Wednesday, February 16, 2022

At the edge of war, remember what's basic... and look to the "Greatest Generation."

As we sit here, teetering at the fringes of a possible spasm ordered by a desperate mafia thug (have you done your Costco run, yet?), I'll post tonight about more mundane political matters... that still desperately matter.


Let's start with a fiundamental that I cannot repeat too often. The fundamental human problem is willful delusion. We are all delusional, preferring subjective overlays on the world over any need to re-evaluate. Heck, pointing this out was the central common theme shared by Socrates, Plato, Buddha, Jesus, Confucius and so many others... who nevertheless never noticed what Galileo finally saw... that there is a way out of the trap!


Fortunately, in a free and diverse culture, we do not all share the same delusions! If it's hard to see our own, we will gladly point at each others'! Reciprocal criticism is the only known antidote to deluded error.  


Alas, it only flows under conditions of relative equality, when reciprocal criticism cannot be punished by elites... as happened in 99% of human societies, where kings, priests, oligarchs and owner castes used their power to suppress criticism from below. In fact, it was usually their top priority.


This is why competition - the greatest creative force (that made us) is so hard to maintain in human societies and was quashed in 99% of them, till we innovated ways to flatten power structures and get elites criticizing each other. At which point cheating was reduced, openness allowed not only reciprocal criticism and accountability but also flexible alliances, leading to many positive sum games.


Economics is one of five great arenas that have boosted the benefits of competition, by making it (1) far less bloody than in nature, with many second chances, (2) filled with a maximum number of skilled competitors as Adam Smith and F. Hayek demanded, (thus wasting less talent), and far less prone to cheating than any other society... though still way too subject to it than ideal.


The other four competitive accountability arenas are democracy, science, courts and sports, all of which benefit from cheating-reducing regulation. 

To be clear, those saying the c-word  'competition' aloud the most have turned into its deepest enemies. Every 'economics' proposal made by today's mad right is aimed at reducing competition, feeding wealth and power disparities, elimination of rival (accountability) elites, and cheating.  Hence the current ill health of flattening and other systems in markets and democracy, especially.

While this is an existential threat to our kind of civilization... or any long term civilization, at all... it should not be a surprise. Human nature, y'know. On the other hand, what's at stake is only freedom, science, a living planet, civilization, our grand chil;dren... and possibly the fate of a galaxy.

If you have the attention, concentration and curiosity to have read this far, perhaps you'll like my academic paper about this on my website: Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competition. Also on Kindle.


== Defending the Greatest Generation ==


I am critical of sanctimonious temporal chauvinism that assumes any current decade's particulars of moral righteousness are the pinnacle of human awake-ness. And hence, I initially reacted with some hackles to this article about that the so-called "Greatest Generation," which focused on sampled statements and/or survey answers that we'd rear-view as at-best cringeworthy or patronizing... and in many cases horrific. 


(To be clear, in those days my own parents were deemed members of a despised caste, victims of pervasive prejudice, whose European cousins had just been consigned to ovens. And those cited surveys reflected this.)


Sure, it is valid to re-examine the faults of earlier generations, especially American hypocrisies. But just as the eminently wise Frederick Douglass weighed both faults and blessings, in his eulogy of Abraham Lincoln (do look it up!) we can do the same for the Greatest Generation, without leaping to conclude that reflexive blurting of their own parents' bad habits made them an over-rated pack of racist, misogynist bastards! 


Let's set aside their brave and sturdy defeat of the worst evil the world ever saw, and containment of a Leninist cult that history later verified to be almost equally murderous. And the GGs' massive investments in infrastructure and science and vastly uplifting universities, or their current utility as a refutation of MAGA treason. (Most of them adored FDR and later Jonas Salk.) Notably it was Ronald Reagan's top priority to reverse every such strength.)


In fact, there are some valid criticisms of the whole "greatest generation" mythos. e.g. the very decisions in 1945 that led to the most fantastic era of human development and prosperity and (yes) overall peace were made by an older clade, including George (my choice of person of the 20th Century) Marshall, Truman, Acheson, Ike, etc. and mostly not by the younger generation who fought in trenches and who got the GG label.


And yes, I recall my own parents who marched with MLK and stood with Bobby and fought McCarthyism... as having nevertheless been troglodytic in many of their reflexes! Especially linguistic ones. They shifted some and adapted to hippie criticism (as do I, today, when our kids correct my pronouns.) But all of that just goes to prove something crucial here...


... that improving human civilization involves self-uplift in a grinding haul and slog out of caves and superstitions and mud and tribalism, and it's NOT easy! 


That long slog is - in fact - proof of my aphorism: Criticism Is The Only Known Antidote To Error. Sure, unless every generation re-evaluates and critiques, we will never slog our way upward to Star Trek. Or something much better.


The Great American Project of expanding circles of inclusion has staggered ahead, each generation with grinding, incremental slowness that certainly seems insanely and culpably tardy... and yes, it has been! Except by comparison to every single other society or nation that ever existed. (Please step up with your counter examples.) 


To be clear, I am not preaching 'patience!' Go ahead and BE IMPATIENT! 


We need to accelerate, if we are to get better at anywhere near a pace to call ourselves decent people, let alone save the world. Just because prior generations took some things for granted doesn't mean we should. And science fiction plays a role, by showing us glimpses of futures when things-will-be-different.


(SF films and novels arguably saved the world!  See: VIVID TOMORROWS: Science Fiction and Hollywood.)


Nevertheless:


1) Railing at past generations of reformers for not including YOUR more recent priorities is maybe a bit unfair. Besides not being here to defend themselves, a lot of them had full plates. (And that recent trend in SF is particularly regrettable, as scifi was always, always the genre most friendly to divergent authors and ideas.) 


Look forward; you do not have to slur previous generations of reformers, just to make your own virtue signaling seem grander. It's not just lazy but almost always unfair.


2) Consider that you may be part of a chain of uplift, leading to new generations who will re-evaluate YOU for things that you missed, or overlooked, that future generations will deem spectacular omissions from your high-preening virtue waving. 


(Example, I predict that within a decade there will be a major revision of attitudes towards backbiting GOSSIP, which is arguably the nastiest evil routinely committed, today, by those who call themselves decent people.) 


3) Consider the role of factors like technology, that allowed a nation of farmers to get their children off the fields into universities, or the effects of lavor saving devices and birth control on feminism, or new techs that are now empowering autism spectra folk (as I depict in Existence), or that made full transsexuality even a thing... or the power of newsreel and TV and web cameras to keep groundbreakers like Gandhi, MLK and the Wachowskis alive, let alone influential.


And finally... are we truly so vile?


4) Compared to what? Compared to 6000 years of grotesquely stupid and cruel feudalisms, this experiment has been swift and unrivaled. Compared to what we all know we ought to be? By that standard we have been sluggards and reluctant and grindingly slow. 


But who taught you that standard of what we ought to be?


Hollywood. We are creatures of the very society we criticize. 


== Were the men and women of the "Greatest Generation" imperfect? ==


VASTLY so! Their incremental forward-ratchetings of justice were contemptibly slow, while being faster and more righteous than anything that came before. We Boomers, too, made some progress... and merit similar crit.


But above all, attacks specifically on the "Greatest Generation" are spectacularly impractical, like lefties screeching hate at The US military, when the women and men in uniform are presently a bulwark against the real evil, an international oligarchic cabal bent on re-establishing feudalism with Orwellian force. 


That's very, very bad TACTICS. 


Dig this well. The Greatest Generation is an American icon! (See Tom Brokow's best-selling book, The Greatest Generation.) And if you spurn them completely, letting the MAGAS clutch them as wholly their own, then you are giving a freebie favor to the enemies of this great (if deeply flawed) enlightenment experiment!!


I prefer to point out that the GG's most adored living human was a fellow named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and later they most-admired Jonas Salk and MLK and Bobby. And today most of them would easily see as Enemy Action the treason memes offered nightly on Fox, including hatred of all the nerdy fact professions that made America "great." 


They would hear today's spasmodic-foxite "hate all government" yammering as betrayal and service to Moscow.


And they would spit in every MAGA eye.


Use that. Most members of that hero generation - for all their countless flaws - would want you to keep using them to defeat enemies of the Experiment. So use them.


And if war comes, remember, as they did...


I matter less than those I love... or the justice, freedom, progress and civilization and planet and posterity that I love.


I am made of the same stuff that saved hope in 1777, in 1863, in 1944.... And I'll prove it, if I must.


96 comments:

Jon S. said...

No, I haven't made any more Costco runs than usual.

Because I'm pretty sure that if something happens in Ukraine that reaches out to affect us Stateside, it'll involve nuclear war, which is something I have an unfortunate education in. And as we live in close proximity to at least three first-strike targets (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Bremerton Naval Base, and Bangor Submarine Base), we wouldn't live long enough to know it had happened. No point in stocking up for an apocalypse we won't survive.

If there's a war but it stays with conventional weapons, they can't really hit us effectively in the continental US, so again, no need to stock up for an apocalypse that won't happen to us.

David Brin said...

Understood JonS But... the rest of the blog? And, um, toilet paper?

Treebeard said...

LOL @ boomers stocking up for war. Ukraine is a long way from the USA guys, and it ain't part of NATO; what on Earth are you worried about? I guess this is the next media mass hysteria project, now that covid is all but over. Not to worry though, it looks like another false alarm. In which case we can add the “Russian invasion” hoax to Covid, Russiagate, Saddam’s WMDs and the long list of mockingbird media disinfo operations. There’s a quote attributed to former CIA director William Casey: “We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” Mission nearly accomplished, Bill.

Apparently the powers-that-be have developed an ingenious new “fake war” stratagem: announce across the media that an enemy is about to invade somewhere, give a precise date, and when it doesn’t happen, declare victory. Hey, if you can’t win real wars, at least you can win fake ones!

Fake news, fake wars, fake money, fake reality (metaverse, etc.), fake women, fake cities (Disneyland, Las Vegas, etc.) – I’m endlessly impressed with this drive Americans have to replace real things with fakery. I was recently reading Simulacra and Simulation by this French dude Baudrillard and he really nailed it, imo. He describes how images replace reality in four stages, until finally you are looking at a pure simulation with no relation to reality. I think we’re a stage four society now in many respects, which Philip K. Dick famously warned about in a speech back in 1978:

“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. ...

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo- realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power.”


Dick even worried about “left wing fascism” back when wokeism and PC were far less of a thing. I suppose he would be branded a conspiracy theorist, right wing extremist, Russian agent and deplatformed in today’s ideological environment for thoughts like these. And there’s no way he would be winning any SF awards. Ponder that as you stock up on costco supplies and tune in to CNN for the latest news of the "invasion". LOL.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ in the previous comments:

So far my water repair bill is under 1% of the value of the home (not by much) and it's the first one I've suffered in 3 years of living here. As a maintenance fee, that's unpleasant but not unheard of for managed money.


