Friday, February 16, 2018

Tribal echo chambers - can we (can you) break out?

Before launching into the general problem, let's start with the very worst example of echo-chamber thinking: the absolute unwillingness of major political factions in America to negotiate, or even talk to each other, about gun violence in America.  

Fatigued by the lunacy, I present, yet again, my own proposed compromise that might offer a win-win. It would license and register all the weapons used for very bad things... while setting aside permanently our right to own - without registration or interference, ever - the one personal weapon that could serve us if we had to rebel. 

More importantly, my proposal demonstrates how to seek the deepest root of your opponent's fear -- the thing that propels and justifies his intransigence. There can be logic - of a sort - under the obstinacy. And you are supposed to be the logical ones.

Do not mistake the disease for the symptom. It is this sickness of obstinate intransigence that our enemies most wanted to instill. It is how civilizations fall.

== Our greatest talent -- self-delusion -- now weaponized ==

In Earth (1989), I made one of the earliest forecasts that our then-new public Internet would lead to millions creating echo chambers of self-reinforcing opinion — bubbles of online tribalism — that could even verge onto veritable e-nuremberg rallies, exploited by dark powers. In that novel, I proposed that the solution might come via tools of transparency, a concept that evolved into The Transparent Society.

Now we see that the Web - which was supposed to be our immune system against lies and error - has been turned against us, much like a deliberately induced auto-immune disease

This is well and terrifyingly described at Berit Anderson’s SCOUT site. There, she appraises the way enemies of the Enlightenment have deployed against us “AI weaponized propaganda.”

It’s a complex dilemma, much as AIDS was. Only, as I also described in EARTH, there are powerfully smart and creative forces who seek solutions. Some are doing so out of survival self-interest, e.g. Facebook is now vetting news sources that feed their customers’ biases.

(Full disclosure: I consulted with Facebook's teams about this, last summer, when the extent of the calamity was just becoming clear. I'm told that some of my ideas were "influential" but I'm not clear yet on which ones. There are definitely ways to alert users to refutation of rumor, without making the surfing/posting experience less pleasant.)

Other efforts are described by Nathan Gardels of the World Post:

In fact, we are already seeing evidence of a “flight to quality” in the wake of the dominance of peer-driven social media that is populated with hate speech, fake news and alternative facts. Online subscriptions to The Washington Post — The WorldPost’s publishing partner — have tripled during the first year of the Trump presidency.

“Even so, the Internet remains the battleground of tribal warfare, where a cacophony of voices contends to establish the consensual truths that are the essential foundation of democratic discourse. The global “anti-tribe tribe” claims authority through the impartial methods and universal standards of reason it employs in the pursuit of an objective social consensus. Ideological, religious or nativist adherents embrace allegiance to the solidity of belonging against what they regard as the rootlessness of a cosmopolitan caste....

“As the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk noted, the eruption of tribalism in our global age is a response to the “liquidized” identities that have supplanted the territorial patriotism that was culturally ingrained during the long history of agricultural societies. New assertions of identity, he argues in an interview, also mark a “return of plurality” in the face of “helpless universalism.” ...

“Similarly, David Goodhardt writes that reconciling tribal attachment and the notion of a “common good” is the great challenge. “Moderate nationalism,” Goodhardt notes paradoxically, is “an important glue for liberal societies” — in short, a home between the globalist “anywhere” and the local “somewhere.””

Okay, maybe that's a bit hifalutin and arcane. I prefer pragmatism, pointing out to today's confederates -- and ISIS nostalgists and other romantics -- that there are zero measures by which their prescriptions work. When was "America Great"? Presumably under the "Greatest Generation"... who invested heavily in our shared infrastructure and major projects, under a social contract fashioned by their favorite living human. Franklin Roosevelt. 

== ...and from one of Earth's worst humans ==

In contrast, George F. Will is at it again. Openly admitting that U.S. Conservatism has gone insane, Will refuses to take any responsibility for his open-eyed and knowing choice to foster the movement’s capture by feudalist enemies of the Western Enlightenment Experiment. Enemies not just of democracy but competitive-fair market capitalism, as well -- the very this that (lying) he claims to revere. 

Rather, he keeps waving hypnotic baubles and incantations in front of millions of gullible readers: “Yes, our side has gone corrupt, treasonous and crazy… but… but lib’ruls are worse!”

In this latest version of the magic spell, I carefully looked for any paragraph that was not essentially a lie — either directly or through verbal legerdemain. I found three!  Just three paragraphs, in which the core was not: “Listen to how smoothly and confidently I spin out erudite-sounding citations! Never mind that almost nothing that I am saying is actually true!”

And I mean it literally. Only three out of thirty paragraphs did not contain an open and bald-faced lie. Shame on the Post and anyone else who does not follow this traitor around, calling him what he is.

== Are you taxed more for income you sweated for? ==

Listen to this brilliant economist all the way through... Dambisa Moyo interviewed about automation, investment, demographics and helping to keep capitalism healthy.

Nothing better distills Republican philosophy better than this: “The House tax overhaul raises taxes on high-income earners who make their money through labor, but delivers a huge tax cut to passive business owners."

This is classic. Adam Smith described how elites of any society adjust the rules to benefit passive “rent-seeking,” so the owner caste won’t have to innovate, build factories, take risks or lift a finger, just collect dividends, interest, rents or stock rises at low tax rates. (Rates were ZERO for nobles in Smith’s day, leading to revolution in America and France.)

Adam Smith denounced this cheating, which warps markets and demolishes genuine competition by those aiming to create goods and services. Smith knew this kind of lordly cheating ruined free and creative-competitive markets in every civilization. In comparison, socialism and “bureaucrats” can be threats to markets -- but historical examples of lethality are far, far more rare than the prevalent danger. Oligarchy.

Again, our parents in the Greatest Generation (GG) knew this. Watch movies from that era! Just as the U.S. Founders rebelled against the King and his caste of cheaters, and the Union overcame the cheating plantation lords, the WWII generation tamed -- without killing or ruining -- its own oligarchs who plotted to revive feudalism. Only, led by FDR, the GGs did it with mild reforms, not revolution, tilting the balance to favor honest labor and entrepreneurial creativity, instead of passive rent-seeking.

But the GG revolution has been chipped away. The Cheater Caste is back. The top 0.1% owns more than the bottom 90%, yet they have 40% of Americans convinced that the only threat to freedom and markets is “bureaucrats.” Since Reagan, the incantation has been to slash taxes on the rich, in promise that the rich will then do what the vast majority of them have never, ever done in the history of our species… investing their gusher of tax gifts in productive innovation or “supply.”

To be clear, not one prediction for “Supply Side (Voodoo) Economics” (SSVE) has ever come true, ever. Once. Even once. At all. Ever. Demand that your crazy-confederate uncle come up with one example.

Oh, their hired shills offer lines like “The Inheritance Tax is a DEATH TAX!” In fact, the heirs who receive money are U.S. citizens RECEIVING MONEY, and our social contract is that you get taxed when you receive money! You pay 25%+ on money you receive for working hard. The Republicans want pampered scions to pay nothing for wealth they receive by doing nothing.

== Put it starkly ==

Passive income is preferred over money earned through labor? Or from creativity, or active investment? How did we get talked into such an outrageously monstrous cheat? Your taxes are higher precisely because the Rentier Caste pays at low rates that have allowed them to amass nearly all of the nation’s wealth.

Make no mistake, this betrayal of fair competition leads to revolution, as it did in Adam Smith’s day. The smartest of the rich - those who actually invest in R&D and innovations and products — know this, and want their own class to be taxed higher!

They want this because it’s fair and will help us to thrive.

They want this to avoid pushing a spectacularly skilled and educated middle class into torches, pitchforks and tumbrels.

The tech zillionaires are not like the ones financing the GOP’s oligarchic putsch - the gambling kingpins, Wall Street parasites, inheritance lordlings, and those who bribed their way into cushy resource extraction boons.

The smart ones, who can see, are like JFK’s father, who supported FDR, saying: “I’d rather give up half my fortune, helping make a healthy middle class, than lose it all to revolution.” (paraphrased)

And finally....

Passed along by Russ Daggatt: "Thanks to Trump, Democrats now have a more favorable view of the FBI than Republicans do. In the last month, Republicans have gone from 65% favorable to 38% favorable. Trump has already caused a radical shift in Republican opinion on Putin and Russia (more positive) and the NFL (more negative)."

Fascinating. The very same poli- tburo plotters who the US right despised and feared, became best-buds due to... a change of symbolism. From communist lapel pins to oligarch/orthodox pins. The same guys (wearing better suits), pursuing similar methods with the same aim - bringing Pax Americana and American world leadership to an end - are suddenly great pals of the US right... because Rupert Murdoch says so. 


And the FBI that has always opposed those agents - many of them the very same people - are now villains.

The... Confederacy... is... treason. Always was. Always will be.

139 comments:

Katy Williams said...

I think racism is at the bottom of the gun-control argument. tRump was elected using racism, is still pushing it hard (DACA, ICD). Repugs will never do anything about gun violence, because they approve of it. Its their base.

Twominds said...

@Alfred Differ,

From last thread, the onward call had just sounded.

