Wednesday, December 11, 2019

More steps toward an open world

Okay, in this midweek roundup let's take a break to veer toward an area of "expertise." At least somewhat pertaining to what's new in the world of transparency.... but first...

== A troubled world – and the superpower in decline ==

We have a president who is “in love” with one brutal communist dictator, “on very good terms” with another, and utterly obedient to a brutal dictator who claims to be an “ex” communist, though surrounded now by mafia-oligarchs who were all – every one – raised reciting Leninist catechisms.  And now…

North Korea has released pictures of a new submarine that it could potentially use to launch nuclear weapons. If that’s the case, the country may have gained a very dangerous, stealthy ability to threaten the US and its allies — all in defiance of President Donald Trump.

The fellow behind the hilariously revised Trumpian presidential seal sells merchandise! Bumper stickers etc.  

== The killings go on... ==

All over the world, after the recent New Zealand mass gunning of innocents, citizens and journalists and politicians have called for removing a common incentive for these crimes — the perpetrator’s satisfaction derived from infamy. Generally by not mentioning his name. For example, this editorial in the San Diego paper using black boxes of “redaction” against the NZ perp. Yes! Only… I’ve been trotting out the same proposal for how long? 25 years?

Moreover, I offer ways to do it well - in this posting: Deny Killers the Notoriety They Seek, as well as this older essay on Salon.

Alas, the same paper did not follow its own advice re: a later week's Poway shooter near San Diego.


== The most important man in America is determined to win infamy ==

Speaking of historical notoriety.... look up a fellow by name of Roger Taney, who goes down as one of the most despised and despicable names in American history. That clear judgment of posterity is not what Taney would have imagined, when he was named Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. But before he died – knowing that Lincoln was about to be re-elected by a landslide - he could see what ignominy and infamy would be his fate. 

How is Roger Taney pertinent today? We must spread word so that modern Americans know about a horrible man who ensured there would be no way out except violent convulsion. His name must percolate, till the present occupant of that same office hears it over and over again. 

What happened in phase 4 of the U.S. civil war will surely happen again, if our current phase 8 goes hot. Which it surely will, if the blatant cheats empowering the New Confederate Treason are left in place. The parallels are chilling, and they need be shown to John Roberts, who may be the one to decide if we can get past the current crisis through peaceful reform. That decision – and America’s destiny -- is largely in the hands of the man currently sitting in the same chair.

Passionate and mostly-right and well-delivered, this paean to liberal progressivism narrated by Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez is worth watching and sharing with young people to inspire them. Of course it also vastly oversimplifies and oozes with sanctimony, and would benefit a lot if she credited both science and earlier reformers, like those from whom she borrowed the “New Deal” slogan. But before you lay into me, have a look at my first sentence. My crits are aimed at making her more pragmatically successful.  We are allies. And she’s a firecracker.

== A bizarre version of my longstanding demand for “war” ==

Long ago, I posited that some honest and brave developing world president might get so fed up over the trillions stolen from such countries by corrupt elites, that he would use a sovereign power of generous potential — declaring war against Switzerland, the Caymans and every other place where robber elites stash their ill-gotten case. (In EARTH (1990) this was the root of the “Helvetian War.”) 

And why not? Thousands of innocent children die, each day, because of these titanically evil thefts.

Oh, it can be more a legalistic than violent “war,” but formal belligerence allows seizure of assets and some other very powerful tools. Originally, I imagined this being done by Aquino on behalf of the Philippines. What I never imagined is this satire of the same idea.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants Canada to come get tons of trash that was wrongly sent to his country — and he's threatening extreme steps if Canada doesn't clean up the situation. "We'll declare war against them," Duterte said.” Duterte is probably doing it for bluster. But maybe also to discredit the whole approach, in case some true leader elsewhere ever ponders… hmmm…

Some of my earlier thoughts on using "war" to end legal travesties:
     Middle Classes Rise Up.

And see the concept updated in a chapter of Polemical Judo.


== Philosophy (and history) and slippery rocks ==

See a fascinating essay revealing the admiration with which Karl Marx wrote of Abraham Lincoln. It reaches many of the same conclusions I did, about how Lincoln’s election could never have happened had northern citizens not been radicalized by depredations by bands of rampaging southern irregular cavalry, from 1852-1860. 

Marx insisted that secession had been prompted by the Southern elite’s political fears. They knew that power within the Union was shifting against them. The South was losing its tight grip on federal institutions because of the dynamism of the Northwest, a destination for many new immigrants. As the Northwest Territory matured into free states, the South found itself outnumbered; the North was loath to recognize any new slave states. The slaveholders had alienated Northerners by requiring them to arrest and return fugitive slaves and with relentless demand that northern cities suppress and shut down nearly all of their own newspapers. They knew they needed the wholehearted support of their fellow citizens if they were to defend their “peculiar institution,” yet could only think to run roughshod over them.

"Lincoln’s election was seen as a deadly threat because he owed Southerners nothing and had promised to oppose any expansion of slavery.”

Again, now a chapter in Polemical Judo.


== The biggest of many scams ==

An important exposĂ© from The Atlantic: “The Stock-Buyback Swindle. American corporations are spending trillions of dollars to repurchase their own stock,enriching CEOs at the expense of everyone else.” 

This latest Supply Side “voodoo economics” scam was the worst one yet. They are always sales-pitched as ways to get the rich to invest in productive capacity ("supply") and R&D... and both always... always decline after each SS tax gift largesse to aristocracy. 

This latest one avoided any and all efforts to target the cuts toward capitalization or R&D, calling that "picking winners"... but it did specifically encourage stock buybacks (banned by the Greatest Generation), which profited the CEO caste and inflated asset bubbles at the cost of company health. 

The screaming smoking gun is the metric called “money velocity,” or how quickly dollars change hands. If MV is rapid, then each dollar is working hard and the economy hums for everyone, as when a construction worker gets paid, then buys a lawnmower, whose salesman pays a grocer, and…MV always goes up with infrastructure spending, which puts $ in the pockets of workers who immediately spend it. In contrast MV *shrinks* with every Supply Side sham. Every single time. Why? 

Because the rich generally don’t spend much. Nor do they (much) invest in R&D or building factories. Adam Smith saw all this (in simpler terms), denouncing the tendency of most (not all) aristocrats to 'invest' in passive ‘rent-seeking.’ Another blatant example today is the binge of multiple house-buying by well-off families, exacerbating the problems of first time home-buyers.

Stock buybacks especially do nothing for a company’s health but plenty for the stock price, which CEOs use to cash in their performance bonuses. Read on. You’ll realize why this whole scam was made illegal by the Greatest Generation… and why the oligarchy so wanted the Reagan-Bush era “reforms. 

102 comments:

Larry Hart said...

Trump campaign tweets a campaign video equating him with Thanos.

You can't make this stuff up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eGQ4avZ-AI

David Brin said...

Thx LH. Posted about it on FB. They don't want to win elections and then enact laws. They want us dead.

TCB said...