You're more focused on the monetary aspect. To me, it's the fact that there's always something that demands responsibility which makes home-ownership a pain in the butt. It was so much easier (in my single days) to have someone else whose job was to deal with all that.

I might have felt differently had I rented from an absentee landlord, but I was lucky enough not to be in that situation.

Marriage and home-ownership together is a net positive, but to me, the calculation is a subtraction rather than an addition.


That fellow? Heh. My late-brother would have suggested (when still a teenager*) a generation of jewish parents name a son like that just so they'd pwn the undead ideas lingering in the minds of some very sick people.


I don't think I'd want to do that to the kid.

Alfred Differ said...

For people thinking about nukes arriving here, it is important to remember that decades have passed since we wanted a viable ABM system. A LOT HAS CHANGED in the mean time that wouldn't get published openly.

I'm not saying don't worry.

I AM saying don't worry so much about 60's style giga-death risks.

The larger risk is small nuke use that is difficult to pin on a particular actor and the insane response form the US that will result in us hitting SOMEONE.


Yah. That's a lot of caps. I'm not shouting, though. I'm emphasizing. Why? Because some very bright, very dedicated members of our protector clade have had decades to work on things. Pity the fools who give them a chance to demonstrate this fact.

duncan cairncross said...

The Generations!

The "Lost Generation" 1883-1900 - were the ones that were in charge in WW2
And during the "Great Enrichment" from 1945 to about 1975

The Greatest Generation 1901-1927 - did the actual fighting during WW2 - but were not in charge - they came into "power" at the same time that the "Great Enrichment" ended - (Ages 40 to 74) - coincidence??

The Boomers - 1946 - 1964 did not come into "power" until about 2004

IMHO the "Lost Generation" were actually the "Greatest" - they led the fight in WW2 and then led the USA during the time when wages and productivity tracked up together


Alan Brooks said...

When things improve, intensified C & D can set in; Complacency and Delusion. A personal example: when Obama was President, I became more C & D. In ‘16, after being witnessed to by elderly cat-loving, tofu-eating ladies working for Jill Stein’s campaign, I thought, “how can it hurt to vote for Stein, Hillary is going to win the election anyway.”
Turned out to be a vote for Trump.
The complacency of expecting Hillary to win the election/the delusion that a vote for Stein would not in effect be a vote for Trump.
——
However there’s one member of the GG I have grave doubts about: LBJ.
LBJ’s bungling of the Vietnam War negated the positive of his administration. Tens of thousands of blacks and many more of other races were conscripted into the meatgrinder of Vietnam.
Self-criticism means criticizing icons who we invested too much into. Because LBJ was JFK’s veep; because he defeated Goldwater; because of Civil Rights, which was JFK’s initiative; and because of the Apollo Program (also JFK’s initiative) too many are hesitant—to this day—to criticize LBJ.

Tim H. said...

My worry on Ukraine is spillover into NATO territories. The possible presence of ABM doesn't reassure, a strategic target that only gets half of the warheads aimed at it is still a crater. Rebuilding after s "Small" nuclear exchange will be a greater challenge now, given the non-enforcement of anti competition law, so many fewer targets.

Alan Brooks said...

The mistake Treebeard is making is thinking the Russian threat is so far away. Russians (and Chinese) own a great deal of properties in N America and have countless operatives and fellow-travelers.
Far away is away—but no longer far.

Robert said...

Off topic, but interesting science news (and at least tangentially related to a Brin story):

https://spectrum.ieee.org/bionic-eye-obsolete

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

LOL @ boomers stocking up for war. Ukraine is a long way from the USA guys, and it ain't part of NATO; what on Earth are you worried about?


Several things.

You seem to think that everybody here except you is frantically stocking up like it's 1999. In fact, the only comment referring to that is a guy explaining why he's not doing that.

To the extent that there's something to be worried about, it has more to do with possible disruptions to world trade than with ourselves being nuked.


I guess this is the next media mass hysteria project, now that covid is all but over. Not to worry though, it looks like another false alarm. In which case we can add the “Russian invasion” hoax to Covid, Russiagate, Saddam’s WMDs and the long list of mockingbird media disinfo operations.


While you may think the reaction has been overblown or has been dragged out too long, are you really suggesting that COVID-19 was not a real problem? Before vaccines, when hospitals were filled to capacity with intubated patients?

"Russiagate"--the idea that Russia helped foist Donald Trump on us--is self-evidently not a hoax. Furthermore, you're quite pleased with the result. When you say it's a hoax, you apparently mean that it shouldn't be treated as a scandal, since you're in favor of it.

Equating what's going on with Ukraine right now with the Saddam WMD lies is absurd. The situation is almost opposite. With Iraq, the Bush administration with the media's willing assistance were trying to get a war going. The point of blowing the whistle on Russia's aggressive moves is to head off a war. The fact that the attention is seemingly working at preventing an invasion does not mean that no invasion would have happened absent that attention.

What exactly are you saying that Russia is doing by massing troops on the Ukrainian border. Or are you saying even that is just made up? That there are no such troops?


There’s a quote attributed to former CIA director William Casey: “We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” Mission nearly accomplished, Bill.


Everything Republicans believe is certainly false.

GMT -5 8032 said...

I had to go to the hospital yesterday. Too much sitting caused problems “down below.” It was a comedy of errors as the front desk could not decide which building I needed to go to. I went back and forth between two buildings, located over a mile apart…twice. I can laugh about it now; I was not in good humor while I was slogging through the rain between the buildings.

Eventually I got to the right location. Doctor decided I needed a prostate exam. Not fun; the essay portion was a [“B-word” slur redacted]. So note to all of us sedentary men, make your desk adjustable so you can stand during the day.

So Ukraine was not invaded yesterday. Okay. I have not been following the news, consumed as I am with completing tax returns. Was this a foreign policy triumph for Biden or a messaging mess.

Larry Hart said...

John Fugelsang on Stephanie Miller's radio show points out that Treebeard accuses Biden of being a warmonger, even though he's trying to avoid a war, whereas he will never accuse Putin of being a warmonger.

Ok, he didn't mention Treebeard by name, but he might as well have.

Paradoctor said...

AD:
My crackpot theory about nuclear war is that nukes run on quantum mechanics, which is observer-centric; and since nuclear war would leave behind no human observers, therefore nuclear war is, in human terms, unphysical. We will never observe a nuclear war. What's more, since QM is nonlocal and nondeterministic, what we will observe instead is random chaos, preceding the nuclear war, that prevents it from happening. This will usually manifest as fatal malfunctions in all systems and persons that would otherwise cause the war. Nukes are so destructive that they retroactively break machines and minds that would set them off. Therefore don't even _think_ about using the accursed things! I call this the Backfire Effect.

The Backfire Effect can also be explained in classical terms; for human beings have foresight, a survival instinct, and are capable of incompetence, treachery, and self-sabotage.

The Backfire Effect is virtual, so it can be observed only indirectly. In the coming weeks, look to see who and what breaks down.

David Brin said...

Skimmed, ent BADLY needs vitamins. "You FOOOLS are suckers for symbolims and media hypnotism!!"

Um no we aren't you are. Today's entire right is 100% symbolism. Yes, the FAR left is at least 50% symbolism obsessed.

ut FAR is not ENTIRE and 50% is not 100%.

We are seeing tik toks of long ling lines of tanks in Belgorod, 15 miles from Ukraine and another 15 from Kharkiv. And no one in the Kremlin is denying them.

Whotta bozo.

David Brin said...

gerold thanks, though Estonia or e-stonia is also seen as an example of e-democracy at work and they advised India’s Aardhar(sp?) innovation that improved efficiency spectacularly. (I may steal your passage on this.)
LBJ carried through everything JFK asked for, from space and civil rights to Vietnam. He was loyal to the end, even retaining McNamara and Bobby. In the end he saw what it would do to his legacy. It killed him.
Alan B: “The” mistake of Treebeard? No one can be that kneejerk nutty. He sees it as his mission to provoke me to waste one minute here. Another minute the following week. I type fast and blood pressure is not a problem, so… shrug emoji.
We’ve reached on MILLION excess American deaths during covid.

“Everything Republicans believe is certainly false.”
I envision the Fox “news”room. Stoned and giggling, they say: “Oh! I know, let’s try THIS on the fools! Surely THAT will make em say ‘no-way’?” “Naw. Ten to one they’ll swallow that too! Pass the cocaine.”

GMT’s pain in the… hope everything comes out okay! Send us your rain.

Paradoc yeah, like the character’s magic power in THE COLOUR OF MAGIC where he’s protected from magic attacks by coincide

David Brin said...

...protected from magic attacks by coincidences happening.

Alan Brooks said...

You’ve been demonstrated correct in so many matters, so will read this weekend about LBJ before further judgment.
—-
Treebeard (w/o knowing him) might have come from the wrong sort of family. Below is a good example of bad thinking in a smart person, caused by filial inculcation. The best friend I’ve had in a decade.
His parents were ranchers who believed very strongly in Biblical inerrancy, but were smart and kind. Their son joined the Army, used the GI Bill to get a degree in IT, and worked for IBM. Everyone likes him and when he’s in public they flock to him for advice. But he still thinks “every word of the Bible has been proven scientifically” (!)
His parents’ religious teachings are lodged in his mind permanently, and when he dispenses religious advice, his admirers leave his presence: he becomes Harry Hairshirt. Other than his religion, he’s perfectly reasonable.

David Brin said...

AB: Believing twenty impossible (and diametrically contradictory) things before breakfast is so human. It's why we invented enlightenment civilization. So that SOME of the smartest can utter the words "I might be wrong." But generally, people only admit it in the fae of criticism.

Your friend sounds bearable. Problem is when some folks like Theodore Sturgeon RADIATE an aura of 'wisdom" and are in fact spectacularly unwise.

scidata said...

Alan Brooks: Other than his religion, he’s perfectly reasonable.

Sounds like the former director of the NIH. Not all 'awakenings' are as cordial as your best friend in a decade's. Alas.

Treebeard said...

@Larry,

It doesn’t sound like you’re too well informed about Russiagate. Here’s a discussion with three progressives that covers some of the basics of the hoax. As for covid, the hysterical way it was presented in the media, as if everyone was at serious risk from it, the efficacy of masks, lockdowns and vaccines (e.g. Biden and Fauci saying the vaccine stops covid transmission dead in its tracks), claims about flattening the curve, the way it was used to justify authoritarianism and demonize dissent or alternative treatments, the role of Big Pharma, the politicization of the whole issue, etc., clearly involved a lot of misinfo and disinfo.

