Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Transparency and Privacy: what we need, want and do not understand

Brett Horvath and Berit Anderson at SCOUT raise an important point about Apple’s new face recognition phone tool. “Face ID isn’t just about identity. It’s about mind-reading.” Brett is concerned about the possible combination of a) machine vision and predictive algorithms, b) micro expressions, and c) ubiquitous surveillance, which would allow oppressive regimes and bad actors not only to monitor the movement of dissident populations, but to actively read their emotions and predict behavior. “Now Apple is about to ship this technology stack to the world in what could be the most popular smartphone in history.”

Of course this only extends the lesson I taught in The Transparent Society. We will not preserve freedom by hiding. Nor will it ever be possible to conceal info from elites. Moreover, that is not how we got the freedom that we already have,

We will remain free by aggressively applying these tools upon all elites.  It is the only way we ever got freedom and it is the only way we can retain it.

Why, oh why, is this concept so incredibly hard for very bright people to grasp? I know some very high IQ individuals -- people who can clearly see that our brief, Periclean renaissance is in terrible danger of tumbling into an old-fashioned despotism, empowered by new technologies of control. In conversation -- or after reading The Transparent Society -- they claim to grasp the concept of reciprocal accountability and sousveillance...  the application of light upward at all elites and authorities. But then...?

Then, the very next time that they confront the latest modern information crisis of surveillance, or leaks or hacks or state or corporate control, their sole reflex is to prescribe vague and impossible refuge in hiding.

It cannot work. It never has. It never will. It is cowardly, too! But there's a method that does work. We see it in action, every single day... if we just open our eyes. And look.

== Withstanding and overcoming a toxin ==

Well, well. I’ve done many interviews but I never thought I’d be in FASHION Magazine! The article is serious though, about how we — as individuals, nation and species — are all-too easily poisoned by the addictive drug of self-righteous indignation. The writer brought in a number of interesting perspectives I had not seen or considered, till now.  I like it when that happens!

But do go to the source… my original call for research into indignation addiction, which was republished in Barbara Oakley’s tome Pathological Altruism.

This is a poison that can be especially ruinous in times like ours, when cynical oligarchs are deliberately raking coals to get us all riled up. 

Yes! There’s plenty to be angry about. But that has almost nothing to do with the thing we must seek calmly and rationally. Victory.

== Hold on to our vital victories ==

Danger, danger. The most important civil liberties advance in the 21st Century so far was when the Obama Administration joined multiple courts in declaring a citizen may record the police. I wrote about this in The Transparent Society (1997; see p.160) and how vital it is that we can exercise sousveillance at the level of the street, where power can most-directly affect us. 

Now: "In a free speech ruling that contradicts six other federal circuit courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court ruling that says Americans do not have a first amendment right to videotape the police, or any public official, in public."

Sure enough, in a deep-red state, this principle is under attack. Only... I blame the good side lawyers! They base their arguments for sousveillance on the First Amendment and sometimes the Fifth... when it is in fact the under-appreciated SIXTH Amendment that most clearly safeguards the citizen from true abuse of power, by granting us the power to compel revelation of facts in our own defense, allowing us recourse to the ultimate defense...

...the Truth.

Ah, but did breathless news reports exaggerate?  Robert Shore: "I have now read both the District Court's decision and the Eighth Circuit opinion affirming the District Court. Neither says what the article claims. The closest approach is a statement that the general public doesn't have a constitutional right to film citizens in the lobby of a police station, and that's a far cry from ruling that citizens can't film police stops executed in public. There's just no substitute for primary sources."

I hope so. Better that Brin be wrong in a “Danger!” alert.

== Doing is more important than knowing ==

You Are The Product: A good, long read by John Lanchester: "Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more bout you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens." 

Yes, and worrisome and I am glad that these facts are being revealed and chewed on, by the public.  Only note THAT these revelations and discussions are happening. And second always remember that something matters far more than what others know about you.  

What matters far more is what they might do to you!  

To control the latter, it is futile trying to stop others from seeing. Show us one time when that ever worked for long. Ever. Once. 

What will make a difference is making sure that we see everything about them.

== Worries & Concerns ==

 China doubles down on anonymity: According to China’s new regulations, Internet companies and service providers are responsible for requesting and verifying real names from users when they register and must immediately report illegal content to the authorities…. Furthermore, a new cybersecurity law that went into effect at the beginning of June requires tech companies to store important data on servers within China. While this is supposedly meant to protect sensitive information, it can also make it easier for the government to track and persecute Internet users.”

Jennifer Jacquet, assistant professor at New York University and author of the newly released -- Is Shame Necessary? New Uses for an Old Tool -- explores issues of guilt, conscience, and conformity, proposing that we need new ground rules when it comes to public shaming, particularly in a new age of ubiquitous, and volatile, social media.

Yipe, it turns out that speech-recognition devices can understand and obey commands given at completely ultrasonic frequencies. You may not be able to hear someone hijacking your cellphone, computer, or home automation system, but they can.

113 comments:

Midboss57 said...

The reason why people will always have a hard time believing in the idea of reciprocity in transparency is that it that knowing the elite's misbehavior is completely useless unless you have some way to punish them. Or to put it in this little dialogue:
Elite: I can know everything about you, peon, including your treasonous thoughts.
Peon: I also know everything about you, including your treasonous actions.
Elite: That's cute. I also have a death squad. What you gonna do about it, insect ?
Peon: Oh... Forgot about the death squad.
Without some way for mister peon to counter act the traditional strengths of elites, ie: money, power, lackeys, brute force, he is going to be very reticent to give up his one advantage of stealth.

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
Re: Compulsory voting.
"I am leery of forcing people who don't want to vote to vote. Doesn't that just increase the chance that they'll vote for a bad outcome as a kind of "F*** you!"? "

Not that I've seen. People take it fairly seriously. Maybe ordinary people just aren't assholes?

Maybe, as has been said before on this site, the Tytler Calumny was looking in the wrong direction as to who "votes themselves largesse".

(You see the same thing with jury duty, no-one wants it, but once they can't get out, most take their duties seriously. While so many lawyers and politicians seek out the role, and yet...)

Anonymous said...

There's an important point here.

Much of the population wide surveillance is voluntary. An individual can choose not to use an iPhone. That frees him of part of the surveillance.

Those who ride on the back of the general population, by being taxpayer funded should not be permitted such freedom from surveillance.

Why submit to the Borg like "Be surveilled, resistance is futile" without resistance?

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

Why submit to the Borg like "Be surveilled, resistance is futile" without resistance?


Uhhh, because it's futile?

:)

Catfish N. Cod said...

Ha, ha, Larry.

But our bold anon has a couple of good points. One is that you don't have to use an iPhone. The problem with that is that you are outcompeted by those that do use technology, a point made by even such loons as Theodore Kaczynski.

And our government seems to be not only leaking more and more, but being hacked more and more...

Alfred Differ said...

@Midboss57 |

This Peon: Oh? Wanna compare death squads? You have to pay for yours. I don't.



You underestimate the power available to the people you've referred to as peons. They aren't powerless even if you don't see their power.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

And our government seems to be not only leaking more and more, but being hacked more and more...


Yeah, pretty much the only system not to be hacked seems to be Hillary's private e-mail server.

David Brin said...

Midboss57, what you say sounds logical, and it applied somewhat in the 99% of human history that endured feudalism. (Though in fact, there was deterrence value in knowing every secret of the king, even then.) Still, your response is drivel, sorry. You know that the society that YOU live in, right now, is one where seeing and documenting clearly the actions and plans of elites IS powerful. Especially when the elites are divided and you can enlist one against the others.

Right now, the Obama ruling allowing video of police is changing policy in every constabulary in the country.

But you are smart compared to Anonymous. OMG what a moron. Again I ask: “Show us one time when hiding worked!” One! Ever! It is the recourse of cowards and the deluded who cry out: “If I cower low enough, THIS time (unlike all other times) maybe they won’t see me!”

Bull! You fizz with biometrics from your gait and fingerprints to iris and retina to the unique tones emitted by your ears and the microbiome of your farts.

Stand up and confront the mighty and strip them naked too! It is your only chance. Truth might make you free. Cowering won’t. Coward.

donzelion said...

Midboss: Every time there's a police shooting, caught on camera, which looks pretty obvious as showing the officer performed an unwarranted execution - I wonder: do these cameras turned towards the powerful ever rein them in? When the jury refuses to convict the officer, a part of me screams in frustration and protests that this whole concept of transparency and sousveillance is a joke.

And yet...

Another side of me, after the initial fury, knows a bit about how police operate. In response to such episodes, they go through training. Questions get asked, even if not in an open courtroom. Changes occur. Those with power (whether the use of force, or the use of money, or any other form of influence) need to maintain order among their own - and doing so requires energy. Shining a spotlight on them may not get them to stop doing something oppressive immediately. But in time, that spotlight - coupled with other people doing precisely what they should because it is right - will rein in anyone who cheats.

Both freedom and oppression crave shadows - privacy, space to be, to develop plans and identities. But freedom has the option of emerging from the shadows at a time of its choosing. Oppression, once it emerges, arouses human beings to act to limit the power of the oppressor. Sometimes that takes decades, or even longer. But it eventually does happen.

David Brin said...

What donzelion just said. Juries have proved very reluctant to criminally convict cops who do wrong things impulsively in tense situations. But track it. They are generally fired and never work in law again. And several have suffered in civil court. And police departments and cities have had to pay millions in judgements. And you can bet that every one of these cases reverberate's through every police force.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "Only... I blame the good side lawyers!"

And I blame that DNA for failing to cooperate with my preferred evolutionary traits. ;-)

The law is the law; one can creatively argue for changing it, but there just isn't any jurisprudence on the 6th Amendment that extends it to the context you seek. Lawyers argue their cases to win; when they find any law on point, they use it. Experimentation occurs only at the edges; one has to first cover the bases and use them as best one can.

As for this case, I think there's no basis for an alarm.

In Akins v. Knight (August 18, 2015), Akins filed a federal (Sect 1983 or Bivens) claim for malicious prosecution against the police and the county. He had been arrested during a DWI stop in 2010, when he was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. He was arrested again in 2012 for illegal use and misdemeanor possession of a firearm. He brought his Bivens action against the police and city officials by asserting that their prosecution of him was malicious (because he had been recording them).

The claim was presented that way because prosecutors have 'absolute immunity' from lawsuits for decisions they make in their role as a prosecutor. Akins' claim amounted to 'this prosecutor was NOT acting as a prosecutor, because he was maliciously targeting me.' But his citation to Hartman v. Moore (2006) missed the obvious (Hartman had an entirely different meaning from how Akins tried to use it, and the closest text in Hartman to the facts in this case actually contradicted Akins' position).

So what we have here is NOT a ruling by a circuit court denying anyone a right to record public officials in public, but rather, a ruling by a circuit court upholding a district court's decision that a prosecutor's immunity will not be rolled back if they prosecute someone who also happens to have a camera. No need for alarm.

locumranch said...


The Truth this, the Truth that, proving only that those who believe in "the Truth" are hopeless romantics. Over 15 years have passed since the Rodney King video revealed "the Truth" about the use of force by law enforcement, the problem being that "the Truth" exists only in the eye of the beholder.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1y1ws2

Of the 1:16 minute excerpt that was played over & over by MSM (above), my law enforcement friends still see a very large male suspect, almost 2 meters in height, weight > 120 kg, who refuses stay down & stay put when ordered to do so, forcing law enforcement to resort to less than lethal force until the suspect assumes the desired prone (submissive) position, followed by the prompt cessation of corrective force..

Although Science can approximate those limited truths that are susceptible to physical measurement, the Big Truth is a romantic but non-existent abstraction, and those who claim otherwise are most likely hopeless romantics who claim, after seeing one too many old Dracula films, that libertine aristocratic despotism can be destroyed by the mere "application of light upward at all elites and authorities".

