Saturday, August 07, 2021

Explaining what should be obvious about ‘transparency' yet again

FIRST a brief note for SF fans with e-readers!  Startide Rising, my Hugo and Nebula award winning novel, is on discount today.


Get hooked(!) only today with this ebook bargain at $2.99! Refreshed-updated with new cover & introduction and Uplift Universe timeline!


== The Transparency thing that gave us everything we value ==


I still give a lot of talks on this topic... though I suspect in some cases I'm invited in hope of using me as a strawman "foe of privacy," to be knocked down.  Some find it disappointing to learn that I fear both Big Brother and loss of privacy, as much as (or more than) they do, pointing out that only one thing ever thwarted tyranny or nosy neighbors, and that's light, the ability -- your ability -- to catch would-be oppressors and denounce their misdeeds.


Very few peoples and nations across 6000 years were ever able to apply this power of reciprocal light and accountability. Indeed, we don't sufficiently appreciate the power it gave citizens. Certainly the world's despots know it, and are desperately creating protected shadows for themselves. And lacking upward transparency (sousveillance), a return to feudalism... or much worse... is inevitable. 


With it, you might prevent Big Brother, only to reap a second layer of fearful oppression... by a judgmental majority who demand conformity, using democracy against those they do not like. The nightmare portrayed crudely by books/movies like The Circle and much better in that Black Mirror episode "Nosedive."


Ironically, this is exactly the scenario - fear of oppression by 'the mob' - that Fox/KGB and their pals are now spreading across the MAGAsphere, in order to discredit democracy itself! They must, because if U.S. citizens truly recover voting sovereignty, there would be no political future for today's Mad Right/putinist version of confederate conservatism.


Still, there is an underlying point that they're exploiting, a fear that Ray Bradbury illustrated in Fahrenheit 451. If transparency is universal, but the culture is immature and judgmental, then you don't get Big Brother. Rather you get lateral oppression by that 51% majority - an oppression that's totally legal, democratic and above-board. Indeed, this is how "social credit" might make crude, Orwellian Gestapo-tactics unncessary in future despotisms, as the People themselves enforce conformity, laterally.


Hence, our narrow path of freedom requires a third ingredient, at the level of values. If transparency is universal AND we have a culture that scorns gossips and bullies and privacy busybodies and voyeurs and judgmental conformity-enforcers, then MYOB can prevail.

What's MYOB?

Mind Your Own Business.

It means if I'm not hurting anyone, then my quirks and eccentricities merit protection, same as yours. Lest a day come when I am not tolerated... followed by you.

Yes, I have learned that this simple idea is almost impossible for most folks to wrap their heads about, even though it's a fundamental, base level zeitgeist of our present society! Indeed, I show how Sci Fi books and films have been at the vanguard in promoting appreciation of individual eccentricity, in my recent nonfiction book: VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood.

Tolerance is actually encouraged best by transparency, especially when gossips and bullies and privacy busybodies and voyeurs are caught in the act... but only when gossip and bullying and conformity-enforcing are in disrepute.

Again, yeah it sounds counter-intuitive. Yet, it is exactly the baseline value system of a majority of westerners now.  It's very likely your baseline value!  And it is the only way we'll get beyond the danger zone to something decent.


== MORE ==


Under a broad program called "signature reduction", it is said (in this article) that the U.S. Pentagon supervises a secret force more than ten times the size of the clandestine elements of the CIA, that “carries out domestic and foreign assignments, both in military uniforms and under civilian cover, in real life and online, sometimes hiding in private businesses and consultancies, some of them household name companies.” This is in part to deal with the difficulties of modern intel gathering when adversaries have massive files and face recognition. Also: “The explosion of Pentagon cyber warfare, moreover, has led to thousands of spies who carry out their day-to-day work in various made-up personas, the very type of nefarious operations the United States decries when Russian and Chinese spies do the same.”


Which raises a basic question. How will we evade this devolving into:


1) A deep state that is unaccountable to constitutional systems*… or


2) The sort of tit for tat conflict of reciprocal sabotage that the great science fiction author Frederik Pohl warned about in his terrifying novel The Cool War.


Neither of these outcomes frighten adversaries of the West, who are fully committed to these tactics in order to prevent the psychic collapse of tyranny that their models predict, if the Enlightenment is not toppled soon. But both outcomes should worry us.


Those currently in our intel/military/law officer corps are likely loyal to constitutionalism and law and all that. Moreover they need tools such as these, in order to wage a desperate struggle on our behalf.  But these methods can all too easily anchor into habit. Habits that prevent our servants from even noticing an alternative suite of weapons that have far better long term prospects. In fact, those alternative methods are the only ones that can lead to our sole victory condition.


Weapons of light.



== ...Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks... ==


Finally… Two notes on philosophy.


1) UCSD Professor Benjamin Bratton - author of Revenge of the Real - is fighting for us on a front that seems obscure to 99.999% of us, but is actually important -- the ongoing effort by 'postmodernist' philosophers (especially on French and US campuses) to denounce and discredit science, democracy, so-called 'facts,' and the very concept of objective reality. I recommend his article for those who would blink in amazement over Ben's depiction of the rage-howls that fulminate from elite subjectivity spinners, who demand that their incantations get paramountcy over the evidence and models we laboriously build out of a clay called 'reality.'


2) I had a note from someone else who felt caught between two philosophical “rocks.”


Is there an intersection between ephemerality and nihilism - lately I have found myself fully seated in ephemerality - not as a negative - but - rather - as an awakening of the transitory aspect of my physical engagement with the universe  - it has awakened my creativity - am I way off – thoughts?” 


My answer is the same one I give at commencement addresses:

You can be large. 

More than one thing. 

Study the phrase "positive sum" as opposed to "zero sum."  Sure your individual life may be short to the point of apparent pointlessness. So is a bee's. But the hive does mighty things. 


We are building a civilization of extraordinary magnitude! One that has accomplished prodigious things, perhaps unprecedented across the galaxy, and we did it by standing on the shoulders of ephemerals who stood on the shoulders of ephemerals who clawed their way a little higher, out of a muck of ignorance. These accomplishments - forged in the spirit of our ancestors - are just hints at what might yet come.


You don't have to accomplish great things to be part of all that. Or even remembered! You will know the things you did, to be part of that rising pyramid of shoulders. Feel the weight of future generations on them. 


You have our gratitude.


125 comments:

Treebeard said...

The desire to be part of a project larger than yourself, for a hypothetical future that you won’t live to see, in the name of grandiose abstractions and moral causes, has a name: religion. It’s understandable that people try to escape their little transitory lives and egos in that way, but still kinda delusional. Today, this concrete moment, is all you have, and all you’re ever gonna have. As Osho liked to say, life is its own purpose; goals are always in the future, but life is always here.

As far as covid goes, to me it’s the first postmodern virus. It’s origins, significance, what should be done about it, its very existence, are culturally determined and in doubt. There’s no definitive group of credentialed experts who get to define reality or control the narrative who will be universally respected. This is how things are in the postmodern age. You won’t be able to put the genie back in the bottle, although I’m sure various authoritarians will try.

“Objective reality” isn’t really a thing anyway, imo, since everything “real” is filtered through subjective minds. I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole of magical thinking about how minds create reality, and I don’t rule out the possibility that things can be brought into existence from minds to physical reality in some strange way—including viruses. Anyway at this point covid is mostly a mind virus, the social reaction to which is far more dangerous than the physical virus. I’ve heard educated, credentialed people make all kinds of absurd comparisons of covid to war, to my city being bombed, threatening the unvaccinated with various restrictions and punishments, etc. It’s clearly a pretext for power that appeals to a lot of people, to try to enforce a particular version of reality and structure of authority. But here again, I don’t thing the genie is going back in the bottle, and neither is covid. It’s just another thing we’ll have to live with, as limited creatures in a world we can’t and don’t need to control or agree upon.

Robert said...

Totally off topic, but thought it might be appreciated. I saw this flash across my media feed today:

"The worst thing about forgetting your mask is that people assume you're a Republican."

Alfred Differ said...

I'm sure there are transparency and 'build a civilization' threads in here somewhere… 8)

…a lot of the au/ag looted from the Americas went directly from the Spanish galleon fleets into German banking vaults…

I wouldn't have guessed that, but then Germany wasn't unified. Between their imperial cities and princes/prince-bishops who didn't get along with each other, I shouldn't be shocked. Some of them survive today as micro-states, right?

While I concede that the origins of Dutch success are hard to parse, one word can explain the failure - Hubris.

Heh. For the decline, that just might be. Could be that Napoleon merely finished things.

The argument McCloskey makes for the rise is that growing an economy that fast has little to do with gold and silver and thrift and such. It has MUCH more to do with ending the waste of talent among the market participants. She argues that you can see evidence in what they wrote and painted that they began to dignify (literally grant dignity) to the bourgeoisie and liberated them enough to innovate during their 80 war. They still operated like mercantilists and the liberation wasn't what we'd recognize today as full liberty, but it was still a vast improvement on what their neighbors were doing.

Our host will often point out how we should be investing to increase the numbers of people who can compete fairly in an open, flat market. What the Dutch did during the Republic era was trip across a way to do it. Dignity and Liberty. Their neighbors thought it alien, but Dutch wealth eventually made the English envious enough to imitate which eventually led the Scots to do it as well. Each imitation was imperfect causing variation and every biology student knows where that goes.

The Dutch approach was mercantilist. The English copied that and kept to it for quite a while. One thing was very different for the English, though. They had a large 'dissenter' population they socially trapped into careers limited to industry. Oops. Boom went the population and innovation rate. Those dissenters dignified themselves and were about as liberated as could be in the times. The northern British colonies in America copied a lot from the dissenters while the southern colonies went a very different direction.

How can we know all this, though? It's not like everyone was keeping track of every bit of silver spent and every debt owed to everyone else. We can do that today with modern computing and networks up to a point, but we can't see the micro-loans that occur every day between people. We can't capture how they dignify each other and engage in MYOB behaviors. Well… not yet. When cameras and microphones are documenting everything, I suppose we will see that.

How do we know that we are already well along the path to dignity and liberty? Because we write about it. It's in our stories. It's in Larry's powerful annoyance when some GOP'er disobeys what Larry thinks are the proper social rules. It's in the writings of many of you here who get upset about Libertarians who don't feel they owe you squat. We WRITE about it a lot and have for a few generations now. That's going to be a big, big deal because we can digitize all that sweet talk now and treat it as evidence for testing hypotheses. In a transparent world, the supply of evidence is vast and we are already beginning to use it.

David Brin said...

Good stuff, Alfred.

Treebeard, too, must've taken vitamins because he tries hard to eschew insult in order to make points in favor of his zero-sum, nihilistic thinking, dismissing as "mere" religion the worldview of contingent model-building, accountability-to-evidence and egalitarian reciprocal criticism that has shoved religion off center stage to benefit us all.

It's especially amusing, of course, to see how anti-modernists who resent this displacement of religion use "Oh yeah? Well... well.. YOUR just a religion, too!" When that is laughable. Science encourages questioning, with every model ASSUMED to be contingent and flawed and soon to be replaced by one incrementally better.

Impudently, this new system transfers the locus of better humanity from its long held throne in some purported past golden age to a series of future times when our wisdom will be greater than it is now, then greater still, and hence all current incantations will at-best be recalled with indulgent smiles. It is hard to overstate how disturbing this reversal of the depicted time flow of wisdom has been to the other, much older set of ideation/incantation reflexes. Even if one seldom sees it discussed the way I just put it.

That reversal of the time flow of wisdom qualitatively and spectacularly distinguishes scientific modernism from past religions. Moreover, the pure fact that progress happens means that daily we see proof that accumulation of improvements CAN happen. And therefore it is our duty as ancestors to do that for our heirs.

No other kind of "duty" has the utterly verified basis that one has, validated by all ethic sytems AND by evolution and in the hearts of all good parents.

--

"“Objective reality” isn’t really a thing anyway, imo, since everything “real” is filtered through subjective minds. I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole of magical thinking about how minds create reality..."

blah blah postmedernist blah. What a pack of cant that's not only leftist postmodernism but FRENCH! Utterly ignoring the fact that science knows all about this and has shown the way out of Plato's delusional 'cave." It works.

We cannot look at the sun directly. But we can see and measure its shadows. And you are welcome to come out of the cave and join us in the light.

scidata said...

