a patient seller of a commodity, volatility is your friend.

For an idealistic regulator/deregulator, these patient sellers are difficult to predict, but their existence is damn near a certainty. Your imagined market behaviors don't come close to all the possible things market participants can imagine doing using your new rules. You simply CANNOT imagine all the things they can because you do not have their perspectives nor their local information. Some are private companies owned by investors. Some are city utilities 'owned' by voters who rarely understand what they do. Some are state or federal agencies like water management departments who live in the world of 40 year supply contracts. Some are spot providers with peaker units running on natural gas.

It is folly to believe one can anticipate a market reaction. Many think they can, but only some succeed... occasionally. The only safe thing one CAN anticipate is that the market will test every possible action if enough people are participating.


Personally, I think California erred twice. Once with the half-assed deregulation of the electricity market. Twice with the attempt to return partially to the old way that protected consumers from being exposed to market prices. Y'all would have solved the cheating issues years ago if you could see the actual prices. Y'all would have formed buying and selling co-ops long ago if you could see the actual prices. The futures market for wholesale electricity would be deeper by now in both resources and overlapping coverage created by time spreads on options. We have a HUGE demand for electricity in CA and haven't begun to plumb the depths of our options for how we supply it.

One of the great things that can happen in a market is happening right now, though. Before the fire that wiped out the city of Paradise, PG&E stock was selling around $70/share. Now it is barely holding at $4. Try to imagine how you’d slap down a city utility that misbehaved and caused another city to burn. Could you? How long would the court case take? How many millions of dollars would it cost? With PG&E, the market slapped them when they learned of the liability risk. Gap down (10/12/2017). Gap down (11/2018). Gap down (early 1/2019). Gap down (10/25/2019). What do owners take away from this as the long term lesson?

jim said...

I am just finding it so hard to fathom that the good government, fact using, science supporting California Democratic Party that has controlled the Assembly and Senate for more than 20 years and Governorship for the last eight years has so completely bullocked up the regulation of electrical utilities that now millions go without power and massive (almost biblical) fires rage across the state. All the talk about climate change and responsible regulation is not really useful if it doesn’t come with real action and enforcement.


And electrical Utilities aren’t the only area where the California Democratic Party is failing miserably, look at the CALPERS retirement fund for massive fraud and abuse.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Wasn't the government that bollixed it up; the power companies were given an easement on rate surcharges totalling $400 million in order to maintain lines and do brush clearance. They pocketed the money instead. Having lost suits in the hundreds of billions as a fallout from the resulting damage, they, not the government, are doing the blackouts, purely as a CYA measure. Didn't help. PGE equipment is believed responsible for the Kincade fire.

jim said...

So Zepp
you are saying that PGE was so poorly regulated that they "stole" hundreds of millions of dollars that should have been spent on brush clearance, but somehow it is not the fault of regulators who did not notice that 100's of millions of dollars worth of work was being paid for but not done?

Sure
PGE is a bad actor but the "cop on the beat" let them do as they pleased. It doesn't speak well for the competence and integrity of Democratic Regulators.

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

If you live here, feel free to offer critical suggestions. 8)

California Democrats DO run the state, but they do not run the economy. They can't for the same reason no one else can. It ain't an engine to be run. It is a collection of environments to be inhabited.

When I was at CAISO, they were working hard at re-engineering the market rules to finally remove the band-aides put in place in 2001. That's been over 10 years ago, so I'm not sure how they feel now. Massive changes HAVE happened, though. We were taught that consumers bought RELIABLE electricity and not just moving electrons. For that reason, they didn't expect renewables to make a big dent in prices. Since then, PV's have seen a sharp price reduction, energy storage has too, and the standard suppliers are proving to be not so reliable. A massive drought occurred that killed our trees by the countless millions, so the transmission grid is threatened. Lot's of change.

There is no way to foresee all these things far enough in the future to adjust regulations to 'favor' smart solutions. Grid infrastructure is often financed through long duration bonds, so many players think in terms of decades. About the best our state government could do is get out of the way and let the market punish where appropriate while they (through the AG) punish the occasional ethically-challenged cheater. That means that consumers have to be more exposed to actual market conditions. It is the insular lives we lead that cause the surprise when the lights go out while fires race through our streets. Insular lives are tuned-out lives.

Alfred Differ said...

but somehow it is not the fault of regulators who did not notice

That's the argument some city utilities are using to position themselves to buy PG&E assets at bankruptcy prices AND take a swat at state-level regulators. They can be just as bad, though. It is the local government type utilities that stalled market reforms after 2001 the longest. No profit motive turned into no motive to do much of anything to improve market conditions. They cared about their little domains, but had little incentive to give a damn about the bigger picture.

David Brin said...

Even more so for gasoline refiners, who routinely experience a "problem" that shuts down one of California's refineries so prices go up.

The state should build its own "surge capacity refinery." Watch how much better Evvon's will be maintained.

locumranch said...



The logic -- or, more accurately, the lack thereof -- displayed by the above-mentioned Leftists can only lead to the circular firing squad so typical of modern 'Cancel Culture':

The consumer demands a product that the producer provides, only to have the consumer condemn the producer for providing the demanded product, and around & around it goes, and where it stops -- it just STOPS -- with NO producer, NO product, NO consumer & NO thing left to consume.