Rich, powerful, corrupt, eternally youthful & sexually irresistible to women, Dracula was the ultimate aristocrat & an offence to our bourgeois sensibilities because he shared the 'little death' with our women. And, for that LEGAL immorality, he deserves (and deserved) to die, just like another legal pussy-grabber named Trump.

"Stand up and confront the mighty and strip them naked", says David because the bourgeoisie cannot compete with the very rich until the the playing field becomes 'flat-level-fair-open'. The rules be damned because 'fairness' !!

Knock those rich conservatives prigs down a peg or two. The police, too. Then, those gerrymanderers. And those second amendment types. And those climate deniers. This is very interesting position for those who preach 'rule obedience' to take.

Once given a monopoly on force, governments are ENTITLED to use force to subdue rule breakers, and this holds true in Los Angeles, Catalan or anywhere. Gerrymandering is legal in the USA; and, most oligarchs & aristocrats became very rich & powerful by obeying the letter (if not the spirit) of the rules.

To throw out the rules in the interest of (cough) 'fairness', David & I must have much more in common than meets the eye.

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons ! Marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !


Best

donzelion said...

Locum: I suspect I've met, worked for, and served more oligarchs than you have. Which countries have you practiced medicine in?

This statement - "most oligarchs & aristocrats became very rich & powerful by obeying the letter (if not the spirit) of the rules" is rather misleading: oligarchs are no more likely to obey the letter (or the spirit) of the rules than anyone else, nor are they ever likely to have become rich as a result of 'obedience.' Rather, when oligarchs break 'rules,' there is no system capable of restraining them.

Most often, oligarchs inherit their position; however, some oligarchs become oligarchs by understanding the limitations of rules, breaking them strategically. This is how they set themselves as 'above the rules' - and ultimately, form the system in which they actually rule (rather than mere wealthy people manipulating rulers). This is the precise line that separates 'mere wealth' from 'oligarchs.'

David Brin said...

What a whiner! "What is truth?" His cult's frantic refrain is that there's no objective reality. Because they know their every assertion is an incantation that can be proved to be either false or an exaggeration. So hate all fact users! All fact-using professions! All facts! They are oppressors!

Yeah, that's the ticket. Locum's plantation lords have all the money, power and have twisted every rule in order to cheat and get more at our expense. Now they are proved by mountains of evidence to be traitors, who are allied with openly self-declared enemies of the republic and democracy...

... but WE fact-users are the oppressors!

Chant your incantations, sonny. They work, in your twisted mind. Traitor.

locumranch said...


You so-called 'fact users' can't have it both ways. The facts are that the rich, the powerful & the politically connected make the rules, leaving the average citizen with only 1 of 2 choices: Either the citizen obeys the rules or the citizen does not obey the rules.

Those who are 'rule obedient' obey the rules and, according to the reciprocity principle, they have the right to enforce those rules on every other citizen participant by direct or indirect means.

Those who are 'rule breakers' challenge & defy the rules and, by doing so, they have forfeited their right to enforce those broken rules on every other citizen participant by any means.

Although our host David emphasises 'rule obedience', he feels entitled to ignore & defy all of those rules that he judges to be unfair, unjust or unreasonable (as in the case of gerrymandering, sexism or racism), which means that he self-identifies as a 'rule breaker' who has forfeited his right to expect 'rule obedience' from others.

This 'rule breaker' (who judges the established rules as unfair, unjust & unreasonable) then condemns the 'rule obedient' (who obey the rules made by the rich, the powerful & the politically connected) as cowardly plantation lord lackeys while he demands that these so-called lackeys break & obey rules in a simultaneous fashion.

Shortly thereafter, this so-called 'fact user' becomes down-right schizophrenic as he accuses a would-be red rural secessionist & self-identified rule breaker such as myself of being a rule obedient plantation lord lackey in the most absurd, self-contradictory & ironical sense.

Yes, indeed. As a bona fide secessionist rule breaker, I am a TRAITOR to the rule obedient. I admit it. I am a traitor to the rule obedient but I am not a traitor to David & those other self-admitted rule breakers like him who ignore & disobey all those rules that they judge to be unfair, unjust & unreasonable.

In their unilateral pursuit of Better Angels, progressive rule breakers everywhere have breached the old social contract and rendered it null & void, and there's shit-all that they can do about it now. When they choose to bend & break the rules in service of their own conscience, they empowered the rest of us to do the same in accordance with our own conscience (or the lack thereof).

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not come back at all
School's out forever.


Best
_____

California has committed treason against the US Federal Government by (1) ignoring federal immigration law, (2) declaring itself "a separate nation" (said Jerry Brown), (3) entering into a Treaty with foreign governments (Paris Climate Accord) without the Consent of Congress, (4) pursuing an economic Alliance between California & China without the Consent of Congress, (5) entering into a Confederation with "9 other states that agree with us" (said Jerry Brown) without the Consent of Congress and (6) imposing trade barriers on Texas in violation of the Interstate Trade Act. Thank you so much, California, for making balkanisation & the New Confederacy likely. My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.

Lorraine said...

“Now Apple is about to ship this technology stack to the world in what could be the most popular smartphone in history.”

Um, no. Apple is about to ship the client layer of this technology stack to the world. In closed-source form, for what it's worth. The difference between shipping software and providing software as a service is important. In terms of the important lessons you taught in Transparent Society, this one speaks to the dystopian quadrant. I don't recall whether that was third quadrant (or even which way was up in that schema) and I'm too buzy to go leafing through my copy right now, but it's a sign that we're in the quadrant in which power's ability to surveil the people far, far outstrips the people's ability to sousveil power. While we will not preserve freedom by hiding, we will not preserve freedom by not hiding, either. Once we're in the quadrant I refer to as the "mirror shades" quadrant, the odds are against preserving freedom no matter what we do. At this point, the things I think might help are unauthorized (perhaps "black hat") options. Basically I'm talking about reverse engineering the technology; not the technology behind surveillance specifically, but the technology behind information asymmetry generally. What's left of the hacker ethos seems to be about either leaks (such as Wikileaks) or DDOS attacks (such as "Anonymous"). Instead of leaking information, we should think in terms of leaking information technology. Think less in terms of exposing dirty little secrets such as collateral murder videos and more in terms of exposing trade secrets such as "sources and methods." Or just methods. I understand sources are a sensitive topic. Think less in terms of disrupting the client side of some sinister organization's website and more in terms of accessing its back end database.

donzelion said...

Locum: Aside from quoting a well known fraud, the full quote by Jerry Brown, speaking to the Chinese at an investment forum, was "We are a separate nation in our own minds. Or maybe I should put it this way: We're a state of mind."

If that is treason in your mind, then you're less a 'traitor,' as Dr. Brin calls you, and more...well, in need of help.

David Brin said...

Damn straight we'll break rules we deem to be treason. Like the King George's cheating trade laws and the Fugitive Slave Act and gerrymandering, all ways that an era's plantation lords used to cheat and rape average folk.

When we can use facts to prove one group of conspiratorial lords have been cheating for decades and have destroyed the negotiating process and crippled the nation that we love, then hell yes, we have a right to revolution. As our parents in the Greatest Generation held a calm, legal; revolution under their beloved FDR, that saved America.

Drooling incantations all amount to hypocrisy. Unions have been plummeting in power and the Lords have skyrocketed, so - according to the lords' loyal lickspittle butt-lickers .... unions are a threat to the nation!

Democrats have plummeted in power while outright and blatant cheats rob the populace of their voting power and keep in office a party that's spectacularly unpopular, without a single positive accomplishment to point to... but the organ-sucking confeds lift their heads from the lords' waistlines long enough to shout "I'm being oppressed by all the fact-user professions and democrats and 'deep state' grownups!"

The Lords' whores cannot cite a single metric of US national health that did better across GOP administrations than DP ones, and in nearly all cases they did far worse. But oh, them is... facts!

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Thank you so much, California, for making balkanisation & the New Confederacy likely.


When in the course of human events...

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"We are a separate nation in our own minds. Or maybe I should put it this way: We're a state of mind."

If that is treason in your mind, then you're less a 'traitor,' as Dr. Brin calls you, and more...well, in need of help.


Loc sounds like one of those people who thinks a symbolic gesture of dissatisfaction during the national anthem is treason, but reverence to the Confederate Flag somehow makes one a patriotic American.

It would be funny in a pathetic sort of way were there not sixty million voters who more or less agree.

LarryHart said...

Back to an earlier topic, if mass shootings are now to be considered "Acts of God"--terribly horrific events over which we simply have no control--then maybe they should be named like hurricanes. Of course, 26 letters of the alphabet are not sufficient to name the hundreds of such events that happen every year. It might make more sense to name them after prominent NRA spokespeople, and then move onto the congressmen and Senators who are in their pockets.

The Las Vegas shooting can start as "Mass-Shooting LaPierre", and probably weighs in at a never-before-seen Category 6.




Tim H. said...

LarryHart, you mind if I refer to the Vegas shooter as "2017 homicidal cretin #273"?

LarryHart said...

@Tim H,

Not at all, but I wasn't referring to naming the shooter. Rather, naming the events the way hurricanes are named. As long as we're culturally treating them as catastrophic events which occur continually without human cause or remediation.

Alfred Differ said...

Just don't name the homicidal events with a woman's name. We already know people are biased against treating hurricanes as the dangers they are when they are carry female names. It shouldn't be that hard to stick to guy's names in this case.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Those who are 'rule obedient' obey the rules and, according to the reciprocity principle, they have the right to enforce those rules on every other citizen participant by direct or indirect means

There is no such reciprocity principle. If you are part of a simple majority and can get a 'rule' passed into law, that does not make your 'rule' morally valid. It is merely legally valid.

You have a reasonable claim to a duty to enforce laws, but not to a right to enforce them. If the rest of us feel the law lacks moral validity, we have a reasonable claim to a duty to resist, but no right to harm anyone in doing so. What we DO have a right to, though, is to defend any claims to we have to rights upon which your rule impinges.

There is a big difference between legislated rules and moral rules. You need far more than a simple majority to effectively enforce moral rules. If even 2% of a population disagrees, the rule can be painfully difficult to enforce. Rule breakers find willing accomplices to hide them when rule enforcers show up. If 10% object, you might as well stop trying to enforce the rule. Fail to recognize that and you'll have people dying and cities burning in short order. At a minimum, you'll have arbitrary rule enforcement and make a mockery of the rule of law.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Just don't name the homicidal events with a woman's name. We already know people are biased against treating hurricanes as the dangers they are when they are carry female names. It shouldn't be that hard to stick to guy's names in this case.


First of all, thanks for playing. :)

Since I was considering NRA spokesmen and their (mostly Republican) congressional mouthpieces as sources for the names, they're pretty much going to be men after all.

OTOH, unlike hurricanes, the mass-shooting events are difficult if not impossible to forecast ahead of time. So preparation for a particular named event doesn't work the same way as it does for storms.

OTOOH, as irreverent as this may be, we maybe want to stop pretending to blame human beings for these things. If they are truly "Acts of God", then why not name them after God? We could salve religious sensibilities by using mythological gods such as Hurricane Zeus or Tropical Storm Athena. But if we're taking "Act of God" seriously, they should really be called Hurricane Yahweh or Tropical Storm Jesus or Typhoon Allah.

While it looks as if we'd run out of names too quickly, wasn't there a short sci-fi story about "The Nine Billion Names of God"? So maybe not.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I think or faux rancher would be quite pleased to see cities burning. Read what he wrote again and ask yourself where he stands on Kohlberg's taxonomy, then compare him to the rest of us on that same scale. Of course scales like Kohlberg's are heuristics and are badly applied when used as general labels. Moral behavior is as situational and contextual as anything else. Some of his statements sit at Level 2 (Conventional), while the more obvious motivations behind them are Leven 1 (Pre-Conventional), but like any good liar he knows how to present himself in ways that see at least quasi-reasonable.