Thanks for the link, it was that one or a very similar one (I seem to remember a lighter background and a higher speed) that I meant.

Bookmarked now!

Treebeard said...

I love the term “helpless universalism”. That's the feeling that always bothered me, back when I tried to be a good default liberal. It's just such a weak position, compared to being tribal and actually having an identity that you will fight for. The obvious solution to this supposed problem is the age-old one: form nations around shared tribal identities, rather than around the destruction of them. Otherwise you end up with civil war or some kind of soft Orwellian control regime, where correct “liberal” positions are the only ones allowed, and we only get Pinkerian propaganda (and some tame dissent) in all our media. I guess the problem goes back to the fact that the Enlightenment was the project of a tiny elite of WEIRDos, who never consulted with the masses—who remain tribal, nationalistic, religious, etc.—when they pushed their revolution from above, while convincing themselves that they were history's special snowflakes who were on the side of “the people” (despite the fact that the people believe in all kinds of deplorable things). We see this mentality on this blog all the time. But at the end of the day, Enlightenment abstractions fail when visceral, tribal facts on the ground, like immigrant invasions, Muslim rape gangs and demographic displacement become too undeniable for a controlled media regime to cover up. Allowing that sort of thing is what many of us would call treason. It's just human nature to prefer a king who protects his people over an empty suit who peddles helpless universalism, and it's not going away.

Twominds said...

@Alfred, also from last thread

I have a single voice

Sort of. If you live in isolation I’d say that is true, but you don’t.

If you'd live in isolation you'd have no voice. The walls or the trees or the empty fields don't care if you debate eloquently, or shout gibberish, or scream curses at the top of your lungs, it's all just sound.

I have a voice that's heard here, (much appreciated!) and at some other places. What people are doing with what I say, I mostly can't know.
I don't think that your idea of internal (partial) copies of people they hold dear, is really playing a part here. Me and my partner love each other, hold each other dear and have high respect for each other (large internal copies), and still, we will not take into ourselves each other's political and social opinions.

Or do I have your idea of internal copies totally wrong?

Have we learned to discount their messages yet? Somewhat? Are we adapting?

Not fast enough I think. This ties in to what Larry Hart said:

If it hasn't happened yet, I expect that the common knowledge of fake following will soon devalue the whole notion that more followers makes one "better" in any valuable sense

I wonder. Politics can be so much about appearances instead of substance, that it will take a while before that devaluing sets in. As I said some threads ago, I thought again and again that the US Republicans couldn't get any crazier, and I was wrong every time. I think as long as they get away with it, a spurious following is good enough for them if it lets them do what they want.

Arizsun Ahola said...

Sorry, David, but your 'Jefferson Rifle' concept is a non-starter. The Liberals I speak with would be satisfied with just universal background checks and that is seen as unacceptable tyranny by the pro-gun people.

Robert said...

Here is a question for my Libertarian-minded compatriots out there.

Why should people be entitled to property and assets once the owner of those assets dies?

Seriously. Why should marrying someone or being genetically related to someone entitle you to their assets? The Republicans go on about Death Taxes, but inheritance is in fact an entitlement program.

Assets of dead people should belong to no one. The government can gain control over them and auction them off. Because if your only claim to assets is "I am such-and-such's son" or "I am such-and-such's spouse" then you are claiming entitlement for assets you did not work to own. Now if someone marries someone and in the marriage contract they gain actual ownership of assets, or someone has a mortgage in the names of husband-and-wife, then those assets are shared and that isn't an inheritance entitlement but proper asset ownership. But just being related to someone should not entitle them to that person's assets once they die.

Rob H.

Treebeard said...

In a recent post our host said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump, which I thought was a good example of someone who takes their abstractions to the point of absurdity. But yes, according to those documents written by a few Enlightenment cult WEIRDos back in the day, that is what you should do. As you ponder the prospect of taking a bullet for Trump, are you starting to see the shortcomings of this ideology?

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

I have a voice that's heard here, (much appreciated!) and at some other places. What people are doing with what I say, I mostly can't know.
I don't think that your idea of internal (partial) copies of people they hold dear, is really playing a part here. Me and my partner love each other, hold each other dear and have high respect for each other (large internal copies), and still, we will not take into ourselves each other's political and social opinions.


Alfred can better explain his concept of copying, but the way I see it, it's not so much that we'll necessarily alter the beliefs of those we communicate with, but that we have the opportunity to make our thought processes known, and that those might influence others to see something in ways they weren't considering before.

I know that when someone else on this list says, "that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing," I feel as if my work is done. Even if I die tomorrow, the meme will live on in the thinking of others, in whose thinking it might not have been without my intervention. That's a small example, but multiply it a few times by everyone who posts in a community like this one.

LarryHart said...

On guns...I can't immediately think of a law that would solve the problem. But that's the point. We need to at least study the problem and come up with potential solutions. At the moment, even that discussion is pre-empted by the Cancerous NRA*.

I wonder whether more widespread access to body armor would make the problem better or worse. Would it make the average man on the street (or school or church) safer from a rogue shooter? Or would it just make perpetrators harder for police to bring down?

* From now on, that's what I'm calling them.

David Brin said...

WHile Treebeard is clearly on his meds, speaking well and connecting actual, parsable sentences, his assertions still range from poor to loony:

poor:" In a recent post our host said he would take a bullet for Donald Trump, which I thought was a good example of someone who takes their abstractions to the point of absurdity."

No, it is my acceptance that this civilization is more important than I am - hard for an egotist to admit! And hence I must be able to prioritize the rule of law high enough to put myself on the line with action, not just words.

The other missive is just - well - dumb. Yes, our civ is infected with age old diseases of tribalism and illogic and intolerance and cheating and feudalism. These forces are trying to give us a fever so our alternative path will die and we'll tumble back into the attractor state -- the feudal-cheating pattern that never , ever, ever delivered truth or productivity or knowledge or happiness.

His solution to the onslaught of cheating-tribal-feudal insanity? Give in and embrace the cheating-tribal-feudal insanity! Suck in the pus! Roll in the 6000 year cesspool! Yippee!

Not

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

Last year, I gave up "suffering fools" for Lent. This year, I'm giving up reading them. No deplorables until Easter.

TCB said...

LarryHartt asks: "I wonder whether more widespread access to body armor would make the problem better or worse. Would it make the average man on the street (or school or church) safer from a rogue shooter? Or would it just make perpetrators harder for police to bring down?"

Heck, you can make your own.

Be that as it may, rifle bullets are harder to stop, as the video shows.

Yes, perps with ballistic armor go down harder. But they do go down. And as for regular folks wearing armor, not gonna happen. Duct tape a couple of big frying pans to your jacket and see how long you go without getting tired of it. No: it's absurd. As a practical matter, we are collectively shielded by the low probability that someone will want to go on a killing spree in your particular workplace or school on this particular day. The fact that it happens in this country with regularity owes all to the availability of the weapons.

Now, I have been hearing people say "Nothing changed after Sandy Hook, nothing changed after Las Vegas, nothing will change now." But it's possible that this time really is different. Why?

Not numbers. Las Vegas had a much higher death toll. Not age: the Sandy Hook victims were mostly children aged six and seven. No: this time the survivors are angry, loud and woke, calling out the GOP and the NRA specifically, and Donald Trump too. Is that enough to change things? Not by itself!

BUT>

We are just now starting to learn how Vladimir Putin's government laundered money to the Trump campaign and god knows how many GOP politicians through the NRA. We can now draw a straight line from attacks on school children to attacks upon our democracy itself by foreign thugs and domestic traitors in the highest reaches of government. People are starting to notice.

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.” ― Winston S. Churchill.

Tim H. said...

This was amusing:
www.gocomics.com/baby-trump
Distasteful, disrespectful and uses real Trump quotes.

Robert said...

There is one other thing. Teenagers, Generation Z, has woken up and is pissed.

They are demanding change. They are seeing that Republicans refuse to change.

Do you honestly think they will ever vote Republican? Unless Republicans can alter the voting laws so that only white men are able to vote... then Republicans have just cut their throats. They don't care go against the NRA. Oh, and Russian bots are busy putting out pro-gun-ownership messages on Twitter to anger people further... but the teens aren't going to notice who sent those messages. All they will see is the message. Pro-gun. Pro-Republican.

The Republicans have disenfranchised their future voters. It has been happening for a while now. The only reason Trump won the Presidency was a perfect storm of people hating Hillary and electoral meddling by Russia. After this... you're going to see Republicans not only losing Presidential elections... but State governorships, State Representatives, State Senators... they are going to become a regional party within ten years. Because they are scared of going up against the NRA.

These kids have nothing to lose now. They are being gunned down in their very classrooms. They don't have debt yet. They have seen how education is failing Millennials and Generation X, how debt is locking us into uncertainty and inaction. And they're smarter than us.

Oh are they smarter than us.

And I couldn't be happier to see that truth.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

BTW, those who are denigrating Karen McDougal's credibility by calling her "former Playboy model" are denying her the proper status that she earned as Playmate of the Year. It's like calling Doctor Evil "Mister Evil."

Robert said...