I’m not accusing Biden of being a warmonger; I think he’s doing better than expected given the sort of nasty people he has trying to influence him (recall that the Iraq-era Bush neocons are now in the Biden camp). But the administration is clearly engaged in another war propaganda campaign, making some bizarre claims and demonizing another country in the great American tradition. And it’s not clear how much Biden, who looks to be highly medicated and semi-senile, is even calling the shots at this point.

BTW, anyone who says W. Bush wasn’t that bad and suggests Trump was far worse has some strange priorities, given the level of damage that regime did. One of the major reasons for Deep State/MIC opposition to Trump was surely his unwillingness to start any profitable new wars. He did some unnecessary and reckless things on that front, but nothing that compares to the world-historical bungling and criminality of the Bush cabal. Note that Bush is now buddies with the Obamas and a big critic of Trump, as is Cheney. They may be war criminals who destroyed countries on false pretexts and sacrificed thousands of people for no reason, but at least they’re not the mean-tweeting orange man. This the kind of warped mental model a lot of Americans live in and think is normal, apparently.

@Alan Brooks,

Russia isn’t at war with the US and isn’t interested in any such war. Whatever happens in the Ukraine involves another continent and non-allied countries. So again, what on Earth are you worried about? Is the US going to declare war on Russia over Ukraine? Are you thinking we might need to kick out or round up Russkies soon like we did to Japs back in the day?

I suggest you get over your boomer mentality that America is the world’s exceptional hegemon trying to keep the world safe from commies or whoever, ‘cuz it’s not an accurate or useful model of the world going forward. It’s likely to make you paranoid, misinformed, delusional and unprepared for the future. Instead, try getting used to the prospect of Pax Americana being rolled back: in Europe, but also in east Asia, the Middle East, Latin America—everywhere. It happens to every empire eventually, this just so happens to be Pax Americana’s time to retreat. After 250 years of almost non-stop wars and imperial expansion, Americans are just gonna have to find a different way of dealing with the rest of the world than trying to make everyone say "uncle".

David Brin said...

ten second skim. The grammar & syntax seem better, less disjointed and symptomatic, probably due to vitamins. But the content is just more drivel that the coward will never back up with wager stakes.

His 'conservative' cult's veer to frantic support for Moscow mafiosi who - all of them - spent the first half of their lives reciting Leninist catachisms would be rejected by any publisher of sci fi yarns as "not humanly possible."

Alan Brooks said...

Scientific religion is oxymoronic. I’ve read the scriptures carefully, they concern Faith, not reason. The scriptures are not even primarily about love or redemption, as so many think they are.
The scriptures are consistently concerned with sacrifice, sacrificing oneself and others—scriptures cannot be fobbed off as symbolic.
Believers say “look at the Bible as a whole [don’t cherry-pick]” Yet, when you examine scripture as a whole, it is quite consistent in its exhortation of sacrifice, including self-abnegation, war, and execution.
Scriptures say to sell what one has and give to the poor; that Christ came with a sword to rend families so their loyalty is to Christ; to pluck one’s eye out if it sins; to turn the other cheek, thus to be hit again; to give one’s cloak and shirt away to those who ask for the shirt.
There’s no hermeneutical confusion, no ambiguity. We are to be poor family-less Cyclopses, naked and with broken cheekbones. That is to say we are supposed to sacrifice our lives completely in service of Faith—not science.

gerold said...

mistakenly sent this to the the previous post:

DB: your talk about harnessing conflict and competition with the internet to uplift society got me to thinking about Taiwanese digital democracy. In this article the Digital Minister of Taiwan Audrey Tang makes an interesting observation:

https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/How-Taiwan-s-digital-democracy-can-help-Asia-thrive

Taiwanese democracy first emerged in 1996, at the same time the web was emerging from the internet. Consequently Taiwanese democracy coevolved with the web in its formative years, and has developed some uniquely individual feedback systems connecting citizens and government, systems that were never possible before.

Many have expressed hopes that something similar would appear in our own countries as a consequence of the internet, and in many ways they have - but not in government. The US government still operates in horse-and-buggy fashion. I remember calling Duncan Hunter's office back when he was my congressman, trying to provide some constituent feedback, and the first thing they asked was "who are you with?" They seemed surprised when I said I was a constituent.

The first requirement of a successful representative government is a critical mass of citizens who pay attention to the issues facing the country and have some kind of informed opinion on it. Then we need a feedback loop between our representatives and those citizens so coherent policy choices can align them. Maybe something like a usenet group with an internal selection mechanism where discussion and argument can converge onto something like agreement. Right now it seems like Taiwan might be farthest along toward implementing such a system.

Larry Hart said...

GMT -5:

So Ukraine was not invaded yesterday. Okay. I have not been following the news, consumed as I am with completing tax returns. Was this a foreign policy triumph for Biden or a messaging mess.


I was under the impression that the specific forecast invasion date of Feb 16 was put out there by the Ukrainian president. Nothing to do with Biden.

Larry Hart said...

Paradoctor:

We will never observe a nuclear war.


We already did. In August 1945.

Well, not "we" we, but humans did. Some are still alive.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I envision the Fox “news”room. Stoned and giggling, they say: “Oh! I know, let’s try THIS on the fools! Surely THAT will make em say ‘no-way’?”


I thought that about the 2016 Trump candidacy. That he was trying to get himself disqualified, since he wanted the publicity but not the responsibility. "Now that I've said that, they'll have to desert me!" His thing about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue and not losing a single vote was his honest expression of surprise when he came to realize that there was no line he couldn't cross and retain his voters.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

As for covid, the hysterical way it was presented in the media, as if everyone was at serious risk from it,


The combination of transmissibility and horrific effects made it a real problem to treat those who did get it. Hospital beds, ICUs, and ventilators were at capacity, which is also a secondary problem for people with other medical emergencies unrelated to COVID directly.


the efficacy of masks, lockdowns and vaccines (e.g. Biden and Fauci saying the vaccine stops covid transmission dead in its tracks), claims about flattening the curve,


For the last 4 years, I've worked for a hospital chain. I remember spring of 2020, before vaccines, when it looked as if we would soon peak with numbers of cases well above our ability to handle. The idea of masking and social distancing was to slow the spread so that even if the same number of people ended up needing hospitalization over time, they wouldn't all need it at the same time.

That you can't remember all this is...disturbing.


the way it was used to justify authoritarianism and demonize dissent or alternative treatments, the role of Big Pharma, the politicization of the whole issue, etc., clearly involved a lot of misinfo and disinfo.


The supposed effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin certainly involve a lot of disinformation. What you consider purposely misleading information from Biden, Fauci, and actual doctors seems to be more a case of "best we knew at the time," subject to change with more facts on the ground. Trump and the anti-vax crowd are the ones spreading ridiculously false information.

Disneyland shut down. Freakin' Las Vegas shut down. Are you really claiming these corporations willingly gave up untold billions in profit to perpetrate a hoax? Or that they themselves were duped by Biden, who wasn't even the presidential candidate at the time? By Trump, who didn't want any such publicity of the kind? What is your explanation for the uncontested facts?

Ask yourself why you have never once heard a tearful confession of someone who did get the vaccine regretting his mistake and imploring all who will listen to please for God's sake not do what he did. The other way around happens all the time. It's like "Dog Bites Man" at this point.

Paradoctor said...

Dr. Brin:

Treebeard is many things, including antivaxxer, dissident and Druid, but he is not a friend of insurgent fascism - though the ent _is_ their dupe, in the matter of Trump/Russia, and the covid pandemic.

You and Treebeard do not entirely disagree. I was led to your website by him mentioning you on his. He agreed with you on something, and said so, and also that such agreement was unlikely.

You and the ent do disagree about technocratic rationalism. You believe, he does not. You accuse Treebeard of favoring 6000 years of inherited thug dominance over an experiment in enlightened thought and governance. The ent questions how enlightened that thought really is, and how meritocratic its governance ever was.

I reserve judgement. The nature of experimentation is that most experiments fail. That's okay, and even valuable, if you are willing to learn from the failures, and do better experiments. That's the scientific method.

The ent's previous post errs in the matter of Trump/Russia and covid, but has better accuracy later on, about the limits of American power and the inevitability of imperial retreat. American imperialism was also an experiment, now clearly failed. That's okay, and even valuable, if we learn from the failure.

I say that one lesson of Trump/Russia is that imperialism invites foreign interference in self-governance. If we meddle with them, then they'll meddle with us. What goes around comes around; that's karma. Therefore don't do imperialism, for the sake of your own nation's sovereignty. That's my recommendation, scientifically verified by failed experiment.

Treebeard is quite right about the relativity of Dubya versus Trump. They were worse than each other, depending on your point of view.

From my point of view I see a sequence of Clown Princes: Nixon, Reagan, Dubya, and Trump. Each was worst in his own special way. I do not expect the sequence to stop before the root causes of Clown Princes are addressed. In Trump's 'defense', he was too soft and lazy a coward to be an effective warmonger. His pride, envy, greed, gluttony and wrath was thwarted by his lust and sloth.

Later Clown Princes might be more competent and self-disciplined fascists than Trump; then you and Treebeard would both be at risk. I would not rely too much on the D party, which is to the R party as Carmella Soprano was to Tony Soprano: profitably complicit versus guilty as hell.

Tyranny requires mental subservience. Therefore keep the faith, however wacky, so long as it is yours. Brin, you stay a skiffy technocrat. Await spaceflight. Treebeard, you stay a Druid. Await the next culture. You'll both be right and both be wrong. That's okay if you're willing to learn. I'll stay a cynic.



Alan Brooks said...

Treebeard,
I communicated on FB with a Russian Security agent about eight yrs ago, who said that the Mafiya and the Russian state are quote fused unquote. He wasn’t giving away a secret by acknowledging such.
In America organized crime and the state are not fused. Not yet, but give Trump and his ilk some more time to work on it; they might succeed in doing so. Hasn’t been for lack of trying thus far.
Plus Trump still thinks somewhere in his mind that he’s the genuine US president. So your considering Bush was worse than Trump might be a premature appraisal.
And you KNOW none of us here wish to round up Russians—as Japanese were in the ‘40s—only dangerous Russian operatives. No caviar or vodka importers are threatened with internment unless they’re also real Bad Guys.

Paradoctor said...

Larry Hart:
You're right. One-sided nuclear war is observable. But two-sided nuclear war has not been observed. I propose two explanations, classical and quantum. The classical explanation is that humans instinctively sabotage systems leading to nuclear war. The quantum explanation is that systems using quantum devices such as nuclear bombs work only if observed to do so, and in no branch of the multiverse do humans observe a nuclear war; therefore such systems are non-locally thwarted by unpredictable events.