His idea of placing blanket labels on people as either rule-obedient or rule-defiant shows the kind of very simplistic thinking Ernst Mayr described as typological. It doesn't occur to him that different people respond to different sets of "rules" - be they actual laws or moral values or just plain common habits. That simplistic way of seeing human complexity works in just the same way as that idea that there is some measurable and permanent characteristic called "general intelligence." Intelligence is also very contextual and situational. There are people who can do calculus with ease but don't get strategy in any way at all. I have known people who could site-read a complex musical score in a matter of minutes, play it back and criticism the composer's harmonic structures, but could not find their way on a map if their lives depended on it. Neuroscience has not answered all our questions about intelligence, but it has become quite clear that the human brain is modular, responsive to environment and habituation and flexible, albeit slow to change. Rules have many of the same properties, but that should be no surprise, since they are products of flexible, modular brains that respond to environment and habituation.

locumranch said...


I stand with David when he says "Damn straight we'll break rules we deem to be treason" as in the case of all those progressive policies that have betrayed good-hearted first worlders everywhere.

Like the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 that treasonously abolished an earlier quota system based on national interest, established a new feel-good immigration policy based on reuniting immigrant families & destroyed US Trade Union negotiating power with federally subsidised scab labour from abroad.

As previously mentioned, treason (like the definition of 'hate speech') is in the eye of the beholder & a matter of personal preference, so much so that people like Larry_H & Donzelion argue that the possession of a Confederate Flag is 'hate speech' and/or 'treason' but insist that the open defiance of dispreferred federal law is not.

EU & US progressives have broken & altered established law willy-nilly in the hopes of remaking the world into a kinder & gentler image and, up to now, lame duck rule obedient conservatives have fought a losing rearguard action. But progressive rule breaking breeds conservative rule breaking and, in the absence of mutual rule obedience, the political game is changing big-time.

Best
___
Don't count your winnings too soon, tech stooge. As evidenced by its over-reliance on foreign H1B scab labour, outsourced production facilities, bug-ridden I-Phone software upgrades & other proprietary shenanigans, Apple is due to implode, only to be followed shortly thereafter by Elon Musk's massively over-capitalised (yet extraordinarily unproductive) Tesla Automotive Ponzi scheme.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/10/tesla-passes-general-motors-to-become-the-most-valuable-us-automaker.html

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I love the deviousness of your idea. Call the Las Vegas shooting the Norris Massacre? But you know it won't happen in any official way, as the eponymous people have enough power in government to shut that down. But if you can conjure up some hideous picture, photoshop in the face of Mitch McConnell or some other gun lobby puppet, overlay some text and distribute it on the internet, it might go viral.

The hard part about this, scientifically speaking, is being able to distinguish between an act that is the result of some kind of mental disorder verses somebody just being a monstrously nasty human being. Some would argue that anyone who does something like that must be mentally incompetent, others insist that everything anyone does is always a personal choice. Being a natural-born contrarian I don't find either extreme satisfying. Using the Vegas shooter as a case-in-point, we know that he planned what he was doing for at least a number of weeks. It's not like he just snapped one day, bought some guns and went on a rampage. That does happen sometimes. But I don't think in this case the alternate explanation, and the legal determination of premeditated, really works, either. Likely the guy's brain was degenerating slowly, changing his thoughts in a very unpleasant direction over time. He lived in his own little independently-wealthy bubble with little significant human contact, an experience parallel to the Unabomber's isolation. Under those circumstances the brain slowly rewires itself into a corner, and since few people think about their own minds much at all, they simply follow whatever thoughts their malfunctioning brains send their way. Since the process is slow, it looks like the actions of a normally sane but hateful individual, when it might actually be the result of a slowly degenerating disease of the brain.

Robert Sapolsky makes a similar argument in his new book "Behave." I have the flu and can barely keep my eyes open, otherwise I would try to find exactly what he had to say about the legal distinction between premeditated murder and second degree, impulsive murder. He didn't think the distinction was a very useful one.

If you don't have the book or the time, here's an interesting article I found about the intersection between biology and the law"

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/the-brain-on-trial/308520/

donzelion said...

Paul SB/Alfred: "I think or faux rancher would be quite pleased to see cities burning."

Beat me to it by an hour, but twas my exact thought.

Alfred: "There is a big difference between legislated rules and moral rules."
Not always. Take the run up to the "War to Defend the Expansion of Slaveholder Property": fugitive slave laws were certainly both legal and moral (Mark Twain grasped the 'morality' quite clearly in his presentation of Huck's dilemma about Jim, but many others did so as well) - and well over 10% of the population (even in the South) disagreed with them. But no cities burnt until they decided that unless they could move slaves into Kansas AND Oklahoma (popular sovereignty be damned, as well as federal sovereignty too) - and unless the president agreed that slavery was good - and started their insurrection.

"At a minimum, you'll have arbitrary rule enforcement and make a mockery of the rule of law."
It turns out you always have 'arbitrary' rule enforcement: a rule enforcer must first detect a rule breaker, and then opt to enforce the rule against that rule breaker. Surveillance aids the former, but the decision to actually enforce a rule is as much about policy preference. In Ferguson, the police had strong incentives to issue tickets to poor people that they couldn't pay, and then arrest them when interest on a hundred dollar ticket, plus enforcement costs, exploded to several thousand dollars - a situation not uncommon in the South (and which 'shockingly' has a racial basis more often than not).

LarryHart: "Loc sounds like one of those people...It would be funny in a pathetic sort of way were there not sixty million voters who more or less agree."

Hmmm...our Lokiraunch seldom agrees with himself, and offers internally contradictory half-truths and frauds for the joy of mischief. We do have 60 million voters who were convinced Hillary was a crook, which illustrates how easily a large segment of the population can be misled by frequent repetition of half-truths.

Then again, I'm in good company if you and I are the ones advocating "possession of a Confederate Flag is 'hate speech' and/or 'treason' but insist that the open defiance of dispreferred federal law is not." Not that I've ever called to disobey the law, mind you, just that it's good to be among the sane and balanced.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Call the Las Vegas shooting the Norris Massacre?


Yeah, "Massacre" works better in that sense than the terms I was using. So sure, "Massacre LaPierre". I'll steal that one. :)


The hard part about this, scientifically speaking, is being able to distinguish between an act that is the result of some kind of mental disorder verses somebody just being a monstrously nasty human being.


With all due respect, that's somewhat beside the point. I'm asking rhetorically whether society--whose principal function is to defend us from threats, foreign, domestic, natural, or mechanical--has any means or motive to actually keep us safe from these sorts of incidents. And if not, then to admit that from now on, they are going to be like hurricanes and tornadoes, and earthquakes striking communities from time to time, and that just like other Acts of God, they are simply a part of life to be swept up after once they've moved on through. And just as with hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, global warming and fracking seem to be causing them to increase in frequency and intensity.

We don't ask whether a hurricane had ill intent or was just mentally unbalanced, so why should we care about this other sort of natural disaster?

LarryHart said...

donzelion;

Then again, I'm in good company if you and I are the ones advocating "possession of a Confederate Flag is 'hate speech' and/or 'treason' but insist that the open defiance of dispreferred federal law is not."


Actually, I'm willing to stop well short of equating possession of any flag with treason. My point is that saluting to or honoring a Confederate flag is more treasonous than is taking a knee during the national anthem, so that if someone is going to go rabid at the latter, they'd better have a good explanation as to why the former doesn't bother them at all.

As to hate speech, I'm not one of those liberals. I'm ok with hate crimes, although I really wish they'd be called something else--like "terrorism", because the point is that they are meant as an implicit threat to a larger group, not just the single victim.

On speech, though, I'm more of a First Amendment purist. If the speech in question is slanderous, or if it incites others to actual criminal acts, then we'll talk about those separate crimes. But "saying mean things about someone", while repugnant, doesn't rise to the level of a carve-out to freedom of speech. And my personal bugaboo--it isn't usually about "hate" anyway. If someone says he thinks women and blacks don't have what it takes to vote, it implies that he thinks something derogatory about those groups of people, but it doesn't mean he hates them. It's more likely that they hate him.

occam's comic said...

Locum
Don't worry about Musk, he is an absolute genius in figuring out how to get government subsidies.

It is quite clear to me that his BFR will end up a Big Freaking Weapon System. And it will be used to toss thousands of tons of military equipment into low earth orbit.

He will get richer and the oligarchs (like him) will have new capabilities to bring death and destruction down on any who oppose them.

Berial said...

It's not always about 'hate' but it IS almost always about 'power'. Not wanting 'blacks or women' to vote may or may not indicate hate towards either group, but it does show a desire for power of the group that doesn't contain the outcasts.

Someone that doesn't mind the Confederate Flag in their truck's back window may not actually hate the black athletes that are kneeling during the national anthem but he sure as hell doesn't want those guys empowered because in his zero sum game that means HE loses out.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

If someone wants to argue that mass shootings are "Acts of God" and not the actions of evil men, about the only way to justify such a claim would be to assert that mental illness - a condition in which people are not in complete control of their own behavior - is purported to be an act of God. In other words, it is God pulling the trigger if the killer is insane, but a man pulling the trigger if the killer is sane. So some shootings would be named storms, while others would be named for the shooter, as an act of will. The trick would be figuring out which is which.

Hurricanes, on the other hand, are not caused by people, they are a natural phenomenon (although anthropogenic changes to atmosphere and sea-surface temperatures can certainly modify hurricanes). That is why they are more conventionally attributed to gods.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Since I was considering NRA spokesmen and their (mostly Republican) congressional mouthpieces as sources for the names, they're pretty much going to be men after all."

I can see the memes circulating among like-minded groups of people on FB with pictures showing a shooting and a senator -

"The Dean Heller massacre, brought to you by the Nevada senator who offers prayers to the victims but abused his position in the senate to prevent any laws that might have kept them from getting shot."

Problem is,
(1) A like-minded group probably won't need convincing.
(2) Identifying that like-minded group invites targeted ads intended to disrupt them.

FB, and similar sites, identify "fraudmeisters" like our dear Loki - fools who believe nonsense and disseminate it before verifying it (contrast our host's invocation of Shore's alternative view before sounding a 'freedom alert'). The fraud circulates like syphilis -
fairly easily treated if caught early, but once it works its way into the brain...

Perhaps we have 60 million Americans who have caught fraud-syphilis. They don't agree with Loki, anymore than deranged people agree with themselves on much - but the disease renders their mental faculties unreliable, making them easily subjected to the folks with money who will gladly separate the victims from their savings (and blame someone else for doing so, in order to more easily do it to them again).

LarryHart said...

Berial:

It's not always about 'hate' but it IS almost always about 'power'. Not wanting 'blacks or women' to vote may or may not indicate hate towards either group, but it does show a desire for power of the group that doesn't contain the outcasts.


Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I think some racism and sexism is genuinely believed. In those cases, I think it's misguided, but there's not necessarily more ulterior motive than that.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution provide for equal protection under the law, so I don't think people have the right to actually treat a subset of citizens as if they were lesser beings. But talking about it? I don't want that to be a crime.


Someone that doesn't mind the Confederate Flag in their truck's back window may not actually hate the black athletes that are kneeling during the national anthem but he sure as hell doesn't want those guys empowered because in his zero sum game that means HE loses out.