It's to disempower her. If she was "just" a Playboy model, then Donald Trump would want nothing to do with her. Her being a Playmate of the Year means she is the top of the top, and thus more worthy of Trump's attention... and they can't have that. So by denying her her status, they are denying her worth, her beauty, and any reason why Trump would be interested in her.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Just reading an article about Peter Thiel and his ilk saying that NZ is the best place for them to retreat to if things turn to custard

I don't think that they have ever talked to any actual New Zealanders!

If "things turn to custard" and these mega rich loonies retreat to New Zealand they will find a warm reception
They will not be left in peace in their mansions - as the people who caused the global mess they will be winkled out and dealt with appropriately

I can't think of anywhere where they are less likely to be left in peace

Tony Fisk said...

Just before golfing day, Mueller issued an indictment for thirteen Russians for actively seeking to influence the 2016 election. Apparently the number of actors and the funding involved ($5m/month) dwarves any other campaign group.

Tony Fisk said...

@Duncan, it's those mountains: so like the Helvetian Alps...

Tony Fisk said...

Some Saturday breakfast reading: a good summary of the Mueller indictment.

Night all.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson | A new form of light?

Sounds like a form of entanglement to me.
Calling it a new form of light is a stretch.

Photons mediate electro-magnetism.
A new kind of 'photon' would imply a new field of some kind.
Combining E&M with the old Weak force required that we combine photons with the bosons that mediate Weak which made 'photon' just one of the states of the 'more complete' mediating particle.

I don't see a new force in what they describe for the experiment, so that's why I think calling it a new form of light is a stretch.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H | Why should marrying someone or being genetically related to someone entitle you to their assets?

I'll bite. I don't see inheritance as entitlement. To show that, allow me to extend your question a bit and then ask where the line gets drawn.

Why should a payment to a property owner entitle the buyer to transferred property?
Why should my ownership of property entitle me to transfer it to anyone for any reason?

It boils down to what we mean by 'property' which is essentially a mesh of example types and allowable/expected behaviors associated with them. If I own my breakfast, I expect to be able to eat it. If I own my house, I expect to be able to live in it. If I own my cat, I expect to be able to keep it near and defend it. If I own my son, I expect....

There are social limits we all impose on the types and behaviors. Inheritance is one of the long standing expectations permitted for most property that can be claimed and defended. A huge part of what we are when it comes to procreators is wrapped up on what we can hand to our children to give them an advantage. Because of the age of the customs, I'm not inclined to mess with them much, let alone for reasons of definition purity.


If people abuse the customs, I'm far more inclined to mess with them instead. If a child expects an inheritance NOT given by a parent, I AM inclined to see that as an expectation of an entitlement and I'd likely reject it. If they can make the case that the parent would have arranged the transfer... and I believe them... I might step aside and allow for it, but the burden of proof would be on THEM.


you did not work to own

Ultimately, though, I reject the notion that ownership is justified by work. We rationalize it that way, but I don't think we should justify it that way. Ownership is about defendable or unchallenged claims. NO ONE grants me the right to claim ownership of something along with the behaviors I expect to exhibit. I simply make a claim or behave a particular way. IF my actions go unchallenged, that is the basis for my ownership and expectations. If they ARE challenged and I succeed at defending myself, that too is a basis for ownership and associated expectations. If I make a claim and fail to defend it, I obviously didn't own the thing or I exhibited a behavior rejected by the community. 8)

Twominds said...

@Rob H. 2:53 PM

on inheritance

I might theoretically agree with you, but practically, abolishing inheritance won't work. Communist countries did it, socialist countries sometimes try, with less than shining results.
One reason for a person to try and get rich is the desire to leave something to his or her children. It would be a pity to remove that incentive to do effort, and for things like a family business, it can be hard to build that to its potential in one generation. I wouldn't want to have only selfish incentives in society to get rich.

There could be restrictions on how much can be inherited, and thoughts on if a business that's more valuable than that it might need to be excempt etc.

I think inheritance taxes should be progressive, not inheritance itself abolished.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Ultimately, though, I reject the notion that ownership is justified by work. We rationalize it that way, but I don't think we should justify it that way. Ownership is about defendable or unchallenged claims...


Yes, despite what the Ayn Randists would have us believe, there is no practical "objective" manner of establishing and/or maintaining ownership. Ultimately, ownership is a societal construct.

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

"If it hasn't happened yet, I expect that the common knowledge of fake following will soon devalue the whole notion that more followers makes one "better" in any valuable sense"

I wonder. Politics can be so much about appearances instead of substance, that it will take a while before that devaluing sets in.


I'm probably an outlier on this, because I shy away from the whole "likes" and "followers" thing. But I'm not going to believe something that an unknown virtual source asserts based on how many likes or re-tweets they have. Now, someone on this list who I've developed some familiarity with over the years can cause me to alter my thinking on a subject with an argument that I respect. But even then, the specific argument has to be persuasive. It's not enough that "I usually agree with X, so whatever X says must be true." Heck, I usually agree with Dr Brin, but I've felt the need to tweak him on some issues and have even ticked him off a particular time or two. If I'm not going to just accept everything our host says at face value, I'm certainly not going to do so for @ProveImNotARobot666 just because he's been liked and retweeted a jillion times.

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

One reason for a person to try and get rich is the desire to leave something to his or her children. It would be a pity to remove that incentive to do effort, and for things like a family business, it can be hard to build that to its potential in one generation. I wouldn't want to have only selfish incentives in society to get rich.
...
I think inheritance taxes should be progressive, not inheritance itself abolished.


You and I are on the same page here, so I'm not arguing against what you say. But I think you're making more of a general defense of inheritance as a concept, and I'm not sure that's what Rob was asking about.

If I read his comment correctly, he's aiming a question specifically at Libertarians. And the question isn't whether one should be allowed to leave property to whomever one wants, but whether the right to a parent's property derives specifically from family status. I won't go so far as to say that that's "the opposite thing", but it is a different thing.

The one issue I was going to argue with Rob, he actually addressed further down. To me, joint ownership with survivorship is implicit in the concept of marriage. I realize that my view on this is hardly universal, but to me, a spouse doesn't inherit her partner's property upon the partner's death, but merely maintains ownership of property that they formerly owned in common. Nothing is changing hands upon death in that situation.

Randall Winn said...

We are, as I stated more than a year ago, in an information war with Russia. And losing, because we won't accept that we are at war. The Oval Office has been captured.

"Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason"
-- Sir John Harrington (1561–1612)

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/02/intelligence-chiefs-trump-has-not-directed-us-to-stop-russian-meddling/

Dwight Williams said...

I can't imagine that most Aetearoans/New Zealanders will be interested in having their nation torn out of their hands for conversion into a Rich Peoples' Post-Apocalypse Fiefdom. Ever. So Mr. Thiel's going to have to look elsewhere.

But never Canada.

News services I recommend adding to your "must read (and subscribe to as finances permit)" list: CBC News and the Toronto Star. I could work up a list of weeklies and monthlies for the various Ottawa-Gatineau neighbourhoods as well.

Randall Winn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

@Randall Winn,

As with Twominds, I am not disagreeing with you on inheritance tax. But that wasn't the discussion. I was merely asserting that questions about who has the right to inherit--or even if inheritance as a concept is valid--doesn't apply in the case of spouses, because "inheritance" isn't what is happening in that situation.

LarryHart said...

Oh, right! Delete your comment, so now I look stupid. :)

LarryHart said...

@Dwight Williams,

I've heard conflicting information on this--how easy (or difficult, or impossible) is it for an American refugee to become a permanent resident of Canada?

Twominds said...

@ Arizsun Ahola

Sorry, David, but your 'Jefferson Rifle' concept is a non-starter. The Liberals I speak with would be satisfied with just universal background checks and that is seen as unacceptable tyranny by the pro-gun people.

I sometimes read the 'argument' by the pro-gun lobby of the Slippery Slope, that the discussion will get on, as soon as they give in one jota to the liberals.
Ignoring completely that the slippery slope has been tilted in their favor for years upon years now. Dishonest arguing, and I wonder if they even see it anymore.

LarryHart said...

Interesting coincidence. I just happened to watch the old Star Trek episode "Space Seed" which introduced Khan. When the Enterprise crew beams aboard the old earth ship, the historian, Lt McIvers explains that the passengers had to be cryogenically frozen because of the extreme time that it used to take to travel between planets "until about the year 2018".

How did they know?

Also, by Kirk telling Khan that he had been frozen for "we estimate about two centuries", this may be the only time in the original series that reference was made to it specifically being set in the 23rd century.

Twominds said...

@ LarryHart 5:53 AM

I'm probably an outlier on this, because I shy away from the whole "likes" and "followers" thing. But I'm not going to believe something that an unknown virtual source asserts based on how many likes or re-tweets they have.

Neither do I. But having or seeming to have a lot of followers works like a megaphone, amplifying your message to people who already think in the same direction, or were disillusioned in earlier ways of seeing a subject, and go to an extreme opposite.

For instance: the Democratic party choosing Hilary Clinton for a candidate for instance. In my case, when I went from the majority opinion on nuclear power to the minority opinion (in NL that is), I could have been convinced that the environmental movement is more a front for the fossil fuel industry (because by and large they tend to spread just the bad news without many tales of success to keep people inspired to do something, and because they keep doing their best blocking an important alternative) than an honest movement dedicated to making the earth a better place. I do think they have some major blind spots, but their ideals are sincere.