Those are my crackpot skiffy theories, and I'm sticking to them.

For further crackpottery, consider this: did you notice how unlikely Hillary Clinton's loss was? How weird and nonlocal? I speculate that Hillary Clinton's loss, and Trump's victory, was a Backfire Effect. Maybe President Hillary would have pushed Putin too far, where President Trump caved. I speculate that we lost a world-line.

duncan cairncross said...

Paradoctor

A full out nuclear war would kill maybe 4% of todays humans - much higher percentages in the Nuclear powers but overall about 4%

locumranch said...

In his UPLIFT series, Dr. Brin starts out with diversity (dolphins & gorillas) and chooses to make them more human rather than more fish-like or more arboreal, and thereby proves that he prefers species conformity over either species diversity or competition.

And why is that?

For the same reason that he refuses to consider improving, perfecting or uplifting the human species in any of his Uplift books:

Assuming actual competition, there's always the possibility that his genetic team could LOSE.

Psychologists refer to this as a Reaction Formation, the tendency to talk up the benefits of competitive 'otherness' when one prefers the safety of conformity.

For the same reasons, Science is similarly problematic for the average scientist as any objective data points can generate a diversity of explanatory theses, while most scientists are so risk-averse as to prefer unanimous consensus & thesis conformity.

Fortunately or not, this messy problem of scientific diversity was soon-to-be-solved by a singular SHARED DELUSION called 'Taylorism' and/or 'Scientific Management', circa 1911, whose four main principles are oft-repeated by Dr. Brin.

(1) Science, Not Rule of Thumb;
(2) Harmony, Not Discord;
(3) Cooperation, Not Individualism;
(4) Development of Each and Every Person to His/Her Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity.

It sounds awfully efficient, business-like and familiar, doesn't it?

(1) A plan of action based on actual science, (2) a consensus & enforced conformity of purpose, (3) an order-giving expert managerial class with an obedient working class who know their place and (4) the efficient use of human resource potential.

Most assuredly, Scientific Management does provide a formulaic social model that has shaped the globe since its prewar inception, but what it DOES NOT DO is allow for Scientific Disagreement, Diversity of Action, Moral Discrepancy, Resilience of Purpose or Practical Democracy.

Instead, it has given us Top-Down Tyrants like Trudeau, Ardern & Fauci, Fascists like Franco, Mussolini & FDR (Mussolini's #1 Fan) and Corporate Feudalists like Schwab, Gates & Soros.

It would be ironic if it was not so deluded, cuckoo & insane:

That those who claim to 'Celebrate Diversity' demand Uniformity of Thought, Morality & Action while simultaneously condemning those 'deplorable' individuals who actually practice Diversity of Thought, Morality & Action.

Just as those who claim to 'Defend Science' pledge their scientific fealty only to the most limited, consensual & mutually agreeable theories while eschewing all others because Harmony & Conformity must prevail.

LOL.

Our host just admitted that (if it is the 'I might be wrong' admission which gives proof of wisdom) the West is now lead by COVID Idiots, Climate Change Cretins and Military Intelligence Morons whose claims of expertise provide proof-positive of their ignorance, fallibility & wrongness.

This is also why Taylorism passes all-to-often for PROGRESS -- though we be lost, confused and governed by fools -- because (in the immortal words of Yogi Berra) "We're lost, but we're making good time".

PROGRESS: It's what occurs when we're lost but making good time.


Best

Larry Hart said...

The argument that "Russia, Russia, Russia" is a hoax seems to be analogous to this:

An unknown assailant has assaulted a little old lady and carjacked her. The police put out the usual call for anyone who might know who the assailant is. The guy who did it happens to have pissed off his old friend by stealing the guy's girlfriend. So the ex-friend, because he hates the assailant, drops a dime on the guy and rats him out. Not because he cares about the crime, but just for revenge.

The police begin investigating and eventually come up with evidence which proves the one they've been tipped off to really did commit the crime. The guy is arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of the crime that he did indeed commit.

But his lawyer argues that the entire prosecution is a hoax because it was initiated by a complaint which was unfairly biased against his client. And the police and the prosecutors were unfairly biased against criminals.

Interesting that Treebeard would be on the side of the vicious assailant getting off on a technicality.

Larry Hart said...

Paradoctor:

Treebeard is many things, including antivaxxer, dissident and Druid, but he is not a friend of insurgent fascism - though the ent _is_ their dupe, in the matter of Trump/Russia, and the covid pandemic.


Well, yeah, but that's pretty much a distinction without a difference, isn't it?

And while TB might not go as far as insurgent fascism, he has expressed a vision of the USA as an ethno-nationalist country from which everyone but white northern Europeans should go to their own countries.

Historically, most such nationalist movements I'm aware of have required sanctioned violence and cruelty to realize.


You and the ent do disagree about technocratic rationalism. You believe, he does not. You accuse Treebeard of favoring 6000 years of inherited thug dominance over an experiment in enlightened thought and governance. The ent questions how enlightened that thought really is, and how meritocratic its governance ever was.


They disagree about what is meant by rationalism. I think I'm on Dr Brin's side when I assert that observation of reality and deductive reasoning give us a better chance to understand how reality functions than religion or demagoguery do. I take Treebeard to be equating assertions of fact with exercises of power, as if insisting that gravity is a thing equals violating his freedom to fly.


The quantum explanation is that systems using quantum devices such as nuclear bombs work only if observed to do so, and in no branch of the multiverse do humans observe a nuclear war; therefore such systems are non-locally thwarted by unpredictable events.


Does it count that we've observed it on tv, movies, and comic books?

But I hope your theory explains why we haven't seen a nuclear terrorist act yet. Maybe that's quantumly impossible as well?

I know you kid, but what you might be inadvertently describing are laws of psychohistory. Maybe some actions which are physically possible are not socially possible because some psychohistorical reactions necessarily come to bear against them. Isn't that kind of the same thing that you're saying? If you squint and lean out a bit to the left?

David Brin said...

fifteen second skim Loc musta taken the same vitamins cause his sentences weren' blaring syymptoms for the manual of psychiatric disorders. But each individual paragraph remained insane, concocting a whole row of strawmen that had nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Thanks for the defense LH, but it still is inaccurate. As I said in the main post, it is through COMPETITIVE processes that we get the enlightenment's vst creative fecundity, its facility at penetrating delusions, and methods to determine with greater accuracy what is "less wrong."

And it is is there relentless hatred of all forms of fair competition that today's mad right reveals utter hypocrisy and send Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave.

Robert said...

The combination of transmissibility and horrific effects made it a real problem to treat those who did get it. Hospital beds, ICUs, and ventilators were at capacity, which is also a secondary problem for people with other medical emergencies unrelated to COVID directly.

Yeah, one of my colleagues died at home last year. If Covid hadn't jammed the hospitals he'd have been held overnight for observation and probably survived, rather than sent home and told to come back if it got a lot worse. So statistically he's not a Covid victim — because he wasn't infected — but two years previously he'd have lived.

And don't forget the greatly increased chance of stroke and/or heart attack (or other cardiac nastiness) after even a mild case.

Paradoctor said...

Larry Hart:

Yes, just so: the laws of psychohistory also have dual versions, classical and quantum. The psychohistorical laws in classical form state that humans absorb social norms, and so are inhibited against certain actions, and also stimulated to prevent those actions. The psychohistorical laws in quantum form state that human consciousness is a wave function in a nonlocal entanglement, which therefore tends to act in concert, collectively choosing some physical possibilities and rejecting others.

Fictitious nuclear war is a kind of virtual war. So is MAD. Virtual wars tend to reduce the chance of the war actually happening, so they benefit from a reverse Backfire Effect: the Breakthrough Effect, which enhances the probability of events that reduce the probability of two-sided nuclear war. This too is for classical and quantum reasons.

My theory does not protect against a lone nuclear terrorist, unless he must acquire the weapon from a rival power, which always is traced, and provokes escalating tit-for-tat.

I know I kid, too, but sometimes my jokes come true.


Paradoctor said...

Paradoctor:

Treebeard is many things, including antivaxxer, dissident and Druid, but he is not a friend of insurgent fascism - though the ent _is_ their dupe, in the matter of Trump/Russia, and the covid pandemic.

Larry Hart:

Well, yeah, but that's pretty much a distinction without a difference, isn't it?

And while TB might not go as far as insurgent fascism, he has expressed a vision of the USA as an ethno-nationalist country from which everyone but white northern Europeans should go to their own countries.

Historically, most such nationalist movements I'm aware of have required sanctioned violence and cruelty to realize.

Paradoctor:

It's Outer Party vs Inner Party. But on the other hand, any sufficiently advanced folly is indistinguishable from malice.

Nationalism requires sanctioned violence and cruelty to realize - and to sustain. Its violence and cruelty is directed between the nations and within.

*****

Paradoctor:

You and the ent do disagree about technocratic rationalism. You believe, he does not. You accuse Treebeard of favoring 6000 years of inherited thug dominance over an experiment in enlightened thought and governance. The ent questions how enlightened that thought really is, and how meritocratic its governance ever was.

Larry Hart:

They disagree about what is meant by rationalism. I think I'm on Dr Brin's side when I assert that observation of reality and deductive reasoning give us a better chance to understand how reality functions than religion or demagoguery do. I take Treebeard to be equating assertions of fact with exercises of power, as if insisting that gravity is a thing equals violating his freedom to fly.

Paradoctor:

Ah yes, postmodernism, which takes relativity as absolute, with arbitrary exceptions. It thinks it's very new, but really it's very old. Treebeard is not trying to practice science or religion: he is trying to practice magic.

Jon S. said...

Re: protection by coincidence - that was Bink, the protagonist of Piers Anthony's first Xanth novel, A Spell For Chameleon. (Bink was ordered exiled from Xanth, as he didn't seem to have a magical talent, and everyone in Xanth was required to have one no matter how simple. Turned out his talent refused to be revealed because if everyone knew he was immune to magical attack, they'd just attack him some other way, so it protected him by hiding.)

Rincewind, the protagonist of Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, was a failed wizard who was protected by the spell lodged in his head. (As a student at Unseen University, he had taken a dare from an upperclassman to sneak into the Library and read from the Octavo, a book containing the Eight Great Spells used to create the Disc. One of the spells escaped from the book and lodged itself in his head, where it promptly frightened away any other magic he tried to learn. The spell wanted him to say it, so it made sure he would always survive any encounter that might kill him before he had the chance. It also tried to force him to say it if he was in deadly danger; that almost worked the time he fell from the back of a dragon, but he was caught by another dragon. He also annoyed Death, who had to be present at the death of any wizard no matter how pitiful - Death kept being dragged away by situations that by all rights should have killed Rincewind, starting with the riot in the Broken Drum after Twoflower introduced the city of Ankh-Morpork to the concept of "insurance".)