I understand perfectly that people can believe contradictory things or fool themselves about what they're thinking. All I'm trying to do is bring it to the fore--to force them to acknowledge that they have a double-standard about what it's ok for different people to do. That they'd condemn blacks for violent protests and tell them to protest peacefully, and then condemn them just as hard for protesting peacefully, since the reason they're upset is not the type of protest, but the fact of protest. And that they can't hide behind the excuse that what really bothers them is the disrespect shown to the flag and the armed forces, since they worship symbols of a treasonous army who disrespected the one and shot at the other, both of which do more harm than does the taking of a knee.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

If someone wants to argue that mass shootings are "Acts of God" and not the actions of evil men, about the only way to justify such a claim would be to assert that mental illness - a condition in which people are not in complete control of their own behavior - is purported to be an act of God. In other words, it is God pulling the trigger if the killer is insane, but a man pulling the trigger if the killer is sane. So some shootings would be named storms, while others would be named for the shooter, as an act of will. The trick would be figuring out which is which.


No, if we are equally impotent to defend against massacres of either kind, then you're talking about a distinction without a difference.

You're talking about figuring out who to blame. I'm talking about forcing the acknowledgement--as I said to Berial just above--that no matter who is to blame, this country is politically incapable of protecting its citizens against such massacres. So we might as well treat them as we do natural disasters, because they affect is in the same way. White people* with military firepower are just a fact of life, like lightning or mudslides.

* I say "white people" because we are in fact quite able to defend against blacks with guns, or Hispanics with guns, or Muslims with guns. We kill them on sight. But there is no defense against white people with guns because they have Constitutional rights to possess any type of firearm, even though the Second Amendment doesn't single out guns at all.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Actually, I'm willing to stop well short of equating possession of any flag with treason."

LOL, I was being facetious; I was more proud to be lumped with the side of rational people, than concerned about the logic behind the linkage.

"My point is that saluting to or honoring a Confederate flag is more treasonous than is taking a knee during the national anthem,"
Fully concur.

"I'm ok with hate crimes, although I really wish they'd be called something else--like "terrorism"
Your wish is granted (mostly). 'Hate crimes' today exist almost entirely as a sentencing factor in a different crime - e.g., 'murder = 20+ years in prison, but murder targeting a person based on gender/race/etc. = 25+ years in prison.'

The big legal challenges involve 'escalating' a misdemeanor into a felony, e.g., graffiti is often both a misdemeanor AND a felony (depending on prosecutor's discretion); however, if someone paints a swastika on a synagogue, church, or mosque, then it is highly likely a prosecutor will exercise that discretion to charge a felony. May he do so, or is this violating First Amendment rights?

The hilarious irony is that psycho-syphilitic conservatives decry this tendency by prosecutors as 'political correctness' (which in 2015, Republicans asserted was one of the gravest national security threats facing the country). They probably don't actually WANT permission to go around painting swastikas on synagogues - they just hate the folks doing something to stop that. Indeed, they hate such folks more than the gun owners who go around shooting other Americans, whose rights they vehemently safeguard.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

The hilarious irony is that psycho-syphilitic conservatives decry this tendency by prosecutors as 'political correctness' (which in 2015, Republicans asserted was one of the gravest national security threats facing the country). They probably don't actually WANT permission to go around painting swastikas on synagogues - they just hate the folks doing something to stop that. Indeed, they hate such folks more than the gun owners who go around shooting other Americans, whose rights they vehemently safeguard.


It may be as simple as that they defend the rights of bullies. The swastika-painter and the mass-shooter have that characteristic in common.

donzelion said...

re the "Dean Heller (Las Vegas) shooting"

Just noticed this line, posted a few hours ago: Dean Heller, on Fox News, stated -

“You show me the law that would stop that [bump stocks such as those allegedly used by the Las Vegas shooter], not only will I support it, I will be an advocate for that law,” he said.

I'm glad to hear that he would do SOMETHING if only someone wrote a law on this...wait a second, isn't writing laws part of his job description? Has he been sleeping all these years? (He did successfully rename a bunch of public buildings, and he also visited a bunch of schools for photo ops, so apparently, his priorities have been prayerfully protecting Nevadans for some time...at least, the sort of Nevadans who buy guns they intend to use on other Nevadans...)

------------
Note: this was sort of an experiment. Referring to the Vegas shooting as the 'Dean Heller' shooting doesn't seem natural; I'd expect people thought I was talking about someone shooting Heller himself, rather than him just doing the standard '2nd amendment' dance and pray gambit that works so well among the psycho-syphilics.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "It may be as simple as that they defend the rights of bullies. The swastika-painter and the mass-shooter have that characteristic in common."

I don't think so. I suspect their position is more vacuous than that, largely because the groups they hate most tend to be the very people who actually defend the rights of bullies (e.g., the ACLU does more to counter 'political correctness' than any cluster of conservatives bemoaning it).

To many Republicans, a statement like "Obama is a Muslim!" is not a statement of fact or opinion, but a tribal identification useful for marketers. A person who likes others who say this has notified marketers: "I am an idiot resistant to facts. Therefore, your best chance to sell me your penis enlargement drugs is to say some combination of - "Obama is a Muslim! Evolution is a lie! Global warming is a hoax! Jesus is Lord! Abortion is evil! God hates gays! Kaepernick is a sonofabitch!"

Works often enough to make swindlers rich; those guys measure click rates and get this down to a science. Indeed, variations also works for other tribal, fact-resistant groups (e.g., how many anti-GMO liberals reject science? let alone anti-vaxxers, fad diet sellers, etc.). But only one group has as it's primary intellectual commitment, "The other side is evil and I hate them all!"

David Brin said...

Get well Paul SB



The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 was passed by fair majorities of Congress and signed by due process, imbecile. Your cult controlled both Congress and the presidency for most of the subsequent time and could have altered it via due process. You can call that “treason” to white people but not in any actual definition of the term. It was validated by all parties over and over again.

In contrast, your cult’s cheating is not validated by due process or the constitution. Gerrymandering and “losing” tens of thousands of voter registrations a week before every election, and never-audited voting machines, these are criminal acts, not justified by the constitution or due process but by wretched-evil-to-the-bone cheaters.

Want a “revolution” against lib-tards? You’ve had yours! You owned every single branch of government and every time, all your lazy-evil cult could lift its head to do was rape the middle class and feed trillions to your lick-their-ass plantation lords.

Those lords have raked in every single thing, benefiting more than all other Americans combined and raping YOU, numbskull. Yet you are unable to glance in the direction of their glory. Crawling and mewling at their feet, you will bark and snarl in any direction that they point.

Thanks Occam. We needed a reminder that the left has its loonies, too.

Anonymous said...

So politicians snatch us the right to video record injustices.
I offer a solution to the problem:
A secret organization of civil origin; (global free-watch organization) should warn politicians who have a year to re-establish the right to video record cops and politicians. If the petition is not fulfilled, the civil monitoring organization will launch a campaign of premeditated and selective surveillance to the most compromising intimacy of the life of politicians and oligarchic leaders.
It's a cold war. And the oligarchs began it.

donzelion said...

Anonymous: "So politicians snatch us the right to video record injustices."

Ugh, this is why calling for alarms is problematic: people read one sentence and miss all the qualifiers.

NO, politicians are not 'snatching the right to video record injustices." At least, not in the court case Dr. Brin linked to.

They are denying someone who recorded the police the opportunity to claim - when he was charged with a crime - that the real reason he was charged was because he had recorded them, and they were maliciously interfering with his right to record.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Note: this was sort of an experiment. Referring to the Vegas shooting as the 'Dean Heller' shooting doesn't seem natural; I'd expect people thought I was talking about someone shooting Heller himself, rather than him just doing the standard '2nd amendment' dance and pray gambit that works so well among the psycho-syphilics.


That's why you have to say it like the name of a hurricane, i.e., Massacre Heller. Of course, then we'll all get to arguing about which name is appropriate. I wanted to call it Massacre LaPierre.

Anonymous said...


For the other comments I have read here, I see that Republicans have a great fear that ordinary people will record videotapes when they commit fascist crimes.
The right to video record criminal acts is an inalienable right. All honest citizens know by simple intuition and common sense, which is an inalienable right. To take away the right to retain the truth in images, is a tyrannical and dictatorial act. That attack on our freedom is the second sign that we do not live in a democracy. The first signal was the obvious and blatant electoral fraud. The oligarchs now simply impose on their puppets. Welcome to the Orwellian nightmare, now, disguised as democracy. Who would have imagined that "the big brother" would be the elite of the oligarchs! They; always manipulating everything from the shadows. Now, after they do not achieve total control, they are desperate and blatantly and without any caution, the enormous ease with which they can throw democracy through the drainage pipe.
Sincerely:
Guy Fawkes

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I wanted to call it Massacre LaPierre."

Well, Heller is probably the most vulnerable Republican running for Senate in next year's crop. There's over a dozen vulnerable Democrats (and Maine may be in play), but 'honoring' 'pray and sleep' Heller with a massacre seems fair since he's only just now woken up to the fact that crazy people can get way too many guns and shoot non-crazy people (even white people who like country, who almost certainly had rifles of their own somewhere nearby).

[The thought in my head right now is 'what if those people HAD carried handguns with them while dancing? In addition to the nastiness of armed, drunk country fans fighting with one another, had they actually returned fire into the hotel, how many other guests would they have shot? Maybe if they'd all carried bazookas, they could have been sure to outgun Paddock...surely that would have made them all safer...ugh. How does this insanity endure?]

donzelion said...

Guy Fawkes: "The right to video record criminal acts is an inalienable right."

The right to present evidence in your own defense is an inalienable right. However, that does not necessarily extend to the right to record criminal acts.

"To take away the right to retain the truth in images, is a tyrannical and dictatorial act."
No one is taking it away. Repeat, no one. Rather, a guy gets charged with criminal possession of a firearm by a felon - then claims that the only reason he's being charged is because he went around recording the police.

There is a strong (absolute) prosecutorial immunity from such claims - which is crucial because we don't want rich people suing prosecutors every time they get sued themselves - that would effectively instantly render them 'invulnerable' (unless prosecutorial budgets are expanded immensely...how many municipalities are happy about increasing their taxes?).

"obvious and blatant electoral fraud."
I only did elections law for one electoral cycle, but NYC is more familiar with electoral fraud than anywhere in the U.S. - if it's possible to be done, it was done there first (probably decades ago). There are 'obvious and blatant' accusations of electoral fraud - there's precious little evidence (and indeed, the main complaint here is that steps have been taken to deliberately prevent the existence of such evidence - which is itself somewhat naive, but well-meaning and generally critical). Much of the time, where there is smoke, there's merely a smoker lighting up, rather than actual flame.

There's absolutely no doubt about electoral gerrymandering. But it's an open question whether the Supreme Court will do anything about it. Gorsuch grandstanded loudly in his suggestion that new districts should not be forced upon Wisconsin (where 48% of the voters elect 60+% of the legislators).

"the enormous ease with which they can throw democracy through the drainage pipe."
Over my dead body. ;-) And there are a lot of us who will fight on.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | While it looks as if we'd run out of names too quickly, wasn't there a short sci-fi story about "The Nine Billion Names of God"? So maybe not.

Not a problem if you go for it whole hog.


God Did This Massacre.2017.1
God Did This Massacre.2017.2
...
God Did This Massacre.2017.N

If you are trying to annoy people, you really should go for it to point out the hypocrisy in their decisions. 8)

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

There's absolutely no doubt about electoral gerrymandering.


There's becoming less and less doubt also about clandestinely purging voter rolls. I mention that only because when the meme of "No vote totals were changed," the assertion only covers hacking the actual voting machines to produce a different outcome than what was registered on the machine. It deliberately avoids the possibility that vote totals were altered by affecting who was allowed to cast a vote in the first place.

As The Joker once said on my favorite episode of Batman, "If you make something unusable, it's just as good as stealing it."