I blame rampant mathiness* more than human nature. Algebra is formalized zero-sum thinking. I've had folks (students, actually) haughtily snort at me for writing X=X+1 in programming classes. Math is a hominin tool, not the divine language of the universe to be incanted in all situations. I really admire Asimov, but boy howdy, did he ever miss the boat on computational psychohistory, leaving it to plebes like me to clean up the mess.

* Coined by Paul Romer. As with Elon Musk, even short stint at Queen's University goes a long way. Something in the water there.


Calculemus!

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

“Objective reality” isn’t really a thing anyway, imo, since everything “real” is filtered through subjective minds.


Until objective reality runs into you--usually on a battlefield.

I used to argue that the typical interpretation of "objective" and "subjective" are used exactly backwards. For example, if you have a three-year old child, any assertion of a so-called objective fact is met with "Why?" It's all subjective to the kid, who doesn't have to believe anything you tell him. Until, after a chain of further explanations, each leading to a new, "Why?", the exasperated parent finally answer with, "Because otherwise, I'll smack you one!"

Boom. The smack is objective reality. The kid doesn't get to choose to believe or not believe in it--it is a fact.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"The worst thing about forgetting your mask is that people assume you're a Republican."


IMHO, Robert gets post of the day.

TCB said...

Alfred, I have The Bourgeois Virtues in front, of me, bought on YOUR recommendation, you scalawag, and I gave up after about fifty pages. Or was it a hundred? The author McCloskey takes longer getting to the point than Jordan Peterson, and that is nigh unto a death march. (Peterson, if you give him a chance, will eventually reveal that he has no point worth making at all).

Anyway I will try again with McCloskey. Pray for me.

--------------------------------------

I have long celebrated Philip K. Dick's somewhat-famous 1978 speech titled "How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later". The best-known line goes:

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away."

But, he continues: "But the problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups — and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener."

https://urbigenous.net/library/how_to_build.html

Alfred Differ said...

TCB,

…bought on YOUR recommendation…

Heh. Take a peek around page 509 and you'll see she planned a lot more books than she wrote. I don't know if her publisher told her to knock it off or if she worried about running out of lifetime before the project finished, but I think the original plan would have involved at least 5000 pages. Maybe 10,000.

I saw somewhere that she planned a summary book, but it isn't out yet. In 2019 she released an essay collection that should make an Adam Smith fan happy, but I haven't read it yet.


The 'virtues' book underpins her arguments for WHY we do much of what we do in the economic sense. After describing the essentials of a 'virtue ethics' system (which a lot of us were never taught), she picks at the notion that economics is essentially a science for maximizing prudence. Homo Economicus is the rational decision making so-called human who might obey such rules, but real humans don't.

Much of her attack on prudence maximization comes from the fact that she's a former believer in such theories. There is nothing quite like the former-faithful when it comes to assaults on fortifications protecting cherished belief. She's definitely one of them.

Still… you can skip that book for later. It isn't that important to book #2. It's a little more necessary for book #3 because the proposal she makes for the Great Enrichment kinda depends on non-prudence behaviors exhibited by the bourgeoisie in the Dutch Republic first and then in England later. Without her laying down what she means by virtue ethics, it isn't obvious what the Dutch did. With the foundation, though, the reader is left asking how such a small thing done by the Dutch could have such a gigantic effect. THAT's where she takes the argument in the third book.


I read the first book cover to cover because it was my first encounter with 'virtue ethics' that didn't cast the entire subject as an exercise in religion. I was well are before that Aristotle's version pre-dated the Roman Church, but Aristotle was heavily adopted by that church making the entire field smell like dogma to me. McCloskey made it easier for me to see it as the ancient field it really was and made the adaptation introduced by Aquinas fit in a relatively secular manner for me. She herself is a believer, but she wrote the first book in such a way that a non-believer like me could see the broader points being made. For example, what Aquinas called Faith can be recognized as Identity. As a virtue, it is what we do when we are 'loyal to' what we are.

The first book also has a long list of works cited. Without that, I'd be concerned she was making it all up. With it, I can see her ideas in intellectual context. I wound up buying some of those listed books too. It's not easy to find modern books on Virtue Ethics that classical authors wouldn't have found totally alien, but she listed at least one. The field damn near died outside the Church after Adam Smith's death.

Alfred Differ said...

treebeard,

The desire to be part of a project larger than yourself, for a hypothetical future that you won’t live to see, in the name of grandiose abstractions and moral causes, has a name: religion.

Umm… not really. That's a gross over-simplification. It IS what I would have claimed 20 years ago, though. Since then… I've seen the light. 8)

Joking aside, it really is an over-simplification. A better term would be 'faith' or 'identity' and it is among the traits many identify as a virtue. Many theists think they own the concept (they do not!) and that is probably all that's needed to understand why people make this over-simplification.

All of us have an identity of sorts on many levels. I'm a 'this' or a 'that'. We have lots of them actually and a desire to be part of a 'this' or a 'that'. Usually lots of them simultaneously.

For example, as a kid I wanted to grow up to be a football player? Why? My father was a football fan. He used to go to Bronco games back when the AFL was brand spankin' new. I wanted as a kid to be part of that sense of identity my father had as a 'Bronco fan'. I played little league football for a while starting in flag leagues and working up toward tackle leagues. I learned how to throw a cross-body block as a tiny kid and scared the piss out of the adults watching. I eventually stopped, though, because I was obviously going to grow up to be my father's shape and size. Not big enough. Not fast enough. Not strong enough. So… I settled for being a Bronco fan myself. I copied a LOT of his identity for myself. Football was just a part of it.

In my 50's, though, I finally let go of football. I lost my 'faith' in it in the sense that I couldn't maintain my loyalty to the game. Too many players beating wives. Too many brain injuries crippling former players. Too gladiatorial. One of those issues wouldn't have ended my loyalty, but the sum of them did. My father remained loyal, though.

Instead, I switched to American baseball. They had finally changed the rules to discourage collisions at second base to break up double plays. So… I became a Dodger fan. They make it pretty easy most of the time because they can outspend damn near every other team. Heh. That's a new element of my identity, though. Very new. Not exactly virtuous, right? I abandoned a 'faith' and took up a new one.

We live lives with lots of faiths big and small. I'm not a believer in God, but that just means I shouldn't capitalize the word 'faith' if I want to avoid confusing theists. All those smaller loyalties, though? Yah. I've got a lot of them as components of what I am. They are the 'this' and 'that' of which I am composed.

You have your loyalties too.

Laurence said...

"Tolerance is actually encouraged best by transparency, especially when gossips and bullies and privacy busybodies and voyeurs are caught in the act... but only when gossip and bullying and conformity-enforcing are in disrepute."

There is however what might be called "pseudo-tolerance" many people today think they are being tolerant and quirky, when in reality they are simply labelling their own habits and lifestyle as "eccentric" "marginalised" or "dissenting" while judging and ostracising anyone who doesn't conform to their standards, under the flimsy pretext that that person is suposedly an "oppressor". Examples include the tendency on the radical left to treat hetrosexuality as something slightly shameful, and to regard mental illness as almost compulsory. The right meanwhile makes a great deal of noise about "free speech" and "free expression" right up until someone takes the knee.

Robert said...

snort at me for writing X=X+1 in programming classes

The problem is that in programming the "=" symbol has two totally different functions — as a comparison operator and as an assignment operator, and you need to figure out which is which by context. Worse, a single line of code using the assignment operator looks like a line of algebra, even though it doesn't have the same meaning.

In effect, programmers decided to change the meaning of a fundamental math symbol. (Ironically, many programmers of the same vintage got bent out of shape when the general public decided to change the meaning of the word "hacker"!)

Programming requires abstract thought, which is hard to do anyway, and harder when you're young (like most students are). Programming would be a bit easier to learn if programming languages used a different symbol — like Pascal does (":="), although an arrow might have been even better (except keyboards don't have them).

Larry Hart said...

Hal Sparks on his radio show referred to the willfully-unvaccinated regions of the country as "Unvaccistan".

That's another one I'm going to steal. :)

Pappenheimer said...

"The Cool War" was one of the most chillingly prophetic SF novels I've ever read. "Well, we can't nuke each other, so let's surreptitiously kick each other's grandma and key each other's car at night." Another author (name not remembered) wrote that humans as a species do not face any real problems, but are simply playing a very involved game with dire consequences.

I do wonder what kind of society might develop if two commensal species achieved sentience together - something along the lines of ravens and wolves, where ravens lead wolves to kills and share in the feast. (They have been observed playing together.) "Well, we CAN go to war with the neighboring pack, but our ravens say that's just stupid."

Robert said...

Like TCB, I bounced off McCloskey's economics books. Eventually I'll try them again, but at nearly 2000 pages I'm tempted to look for the Coles Notes…

Her autobiography Crossing is, however, excellent. I confess I wasn't so much interested in the biography aspect as her observations about society from both sides of the gender divide. It was interesting seeing what someone with two gender perspectives noticed.

Also her rather wry observation at the end:

We Americans live in a free country, as we like to affirm. Still, unlike, say, British or Dutch people, many Americans get really, really irritated when another American exercises her freedom. It’s an old tension in American life.

David Brin said...

Ravens lead wolves? Never heard that! Citation?

Unvaccistan

Laurence sorry, that's just wrong. You cite current examples of intolerant bullying as examples of failures of my method when it hasn't been implemented there. Jesus, the PC bullies are shielded by FAILURE of MYOB to focus on their gossip lynch mobs.

scidata said...

Robert: you need to figure out which is which by context


If I had a nickel for every time I've explained that...
The problem is that mathiness has commandeered all operators. Paul Romer explains this very well, and it is the main reason why economics has been destroyed by math. Asimov seriously goofed when he constructed a sociological science based on math, or at least he goofed by not correcting that error before dying.

Jon S. said...

I mentioned the wolf/raven thing (I think on the last post?) as well, but here's a cite:

https://www.yellowstone.org/naturalist-notes-wolves-and-ravens/

That was when I was wondering if the ravens were taming the wolves.

As for that silly notion about "no such thing as objective reality", I invite those who propound this worldview to step off the top of a building and demonstrate that they don't have to fall because their subjective world disagrees with gravity. I'd recommend doing this from a single-story building, to minimize the damage...

Laurence said...

My point was we can very easily imagine we're being tolerant by labelling certain behaviours as dissenting when they are either perfectly mianstream and ordinary (as is generally the case on the faux libertarian right) or have become pretty mainstream and unremarkable (as is the case for the woke left.) PC bullies for the most part honestly believe they are standing up for the rights of the little guy to be quirky and do their own thing, and encouraging people to mind their own buisness, so a culture that encouraged this attitude wouldn't put a stop to their behaviour.

Alfred Differ said...

I recall being annoyed when I encountered my first example of x++ that discouraged X=X+1. My first language was Basic where we had to signal our intent with 'LET', so I thought it weird anyone would write an increment operator.

Then I learned some of the set theoretical foundations under mathematics. Okay I said. I guess I can live with increment and decrement functions.

Fifteen years later after countless stupid mistakes mixing assignment and logic operators, I finally get it. I don't like to use '=' at all. I'll write my own methods for classes just to avoid it. Java put a .equals() method in the base Object class to be overridden and that now makes sense to me. Assignment is a 'map onto' operation. An equality test is not.

What I haven't done (yet) is bothered to figure out when I'm supposed to write ++x instead of x++. I'm told one should pay attention to what compilers actually DO when squeaking out the last bits of speed from one's algorithm. Someday I might need to do that.


I still get annoyed at the public's broad definition of 'hacker'. 8)

David Brin said...

Laurence I say in The Transparent Society repeatedly that we don't like accountability appplied to ourselves. PC bullies and Fox yammerers alike. Gossips and bullies especially. Your examples prove my point.

Alfred Differ said...

Laurence,

…to regard mental illness as almost compulsory.

I've seen this behavior on Twitter, but mostly in the very young. My anecdotes include people in their early teens to early-20's. After roughly 25 years of age, I don't think I've seen it expressed with any seriousness.

My take-away is the kids are experimenting with their sense of identity. They are deciding to 'own' what they truly are instead of pretending enough to appear to conform. I am ALL FOR THIS as I think teenagers are some of the most conservative minds in our culture. Peer pressure bends them like pretzels. Those of us who are older have already learned some of how to blow off the idiots who would have us do really stupid things. Okay. Not everyone. Enough to matter, though.