Best

Alfred Differ said...

Lots of us leave out those words in the Pledge. The court case was about how children aren't as free to do so and shouldn't be placed in a situation where they have to make a decision that is relatively easy for an adult and not for them. Older children can manage it better, but kids in general are some of the most conservative humans on the planet. They depend heavily on the benefits of social reputation while adults are less so AND are better trained (on average) to commit the little frauds that hide them from the Thought Police.

Placing his children in that situation was... in his opinion... a violation of his parental rights if he could not remedy the situation in one of three different ways. Their solution was the simple fourth option. Take away parental rights. [In hindsight, not hard to predict. Some argued he was using his children in Court to grind an unrelated axe.]

locumranch,

Pretty much everyone back then was under the influence of socialism. Even opponents of socialism thought some parts of it might work. Makes sense too since the ethical underpinning of socialism re-uses the ethical rules we apply to family and tribe/band resource planning. Doesn't work on the larger scale, but we had to prove that... and did.

Socialism is more fantasy than speculative fiction, I think. Fantasy breaks enough rules of consistency to portray humans doing things humans really wouldn't do. Not just the occasional human. Whole human communities.

duncan cairncross said...

The power company problems would be very simply fixed

Make the whole system one unit and put it in the hands of the public

And then ensure that it is run by competent experienced people - having a State Inspector going over your books every year would help

Trying to use regulation to make private companies work in cases of natural monopoly is much more difficult

scidata said...

(Almost) nobody expected climate change to happen this fast. I've known a few energy sector execs (my bosses). They all planned on cashing out long before things got hairy. AI is about 100x as disruptive. The boy who cried Fake News will kill us all.

Alfred Differ said...

Make the whole system one unit and put it in the hands of the public

Ugh. I'm SURE we can make it work next time... 8)

Sorry Duncan. I don't believe in that fantasy. Even competent, experienced people will lack the information they need to ensure the organization is managed in a competent manner. The socialism fantasy IS alluring, but it doesn't work. In fact, it cannot work.

The folks at PJM were experimenting with 'aggregators' who acted in a role similar to what some credit unions do in the banking sector. CU's are owned by the people who have money in savings and lend to their owners. There are certain things CU's shouldn't do or they risk just becoming a typical bank. I didn't get to stay in the industry long enough to see how the PJM experiment worked out, but it looked like a viable way to divide power interests and possibly expose consumers to market prices. The experiment needed more people on line and more 'things' online, but that has been happening with IoT, so I'm cautiously optimistic that a market could form without anyone being granted monopoly rights by local authorities... or worse when local authorities grant themselves monopoly rights.

Alfred Differ said...

Ah well. In the spirit of the original post, I’m not supposed to sit in my trench laying down cover fire pinning my opponents in their trench and leaving them with no option but to do the same. That’s not a win-win. It’s a lose-lose except for bullet manufacturers.

For wholesale electricity supply, I’ve learned to accept that some public providers/distributors are going to exist and they won’t be moved by profits. They will own monopoly rights because they can self-grant them. Same for water, sanitation, road maintenance, fire, police, and all those other ‘city services’. Some places won’t do that, though. Some places will do only some of it. Okay. Is anyone demonstrating their solution is better? Is anyone offering a better way forward that we consumers can adopt voluntarily? Not yet. Remember the monopoly rights. I’m not free as a consumer when someone has a local monopoly grant. My libertarian hackles rise when I think about it, but the cover fire I could lay down is useless. Oh wait. Someone DOES win besides the people who make the bullets. The lawyers make a different type of bullet and benefit from trench fights.

Makes me want to start a ballot initiative, but I’ll resist. I’m no better at phrasing an acceptable regulatory compromise for wholesale electricity than anyone else with a couple years of study on the problems. My idea for de-regulation would probably look half-assed in later years too. So… if anyone wants to climb out of their trench and build better ideas for the initiative (necessarily a compromise), I promise not to shoot anymore. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

The trees aren't burning in CA because of climate change. We go through very natural cycles of drought and deluge.

What climate change will do is change the intensity and shift the bands. Many parts of California are darn near uninhabitable in the summer already. That will get worse.

On the flip-side, we WILL learn to desalinate ocean water. We will have to do it.

scidata said...

@Alfred Differ:

I'm not a Chicken Little type. It's just that we evolved to gradually shift with food/predator/climate patterns. Not asymptotic change. It's not the planet that'll do us in.

"Man's a party animal"
- Burchenal, Red Planet

David Brin said...

Alfred, you know you're just encouraging him to think his yaps are sapient?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: the power companies really had to reach to create those shortages. As noted, California had never experiences a power shortage in the previous 80 year, including 1945-1980, during which time the state's population quadrupled and power demands expanded ten-fold. And the state routinely maintained a cushion of some 5-10% above peak demand to ensure it stayed that way.
Your point about volatility and how easy it is to manipulate is well-taken, though. Just look at gas prices after the attack on the Saudi Arabian plant. That was less than 3% of the US's energy supply.
PG&E can and is punished, but would a public utility have been able to achieve that level of neglect in the first place?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Ugh. I'm SURE we can make it work next time... 8)"

It worked beautifully in California for 80 years.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

What Duncan suggests hasn't been tried in California. His proposes one entity.