But it's an open question whether the Supreme Court will do anything about it. Gorsuch grandstanded loudly in his suggestion that new districts should not be forced upon Wisconsin (where 48% of the voters elect 60+% of the legislators).


Gorsuch doesn't really matter. Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote, and the attorneys are tailoring their arguments for that audience of one. He seemed open to the notion of a mathematical test for gerrymandering. Justice Kennedy is probably the most powerful man in America right now.

Tony Fisk said...

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

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

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

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

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

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

They *had* to call the one that knocked out Puerto Rico "Maria".


They should have called it "Anita"


Puerto Rico,
My heart's devotion,
Should fall back
Into the ocean.

Always the hurricanes blowing,
Always the population growing,
And the money owing,
...


Alfred Differ said...

@Donzelion | and well over 10% of the population (even in the South) disagreed with them

…which made it easier to run the Underground Railroad, which eventually led to the Fugitive Slave Law, which led to opportunities for direct conflict between abolitionists in the North with slave holders from the South, which led to division among the Whigs, which led to the emergence of the GOP, which led to war when they won the White House.

The cities don’t burn immediately as a consequence of 10% disagreements. They burn when people get pissed off enough to fight and think they have enough support behind them to escalate to larger scale violence than simple, small scale murder.

(and which 'shockingly' has a racial basis more often than not).

Yah. I’ve seen some other examples involving car impoundments at DUI checkpoints. Immigrants have a harder time fighting back than citizens do, so enforcement can be selective.

I was thinking more along the lines of when Teddy Roosevelt decided to enforce NY law that required bars to be closed on Sundays. He didn’t agree with the law (apparently), but he objected on principle to the way it wasn’t being enforced if you bribed the local police properly. When the police can choose like that, they can be financially motivated to bias their choices. Some anyway. The law to be enforced was a blue law (obvious moral intent), yet many did not feel the moral need to have it enforced, hence the mockery of the rule of law that came about through bribes.

TR also didn't like having 'In God We Trust' on the new double eagle coin. Those coins would get used for criminal purposes and he thought it unwise to place God's name on them for that reason. That's just the kind of person he was apparently. 8)

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

Meanwhile, stay safe from "Nate", which looks like it will be paying a visit to the US on Sunday.


If it's really bad, we should enhance the name to Hurricane Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Or maybe Nathan Holn. :)

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "There's becoming less and less doubt also about clandestinely purging voter rolls."

Sophisticated system(s) (not unlike credit card fraud monitoring systems...) provide 'candidates for purging' - a significantly more thorough vetting systems than the likes of what most regional boards of election have available. The issue tends to come up in close races, but it's only a piece of the puzzle. The bigger piece is how those 'purge candidates' get identified, and how rural zones are able to reliably ensure the outcomes in every election:

(1) To register to vote in a specific district, you need proof that you reside there - usually government ID (normally: drivers license). Easy enough to do if you live in the same place year after year...
(2) To get that government ID, you need some proof of residence (usually). These are often a lease, a utility bill in your name stating the address, etc.
(3) The most common proof of residence requires a bank account to obtain. Most people don't pay their landlords in cash (if they can avoid it); most utilities can't be paid in cash either.
(4) To get a bank account, you need proof of residence too, unless you have sufficient assets in another bank to arrange a direct bank-to-bank deposit of a significant chunk of money (and even then, they're supposed to follow up - or freeze your account - unless you prove your address as part of their 'know-your-customer' rules).

End result? Folks who live paycheck to paycheck have a hard time keeping a bank account; they pay utilities and rent through a third party (the established 'resident') - if they ever bother to vote, it's on a provisional ballot every time (at least until they prove their loyalty).

The best part of it is that the credit card companies (linked to the local banks that ultimately help prove identity for voting purposes) sell their information to...well, folks who are interested in populating databases to identify candidates to purge (among other buyers).

"Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote,"
He's 81; Ginsburg is 84. Breyer is 79. Who can say?

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | I can see how you would see some of his material as pre-conventional. I’m not sure it is, though. If we were face-to-face with him, I suspect we would see a simplification process in action when he takes his thoughts and writes them as posts. I suspect he simplifies then FOR us because he thinks some of US fit his strawmen. It’s as if he is saying ‘Let me simplify this for you all so you have a chance of understanding.’

I’ve been accused of this myself on other boards. One guy in particular kept misreading me, so I started digging at his understanding of terms and where our differences were. He took it all to mean that I thought he was too stupid to understand me when he understood perfectly well. In hindsight, I can see his point. I was dumbing down my thoughts and trying to align them with what I thought was happing in his mind. I failed in at least two ways that remind me of what locumranch is doing here. The other guy isn’t stupid, but to me it’s as if he said ‘pink’ while pointing at a blue thing. No. It is pink. No. Really. It isn’t blue. It is pink. That is what our conversations devolved to on occasion.

Locumranch has reached a point where he is unable to agree with us on basic facts. Blue isn’t pink after all. Who gets to say what ‘blue’ is? Ah. Now we get to the real argument. Who do we listen to is what actually matters to him.

So, his dribbles about people coming to harm don’t alarm me much. If he really is a doctor, I’m inclined to trust that he won’t intentionally harm someone. I think about what a doctor friend of mine said about his case load being 75% about the consequences of obesity. He can tell his patients to lose weight because they are killing themselves all day and most fail to listen. It must be very frustrating. I see that frustration in locumranch and what he writes here, but I don’t think it will result in any harm to us. He might harm himself, though. I hope not, but that is certainly possible.

Intelligence is also very contextual and situational.

The more of Sapolsky’s book I read, the more I believe that of pretty much everything about us. Almost through with adolescence. I understand better now why many physicists do their most miraculous work while they are very young. A young gun requires an immature frontal cortex. I remember seeking novelty. I still love it, but I don't work as hard for it now. 8)

donzelion said...

Alfred: "and well over 10% of the population (even in the South) disagreed with them"...
…which made it easier to run the Underground Railroad...which led to war when they won the White House."

The precise circumstances resulting in that are...not exactly a matter of destiny. Normally, laws that deliberately hurt 10% (or more) focus on 'disfavored' groups - Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, African-Americans, homeless, poor, atheists...cities don't burn though merely because the laws are resisted.

"Immigrants have a harder time fighting back than citizens do, so enforcement can be selective."
In Texas, a man who rapes an illegal immigrant can threaten to go to the police to have her deported if she reports the crime (actually happened twice this year). In California, that crap don't fly. (Loki, along with several other nutjobs, seems to think that husbands should be able to beat and rape their girlfriends/wives if they're 'illegal' but in the process of obtaining residency - threatening them with deportation if they don't acquiesce...as is actually happening in MANY cases today.)

"I was thinking more along the lines of when Teddy Roosevelt decided to enforce NY law that required bars to be closed on Sundays."
I hadn't appreciated the extent to which immigration played a role in Prohibition until watching Ken Burn's documentary and doing a bit more research. The anti-Irish/Catholic thing, the anti-German thing (esp. anti Oktoberfest), anti-Italian thing (bunch of mobsters), and (to a lesser extent) an anti-Jewish thing. With the growth of Jewish delis (open on Sundays, for example), a lot of 'blue laws' were much more about protecting churchgoing Christians...

Roosevelt presented the effort as challenging police corruption - but there's an awful lot more 'coloring' the story.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

anti-Italian thing (bunch of mobsters)


Those mobsters were greatly empowered by Prohibition.

I gather that many of the consequences to that amendment were unintended, and the politicians of the day probably said the contemporary equivalent of "Who knew that Prohibition was hard?"

occam's comic said...

You are right Dave (of course).
Only a lunatic would think that the military would use a new and powerful technology for their own purposes. I mean I don’t think you can find a single historical example of a military doing something like that.

And I was just crazy to think that a beautiful, uplifting technology like rockets would ever be used in a military setting. I mean, rockets bring joy to children in fireworks and inspires adults to reach for the stars, and that is what they will only be used for.

The BFR is a purely peaceful technology that will only be used for human space exploration (that is where the money is). It will help build colonies on Mars and O’Neal colonies at L-5. When I retire I will go up into the heavens and settle in the idyllic New Southern California O’Neal colony. And our decedents will develop warp drive and go off to have sex with green skinned Orion slave women.

Only a misanthropic, crazy person, a traitor to the enlightenment would even consider that the wealthy and powerful would use a technology like this to develop something like Orwell’s Orbiting Boot to stomp on the face of humanity for a couple of generations.

Robert said...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Senate/Maps/Oct06.html#item-2

Check out the maps...

Bob Pfeiffer

Robert said...

Vermont, of course, is packed with heavily armed Revolutionary Socialists...

Bob Pfeiffer.

Smurphs said...

Occam's comic, we get that you're being a bit sarcastic and we can see your tongue firmly in your cheek, as I as sure David does. But I think you have cause and effect backwards.

The BFR is not going to give us anything we have had the capabilities of doing since the Saturn V FIFTY years ago (sad, isn't it). If the military really wanted to put lasers and nukes and God Rods in space, they'd be doing it now. Of course they may be doing it now, but that's beside the point. If they are, the BFR will just allow them to do it more cost effectively. Hey, it's my money, too, so that's a good thing!

If you really thing the military planners around the world are waiting for Elon Musk to build them something, because they can't or won't do it themselves, well, I've got a bridge to sell you.

I want to get humanity into space, and anything that lowers the cost to orbit is a good thing. But I am actually not sure the BFR does make business sense. Then again, Elon Musk is a genius and I'm not, odds are he's right and I'm wrong.

A.F. Rey said...

[quote] Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote, and the attorneys are tailoring their arguments for that audience of one.[/quote]

Indications are good that he is leaning against gerrymandering, too. :)

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-justice-kennedys-silence-means-for-the-future-of-gerrymandering/

LarryHart said...

Robert:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Senate/Maps/Oct06.html#item-2

Check out the maps...


Hey, I'm glad someone else is reading www.electoral-vote.com . I discovered them during (I think) the 2006 election cycle, and find the site quite informative. The editorial voice is liberal-leaning, but that doesn't seem to skew the information, just the snarky aside comments. And it wasn't nearly so snarky in past elections as it has been since the Age of Trump.

Also, in past years, they stopped posting new articles after an election finished and didn't start back up again until a new election cycle was well underway. The point of going there used to be to see the most recent poll results showing who they expected to win the electoral votes of each state (hence the site name). The articles were just there to hold your interest a bit longer, like the "articles" in Playboy. Only this year have they kept going with daily text updates year round.


Vermont, of course, is packed with heavily armed Revolutionary Socialists...


I want to know what's up with Wyoming.

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occam's comic said...

Smurphs, you are so totally right.

I mean it’s not like the information sensing, processing and communication technology needed to make Orwell’s Orbiting Boot work has advanced over the last 50 years, so we are totally safe. (and if we are wrong, Orwell’s Orbiting Boot will come in under budget because of reduced launch cost, so it is a win/win situation for us, right?)

I mean look at the behavior of the US military industrial political complex in the 21st century. Sober, responsible, dedicated to decency and democracy. They would never make up excuses to invade another country, they will always respect international treaties against things like torture and orbiting nuclear weapons. We have the enlightened leaders we deserve.

Robert said...

Larry,

All non-gun-owners in Wyoming were shot the day before the election.

Another Wyoming event. When Alfred Packer, the cannibal, was sentenced, the judge said "There were only six Democrats in this county and you ate five of them!"

Bob Pfeiffer.

David Brin said...

Occam knows that I am an opponent to oligarchy and to cheating lords and to secret policy and all those things. Hence the sane response to my snark about “lefty-lunacy” would be to ponder: “which parts of my rant might David mean? IS it possible that my exaggerated, emotion-driven extreme position is pissing on allies we need, for the resistance against the real enemy?”