My tolerance of their 'illness' is a mixture of "I don't care." and "Sorry to hear about that. Seriously." If they describe symptoms similar to my son's, I'll chime in and try to be supportive. If they sound like they are just screwing around, I've got more fun things to do. Sometimes they are funny, though. 8)


I've never seen someone suggesting heterosexuality is shameful, though. I've seen them challenge us on our pronoun assumptions, but I'm willing to flex a bit on that. Truth is, I don't really care what pronoun someone wants to use. Tell me and I'll adopt it as best I can. Platinum rule applies.

David Brin said...

Alfered I have seen plenty of: "If you are a straight white male you should just shut up."

Alfred Differ said...

"straight white male"

Yah. Telling us to Shut Up is usually an anger statement though. Anti-patriarchy. Anti-male. I've never read it as 'hetero-males should be ashamed of being hetero'.

Maybe I'm just clueless. I've said it before elsewhere. Someone wanting to insult me has to be fairly explicit to get past my "I'm Just Great" ego defense. 8)


Laurence has a point about PC bullies, but it makes your Transparency points regarding gossip (in the extreme) and counter-social-pressure (in smaller doses) that all exemplify light aimed at roaches. My point is I don't see some of what seems to be of concern. I occasionally suspect the anti-PC crowd of trying to frame the discussion.

Pappenheimer said...

pretty sure Jon S clued me in to the wolf-raven thing as a reality, although I tried my hand at similar-themed fiction a while ago - my unfinished short story was told from the point of view of a raven who adopted a Conan-like lone warrior, strong but not overly smart, and clued him in on potential ambushes in return for the pickings of the battlefield. Wound up as founder of the Guardian Ravens (a la Tower of London) when he managed to maneuver the lunkhead into a kingship. Puss in Boots with a bit more blood and less talking animals, basically.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Not exactly virtuous, right? I abandoned a 'faith' and took up a new one.


I'd say it depends on why. If the old faith proves itself unworthy, then stubbornly sticking with it is not virtuous. To use the obvious example, I wish more Q-ANONers would see that their faith is misguided and forego it.


Larry Hart said...

Laurence:

Examples include the tendency on the radical left to treat hetrosexuality as something slightly shameful, and to regard mental illness as almost compulsory. The right meanwhile makes a great deal of noise about "free speech" and "free expression" right up until someone takes the knee.


Well, I was going to come down on you for a false equivalence, but you did say "radical left" and "the (unqualified) right", so I'll give you that.

Just so you know, I'm as out and proud a liberal as they come, and I care very little about the sort of radical left values you describe above. I also don't spend any time worrying about being flamed on Twitter or Facebook, not being on either platform.

Robert said...

Alfered I have seen plenty of: "If you are a straight white male you should just shut up."

One of my colleagues was basically told that* by our visible minority female principal. It was a power play on her part — he was insisting that she had to follow our contract rather than just ordering people to do what she wanted. Which apparently showed his privilege.

This is an interesting story, about someone who has been gaming the system for her own ends:
https://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=5370

TLDR: Turns out the SF author Benjanun Sriduangkaew has been shit-posting numerous novice minority SF writers over the last decade, driving some of them out of the field, which has reduced the competition for her own works.

As usual with Peter, lots of pithy quotes (including a couple of my favourites that I probably overuse).

Does Sriduangkaew's example mean that we shouldn't make an effort to hear more voices in science fiction?

That would be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Any group, including minority/oppressed groups, will have its share of assholes.


Thing is, any set of rules can be gamed to give someone unscrupulous an advantage, even rules intended to even the playing field. That doesn't mean we need to stop attempting to level the field, though. It just means that, like all human endeavours, we have to be wary of cheaters — and accept that the only way to stop cheating is to stop interacting.

The thing to do is to work towards our goals anyway, accepting that not all our allies share our motives, and sometimes be willing to let others claim the credit for our victories, if our victories accomplished worthy goals**.




*She left out the straight part, probably because he isn't.

**In the last century I was called antisemitic for daring to suggest that the Nazis killed more than just Jews in the camps — apparently pointing that out and suggesting that we should oppose all genocide was "diminishing the significance of the Holocaust". The following year the same colleague who had accused me of antisemitism was commended by the superintendent for her brilliant idea of using the Holocaust as a hook to oppose all genocide. As my very wise father pointed out, as long as I cared more about the students than the credit I had won the war.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

In effect, programmers decided to change the meaning of a fundamental math symbol.


Well, sort of, but only to the extent that "set equal to" replaces "is equal to". It's most noticeable when the same variable is on both sides of the equals sign. It makes a lot more mathematical sense when the line is "Y = X + 3", and after the assignment is executed, the mathematical phrase is in fact true. It's only because "X = X + 1" requires you to understand that one is "new X" and one is "old X" that it becomes humorous.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Alfered I have seen plenty of: "If you are a straight white male you should just shut up."


I've mostly seen that in the context of "just shut up about the experience of black people/minorities/women/etc." Rudely expressed, no doubt, but I can understand it from people tired of being mansplained/whitesplained to.

Then again, as I mentioned, I'm not involved with flame wars on social media. It might be worse over on Twitter, but then I'd advise, "The secret is not minding."

* * *

While I'm here, @Alfred Differ,

Sorry if I'm harping on this, but I really think it's a mistake to consider any adjusting of one's faith to the evidence of reality to be un-virtuous. I'm reminded of an oft-recurring theme of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, which was "You don't have to stay anywhere forever." Not even Hell.

Expressed slightly differently in the same series: Omnia mutantur, nihil interit." Everything changes, and nothing is lost.

David Brin said...

LH: whitesplaining and mansplaining are real things and the terms were called for and have led to chastening realizations and better behavior. On the other hand, there are hyper aggressive sanctimony junkies who see SWMs like me as 'meat' for their rank demands. One who attacked me in public spent most of an hour long sci fi con panel laying PC traps for me that I skillfully avoided (on a panel about future space tech!) And every time she spoke it was to name drop yet another trait that gave her 'rank' over the rest of us. Name it, color, gender, gender-fluidity, poverty... it was stunning to watch them emerge one by one as preens! (In fact, I took it as a credit to our nation that she could do that!)

Finally, frustrated that I had dodged every trap, she (not they, she admitted that much) started railing nonexistent accusations that I had ignored race/gender or disability in my works... when EVERY work of mine in the 80s and 90s and 2000s featured one or another or them all, and she showed chagrin when asked if she knew about this character, or that one. When her mate accused me of ignoring autistic spectrum folks... and I showed my EXISTENCE blurb from Temple Grandin... they simply lost it in desperate hysterics of the same sort we now see pervasive on the Mad right.

This was no isolated case. I am hated on by folks who should recognize me as an ally who is more vigorously effective than any 20 of them, in causes THEY care about! But of course, my sin is to point that out in my own defense.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
Let X=X+1 - should really be Let X "become" X+1

"The Cool War" and almost all SciFi uses the idea that "mankind has not and will not change" - the "we are all cavemen in suits"

Which is one of the "truths" that I was brought up with that has been found to be WRONG

The "Better Angels of our Nature" - uses actual data to show that we are changing

In some ways I find this to be frightening - the pace of the change is massively too fast to be Darwinian - so what is happening??
I "hope" that it is the innate cooperative nature of mankind coming to the front as all of the limitations caused by extreme poverty are eliminated

On the subject of population - and the worry that we will remove the "non breeders" and be left with the "breeders" starting the population explosion again
I can see genetic influences on some factors - the desire to bonk for instance
And even a desire to be with children
But I simply do not see the desire for a large family as being genetic - its simply too complex - there are huge numbers of genetic and non genetic factors involved

Instead I see the desire for children to be an "economic" thing - and to be balanced the same way
The "more expensive" it is to have children the less will be had

So by making them less expensive there will be more children

I would lay part of the blame for the obesity problem on the same thing
Food has gone from 24% of a families budget back in the 1920's to about 8% now
Food is now a LOT cheaper than it used to be - so we eat more

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

The following year the same colleague who had accused me of antisemitism was commended by the superintendent for her brilliant idea of using the Holocaust as a hook to oppose all genocide. As my very wise father pointed out, as long as I cared more about the students than the credit I had won the war.


After several workplace incidents of being told I was too negative when I pointed out possible failure modes, I came to the realization that if I didn't press a point, but gently hinted at it, someone else would adopt it as his own idea, and it would then get acted upon. Like you, I am very ok with that.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

This was no isolated case. I am hated on by folks who should recognize me as an ally who is more vigorously effective than any 20 of them, in causes THEY care about!


I guess this is why we can't have nice things.

My first thought is always that such shrillness is a "false flag" by right-wingers so that they can caricature liberals. I would not be at all surprised to discover that whoever invented the slogan, "Defund the police," was a Republican agent or a Russian troll. But I also recognize that I can't blame it all on the other side--that a subset of liberals apparently can't help but undermine our own efforts at achieving actual power and consensus. Maybe the most charitable explanation is Oscar Wilde's (admittedly gender-specific) "Each man kills the thing he loves." A less charitable explanation is that they're after the power trip, and the cause isn't really important to them.

Know that it doesn't bother me personally if a particular work (or body of work) of fiction doesn't happen to be a polemic for any particular liberal cause. I also learned from my own family long ago that when an individual makes clear that nothing will satisfy their demands, then one might as well stop trying. Life's too short.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin redux:

I am hated on by folks who should recognize me as an ally


Snarky response: Well, at least the Holnists have your back.

duncan cairncross said...

Larry Hart

A variation on that is saying

"Remember that idea you had last week and I pooh-poohed it"

Used to work on my old boss!

Robert said...

I am hated on by folks who should recognize me as an ally

But you aren't an ally, you're competition.

More specifically, you're competition for leadership/authority/reputation, so by forcing you out of the race (and they see it as a zero-sum race) then their own position is improved. Also, silencing someone will demonstrate their power to their followers.

Three decades in education have shown me that while many people view equity as a serious issue, those that take leadership on equity committees and initiatives are usually using it as a stepping stone to advance their careers. Their goal isn't improving equity; that's just a means to advance their career.

There's also, in some circles, a view that "punching up" is always OK. Which makes you a legitimate target. (Peter Watts wrote about this in the blog entry I linked above, better than I can, so I'll just refer you to him.) And don't forget neurochemistry. There was this science fiction author who wrote about sanctimony being a dangerously addictive high… and to feel sanctimonious, you need to feel superior to someone…

I'm sure we've all heard of (or even met) people who use their self-diagnosed Asperger's syndrome to excuse poor behaviour*. I don't find it surprising that some people use any other group identifier they can to claim special privileges or put down other people so they can feel superior.

https://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2832

And again, don't assume that because someone has the same enemy or goal that they are necessarily an ally.


*I spent almost two decades working with kids on the autism spectrum. Only one demanded that everyone work around them, and they weren't actually officially diagnosed, their parents has just convinced the school to put them in the program so they could get individual support. (I'm not convinced they had autism; they showed a lot of social awareness when it came to pushing psychological buttons, more than any other kid in the program showed.)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The argument McCloskey makes for the rise is that growing an economy that fast has little to do with gold and silver and thrift and such. It has MUCH more to do with ending the waste of talent among the market participants. She argues that you can see evidence in what they wrote and painted that they began to dignify (literally grant dignity) to the bourgeoisie...


Wait, you mean this McCloskey you've been going on about for years now is a GIRL?

(That'll get me thrown out of the leftist union)

Der Oger said...

@Alfred Differ:
I wouldn't have guessed that, but then Germany wasn't unified. Between their imperial cities and princes/prince-bishops who didn't get along with each other, I shouldn't be shocked. Some of them survive today as micro-states, right?

If you mean Bremen and Hamburg, I doubt they profited much. They were independent centers of trade and firmly in the protestant camp. They still exist today because of their cultural identity and party politics.

It has been more a thing of family clans such as the Fuggers (which are still in business today) and the Walsers (who did not make it into the modern age). Charles I of Spain still had to take huge loans from the Fuggers to be elected as Charles V of Germany.


GMT -8 said...

"On the other hand, there are hyper aggressive sanctimony junkies who see SWMs like me as 'meat' for their rank demands. One who attacked me in public spent most of an hour long sci fi con panel laying PC traps for me that I skillfully avoided (on a panel about future space tech!) And every time she spoke it was to name drop yet another trait that gave her 'rank' over the rest of us."