The reason an entity like CAISO exists is boundary effects in a multiplayer market. California got big enough to demonstrate the need for a market maker and a transmission coordinator. Look at the history. Our old way of doing things was NOT going to keep working without one of the many entities becoming the de facto market maker and transmission coordinator.

Alfred Differ said...

his yaps are sapient?

Yah. Occasionally he hits on something upon which I can't resist offering a comment. That refers to both jim and locumranch. 8)

duncan cairncross said...

Re the power situation

That is one place where we (NZ) screwed up by the numbers
We have something like 70% of our power from Hydro -
All built on the public dollar about 50 years ago
So we should have CHEAP power?

Unfortunately the privatisation and split into lumps fever took over here in the 80,s
So instead of a superb "Green" power system using the huge amount of hydro storage and cheap wind and solar we have power companies fighting in a "market" - there is no incentive to "store" the water and use it when required
And bloody EXPENSIVE power $0.25 per kWh

To Alfred's point - I'm sorry but planning a state wide power grid is EASIER than a smaller one
Planning and control often become EASIER with large numbers
The UK and NZ manage their health systems with a tiny tiny fraction (as in 1/10,000th) of the planners and people required by the US "System"

Inertia can be your friend!
When you are balancing a ruler on the palm of your hand - a six inch ruler is much more difficult to balance than a meter stick

scidata said...

Another culprit is Bitcoin, which uses (wastes) more power than some mid-sized countries.
https://singularityhub.com/2019/10/27/towards-a-scalable-efficient-cryptocurrency-bitcoins-new-low-energy-competitor/

Transparency and trust are much more promising than wicked (even quantum) computational power. Some are taking a look at how biological systems implement hunting down 'bad actors'.

Alfred Differ said...

Duncan,

1) We aren't an island nation.
2) Our power requirements have held in terms of intensity of demand as our population grew and shifted around.
3) What we were willing to tolerate decades ago is not tolerable today. [Nukes and Coal for specific power types, hydro and its secondary effects on habitats for another]

While we do have some hydro power, we aren't blessed with it the way the Northwest and Southeast US are. We've dammed up all that can be done, redone the landscape to dam more of it, built a giant aquaduct to water the desert and cities in the desert, moved more water to cool the nuclear reactors and their spent fuel pits, and then realized we were killing off the salmon and countless other critters and creating dust bowls making life hellish in formerly pleasant places. Some of our rivers simply don't exist anymore. Just gone.

Measure us as an independent nation (silly idea of course) and we are near the top half dozen in GDP. Powering this economy... is not simple because the requirements... are not simple. We change them as we learn about our impacts. Try funding the infrastructure with bonds with 40 year maturities paid by 'base load' captured clients. Sorry. The old ways DID work and worked better than many realized, but the world today is not that world. PV's got cheap. Energy storage is arriving. As if that wasn't enough, climate change is arriving too demonstrating the unreliability of our earlier predictions regarding water, fossil fuel availability, and social tolerance for where we dump the by-products of electricity generation and the risks of transmitting it from centralized, big scale generators.

scidata,

If it isn't Bitcoin today, it will be smart contracts and dapps tomorrow. Bitcoin mining is just a first adopter. It will get displaced by something more useful soon enough and the energy demand will return with some added efficiency. Maybe someday it will be 'ems'. 8)

scidata said...

Alfred Differ: built a giant aquaduct to water the desert and cities in the desert

In Canada, we have a LOT of ice and water. We could share it, but not in some insulting, NY grifter Greenland type 'deal'. More of a positive sum, working together to build civilization, and get us to the stars type effort. Understanding other cultures and sensibilities pays HUGE dividends. It's how we got here.

David Brin said...

Okay, this thing has a lot of folks fooled and I was boggled at first, too, when I clicked there before my coffee. Truly incredible (and worrisome) special effects on a very worrisome topic... and also, of course, impressive and hilarious.

The headline is missing a crucial "s" by the way. And the advertiser is scarier-still.

https://news.google.com/articles/CCAiC3kzUklIbkswX05FmAEB?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

scidata said...

For a long time, eye-witness accounts have been declining in weight in courtrooms. It's just getting too easy to simulate reality. The only solution I've yet seen is, once again, pervasive scientific literacy.

scidata said...

Confederate national pastime: Football: Spartan, concrete, zero sum. Preponderant clock. A few critical mistakes can end a career. Played by young men.
Union national pastime: Baseball: intricate, abstract, positive (or even negative) sum. In some games, both sides seem to come away winners (or losers). No clock. Greatest hitters fail 60% of the time. Played by everyone 4 to 94.

Canadian national pastime: hockey: sublime, the only defense we'll have left against the robot menace.

A.F. Rey said...

George Carlin noticed a while back (I would have said "a long time ago," except that most of us were around then) how football is a war game while baseball is a civilized sport.

https://www.baseball-almanac.com/humor7.shtml

Perfect analogy of the difference between the confederacy and the union.