Instead, he proves my point by doing the diametric opposite, ranting on about things he knows I dislike and raving that I like them. It is discrediting on a kindergarten level.

SOrry man. I am vastly, vastly more effective than you at fighting YOUR enemies. But I refuse to piss in the face of allies that we need. So you just piss in mine. We move forward and save civilization from the rightist madness DESPITE you fanatics, not because of you.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Another Wyoming event. When Alfred Packer, the cannibal, was sentenced, the judge said "There were only six Democrats in this county and you ate five of them!"


Reminds of a comic relief line toward the end of the graphic novel "Watchmen". Something along the lines of "Jeez, three million people in New York were killed, and you weren't one of them!"

Which also reminds me of a Depression-era joke my brother showed me--the first time I ever discovered that FDR wasn't universally loved. I'm trying to revive it for the modern era...

Every day, a man walks past the news vendor, checks out the headline of the day's paper, and then walks away in disgust. Finally, one day the news vendor asks the guy what he's looking for.

"I'm looking to see if someone's dead!", he growls.

The news vendor asks why he doesn't check the obituary page, to which the guy replies:

"When the sunovabitch I'm looking for dies, it'll be on the front page!"

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

We are both the kind of people who like to give other people the benefit of the doubt, but in the case of our faux rancher, it seems to me that you are over thinking it and giving more credit than deserves. He is the kind of bloke who will claim to be dumbing things down because he thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is incurably stupid (which suggests the question: why bother unless he just wants to inflate his own ego?). But he has been going at this for years and has yet to win a single argument. It's not that every single thing he says is a lie, or that he never actually has a point, but the conclusions he reaches are so out of touch with reality you can see he has been trying desperately to prove himself right in all things. He's not dumbing anything down, he's trying his hardest to prove that he is smarter than everyone else. As far as harming himself goes, he is far along that road already. Nothing depletes dopamine like constantly inflating your ego.

A lot of what is in Sapolsky's new book is stuff I have known about for a pretty long time, from him and other sources, but there was a lot of new material, too, and he explains things so well. I would recommend this book very strongly to anyone who wants to understand people better. It's absolutely packed with amazing things. Same thing for me on novelty seeking. The reason most people get less interested as they age is because the drive to try new things works in exactly the same way as an addiction to a drug. Tolerance builds over time as the receptors down-regulate. The younger you are, the stronger you feel things. As you get older, down-regulation makes things feel less powerful.

occam's comic said...

Again you are so correct Dave, and I must have been like a schizoid on LSD to think that our Tech Billionaires would ever use their power and influence to gain grater power and influence. I mean they would never collude with each other to hold down the pay of employees. They would never tolerate rampant sexism in the work place. The would never work with governments to spy on their citizens and customers. They would never push for international agreements to grant them monopolies on some technologies. Power will never corrupt them. they are not normal people they are the Uber mench.

And just let me thank you for fighting my enemies, you are awesome.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/second-amendment-cancer.html


...
Did the founders really intend to empower crazy people to kill children at school or worshipers in a church? If they did, then we should all have the right to portable nukes — for that is the logical conclusion of such an argument.
...

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | Ken Burn's documentary

Yah. That Roosevelt one got me looking at a few things in a different way. One that surprised me was how much the early minimum wage effort was also about immigrants. It could be cast in a high moral sense as people needing a livable wage, but often enough it was supported by people who wanted to discourage employers from hiring 'them.' Our high-minded neighbors still have some low-minded allies today.

not exactly a matter of destiny

Agreed. I suspect our disinclination to discuss religion in public might be an adaptation strategy that has saved our cities. Atheists can hide in plain sight most of the time after the Court freed us some time ago to legally marry without a church approval.

Homosexuals can (mostly) hide in plain sight too, but a lot of us protect them through a herd immunity strategy. Don't ask, don't tell. People who DO ask stand out that way and can be noted. In some places this worked well enough to save lives. Not so much in other places.

When I argue for a 90/10 majority to enforce moral rules (80/20 is good enough if support starts high and slips below 90 for a while), I'm making a point about zealotry. Most of us manage to live with dissonance just fine. Belief A and Belief B can be exclusive of each other, yet many hold both. If A is over 90% dominant, only B zealots resist and their numbers don't matter. If B zealots convince people to adopt B, they rarely convince them to abandon A until there has been a huge turn-over. In some simple game-play studies, dissonance becomes the norm when B grows to about 10% and in the absence of A zealots, the community can completely flip.

When I look around at how moral law is enforced, I see a lot of dissonance and a few zealots for various causes. If dissonance is the norm on a particular rule, I'd rather it wasn't enforced at all... at the government level. If We The People can't make up our minds, I'd rather our government didn't force a winner. Yah. That places me squarely among the Libertarians and pisses off zealots of all causes. I'm OK with that, though, since I'm a zealot too. 8)

Catfish N. Cod said...

I've had a lot of discussions on guns in the last week. About half were only productive in the sense of getting people to stop thinking in the rigid terms that "standard" gun debate has produced. (It is a sign of the poverty of thinking on the subject that one can even define a "standard" gun debate.)

The others have been really interesting. One I truly appreciated was a proposal to replace most forms of government gun regulation with mandatory gun operation insurance.

Why? It gives feedback on the ignored risks of gun ownership: suicide risk and risk of loss or theft. It transfers "registries" and the enforcement of training for licensure to private hands, away from the prying government, who gets a strictly limited audit capability but otherwise has to fight the insurers (who will be the NRA and fellow travelers) for subpoena enforcement. Best of all, it forces the NRA itself to become responsible for the currently externalized costs of gun ownership.

How does this help with the old "but criminals will break the law" argument? Well, you think crooks will have as easy a time stealing guns when everyone has a new financial incentive NOT to lose their guns? And the ATF (who can stop harassing most gun dealers) gets reinforced by private insurance auditors who don't want to have to pay claims to shooting victims....

I have yet to come up with a flaw in this idea, which worries me a little. There has to be one, right?

A.F. Rey said...

I have yet to come up with a flaw in this idea, which worries me a little. There has to be one, right?

You mean other than the NRA (figuratively) shooting anyone who proposes it in Congress? ;)

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | You are slowly convincing me about locumranch. I lurked for a long time, but I didn't read everyone. You've got the longer history. If you are right, his testosterone levels should be lower too, right? Lack of success does that I've heard. 8)

So I've finished the adolescence chapter now and starting in on the childhood one. I've known for years that I had an issue with treating teenagers as adults in court settings. Now I know why. Prosecutors in these situations in the future who do not bump me off a jury are heading for trouble. I'll remember them after a case is decided.

"The best crime deterrent is a 30th birthday." Neat line. I'm going to use it.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I forgot to say last time that the 75% of a doctor's case load resulting from the consequences of obesity is a matter for interpretation. Understanding how easily people can get caught up in a feedback loop of seeking sugar to satisfy the dopamine craving, which increases the power of the craving so they have to get more sugar to satisfy it ... it becomes much harder to blame and ridicule people for being caught in a vicious cycle. The old-fashioned way of blaming everyone for everything, shaming anyone who gets caught doing something that we haven't been caught doing yet and assuming that if something is someone's fault that means they can absolutely change it all on their own and deserve neither our help nor our sympathy (that was a long one!) is one of those old troglodyte failure modes. Understanding changes everything. The only reason I could stand teaching in front of rooms full of surly teens is because I understand what is going on between their ears, so I know better than to blame them for everything they do. It still drives me crazy, though, but I doubt at this point I can do anything else with my life.

There are lots of little gems in that book. of course, our Vegas shooter shows that some of these processes start to reverse when we go a couple decades past our 30th birthdays. When I heard about the time that guy spent in video poker I rolled my eyes.

Paul SB said...

Catfish,

I like that idea about gun insurance, though if I remember correctly Dr. Brin said something pretty similar a ways back, comparing it to mandatory car insurance and testing for licensure. Flaws? Well, for one, if you minimize the role government plays in keeping tabs on the insurance businesses, the insurance businesses will cheat people right and left. People have to at least be able to sue an insurance company if they weasel out of doing what they are contracted to do. It's like the bill regarding arbitration clauses in employment contracts. You know companies don't want to lose lawsuits, so they are starting to insert these arbitration clauses which say that an employee can't sue the company, they can only take their dispute to an arbiter. But, of course, the company provides the arbiter. Big surprise whose side the arbiters will come down on, right? Sure, the new employee could walk out of the job, and probably be unemployed for years to come and end up living under a bridge. And pretty soon these arbitration clauses will become standard, not because of any collision, but because slimy corporate managers can see a good thing coming.

donzelion said...

Catfish/Paul SB: You have a constitutional right to guns, though - not to a car. Setting barriers in tricky in this field.

The prerequisite to setting any licensing in place for guns would be replacing the president and majority in Congress.

"You know companies don't want to lose lawsuits, so they are starting to insert these arbitration clauses which say that an employee can't sue the company, they can only take their dispute to an arbiter. But, of course, the company provides the arbiter."

The company doesn't usually provide the arbiter - usually, you pay the arbiter (but the company is happy to pay their own). End of the day, it comes out as almost the same thing - when a company screws you out of $49.99, you'll scream about it, but have few options or alternatives (you could pay $1000+ for the arbitration, after all). Now if all those people who go screwed of $49.99 could form a class and sue - yet again, you'd need a new president and majority in Congress before unrolling the work of decades of Republican majorities.

The ugly harvest reaped by the 'freedom caucus' is that rich people get many more ways to become rich, and laws intended to restrain them get weakened in turn.

"And pretty soon these arbitration clauses will become standard, not because of any collision [collusion], but because slimy corporate managers can see a good thing coming."

It's more their slimy lawyers. I'm feeling pretty low for all the times I've inserted them...

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | The 75% number was a cold, hard fact. Type II diabetes, heart disease, damaged joints, and so on (the list is long) all tie back to being very over weight. Blame was a separate thing as he was mostly interested in outcomes UNTIL people started making excuses for themselves while expecting him to fix things with magic medicines. He took his oath not to harm people seriously, so a choice between medicating someone and convincing them to change their habits was a no-brainer up until his advice shifted from ‘you are going to kill yourself’ to ‘you are dying’. On top of that, he is way more libertarian than me in many ways. He expects people to take the ‘personal responsibility’ thing very seriously.

I get the feedback loops. I lost 70 lbs over about a year and put a lot back on when my health took a nose dive for other reason. I’ll be battling this battle for the rest of my life and I accept that. Carbs and sugars are impossible to avoid, but if I want to live to a ripe old age, I simply have to find a way to build healthy habits. THAT is what my friend advocates up until people blame him for not being able to fix things in an easier way. If they blame, he joins in on the fun. Lots of finger pointing ensues and he loses a customer he didn’t really want anyway. Yes. He does get accused of being a troglodyte. He’s a thorny SOB at times. Unfortunately… he is right about calories in vs calories out and his attitude doesn’t change my health prospects. His facts do. 8)

It still drives me crazy, though, but I doubt at this point I can do anything else with my life.

Nah. Now you are just being silly. Fear of the unknown silly which certainly doesn’t fell silly. It is, though. If you are still good at teaching those teens, I’m not going to spend any effort convincing you to change, but I’ve known too many people who did to think it can’t be done. It’s just scary and painful. Yah. I know how that sounds, but I’ve been through it too.

I haven’t heard about the video poker thing. I did my last year of HS and all of college in Vegas, so I’ve seen those things everywhere. The local 7-11 makes more on them than on the convenience products they sell. Most residents just drop their change in them and take a chance. There are always a few who get hooked, though. They are easy to spot.