Now, someone on this list who I've developed some familiarity with over the years can cause me to alter my thinking on a subject with an argument that I respect. But even then, the specific argument has to be persuasive. It's not enough that "I usually agree with X, so whatever X says must be true."

There are many for whom it counts for as much where a message comes from, as what the message is. That can be both for a positive and a negative reception. If I hear Wilders say something, I tend to dismiss or discount it, when another politician says the same, I probably think it over a bit before accepting or dismissing it.
For my partner it's the other way round.

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

There are many for whom it counts for as much where a message comes from, as what the message is. That can be both for a positive and a negative reception. If I hear Wilders say something, I tend to dismiss or discount it, when another politician says the same, I probably think it over a bit before accepting or dismissing it.
For my partner it's the other way round.


Yes, there are some sources you just learn to distrust so much that their words are meaningless. That doesn't mean they're always wrong--just that their assertions don't convince you one way or another. And that despite the fact that any specific utterance might be true, the signal-to-noise ratio from them is so low that it's not worth your time or effort doing the fact-checking.

As to the rest of that--the megaphone effect--to me, that speaks to something Geordi explained to Data on an episode of Star Trek:TNG about how humans don't always have sufficient factual information to paint a full picture, so we have to fill in the gaps with our gut feelings. A person's reputation might make them more (or less) credible to fill in a gap in your personal knowledge. Knowing that the "reputation" might be faked by 'bots is a kind of antidote to that.

In any case, if the person says something that is obviously, factually incorrect, then reputation isn't enough to overtake that. Or shouldn't be.

Anonymous said...


1294/5000
The strong earthquakes of yesterday did not kill anyone. But unfortunately, we have stupid politicians in Mexico. The politicians of the Interior, decided to take a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter through the areas most affected by the earthquake, and apparently the pilot of the helicopter (probably the son of a politician) lost control of the aircraft and fell on 13 people . Among the dead, there are 5 women, 4 men, 2 girls, 1 child and another person who died in the Hospital.
That is, the equivalent of a school massacre.
And speaking of massacres. I regret what happened in the shooting at a school in the United States. I can not believe the infinite lack of shame of Donald Trump, who went to visit the relatives of the victims being he the guilty of that situation. As president, he was able to take timely measures to avoid that tragedy; but instead, he decided to facilitate the sale of weapons even more. I imagine the relatives of the victims, fighting inside, to control themselves and not insult and hit the clown. It reminds me of the scene where Pálpatin arrives in Naboo to live with the survivors of the massacre on the planet that Pálpatin secretly attacked with droids. The difference is that in this case, the victims know who is the culprit ... or not?

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Ultimately, ownership is a societal construct.

Nah. DEFENSE of ownership is a societal construct. What is permitted in defending my claims is definitely in the social realm even when I try to keep it at the individual level. My claims are not social until I ask for help defending them or step over an ethical line in their defense.

Here is an example. I claim I own Sirius B. Do you care? Do I have to defend my claim? I don't claim much of the space near it. I'll restrict my territorial defense to within 1 km of its surface. Does that help? [You should be rolling your eyes at this point.] 8)

My claim is the very thing I sell in a market. The value of the claim, however, depends on the societal constructs in which it is embedded because defense can be costly. You'll see this in the housing market. Low rent districts ARE low rent partially due to poor defense constructs. Since the best defense is one no one ever has to use (switching us from a negative sum to a positive sum game), it is important to describe 'what is' very carefully.

Anonymous said...

David Brin:
David, are you going to travel to Russia? Ask yourself: Is it really necessary?
We have criticized the Russians before. And we all know how the Russians respond to criticism. But it is your decision certainly.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | Ultimately, ownership is a societal construct.

Nah. DEFENSE of ownership is a societal construct.


I think we're arguing a distinction without a difference. What constitutes ownership in any meaningful way is a social construct.

Consider slavery. No matter how strongly we assert self-ownership as a natural right, slaves in the old south had no way of making use of their ownership of their own bodies because the prevailing society not only refused to recognize that right, but recognized someone else's ownership of them. People these days can quibble over whether masters technically "owned" their slaves or if they only immorally appropriated use of the slaves' bodies, but I don't see much to be gained by the argument over semantics.

LarryHart said...

@Winter7,

I think (hope) that our host has enough sense to stay clear of upper-storey windows, and that his poison-sniffer is set for sensitivity to polonium.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:

The greatest danger is in the streets and, above all, in the transit stations of buses and airports.
I remember that the KGB injected the toxic capsules with umbrellas. So if it's not raining, and someone nearby has an umbrella ...

Since David is going to Russia. He could talk to the poorest people, to find out what problems they really have. Usually, the poorest are those who are crushed by the tyrannies and their words are usually true, because the workers and peasants are simple people who do not know about the Machiavellian issues in which the "noble" class usually gets entangled.

* In Russia, the "noble" class is the mafia; KGB; and those who benefit directly from corruption, either directly; by kinship or by direct servitude.

Winter7

David Brin said...

“to me, a spouse doesn't inherit her partner's property upon the partner's death, but merely maintains ownership of property that they formerly owned in common.”

Of course this can lead to a chain, with each surviving spouse marrying someone 20 years younger and so on, ad infinitum.

I think a rich guy should have to gift most inheritance while he’s alive. What justifies ownership is:

1) Business acumen that enabled a person to “acquire” has some correlation with ability to manage that acquired asset productively, and care enough to act to preserve it.

2) Competitive enterprise correlates - somewhat - with having property acquisition serve as an incentive to engage in creative, or risky, or productive activity.

3) An individual who has delivered goods/services/creativity/ or strong management has earned some peace of mind, knowing that his/her heirs will be in decent shape. This is, of course, exaggerated out of all reasonable proportion by feudal/lordly-reinforced reproductive drives that inflated absurdly across at least 10,000 years. Still, there’s a core that is justifiable as a reward for enterprise.

4) Assuming limits are set - there should be! - on inheritance by relatives, then there is an argument for correlation between a creative/producing self-made rich person’s market acquisitions and being entrusted with choosing what socially beneficial “foundation” to devote the vast majority to, with that choice - plus naming-rights/immortality - being the biggest reward.

None of these justifications supports the unrestricted inheritance that oligarchs want. But these 4 do suggest that an intermediate/modest level of incentive/reward acquisition makes sense.

David Brin said...

Guys let's cease all disparaging remarks about my destination in travels, next month.

And my time will largely be spent with science fiction geeks, so....

Treebeard said...

LOL, some of you obviously watch too much CNN and MSNBC. You are in no danger in Moscow; it's certainly safer than any large American city. It's a fun place, you will probably have a great time. Remember, if you get in trouble with the police just have some dollars handy. It solves every problem--no paperwork, no records, no fuss. I found it a lot more efficient that America's ridiculously bureaucratic system. And whatever you do, avoid the Russian bureaucracy; you will go around in circles and get nothing done. I once spent two days trying to get some computers through customs, being shuffled between desks where everyone was on a smoke break, until I finally figured out that they just wanted cash, and then everything sailed through right away.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

“to me, a spouse doesn't inherit her partner's property upon the partner's death, but merely maintains ownership of property that they formerly owned in common.”

Of course this can lead to a chain, with each surviving spouse marrying someone 20 years younger and so on, ad infinitum.


But strangely enough, that's not what usually happens.

You're spotting a possible failure mode, but I don't know how much effort is required to solve a problem that doesn't typically occur.

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ: I concede your ownership of Sirius B. What, may I ask, would you charge for a mere cubic foot of it, delivered of course?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: "Calling it a new form of light is a stretch."

Unfortunately, the article was quite poorly written. Something about getting photons to bounce off one another.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Of course this can lead to a chain, with each surviving spouse marrying someone 20 years younger and so on, ad infinitum."

Some societies have used that very model for permanent marriages. Patrilineal and matrilineal. In fact, Heinlein used it in "Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

Tim H. said...

Read something interesting, a GOP campaign contributor has said gun control will open his checkbook in the future:

http://postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com/tag/al-hoffman/

They learn!

Anonymous said...

Tim H:

Possibly the Republican leaders are only making empty promises. Or perhaps they will only do something symbolic that will not actually reduce the sale of weapons.
The heart of the Republican leaders is harder and smaller than the Grinch who stole Christmas. ¡Haaa! ¡I just realized that Donald Trump is identical to Grinch!

Winter7

Anonymous said...


Good news for everyone. but, probably, the medicine will appear in many years:

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-02-successfully-reverse-alzheimer-disease-mouse.html?utm_source=tabs&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=story-tabs

Winter7

David Brin said...


So we bribe our way out of little troubles, and that’s a goood thing. And when the the drunk spoiled brat son of an aristocrat runs down several children, his bribes to get let off are much bigger! Yay! And if the parents of the kids still make a fuss, bribe to have them arrested. Even better.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

The heart of the Republican leaders is harder and smaller than the Grinch who stole Christmas. ¡Haaa! ¡I just realized that Donald Trump is identical to Grinch!