A.F. Rey said...

Although it does beg the question of what is cricket's role in the great scheme of things. :)

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman speaks truth...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/28/opinion/us-budget-deficit.html

...

The point is that the media clearly leans conservative in covering budget issues. Progressives face intense grilling over the cost of fairly modest social programs, while conservatives get a virtual free pass on budget-busting tax cuts.

Let me be clear here: I’m not complaining about the lack of panic over our trillion-dollar deficit. We shouldn’t be panicked. The problem is the selectivity of deficit hysteria, which somehow kicks in only when a Democrat is president or progressives propose spending that would make American lives better.

That selective hysteria has done enormous harm. And those who propagate it need to be called out for their bias.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Of some small interest to residents here:

Scientists just released the first-ever images taken with the German space agency’s X-ray telescope eROSITA, at an event at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

https://futurism.com/the-byte/first-images-dark-matter-telescope?utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_03cd0a26cd-e36fb1ba63-247645765&mc_cid=e36fb1ba63&mc_eid=1fbd16dcc8&utm_source=The%20Future%20Is&utm_campaign=e36fb1ba63-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_29_05_52

Zepp Jamieson said...

AD: "What Duncan suggests hasn't been tried in California. His proposes one entity."

OK, fair enough. What California had was a system that was regulated 100% by the state. Not quite the same thing, I agree.

Home solar is exploding (we're going solar in the spring) and combined with the manifest failures of the existing grid, we need to completely rethink the power structure for the state from top to bottom. Heavy industry may never be able to rely on renewable/high tech storage, and areas of dense population (SF, LA's civic centre, etc) may have similar problems, but its entirely possible we might decentralise the 70 or 80% of other existing power demand.

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

We'd love to have a rain forest to tap. (If I were one of those NY grifters, I'd ask if BC was for sale. Not Greenland.) What the world needs, though, is for us to learn some water discipline. We will get there. 8)

Zepp,

What California had was a system that was regulated 100% by the state.

Agreed. Back when moderate Republicans were not on the endangered species list around here and we were only one step away from the old post-WWII boom economy. Those old Republicans had a definite progressive streak in them, but they self-identify as Democrats today.

It's great that the price of home solar is down and still improving, but we need two events to happen to make decentralization make good sense.

1) We HAVE to be allowed to build these systems so we can take our homes off the grid at will. Even if it is a manual switch, I must be able to isolate my home and run off my own supply WHEN I CHOOSE to do so.

2) We HAVE to be allowed to form co-ops that buy and sell power in the wholesale market in the sense of credit unions in the financial market. If I have a small windmill, you have a PV array, and we both own electric vehicles and stationary energy storage, we should be able to join into a co-op with others to trade on the wholesale (not retail) market. Individually, you and I aren't likely to trade, but our rights would be contracted to an aggregator who understood our personal constraints (I need my car charged at least 80% before the morning commute, but I want the electrons sourced from within the co-op before trading outside) and then tried to make a bit of money for us all to defray our maintenance costs.

Do that and some aggregators will seek additional owners in juicy areas. Some will lease roof-tops and wind tunnel areas between big buildings. If your local mall isn't fully occupied, have they considered leasing their roof yet?

Most people would continue as regular, retail customers much like most people use regular banks, so the market would just pick up a new wrinkle. That change, though, would create a form of competition at the consumer level that would be healthy in that it would force private and public utilities to adapt faster. The old "Plan it, Fund it with long bonds, Pay bond holders for 40 years" routine would perish, though, and that is a good thing. It wouldn't immediately perish, but it would be the dinosaur on the landscape.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Scidata: Friend of mine taught Criminal Justice at the local CC, and arranged every semester for a little example of the deprecated value of eye-witness accounts. Halfway through a lecture, an intruder wearing a garish shirt would burst in and snatch a purse off a student's desk (prearranged, of course). He would then have an off duty police buddy come in and take eye witness accounts. The next day he would show the class the accounts, which showed enormous variation with disagreements over the race and even the gender of the 'perp', what was taken, which student it was. The shirt provided enough of a distraction to make the rest of the 'eye witness accounts' perfectly worthless.
Witnesses simply aren't reliable.

scidata said...

Zepp Jamieson: Witnesses simply aren't reliable

I shiver when I think about all the hapless souls who are convicted based on nothing more than crazed and biased witness accounts. Another dangerous bias is the face/personality/grifter enhancement of credulity over evidence and scientific inference. Don't believe the fake news, believe me.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

The shirt provided enough of a distraction to make the rest of the 'eye witness accounts' perfectly worthless.
Witnesses simply aren't reliable.


Well, it depends. If the crime was wearing a garish shirt, you'd have many witnesses corroborating the same story.

David Brin said...

1/ in The Transparent Society I say the answer to unreliable witnesses is the same as it was even in the tribes... more witnesses. Faked footage? record yourself so you have a rebuttal for that time and place.

2/ The blackouts may be incredibly good for America, propelling solar and grid-optional to new heights.