I’m just wondering if they’ve taken down the billboards on I-15 yet that advertise opportunities to fire automatic rifles at legal ranges. Feel the thrill! Bzzzzz goes the weapon! Of course, the models in the ads are scantily clad females. Just standard practice for businesses near Vegas.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Second Amendment
This was put in place so that the slave states would always be able to have armed militias to keep the salves from getting uppitty
The initial draft said "country"
If you can change it's name from "The Second Amendment" to "The Slavery Amendment" then you will have a much better chance of fighting it

PaulSB
Obesity
I don't think that we could do this more wrong if we tried!
First we set the target from the median in some 150 year old numbers - BMI - 22 !!!
The minimum mortality BMI is about 29
Setting the target so low means that few people are at the "correct" BMI
It is DIFFICULT to move your BMI downwards
So people do a number of bad things
They just let it go - and get fatter
They yo-yo diet - which is even worse for you
AND the people who really do need to lose weight don't bother because its obviously impossible

And then we decided that "Fat" was bad - using some very dubious science - and substituted SUGAR which is not only bloody awful for your body it is also addictive

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I know that 75% number is the genuine article. It taught this stuff to cheeseburger-snarfing teens for years. And I get that personal responsibility is a cornerstone of all social life. That is the whole point of terrorizing the peasants with tales of hellfire and eternal damnation. But when you start to understand the mechanics of mind and personality, the personal responsibility thing gets much more fuzzy. Insanity gets you treatment in a mental hospital (ideally, anyway) rather than the chair, and many people see the insanity plea as a sort of excuse making, as if spending your life locked away surrounded by the insane is a better fate.

Sure, people make excuses. Who doesn't? When you are looking at a thing like the health of 300 million people, you have to look at it the way an epidemiologist or CDC worker does. You know that even with the right information many people will still make the wrong decisions. You can hope that they will survive those decisions and learn from them, but whether they do or not, you still have to treat them. If a person has grown up in an inner-city ghetto where there are fast-food joints on every street corner but no grocery stores for miles, and taking public transportation is taking your life into your hands, then big surprise you will get a whole lot of fat people. Are they to blame? Are they not taking personal responsibility? If a person was born with a much higher than average sensitivity to dopamine, how likely is it that he will not become addicted to soda and blow up like one of those amazing growing sponge toys?

Multi causality is more often the rule than the exception, and the old blame and shame game rarely changes people's behavior. All it does is add to the stress that drives the overeating. So before bitching about all those stupid fat people, we need to consider factors. The personal responsibility view does not explain why the obesity epidemic has become an epidemic, and it has no power whatsoever to reverse it. There are huge structural changes that society needs to change that, but the conservative elements of society can hardly conceive of what is needed, much less approve. I'm afraid we're going to look a lot like "Wall-E" in another generation as long as a majority of people continue to be backward thinking and oversimplify complexities instead of trying to account for them.

I keep forgetting that I wanted to ask Dr. Brin about that "Pathological Altruism" book he referenced. The Amazon page didn't have a whole lot of information, but I'm curious. You would think with a name like that I would be bothered or offended by it, but I am not really partizan so much as practical. Anything can be taken too far, even something we would normally think of as a good thing like altruism. Better to know about those complexities before smashing into the associated limiting factors. Those impacts can be quite deadly. Very little in this world is all good or all bad, it's all about context.

Paul SB said...

Duncan,

You're right, of course, nut be careful about calling sugar addictive. It is, plain and simple, but like all addictions it is more addictive for some people than it is for others. There are a whole lot of genetic and metabolic factors. But the other side of that is the fact that every cell in your body operates off of sugar - glucose specifically but they can turn other kinds of sugar into glucose, they can even strip proteins out of your muscles and turn those into glucose in desperation. Sugar does not equal bad. Too much sugar equals bad, and there is no one number that applies to everyone.

The BMI thing reminds me of my little neologism "exemplar entrainment." Humans will often look to the most extreme examples of some characteristic and hold them up as standards for everyone else. About 2% of humans can successfully multitask, but there isn't a corporate office anywhere that won't laugh your resume into a trash can if you don't claim to be the best multitasked ever, so good at multitasking ... nobody else is as good a multitasked than me, except for maybe Vladimir Putin, who is a truly exceptional multi-tasker. The best multi-tacker ever.

Paul451 said...

Occam's comic,

You might try losing the 14yr old girl sarcasm and actually say things.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

You have a constitutional right to guns, though


Actually, you don't.

You have the right to bear arms. Absolutely nothing about guns in particular that doesn't also apply to any weapons from swords to hand-held thermonuclear devices.


- not to a car.


That Nazi who ran over a protester might consider driving his car to be "bearing arms". I wonder if there's a Constitutional argument to be made that driving is protected by the Second Amendment.


Setting barriers in tricky in this field.


You have the right to bear arms for the security of a free state, not free reign to do whatever the heck you want with those arms.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: My point: "You have a constitutional right to guns, though"

For NOW, you have a constitutional right to guns, because that's what the Supreme Court ruled in DC v. Heller (2008). While I agree with Stephens' dissent, I acknowledge that it was the dissent: the law's the law.

"I wonder if there's a Constitutional argument to be made that driving is protected by the Second Amendment."
Privileges and Immunities clauses (the basis for the 'freedom to travel'), the 'full faith & credit' clause (a license to drive in one state much be upheld in other states) - there's a lot in the Constitution that serves as a base for a privilege to drive, but no clearly established 'right.' Hence, every state, through it's ordinary police powers, gets to declare which of their residents they permit on the streets - but once any single state permits you to drive, no other can block you from their roads (ordinarily). And if any single state withdraws your driving privilege, they may do so for as long as they wish (though any other state could restore those privileges once you become a resident there - most are unwilling to do so for people convicted of driving felonies).

Dr. Brin re-reads the 6th Amendment, to cut out the initial phrase before the operative term in order to tease out a 'freedom to record' (by cutting out the part about doing so to mount a defense in a criminal trial). He's doing precisely what Scalia did in nullifying the 'militia' part of the 2nd amendment - both may have good intentions in their own way, but one has ample legal backing, the other does not.

"You have the right to bear arms for the security of a free state, not free reign to do whatever the heck you want with those arms."
Indeed (though the right to bear arms isn't restricted to 'security of the free state' -
it's just a prohibition on government conduct).

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

but there isn't a corporate office anywhere that won't laugh your resume into a trash can if you don't claim to be the best multitasked ever, so good at multitasking ... nobody else is as good a multitasked than me,


There will be so much multitasking, you'll get sick of multitasking!

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

My point: "You have a constitutional right to guns, though"

For NOW, you have a constitutional right to guns, because that's what the Supreme Court ruled in DC v. Heller (2008). While I agree with Stephens' dissent, I acknowledge that it was the dissent: the law's the law.


My point is that the Constitution is silent on guns. What you have is a Constitutional right to bear arms. Yes, that includes guns. It also includes WMDs. There is no language in the Second Amendment which treats guns differently from any other armaments. So yes, the Republican Supreme Court has interpret that to mean anyone has an absolute right to any firearm, but I'd like to hear the reasoning that disqualifies any other type of weapon from the exact same protection.



"I wonder if there's a Constitutional argument to be made that driving is protected by the Second Amendment."

Privileges and Immunities clauses (the basis for the 'freedom to travel'), the 'full faith & credit' clause (a license to drive in one state much be upheld in other states) - there's a lot in the Constitution that serves as a base for a privilege to drive, but no clearly established 'right.'


You missed my point. I was proposing that all of the restrictions and regulations on driving a car might be circumvented by arguing that driving a car (which can be used to threaten and kill--I mean defend yourself against protesters) is a form of "bearing arms".

locumranch said...


David says that "(my) cult controlled both Congress and the presidency for most of the subsequent time (related to the passage of) The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965", and I agree that this was a Republican driven proposition designed to bust unions & drive down employee wages.

He errs on two points, however, the first error being that this pro-immigration law (supposedly passed by evil Republican lickspittles) is much beloved by globalists, diversity proponents & US Democrats, and the second error being his assumption that US Republicans are MY cult even though I was a Bernie Sanders delegate in the last election.

Alfred argues that "There is no such reciprocity principle", the implication being that the rule obedient are credulous suckers who can expect nothing in return for their good behaviour but the short end of the stick, the very point made by Henry Fielding in 'Jonathan Wild', a perspective with which I have come to agree.

Occam & Smurphs are working themselves into a tizzy over a big intercontinental nothing, Elon Musk's BSR would be subject to misuse if it were not uneconomical to the extreme, promising to transport passengers anywhere on Earth in an hour on just 1000x the energy requirement of an aeroplane & 100,000x the energy requirement of an automobile traveling similar distance. More likely, he's a Music Man who will Madoff the lot & set space travel back 50 years.

Finally, I'd like to thank both PaulSB & Alfred by citing a Sapolsky quote that debunks the whole Pinker 'Better Angels' hypothesis, that quote being "The best crime deterrent is a 30th birthday". It's what I've been saying all along about this 'Better Angels' nonsense.

Pinker misattributes plunging western crime rates to humanity getter 'better' when he should have attributed plunging crime rates to the social democalypse of Western Society getting OLDER with the concurrent loss of youth, vitality & exuberance. It's senescence, in essence, that is responsible for plunging western crime rates with Pinker confusing 'deader' with better.

Best
____
@Alfred: You're right. I threaten omission (inaction) rather than commission (action) after offering decades of warnings & cautions, so when the cities burn I intend to be too busy washing my hands to put participate in crisis management. Like the morbidly obese diabetic, non-compliant to medications, bereft of personal responsibility, allergic to exercise & addicted to cake, who wonders why complications only happen to him. Like Puerto Rico, acquiring $70 Billion in unsecured debt, another $50 Billion in unsecured pension obligations, a dysfunctional 19th Century infrastructure, NO attempt to plan for adversity, and a population incapable & unwilling of helping themselves, that wonders why so few shed tears for their misfortune. Ants will help ants, but those who choose to live like grasshoppers can only expect to die like grasshoppers.

David Brin said...

Still wrongheaded in most ways, or just wrong. But also clearly back on his meds. Welcome back from loonytown Locumranch

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "My point is that the Constitution is silent on guns."

True. Stephens' dissent is pretty convincing, but 5 judges disagreed with him; Scalia's is also pretty straightforward, and extends to implements used in 'traditional self-defense' - handguns, but not WMDs or bombs.

That said, even Scalia's argument did not posit an 'unlimited' right to gun ownership. A licensing regime is possible, but unlike for driving, the licensing has to be carefully tailored. For driving, anyone who wishes to drive must prove eligibility; for gun ownership, anyone who wishes to block someone from owning a gun must prove disability to take the right away (insanity or felony conviction).

"You missed my point."
I caught it clearly, but was focusing on the law; cars (or for our purposes, cameras) are not covered by Scalia's opinion, as neither is a 'traditional implement of self-defense.' Of course, someone could try that in court and see how far it goes, but this lawyer would advise against it...

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
"So yes, the Republican Supreme Court has interpret that to mean anyone has an absolute right to any firearm"

(Emphasis mine.)

They seem to have allowed state laws against fully automatic weapons and other military-style armaments like grenade launchers. Which is funny considering the purpose of the 2nd.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: "My point is that the Constitution is silent on guns."

True. Stephens' dissent is pretty convincing, but 5 judges disagreed with him; Scalia's is also pretty straightforward, and extends to implements used in 'traditional self-defense' - handguns, but not WMDs or bombs.

I realize that whatever the Supreme Court rules is settled law, but only until a future court turns around and overrules them. See Plessy vs Furgueson or Dredd Scott or (soon) Roe vs Wade.

I'm splitting semantic hairs here, but I'm not talking about a decision in any specific case. "The Constitution is silent on guns," is a true statement. Any application of the Second Amendment to firearms in particular is inferred from what is meant by "bearing arms". If limitations on some kinds of arms pass muster (and they self-evidently do), then I'd like to hear why "guns" are so off limits. Rather, I'd be interested in hearing an argument that supersedes "The NRA bribes and threatens us" as the most plausible.