Just want to plug HBO's sequel to Watchmen. It's set in 2019 (though in a world where people are traumatized by the memory of 11/2 instead of 9/11: the psychic squid attack that killed three million people). The new story is incendiary, a tale of racism and generational scars, truly shocking twists and brilliantly structured. I think they're trying to do the whole thing in one season (not everything has to run five years, people! Casablanca and Doctor Strangelove would not be twice as good if they were twice as long!)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Rachel Maddow reported on an upcoming book from a former Trump insider in which Trump learns how close Seoul, a city of 25 million, is to the North Korean border, and it's explained to him why Seoul is so vulnerable in the event of hostilities between the Koreas. Trump's response? "Well, they'll have to move it." He then tried to issue an order that this city of 25 million be moved to a safer location.

Zepp Jamieson said...

TCB: I watched Watchmen with considerable trepidation (A lot of reworks of Alan Moore's don't do well, and this was being produced by the fellow who brought us "Lost" My expectations were low, and at first it seemed to be headed in the direction of pointless plot complications and dead-end mysterious branches that marked "Lost." But in episode six, it all suddenly snapped into focus, and with one ep remaining has become a brilliant series.
One word of warning, though: read the source material, Moore's "Watchmen" If you don't, a lot of it is going to be very difficult to follow.

David Brin said...

In a case where truth can be noticed by child minds... it is simply a fact that the SKoreans have been criminally negligent by not spending the last 69 years incentivizing the development of cities other than seoul.

Alfred Differ said...

Their wealth is fairly recent, so I'm disinclined to fault them for that long.



Also...terrain. Trade follows cheap transport routes... until one gets rich.

https://worldmapper.org/maps/gridded-population-kor/

David Brin said...

Nah. Pusan and other cities could have been emphasized. Much poorer countries have built new capitals from scratch. Seoul remains within artiller(!) range of 5000 NK pieces. Who needs nukes?

 Ashley said...

First, thank you David for your email and kind invite.

Second, thank you Larry Hart for telling me what onward signified.

Do I assume that locumranch was a former user, or is it an acronym?

Excuse me while I take time to come up to speed, I've dipped my toes into the current debates and I'm struggling to make sense of people's positions and use of language. I say this because I think of myself as a centrist, but find that the word no longer seems to mean what I think it means: someone who is neither driven by left or right wing ideology.

I consider myself a pragmatic humanist, atheist with a small "a" as in without belief, rather than anti-religion, because being anti-religion is like being anti-forces of nature. Or as PTerry would say, humans have a religion shaped hole they need to fill.

I don't feel that, but that only makes me odd or weird, probably driven by my background as a mental health nurse and cognitive behavioural therapist.

So, thank you for making me feel welcome, I look forward to seeing the debates, and may at time contribute from my British echo bubble.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

Do I assume that locumranch was a former user, or is it an acronym?


Oh, if only I knew whether you were enough of a Monty Python fan to answer, "No, not an acronym. Wha's that thing tha's spelled the same backwards as forwards?"

But loc is the pseudonymM of someone who posts here who likes to call most of us out as hypocrites by asserting that we said or advocated things that are the exact opposite of what we actually said. After many years, I don't read his posts any more. Life's too short.

And I wouldn't ever refer to him as a "former" anything. He does disappear in a huff for weeks on end, but like a bad penny, he always turns up again.

Larry Hart said...

Of course, "pseudonym" doesn't have an extra M on the end. Everyone knows that. :)

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

I think of myself as a centrist, but find that the word no longer seems to mean what I think it means: someone who is neither driven by left or right wing ideology.


These days even someone not driven by left-wing ideology can see that right-wing ideology has become an existential threat. Unfortunately, saying so is considered to be taking sides with the left, so people and news outlets bend over backwards not to notice that one party is harmful to democracy itself. Defending the Constitution and civil norms is considered a partisan act because only one party is in favor of such things.

In situations like that, it's hard to stay neutral.

Over in Britain, you're not likely to be as familiar with the musical "Hamilton" as some of us are over here, but to paraphrase a key bit from the play:

The people are waiting to hear my voice,
For, the country is facing a difficult choice,
And if you were to ask who I'd promote...
Democrats have my vote.

I have never agreed with Democrats once.
We have fought on like seventy-five different fronts.
But when all is said and all is done,
Democrats have beliefs. Trump has none.


Ashley continues...

I consider myself a pragmatic humanist, atheist with a small "a" as in without belief, rather than anti-religion, because being anti-religion is like being anti-forces of nature. Or as PTerry would say, humans have a religion shaped hole they need to fill.

I don't feel that, but that only makes me odd or weird,...


True, but probably not as weird as you think. I'm the same way. I not only don't believe in the supernatural, I don't understand what people who do are getting out of it. I can recognize that they're getting something, but don't understand it.

Sublunari said...

I'm glad to see a positive mention of Marx on your blog, David. Is there any chance we could have an endorsement of Marxism here, or at least Hegelianism, or Noam Chomsky's / Victor Serge's libertarian socialism / worker democracy? You've seen how ineffectual liberals are at combating reactionaries. Maybe it's time to let the socialists take a crack at it? After all, for all their faults the Soviets did a pretty good job with the Nazis in WW2. Marx wasn't just a fan of Lincoln, either. A recent article in The Washington Post argues that Lincoln was also a fan of Marx:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/07/27/you-know-who-was-into-karl-marx-no-not-aoc-abraham-lincoln/

jim said...

Hi Ashley, I am glad you are sticking around.

For me, rather than thinking that humans have a religion shaped hole in their hearts, I believe that the human heart is formed around a divine spark. That this is not a cold, dead, meaningless universe, but rather a warm, wet, living world filled with a riotous verity of conscious beings engaged in a cacophony of meaningful behaviors.

Larry Hart said...

My man Charles Blow don't shiv...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/opinion/trump-impeachment-victory.html

...

The Republicans will not defect from Trump in any significant numbers, if at all. It’s nearly impossible to call them to virtue when they are in the midst of their depravity. They stayed silent so long, refusing to challenge him when they could, when he was weaker, that he has grown so strong among their voters that now their silence in their only safety.

The threat of Trump’s wrath hangs over them like the sword of Damocles.

History will not only record Trump as a corrupt, tyrannical demagogue, it will also record his staggering success: How one man with no political experience hijacked a major American political party and its tens of millions of loyalists.

It is as extraordinary as it is horrifying.

These people are now devoted to Trump, lost in his lies. Trumpism is their religion and Trump is their God, which has relegated Republicans in Congress to Trump’s devoted cherubim.

...

Zepp Jamieson said...

Developing satellite cities is easier said than done. The UK is very uneasily aware of the vast concentration of people (25% of the national population) and wealth (over half) in London, and you hear quite a bit of talk about developing other cities and spreading the wealth and power around a little. The gap is widening, if anything. The election today will be an interesting study on how the vote breaks down in London vs the rest of the UK. British efforts at dispersal have failed utterly. You'll hear similar rumbpling in places that have dominant single cities, such as New York, Japan, Indonesia, or even California.
The Doctor is no doubt unaware of the fact that in 2004, the S. Korean parliament passed a law moving the capitol to Kongju, a city in central inland South Korea. The Korean Supreme Court ruled that under their version of the antiquities act, a national referendum would be required for a matter so culturally and historically significant, and that's where things stand, 15 years later.
In any event, Trump trying to order Korea to move their capital was lunacy on the level of Caligula.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: "No, not an acronym. Wha's that thing tha's spelled the same backwards as forwards?"

I don't suppose it was Michael Palin who asked that, was it?