During the Christmas season in 2016, after Trump was president-elect but before he was actually inaugurated, it was still possible to believe he was going to do a "pivot" and at least try to act more conciliatory and presidential. A line of misquoted narrative that kept going through my head at the time was:


And what happened then? Well in Who-ville, they say
That the Trumpster's small hands grew three sizes that day.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

Our sapling is simply illustrating what it means to be a self-servative. He couldn't care less about consequences to anyone else but himself. As far as safety on the streets of Moscow goes, there is a difference. They don't let any loony own a gun. In one of Richard Dawkins' book (can't recall at the moment which one) he points out that if you live in a big European city like London and move to a Canadian city like Toronto your chance of being murdered goes up but a factor of ten. Cross the border to Detroit and your chance of being murdered goes up by a factor of ten again.

Paul SB said...

On the subject of the Grinch, I did a Weird Al version of the original Dr. Seuss just for laughs a while back. Some of the original words were too good to change, but hopefully what I came up with will garner a chuckle or two. It will help to read it out loud, or better yet, sing it in the deepest tones you can manage.

YOU'RE A MEAN ONE, MR. TRUMP
You're a mean one, Mr. Trump
You really are a heel
You're as cuddly as a cactus, as charming as a tax cut for the rich, Mr. Trump
You're a bad banana with a greasy hair piece!

You're a monster, Mr. Trump
Your heart's an empty hole
Your brain is full of Fake News, you have the mafia in your soul, Mr. Trump
I wouldn't touch you with a nationalistic Pole!

You're a foul one, Mr. Trump
You have swastikas in your smile
You have the tender sweetness of a KKK Grand Wizard, Mr. Trump
Given a choice between the two of you I'd take the Grand Wizard!

You're a vile one, Mr. Trump
You're a nasty woman grabber
Your heart is full of locker room talk and locker room action, Mr. Trump
The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote
"Molester, thief and liar"!

You're a rotter, Mr. Trump
You're the king of corporate snots
You give toxic managers the highest government spots, Mr. Trump
Your policy is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful
Assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots!

You nauseate me, Mr. Trump
I would gladly go on unemployment if you’re the boss.
You're a crooked dirty cheater and your economics is just dross, Mr. Trump
You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

TCB said...

>You're a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

Bravo, Paul SB, both for the lyric and the new off-menu McDonalds option.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:
Jaaa, jaaaa. Ja. Yes. I understand that a scientific study showed that Donald Trump has small hands, which, it is known, is a sign that another certain appendage of Donald's body is very tiny. Perhaps, because of that, Donald tries to compensate the small size of the "Mushroom" with a tyrannical attitude.
This is the link to scientific study:
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/08/donald-trump-hand-size

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Paul SB:
Hoooo. ¡Glorious and sublime song !. I would like to hear people singing that song in the streets. I hope that song becomes popular on YouTube. That would be convenient, to awaken people who do not know what is happening, because currently, most people in the world do not understand that Donald Trump is an imminent danger to freedom and democracy.
If that song becomes popular on YouTube before the next election in the United States, then Democrats can get many more votes and it will be more difficult for Republicans to hide fraud with vote counting machines.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

A woman tried to cure an autistic girl with chlorine and hydrochloric acid in a glass of water. Because someone on Facebook said that this brew cures autism. How dangerous it is to believe that rumors are medical data!
This is the link to the news:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/02/14/mom-accused-of-feeding-child-bleach-in-an-effort-to-cure-autism/?utm_term=.01e1972d73b0

Winter7

locumranch said...


As evidenced by the incessantly emotional anti-gun propaganda being aired by NPR & the MSM since the recent Florida School shooting, Dr. Brin's comments about the "Tribal echo chambers" are indisputable, so much so that Hysterical Left does not even pretend to be rational anymore.

Yes, most certainly, the West must move to protect our most defenceless citizens in a rational manner, but the Left's only solution to defending the defenceless is to eliminate guns, a tactic that only serves to make our 'most defenceless citizens' ever more defenceless.

Imagine if we took a similar approach to Rape & sundry 'Violences Against Women' by passing a law that made Female Self-Defence (women arming & protecting themselves) a CRIME -- the outcry would be immediate & immense -- yet this is the exact same western progressive argument that has made our schoolchildren as vulnerable as 'fish in a barrel'.

Of course, it is this very unreasonable & emotional hysteria that prevents the recognition of the metaphorical 'Elephant in the Room', aka the ongoing demonisation & disenfranchisement of western males as 'deplorable', which has lead to this sad state of affairs.

Where'd you think these marginalized ticking time bombs were gonna go?

We throw our ill-behaved males out on the streets (as if they were trash) without employment, food, housing, medical care or any hope for the future, while our ill-behaved females get a lifetime of social support, free food, free housing, free medical care and financial stipends (to pay for phones, travel & education) just by pooping out a baby that they can't support on their own.

Said Homer Simpson, the Western Everyman: "Where's MY Noble Prize?"

Pay your deplorables now or they will extract their payment from you later.


Best
_____

Let's celebrate the US 'Greatest Generation' some more, by all means, by bringing back their preference for gunboat diplomacy, personal responsibility, traditional gender roles, racial segregation, the criminalization of homosexuality and discrimination against all minorities.

Lloyd Flack said...

Locum, The weapons that most want out of civilian hands are the ones that certain groups claim that they want as preparation for a possible civil war. These are the guns capable of sustained rapid fire. And these are the ones most suited for massacres.
A lot question many other guns, in fact the whole idea of guns for self-defence. But it is the near military type weapons that most definitely want to go.

Paul SB said...

TCB,

The last line about the sandwich was in the original, so I can't take credit for that.

Luis,
There is no way I am going to sing this, record it and put it up on Youtube, though I will gladly give permission to anyone else who wants to. I'm a wee bit on the camera shy side, have a terrible singing voice (though I can hit some of the pretty deep notes the original singer used), and frankly it's not terribly substantive. It's funny on a grade-school level. But if you know anyone who would like to youtube it, be my guest. It's good for the entertainment value, at least.

Paul SB said...

Lloyd,

An interesting recent phenomenon is that as violent crime continues to drop all over the country, NRA propaganda continues to multiply. Facts are not wanted, apparently, only vitriol.

David Brin said...

Only one problem, it is an absolute, pure, deliberate and complete lie that liberals seek elimination of guns or gun rights. Since W was elected president, countless liberals have quietly and moderately and carefully and discreetly armed themselves.

It's not just that it is a lie. The lie is bald-faced, and purely knowing and deliberate. It is not based upon misunderstanding or interpretation. The falsehood is known, self-aware and utterly, utterly deliberately a lie.

He who said it is a liar. Looking in the mirror, he knows himself to be a liar, deserving of no credibility. He... is.... a liar.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

As Hannibal Lecter said of Buffalo Bill, "His essential nature is, he covets."

Likewise, the poster to whom you refer. His essential nature is, he lies.

David Brin said...

No. His essential nature is fear. Which neuroscience shows to be fundamentally more intense among conservative, along with an accompanying emotion of disgust.

As I have explained elsewhere, fear leads to contracted horizons of perceived threat, opportunity, exogamy, inclusion, and tribal boundaries. Seeing those around them - especially those who know much more and are smarter - shrug off those intensely felt boundaries, the fearful experience intense panic and a need to clutch any justification, any weapon.

Lying is a paramount tool. The fearful see any admission of error or partial fault - or partial right-ness on the opposing side - as a lethal weakness. The Liar in Chief cannot concede a point... essential to the Art of the Deal. Hence any evidence of error on his part is "fake."

FDR was right that our chief thing to fear is "fear itself." The Greatest Generation (who adored him) took on their fears again and again. They's be ashamed of confederate quislings.

David Brin said...


No wonder he wages war on science. Now it’s verified. Trump’s hand length of 7.25 inches hovers around the 25th percentile of hand length among military men. A meta-analysis of studies from the Georgia Tech Research Institute places Trump’s hands below the 50th percentile. And the 1988 Anthropomorphic Survey of U.S. Personnel, used frequently by the Ergonomic Center of North Carolina, places Trump’s hands at the 15th percentile. Trump is, medically speaking, short-fingered. Where did they get the data? Madame Tussauds - the famed waxworks museum - had measured Trump for a life-sized sculpture, which was removed from their New York City location in 2011. But Trump’s handprint itself, which was cast in bronze, has for the entirety of the presidential election been displayed prominently in front of the Tussauds museum in Times Square.
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/08/donald-trump-hand-size

Had he simply shrugged and laughed about this, it all would have blown over long ago, especially given hi 6’2” height. Alas, vanity is his un-doing. The firing of FBI Director Comey is said to have derived in part from Comey’s towering height. Trump’s recent height inflation to 6’3 in the medical report was enough to let his down-reported weight – 239 pounds – fall 1 lb below “obese.” Had any of this been done by any democratic politician, it would be an endless scandal… as with the news items pouring from the House of Two Scoops, almost daily.

But that’s the point! The news cycle is so rapid that – in the words of Trevor Noah – “We ain’t got time for that.” At least the 40% of Americans enslaved by Rupert Murdoch don’t.

TCB said...

That's why I was banging on about Altemeyer's book on Authoritarians. The nucleus of the authoritarian attitude, he reports, is the meme that "It's a dangerous world."