Some people have a desire for conflict and disagreement. They bring that into spaces where it is inappropriate. There is a time and a place for argument or debate. But there is also a time and place for discussion and dialectic. We can't learn anything if we silence the people we disagree with.

Robert said...

a subset of liberals apparently can't help but undermine our own efforts at achieving actual power and consensus

Internal power struggles are common, and sometimes refusing to compromise is a winning strategy.

In relationship counselling there's a saying that the one who cares least about the relationship has the most control, because that gives them leverage over the one that cares most. (Or in roommate terms, the one who cares least about mess never has to clean.)

There's also the tendency to prefer being the biggest frog in a small pond – achieving power would mean merging ponds and giving up the leading position, so they don't want to do it.

GMT -8 said...

Larry, you wrote:

"My first thought is always that such shrillness is a "false flag" by right-wingers so that they can caricature liberals. I would not be at all surprised to discover that whoever invented the slogan, "Defund the police," was a Republican agent or a Russian troll. But I also recognize that I can't blame it all on the other side--that a subset of liberals apparently can't help but undermine our own efforts at achieving actual power and consensus."

I think that there are good people on all sides of most issues. The trick for us is to find them, engage them, and identify our areas of agreement. That is why I am here. I agree with you that some of the most shrill voices out there may be "false flag" types. I also see some willfully blind people. We need to get out of our echo chambers. It helps if you have someone in your life who is in a different "camp" and the relationship is more important to you than politics. The thought process will be something like, "I disagree with what that person is doing, but I know them and I know that they are not an asshole. I need to study this more."

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

There's also, in some circles, a view that "punching up" is always OK. Which makes you a legitimate target.


I agree that punching up is better than punching down--especially in comedy--but one still shouldn't punch up just to have someone to punch. The reason should be legitimate.

GMT -5:

Some people have a desire for conflict and disagreement. They bring that into spaces where it is inappropriate. There is a time and a place for argument or debate. But there is also a time and place for discussion and dialectic. We can't learn anything if we silence the people we disagree with.


My first girlfriend and her sisters were like that. They used the occasion of a last-day-of-finals celebration to have a speaker talk about El Salvador. And she couldn't just kick back and have a nice evening with her boyfriend (me) as long as someone, somewhere in the world, was suffering.

Robert said...

I think that there are good people on all sides of most issues.

Someone prominent said that after a neo-Nazi drove his car into a peaceful rally. Which is now legal in Florida, FWIW.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2017_Charlottesville_vehicle-ramming_attack.webm

Up here we have people still supporting the residential schools that killed over 25% of their students*. You may disagree, but I think that by definition makes them not-good people.


I agree with you that some of the most shrill voices out there may be "false flag" types.

So Marjory Taylor-Greene is a secret centrist out to discredit the American right?


*Let's ignore that the schools meet the United Nations standard for genocide…

Jon S. said...

"n the last century I was called antisemitic for daring to suggest that the Nazis killed more than just Jews in the camps — apparently pointing that out and suggesting that we should oppose all genocide was "diminishing the significance of the Holocaust"."

And how did you state that? Because I've seen both

You know, more than just Jews were targeted by the Holocaust - Romani, for example, or gays. Maybe we should remember them, too;

and

Quit thinking you're so special! Jews weren't the only ones who died!

Even though both statements use the same factual background, one is inclusive while the other is antisemitic. I'm pretty sure we can all see which is which.

Larry Hart said...

GMT -5:

We need to get out of our echo chambers.


I agree with your sentiment, and I know some people are indeed in a leftist echo chamber. However, I do think the right-wing echo chamber is more hermetically sealed, meaning that one can claim that "everyone else" is simply in their own echo chamber which constitutes "not the inside of the right-wing echo chamber". I do not accept the implication that we have to "get out of" our echo chamber by going into theirs.


It helps if you have someone in your life who is in a different "camp" and the relationship is more important to you than politics. The thought process will be something like, "I disagree with what that person is doing, but I know them and I know that they are not an asshole. I need to study this more."


I do have some such people. There are two I know at work. One is a staunch Republican who thinks Trump and Brett Kavanaugh were being picked on by liberals and Dems, but he's also a very good analyst, and we work very well together as long as we don't talk politics. Since as far as I know, the only political act he engages in is voting, I can live with that.

It gets trickier when the person's political activity includes such things as participating in an insurrection or threatening retail workers with violence over mask mandates. I don't see any way not to think such people are assholes.

It also galls me that it is always demanded of liberals to understand what makes conservatives feel and act as they do, but it is never demanded of them to think about us that way.

GMT -8 said...

Larry, I get flack from my side for doing that very thing. Heck, a few days ago I had lunch with an old friend, a high ranking conservative and I told him we have to understand what liberals are thinking.

One important thing to remember is that everyone is supposed to be protected by the law and that everyone should be permitted to act lawfully to protect their valid interests. You can apply that to nations too. North Korea may be a rogue state, but they have valid security interests. Problem is, they tend to pursue them in illegal ways. But not always. And when they are pursuing their valid concerns in a legal way we just have to suck it up and let them do it. Same with Russia. Same with Iran. Same with China.

And same with the USA. How many times has this country committed crimes against other countries or peoples? Nixon bombing Cambodia...what a fricking mistake. The CIA deposing the government of Iran in 1953 (Eisenhower approved it; Truman opposed it...points for Truman though I dump on him below) and putting the Shah in power; and the US pulling support from the Shan and letting the Ayatollahs take over Iran.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that, at least theoretically, we can hold our government officials responsible of they break the law. Our political, military, and diplomatic leaders have to hide their misdeeds from us because we expect ourselves to be better. We expect our leaders to be better. Even if we don't prosecute them, we can tarnish their names. Nixon is generally seen as a villain. Same for Trump. I think more of our recent presidents should viewed in a much more critical and negative light (Bush the Younger, Clinton, Kennedy, Johnson...maybe Truman).

Look at the NEWSWEEK article that Dr. Brin linked to. Look at all the secrecy there. How much of that is to conceal valid state security interests? How much of it is to hide our mistakes? Should our government classify subject matter as "secret" if the primary purpose is to keep the US population from knowing about it? There is an irresistible temptation to use "national security" as an excuse to hide our mistakes and misdeeds.

Speaking of Truman, I am old enough to remember when he was unpopular. His reputation improved during the 70s. I went to see GIVE EM HELL HARRY with James Whitmore live when it came to Columbus. Now people see Truman as a kind of political saint. There was a mini-series a while ago about Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. It came out in the 1982 (here is a link: https://bit.ly/2VIqZXy). Its portrayal of Truman was very unflattering.

David Brin said...

LH & GMT the proof that liberals - in general - are NOT as hermetic into isolated circle-jerk nuremberg rallies is myriad.

First. MSNBC tried to follow the Fox business plan but is far less profitable, because liberals tend to wander away from extended rants. Except for late night comics, I'll grant... and Bill Maher is the only one with guts to stand up to the left's 1% woke-bullies.

Second. All the fact professions have fled the Fox-o-sphere and are resident in liberal/"Union" America and dislike lie festivals.

Third. Ever try herding cats? They are easier than democrats/ Today's GQP is the most tightly disciplined partisan movement in US history.

Larry Hart said...

GMT -5:

Larry, I get flack from my side for doing that very thing. Heck, a few days ago I had lunch with an old friend, a high ranking conservative and I told him we have to understand what liberals are thinking.


How'd that work out?


One important thing to remember is that everyone is supposed to be protected by the law and that everyone should be permitted to act lawfully to protect their valid interests. You can apply that to nations too. North Korea may be a rogue state, but they have valid security interests. Problem is, they tend to pursue them in illegal ways. But not always. And when they are pursuing their valid concerns in a legal way we just have to suck it up and let them do it. Same with Russia. Same with Iran. Same with China.


Are you sure you're a conservative?


And same with the USA. How many times has this country committed crimes against other countries or peoples? Nixon bombing Cambodia...what a fricking mistake. The CIA deposing the government of Iran in 1953 (Eisenhower approved it; Truman opposed it...points for Truman though I dump on him below) and putting the Shah in power; and the US pulling support from the Shan and letting the Ayatollahs take over Iran.


Are you sure you're a conservative?


I went to see GIVE EM HELL HARRY with James Whitmore live when it came to Columbus.


You live in Columbus? Ohio? I've been there many a time for the convention of small comics publishers they host every spring--S.P.A.C.E. (Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo).


Now people see Truman as a kind of political saint.


I wonder if the performance of recent presidents causes the older ones to be viewed in more flattering light by comparison. I mean, I even find myself nostalgic for Reagan, and even W looks statesmanlike next to the 2021 Republican Party.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Except for late night comics, I'll grant... and Bill Maher is the only one with guts to stand up to the left's 1% woke-bullies.


I applaud Maher for pushing back against the kind of lefty bullying that we've been discussing here recently. But Maher has his own quirks that bother me. Just a few weeks ago, he was insisting that once you're vaccinated, you should never wear a mask again, and that if you do, you're not following the science. And his support for Kellyanne Conway and Ann Coulter leaves me cold.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

…but I really think it's a mistake to consider any adjusting of one's faith to the evidence of reality to be un-virtuous.

Ah… but it is. By definition.
Sorta.

Using McCloskey's secular variant of 'faith', what I did was abandon a piece of my 'self'. I abandoned a loyalty to something larger than me and replaced it with something else. Strictly in terms of the virtue 'faith', I committed a sin. [I'll stick with 'sin' instead of 'Sin' to avoid confusion in people who might not realize in a non-believer.]

What YOU are probably getting at (and McCloskey would agree) is that there is more than one virtue we count in being a person of good character. Abandoning my loyalty to American Football and the Broncos in particular breeched one virtue, but could be seen as an expression of another. Maybe even a few others. At a minimum, Temperance came into play because my act DID stem from what I learned by listening to others discuss the 'truth' as they saw it. Maybe Justice came into play too since the social rules around what is tolerated when a husband beats a wife have been changing fast.

What McCloskey and others point out is that it is NOT possible to optimize for all virtues simultaneously. Ebenezer Scrooge shows how this leads to failure. Same for Don Quixote. MANY stories have been written involving characters to take one virtue too far at the expense of others. Too much of one leads to poverty in another, so 'vice' can be seen as an excess AND a lack of virtue… if we account for all of them.

In this light, I abandoned one element to avoid poverty of one or more others. I have no issue with the decision I made and would defend it in front of the world if challenged. I doubt anyone will do that, though, so Courage is unlikely to come into play. 8)


Deep down there is an issue, though. How do we define these virtues? McCloskey's first book says we do it through stories. Her third book points out how we know the Dutch changed the meanings of 'Courage' and 'Justice' just a tiny bit and then how those things lit Europe on fire.


Wait, you mean this McCloskey you've been going on about for years now is a GIRL?

Heh. 8)

You can find plenty of what she wrote from before, but most of it demonstrates she was a former believer in Mr. Max U. I think you'll find material railing against over-use of statistical significance across a broad swath of years, but that's not really relevant to the community here. I doubt any of us would disagree anyway.

At the risk of getting myself tossed out, I'll point out that NOT knowing someone before they cross over helps enormously when trying to use their preferred pronouns. Nothing to unlearn on the personal level. Just gotta deal with potential visual modeling conflicts.

She tells quite a story even if it IS long winded.

Alfred Differ said...

Robert,

Thing is, any set of rules can be gamed to give someone unscrupulous an advantage…

I completely agree. I think that is a fundamental part of human nature.
All social life is political life.

The thing to do is to work towards our goals anyway…

Yup. I see stopping short of that as an abdication of duty to Humanity.

…use their self-diagnosed Asperger's syndrome…

I've met a couple of people who honestly thought they were when I disagreed. I just pointed out that I didn't see it, so they had to be pretty mild at worst. That usually leads to a deeper discussion of the condition if they are doing anything other than game-playing.

I've also met a couple of people at work who were squarely on-spectrum in the Asperger's sense. There is NO mistaking them.

David,

One who attacked me in public spent most of an hour long sci fi con panel laying PC traps for me…

Sounds like a failure on the part of the person setting up the panel. Ugh. My friends learned the need to have facilitators sitting with the panelists to keep everything on-topic, but that's not a skill everyone has. Ugh^2.