3/ Baseball isn't just civilizaed and pastoral and intellectual and fun for all ages... it is also the most USEFUL ball game. The skills you get learning baseball would all help if you suddenly found yourself in a wilderness or tossed back into the neolithic. All sports make you a better runner. But basketball and soccer give you nothing else. Baseball? Hit things with a stick! ("Swing away!") Stand your ground in the face of onrushing cleats. THROW! fast and hard and accurately enough to get you a good meal.

Oh, and your most likely after effect in your eighties is that damned elbow.

Zepp Jamieson said...

AFRey: "Although it does beg the question of what is cricket's role in the great scheme of things. :)"

Douglas Adams had an answer for that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: Where your evil plan fails, M. Hart, is that crimes do not wear garish shirts.
And the criminal is no longer a suspect the moment he throws out the Hawai'in dog's breakfast he was wearing and puts on a plain Tee.

A.F. Rey said...

AFRey: "Although it does beg the question of what is cricket's role in the great scheme of things. :)"

Douglas Adams had an answer for that.


I should've known he would. :(

Larry Hart said...

On Douglas Adams, he's most known for his "Hitchhikers' Guide" books, but I'm a big fan of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I just loved the Samuel Barnett/Elijah Wood version on the Beeb a couple of years ago. Didn't have sweet FA to do with the books, but it had the right TONE, and that's something very hard to capture.

David Brin said...

Did I predict this? "A due process starts at the beginning. It doesn't affirm a miss, sham investigation all the way through," House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday. "If you were in the legal term, it'd be the fruit from the poisonous tree." Thus Republicans are now invoking a doctrine they always hated! Moreover, it almost never applies to the initial phases of investigation, when the police have committed no crime.

The "poison" this hypocrite refers to is possible "bias" by FBI counter-intelligence chief Peter Strzok and the 2nd layer of Steele Dossier investigations. (The first layer was commissioned by "biased" Republicans!) But "bias" is absolutely NOT "poison" to evidence in investigations. You want prosecutors to want to get their man!

Yes, "bias" can be poisonous in certain ways in the TRIAL process. But impeachment is by nature like a Grand Jury, where secret testimony and even hearsay are absolutely normal, and where protection of fearful witnesses (e.g. the Whistleblower) plays an absolutely vital role. ALL must eventually come out in the trial phase and defenders are free to argue "bias" to the judge and jury.

"The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine only applies when someone's constitutional rights have been violated," says former deputy Watergate special prosecutor Nick Akerman, "That's like saying every indictment issued by a grand jury has to be dismissed because the defendant didn't have a chance to be in the grand jury room to defend himself. I mean, that is just off the wall, it comes from outer space."

It's the Senate, where impeachment (indictment) would be tried, that is presently utterly biased in Trump's favor. Which is why McConnell is the one trying to speed things up! And every Democrat should cheer, instead of jeer, Nancy Pelosi for taking her time! (Ukraine will be a barely-remembered side-show, when the Deutsche Bank dike fails and we see the full Russia-Trump story.)

Anyway, even the Grand Jury parallel is too strict for impeachment. The proper analogy is a company board of directors deciding to fire a corrupt CEO. This is an employment matter. And, as America's stock plummets all around the world and deficits skyrocket and all our most-skilled employees lodge complaints, we need to get rid of the whole gang of corrupt raiders who took Washington, on Putin's behalf.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/alexander-vindman-trump-impeachment-republicans-testimony-ukraine-scandal-a9176791.html

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

While everything you say is correct, it is also irrelevant. The impeachment inquiry did not start with the Mueller Report and therefore trace back to the Steele dossier. It started with the whistleblower's concern of Benedict Donald playing mob boss to a foreign president. There is no poisonous tree, even if that were relevant.

locumranch said...


Fruit of the Poisonous Tree is an apt analogy, especially when applied to the trash fire that is Washington DC & California.

Of course, it is not environmental catastrophe nor mere political circumstance that makes these locations 'trash fires', as these are but symptoms of a much more severe disease that attacks the very roots of our civilisation:

Disconnection, dissociation, anonymity & anomie.

As in the case in Washington DC & Southern California, the actual circumstance is entirely beside the point. as the actual CRISIS comes from an educated & privileged managerial class that is simultaneously divorced from & uninterested in the day-to-day functioning of our civilisation.

The educated managerial class expect & demand SERVICE -- they want their coffee hot, their subpoenas respected, their stores well-stocked & their fires put out -- but they don't give-a-shit about the people who deliver these services, as evidenced by the almost daily threat to replace these anonymous 'service-providers' with unfeeling machines.

I wager that our fine host will deny & dismiss this growing problem as nonsense, even though he cannot name a single emergency responder, resource provider, truck driver, soldier, farmer, stock boy, fire fighter, police officer, electrical lineman or anonymous utility worker that he relies on a daily basis, even in the absence of 'crisis'.

Yet, I suspect that our fine host will insist that these anonymous service providers are somehow required to CARE about the incessant demands of his managerial class.


Best

scidata said...