George Carty said...

Zepp Jamieson,

The concentration of job opportunities in a handful of expensive cities was a key grievance behind both Trump and Brexit, as businesses with monopoly pricing power (financial firms in New York and London, tech firms in the Bay Area and Seattle, entertainment firms in the LA basin) use that power to suck wealth out of the rest of their countries.

Some people blame the decline of the US working class on the decline of unions, but weren't the glory days of the UAW (for example) only possible because the Big 3 automakers effectively operated as a cartel during the postwar era, and what the UAW essentially did was to grab a share of that cartel's monopoly profits. Once the Big 3 were faced with foreign competition those super-profits disappeared (meaning they could no longer afford the UAW's demands) and their attempts to mitigate this by marketing monstrously over-sized vehicles (where they could carve out a new monopoly niche, with the help of customers in gasoline-subsidizing Arab countries) have been disastrous for the environment.

I'm also thinking to back here in Britain, where the only really successful post-Thatcher union leader was the late Bob Crow (as London Underground drivers were in his union, and London is so dense that it cannot function without its subway system).

Our host correctly points out that the US federal government subsidizes red states using blue-state taxes, but do these fiscal transfers really compensate the red states for the money sucked out of them by private-sector oligarchs?

David Brin said...

Sublunari hi. Sorry but you are going to be disappointed. I deem the younger Marx (like the younger Freud) to have been a brilliant observer who rationally asked vital questions about economics and capital formation and class warfare that’s recurred in nearly all societies that had agriculture. The later Marx (like Freud and many others) allowed his flattering followers to turn him into a guru who became ever-more detached from a scientist’s duty to base theories on contingence and falsifiable tests.

The PATTERNS that Marx portrays… feudalism displaced by royalty then by bourgeoise capitalism that devolves into cheating oligarchy… is certainly one of the most enduring. His prediction that penultimate capitalism would become ripe with final completion of the means of production followed by takeover by advanced proletariate… has never happened, ever, anywhere in the world. The “Marxist” revolts in 1917 Russia and in China were by the LEAST advanced proletariates and clearly were just the latest peasant revolts propelled by a new religion and its priest-lord elites.

Marx never conceived that sapient beings in the most advanced nations might read his books and then choose a new path, as did the Greatest Generation in the US, under FDR.

Having said all that, let me add that Marx seems relevant again, as a towering cabal of top oligarchs moves to crush the Great Experiment and restore feudalism, in a pattern that now SO resembles Karl’s that you have to wonder at how stoopid they are… or clever Putin and his fellow “ex” commies are. (I’ll wager not a single person at Fox, nor Koch, Mercer or any of that lot have read Marx or have a clue how all their efforts fit right into his pattern.)

George Carty said...

Another point I forgot to mention: the firms with monopoly pricing power are also the source of the June Trauma, because their pricing power allows them to pay very high salaries to their employees (far more than workers of similar skill levels could earn in more competitive industrial sectors), luring away the best and brightest of Red America (or Leave-voting Britain).

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

LH: "No, not an acronym. Wha's that thing tha's spelled the same backwards as forwards?"

I don't suppose it was Michael Palin who asked that, was it?


I do believe it was. In the "dead parrot" sketch. The real line was "No, not a pun..." rather than "acronym", but otherwise it fit.

From memory:

Cleese: I'm led to believe this is, in fact, Bolton.

Palin: Tha's right.

Cleese: You said it was Ipswich.

Palin: It was a pun.

Cleese: A pun?

Palin: No, not a pun. Wha's that thing tha's spelled the same backwards as forwards?

...

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

In any event, Trump trying to order Korea to move their capital was lunacy on the level of Caligula.


Maybe because it worked with Israel?

Zepp Jamieson said...

George: I'm not sure I follow your reasoning. Leaving would augment London's power over the rest of the land, but it was the mid counties and Wales that voted heavily in favour of leave, whereas London, by a nearly 3-2 margin, voted to remain. Yes, leaving will hurt London, but it will hurt the rest of the country far worse.
US automakers were a cartel, and so are most foreign auto makers in their respective countries. Some are not unionised, as in Japan and Germany, but pay their workers better than what the US unionised counterpoints got.
Urban concentration does suck wealth, but a lot of that is the built-in efficiency such a concentration begets. I don't really have any real answer to that. I had hoped improved infrastructure and communications might alleviate that, but that hasn't been the case thus far.

George Carty said...

Zepp, I never said that voting for Brexit was rational! David Edgerton (author of The Rise and Fall of the British Nation) wrote an article for the New Statesman on how the anti-London resentment of older British voters (many of which by the way felt insulated from the possibility of economic collapse) was deflected against Brussels.

As for Japanese and German autoworkers: while I could imagine that their salaries were higher than those of US autoworkers in the UAW's heyday, their total cost to their employers was much less (as much of the very high cost of US autoworkers was down to lavish pension and healthcare provision, which wasn't necessary in Europe due to more generous provision by governments).

David Brin said...

Ashley, I am incapable of any kind of purity in atheism for the simple reason that it is a job requirement that I have parts of my brain that plumb the deeps and edges of firelight. The shiver of MAYBE having just been brushed by the passing robe - or maybe a claw - of something mighty is absolutely essential to my work, from time to time. Nor can I resist waves of suspicion of "purpose" or "meaning" or being toyed with.

What I refuse is to be frightened by it.

David Brin said...

Brexit should boil down to one thing that should be hammered. If Brexit goes through and the UK "leaves" the EU, then Scotland and Northern Ireland will "leave" the UK. It's as simple as that. And England will be left as a silly rump, struggling to hold onto Yok and Wales.

scidata said...

That is in large part what defeated Quebec separation in recent decades. "If Canada is divisible, then so is Quebec."

jim said...

The Inspector General’s report on the FBI is pretty damning in its evaluation of the conduct of the FBI in the Trump investigation.

And the revelations that the Whitehouse and the DOD lied to the American people in a deliberate and systematic fashion under Bush, under Obama and under Trump about the Afghanistan war (and likely the about the entire Global War of Terror). But hey, lying about war that has killed tens of thousands of people and cost trillions of dollars is not an impeachable offence, it is just the way Washington works.

And OH BOY, the more you learn about Hunter Biden the more obvious that he is a giant security risk. He is an unqualified, greedy, drug using, man slut that makes Trump’s spawn look not so bad, by comparison.

All in all, it has been a tough week for the military /FBI / democratic elite.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"And OH BOY, the more you learn about Hunter Biden the more obvious that he is a giant security risk. He is an unqualified, greedy, drug using, man slut..."

Well, there's no evidence that he's any sort of security risk at all. As for the rest, well, sounds prettly much like most Americans looking to exploit the financial and fiscal chaos that is eastern Europe.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"the UK "leaves" the EU, then Scotland and Northern Ireland will "leave" the UK. It's as simple as that. And England will be left as a silly rump, struggling to hold onto Yok and Wales."

Absolutely, and I'm not entirely sure they can hold on to Wales.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Palin: No, not a pun. Wha's that thing tha's spelled the same backwards as forwards?"

Well, of course PALIN would have asked that. I'm a silly bunt.

dennisd said...