Implements of "traditional self-defense" probably don't include firing 900 rounds per minute. Then again, someone could maybe argue that if you were alone in your log cabin defending your position from an invasion by the entire Sioux nation, you wouldn't want to have been deprived of your arsenal of machine guns, ammo belts, or hand-held grenade launchers.

When I argue that tactical nukes are "arms", or that driving a car through a crowd of protesters is "bearing arms", I'm trying to show that the current defense of unlimited gun possession inevitably leads to absurd conclusions. Dave Sim once described this dynamic by saying "Sometimes, jumping on the bandwagon is the best way to demonstrate that the wheels have fallen off."

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

They seem to have allowed state laws against fully automatic weapons and other military-style armaments like grenade launchers. Which is funny considering the purpose of the 2nd.


I'm not convinced that the Second Amendment was meant as permission to take up arms against the United States government itself, at least not until a very last resort. If the US government were ever so tyrannical that the people's only option was armed rebellion, and if that rebellion were successful, that would be the end of the Constitution once and for all. You don't push back federal troops with gunfire and then just go back to normal.

It's a fine line, I know. The right to bear arms probably is meant to allow one to hold off a rogue leader until general order is restored. But it can't mean that a duly-elected government with broad popular backing is allowed to be held off by armed resistance of a few dissenters, can it?

Someone here just recently mentioned the Whiskey Rebellion. In that case, it was the locals Washington was able to conscript to put down the rebellion who were the "well armed militia" in question, not the rebels themselves.

I interpret "The tree of liberty must...be watered with the blood of patriots" differently from how most people seem to read it these days. The "patriots" in that statement are not the tyrannical rulers and their armed forces, but the good Americans who might have to bring the fight to them. The deaths of patriots is not a desired thing. But, Jefferson is saying to his audience that freedom isn't free--that you might have to take actions which put you at risk of being shot in order to defend freedom. The "patriots" are the good guys (Tom Brady notwithstanding).

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com


Trump ... issued a rollback of Obama's policy regarding birth control. Consequently, business owners would be able to refuse to cover their employees' contraception costs if the owners have a "moral objection." ...

In any event, the American Civil Liberties Union saw this coming from a mile away, so they've already got their lawsuit ready. It's going to be a while before we know if Trump's executive order is actually going to take effect. Not that he particularly cares; he's already got what he wanted, which is an ability to tell evangelicals that he "fought back" against those liberals and their pro-choice agenda.


Have things really got to the point where the use of contraception is considered part of a liberal, "pro-choice" agenda? Life no longer begins at conception, but at sexual attraction, and social conservatives are fighting for the right to life of the un-conceived?

Tim H. said...

LarryHart, I suspect it's a heretical interpretation, but some folks feel sin must be punished in this world, especially lust and that with disease and children, who must in turn suffer. Funny how it's Women And children first there, but that's what happens when believers put the commentary of a misogynist over their gospels...

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Contraceptives are directly forbidden by the largest Christian church in the world, a church that is well-reputed for its conservatism. Think Vyogotsky - schema theory. If abortion goes into the large umbrella category of bad behavior, and the reason people do it is end unwanted pregnancies when they couldn't possibly afford to raise a baby, that makes it similar enough to contraception to get shoved in the same mental category. It's thinking that doesn't require use of the frontal lobes - simple knee-jerk reactionism. There is another element that is simply a matter of the nature of conservatism. The world's major religions all began and developed their dogmas when the world was a very different place than it is now. Through most of history worth control meant promoting birth, not preventing it. Every faith out there has its supernatural means of promoting pregnancy, and every culture has its home remedies and bizarre, analogical superstitions intended to increase your chances of conceiving, not decrease them. 8000 years of agricultural past has burned the needs of low-tech farming into the cultures of most of the human race.

Today we have the opposite problem. Nearly half the world has entered the Demographic Transition, and now having babies is a net burden rather than a net benefit to a family. With 40% of the people in this country living in poverty, there are an awful lot of people who simply can't afford to have children, because they can barely afford to feed themselves. The remedy every religion would demand for that problem is not to help lift them out of poverty, but to demand permanent celibacy. They naively think that celibacy has no dire mental health consequences for human beings. But then, these belief systems evolved before there was even a concept of mental health, when people believed that everything a human does is entirely that person's responsibility, just as every sparrow that falls must be the responsibility of some "person" somewhere. That's the analogical reasoning that makes up gods. Since humans do things on purpose, then the wind that blew your roof off must have been done deliberately by someone. The rock that rolled down the hill and smashed your hut must have been a bad, bad rock, and deserves to be punished.

As looney as Loci is, his latest rant does touch on something very important. Personal responsibility is deeply necessary for social animals to live together without simply killing one another and going extinct. And this is a place where our two political parties tend to go to opposite extremes. One side ignores all mitigating circumstances and demands blood for every tiny little transgression, while the other side seems to be willing to forgive absolutely anything and hold no one accountable for anything they do wrong. It should be obvious that both sides are too extreme to be at all functional. The first side is pure despotism, the other pure anarchy. Ever since Freud showed that the decisions humans make are very much influenced by forces they are not even conscious of, it has made the line between responsible and not responsible very difficult to navigate.

Paul SB said...

Larry con't,

It wouldn't be hard to guess that I sit firmly on the fence on this one. Context is everything. As a general rule I am all for holding people accountable for their actions, and idea that generally aligns with the right wing. If people are not responsible, then many people will cheat and steal any chance they get. Just look at our captains of industry and wizards of Wall Street - crooks and thieves from the roots of their hair to the cuticles of their toes. Their wealth and power for the most part makes them immune to consequences. Once in awhile you get a case where they do something so outrageous that the law has to step in, like that fine, upstanding capitalist who raised the price of medicine by something like 900% over night. But most of the time their behavior is so normalized by our culture that they can get away with genocide in the name of business. ironic that the right wing, which hammers on the idea of personal responsibility, is so quick to defend this parasitical class of people.

But context is everything. I have no idea what led Puerto Rico to being massively in debt, whether they had any actual choice in the matter or if they really did mismanage their budget. Our faux rancher's comments on the ordinary citizens of that island is nothing more or less than racism. My thesis advisor was from Puerto Rico and he was nothing like lazy. You can't get through a doctoral dissertation, or guide others through the thesis process, teach classes and grade graduate-level writing being lazy. And it's a bit ironic that right wingers would hold out their debt as a reason to despise them when they drive the federal government's debts to record heights with each Republican administration (which is not to say that Democrats don't do it, too).

Is a murderer an evil person who deserves to be punished? Most of the time I would say yes. Charles Whitman, who committed the first mass shooting to be televised, had a tumor growing on his amygdala. He was the unfortunate victim of a disease that drove him to violence. Tragic all around, but he was in no way in control of himself when he was pulling that trigger. Had he survived, and had they the technology to discover that tumor without dissecting his body back in 1964, he would have deserved treatment, not prison or the chair.

Likewise when people grow up in abject poverty, where there are no opportunities for them to make a living honestly, do they deserve punishment for turning to crime to put food on the table? I'm with Sir Thomas Moore on this one. The people who deserve punishment are the architects of a society that forces people into that level of desperation. For every thief who gets a year in prison because the system doesn't give them any better alternative, a Republican politician should spend a year in jail. That would be justice. It's their policies that drive most of our poverty. But the right wing has a long, long tradition of victim blaming, a tradition loci embraces heartily.

Paul SB said...

BTW: his interpretation of that Sapolsky quote is pure sophistry. How far back in history do we have to go to get to an average lifespan of 30 years? It's not the increased life expectancy that is bringing down the rate of violent crime. Life expectancy continued to rise in the 1990s while violent crime was spiking. It is true that a majority of violence is committed by men between the ages of 16 and 25, after which age it starts to drop steeply. But the number of men in that age group has not dropped, only the number of men living into their 70s and 80s has increased, which is due in part to the decreased number of man getting killed in the earlier age group. More faux logic from our faux rancher.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

As looney as Loci is, his latest rant does touch on something very important. Personal responsibility is deeply necessary for social animals to live together without simply killing one another and going extinct. And this is a place where our two political parties tend to go to opposite extremes. One side ignores all mitigating circumstances and demands blood for every tiny little transgression, while the other side seems to be willing to forgive absolutely anything and hold no one accountable for anything they do wrong.


You might be amused to know that my first reading of what you said reversed the parties from the way you most likely meant them.

I don't want to make the first post on Dr Brin's new thread be about this one, but I might continue this conversation over there later.

Now, as Dr Brin said:

onward


onward.

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

LarryHart, I suspect it's a heretical interpretation, but some folks feel sin must be punished in this world, especially lust and that with disease and children,...


And again, the point is to force them to admit that what they want is for the US Government to enforce religious law, which is anti-American. With abortion, they can hide behind "protecting the babies", but when they extend the exact same arguments to contraception, it shows them up for what they are.

Paul SB:

Contraceptives are directly forbidden by the largest Christian church in the world,...


And I can understand not forcing Catholic organizations to participate in providing contraception. But the way Obamacare dealt with this was for them to opt out and then the insurance company would directly provide the service. And even that was considered too much of an imposition--they couldn't even indirectly participate in a system which provides a service they disapprove of to their employees. And yet, no one would allow me to have a moral objection to war, and to therefore withhold tax dollars from the system that perpetuates it.


There is another element that is simply a matter of the nature of conservatism. The world's major religions all began and developed their dogmas when the world was a very different place than it is now. Through most of history worth control meant promoting birth, not preventing it.


On that, we totally agree. I've mentioned it often myself. That's also why everyone hates homosexuality and self-gratification so much. The sex drive must be channeled into producing more of "our" babies. Every sperm is sacred...


And this is a place where our two political parties tend to go to opposite extremes. One side ignores all mitigating circumstances and demands blood for every tiny little transgression, while the other side seems to be willing to forgive absolutely anything and hold no one accountable for anything they do wrong. It should be obvious that both sides are too extreme to be at all functional.


As I said above, that can be taken two opposite ways. I first thought of the liberals as the ones who "ignore mitigating circumstances and demand blood for every little transgression" in the area of political correctness and progressive purity tests. And the Republicans are, of course, "willing to forgive absolutely anything and hold no one accountable for anything they do wrong" when we're talking about their own politicians or corporations or police officers or white supremacists. Only after thinking about it for a moment did I realize you most likely meant each description to apply to the opposite party instead.

LarryHart said...

Although I'm keeping a conversation alive, Dr Brin has moved...

onward


onward

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Great point about contraception vs. war as moral objections. As usual, it's all down to partisanship, and double standards abound. For the most part, the right wing is the party of zero forgiveness, zero chances, tough turkey tits and shut up and quit whining - except when something happens to them or one of their own people. Then the rules they apply to everyone else no longer apply. Left-wing PC bullying and litmus tests come across as being just as bad, but in a way they are opposites. The lefties are trying to hold their own to high standards (or what they think of as high standards), while the righties are trying to hold everyone else but themselves to high standards. Superficialities like group membership, church attendance, physical appearance or even just saying certain key words over and again are all it takes, that last bit being their own form of PC bullying. Hang out with a bunch of conservatives and refer to people as African American instead of black or colored and you get some really nasty looks. Even mentioning the word "equality" and you risk being processed through a tree shredder.

Ah, I love the smell of complexity in the morning! It smells like understanding.

Howard Brazee said...

The bosses need to know what the servants are doing. In a democracy, the bosses are the people, and the servants are the lawmakers, the executives, and the enforcers.

Obviously, we are not in such a democracy.

Cookie said...

OTOOH? I vote for OTGH.

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