Duncan,

…the pace of the change is massively too fast to be Darwinian…

I agree that the pace is quickening, but I still think it is Darwinian. It's not genetic, though. It's memetic.

Not that genetic changes aren't happening mind you. They are. There are billions of us marrying people who did not grow up within 7 miles of our birthplace. We ourselves often move out of that range. That WILL have an affect on us, but not fast enough to explain the frantic pace of social change. For that you have to look at what happens when ideas have sex.

Robert said...

And how did you state that

I mentioned that only one sentence in 11 full panels of display text mentioned that the Nazi camps contained non-Jews, and that's all it said — no mention specifically of Romani, or homosexuals, or Communists, or the mentally handicapped, or…

I was told that the Holocaust is only about Jews. I was told that mentioning others diminishes this. I was told that because I didn't have to look at the empty place at the dinner table left for a relative who died in the camps, I had no right to an opinion. When I pointed out that 2/3 of my family died in the camps, the responses I got were "oh" and "but you're not Jewish". Being not-Jewish was apparently enough to remove my right to an opinion. Mentioning the Romani et al apparently took away from the horror and significance of the event.

The Rwandan genocide was going on at the time, and I suggested that we could use that as an example of how the Holocaust wasn't just an event in the past before our kids were born, but a lesson that we must always remain vigilant to protect humans from atrocities. I was told that Africans were savages and it wasn't surprising they were killing each other.

One of my students, who was blond and blue-eyed and had a German last name, was beaten up by Israeli students so many times during Holocaust Education Week that his mother kept him home from school. When I asked what had been done to protect him I was told that I had to understand why it happened, and that keeping him home was best.

(I later discovered, from talking to Israeli students individually, that they had been taught at school that only Jews were put in concentration camps, and that all Germans were forever guilty for it*. And while I wouldn't expect a teenager to have a broad historical education, I would expect an adult who self-described as a Holocaust expert to know more about the subject.)


I don't believe my suggestions were antisemitic, and I think proof of that was that they were implemented — by the very colleague that called me antisemitic for making them — the next year when I was no longer at the school and she could get the credit for them. Which is why I think the antisemitism label was being used as a political move to shut me up.

One thing I've noticed, in organizations with a culture of trying to be inclusive and right societal wrongs, is that those who game the system realize that the best way to do that is claim the worst victimhood status for themselves, leading to a 'race to the bottom' for which group was the worst put-upon and therefore deserving of the best assistance. This doesn't mean inclusivity and righting wrongs aren't worth doing — it just means that we need to be aware that "victim/minority" and "greedy asshole" are not mutually exclusive categories, and have some measures to stop cheaters. (Just like any human activity, actually.) And also stay aware that people gaming the system doesn't mean there aren't real victims and oppressed minorities — the existence of Italian footballers doesn't mean that no one is ever really injured in football games, for example! :-)


*Forever condemning a group for something some of their ancestors did — shades of Justin Martyr!

Robert said...

Ever try herding cats?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_MaJDK3VNE

"Anybody can herd cattle. But holding together 10,000 half-wild shorthairs, well that's another thing altogether."

Robert said...

How many times has this country committed crimes against other countries or peoples?

Well, here's a certain marine's opinion of his own career:

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909–1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.


https://worldhistory.medium.com/a-gangster-for-capitalism-smedley-butler-and-american-interventionism-dff244045864

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

I was thinking mostly about Hamburg, but don't know the history well enough to even pretend to have an informed opinion. So… I'll accept your statement about family clans. THAT makes sense as it is a behavior that stretches across time and geography. Business partner 'cousins' is a very sensible approach in a world without limited liability corporations and a large market for insurance underwriters.


One of the plot elements I think the authors of the 1632-niverse get right now and then involves how creditors would see things different. It's not just that the Spanish Hapsburgs defaulted or this or that prince shaved the silver in the coinage. It's that there were safer options for lending money. A large lender is actually in a pretty-pickle of a situation. They have little to gain if all goes well with their loan because they earn only their percentage. They have everything to lose if all goes bad because their principle can vanish. If default risk is high enough, therefore, a lender really has to look at the collateral and see the exchange as a purchase that can be undone IF the borrower pays up.

Back before Flint wrote that first novel, I used to work for a sub-prime lender. We specialized in people with moderate credit scores and wouldn't touch those who had truly terrible records. We had lots of ways of selling the loans we originated, though, so we weren't the real lender for long. Though we were picky and inclined to change rates depending on the risk a borrower appeared to impose, we still got accused of creating rates so high that the borrower was guaranteed to fail. Doing that on a home mortgage made it look like we actually wanted the home thought default instead of steady payments. We didn't because it was a hassle to trigger a default and then sell the collateral. It was far more profitable to us to sell the income stream.

After Flint's novels and the expansions from other authors I honestly began to wonder why ANYONE would willingly lend to a sovereign power. I get that people do. That segment of the bond market is absolutely huge in the modern world. I don't get it, though. Seems like musical chairs to me.

David Brin said...

Major discussion going on here. Sorry too swamped. Maybe soon.

Robert said...

I even find myself nostalgic for Reagan

Yeah, well, I think that's because a politician like Reagan would be too left-wing for today's Republican Party.

Robert said...

I honestly began to wonder why ANYONE would willingly lend to a sovereign power

Back then, some of the willing loans were done to earn goodwill (or attempt to) from the sovereign, some were done to aid/prevent the passing of certain laws, and some were done with the unspoken understanding that not lending would be an unwise decision…

duncan cairncross said...

My own feelings about "why" for the industrial revolution are more to do with the physical changes
More inventions made some things like tools and steel hugely cheaper and more available

The knowledge plus the materials/tools to make use of that knowledge led to more and more!
A single "invention" could make two more possible

If you have the tools you can do anything - without the tools you are reduced to looking and wondering

duncan cairncross said...

Saying that the financial side IS important as well and the stock market enabled 10,000 people to put a pound in and finance a factory or a canal

Pappenheimer said...

Not sure if the Spanish tried this trick, but the French crown used to hand tax-farming privileges to its creditors - for an up front sum, the lender got the right for a period of time to collect taxes in a district for own use, not for the crown. This was functionally a loan against future guaranteed income - literally selling the income stream. Obviously, the tax farmer's agents were desperate to suck as much income out the tax base as possible in that time - more fuel for rebellion. I think the Louises wound up promising tax revenues decades into the future, which made it more likely they would need loans...vicious cycle.

And Oger, the Fuggers and Walsers were exactly who I had in mind - although as you say, they got burnt bad by Imperial bankruptcies, and stopped giving credit and/or had bankruptcies themselves. The concept of a National Debt, where the State's creditors were legally forbidden from trying to collect their original loan, lay (iirc) in the future.

gregory byshenk said...

Alfred (et al).

You haven't mentioned it, so I don't know of McKloskey does (I haven't read any of her books - though I've read a few shorter pieces in the past), but one relevant issue is the invention of joint-stock companies, as well as some predecessors as ways of sharing risk.

It is easier (and less risky!) to take risks if the risks are shared with others, and if failure of some given venture will not be catastrophic. It is much harder (and the risks are higher) if risking on some venture has the chance of ruining one (and one's family). I believe that something similar applied to the major banking families of the same period: they were sufficiently large and diverse that they were able to take risk without risking ruination.

Somewhat relatedly, I recall seeing some studies that suggest (note, I don't have citations, and I can't say anything stronger than 'suggest') that entrepreneurial activity turns out to be higher in states with a strong safety net than in more laissez-faire states. One explanation is that in such states, one can take a risk on a new venture without risking catastrophic failure.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Using McCloskey's secular variant of 'faith', what I did was abandon a piece of my 'self'. I abandoned a loyalty to something larger than me and replaced it with something else. Strictly in terms of the virtue 'faith', I committed a sin.


I get that, but I can't accept that faith must be an inescapable trap. That way leads to running into reality on a battlefield. All those COVID patients who abandon their faith in the virus being a fraud are not committing a sin in my estimation. Maybe it's because a piece of myself involves faith in reality?

I also see faith in a football team to be arbitrary enough to allow for just-as-arbitrary abandonment in favor of a competing interest of more significance. On the far end of the scale, this is exactly how torture works--it causes you to abandon a part of yourself by making something else much more significant. Abandoning faith in something important under torture might be seen as a forgivable sin. Abandoning faith in something trivial for the sake of convenience seems like a lesser sin to me. Abandoning faith in something because of the demands of reality seems to me to be its own virtue.


What McCloskey and others point out is that it is NOT possible to optimize for all virtues simultaneously. Ebenezer Scrooge shows how this leads to failure. Same for Don Quixote. MANY stories have been written involving characters to take one virtue too far at the expense of others. Too much of one leads to poverty in another, so 'vice' can be seen as an excess AND a lack of virtue… if we account for all of them.


Yeah, we're not arguing as much as I thought. Ayn Rand is another example of the failure of unshakable faith. Also, the reason abortion is such a contentious issue is because both the mother and the fetus seem to have inalienable rights which are not compatible. And as I've said personally, you can't be a champion of personal freedom for bullies and for their victims. At some point, you have to make choices.

Refusal to budge, like the north-going Zax and the south-going Zax, can lead to trouble. The virtue of the human mind is the ability to adjust to evidence and circumstance.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

I later discovered, from talking to Israeli students individually, that they had been taught at school that only Jews were put in concentration camps, and that all Germans were forever guilty for it


As a Jewish person myself, I can't imagine anything more of a violation of Jewish values. One would also expect us to be more aware of the danger of declaring a particular subset of humans to be "forever guilty" for a historical event.

Robert said...

As a Jewish person myself, I can't imagine anything more of a violation of Jewish values. One would also expect us to be more aware of the danger of declaring a particular subset of humans to be "forever guilty" for a historical event.

I think your "Jewish values" are a bit like your "American values" — something you share with some of the group, but not all of the group. I'm certain that Jews have the same proportion of RWAs as the rest of humanity.

I will cynically ask: why expect Jewish people to be more enlightened and less prejudiced than any other group?

The blithe dismissive remark that "Africans aren't civilized" was on other occasions supplemented by comments that revealed that the utterer considered all dark-skinned people 'African', even when their ancestors had been in Canada for two centuries — as opposed to her own immigrant self. Prejudice is not confined to WASPs!

There was an essay in "The Cruelty is the Point" that looked at that from the inside (the author is half-Jewish, half-black, whatever that means). His thesis is that American Jews generally realized that they were and would always be outnumbered, so on average pushed for an inclusive society to secure themselves against oppression, while Israeli Jews took the route of establishing a local majority and then doing everything they could to buttress that.

On a related-but-different note, you might enjoy this short documentary (Natalie Wei's "Chinee Girl"):

https://vimeo.com/28971743

Explores what it's like growing up as a Chinese woman on Trinidad. My Chinese relatives say Wei nailed the experience.

David Brin said...

I expected that SOMEONE would "Get" my sly references to Kentucky Fried Movie's great film-within-a-film Bruce Lee satire, "A Fistful of Yen," in the last few paragraphs of this posting.

Too subtle?

Robert said...

Too subtle?

Never seen it.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"As a Jewish person myself, I can't imagine anything more of a violation of Jewish values. One would also expect us to be more aware of the danger of declaring a particular subset of humans to be "forever guilty" for a historical event."

I think your "Jewish values" are a bit like your "American values" — something you share with some of the group, but not all of the group. I'm certain that Jews have the same proportion of RWAs as the rest of humanity.

I will cynically ask: why expect Jewish people to be more enlightened and less prejudiced than any other group?


Let me start by saying I think you're asking the wrong question. Some "Jewish values" are also "Christian values" and "American values" and "humanistic values". There's plenty of overlap. So I wasn't saying Jews were less likely than others to be bigoted. No, I was saying two things that sort of relate to each other:

Jews should refrain from treating people badly for sins those individuals did not commit because Jews are expected (by Judaism itself) to set an example of Godliness for the world.

Jews should refrain from treating people badly in perpetuity for past sins attributed to a subset of humanity because we've seen that when that sort of thing is done, it is often done to us, and we know how unjust that feels.

By "Jewish values", I mean values we are taught to aspire to as part of growing up (or indoctrination, if you will). Whether a subset--even a large subset--is true to those values is not relevant. Same with "American values", by the way. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." is in our founding document. We pledge allegiance to "One nation. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all." When Americans violate those tenets, they are (in Alfred's words) breaking faith with American values, not tainting American values.