@jim Trump's family 'business' is a multigenerational, white-collar criminal enterprise specializing in bank fraud, tax fraud and various business scams. Trump's oldest three are active participants. Hunter Biden's 50k/month 'consulting' fee, while ethically questionable, doesn't even rate a mention compared to the annual crime tally of the Trumps.

jim said...

Zepp,
Hunter Biden looks like he would be an easy target for a Jeff Epstein type child prostitution and black mail ring.

dennisd, I think you are probably right about the Trump crime family. I don't understand why the democrats in congress did not go after Trump for tax fraud and money laundering. you know, real provable crimes rather than this influence pedaling crap.

David Brin said...

Okay, I'm fed up railing at Dems and sane pundits to note the ONE common thread of every GOP defense for 3 years: "Don't look!" 'Improper procedures,' 'biased investigators,' Supposed "IRS audits," "executive privilege"... EVERY maneuver boils to "We don't want facts and we'll lawyer every possible excuse to forbid people from knowing any."

Finally, someone must pillory this relentless whine... So I offer up a SONG that someone out there could turn into a YouTube meme. It's set to the tune of "Danger Zone" from the movie TOP GUN!

*** "INTO THE CENSORED ZONE ***

Putin pushed corruption - twisted our elections - Don’t look!
All our Intel people - say it really happened - Deep State!

Tax returns he promised - ‘audit’ never happened - Don’t look!
Golf trips cost us plenty - never mind the tally - Tastes great!

* Don’t look, don’t hear the censored zone…
* We all live in the censored zone!

Every Foxite defense - boils down to one cry - Don’t look!
Mafia connections - Russian money laundry - Eyes closed!

Steele file bias! - Comey was disloyal! - so Don’t look!
Block all testimony - we don’t want no answers - Minds closed!

* Any excuse - don’t investigate!
* Same excuse made for Watergate!

Every CLINTON crevice - probed up to the elbow - Let’s look!
Always came up empty - that means they were clever - Probe deep!

When the light shines on YOU - suddenly you fear it - Don’t look!
Nothing here to look at - looking is forbidden - Go sleep!

* Don’t look, don’t hear the censored zone…
* We all live in the censored zone!

******************

Okay, maybe a poor choice of template. Van Halen's "I'll Wait" would be better, allowing more words and a rockin' "Don't Look" refrain. Anyway, if done by a pair or more voices, one could be the side accusing and the other screaming "don't look!"

Sung with liberal use of gestures! Like hands upraised to to avert vision, every time the right objects to light shining. (Or even the monkey "see no evil" gesture.) And a proctal gesture at the word "probe."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siwpn14IE7E

Jon S. said...

"Cleese: I'm led to believe this is, in fact, Bolton.

Palin: Tha's right.

Cleese: You said it was Ipswich.

Palin: It was a pun.

Cleese: A pun?

Palin: No, not a pun. Wha's that thing tha's spelled the same backwards as forwards?"


"A palindrome? (PALIN nods) 'Ipswitch' is not the palindrome of 'Bolton'! The palindrome of 'Bolton' would be 'Notlob'!"

Re: the Trump video:

The unwittingly hilarious part (spoiler alert for those who haven't watched "Endgame"!) is that this is the moment in which Thanos is about to try to wipe out the entire universe so he can start over - but Iron Man has already swiped the stones, leaving Thanos utterly powerless. A few seconds later, IM snaps his fingers, and Thanos and all his followers are utterly obliterated.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I don't think anyone had to order Netanyahu to move the capital. He campaigned on that, in fact.

Zepp Jamieson said...

No shit, I'm serious, this is from the Trump War room. It's a pumpkin head photoshopped onto Greta Thunberg's body.

https://twitter.com/TrumpWarRoom/status/1205156430879379460/photo/1

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

"A palindrome? (PALIN nods)


Oh, that was the joke? Went right over.

Zepp Jamieson:

I don't think anyone had to order Netanyahu to move the capital. He campaigned on that, in fact.


But the point is that they did move the capital. So anyone can do it, right? Maybe he'll get Jared Kuschner right on that.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

It's a pumpkin head photoshopped onto Greta Thunberg's body.


The comments are hilarious. I've been scrolling down for several minutes and haven't seen a pro-Trump comment yet.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

And OH BOY, the more you learn about Hunter Biden the more obvious that he is a giant security risk. He is an unqualified, greedy, drug using, man slut that makes Trump’s spawn look not so bad, by comparison.


You don't always sound like a Russian bot, but you might have just outed yourself.

David Brin said...

He'd consign 5 billion people to abject poverty & death, over a beloved incantation word: "globalization!" He'd rather screech at allies for not reciting his exact incantations, than come up with a plan to crush the real enemy.

Preaches at me (a) that I believe the opposite of things I openly say and love loathesome things, cause he thinks that'd "hurt."

Har! Again, I fight for things he supposedly wants more effectively in any one week than he has across an entire, sanctimony-yowled life. He knows it. Doesn't dispute it!

So no. Not a Kremlin troll. Those guys are worthy of respect as evil forces with some competence.

jim said...

Guess i got my Brin Bingo card filled out quickly this time.


"Har! Again, I fight for things he supposedly wants more effectively in any one week than he has across an entire, sanctimony-yowled life. He knows it. Doesn't dispute it!"

i normally do not comment on when do your Brin Brag because i find it so hilarious. But for the record I don't think you do much good or evil in the world, you like the rest of us are just a bit player.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim: Now you're sliding off into Infowars territory. Reel it back in to the land of sanity.

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin
The "Greatest Generation" and FDR
The dates don't line up - the Greatest Generation (1901-1927) were between 6 and 44 years old when FDR was President - between 6 and 32 years old when he was voted in
They were NOT the people "in power" during that period

The Greatest Generation fought in WW2 but they were not the people who brought the USA the "New Deal"

The Greatest Generation were in political power in the 70's and 80's - they were in power when the New Deal was undone

David Brin said...

Duncan I've been thinking about that revisionist look at the GGs since you raised it. I don't think I'll change my riff because the GGs certainly were the biggest voting block, during that era and also, it is so valuable, polemically, to tie them to FDR. Still... I do see your point.

As for the New Locumranch, har. Were he of any importance or possessed of monetrary worth, I'd demand a wager over what I've done in the fight for the world. Anyway, the assertion was about our RATIO. And since his shrieks and yammers are worth epsilon, I win by default.
Go on ankle-biter, yatter away.

TCB said...

Hunter Biden! Hoo boy, raking in that $50k a month, why, back here in the United States, to make THAT much money, he'd have to...

...

... own a successful car dealership? In a not very big city?

Daniel Duffy said...

There is a lesson in today's British election for America.

Do not nominate a far left candidate like Corbyn (either Warren or Sanders) or Trump gets re-elected like Boris.

duncan cairncross said...

Daniel Duffy

There is something in what you say - but I would say that the British right wing media - which has done a slap up job of demonising Corbyn - is much much more credible than the US right wing media

And while they have demonised Warren and Sanders - they have also demonised the right wing Dems like Biden

Zepp Jamieson said...

Corbyn got painted as a leftist, but the real problem was he was too milquetoast. Wouldn't come out for Remain, and couldn't mannage anything better than assurance he wouldn't stand in the way if Labour pressed for a new referendum.

David Brin said...

Warren is twenty times the man Corbyn is. No, the problem is that UK voters keep ignoring the lib-dems who would actually try to govern like sensible people.