And if someone does hold strongly to this view, to them it's the most obvious thing in the world. "Of COURSE it's a dangerous world. What about all the rapists and serial killers and Al Qaeda and etc. etc. etc..." Ex-comedian Dennis Miller was a splendid specimen of this. "After 9/11 it suddenly became clear to me: there are people out there who want to kill us!"

In reality, however, life kills everybody within a century or so. Thinking "it's a dangerous world" is a choice. We also have the option of saying "It's a beautiful, generous, magical world, and we get to be in it for a while." We all have to leave it, and we don't always get to leave it in a pleasant way. But when we make that choice, of which way we will see and act in the world, we make a real choice about how beautiful or how ugly it will be while we are in it.

Those who see the world as an arena of ugliness and cruelty act it out. From fear, they will actively seek out beauty, generosity, and magic, and stamp, crush and burn them out. Drill, baby, drill! Ready, aim, fire! I'm not a fascist, you are if you try to stop me! If it's not nailed down, it's mine, and if I can pry it loose it's not nailed down! We must kill the terrorists and their families and anyone who criticizes us for it!

Or we can see the world as a playground, and a place to create joy.

Paul SB said...

... political orientation about social issues reflects sensitivity to visceral disgust and strategies for coping with such disgust. In addition, conservatives are more likely to think that disgust is a good metric for deciding if something is moral. Which recalls leon Kass, the bioethicist with ice-cream licking issues. He headed George W. Bush's bioethics panel, one that, thanks to Kass's antiabortion ideology, greatly restricted embryonic stem cell research. Kiss has argued for what he calls "the wisdom of repugnance," where disgust at something like human cloning can be "the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond wisdom's power to completely articulate it." The visceral level, with or without post hoc rationalization, is all you need in order to know what's right. If it makes you puke, then you must rebuke.
The monumental flaw is obvious. Different things disgust different people; whose gag reflex wins? Moreover, things once viewed as disgusting are viewed differently now (e.g., the idea of slaves having the same rights as whites would probably have struck most white Americans circa 1800 as not just economically unworkable but disgusting as well). It's disgusting, the things people weren't disgusted by in the past. Disgust is a moving target.
Robert Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst 2017, p.454

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

It's disgusting, the things people weren't disgusted by in the past. Disgust is a moving target.


My grandmother would have been horrified at the thought of sharing a house with a cat. My mom is ok with pets (more of a dog person, though), but would find it disgusting that my wife and I use the same dishes to feed the cats and ourselves (not at the same time).

When I had a newborn baby in the house, I was amazed at the number of things that suddenly didn't disgust me. Or maybe more accurately, things that I didn't have time to be disgusted by.

David Brin said...

" Ex-comedian Dennis Miller was a splendid specimen of this. "After 9/11 it suddenly became clear to me: there are people out there who want to kill us!""

So? "They" don't so much "hate our freedom" as they hate our confidence. And shrieking terrified hand-wringing over a "threat" that killed fewer Americans - averaged across a decade - than lighting and amusement park rides is not the reaction of a confident people. Our WORST day of terrorism killed as many Americans as died in ANY week of WWII. The sum total who died in all terror attacks plus military responses might total a month of WWII. Maybe two.

New Yorkers stood atop the rubble, in 2001, faced east, and sneered "Iz DAT all you got?"

Fear is the mind-killer, teaches Frank Herbert. Yep.

Anonymous said...

¡Hooo! Now I just found out that the secretary of defense; James Mattis; he does not know how the war will change the arrival of the AI. ¡He does not know! ...
I wonder if that is good or bad ... (¡Haaa, I know!)

This is the link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-artificial-intelligence-poses-nature-war.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

The previous translation is wrong. I wanted to say that: James Mattis said that he does not know how the AIs are going to change the wars. ¡He does not know! ... I wonder if that is good or bad ... (Ha, I know) (Well, it seems that the translation is already better)
This is the link:

Winter7

Paul SB said...

TCB,

This is exactly what I was saying when I asked about the self-fulfilling prophecy. As long as they let themselves be ruled by fear, they will teach their paranoia to their children and their neighborhoods, and they will act as if everyone is out to get them, treating everyone else with suspicion. And how would you expect people to act if you treat them with such distrust? Sure as hell not in a trustworthy manner.

Thanks for the tunes! It was quite nice. Now I have another musician to keep an ear out for.

Larry,

Disgust is a pretty visceral phenomenon that serves to help keep us alive, by gagging up bad food no matter how hungry we are, so we don't die of food poisoning. The fact that symbolic disgust uses the same circuitry and neurotransmitters just shows how evolution operates, by modifying or expanding the range of pre-existing systems. That makes it a powerful feeling, but like all powerful feelings it normally gets weaker the older you get (via natural receptor down-regulation). The teens I taught were often disgusted by things that I just shrug my shoulders at and deal with. Anyone who has raised a baby just comes to accept the smell of poo, though that does not mean they can override the gag reflex and eat the stuff - something dogs do quite readily. Different wiring.

But don't discount disgust as a useful feeling. Many of us are quite disgusted by all those troglodytes who want to blast us back into the Dark Ages. Callousness, paranoia and being excessively self-serving are the traits that arise from letting your disgust be channeled into xenophobia and paranoia (and yes, the part of the brain most associated with disgust - the cingulate cortex - is directly connected to the fearful and angry amygdala). It should be obvious how context-dependent these visceral reactions are, when one block of humans feels revulsion at the thought of government power but think that the power of big business is wonderful and always perfectly honest, while another block sees it the other way around.

Anonymous said...

An important note about what was attempted with the inheritance tax and why the attempted change was orders of magnitude worse than the period of time under Bush when there was no estate tax.

Before the modern estate tax was introduced, in general, heirs did not have to pay tax on the basis of any inherited assets. They did, however, have to pay capital gains tax on any appreciated asset just as with any change of ownership. Grandma owned $10 million in AT&T which she bequeaths to you. IF she sold it while alive and give you the cash, she'd pay capital gains. Now that she's dead, there's no inheritance tax, but you need to pay the capital gains tax due. Try to locate those records so you can determine if you pay taxes on a gain of $1 million, $5 million, or $9.9 million.

The modern inheritance tax was a simplification boon. It says, in exchange for paying a flat rate on your inheritance (setting aside the exclusion), we don't care what grandma paid for her assets, just what they are worth today.

For almost everyone, the inheritance tax was a tax break in addition to removing a paperwork nightmare. For those inheriting 8 figures it was a bit of a tax increase because the estate tax rate is higher than the capital gains tax rate.

Frankly, though, the only policy debate should be about the amount of exclusion and what the tax rate is. Going back to the days of an heir trying to determine the basis of the assets they inherit is a nightmare.

Indeed, during the time the Bush repeal was in place it was a nightmare for all but a few. Which is why, the proposed Trump repeal not only removed the inheritance tax it included a basis step up removing all capital gains!

Grandma dies and not only do you not have to pay any taxes, but the basis of the asset gets completely reset so no one has had to pay any tax on the capital increase over a lifetime.

That would have taken an entire slice of equity, etc. and put it into a class to be hoarded unproductively and excluded from any form of taxation EVER along the lines of a modern day seigneurie privilege.

TCB said...

Dr. Brin hath said: "New Yorkers stood atop the rubble, in 2001, faced east, and sneered "Iz DAT all you got?""

Exactly so, and if y'all have never seen The 25th Hour, you should. It is a "fuck you, I love you" to New York, right after 9/11, and it's more American than America.

David Brin said...

Winter7 that’s not fair to Gen. Mattis. Do YOU know how AI will change war? The Officer Corps is deeply interested They ask me about it. That shows they are concerned.

The first few days of a baby’s poop are actually sweet smelling. I think in part to help the bonding process. After which… they stink away! Because we are … well… enthralled. But look up the etymology of that word!

Tony Fisk said...

The AI discussion reminds me of the recent video of a Boston dynamics "doggai" opening a door. It wasn't the AI implications I found unsettling so much as the similarity to a scene in a well known Spielberg movie.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

The first few days of a baby’s poop are actually sweet smelling.


I wasn't just talking about the smell of poo. The first time she threw up all over me, I expected to be completely grossed out. Instead, my only concern was for her health and comfort. As I said before, I didn't have time to be disgusted.

TCB said...

The problem with military AI might be that it's TOO obedient.

Jon S. said...

I'm not concerned with military AI, because the military is usually pretty concerned with getting the proper target (and the exceptions tend to be individual, rather than systemic). Military AI may have the goal of controlling the world, but it'll be in the interest of its own country, rather than "humans are too dangerous" (to the military, "too dangerous" is a good thing).

Like our host, I'm more worried about those AI trading programs on Wall Street, programmed to maximize profit and have absolutely zero concern about collateral damage.

(As for the Boston Dynamics video, I also saw the followup to that, showing one of the robots slipping and falling, then righting itself, then proceeding into a kitchen, putting a glass into a dishwasher (with correct orientation!) and placing an aluminum can into the trash without crushing it. My first thought on seeing that wasn't "ROBOT APOCALYPSE!!!eleventy-one!!", but rather, "Hey, a useful household robot!")