...American Jews generally realized that they were and would always be outnumbered, so on average pushed for an inclusive society to secure themselves against oppression, while Israeli Jews took the route of establishing a local majority and then doing everything they could to buttress that.


The American part makes perfect sense to me, as that is how I have always felt. The Israeli part makes sense to the extent that abused children often grow up to be abusers themselves. I'd say that the desire to protect oneself by establishing an apartheid state and not caring about who you hurt in the process is a realpolitik strategy that even those who do it (if they have a conscience) regret the necessity of, whereas the strategy of fighting for justice and equality for all so that it applies to you as well is an aspirational strategy, even if it is not always followed.

In short, the Israeli strategy you describe is one which Jews (should) regret being forced to do for the sake of survival, whereas the American strategy is one which Americans (should) regret not living up to in all things.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I expected that SOMEONE would "Get" my sly references to Kentucky Fried Movie's great film-within-a-film Bruce Lee satire, "A Fistful of Yen," in the last few paragraphs of this posting.

Too subtle?


Yeah, "You have our gratitude" doesn't stand out as an allusion which must be referring to something else. Sometimes a phrase is just a phrase.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Not to pick on you or McCloskey, but the relentless stories of people literally dying horribly for their faith in "COVID is a hoax" demonstrates pretty starkly that blind adherence to faith in a falsehood is not a virtue. Either that, or else "virtue" doesn't mean what I think it does. I'm ok with either interpretation as long as we agree that "There is such thing as misguided faith, and sometimes, renouncing faith in the face of evidence and circumstance is the right thing to do."

scidata said...

And I was hoping someone would commend me for 'Ferrous' Bueller in the previous topic. As the President might admonish, "C'mon man".

David Brin said...

LH there's a lot more than "you have our gratitude!"
And Robert, go watch it now! ;-)

Larry Hart said...

I said:

"There is such thing as misguided faith, and sometimes, renouncing faith in the face of evidence and circumstance is the right thing to do."


Look no further than the core moment of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". "All right, I'll go to Hell!"

scidata:

And I was hoping someone would commend me for 'Ferrous' Bueller in the previous topic. A


Well, I didn't respond directly to your post, but I thought I was keeping the chain going with this post:


Pappenheimer:

"If a felon commits a felony and a burglar commits burglary, then committing irony makes you an...."


An Iron Man?

Or perhaps a Fe male.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

there's a lot more than "you have our gratitude!"


Ahh, I see: We are building a civilization of extraordinary magnitude!

Had I seen the movie in the last ten years or so, I might have noticed that.

Face it, I'm old and you're older than I am. I throw out pop references to movies and tv and songs* from the 70s all the time, and "They're not going to get that," might as well be my wife's catch phrase.

* Except that some music from the 70s and 80s survives to my daughter's generation through movie soundtracks and marching band pep music.

David Brin said...

Also... "These accomplishments - forged in the spirit of our ancestors - "

Robert said...

By "Jewish values", I mean values we are taught to aspire to as part of growing up (or indoctrination, if you will).

I'm assuming you're American Jewish? Because the Israeli kids I got to know, while Jewish, had different values. Some grew past tribalism, some didn't.

Kinda like Christians, in my experience. Tradition and the immediate community count for more than the official creed for many worshipers, and that seems to hold true no matter what religion they follow.

Hard though it may be to believe, I was once an Anglican church warden. That experience (and my time with the Baptists) is why I'm no longer religious.

I see religion and morality as orthogonal. There's an old saying used by therapists dealing with people in abusive situations: "when someone shows you who they are, believe them". And I've seen too many religious people proud of their piety while breaking every tenet of their faith (but adhering to every social norm in the church). When what you say and what you do are not congruent, I look to your actions to reveal your true values.

I think good people will be good no matter what their religion — or lack of it.

Desinas inept ire, et quod vides perisse, perditi ducas.
Fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles.
Nobis cum semel occipitale brevis lux,
Nox est perpetua una dormienda.


"virtue" doesn't mean what I think it does

Jane Jacobs held that virtues and vices depend on context, and can be contradictory. What's virtuous to a businessman (making a profit) is vice to a government official, for example. Explored in Systems of Survival, which I highly recommend, and not just because she revives the ancient technique of a dialogue to present philosophical ideas.

Robert said...

some music from the 70s and 80s survives to my daughter's generation

70s rock had a revival up here. In the 90s one of my university profs, on his sabbatical year teaching in a high school, discovered that he could instantly become the 'cool teacher' by bringing in his old Rush and Chilliwack albums and concert swag.

scidata said...

Best name yet for the beast of Boca Chica: Starscraper

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Also... "These accomplishments - forged in the spirit of our ancestors - "


I don't even remember that one from the movie now. :)

GMT -8 said...

I only saw FISTFUL OF YEN once, 07/16/1989. I met my wife the night before. The host of that party was a real schmuck. I loved the aerial shot of New York City with the caption “Hong Kong.”

As for the talk about Jewish values, how many of us are Jews here. Dr. Brin is one. I am one. Larry Hart is one. C’mon, let’s see if we can form a minyan.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

I see religion and morality as orthogonal.
...
When what you say and what you do are not congruent, I look to your actions to reveal your true values.

I think good people will be good no matter what their religion — or lack of it.


I'm not disagreeing, but I think that skews what you think I mean when I say "Jewish values". Christianity and Islam (for examples) are religions which claim universality and seek to convert the unfaithful. They're religions, not nationalities. "Jewish" has connotations of both--a religion and a nationality, or at least an ethnic group. The set of humans who consider themselves religious Jews and that of those who consider themselves Jewish by ancestry do not completely overlap. And even that is blurred by the reality that those who are considered to be Jewish by others is not exactly the same as those who consider themselves Jewish.

The "Jewish value" that I was referring to which pro-apartheid Israelis seemed to violate is a cultural Jewish value, not a religious Jewish value.


the Israeli kids I got to know, while Jewish, had different values. Some grew past tribalism, some didn't.


I can understand Israeli tribalism in the sense of voting Likud and working toward a government which supports and protects Jewish interests at the expense of others. I'm not a fan, but I understand it. By contrast, I do not understand Jews willfully bullying a German kid in 2021 for crimes of his metaphorical grandparents in the 30s and 40s (I say "metaphorical" because I have no idea whether the kid's actual ancestors were Nazis, not that I'd be down with the bullying if they were--unless he himself was promulgating antiSemitism). To me, that smacks of looking for a scapegoat to be mean to. And Jews doing that feels to me like it would if I found out that Michael Jordan or Malcolm Nance owned a plantation full of slaves.

GMT -8 said...

Down side of being Jewish…the weekly Shabbat is the second most important holiday of the year. Yeah, Judaism is the only religion to have a major holiday every week. And the full Shabbat service can run over 3 hours. My wife and I did that for a couple years and I actually miss it. It was 3 hours with no phone and no tv and no computer. I don’t understand Hebrew and our schul was on the observant side of Conservative/Masorti. But I could follow along in the sidur after a while.

The up side of Judaism is the kiddish lunch after the Shabbat service, complete with hard liquor! I was president of the Men’s Club for 2 years and one of my jobs was to keep the le’chiam table stocked with spirits. I still remember the first time we went for services. Cantor Chomsky directed me to the le’chiam table and told me I deserved a good drink (since we got to services at 9:00 am).

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"some music from the 70s and 80s survives to my daughter's generation"

70s rock had a revival up here. In the 90s one of my university profs, on his sabbatical year teaching in a high school, discovered that he could instantly become the 'cool teacher' by bringing in his old Rush and Chilliwack albums and concert swag.


I hate to break it to you, dude, but a revival that happened in the 90s is itself further in the past than the 70s were in the 90s.

Robert said...

By contrast, I do not understand Jews willfully bullying a German kid in 2021 for crimes of his metaphorical grandparents in the 30s and 40s

Bullying a Canadian kid "who was blond and blue-eyed and had a German last name". His actual grandparents were Canadian. Presumably he had a male German ancestor somewhere along the way, but who knows how many generations? There are Londoners who have French last names, because some Huguenot ancestor escaped France in the 17th century!

I understand the bullies, actually. They were children who had been taught to hate all Germans. Children.

What I find disturbing are the adults who taught them to hate, and the adults who enabled that bullying while claiming to occupy the moral high ground.

Them I consider guilty.

Robert said...

I hate to break it to you, dude, but a revival that happened in the 90s is itself further in the past than the 70s were in the 90s.

Well, it would have been my daughter's generation (if I had a daughter). :-)

Hell, I remember when the population was 3 billion…

Cari Burstein said...

Well if you're looking to form a minyan I don't think I'd qualify since last I checked that was a men's only club, but I am at least culturally Jewish (never really been practicing although most of my relatives are at least somewhat religious). I don't talk here as much as most of you though, mostly I just read.

Personally I was rather surprised when I first told my grandparents I was engaged to a man whose family was from Germany, and my grandmother was rather upset by it (this was over 25 years ago). I had expected them not to be happy that he wasn't Jewish- I got the whole wanting to pass on the religion thing. But it hadn't even occurred to me that they would hold the German thing against him, given he'd been born in the US some 30 years after the war in the US, and his parents were born in Germany but had lived in the US a long time and also had been born after the war. This is when my grandmother felt it was time to first tell me the story of my grandfather having been a POW during WWII (previously I hadn't even been aware he'd been in the war, they never discussed it). It didn't have any effect on how I felt on the topic, but she seemed to think that should be enough reason to object. Thankfully they got over their issues after that (and a chat with my father who said he'd deal with them) and treated him with proper hospitality, but it was eye opening.

I agree that to me a Jewish value has always seemed to be that you should not treat others the way that we historically had been treated based on our group status. This is why it was such a shock to me that she would react that way, even with their WWII history in context. I do agree though that it's not surprising that Jews living where they are not the minority might not be getting the same values. But even here there's plenty of Jews (and really all minorities) who don't seem to learn the lessons that should come from having been a minority when it comes to interacting with people from other groups.

GMT -8 said...

Revivals and re-enactors. A good friend of mine is a Viet Nam veteran who used to be big time into WW II re-enacting. He was looking up other groups online and he came across a group of Viet Nam War re-enactors…mostly in Eastern Europe. It really blew his mind that there were people out there re-enacting what he had done for real.

Robert said...

there's plenty of Jews (and really all minorities) who don't seem to learn the lessons that should come from having been a minority when it comes to interacting with people from other groups

Some people learn the lesson that being shat upon sucks and you shouldn't do that to other people.

Others learn the lesson that it is better to be the one doing than done to.

And some of those decide it's time to get their own back (even if their revenge is being visited on people — and groups — that had nothing to do with their oppression). They want revenge, and any victim appears acceptable.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

…but I can't accept that faith must be an inescapable trap.


It's not. In fact… those who stick too close to faith positions at the expense of other virtue characteristics are committing a vice. No single virtue is supposed to dominate in a person of good character.

Ebenezer Scrooge was TOO prudent. We get taught his error every holiday season.

Don Quixote was TOO courageous. Fewer people know that story in full, but have probably heard the phrase 'tilting at windmills'.

Our host has plenty of characters who show good and bad traits and how reality is mostly a mix of them and the struggle we imagine in the trade-offs. For example, Tor Povlov explicitly shows how to make use of an 'expertise' network. Her balance act is pretty obvious. I seem to remember a scene where Albert Morris had to decide whether to contact authorities before racing off to take a risk. Balancing courage and justice is always tricky.

I also see faith in a football team to be arbitrary enough to allow for just-as-arbitrary abandonment in favor of a competing interest of more significance.

I take it you are NOT a rabid football fan for a particular team? Heh. There are fans and there are anti-fans too. Both a components of identity. For example, I live in Oxnard CA where the Dallas Cowboys come to train every summer. Nice cash infusion for the city, right? Interesting things happen when their fans show up, though. They encounter people who want to see "America's Team" lose a lot and in embarrassing ways. I'm still mildly inclined that way too because of a Bronco loss in a Super Bowl ages and ages ago. It was an embarrassing loss (one of many) and it shaped a piece of my identity. Doesn't matter? Arbitrary? Nope. Matters to me! (Yes… I know how silly that sounds.)

…demonstrates pretty starkly that blind adherence to faith in a falsehood is not a virtue…

Yah. It's the 'excess' version of the related vice. Too much OR too little of any particular one has probably got a related word in the dictionary we'd categorize as a vice.