What? No comments on my proposed youtube song about "Don't Look?"

Okay NONE of you knows some filk type performers who could make this a hit viral video?

David Brin said...

Oh, and recall that New Locum's true hysterics began when he was cornered by the flat-out fact that globalization lifte 5 billions out of grinding poverty and save at least a billion lives, while helping to inconvenience the US labor unions. Finding a path between uplifting the world through trade and saving our unions and labor would call for negotiation and careful design and tweaking based on fact. Yeah, those horrid things.

matthew said...

There was no enthusiasm for Corbyn. What have I said about generating enthusiasm?
That said, Trump is winning in the US right now. And his cheating will get more and more effective as major media starts to see him as inevitable and necessary to their financial futures.
Mass protest *may* tip the scales. But the first really big mass protest will be the target of right wing "lone wolves" that are really aiming to make sure protest stays at home.
It all really comes down to the right admitting that climate change is a reality(but only to themselves) and trying to build a bunker to keep the desperate out. They don't realize that *they* will be the desperate soon enough.
Oh, and the UK is no more. Today was the end of it.

matthew said...

Jo Swinson lost her seat to the SNP. That's the fate of the LibDems.

matthew said...

A United Ireland and Scotland will join the EU. Wales and York may do so as well if Boris doesn't act quickly

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin
The LibDems joined the Tories and helped them with "Austerity" - THAT should make them unelectable for a generation

Daniel Duffy said...

Somewhere Vladimir Putin is smiling at the thought of a disunited kingdom.

Everything is going according to plan.

Meanwhile if you want to understand today's media and political environment go back and watch an old Twilight Zone episode "Monsters are due on Maple Street".

Darrell E said...

Watching some of the debate last night from the impeachment hearings, I was thoroughly disgusted. I can't help but think that we may indeed be fucked. Watching Republican Congresspeople take the floor and state lie after lie. With no consequences. Infuriating.

This seems to me to be a big problem with our political systems. There needs to be mechanisms in place to apply pressure against lying. I don't know what might work best, but some mechanism of fact checking in real time and interrupting the liar, taking the floor away from the liar, and correcting the record right then and there. When the lies are allowed to be made without interruption, without immediate challenge, it's too late for too many people. They'll never believe, never pay attention to any later attempts at corrections in a newspaper article or TV news show. We need to find ways to prevent the liars false narratives from gaining any traction.

It would be nice if the press helped expose all the lies too of course. Most news outlets at best simply report what the liars say. Precious few point out the lies and counter them with the facts of the matter.

George Carty said...

Daniel Duffy, the Murdoch press also has a lot to do with it: in 2015 the English edition of the Sun newspaper was urging a Conservative vote while the Scottish edition was urging an SNP vote.

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what we already know:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/opinion/climate-change-republicans.html

...

The truth is that even now I don’t fully understand how things got this bad. But the reality is clear: Modern Republicans are irredeemable, devoid of principle or shame. And there is, as I said, no reason to believe that this will change even if Trump is defeated next year.

The only way that either American democracy or a livable planet can survive is if the Republican Party as it now exists is effectively dismantled and replaced with something better — maybe with a party that has the same name, but completely different values. This may sound like an impossible dream. But it’s the only hope we have.

Larry Hart said...

Interesting take which seems to have a point. Emphasis mine:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/opinion/UK-election-politics-boris-johnson.html

...

These two power blocs [disaffected conservatives and woke liberals] are driving the debate and setting the agenda. But there’s another group of people, who have become the most interesting part of the electorate, both here and in Britain. It’s the exhausted 75 percent, people who are defined not by any common ideology but by an affective state — they are simply worn out by the endless war between these two armies. Exhaustion has become an independent force in modern politics. Many people are voting for whatever candidate will exhaust them less.

Thursday’s British election was defined by the fact that most voters were simply ground down by Johnson and Corbyn. The Economist called the election “Britain’s nightmare before Christmas.”

...

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/13/opinion/sunday/trump-democracy.html

“It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease,” she said, speaking of our country. “Each day, you still have that little hope no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else.” Some mornings, she said, it’s hard to get out of bed. “It doesn’t feel like depression,” she said. “It really does feel more like grief.”

 Ashley said...

A friend of mine posted this on my timeline:

"The party that lies to voters v the party that lies to themselves. Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised how that worked out."

I wrote:

Well, what a surprise, or not depending on your point of view. Who would have thought.

I hear you, but if you think that (insert X) is the reason that JC lost, or that those who voted for Bojo are (insert Y), then you are part of the problem. I voted Labour because my local MP is good, but I did so despite thinking that JC was a total liability. However, I'm not the person you all need to convince.

So to all my left leaning friends. I will tell you what I used to tell my clients at the end of an assessment.

Your problem is X and you do Y, knowing that it doesn't work, so how many more attempts do you need to do until you're convinced that it doesn't work?

There are two basic rules to change:

1) Do what works.
2) Don't do what doesn't work.

Corollary, you have to find out what works and what doesn't work.

That should clarify my political position.

Larry Hart said...

You go girl! Same link as above, and the entire article is worth reading, but the conclusion espeically so:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/13/opinion/sunday/trump-democracy.html

...

This kind of political suffering is uncomfortable to write about, because liberal misery is the raison d’ĂȘtre of the MAGA movement. When Trumpists mock their enemies for being “triggered,” it’s just a quasi-adult version of the playground bully’s jeer: “What are you going to do, cry?” Anyone who has ever been bullied knows how important it is, at that moment, to choke back tears. In truth there are few bigger snowflakes than the stars of MAGA world; The Trumpist pundit Dan Bongino is currently suing the Daily Beast for $15 million, saying it inflicted “emotional distress and trauma, insult, anguish,” for writing that NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s now defunct online media arm, had “dropped” him when the show he hosted ended. Still, a movement fueled by sadism will delight in admissions that it has caused pain.

But despair is worth discussing, because it’s something that organizers and Democratic candidates should be addressing head on. Left to fester, it can lead to apathy and withdrawal. Channeled properly, it can fuel an uprising. I was relieved to hear that despite her sometimes overwhelming sense of civic sadness, Landsman’s activism hasn’t let up. She’s been spending a bit less than 20 hours a week on political organizing, and expects to go back to 40 or more after the holidays. “The only other option is to quit, and accept it, and I’m not ready to go there yet,” she said. Democracy grief isn’t like regular grief. Acceptance isn’t how you move on from it. Acceptance is itself a kind of death.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

Corollary, you have to find out what works and what doesn't work


Well, that's the hard part, isn't it?

Cynically, right-wingers found that lying, demagoguery, and bullying certainly works for them, and they're doing it. I have a hard time thinking the answer is therefore that we should do that as well.

One problem for liberals has been made clear here on this list. Apparently, running a moderate doesn't work, and running a progressive doesn't work. So what does work, short of "How I learned to stop worrying and join the Republican Party"?

Which only brings to mind the final four words of 1984.

 Ashley said...

@Larry

I don't disagree.

However, labeling people as racist, homophobes etc clearly doesn't engender a debate.

But when I find myself on the end of lectures and become tired of being lectured at, then I suggest that this doesn't work.

Facts don't change people's opinions. Finding out why they believe starts the conversation. It's about sunk costs i.e.: what do people lose when they give up their beliefs.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"No, the problem is that UK voters keep ignoring the lib-dems who would actually try to govern like sensible people."