I've suffered the slings and arrows of ivory tower types who've told me that science is strictly for scientists, not computer programmers, so I should stay the hell out of their kitchen, and that interdisciplinarity is vulgar. Turnabout is fair play:
https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/10/chemists-discover-cross-platform-python-scripts-not-so-cross-platform/

Karma's a bitch.

Alfred Differ said...

Scidata,

science is strictly for scientists

Yah. Anyone who does that deserves a very simple, canned response.

“I’m doing science, therefore I’m a scientist. Now go @#$% off.”

The interdisciplinary folks bring new blood to old fields. They shake us up. They bring ideological mutations. That can be annoying, but the option is to become inbred and die in later generations.

Where they DO have a point to make is in dealing with cranks and crackpots. There are cute little self-scoring tests you can take to determine how they might perceive you in this respect. Tenured professors occasionally score high on these things. My own grad professor did. I can see it in his research notes from the late 70’s. No one is immune, thus everyone has the potential to annoy.

The science arena isn’t for the timid. 8)

matthew said...

David, fencing is better than baseball for learning survival techniques. "Stick them with the pointy end!" Plus no elbow problems.
...says the former college fencer / SCA nerd.

(Ok, I get that David said "ball sports" as his example) (Also, baseball is boring)

Alfred Differ said...

1) "Fruit from a poisonous tree"
2) "Presidential immunity / Executive privilege"
3) “It isn’t illegal”
4) “Coup d’etat”

That’s really all they have.

1) “It’s not a crime when prosecutors are biased against criminals. That’s the whole point.”
2) "There is no immunity or privilege when crimes are committed."
3) “It is illegal”
4) “Coup de grâce”

They are simple to oppose without giving their idiocy any more oxygen than necessary.

Larry Hart said...

So it's come to this level of reality-warping. Now, even Trump's possible losing of the next election is "illegitimate"? Emphasis mine:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/opinion/trump-impeachment-coup.html

The president’s allies have either stuck to the same line or taken it further. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana did the former when he told Fox News that Democrats were “literally trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election, a year before Americans get to go to the polls to decide who’s going to be the president.” And Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, a pro-Trump political website, did the latter when she cast a hypothetical Democratic victory in the 2020 presidential election as part of an illegitimate attempt to overturn the results of the last contest.

scidata said...

@Alfred Differ, thanks for the encouragement

I love science as much as life, even if at times science hasn't loved me. Most of my heroes are scientists, some are SF writers, a few are both, such as Isaac Asimov. I reject the definition of science as the set of all scientists past and present. Because Faraday, Ampère, and all the firestarters that came before. Oh, and Ptolemy's ivory tower cost us 1500 years, so there's that.

If scientific literacy exists only in ivory towers, not in the citizenry, not in the media, and not in government, then we are doomed. Civilization is doomed. Humanity is doomed. And to bring it full circle, science is doomed too.

locumranch said...


Cognizant that turn-about is fair play, I agree with everything Alfred said about ALLEGATIONS of criminality:

1) “It’s not a crime when prosecutors are biased against the criminal managerial class. That’s the whole point.”
2) "There is no managerial class immunity or privilege when crimes are allegedly committed by the managerial class."
3) “It is illegal if & when we allege its illegality because no due process.”
4) “Coup de grâce” on everyone because Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.


Best

David Brin said...

matthew as a former fencing coach I get your point (get it?) But still, throwing a roack at 70 mph into the center of a cluster of birds is more likely to feed you than rushing them with a pointed stick.

Scidata, questioning authjority is a core American reflex. And I have run into the "scientist guild protectors" you describe. And across all my years I have found it to be an infinitesimal minority. And generally correlates with someone charging up to them in accusation, rather than curiosity.

Question-aurhority has been one of our greatest strengths... and it has been seized by our enemies to use against us, stirring war against the very idea of expertise, as evidenced by the hysterical-loony ravings I skim past (above, and NOT scidata).

locumranch said...


Says DB: "Question-aurhority (sic) has been one of our greatest strengths".

As evidenced by the current Impeachment debacle & the concerted Democrat Party attack on the authority of a republican-controlled US Senate, POTUS & SCOTUS, the question quickly devolves into ON WHOSE AUTHORITY?

On the authority of an autonomous deep state, a rogue intelligence community or a subpoena happy democrat-controlled House ?

This is a ridiculous assumption, especially after a democrat-controlled House has so successfully discredited almost 83% (aka '5/6') of elected US government.

We will therefore trust NO ONE until further notice: Not the Deep State, the Intelligence community, the House, the Senate, POTUS or SCOTUS.

We will let God sort them out instead.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Locumranch, how can the House be challenging Senate "authority" on the impeachment hearings? The Senate has absolutely no role at this point; when--and only when--the House has voted on and approved articles of impeachment (indictments, in other words) does the Senate accept the reports and tries the high federal official who has been impeached. Faux news knows how the process works because they loved it back when Clinton was impeached.

A.F. Rey said...

But still, throwing a rock at 70 mph into the center of a cluster of birds is more likely to feed you than rushing them with a pointed stick.

Learning archery would be even more useful by that logic, since a well-placed arrow will get you more birds and rabbits than a well-placed rock, on average.