As for modern GOP'ers, we shall be writing stories about their failures for years. Think of all the wonderful characters they've offered in the last four years alone. Pick ANY virtue and you should have no trouble finding one of them who screw it up so bad they'll make a good lesson for future children. Faithful to marriage partners? Pfft! Hope for a bright future instead of despair regarding debt, brown people, woke-ness, etc? Pfft! Temperance is an alien concept and they can't even get Prudence right!

How can they be so wrong so often? Well… I think they are trying to redefine them all 1984 style. Obviously we can't let them win that battle.

Alfred Differ said...

Gregory,

…the invention of joint-stock companies…

Exactly. Limited liability for equity holders. Who came up with that idea? It's powerful because it allows two VERY big changes.

1. An investor can LIMIT their risk to what they put up with a few veil-piercing exceptions.

2. An investor can FAIL and live to try again.

Enabling the creation of these organizations is a way to grant dignity to those who are willing to risk failure.

"Oops. That didn't work out. Your creditors just got hosed. They are upset at you, but the rest of us recognize that you meant well… as long as you actually DID mean well."

The neat thing about people who risk and fail is they might learn from it and do better next time. Failing MUST be an option if we are to dignify the bourgeoisie.

…entrepreneurial activity turns out to be higher in states with a strong safety net…

Could be. The stats I've seen suggest it is strongest where a state invests in its children's education and mentorship opportunities. I've got no issue with a safety net under risk takers and another under people who just get damn unlucky. What I AM willing to fork over tax money to support, though, is mentorship, education, and anything else that levels the field to give kids a fair start whether their parents are up to it or not.

gregory byshenk said...


I wrote:
…entrepreneurial activity turns out to be higher in states with a strong safety net…

Alfred responded:
Could be. The stats I've seen suggest it is strongest where a state invests in its children's education and mentorship opportunities. I've got no issue with a safety net under risk takers and another under people who just get damn unlucky. What I AM willing to fork over tax money to support, though, is mentorship, education, and anything else that levels the field to give kids a fair start whether their parents are up to it or not.

On the one hand, I suspect (haven't looked) that there is a pretty significant overlap between "states with a safety net" and "states that invest in children's education".

And on the other, just investing in education is not sufficient. Education is probably a (semi-) necessary condition, but if the risk to an educated person is risk of ruination, then there won't be a lot of risk-takers. Indeed, there may be even less, as an educated person with opportunities has more to lose.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

I understand the bullies, actually. They were children who had been taught to hate all Germans. Children.

What I find disturbing are the adults who taught them to hate, and the adults who enabled that bullying while claiming to occupy the moral high ground.

Them I consider guilty.


Well, yes, I thought that was my point too.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

How can they be so wrong so often?


Three times is enemy action.

* * *

Cari Burstein:

Well if you're looking to form a minyan I don't think I'd qualify since last I checked that was a men's only club,


These days, at many Reform temples, that might not be so. I've even seen female rabbis.


but I am at least culturally Jewish (never really been practicing although most of my relatives are at least somewhat religious).


That's my story as well.


I don't talk here as much as most of you though, mostly I just read.


Well, that's not. :)


I had expected them not to be happy that he wasn't Jewish- I got the whole wanting to pass on the religion thing.


As the oldest child of two plus three cousins who lived close by, I had to fight that battle myself. My first girlfriend was Catholic, and the last thing my grandmother said to me before I left to begin my sophomore year was, "Remember to keep to your own kind." Then, an interesting thing happened. Many of her grand-nieces and grand-nephews married outside the faith. And she became more like, "Well, if the neighbors aren't going to make a thing about it, then why should I?" I really think her issue was less "pass[ing] on the religion thing" and more "What will my bridge partners say?" If everyone else was ok, then she was too.

My wife is Catholic too, btw. One of the only explicit agreements we made with each other before pursuing marriage was that neither of us would expect or require the other to convert.


But it hadn't even occurred to me that they would hold the German thing against him, given he'd been born in the US some 30 years after the war in the US, and his parents were born in Germany but had lived in the US a long time and also had been born after the war. This is when my grandmother felt it was time to first tell me the story of my grandfather having been a POW during WWII (previously I hadn't even been aware he'd been in the war, they never discussed it).


Here's the thing about collective guilt. There is a legitimate way in which it may be justly applied, but not the way most religions and tribes think of the concept. If a member of a group or the group gestalt as a whole are continuing to perpetrate an injustice, then it makes sense to hold them accountable. However, guilt does not pass down through genetics. Using personal examples, I could (and did) easily marry a six-foot tall blonde whose father is of German ancestry, but I could not marry a Republican unless she was the very rare type who denounces Trumpism, bullying, and white supremacy (pardon the redundancy). Ironically, the American Republican Party perpetrates the injustice of Naziism more than modern-day Germans do.


I agree that to me a Jewish value has always seemed to be that you should not treat others the way that we historically had been treated based on our group status. This is why it was such a shock to me that she would react that way, even with their WWII history in context. I do agree though that it's not surprising that Jews living where they are not the minority might not be getting the same values. But even here there's plenty of Jews (and really all minorities) who don't seem to learn the lessons that should come from having been a minority when it comes to interacting with people from other groups.


If we were both single, I think I'd embarrass myself right here.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin:

Now, I'm smiling because I remember the later scene which reprises those phrases.


"You are a man of extraordinary magnitude"

"You have my gratitude."

Larry Hart said...

Heh. No sense of...something.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Senate/Maps/Aug11.html#item-1

...
Unsurprisingly, there was also much crowing on the right, as many folks interpreted the fall of Cuomo as an indictment of the entire Democratic Party. Our favorite piece in this vein was written by Fox media analyst Howard Kurtz, under the headline "The folly of political worship" and the subhead "The trap is that such figures come to be viewed as superhumans who can do no wrong." Cuomo is the main focus of the piece, of course, but Kurtz specifically brings up Donald Trump and Bill Clinton as additional examples, noting that hero-worship allowed them to avoid accountability for their actions. The Trump-loving commenters on that article did not pick up on certain...nuances, and so had much to say about how those "Demonrats" never hold their leaders accountable.

There is much irony in such comments. First, in that a Trump supporter could wag their finger at anyone and accuse them of not holding their leaders accountable. Second, in that Tuesday's events actually indicate the polar opposite of what the Fox commenters were saying, since Democrats did hold Cuomo accountable.
...
The right-leaning outlet The Bulwark had an eerily similar piece headlined "Andrew Cuomo Resigned Because the Democrats Aren't a Cult."
...

David Brin said...

GMT our kids when visiting perk up when we do a "shabbat lite" (california style) - as in the good old days.

The thing I despise most about what's happened to Israel is the hypocrisy of ignoring the Biblical-level lesson of the Holocaust and subsequent return of Zion by the LEAST ritualistic and most modernist Jews.

David Brin said...

In case any of you wanted to add content to this Uplift Wiki. NOT a priority for me. But knock yerself out!

https://uplift.fandom.com/wiki/Uplift_Wiki?fbclid=IwAR2TQ0kiYUMpL2txqT2CxRhaH1H4kkHHLpzJcAnWpSzKOrINBUa5XZrYEvw

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I take it you are NOT a rabid football fan for a particular team? Heh. There are fans and there are anti-fans too.
...
Doesn't matter? Arbitrary? Nope. Matters to me! (Yes… I know how silly that sounds.)


I'm talking about degrees.

The 1984 regime just might be able to make me betray Julia after enough time in Room 101. I'd like to think that even then, I'd hold out, but who knows until they're tested?

On the other hand, if I could avoid imprisonment and torture by cheering for the Green Bay Packers? I wouldn't even have to think about it. If I could even avoid a $100 fine by doing so, I still wouldn't hesitate.

Look, I'm a very proud Chicagoan, where everyone is expected to eat hot dogs without ketchup, and pizza with sausage instead of pepperoni. I do neither of those things. That doesn't make me less of a fan of my city. I was a bleed-Cubby-blue fan of the Cubs since I was 8, but now that their owner is a Trump supporter and the games are no longer on my local WGN (where they'd been since 1948) but instead on a Sinclair-owned cable station, I don't care about the Cubs any more. Just like that. Did I lose faith? Only in the way that you'd lose faith in a girlfriend when you see her dating other guys on the sly.

GMT -8 said...

Conservative schuls allow women to count for a minyan too. For many years, my wife and I were the closest congregants. We frequently got calls asking us to hurry over because they needed one or two more to form a minyan.

The funny thing is that my wife is a convert. When we first joined, she was still a shiksa (a super-hot half Japanese shiksa). My Jewish mother absolutely adored her. In fact, mom was asking me about her as early as 1991 long before we became a couple. Anywhooo... when we joined the schul, I was asked if I was Kohen, Levy, or Israel. My dad was born a Kohen but he married a divorced woman...oh the scandal! Kohen are not allowed to marry converts. In 1949 that was still a thing in Cleveland, Ohio. So as far as Orthodox Jews are concerned, kids born from that marriage are not Kohen. But Conservative Judaism decided that there was an emergency so that this rule would no longer apply. So I registered as a Kohen.

So fast forward to July 2011. On Thursday July 7 we got my wife to the mikvah and she became a Jew. That Saturday, July 9, we had our Aufruf, where the couple to be wed gets called up for an aliyah to lead a blessing over the Torah. I'd been doing this rather regularly since there aren't too many of us Kohehim. But the Kohen gets called up first. Since I was marrying a convert, I assumed we'd get called up for one of the Israel aliyah. Nope. They called us up for the Kohen aliyah. My wife (who is far better versed in Jewish rituals than I am) was a bit shocked. We got up there and did the blessing. After that, the rabbi gives a blessing for the couple. During that blessing he says the Hebrew names of each person's parents. Mine was easy; but it was an issue for my wife...her birth parents were not Jewish so they can't use their names. So, the tradition is to say that her parents were Abraham and Sarah. Of course, when the congregation hears that, it is a clue that the person being blessed is a convert. But, Judaism does not discriminate against converts (other than not allowing Kohehim to marry one).

So there you have a couple up for the Kohen aliyah and the woman is apparently a convert. There was a definite snicker in the sanctuary. But this was not a bad thing. My wife and I had become two of the most beloved people in the schul in our 15 months attending services (that happens if you make it to every Shabbat service and every other event). These were our friends. Maybe you had to be there; but the snicker was not ill intended.

After service was over we hit the L'chaim table and had a couple of shots of whiskey. Such fun. Anyways, that is how I got married to the drop dead gorgeous woman in the photo for my profile this week. And that is how I know that Conservative shuls count women in a minyan, even converts married to Kohehim.

Cari Burstein said...

I've only actually been to temple a few times in my life, for bar mitzvahs and other such things, so I wasn't really sure which branches of Judaism actually count women for a minyan. I had just done a quick google search which defined it as 10 men. I'm glad to hear even the conservative branch is more flexible on this score, I had assumed reform would be. I do know there are women rabbis- I have a relative who is one.

In the case with my grandmother, at the time marriage to non-Jews was extremely rare in my family. I think I pretty much broke the taboo on that one- afterwards there were a few although it's still not super common. There was no interest in conversion in my case though, as I had zero interest in the religious practice part of Judaism, considering myself an atheist Jew (and my fiancee was an agnostic Catholic).

They probably blamed the whole thing anyhow on us being the crazy California cousins. They weren't entirely wrong, I expect had I grown up around all them maybe I'd have felt differently about it all. My parents had left it up to us to decide whether we wanted a bat mitzvah and religious education and we chose to pass on it, but maybe social pressures would have been different had I seen them more than a week a year. The grandparents (and the rest of my extended family) were also in the south, where there aren't a ton of Jews, so there was more social cohesion around those that were.

For the record I did eventually get divorced, although not until after 16 years of marriage, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with his religion or heritage. Turns out when they tell you not to get married young (I was 21), there are good reasons for it, although I don't know that it's a good enough reason not to do it- people change over time (especially when younger) and not always in compatible ways. Divorce is also extremely rare in my family, and I'm sure there are some that think it had to do with not being a good match due to him not being Jewish. I don't imagine they'd ever say that to me though.

Larry Hart said...

GMT -5:

The funny thing is that my wife is a convert. When we first joined, she was still a shiksa (a super-hot half Japanese shiksa). My Jewish mother absolutely adored her. In fact, mom was asking me about her as early as 1991 long before we became a couple.