The Lib-Dems sold themselves out when Nick Clegg formed a coalition with Cameron and the Tories in '15, giving them an effective majority rule. The present Lib-Dem leader, Jo Swinson, voted with the Tories more often than she voted with Labour. And she had already ruled out any Labour coalition in this election, eliminating any hope of ending Tory rule.

Larry Hart said...

Ashley:

However, labeling people as racist, homophobes etc clearly doesn't engender a debate.


I've made this point before, but you weren't "here" yet. A very successful Republican strategy has been to actually engage in practices that are so over-the-top egregious that the fact of accurately calling them out on their behavior is considered more offensive than the behavior itself is.

A.F. Rey said...

However, labeling people as racist, homophobes etc clearly doesn't engender a debate.

But when I find myself on the end of lectures and become tired of being lectured at, then I suggest that this doesn't work.

Facts don't change people's opinions. Finding out why they believe starts the conversation. It's about sunk costs i.e.: what do people lose when they give up their beliefs.


Neither does being labelled a snowflake, libitard, sheeple or socialist engender a debate, either. Which is what the Right is doing right now to liberals. :(

Which makes me wonder if they want to engage in a debate at all. After all, they seem to be doing fine without engaging us, and appear to enjoy calling us names.

So, as a therapist, what is your advice in engaging with someone who doesn't want to debate, but simply ridicule and belittle you to win the argument? One that you have to engage with and convince?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Monsters on Maple Street is an revealing look at mob psychology, but perhaps an even better one is the movie "Pleasantville"

One of the more intriguing aspects of the Watchmen series is the fear Adrian Veight sought to instill in people in order to ward off armageddon (so as to fight a common foe) is that that same fear leads to a rise in Nazism and other forms of extreme reactionaryism.

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

"However, labeling people as racist, homophobes etc clearly doesn't engender a debate."
...

Neither does being labelled a snowflake, libitard, sheeple or socialist engender a debate, either. Which is what the Right is doing right now to liberals. :(


I'm glad you made that point. I was going to say something similar, but was afraid it would come off as arguing with Ashley rather than making a tangential point.

The point is that name-calling does work, but only for Republicans. Because Republicans aren't calling us names in order to get us to change our minds. They're calling us names in order to bond with other deplorables and/or to get voters to consider us to be worse than them.

So why does it work for them and not for us? Why, when we refer to Trump supporters as deplorables or racists or Nazis do average voters think we're talking about them and get mad at us for it, while when Republicans call us libtards or snowflakes or Nazis, the average voters don't think those names are being applied to them?

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

One of the more intriguing aspects of the Watchmen series is the fear Adrian Veight sought to instill in people in order to ward off armageddon (so as to fight a common foe)


I haven't seen the tv Watchmen yet, though I plan to binge-watch the season when it's available on DVD.

One thing that gets missed about the original graphic novel, though. I'm not sure the problem that Veidt sought to solve was the threat of war. Couldn't the problem have been that humanity was made to feel obsolete by the presence of Dr. Manhattan?

The way I see it, the problem that Veidt solved was getting Dr. Manhattan to leave earth. That absence created a secondary threat of war, which he also had to account for in his solution.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"... the problem that Veidt solved was getting Dr. Manhattan to leave earth..."
Interesting. I'd never looked at it from that angle, but it does make sense. Manhatten was marketed as the ultimate weapon for the US, designed to end Soviet aggression, but the world was creeping closer to a full-out nuclear war. Obviously Manhattan's stated role wasn't working out. I suspect the Americans already realized he was too "other directed" to be a reliable ally, but had the Soviets figured that out?

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

To me, the problem of Dr Manhattan wasn't specifically related to war. There's a theme throughout most of the graphic novel about humans feeling obsolete. In one of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, a character asks rhetorically of God, "What can I do for You that You couldn't do an octillion times better?" and I got the feeling that with Dr Manhattan a reality, most human inhabitants of the world were feeling similarly impotent. One character's literal impotence reflects that sensibility. So does another's feeling that he is as much an "obsolete model" as the cars he works on.

Veidt has the vision to recognize the era as being awash in infantile "cute" cartoon shows juxtaposed with Rambo-esque power fantasies. But he gears his company to begin switching its ad campaigns toward a new, vibrant, optimistic age. The "Nostalgia" line is replaced by the "Millennium" campaign. After five terms of a Nixon presidency, he's replaced by the cowboy actor Robert Redford. :) Even the spark hydrants for electric cars have a new, streamlined look to them in the last issue. And the Fallout Zone warning signs come down. It's a bold new era for humanity, because they no longer live in the shadow of Dr. Manhattan.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Nostalgia" re-emerges in the TV series, but I won't say anything beyond that because it would be a massive spoiler.

Moore frequently examines the role of supermen and the resultant feelings of human inadequacy: in Miraclemen he even has the human counterpart of Miracleman feeling inadequate and flimsy next to his ubermench alterego.
I would posit that Dreiberg's auto mechanic (OwlMan's mentor, as I recall) would have been superceded by technology in any event, and that Manhattan merely accelerated the process. (In the American State of Vietnam, Manhattan is revered as a hero/god).

David Brin said...

If, as expected, John Roberts chooses to betray the nation by allowing Trump and Putin to mask their laundered billions from Congressional oversight, it must be made clear that we're not done. Roberts himself set a precedent, a bit ago, when he obeyed Fox/GOP bidding by concocting a "non-justiciable" argument to forbid federal courts from ruling against obscene gerrymander-cheating. That "principle" can now be turned to bite him and his cult. The House need only issue 100 subpoenas - delivered personally by members to civil servants, even low level clerks in the IRS, demanding *immediate* handover of documents that are blatantly within Congressional rights to acquire, under law. Each civil servant becomes a citizen judge of his or her duty - exactly justifiable under the Roberts Doctrine. Do you doubt that half of them would simply comply and pass over the Deutsche Bank proof of Russo-mafia crimes? Or the tax returns?

Oh, it'd be historically risky. Epically so. It would have to be done massively, all at once. And yes, I tried suggesting this sub-rosa to some congressional staffers I know, and got only cricket sounds.

The putsch against us has been outrageous, starting with whatever (blackmail?) incentives they used to get Anthony Kennedy to resign from the bench, and Mitch "Moscow Agent" McConnell robbing a president's appointment authority, and now his direct and braggartly open intention to run a sham "trial" with pre-ordained outcome.

What terrifies them is light. Transparency. They know any unplugged hole may unleash a dike of revelations. Again, ONE rich dude could alter all of this by offering to pay all legal bills and expenses of anyone daring to break a Fox/GOP/Trump NDA. If Bloomberg and Steyer RALLY cared about us....

https://news.google.com/articles/CAIiEPyOV4ZnlkTN-WBqBZNLpdwqGQgEKhAIACoHCAow2Nb3CjDivdcCMP3ungY?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: any unplugged hole may unleash a dike of revelations

Which always happens. This is why massive gov't coverup conspiracy theories (eg alien wreckage or staged moon landings) are preposterous on the face of it.

TCB said...

Dr. Brin asked: "What? No comments on my proposed youtube song about "Don't Look?" Okay NONE of you knows some filk type performers who could make this a hit viral video?"