Alfred Differ said...

Paradoctor,

I love a good crackpot theory now and then, so let me offer a couple twists for you to consider.

since QM is nonlocal and nondeterministic

It turns out this isn't quite true. Most of us assume we have to give up both, but there is a class of QM theory that is deterministic and it works as well at the non-relativistic level. It all comes down to Bell's work. QM cannot be both local and deterministic, but you need not give up both.

So… when considering variations that will refine your theory when certain hypotheses suffer in the face of evidence, remember that you have the option of bringing one of the two back into play. I recommend locality since a viable theory that makes human behavior deterministic should make us all pee our pants. 8)

Backfire Effect

One of the neat things I learned in school was a cute trick for getting around some very painful integrals in electromagnetism problems involving stuff moving at very high speeds. Locality is a big pain in the behind because of what it means to integration limits. Particle A at Event Z can't interact with the whole universe of events, but can influence its forward light cone. That means no time symmetry to help with the integrals.

Well. Feynman's dissertation showed the trick. Turns out E&M doesn't produce different observable results if you are careful about how you mix forward and backward light cone contributions. How? It's a cute trick involving reflections at infinity. Very typical of Feynmann to recast problems.

So… when considering other variations on your theory, you may want to introduce information that propagates forward and then back around from the past to hit your event again. For a good crackpot theory, you don't have to take the mathematics beyond the hand-wavey level.

The neatest thing about a wrap around time direction is that you can explain anything and everything. Locality goes bye-bye.

In the coming weeks, look to see who and what breaks down.

Like the drain pipe in my upstairs shower? Heh.

Well. My more serious side suspects use of nukes will be limited this century. They may get used again, but I doubt there will be an orgy of death. Someone besides the US would be the next to do it and then we'd over-react. It won't be pretty, but it won't be so big as to ensure humans won't observe it.

I was born in the year of peak-above-ground-testing. My serious side suspects we'd see a resumption of testing if the big nation-states want to signal great displeasure. Actual use of a weapon like that would be done by someone who couldn't afford such a plan.

Alfred Differ said...

I think locumranch missed a couple of plot points regarding uplift among the Terrans.

Human self-uplift IS implied. I saw that clearly in Sundiver.

As for the directions taken for Terran clients, I'm sure there might be some kind of motivation to stick to certain customs and rules set by other patrons and their factions. Maybe something like... survival? Preference not to be demoted to client? Extinct-ed? That's all pretty clear in the other books.


Science is similarly problematic for the average scientist as any objective data points can generate a diversity of explanatory theses, while most scientists are so risk-averse as to prefer unanimous consensus & thesis conformity.

I'm not bothering with the rest of it. Definitely strawman crap.

Larry Hart said...

what we already knew...

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/opinion/us-history-censorship.html

...
Free speech, free discourse and free debate are among the great traditions of this country. They are, at this moment, under threat from a well-organized, well-funded movement of ideologues who have used both the force of the mob and their own institutional power (including that of the state itself) to impose their edicts on the public at large.

Conservative censors and their allies see, in the present moment, an opportunity to reshape society to their liking and squelch the views of those who disagree. It is up to those of us who believe in the First Amendment and free speech to take a stand for American liberty, while we still can.

David Brin said...

Jon S thanks for that lovely revisit to both A SPELL. and THE COLOUR. Both of them way fun!

Alfred one of my top riffs is speeches these days - recently for the Australian Defence Establishment – is about various possible paths of human augmentations or self-uplift and I discussed several forms in EXISTENCE and even in EARTH and implicitly in the sequels to STARTIDE. So… um… locum is an idiot?

LH from the Times essay “ It is up to those of us who believe in the First Amendment and free speech to take a stand for American liberty, while we still can.”

Yeah, well… I agree. But far too little attention is paid to the COMPETITIVE ASPECTS of free speech that are supposed to result in actual, practical outcomes, like discovering what’s actually true and refuting lies. Free speech generates criticism OF lies and idiocies. But there is a desperate need for arenas of competitive ritual combat where free minds observing the battle conclude – based on evidence – “That is insipid raving nonsense and the vile meme should die.”

Larry Hart said...

Paradoctor:

Yes, just so: the laws of psychohistory also have dual versions, classical and quantum.


I'm assuming you mean that those are two different models for describing the same psycohistorical realities. Two different ways of looking at what is nevertheless the single reality. Given identical inputs, the two should predict the same outcome--just get there via different roads.


My theory does not protect against a lone nuclear terrorist, unless he must acquire the weapon from a rival power, which always is traced, and provokes escalating tit-for-tat.


My thought about psychohistory here is that terrorists usually serve a cause, and that there are those within that cause which always understand that a nuclear incident will hurt the cause much, much more than help it, and will therefore move overtly or clandestinely to prevent such an incident on their watch.

Sure, there's the truly lone incel who is beholden to no one, but he also has very limited resources to pull off such an attack.


I know I kid, too, but sometimes my jokes come true.


The theme of Alan Moore's grahphic novel From Hell. "I made it all up, and it came true anyway."


scidata said...

My views on computation, centrality of psychohistory, competing agents, emergent AI, non-doctrinal diversity, etc. frequently Venn with others here. What doesn't is my stubborn fixation on FORTH (perhaps people have noticed). Taiwan is a key hub of Forthiness - that's part of the reason why they are a decade ahead technologically. Ukrainians are wonderful people*. However, I see Taiwan as the ultimate object of all these sinister machinations. Across the gulf, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regard it with envious eyes.

* 3% of Canadians are Ukies, which might explain the recent throngs of externally funded and indoctrinated polit-zombies activated to paralyze the Great White North.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Free speech generates criticism OF lies and idiocies. But there is a desperate need for arenas of competitive ritual combat where free minds observing the battle conclude – based on evidence – “That is insipid raving nonsense and the vile meme should die.”


That relies on the wisdom of crowds--that when the population witnesses the same competition, the vast majority will agree on which ideas won the competition.

What has concerned and disappointed me since 2016 is the evidence that a significant portion of the population--not a majority, but too close to one for comfort--will believe what they want to believe, in spite of their lying eyes.

Look at the 2020 election for example. In two of your competitive arenas--elections and courts--Biden is clearly seen to have won. Even Republicans involved in those two arenas admit that to be the case. Yet between 30% and 40% of the American people believe--or at least are comfortable asserting the belief--that Trump really won? How can competitive arenas cope with a population which simply won't accept as legitimate any outcome other than their preferred one?

Face it, if the vile meme of Supply Side economics won't die, what will?

Treebeard said...

Larry there’s no need to make things up about me, that’s matthew-level stuff. The way I see Native Americans is they were the first victims of the Anglo “liberal” globalist empire; the only real rooted, traditionalist, conservative people in America, and we see the treatment they got. They stood in the way of Progress and the arc of history, and they got smashed. They have my complete sympathy. Anyway, I could never be a mere “white supremacist”; I’m too selective, and there’s far too many weird, degenerate white people around for that.

Alan Brooks said...

What I’ve been told this week by apologists for Russia is that Crimea was Russian until Krushchev glommed it; they say Russia needs Sevastopol for defense.
But they dismiss worries (and if we worried more, we might not be in today’s situation) of Russia moving on the Balkans and the Baltics later on. What happens if Putin dies say 20 yrs from now, and someone even worse than he becomes vozd?

David Brin said...

Carumba, just when I was 3-second skimming the latest strawman, Treebeard says something valid! Well, maybe 25% valid and used in service of absolute evil and aimed at the wrong conclusions...

...but yes, let's talk about that valid 25%. While most colonial conquests from 1492 onward were propelled by classic and neo oligarchies, like the Spanish hidalgos who represented Crown and Church in crushing all native peoples and burning their cultures and erasing their idendities and even names...

...the ent's myopic tunnel vission is aimed at Anglo America and there the crown actually sided with the natives, for a while! A grievance of the Revolutionaries of 1775 (whom ent now utterly despises) was the law against migration across the Appalachians. The intent of that law was not just treaty keeping. That was the excuse. The real reason was that indentured servants and slaves kept running away from eastern VA and GA and Carolina lordly desmenses, where the lords were trying to recreate land-holder feudalism.But how you gonna keep em down on the farm, after they've seen Kentuck-y?

And yes, in Anglo America, the top layers continued trying to negotiate nice treaties, while Jacksonian democrats demanded Freeedom... FREEEEDOM for poor white males to do whatever they pleased, including taking Indian land. And eventually that friction always resulted in the next white-vs-indian 'war' that the tribes could never win. So yeah. In the sense that sexist-racist but more-egalitarian Jacksonian democracy was 'liberal," I guess it did wind up being 10% as devastating to native populations as the Hidalgo-led depredations were, in Latin America.

But that only shows that a self-uplifting species comes rife with contradictions, ironies and complications. The sons of the settlers who swindled natives out of land in Illinois (sending the Lakota west where they committed vast holocausts against the Pawnee and Crow and Kiowa) would later fight to the death for the rights of back men and women, against the sons of those Jacksonians who committed the Cherokee to the Trail of Tears.

It is a story that teaches exactly the OPPOSITE lesson to the one Treebeard intended. Only by generational re-questioning and continued expansion of inclusion can we move incrementally and painfully forward. THAT is liberalism and PROGRESSivism.

But he knows that, and that he is an ingrate beneficiary of that progress. And a deliberate traitor to every single thing that American potentially and increasingly stood for.

----

AB: Crimea and the Donbas were arguable and hence the west was signaling willingness to let that settle down. Putin took that as a sign of weakness. Now he wants everything east of the Dnieper. ..

...though it is pointed out that WHILE all this is happening, Russia is quietly but firmly completing the conquest of Kazakhstan.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

I could never be a mere “white supremacist”; I’m too selective, and there’s far too many weird, degenerate white people around for that.


I didn't say you were a white supremacist. I said ethno-nationalist, implying white nationalist, which is a different thing (though not an opposite thing). I don't accuse you of claiming whites are a superior race. I accuse you of saying that America is a white homeland, and that because people are only comfortable among their own kind, other subgroups of humanity don't belong here.

Am I wrong that, in the past, you have expressed the notion that blacks and other minority groups should self-deport to their own countries because this one is the rightful property of people who look like you?