But you had already met her in 1989,right? The day before you saw Kentucky Fried Movie?

Some of us are paying attention.

- calendar boy

duncan cairncross said...

Not "Jews" - but when I was in my 20's I was horrified when my Aunts grumbled about my brother dating a Catholic

This was back in the 70's - I had thought that type of sectarianism was long dead - it wasn't

By the time I got married I think those aunts were just glad I was finally getting married

GMT -8 said...

My religious education as a Reform Jew growing up in the 1960s was terrible. I did not even know that such a thing as a minyan existed until the mid-80s when our next door neighbor died and his wife asked for some "strong Jewish men" to come over to her house. We had no idea what she wanted; they needed more people to make up a minyan so that they could say the mourner's kaddish. I think at that time Conservative Judaism in the US still only counted men for making up a minyan. Our deceased neighbor had been president of his schul...and that was the one my wife and I later joined.

In the US I believe there are four major denominations of Judaism, in descending order of observance of traditions: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstruction. I don't know much about Reconstruction Judaism; I think it became a thing after I dropped out of religion in the early 80s.

Yes Larry, I met my the woman who would later become my wife the night before I saw KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. One reason why it took so long (almost 17 years) to become a couple is because she became involved (and married) the man who hosted that party where the movie was shown.

Larry Hart said...

Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Hupke (righteously) lashes into the anti-vaxxers:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-covid-delta-vaccine-florida-texas-desantis-abbott-biden-huppke-20210812-xnopninwkbbzbnweht7iosnzky-story.html

...
I don’t care if my judgment somehow steels your resolve to not get a vaccine that is safe, free, readily available and staggeringly effective. I’m done pretending the burden is somehow on me, the person acting responsibly, to coddle you, the person acting irresponsibly, and to pretend there’s some magical middle ground where we can meet up and hash things out.

There isn’t a middle ground. Over here on my side, there is scientific data, the overwhelming consensus of medical professionals, historical precedent and a recognition that a convoluted sense of individual liberty can’t override public health. On your side is a sad tapestry of tweets and Facebook posts from grifters, unhinged know-nothings and vaccinated politicians who want your money and your vote and couldn’t give a flip if you live or die.

I can’t meet people halfway when the halfway point exists in a conspiratorial land of make believe. This isn’t a both-sides issue. It’s a one-side issue, and you’re either getting the vaccine and helping bail us out of this achingly long pandemic or you’re being ridiculous.
...
On Aug. 9, CNBC sent a tweet with a link to a story, and that tweet read “Vaccines are being required for travel — here’s how unvaccinated people feel about that.”

As a vaccinated person who has followed the rules laid out by medical experts, I don’t give a ferret’s rear end how unvaccinated people feel about that. If you want to travel, get vaccinated.

The Wall Street Journal recently tweeted one of its stories about vaccinations, and the tweet read, in part, that “the unvaccinated are growing testy over being excluded and feeling judged.”

Oh, no. You’re feeling testy and judged? How terrible. I’m feeling volcanically outraged that ICU beds in Florida and Texas are filling up with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients of all ages as politically sadistic Republican governors ban mask and vaccine mandates while simultaneously getting ventilators from the federal government and help from out-of-state health workers.
...

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

By the time I got married I think those aunts were just glad I was finally getting married


My story exactly. :)

As I said, I was the oldest of two brothers and three first-cousins, but all of them were married years before I was (and all to non-Jews). At my wedding, my then-90 year old grandmother, a bit in her cups, actually thanked my wife for being willing to (paraphrasing) take me off of the family's hands.

scidata said...

Not Jewish, but the lack of a children's vaccine has made me re-live the Passover horror from my Sunday School daze. Frightening kids was the main purpose it seemed.

Larry Hart said...

@scidata,

Not to long ago, the voices on Stephanie Miller's radio show made the comparison of anti-vaxxers to the Passover story. That is, they would be like Hebrews refusing to put the rams' blood on their houses (and then begging for rams' blood when their child already lay dying).

Larry Hart said...

Cari Burstein:

There was no interest in conversion in my case though, as I had zero interest in the religious practice part of Judaism, considering myself an atheist Jew (and my fiancee was an agnostic Catholic).


I could have honestly written that whole sentence myself.


For the record I did eventually get divorced, although not until after 16 years of marriage, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with his religion or heritage.


When I was about to go to college, my other grandmother (not the one previously mentioned) used to matter-of-factly toss off as a reason not to date a non-Jew is that "She'll call you a dirty Jew." To me, that seemed one of the least likely things to come between a hypothetical girlfriend and myself, but to her generation that was the understood symbol for how we're always different from them.


Turns out when they tell you not to get married young (I was 21), there are good reasons for it, although I don't know that it's a good enough reason not to do it- people change over time (especially when younger) and not always in compatible ways.


In the olden days, I think society wanted kids to marry and reproduce as quickly as possible, so social pressures always pushed the idea that the moment you find someone attractive, you should be planning a wedding. And some modern religions continue this practice. I had a college roommate who joined a (nothing else to call it) cult which frowned upon couples even holding hands until they were married. That sort of thing seems designed to produce incompatible couples who then have to "suck it up" because divorce is unthinkable.* I am forever grateful I waited for the right one to come along, even though I was a whole 33 years old at the time.

* Meat Loaf's lyrics come to mind:

I couldn't take it any longer.
Oh, God, I was crazed,
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave,
I started swearing to my God and on my mother's grave
That I would love you to the end of time!
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!

So now I'm praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive.
'Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don't think that I can really survive.
I'll never break my promise or forget my vow,
But God only knows what I can do right now.
I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do.
Praying for the end of time,
So I can end my time with you!

Anonymous said...

David, just saw your latest tantrum on my blog. Good heavens, are you feeling insecure or something? -- JMG

Robert said...

they would be like Hebrews refusing to put the rams' blood on their houses (and then begging for rams' blood when their child already lay dying)

You left out the part about blaming Moses for his poor handling of the Egyptians…

David Brin said...

Great stories GMT & LH! But, well, what we hear call "conservative" might get stoned in Haredim Jerusalem.
Alas.

As for the drive by "unknown" it's likely John Michael Greer, a true certifiable, whose blog cited me as having views only glancingly recognizable as my own, or in some cases diametrically opposite. That certainly seemed worth 90 seconds of my time saying so, whether or not he had the guts to keep my comment posted, as I (with a bored-amused snort) shall do with his gnat buzz here.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

You left out the part about blaming Moses for his poor handling of the Egyptians


They actually did that. At least if you can believe the movie. Anne Baxter had to save him from being stoned. :)

Jon S. said...

they would be like Hebrews refusing to put the rams' blood on their houses (and then begging for rams' blood when their child already lay dying)

You left out the part about blaming Moses for his poor handling of the Egyptians…


The Seven Plagues were cooked up in a secret Shang lab owned by Moses! The ram's blood contains a secret tracking marker!

David Brin said...

Oh BTW. A decent person responds when told "You have publicly said that I have done or said things that I never said or did." That should BOTHER a person who has a shred of decency. There are ways to answer:

- By rejoindering with a question that paraphases, followed by evidence: "Did you not assert that (paraphrasing)? Because this public statement of yours seems to support that view: (followed by a direct, verifiable quot, in context."

It's important to do both because then witnesses to your rejoinder can tell whether you leaped to a false interpretation.

But that gnat displayed the essential dishonorable nature of zero-sum. Instead of assuming the possibility he committed wrongs that need righting - which a decent person does - he doubled down, and thus inadvertently proved my point.

Anonymous said...

Ya know if I were Dr Fauci I'd be setting up a little accident involving the last vial s of smallpox and an autoclave. Just saying.

smitpa said...

Ya know If I were Dr Fauci I think I would arrange a accident involving the last vials of smallpox and an autoclave just to prevent this epidemic from being a dress rehearsal for the big one.

J.L.Mc12 said...

Why don’t you post your comment to JMG on this blog?

TCB said...

This John Michael Greer drive-by reminds me of a disagreement I have with Dr. Brin about the colossal error of letting right wingers own the AM radio dial. Dr. Brin says: "It's important to do both because then witnesses to your rejoinder can tell whether you leaped to a false interpretation."

That's the reason someone with money who isn't a fascist ought to have done more to back liberal radio stations in as many markets as possible, including red states. It's not about "herding liberal listeners like cats". It's about giving "witnesses to your rejoinder" a chance to actually hear your rejoinder. Tens of millions of car-radio (porch, garage, etc.) listeners in the hinterland have never even heard of Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, et al.

Because Rush and his ilk own the bottom of the AM dial, I'd confidently guesstimate that the GOP has consistently reaped one or two percent of voters they might not otherwise have, in towns all across the US, which may add up to an extra senator or two and an extra ten or twenty representatives, in any given year.

Norman Goldman always insisted that his show could have competed in Mississippi, if any station owner there would have let him try.

"Witnesses to your rejoinder" are very important people and we ignore them at our peril.

Larry Hart said...

Happy Reinstatement Day.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/mypillow-ceo-mike-lindell-frantically-vows-to-stay-up-for-72-hours-straight-says-theres-no-breaks

Trump-boosting pillow magnate Mike Lindell erupted on Tuesday over the mere mention of a lunch break during the opening hours of his three-day “cyber symposium” on supposed election fraud, yelling that there are “no breaks” and vowing to stay up on stage for “72 hours.” Moments later, however, the MyPillow CEO shuffled off, ceding the stage to one of his purported cyber experts.
...
Lindell has relentlessly pushed baseless claims that voting machines stole the election from former President Donald Trump, and he has spent the past few weeks promoting the symposium as a world-changing event that would finally reveal irrefutable proof of a rigged 2020 presidential vote. (Lindell, of course, has made similar claims about his election fraud “documentaries” that never provided any actual evidence of corrupt voting machines or widespread voter fraud.)
...
Ready to show the world that Trump should still be president (he has previously said the Supreme Court would vote 9-0 to reinstate Trump after viewing his “data packages”), Lindell’s event got off to an inevitably rocky start on Tuesday morning: Despite a billed kickoff at 9 a.m. local time, Lindell claimed his website was “hacked,” causing the event’s livestream to be delayed.
...



And where do they find these people?

https://www.newsweek.com/14-percent-biden-voters-say-trump-will-reinstated-president-this-year-poll-1618985

A surprising number of Americans who voted for President Joe Biden say they agree with a conspiracy theory claiming former President Donald Trump will be "reinstated" as president this year, according to a new poll.

The poll released Wednesday by Morning Consult/Politico found that 14 percent of Biden voters surveyed said it was "very" or "somewhat" likely that Trump would make an inexplicable return to the White House as soon as this year. Twenty-six percent of Trump voters agreed that the former president would likely return to office before Biden's term is over.

Support for the conspiracy theory was significant even among voters who said they were very or somewhat "favorable of Biden," with 26 percent agreeing. Among voters who said they had a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion of Biden, 41 percent maintained that it was at least somewhat likely that Trump would be reinstated.

David Brin said...

Public opinion polls always contain spurious elements like 'what does this question WANT me to answer?" And "What answer would make me feel like I am a brave standout?"

Same person in same poll will declare belif in both Darwin and Genesis.

Jon S. said...

There are "liberal" AM radio stations, TCB. Problem is, they're not as popular as right-wing talk radio, partly because of the "herding cats" issue and partly because a lot of progressives are also tech-savvy and prefer to use internet communications - either online forums not unlike this one, or podcasts. And without ad sales, your radio station won't last long.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

There are "liberal" AM radio stations, TCB. Problem is, they're not as popular as right-wing talk radio,


That doesn't seem to be true. Norman Goldman was correct that he appealed to a subset of self-described conservatives when he spoke to them as a fellow American rather than as a liberal. Randy Rhodes had better ratings than Limbaugh did when they were both local broadcasters in Florida.

No, the dearth of non-right-wing talk radio is a deliberate strategy of the right to crowd liberal voices off of the mainstream airwaves, not because liberal talk is unprofitable, but because those voices must not be heard. The major right-wing talkers hardly have any advertisers left, but they continue to run on clear-channel stations across the country. Liberal stations get bought up and converted to all sports formats, or Spanish language.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Robert said...

Same person in same poll will declare belif in both Darwin and Genesis.

Well, yeah. Two English greats: the scientist and the band :-)