This is one thing I have some actual expertise on. I have written some GOOD songs. No kidding. But. To come out of nowhere and "make it go viral" is an order of magnitude harder than creating the song and video would be. If I had mastered the dark art of making people WANT to be interested in what I'd made, I could have quit my day job 25 years ago.

It's a close relative of the phenomenon where Dr. Brin offers good ideas to people in politics and business and they don't listen. I'm reminded of the Parable of the Sower...

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

— Mark 4:3-9 (ESV)

So. If the message is sound and the delivery is good, there is still the problem of "Who is really ready to hear this? How do we reach them?" And I confess I have NO FUCKING IDEA. A fact which has caused me real suffering.

David Brin said...

TCB, I am not asking for a "viral" miracle. I'm saying there ought to be folks who would put in 30 minutes to get a meme in the can online that MIGHT catch on and make a difference.

I kept offering - 5 years ago - my Reagan-Bush, Bush, Clinton Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton? chat that might, maybe have helped - a little - to block that disaster nomination..

I guess I'll have to do it myself.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Hmm. I don't know if a YouTube video can save the world. Take your fiction: very widely read, popular, contained (for the most part) a strong ethical and intellectual foundation) and affected millions of lives. ("Earth" taught me what abject nonsense social darwinism is). Next to that, what's an internet meme going to do? Especially an appeal to reason: YouTube has millions of those, and few if any go viral. More people watch Alex Jones than Amazing Randi.
Still, you do have one strength you can bring to the table: a keen sense of absurdist humour. That can be a very effective tool for swaying public opinion.

Alfred Differ said...

A single video might not change the world, but isn't it worth 30 minutes to take the chance?

TCB said...

Out of gas and run too far, red shifted to infinity
A rain of light from a cloud of stars gently covers me
Look up there, heaven’s maps, home fires of others perhaps
If they’re out there, do you hope they come?
When you break down do you stick out your thumb?

You’ll have no reason to smile again with all of the good things gone
If you take your place with the final men in a wasted dawn

So it’s up to you, you're the fulcrum of what you do
We have a duty to carry life from the cradle where it grew
It's time we flew from the old world to the many new
Where the currents lead at interstellar speeds like dandelion seeds in the blue

And like the patter of rain ripple rings in the ocean that sings in our hearts
Sunlight will scatter in Saturn’s rings as we pass and the real journey starts
I only hope I live to see it come

We could live every wizard’s wish, we children of lizards and fish
We hold the future but can’t forget every creature we owe a debt
By the compass needle we are led, lay a graph on the wine dark sea
That computer sitting in your head is the master key

Before you burn all your enemies in the furnaces of your mind
You'll find we all have the same disease, we are all confined
Stay here and smother in your own waste or sail for a new found shore
With such horizons to be embraced you’d forget this war, you were born to explore

So it's up to you, you’re the fulcrum of what you do
We have a duty to carry life from the cradle where it grew
Casting craft and crew from the old world to the many new
Where the currents lead at interstellar speeds like dandelion seeds in the blue
Dandelion seeds in the blue

(Note: I put far more than 30 minutes into this particular piece, back in 1998. The arrangement was legit, I wouldn't change it much even now. I think I have since lost the recording. The feedback I got was not kind. So when I say I don't see a filk video catching fire, I mean it. The only human who could pull that off is probably Weird Al. And I don't have his phone number.)

the hanged man said...

Has there been any music since the sixties that has captivated and inspired a social movement — maybe Marvin Gaye.

I Think our culture has become too fragmented.

Lately, I have taken to re-reading Kurt Vonnegut. His novels make me despair, but they also make me howl with laughter. Most recently, I have been re-reading “If That Isn’t Nice, What Is?, a collection of his commencement addresses.

They are so relevant today, for instance:

“I love science. All Humanists do. I’m particularly fond of the Big Bang theory. It goes like this: there was once all this nothing, and it was so much nothing that there wasn’t even such a thing as nothing, and then there was this great big BANG, and that’s where all this crap came from. Forget the Bible.

Any questions?”

(see Larry, that’s what David S. Pumpkins was referring to.)

Also, “Doesn’t anything Socialistic make you want to throw up, like great public schools or health insurance for all?

How about Jesus’s sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God, and so on.

Not exactly planks of a Republican platform.”

Daniel Duffy said...

Ironically, when the Big Bang theory was proposed it was attacked by atheists who preferred the steady state universe model since the act of creation implied a Creator.

Daniel Duffy said...

"However, labeling people as racist, homophobes etc clearly doesn't engender a debate."

Do you honestly think that if we are just nice and understanding with Trump's base supporters that the will respond in a spirit of brotherhood and co-operation, meeting us half way across the aisle and join in a chorus of "Kumbaya"?

Have you not seen the people that attend Trump rallies?

Larry Hart said...

the hanged man:

Lately, I have taken to re-reading Kurt Vonnegut. His novels make me despair, but they also make me howl with laughter.


Vonnegut has always resonated with me since I first read "Breakfast of Champions" back in 1977. His writing was a comfort when it seemed he did influence at least part of a generation. The despair you mention is from the futility of it all in hindsight--a despair he himself seemed to share in his last novel "Timequake".

I've noticed the same feeling in the latest Michael Moore films, and to some extent in recent Bill Maher screeds. An increasingly exhausted plea of, "I can't keep doing this on my own, people!"

Larry Hart said...

the hanged man quotes Kurt Vonnegut:

How about Jesus’s sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?


Why is it that right-wing Christians are so hot to merge church and state with quotes from the Old Testament? Has anyone ever insisted that respect for our Christian heritage demands posting of the Beatitudes on the courthouse lawn? Or anything that Jesus actually...whatayacall...said?

On a separate but somewhat-related subject, after two days, I still don't understand the reasoning behind Trump's policy on "protecting" Jewish students on campuses. I don't mean I disagree with it--I mean I literally can't understand it. The upshot seems to be that, because Jewishness is like a nationality, Jews are a protected minority. But the practical application is not to protect Jews, but to block any public criticism of policies of the state of Israel. Universities can be fined for allowing anti-Netenyahu demonstrations, but "very fine people" are still good to chant "Jews will not replace us!"

Not to mention that the administration which pushed through the courts a Muslim ban based upon an individual's country of origin is complaining about anti-Israel sentiment reflecting discrimination based on national origin.

I suppose the true purpose of the exercise, like much of Republican policy, is to convince people that "Two plus two equals whatever the Party says it does."

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Have you not seen the people that attend Trump rallies?


Trump has Mule powers. Hitler probably had them too. Maybe Boris Johnson as well?

You all snark, and I'm kidding on the square of course, but seriously, is there a theory that better explains what we've been living through the past three years? Is there a theory that better explains Lindsey Graham, the former Viceroy of Kalgan?

scidata said...

Re: Mule powers

Those powers lay not within tyrants, but within us. The fault dear Brutus...

That's the entire premise of BNW, and why it is so much more frightening than 1984. He may have loved Big Brother at the end, but people fall out of love all the time. In the happiest cases, it's called Enlightenment.

Zepp Jamieson said...