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | distinction without a difference

You obviously aren’t a libertarian. 8)

My words were aimed at Rob H and his reasonable question about inheritance. As one libertarian to another, I tried to offer a justification based upon points on which we might already agree. If I were to make a similar effort for someone who is not a libertarian (like you), I’d start with customs and traditions and ask why inheritance exists in the first place. So… for libertarians, the argument starts from principle. For everyone else, it starts with tradition.

@Zepp Jamieson | the article was quite poorly written

All too common for science articles. I can’t complain too much, though, without someone pointing a finger of blame at me for not writing better ones. I know a few good science writers and it strikes me as a mostly thankless job.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | delivered of course

Heh. You have a particular trading market in mind for the futures contract?

On a serious note, my friends who advocate the opening of the space frontier have thought a lot about property rights for stuff out there. There is no doubt among us that collateralizing property helps when seeking funds. Where we have not-so-polite disagreements is whether it is a good idea to go extra-legal early in the game.

California mining claims were largely extra-legal in the early days when it was a US territory. There wasn’t enough legal ‘infrastructure’ in place to handle the ’49 gold rush. The extra-legal institutions eventually became legal when the voters forced the issue on the state legislature years later. In those early days, though, it was the DEFENSE of claims that was the most egregious.

I tend to take the side that we will need extra-legal means for celestial property because the US signed the OST. I’m of the opinion that the US acted way beyond it’s authority when it hinted that it could give away the rights of its citizens to own property out there. I have no issue with the US not claiming to be the sovereign granting title, but they are going to have to step aside when we start making defendable claims.

TCB said...

I guess I was so interested in whether I could get a 3500 ton super-dense carbon-oxygen 9940 Kelvin plasma cube dumped in my yard that I didn't consider whether I should have a 3500 ton super-dense carbon-oxygen 9940 Kelvin plasma cube dumped in my yard.

Anonymous said...

So, James Mattis is an honorable person. All right. I usually distrust the people who are chosen by Donald Trump for a position of importance. But if you say that James Mattis has nothing to do with Donald, then he is honorable.
If the army asked you about AI, I hope they accept your suggestions, to prevent the Russians from overtaking NATO in the area of AI robots of war. For it is clear that the AI robots of the Russians will have no doubts or compassion. (and as you already know, the Russians are already building war robots)
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/we-not-creating-terminator-russia-10237755

https://warisboring.com/russia-presses-ahead-with-armed-military-robots/

Winter7

occam's comic said...

Last week broke the camels back for me.
I am sick and tiered of the damn gun nuts preventing sensible gun control.

I am now an advocate of repealing the second amendment.

We have tried being reasonable with these a-holes now its time to take their guns away.

And yes Locum, we want to take their guns (and yours) away because it is effective!

Treebeard said...

I would suggest that if the USA wants to discourage school shootings and terrorist attacks, its leaders should set the example and stop bombing countries into rubble in the name of freedom, the American Way, etc. Clinton condemned the Columbine shooting on the day the Serbian bombing was announced. Bush, Obama and Trump have continued to destroy countries and denounce violence in a similar vein. I guess this is the nature of a monster: it is bigger, stronger and has new powers the other beasts haven't seen, but it also has innovative, ahistorical new pathologies and an inability to look in the mirror and realize that it is not necessarily the best thing that ever walked the earth, the next step in evolution, better than every other beast *combined*, but a monster.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I agree the US should "stop bombing countries into rubble in the name of freedom, the American Way, etc." But to equate it to the domestic terrorism of the gun nuts is utter lunacy; When it came to vicious world-wide subjugation, England is probably still the champion, but the one time some loon decided to shoot up a school happened, England promptly tightened their gun laws, and it stopped happening. Australians routinely elect viciously racist and xenophobic regimes, but again, when one of their resident nuts shot up a school, they changed their gun laws, and it hasn't happened since.
Americans are the only country where a sizeable percentage look for excuses to go on murdering their children.

Treebeard said...

Zepp, I guess it's all part of American exceptionalism. Actually England doesn't do much of that anymore, do they? The question is why do so many young American men want to shoot up schools? Is it Russian mind control? Nazis under the bed? Or maybe young men without fathers, bombarded by hostile PC propaganda, told their masculinity is toxic, they are "viciously racist and xenophobic", and generally immersed in a sick culture that violates every sane human tradition, are unconsciously sending a message that the gatekeepers of this culture don't want to hear? I don't know, it's just a theory. But if the only message people get from this is "we must ban guns and vote for Democrats", then when the problem doesn't go away, and men start running over people with trucks or attacking them with knives (see England, France, etc.), what's the problem now? And anyway, if we're not experiencing World War II levels of body counts, then who really cares, right?

Dave 3.0 said...

The invisible machine is intriguing. Does it have a soul, does it have compassion or empathy, the ability to sympathize with human beings? I do not think so - it did not evolve that way. Instead, it is evolving to exterminate human beings, or rather accelerate our own self-destruction. It has interest in advancing profits, a lust for money ("the love of money is the root of all evil") and nothing more. Gun sales explode whenever the fear program triggers people into stockpiling at any media mention of gun control or regulation of any kind. Mass shootings are basically a form of advertisement. Violence against humans, in general, is profitable. So, internationally and domestically, the System we have developed has a vested interest and demonstrated ability to get humans to kill one another.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Heh. I was digging through my old essays for a piece I wrote on gun control back in 1999, and came across this sig I used to really annoy right wingers on Usenet back at the turn of the century:

Liberals are fearless, confident of humanity, outgoing and optimistic because they believe most people are pretty much like themselves.

Conservatives are fearful, mistrusting, angry, bitter and afraid because they, too, believe most people are pretty much like themselves.

Anonymous said...

Zepp Jamieson:
Undoubtedly, it would be convenient to avoid that the psychopaths have access to firearms. Creating laws and procedures in that matter is vital.
But, there is another problem. If stricter laws are reached to limit the sale of weapons ... How to get rid of the millions and millions of weapons that hide and collect those of the extreme right? ¡They even have guns and antiaircraft artillery! ¡Even, they have tanks! ¡They boast powerful weapons in videos on YouTube! ¡Imagine the day when the teenage son, the owner of the artillery fight and get angry with a neighbor!

Winter7

Paul SB said...

This is interesting:

"stop bombing countries into rubble in the name of freedom, the American Way, etc."

How very Liberal of you, Treebeard! Liberals have been saying this since Vietnam. You are definitely learning from Locum how to take the things your team does and blame them on the other team. But don't grace your random speculation with the appellation "theory." Nothing gets the name "theory" until their is proof to support it, and all you have is a disgruntled demeanor.

You have also well learned how to straw-man like Locum. I have met a couple radical feminists who claim that masculinity is toxic and all men are vicious and xenophobic, but I'm almost fifty years old, I don't think those two characterize over 30% of the American people. And don't assume that getting away from our traditions is to blame. Our traditions produce exactly the situation that drive people to madness. Returning to the "old ways" or rape and pillage, with a tiny handful of nobles expending the lives of their charges with impunity to glorify themselves as great conquerors is not going to make things any better.

If you want to know why young people go out of their minds and start shooting, or for that matter why old people do, you need to start with some comprehension of what human nature actually is, and how our civilization mismatches that nature in some devastating ways. Nothing to do with Liberal PC propaganda, which is no more voluminous than Conservative PC propaganda. Since you obviously don't know what the fuck you are talking about, perhaps it would be better if you spent some time listening.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Treebeard asked, "why do so many young American men want to shoot up schools?"

A big part of it is the toxic attitude toward guns that society has. Due to the endless propaganda of the gun lobby, a lot of Americans believe they have an unfettered right to all the guns they can buy, and can carry them anywhere; church, school, the local bar, everywhere except state houses and Congress where they might shoot the Wrong People. Note that the Second Amendment doesn't mention guns: it says "arms" which would include knives, brass knuckles, socks with ball bearings, bicycle chains, bazookas, sidewinder missiles, and nuclear weapons--all of which are severely restricted and controlled.

Paul SB said...

Dave 3.0,

Oddly enough I just came across this quote last night:

I guess if people couldn't profit from war I don't think there would be war.
- Lily Tomlin

Just replace the word "war" with "guns" and you would have it. This kind of points to how the world has changed since all these old fart conservatives were in their cradles. As Luis points out, there are a lot of loonies out there with very few critical thinking skills and a whole lot of munitions.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Winter7: I mentioned upthread that one answer was to take the Second Amendment literally, and make gun owners subject to military discipline. Mandated training, say six weekends a year, any crime involving a gun subject to military justice, get rid of your guns or sign up.

Paul SB said...

Zepp, I don't recall any restrictions on owning bicycle chains or filling socks with ball bearings. : / ?

But we all know what you mean. It's only the ones who are endowed with oversized amygdalae who disagree. Unfortunately history has shown that a vocal and well-armed minority is quite capable of taking over. Ollie Cromwell makes a good example.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@TCB: On the plus side, it would keep the kids off your lawn.

Zepp Jamieson said...

It can vary from state to state and town to town, but in most communities if the cops found you walking around with either item without a good excuse, they would haul you in for possession of gang weaponry or some such.

Treebeard said...