But it does have the disadvantage of it not being a team sport, not being very watchable, and not having the participants directly face-off against each other--we hope! :)

scidata said...

Just to be clear, I wasn't questioning authority so much as wanting a seat at the table. I've actually been told to stay out of their kitchen, but also to leave the taxpayer science funding on the counter the my way out. And to be thankful that someone is doing the science for you proles. Again, the stars or the caves hinges on widespread literacy, not ivory tower noblesse oblige. And yes, Dr. Brin, an infinitesimal minority is my experience too.

matthew said...

The SCA has rules for archers directly facing off against each other, as well as against other people with (padded) heavy sticks. Takes guts.

Actually, my youthful tomahawk throwing contests might also count (I won a set of Time / Life "History of the West" books with that one).
Or my flint and steel firestarting contest wins might count too. A brush fire is a great way to stampede wild animals into a cliff or a box canyon.
The last two aren't team sports though

locumranch said...


Scidata doesn't have the authority to request 'a seat at the table' because authority is a circular process that can only be granted by those in authority who already possess 'a seat at the table', as in the case of the educated managerial class (wherein the terms 'educated' and 'managerial' are class-specific designations).

Regardless of intellect or capability, Scidata cannot & will not be considered either 'educated' or 'managerial' until he has been admitted to said class, and he cannot & will not be admitted to said class until he has been designated 'educated' and 'managerial'.

This is specious reasoning, to be sure, but it is specious reasoning like this that allows the current Climate Science priesthood to argue that they -- and only they -- are qualified to have an opinion about climate science because of their designated membership in the current Climate Science priesthood.

And, around & around it goes, as evidenced by the snark of those like Zepp who only recognise the organisational authority of those organisations that they choose to designate as a recognised authority.


Best

Darrell E said...

When it comes down to it anything can be a team sport. Archers working together, stone throwers working together, tomahawk throwers working together, fire starters working together, in all cases working together improves your odds of scoring dinner.

Alfred Differ said...

Scidata,

I reject the definition of science as the set of all scientists past and present.

Good. There are some who like that definition, but that just makes us a priesthood. Not healthy. I don’t recall any of my professors taking that approach, though. Not with me. What DID happen is one female grad student in a class after me was on the receiving end of discrimination from the older generation. What women have had to put up with over the decades should embarrass the rest of us. I hope she made it. She was tough, so she stood a chance.

Ptolemy was from a later era and didn’t do much worse than his contemporaries. The Ivory Tower as you know it today has its roots as a church thing. Think about the origins of universities and it is no surprise. Along one wall you’ll find your confessor. On the other wall you’ll find your professor. Citizen Science required the changes brought about by the Enlightenment to Church, State, and The People. Couldn’t happen in a culture that didn’t dignify the common man or liberate him enough to contemplate heresy and pursue error.

Most of my heroes are scientists

Who would you count among them? Heroes are supposed to be excellent examples of the virtue of Courage with some Justice mixed in for good measure. I’m curious to know in which of them you’ve perceived courage. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Do SCA archers still use those tennis-ball protectors at the tips of the arrows that absolutely killed their flight characteristics and made them strike so lightly that the guys in armor didn't notice them, thus wouldn't admit to being hit?

If one is looking for survival skills in sports, most of the individual skills show up in Track & Field the way I remember it. Expand the javelin related contests to include archery and other 'assist' tools and you cover things pretty well.

Rock throwing as a team, though, is probably ancient. Pick up a rock that fits in your hand and you'll probably know what to do with it without thinking much. Instinct. Oh... and look what we can do with a sling. Whack!

For me, though, the real winner isn't much of a sport. Bait a hook and toss it in the water. Fish don't have much experience with us as a predator... especially the larger ones used to doing the predation.

Alfred Differ said...

3) “It is illegal if & when we allege its illegality because no due process.”
4) “Coup de grâce” on everyone because Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.


Meh. The accusation gets tested in Court. It's illegal in the abstract because of the law and illegal in the instance when proven in Court.

...and...

Ah yes. Crusade language. Indignation refuge. zzzz...

scidata said...

@Alfred Differ: My Heroes
My heroes are mostly scientists I've known personally (through my career as a software designer and PCR repairman). Of course names like Marie Curie, Max Planck, and Lynn Margulis would qualify, mostly for their contrarian bravery. Also public communicators like Asimov, Feynman, Sagan, and Dawkins of course. And Jacob Bronowski second only to Asimov. What a sweetie pie.

I actually hoped to re-kindle the "Why Johnny Can't Code" thread with that ars technica link (which I found in my ACM timeline BTW). The 'deeper patterns' of computation have been lost in general. Big trouble. Our host warned about it in 2006, and I see that Stanford is today calling for immediate $billions for AI using a similar national emergency argument. Cut & paste now rules the world, in lieu of bootstrapped, deep understanding. "Um, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here. It didn’t require any discipline to attain it." - Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park. Thought cannot be outsourced to minions. Partly due to practicality, but mostly due to the very nature of science.

Dr. Brin, if you ever wish to do a "Why Scientists Should Code" version, you'd be doing the world a huge favor.

Larry Hart said...


Last night, I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
Oh, how I wish he'd go away!