Look, I understand why countries like Hungary or Japan or Israel get to claim that a certain tribe belongs there and all others are temporary visitors or hired help. I'm just arguing that America isn't like that. Our founding documents propose a more universal set of values which don't rely on parentage. I'll even grant a more cynical version as epitomized by the character of President Weishaupt concerning the fictional "United Feldwar States" in Cerebus, to wit:

"Most countries exist because of ethnic differences or geography. Ours will be dedicated to making us all wealthy beyond our wildest dreams."

My point being, if you wish to live in a white ethnic state, you're as free as anyone else to move to one. I hear Russia is nice this time of year. But you don't get to insist that anyone who you feel uncomfortable around has to move away from your country. America no less his than yours.

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

But they dismiss worries (and if we worried more, we might not be in today’s situation) of Russia moving on the Balkans and the Baltics later on.


We've seen this movie before. In 1938. We remember how the next scenes play out. What upsets your Russian apologists is that we keep giving away the plot ahead of time. We're the drunk guy in the audience who keeps shouting, "Oh! I know this part! This is where they invade Poland."

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I love a good crackpot theory now and then,


The great thing about crackpot theories is that you usually assume that they are so "crackpot" that they don't even need debunking. But then, just for the humor value, you engage in the act of disproving the theory, only to find that, contrary to expectations, the theory does fit the known facts. Often more closely than any other, more mundane theory. That leads to restless sessions of nervous laughter.

Larry Hart said...

If one accepts the Putin narrative that the west is initiating aggression in Ukraine, what exactly is the west attempting to accomplish? Invade Russia from Ukraine? Even accepting the narrative that Russia is reacting to western aggression, I don't get what the point is supposed to be?

This sounds a lot like the notion that 4000 Jews were responsible for 9/11. Just a talking point for supporters to repeat, no matter how little internal sense it makes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/world/europe/putin-russia-ukraine.html

For the moment, Russians largely appear to subscribe to the Kremlin narrative that the West is the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis, said Denis Volkov, the director of the Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow. The alarmist messaging out of Washington about an imminent Russian invasion has only bolstered that view, he says, because it makes the West seem to be the one that is “exerting pressure and escalating tensions.”

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

hat relies on the wisdom of crowds--that when the population witnesses the same competition, the vast majority will agree on which ideas won the competition.

Not quite. Wisdom of crowds is an aggregation effect. What competitive markets do in this can is NOT aggregate us. They enable us to chose what we think best at the individual level.

The 'winner' is what emerges intact and viable in the evolutionary sense. If Idea A enables its supporters to thrive, it will copy to the next generation of supporters. The copy will be imperfect, though, thus evolution occurs.

Selection works against ideas that fail to make copies of themselves in the markets. Got any dumb ideas rattling around your head that your daughter rejects? There ya go. Poof. What she keeps, though, will be imperfect copies of what she was taught.

Well functioning, competitive markets are fundamentally biological. Model them as ecosystems with ideas as the life forms roaming the memescape. Some reproduce asexually and imperfectly, but the explosively disruptive ones are wildly sexual. *



* Side Note: Join a well functioning, creative team at work and watch the ideas sizzle and strut for your attention. Contribute one of your own to the team and you'll feel the thrill when they adopt, adapt, and swap memetic material back to you.

It might not be wise to say all this at work, though. HR personnel aren't so understanding of the truths regarding how humans relate to each other at work.

Alfred Differ said...

Crimea is the key to naval defense of Russia from Ottoman incursions. It makes perfect geopolitical sense for them to want control of it. It's a pain in the behind to take from a prepared defender and commands the Black Sea.

When Russia lost it to Ukraine with the USSR breakup, they had to keep the fleet in Odessa. That's not a bad alternative, but it's harder to defend the fleet from land attacks coming from Germany or Poland. Crimea is much easier to defend in the naval sense until Russia loses all access to the Black Sea.

The situation is much the same for the Ottoman's who controlled Crimea for a long time. They could defend it relatively cheaply. They could support offensive operations in 'Ukraine' to some degree because of that foothold.

One outcome of a war with Ukraine the US should encourage in the sense of seeking support from our allies is the removal of the Russian fleet from the Black Sea. If Russia goes to war, we should make it a consequence of their loss that they loose that fleet. THAT danger is one that would make them sit up and take notice.

Alan Brooks said...

Brinkmanship. Notice how Trump and Putin press their advantages to the very limit? They can’t be trusted across the street—sometimes it can be as simple as someone wanting to get their name in the history books by killing lots of people.
We know about the Reaction-Progression cycle. There’s also the complacency-panic cycle. On Sept 20th 2001, the talk was complacent fluff. Next day, panic set in. Worry is unavoidable—but panic has to be kept way-down.

David Brin said...

Meme competition would be just a popularity contest of differing subhectivities except when a large majority agree THAT facts and experimental refulation ought to matter.

MAGAs mostly ( except fundies) agree on that... then fox leads them into desperate incantations to ward off facts, claiming the incantations AR facts.

That is what a real competitive arena for ASSERTIONS and memes and disputations would focus on. It's why I demand wagers. Not to get any $ -- that will never happen -- but to rub MAGA noses in the truth that they already know... that facts are not their friends.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Does locum's "data points can generate a diversity of explanatory theses" include the moon landings being a hoax?

Unknown said...

I used to do proofreading as a sideline and some of the typos I found were treasures.

Above, in the comments, I spotted "people only admit it in the fae of criticism."

I immediately pictured a slightly overweight elf with a goatee and a permanent sneer.


Less amusingly:
A Russian bridging unit was reported deploying in Belarus, and field hospitals setting up along the borders.
That's some hoax, there. I hope it all blows over.

In the good news column, there's hope that the JCPOA can be restarted, now that sane people run US foreign policy.

Pappenheimer

Alan Brooks said...

Meant Sept 10th ‘01. By the 20th, panic had already set in! The public naturally goes from euphoria to panic and vice versa.
—-
Something many don’t know regarding religion:: “abundant life” in the scriptures means abundant spiritual living. For Prosperity would-be ‘Christians’ to say otherwise portrays historical Christ as a materialist—when by all accounts He wasn’t.

Alfred Differ said...

Being concerned that

"data points can generate a diversity of explanatory theses"

is an issue is not unfair. If I recall right, locumranch has a medical background. No doubt he's seen this type of shenanigans countless times.

It's not science, though, and a lot of us know that.

Explanatory theses are used to generate hypotheses which we try to test experimentally. If data generated CANNOT fit an hypothesis, we have to consider rejecting the explanatory layer. What many of us do, though, is revise that layer and try again.

That's certainly allowed, but we must be cautious. There is a pernicious trap in that approach that is easily demonstrated. Just teach someone a little history regarding cosmology. Ptolemy's model was a cosmology we could retrofit to the evidence with enough epicycles.

Doing that without limits, however, makes the actual theory unfalsifiable. Popper had something to say about that. The model might be useful, but the process generating and refining it isn't science.

In a market sense, an idea/meme is unfalsifiable when it can't be killed by the participants through normal selection/variation processes.

1. Consider trickle down. It remains no matter the evidence against it. It behaves as if humans are hard-wired to believe it.

2. For another example, consider price controls imposed by regulations. The famous example is rent control. Seems plausible, but it never works. Humans seem hard-wired for it, though.

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

Something many don’t know regarding religion:: “abundant life” in the scriptures means abundant spiritual living. For Prosperity would-be ‘Christians’ to say otherwise portrays historical Christ as a materialist—when by all accounts He wasn’t.


They portray Christ as everything from a laissez-faire capitalist to a white supremacist to a "shoot to kill" Chicago cop. And were He alive today, they'd be in favor of crucifying Him all over again, if only because they'd portray Him as an anti-Israel terrorist.

Alfred Differ:

In a market sense, an idea/meme is unfalsifiable when it can't be killed by the participants through normal selection/variation processes.

1. Consider trickle down. It remains no matter the evidence against it. It behaves as if humans are hard-wired to believe it.


Heh. I'm glad you mentioned that one, since I was going to pose it as an example myself. In fact, the quintessential example.

I don't think we're hard-wired to believe it, though. At this point in history, I don't know any non-politician, non-pundit people who actually believe it. I think it has just become so engrained in the politician/pundit psyche that they talk to each other about it as if it is self-evident fact.

One of Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels had a bit about power which has really stuck with me for decades now. A corrupt Senator Roark is explaining the facts of life to the policeman who tried to arrest the senator's son for kidnapping an 11-year-old girl. The policeman has been injured in the process, and the senator visits him in his hospital bed to explain the facts of life.

I've bolded the money shot:

"Power doesn't come from a badge or a gun. Power comes from lying and lying big and getting the whole damn world to play along with you. Once you've got everybody agreeing with what they know in their hearts ain't true, you got 'em trapped. You're the boss. You can turn reality on its head and they'll cheer you on. You can make a saint out of a gibbering nutcase like my high-and-mighty brother. You can beat your wife to death with a baseball bat like I did and leave your fingerprints all the hell over it and a dozen witnesses will swear on a stack of bibles that you were a thousand miles away.

There's what, maybe five hundred people in this hospital? Five hundred people. And every blessed one of them would hear it if I pumped you full of bullets. I could be standing here laughing and holding a smoking gun, and I wouldn't be arrested. I wouldn't even be questioned. I wouldn't even have to say a word. They'd cover it up without me even asking them to."

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

For another example, consider price controls imposed by regulations. The famous example is rent control. Seems plausible, but it never works. Humans seem hard-wired for it, though.


Most humans only see the price side of the equation, and don't think about the landlord's need to (at the very least) break even on running a building.

Again, I'm reminded of an example from Dave Sim's fictional Cerebus. The movers and shakers, Lord Julius of Palnu and Duke Leonardi of New Sepra (modeled after Groucho and Chico Marx, respectively) and Cerebus himself are arguing over the interest rate which Lord Julius charges the others. Leonardi and Cerebus keep one-upping each other, saying the interest rate should be 15%, then 12%, then 8%, and finally saying it should be 4%. At which point, to give him (and the readers) and object lesson in why there's such thing as too low an interest rate, Lord Julius mentions that Leonardi's personal fortune probably has something like two million crowns. He then writes out a cheque* for 8000 crowns** and says, "I want to borrow all your money for a year."

Point being, there are two sides to the way prices are set.

* Canadian, remember?

** Yes, Dave got the math wrong. To make the point, Julius would have had to offer 80,000 crowns, not 8000. Although to be fair, the Leonardi character probably didn't understand the math one way or another.

Larry Hart said...

Don Gisselbeck:

Does locum's "data points can generate a diversity of explanatory theses" include the moon landings being a hoax?


I think they include gravity being a hoax.

locumranch said...