TCB: The hard work shows, too. That was beautifully done.
Hanged Man: Yes, music still inspires, but you won't find much of that in the commercial stuff they sell. And yes, the culture is fragmented, but you can find inspiring songs with strong social messages in all genres. One of the greatest protest songs I ever heard was done in purest Red River Valley C&W style: "We Can't Make It Here Any More" by Jame McMurtry.

David Brin said...

TCB what was the melody to that song?

David Brin said...

The UK Labour Party suffered its worst showing in more than 80 years. What does this teach us about calls for the US “resistance” to spurn moderation, like Labor did? == I’ve shown six reasons why we need to pounce on “splitterism” - sanctimony junkies who shout that moderate liberal democrats are just “Republican lite" ... that the way to defeat the Putin/Fox/Saudi/Confederate/Trumpist treason-madness is to offer working class whites hard-cider socialism. To be clear, I like Warren and Bernie is a clone of my dad. I got no probs with AOC types primarying old dems in deep blue safe districts then pushing for Scandinavia-ism. But those who ignore my SIX rebuttals to splitterism are at best fools . Some of em live/work in Kremlin basements.

I point to blue states like CA. OR, WA where moderates and rockrib socialists (mods &rockers) work well together. ALL of the territory that was won from purple or red districts in 2018 - making Pelosi Speaker - were taken by hairbun/crewcut veterans or similar science-and-justice loving moderates.

The UK election that rendered Labor almost a joke - was a loss for humanity and will likely result in breakup of the UK. (Hear Putin chortling?) It also shows that average Britons were not swayed by ‘pure, courageously open leftism.’ (Things might have been different with rank choice voting, which should be top priority for would be supporters of 3rd parties.

All of it predicted in Polemical Judo.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/13/world/europe/uk-general-election-results.html

http://davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

scidata said...

I too see the potential for songs/lyrics. They cut through polemical defenses (necessary for reaching cultists). I don't have TCB's lyrical talent, but I did attempt such a ditty for promotion of computational citizen science some years ago. I set it to the melody of "So Beautiful" by Javis Church (of The Philosopher Kings). I even connected with him on several SM channels, but was unable to get him to record/delegate this version. The storyline replaced his longing for a girl with a modest PC in the corner looking for pulsars all night and all day. Gee, I wonder why he didn't go for it.

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart said...
Interesting take which seems to have a point. [Emphasis removed]:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/opinion/UK-election-politics-boris-johnson.html

...

These two power blocs [disaffected conservatives and woke liberals] are driving the debate and setting the agenda. But there’s another group of people, who have become the most interesting part of the electorate, both here and in Britain. It’s the exhausted 75 percent, people who are defined not by any common ideology but by an affective state — they are simply worn out by the endless war between these two armies. Exhaustion has become an independent force in modern politics. Many people are voting for whatever candidate will exhaust them less.

Thursday’s British election was defined by the fact that most voters were simply ground down by Johnson and Corbyn. The Economist called the election “Britain’s nightmare before Christmas.”


Is there any actual evidence presented that such is the case? (NB: I won't give money to the NYT, so I can't look myself.)

It's possibly true, but: a) there are almost certainly a long list of reasons that explain the UK election results; and b) what I see far too often in this sort of case is something like, "see, this is what I already thought, and it shows that I am right!" (when in fact it does no such thing).

Ahcuah said...

LH: Evidence? We don't need no stinkin' evidence!

It was David Brooks, and it was an Opinion piece.

He did point to two other stories (not behind a paywall, as far as I can tell).

"Britain's Nightmare Before Christmas", in The Economist: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/12/05/britains-nightmare-before-christmas

And in this one:

https://www.convivium.ca/articles/a-place-of-great-debate/

they are not talking about Britain, but, in fact, are quoting . . . David Brooks (among other).

Bob Neinast

Jon S. said...

"It was David Brooks, and it was an Opinion piece.

He did point to two other stories (not behind a paywall, as far as I can tell).

"Britain's Nightmare Before Christmas", in The Economist: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/12/05/britains-nightmare-before-christmas

And in this one:

https://www.convivium.ca/articles/a-place-of-great-debate/

they are not talking about Britain, but, in fact, are quoting . . . David Brooks (among other)."


How... circular. I hope they all washed their hands afterward.

the hanged man said...

Is anyone familiar with Leonard Cohen? His song, “Democracy is Coming to the USA” kept playing in the back of my mind as Bernie Sanders was gaining popularity during the 2016 campaign. Then when Trump won, Cohen’s song, “The Future” replaced it. Cohen was warning us about the Trumpites, as did Hunter S. Thompson with his columns and books.

Cohen died right around the time of the election — he had impeccable timing.

scidata said...

The first SNL after the election opened with a Hillary impression doing Cohen's "Halleluja"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG-_ZDrypec

There are times when only a Canadian can truly see America.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

...when only a Canadian can truly see America.


From your house?

scidata said...

Heh. Palin and I are different things. In fact, the opposite thing.

Actually I was thinking more of Margaret Atwood than Leonard Cohen.

David Brin said...

thm: "Hallelujah."

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Sublunari said...

"Sublunari hi. Sorry but you are going to be disappointed. I deem the younger Marx (like the younger Freud) to have been a brilliant observer who rationally asked vital questions about economics and capital formation and class warfare that’s recurred in nearly all societies that had agriculture. The later Marx (like Freud and many others) allowed his flattering followers to turn him into a guru who became ever-more detached from a scientist’s duty to base theories on contingence and falsifiable tests.

The PATTERNS that Marx portrays… feudalism displaced by royalty then by bourgeoise capitalism that devolves into cheating oligarchy… is certainly one of the most enduring. His prediction that penultimate capitalism would become ripe with final completion of the means of production followed by takeover by advanced proletariate… has never happened, ever, anywhere in the world. The “Marxist” revolts in 1917 Russia and in China were by the LEAST advanced proletariates and clearly were just the latest peasant revolts propelled by a new religion and its priest-lord elites.

Marx never conceived that sapient beings in the most advanced nations might read his books and then choose a new path, as did the Greatest Generation in the US, under FDR.

Having said all that, let me add that Marx seems relevant again, as a towering cabal of top oligarchs moves to crush the Great Experiment and restore feudalism, in a pattern that now SO resembles Karl’s that you have to wonder at how stoopid they are… or clever Putin and his fellow “ex” commies are. (I’ll wager not a single person at Fox, nor Koch, Mercer or any of that lot have read Marx or have a clue how all their efforts fit right into his pattern.)"

Hi David, thank you for your comment. Would you not say, though, that your last paragraph here contradicts the first? If Marx is relevant again, maybe the future history he envisioned hasn't come to pass—yet. Recent protests in Berlin have demanded that the government seize private housing and provide public housing for all. Similarly, large German companies must have 49% worker representation on their boards of directors. These are just two of many examples of socialism advancing in Europe; in Finland a leftist Social Democrat in her early thirties was just put into office; Brexit will similarly annihilate the UK while freeing Northern Ireland and Scotland from British colonialism.

Marx and Hegel are both making a comeback, and maybe that's for a good reason. I'm not sure we can make it to the 24th century world you and I both love without them.

I agree with many of your points, but I think that your emphasis on intergenerational politics (rather than class politics) ultimately only serves capital. I know rad leftist boomers and fascist millennials and zoomers, but I don't know a single business owner who is okay with President Bernie Sanders. Also: will you endorse Bernie for president, or have you already? Thank you!