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"Most of my heroes are scientists"

Heroes are supposed to be excellent examples of the virtue of Courage with some Justice mixed in for good measure. I’m curious to know in which of them you’ve perceived courage. 8)


Funny, we each hear what we expect or want to hear. I didn't think scidata was talking about courage per se, but about inexorable pursuit of uncovering secrets of the universe and communicating them unselfishly to humanity.

Zepp Jamieson said...

There are those who needed courage to stand behind their discoveries. Galileo and Darwin come to mind. In today's America, it takes a certain amount of courage just to BE a scientist.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I wasn’t sure myself. Figured I would ask. 8)

Some people use “hero” for “person I admire” and I’m occasionally curious which virtue is in play in their admiration. Scidata answered well and effectively defined what science courage is to him/her. Useful. 😎

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

I'm not knocking courage, nor do I deny that pursuit of science requires courage in certain circumstances.

Nevertheless, when I think of "scientists" and "heroes" together, what comes to mind is not so much what they do in the face of adversity, but the nature of their undertaking. What makes them heroic to me is the adherence to their craft (scientific method), the value they produce for humanity, and the unselfishness with which they do so. Now, I'm curious how that might fit with your capitalized-lady virtues.

When I first read The Postman in the mid 80s, knowing nothing of David Brin at the time, I was enraptured by the fact that the "heroes" standing against the Holnists were university people.

Jon S. said...

Larry, I've always like the MAD Magazine version:

One day I met upon the stair
A little man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today -
I think he's with the CIA.

Larry Hart said...

Nancy Pelosi knows how to play 3D chess.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Oct31.html#item-1

... And finally, ever-wily Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has really hoisted the Trump-loving Republicans by their own petards. If the Democrats had jumped straight into public hearings, then Trump & Co. would surely have criticized them for turning impeachment into a public spectacle. But now, Pelosi & Co. can invite cameras and reporters into the room to watch (and record) for themselves as people dish dirt on the administration, and can say, "Hey, we're just trying to do what the Republicans asked of us." It's one thing to read an executive summary of testimony in which, say, Bill Taylor declared there was a quid pro quo. It's another thing entirely to watch for yourself as he says so.

And indeed, as if on cue, Taylor said on Wednesday that he is willing to return to the Hill and testify again, this time publicly. Clearly, Trump and his supporters forgot the old adage: "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

scidata said...

Whenever I see Pelosi, all I hear is Pavel Chekov exclaiming, "GOT EEM!"


Advancement of humanism is an heroic endeavour. Thus my picks of Asimov and Bronowski. The latter was mainly concerned with human anti-humanism. The former was among the first to grasp 'non-humanism' as a thing. Today, our headlong rush into automation is what worries those like Andrew Yang. Luddism is not a desirable or even viable answer. It's too late for that anyway (eg climate change, corporate AI, the surveillance state, etc).

"Foundation" showed an optimistic path. I must read "The Postman". Several other Brin books are currently ahead of it in the queue. At least I've broken out of my re-reading Asimov only loop. Ursula K Le Guin was a hell of a writer, and Robert J Sawyer is good with tree sauce.

Alfred Differ: [scidata] him/her
'scidata' is a goofy and pretentious name that I came up with years ago when everyone was scrambling to get a 'brand' out onto social media. When our host imposed the requirement for a Blogger account to post in here, I dredged up my old one. That's all.
scidata = Mike Will (scidata.ca)

scidata said...

Asimov: I meant non-human humanism.

Larry Hart said...

@Jon S,

MAD was a fount of popular culture back in the day. I still recall from memory almost all of the 1972 presidential candidate songs. Or their version of 12 days of Christmas (Onasis gave to me...). But if I had to pick a favorite, I'd have to go with this one from their My Fair Lady parody with the genders reversed, Gloria Steinem as "Henrietta Higgins" and Burt Reynolds in the Eliza Doolittle role.


Just you wait, Henrietta. Just you wait.
And I hope one day you'll find a perfect mate.
Who'll come on like Warren Beatty, call you "baby doll" and "sweetie".
What a fate, Henrietta, what a fate.

As a wife, Henrietta, as a wife,
May your marriage be a monument to strife,
With a husband like a jailer who will quote from Norman Mailer.
As for life, Henrietta, as for life,

...

Oh, I can see you on your deathbed, weak and pale
When it dawns on you that God might be a MALE.
As the lights start to dim, and you start to pray to HIM,
God will yell, "Henrietta,
Go to Hell, Henrietta,
You're too late!"

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: re Henrietta.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

I claim no credit for a bit in MAD Magazine. But it's amazing what sticks in memory from closer to 50 years ago than 40.

A.F. Rey said...

I hear you, Larry. In second grade we had to memorize a poem, and my mom had me do A. A. Milne's "Vespers." 52 years later I can still rattle off 90%+ of it.

Little boy kneels at the foot of the bed.
Droops on little hands little gold head.
"Hush, hush, whisper who dares.
Christopher Robbins is saying his prayers.


Now, ask me what I had for dinner three nights ago... :(

David Brin said...

We've had outages because of the fires! Just now posting.

onward
onward