Consider this a wager:

In all the types of self-augmentation and self-uplift that Dr. Brin has discussed in novels and lectures, the √úbermensch trope is conspicuously absent (and much reviled) and there's an obvious paucity of genetically-perfected Superbeings or Demigods.

Instead, Dr. Brin offers Animal Uplift through genetic modification in order to allow Dolphins to approximate the mental characteristics of flawed self-hating humans (and allow Gorillas the self-deprecating laugh), whereas Human Uplift proceeds along Borg-like transhuman lines.

This preference towards Borg-style Collectivism, then, is the unmistakable fruit of Taylorism which (after starting from a nugget of science) over-emphasizes Harmony, Not Discord; Cooperation, Not Individualism; and the Development of Each and Every Person to His/Her Greatest Efficiency and Prosperity.

Through our host's personal politics & collectivist bent, we see this Borg-like preference ever-on-display with his preference for a Technocratic Hierarchy (aka 'Rule by an Expert Managerial Class') in command of a growing legion of obedient drones whose uniqueness exists only to be absorbed into the Collective.

These New Age drones, after being programmed to ignore the all-too-human biological realities of personal preference, intellect, race & gender differences, are trained to march in ideological lockstep, like so many manufactured mask-wearing Non-Player Characters.

This is NOT the preferred reality of the free-thinking individual, and it must be stopped by any means necessary, even if it means irreversibly throwing our sabots into the machinery of modernity.

Already, the Great Resignation has begun, as indispensable workers everywhere refuse to be treated like disposable & easily replaceable drones, and these few remaining free thinkers must triumph if Mankind wishes to remain Human.


Best
______

Imagine the degree of fear & self-loathing required to renounce one's humanity in order to become a transhuman machine. It must be off-the-scale.

It must far exceed the self-hatred of white people who denounce their own 'whiteness' as an evil 'malignant parasite-like condition', or even that of the transgender community which boosts a +40% suicide rate post-transition.

David Brin said...

Well the sentences are syntactically correct, mostly. The content is imbecillic, of course, aimed at several strawmen diametrically opposite to everything I openly believe... like in the value of diversity and reciprocal criticism and competition... all things his cult despises.

But whatever... zzzzzzz

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

Already, the Great Resignation has begun, as indispensable workers everywhere refuse to be treated like disposable & easily replaceable drones, and these few remaining free thinkers must triumph if Mankind wishes to remain Human.


Whatever makes you think the rest of us are against that?

Robert said...

Thought I'd share this from ZDF Magazin Royale:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Jo-djilvo

(Peter Thiel as a Bond villain, complete with theme song. Quite well-done.)

WTF! We just wrote down what we know about Peter Thiel. Why did this become a James Bond theme?

Lyrics:
He knows it all
We are just pieces in his game of chess
He wants it all
Reviving rotten mammals from the past
Virgin blood pumping cold through his veins
You play by the rules, he owns the game
Immortal libertarian, so refreshingly Aryan
Pretty boy
Beware of his ego of steel
It’s the right time to Thiel!
Right time to Thiel!
With blue laser eyes into human demise
Conservative
Frozen to live
He funds them all
He moves and promotes your queen into his pawn
Checkmate!
Not creepy at all
Building up lawless islands off the shore
Feel his German affection for natural selection
Ja, ruling the world has a certain appeal
It’s the right time to Thiel!
Right time to Thiel!
Right time to Thiel!
Right time to Thiel!
Watch as the world burns for his long-term returns
Liberty at his mercy

Robert said...

And were He alive today, they'd be in favor of crucifying Him all over again

You're not the only one to notice that:

Brian Zahnd, a pastor in St. Joseph, Mo., has a fascinating story. He was once the stereotypical successful church planter, one of those dynamic preachers who started a church that quickly grew to become the large campus that it still is today. But at the height of the growth and vitality, he became convicted that something was missing. His faith and his ministry felt empty and he didn’t know why. He began to read the works of the early church fathers and ancient mystics, and essentially what happened is that he rediscovered Jesus. He realized that what had been missing was the actual teaching and example of Jesus.

So he decided to do an extended sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount. He began to reorganize and re-vision his church to do the things that he felt Jesus would actually be doing (rather than just attending a worship concert once a week and maybe meeting in small groups at home over fatty snacks and lackluster curriculum). He began to challenge his people to rediscover the radical way of Jesus and what this might mean for their own choices and priorities.

That’s when people started to leave. They were challenged in ways they didn’t want to be challenged. They left for safer ground.


https://baptistnews.com/article/careful-close-let-jesus-get-real-life/#.YhGT5C0ZNOE

Robert said...

Consider trickle down. It remains no matter the evidence against it. It behaves as if humans are hard-wired to believe it.

Or it keeps being revived because it is to the advantage of powerful people who keep reviving it that some people believe it, or at least believe that the matter is not settled.

Alan Brooks said...

Locumranch mentioned drones twice:
“obedient drones”, and “New Age drones.”
Is LC dronephobic?

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Gravity IS a hoax if you accept General Relativity. It's a fictitious force. It's just what seems to happen when you try to avoid your inertial path along the manifold. 8)

Heh. Yah. I get what you were trying to do. Most any other force would do… except that one. Nuclear strong force maybe?

Funny thing, though. Many physicists are trying to make them all fictitious.

——

… I don't know any non-politician, non-pundit people who actually believe it.

I do. Not TOO many, but enough that the idea manages to reproduce.

Worse yet, though, is the family to which that idea belongs. A belief that rules of justice (many ideas enforced as rules) applicable to small bands of humans (<250) should be in use for large communities (>10,000). Rent control rests upon a just rule that sounds like "Thou shalt not gouge thy neighbor in their moment of housing need." The family of ideas represent extensions of indirect reciprocity and sound like good ideas, but they are at the root of thousands of years of aristocratic and priestly rule. The danger rests with the power necessary to enforce them in large communities.

I'd put the idea "There should be no billionaires" in the same family.

As for Sin City, I've seen the movies, but avoided the graphic novels. They struck me as too dark for my optimistic soul. 8)

——

80K crowns would be a wonderful price to pay to strip a rich man of all his wealth. Think of it as a way to fight evil rich people. All we'd have to do is borrow it and burn it. 8)


I worked in the financial industry for several years. Easily long enough to know that interest rates ARE prices. If I borrow your money, I'm paying a price to use it before returning it to you. The price we settle upon simply must reflect your fears I won't return it.

To be specific, I worked in the sub-prime industry. We lent to B and C customers. These were people who were not believed to be frauds, but WERE suspected of being fiscally incompetent.

1. If the rate for rich people with proven competence is 3% and you can't get anyone to lend to you below 9%, they are loudly proclaiming something about you.

2. On the flip side, college students who can get low interest, unsecured debt aren't being sold the loans they make. Either someone else is backing the loans OR the lender is after something else that makes the risk of default worth it.

What could that something else be? Unsecured debt is as bad as heroin and that first plastic card is your introduction to an addiction.


But we were talking about pernicious ideas on the memescape, right? That first credit card to someone less than 25 YO comes with a toothy beast attached at the other end. For some reason, many of us think this is still a good idea.

Alfred Differ said...

Pappenheimer,

My favorite dungeon master* had a neat trick for naming some of the demons with common phrases. Imagine a character wishing "to visit the fountain of eternal youth" and popping up next to a very annoyed demon whose true name was… "the fountain of eternal youth."

The demon makers of his campaigns took special delight in giving the nastiest ones the most likely screw ups as names. That made sure the nastiest were always angry and directing their energies at the annoying pests who kept calling to them. How evil. 8)

I've chuckled at the possibilities I've seen in the years since. It's a consistent source of amusement. Of course I copied the trick when I ran my own AD&D campaigns.



* No doubt he lifted this from others, but there is nothing quite like running into it in live play.

Alan Brooks said...

I refer to Locumranch as LC, as I think of him as LoCum; and think of Treebeard as Tree. Not-bad handles: rustic. Don’t know them, but would surmise that they’re gullible, seeking ideals without being able to back the ideals up.
—-
Christians also don’t usually buttress their ideals. There’s too much ‘do as I say, not as I do’ and—worst of all—ulterior motives. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is at least fairly observable—ulterior motives are continually baffling. Spiritual poison.
The scriptures present no problem per se, because the basic message is outmoded nonetheless quite clear: lay down one’s life for Christ. Though life in the pre-‘modern’ centuries wasn’t always short, it was frequently nasty and brutish.
When someone needed surgery, they were obviously in Trouble. What passed for dentistry was a great deal more painful than dentistry is today, to say the least. Dying for Jesus didn’t appear to be such a bad deal.

David Brin said...

Robert remember What happened when Howard Beale in NETWORK began preaching something other than "I'm as mad as hell!"

"Sin City"? You all know what I think of the spectacularly evil Frank Miller.

David Brin said...

The world is awash in symbolism fetishes, few worse than "anniversaries." Exactly 79 years ago today, Soviet (mostly Russian) armies liberated Kharkov (now Kharkiv) from Nazi occupation. It was a highwater moment for that winter offensive which started with the victory at Stalingrad and brought Russian tanks to the banks of the Dnieper. The river that Putin clearly wants to serve as the new border with a rump and castrated Ukraine. The city would change hands again, during those desperate struggles a lifetime ago, in battles that Russians have long sacralized.

Yes, it appears that massive shelling at the Donbas is intended to draw all eyes there. But bear in mind that Kharkiv is just a stone's throw from Belgorod, where civilians have posted instagrams showing massive Russian tank forces building up and coiling to strike.

Want irony? The Foxites in America have spent half a decade pouring "deepstate!!!" hate at the same dedicated men and women of the US Intel/FBI/military officer corps who arguably won the Cold War and the War on Terror and whose competence we now utterly depend upon. Meanwhile, liberals, who by now know that it is a worldwide putsch of despotic mafias that's trying to end our enlightenment, still cannot bring themselves to express support for those men and women in service.

gerold said...

DB: it pains me to say it, but it seems that locum actually brought up a good point. As cool as it would be to uplift dolphins, the first priority after decoding dna would be uplifting ourselves. Human genetics is buggy as hell, and we owe it to our descendants to clean it up.

And not just debugging obvious errors leading to visible and demonstrable defects, but also increasing our obvious attributes like intelligence, physical ability and beauty. Yet I don't recall seeing mention of such genetic mods in your books; did I miss it? Or have you avoided that issue?

Alan Brooks said...

Russians will open up to me about everything except a Russian interest in reclaiming the Baltics. They don’t reply regarding that subject either because they don’t know, or more likely, they don’t want to know.
——
LoCum and Tree will very probably change their minds someday. A common theme is ‘elitist scientists and managers are [playing God] and diminishing freedom’. Transhumanism/posthumanism are perceived as removing the meaning from life. But I’ve noticed how citizens opposed to government change their minds when they reach a certain age and want, say, to be enrolled in Medicare. It is similar to what Paul saw on the road to Damascus: he saw the Light. When citizens opposed to govt and expensive treatments + surgeries reach advanced ages, they see the Light—and govt becomes acceptable to them. Better & longer living via govt becomes acceptable.

Larry Hart said...

Alf was just musing on the idea that money seems to work differently in large populations from its origins.

I'd put the idea "There should be no billionaires" in the same family.red Differ:

Gravity IS a hoax if you accept General Relativity. It's a fictitious force. It's just what seems to happen when you try to avoid your inertial path along the manifold. 8)


Hey, I'm the one who occasionally reminds us that, according to James Blish's Cities in Flight stories, gravity wasn't discovered until four years ago (having previously been postulated for millennia).

But no matter how you explain it, the thing most humans call gravity still happens, whether you want it to or not.


As for Sin City, I've seen the movies, but avoided the graphic novels. They struck me as too dark for my optimistic soul. 8)


I find that ironic, because my overwhelming impression of the Sin City movie (I never saw the sequel) was that it was the first comic-book movie I ever saw which was overwhelmingly faithful to the source material. It literally felt like I was reading the graphic novel on the screen.

Nonetheless, the writer, Frank Miller, must essentially agree with your assessment, because in 1999, he gave us what seemed like a hastily-conceived final arc of the series whose meta-narrative was that the writer himself was fighting to escape the soul-killing darkness of the series' setting.

And then he went on to produce 300 and more Batman.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ again:

I worked in the financial industry for several years. Easily long enough to know that interest rates ARE prices. If I borrow your money, I'm paying a price to use it before returning it to you. The price we settle upon simply must reflect your fears I won't return it.


Don't they also reflect the profit the lender might expect to gain from some other use of that money? Or the profit the borrower expects from the use of that money? Or is that too idealistic a concept of what loans are for?

* * *

While I'm here...

Dr Brin:

"Sin City"? You all know what I think of the spectacularly evil Frank Miller.


Frank Miller wasn't spectacularly evil until 9/11. After that, everything became something representing European civilization vs Muslim terrorism. To the extent that in 2011 or so, he condemned "Occupy Wall Street" protesters by rhetorically asking whether they ever heard of al-Quaeda. The 300 movie which you detest is designed to cast the battle as Spartans as European Christian* civilization vs. Persians as Iranian Muslim terrorists.

* Despite being set almost 500 years before Christ.

Before 9/11, his "thing" was much more about artists as rebels.

In a weird piece of irony, Miller was in the middle of producing a sequel to his fame-making "Dark Knight" Batman set of graphic novels when 9/11 happened. The first of three issues of the sequel had already been published, and in that story, Batman was clearly portrayed as a terrorist, fighting a guerrilla war against a corrupt government. The "president", visually mimicking George W Bush, was shown to be a hologram mouthing the words of fascist corporate leaders like Lex Luthor. There was a real "Abbie Hoffman as hero" vibe about the story.

The tone of the next two (post-9/11) issued had to change radically to fit his new "Fascism Good; Terrorism Bad" mindset.

Robert said...

Is LC dronephobic?

Nah. Just has a thing about bagpipes…

Robert said...

Robert remember What happened when Howard Beale in NETWORK began preaching something other than "I'm as mad as hell!"

No. Can't remember what you never knew — and I never saw Network.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/19/us/politics/wisconsin-election-decertification.html

...
Yet, Mr. Ramthun claims to have the grass-roots energy on his side. On Tuesday, he drew a crowd of about 250 people for a two-hour rally in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol [supporting the attempt to de-certify Wisconsin's 2020 electoral votes] .

Terry Brand, the Republican Party chairman in rural Langlade County, chartered a bus for two dozen people for the three-hour ride. Mr. Brand in January oversaw the first county G.O.P. condemnation of Mr. Vos, calling for the leader’s resignation for blocking the decertification effort. At the rally, Mr. Brand stood holding a sign that said “Toss Vos.”

“People are foaming at the mouth over this issue,” he said, listening intently as speakers offered both conspiracy theories and assurances to members of the crowd that they were of sound mind.

“You’re not crazy,” Janel Brandtjen, the chairwoman of the Assembly’s elections committee, told the crowd.
...


There's something...I don't know what the right adjective is...when the person assuring the mob that they're not crazy justifies that evaluation with "People are foaming at the mouth over this issue."

Don Gisselbeck said...

This boils down to; "If you can't compete, die." Case in point, "Every one should be responsible for their own self defense" means those of us who can't acquire self defense ability are doomed. The same for those of us who would rather spend that time and resources doing cool things like skiing. A primary function of government should be protecting us untermenschen from the rapaciousness of the predator class.

David Brin said...

AB: Foxites don’t ‘see the light” and start supporting government. They redefine anything they like as “not-government.”

LH: “I find that ironic, because my overwhelming impression of the Sin City movie (I never saw the sequel) was that it was the first comic-book movie I ever saw which was overwhelmingly faithful to the source material.”

Absolutely right! Zack Snyder is a GENIUS at conveyinf original graphic novel content faithfully onscreen! Alas, while it was brilliant how he did it for the excellent WATCHMEN, he CHOSE to perform that wonder more often for monsters like Frank Miller.

Robert, I rank NETWORK as one of the 50 greatest motion pictures of all time. Having said that, I also repudiate its harmful message here: My. TEDxUCSD talk on “The addictive plague of getting mad as hell.” http://tinyurl.com/wrathaddicts. (And the scientific background: http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/addiction.html )

DG: “A primary function of government should be protecting us untermenschen from the rapaciousness of the predator class.”

The top defense of your stance is the moral one. But Randians and MAGAs shrug off that one. What they cannot shrug off is that the thing that has stifled competition for 6000 years and thus insured wretchedly bad governance was lordly cheating and repression of potential competitors from below. Protecting average folk from uber predators and ensuring the health + education + liberty of their children is the ONLY way to ensure that competition is even possible, let alone the fecud driver of prosperity and progress and science that it’s become…
…and that oligarchy shills like our pair here are devoted to ending.

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

But I’ve noticed how citizens opposed to government change their minds when they reach a certain age and want, say, to be enrolled in Medicare.


That seems to be about noticing that a benefit is for themselves, whereas before that, they perceived it as the government taxing them to provide benefits to other people (specifically to black people). Obamacare was a particular example of that, where much of the opposition viewed it somehow as "reparations".

While I see it as a violation of universal American values, it isn't quite hypocrisy, because their consistent value is always "Government exists to protect my people, not to provide for their people."

Although somewhat the same, it feels more blatant and inconsistent when Republicans who run on "taking back" their localities from the chaos and criminality they associate with BLM protesters--or really any protests in favor of justice and fairness--are openly in favor of chaos and criminality inherent in anti-COVID protests, or in an attack on the US Capitol.

Larry Hart said...

I somehow said:

Alf was just musing on the idea that money seems to work differently in large populations from its origins.

I'd put the idea "There should be no billionaires" in the same family.
red Differ:


This was obviously a fat-finger of cutting and pasting. The bolded part above was supposed to be removed altogether.

Alan Brooks said...

So many Rightists tell me Jesus is coming back, I almost believe it. And also their message that we are “dehumanizing” ourselves. LoCum and Tree have gone into such—Beale in ‘Network’, too.
After the boss read him the riot act, Beale spent the rest of his career preaching about dehumanization.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Zack Snyder is a GENIUS at conveyin[g] original graphic novel content faithfully onscreen!


And yet, I can't forgive Snyder for what he did to the Batman comic when he was the writer for a few years. Batman works (make that "worked") for me as the most regular-human of superheroes, with no unobtanium-derived powers other than his intellect, self-taught skills, and determination. Snyder felt the need to "explain" in story how Batman manages to always be about 30 years old despite having had adventures as early as 1939. Instead of just letting serial fiction be serial fiction, he went and introduced a concept that Bruce Wayne has found a way to make sure that clones of himself indoctrinated with past knowledge hatch every 20 years or so, insuring that no matter what happens to the individual, Gotham City will always have a Batman.

Worse, he also explained the Joker's many returns from seeming-death by establishing in-story that the Joker's spine contains some sort of immortality serum, such that even when Commissioner Gordon literally blows the Joker's brains out the back of his head, he still regenerates and comes back to life.

This sort of thing is exactly what I mean when I use Dave Sim's metaphor, "A kind of reverse alchemy, turning gold into lead."


Alas, while it was brilliant how he did it for the excellent WATCHMEN, he CHOSE to perform that wonder more often for monsters like Frank Miller.


I wonder, do you have any similar feelings of "monstrousness" toward Quentin Tarantino, who directed one segment of Sin City? I ask because your feelings about Miller reflect mine toward Tarantino. After once seeing Resevoir Dogs, I cannot bring myself to watch another Tarantino film, even the more famous ones. I can't even stand to listen to the song, "Stuck in the Middle With You" because of the association from that film.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Robert said...

citizens opposed to government change their minds when they reach a certain age and want, say, to be enrolled in Medicare

Haven't you forgotten "keep your government hands off my Medicare"?

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/get-your-goddamn-governme_b_252326

Robert said...

The price we settle upon simply must reflect your fears I won't return it.

Which is why student loans, which are repaid at rates greater than commercial loans, are charged higher interest rates than commercial loans.

As the Brits say: pull the other one, it's got bells on.

David Brin said...

onward!!

Unknown said...

Meanwhile, from CNN, could this be blackmail at work?:

=====================
The New York Times first reported the prosecutors' resignations. CNN has reached out to Pomerantz and Dunne for comment.

The resignations come as the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has "indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against" former President Donald Trump, the Times said, citing conversations with people with knowledge of the matter.

One person familiar with the investigation by the district attorney's office told CNN that Bragg appeared "disinterested" in his office's investigation into the Trump Organization while he was battling bad press stemming from a memo he had released detailing changes to prosecutorial policies.
The source called Dunne's and Pomerantz's departures a setback but said the investigation will move forward.

"A case can be harmed by the team that's carrying it out leaving, but that doesn't mean that's the end," the source said.

gerold said...

Re: Trump prosecution, bribery, blackmail and extortion -

In addition to murder, the methods listed above are the usual ways organized crime defends itself from prosecution. They also seem the most parsimonious explanations for why the Trump prosecution in the Southern District of New York has stalled. Cyrus Vance stepped down as DA, his successor Alvin Bragg has slow-walked the case, and now the two lead prosecutors Dunne and Pomerantz have unexpectedly resigned. Anyone got a better explanation?

It certainly fits the tRumpian m.o.