Paul, I totally agree about the mismatch of human nature and civilization. Tribal collectivism is more in line with human nature than individualistic capitalism, and America, taking the latter to an unprecedented extreme, displays unprecedented pathologies. And our human nature, expressed on a larger scale, becomes something like...wait for it...Nationalist Socialism. Yes, it's true, human beings are basically Nazis!

john fremont said...

@Zepp Jamieson

A libertarrian, Dave Kopel, attempted to answer this question of what types of weaponry could fit in with the original intent of the Second Amendment

...Twenty-first century jurisprudence might update the civilized-warfare test by changing the focus from the military to the police. The modern American police, especially at the federal level, resemble in many regards the standing army that so concerned the founders. While the American army is geared toward overseas warfare, the police are oriented toward the type of internal-order functions (e.g., suppression of riots), which were among traditional militia duties. Accordingly, the twenty-first century question, "What are suitable militia-type arms?" might be answered, "Arms that are typical of, or suitable for, police duty." By the modernized test, high-quality handguns (both revolvers and semiautomatics) would lie at the core. Smaller, less expensive handguns (frequently carried by police officers as back-up weapons, often in ankle holsters) would also pass the test easily. Ordinary shotguns and rifles (often carried in patrol cars) would also be protected. Machine guns and other weapons of war are not currently ordinary police equipment, although they are becoming common in special attack units.

I don't agree with all of the article in that the Militia "when called into Service was not only for suppressing insurrection and executiing laws of the union but also repelling invasion. In modern warfare and in light of original intent, this means fighting the enemies air assets, so why can't I own man portable surface to air missiles like a Stinger. He never explains how that came to be.

http://www.davekopel.com/NRO/2001/Right-to-Bear-Some-Arms.html

locumranch said...


Progressives fail to learn from the mistakes of the past. They argue that defencelessness is some sort of defence, in & of itself, much in the same way that the disarmed, inoffensive & harmless denizens of the WW2-era Warsaw Ghettos imagined that their very helpless meekness would some somehow protect them against the predations of a more aggressive tribe.

In our attempt to protect our children from harsh realities, we now offer them up as sacrificial lambs, proof positive that we love our progressive ideals of non-violence, diversity & inclusion more than we love the flesh of our flesh, resulting in a perverse Virtue-a-thon wherein grieving parents repackage their children's senseless deaths as something good & HEROIC.

It's absolutely sickening, this modern western Children's Crusade !! We fail to defend our children -- even though we could ensconce them in hardened & well-armed bunkers -- only to celebrate their SACRIFICE to the inclusivity gods .

How long until we march them into ovens while singing Hosannas about their helpless passivity?? O, what a good boy or girl you are, to die so righteously for our virtuous beliefs !! With your visage we shall disarm the world until all of our children are just like you.


Best

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Due to the endless propaganda of the gun lobby, a lot of Americans believe they have an unfettered right to all the guns they can buy, and can carry them anywhere; church, school, the local bar, everywhere except state houses and Congress where they might shoot the Wrong People.


Also, except for NRA meetings, at which guns are not allowed. Seriously!


Note that the Second Amendment doesn't mention guns: it says "arms" which would include knives, brass knuckles, socks with ball bearings, bicycle chains, bazookas, sidewinder missiles, and nuclear weapons--all of which are severely restricted and controlled.


I've been singing that song for years. The fact that everyone seems to think firearms are in a separate, protected category shows how much this issue really is about the NRA.

Duncan Cairncross said...

The original "Intent" was that the slave states would always be able to have armed State Militias to keep the slaves in order

By having the Second Amendment - to avoid a "Police State" you have created that "Police State" where your police are permitted to gun down any citizen if they "feel afraid" and the courts have backed that up

the Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again!

David Brin said...

The ent’s first sally - while a counter-factual howl that ignores how violence and poverty and injustice have plummeted under Pax Americana - at least makes the chiding-useful assertion that aggressive international interventionism is problematic, at best.

Though it is absurd how he yowls about Clinton’s Balkan intervention, which efficiently and swiftly ended Europe’s last war and brought it its first peace in 4000 years while stopping genocide, and then the US pulled out swiftly… the style of Democratic Presidents…

… while he ignores the Republican approach - send in a gazillion ground troops to pound another country and leave it a destabilized mess for decades, filled with hate for us.



“Or maybe young men without fathers, bombarded by hostile PC propaganda, told their masculinity is toxic, they are "viciously racist and xenophobic", and generally immersed in a sick culture that violates every sane human tradition, are unconsciously sending a message that the gatekeepers of this culture don't want to hear?”

Pure and total insanity. A textbook case. Bullying and viciousness are way DOWN in this new generation. Hugely so. There have always been loonies. In China, knife wielders run amock daily and I mean daily. The only difference is that they are using just knives.

“But if the only message people get from this is "we must ban guns and vote for Democrats", then when the problem doesn't go away,”

Bullshit liar. Open liar. Deliberate liar. In the mirror knowing liar.

“and men start running over people with trucks or attacking them with knives”

The rates of occurrence have actually declined. It is the level of murder the loonies can accomplish, all by themselves. If armed with a knife or a bolt-riftle or pistol, they can be brought down by a heroic gym teacher. You jibbering-jibbering lunatics want it trivial for psychopaths to just go buy military assault guns with huge magazines. Gym teacher stands no chance.


Paul, again, I don’t think the NRA or gun lobby have anywhere near enough money to be responsible for this mess. They are trivial in magnitude. The reason why there’s no negotiation of reasonable compromises about guns is that egging on paranoia among rural white males requires wedge issues. Look at how both locum and the ent repeated assertions that they know to be utter, utter, deliberate and knowing lies. They… have… to… If it weren’t guns and “de-masculinization,” Rupert Murdoch would have the confeds screeching about something else. The War on Christmas. The color pink.


Oh, and I am writing all this (I type fast) for you guys. Not for them.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

I never mentioned the NRA. Larry and Zepp both did. I'm sure there's plenty of guilt to go around to a lot of places. Today I heard someone on the radio complaining that the very term "assault rifle" was made up by liberals, but one of the experts on the show explained that it was the gun industry itself that coined the name back in the '90s, when crime was much higher than it is today. It's funny how the memes get turned around by people who are convinced that they and their side are always right about everything. Another person emailed in the suggestion that "all you liberals" should go to a country that has gun control like North Korea of China. When I was growing up they always said go to Russia. But I doubt too many liberals have any desire to go to any of those places. If the guy has billions of dollars for air fare, though, I would gladly go to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, even Japan. You can just imagine what would happen to this country if one third of the population suddenly left. Chances are, the one third who aren't committed to this insanity would pack up and leave, too, leaving the idiots to cannibalize one another. Once they are all dead, we can come back and reclaim our nation from these paranoid, amygdala enhanced loonies.

Paul SB said...

Treebeard,

You need to look a bit deeper than old fantasy movies staring Arnie or directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Yes, tribalism is deep within the evolution of the human species. But so are frontal lobes. Humans can learn better and free themselves from the tyrannies of the past. They can expand their horizons to include more than just their immediate neighbors within their "tribe." And many have, including all life in their tribe, and this isn't anything new, either. How many of the world's religions strive for peace on Earth? Sure, they all think they have a monopoly on the Truth that will create peace, but they have usually been more interested in winning converts to their tribe than simply killing everyone else - though with some notable exceptions.

As usual, many of the regulars here pilot supertankers through the holes in your logic. I am not the only one here who shares the knowledge that girds logic, but you seem little inclined to pay much attention to anything that does not fit your pre-conceived notions.

locumranch said...


Since we're busy celebrating the random "heroic gym teacher", then why not arm said gym teachers properly with vests & guns?

O, how silly of me! Heroes are REQUIRED to sacrifice their lives through brave but ineffectual tactics -- as proposed by Michael Crichton in his 'Eaters of the Dead' -- because a heavily armed, effective gym and (above all) LIVING teacher would quality as an evil BULLY.

Heroes always have to die tragically because it's definitional. That's why dead victims are always portrayed as HEROES by the MSM and the living are most commonly portrayed as selfish cowards..


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr. Brin wrote: "Though it is absurd how he yowls about Clinton’s Balkan intervention, which efficiently and swiftly ended Europe’s last war and brought it its first peace in 4000 years while stopping genocide, and then the US pulled out swiftly… the style of Democratic Presidents…"

It's worth noting that the same night Bush pulled his ridiculous midnight run to Iraq to pull a photo-op with a plastic Thanksgiving turkey while troops sat and waited, bellies growling, for him to go away so they could eat their turkey MREs, Clinton flew in plain sight to Serejevo (sp) where he strolled about under the open skies to cheering crowds. He's a hero there to this day.

john fremont said...

@ Paul SB

Yes, I've been seeing the "liberals made up the term assault weapon" meme on my Facebook feed for a few days now. Then I show them this book from 1982 on Amazon and the subject changes really quick.

Guns & Ammo Assault Rifles - The New Breed of Sporting Arm Paperback – 1982

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Today I heard someone on the radio complaining that the very term "assault rifle" was made up by liberals, but one of the experts on the show explained that it was the gun industry itself that coined the name back in the '90s, when crime was much higher than it is today.


Reminds me of hearing (I think) Mitch McConnell on a tv interview denouncing the term "nuclear option" (for blowing up the filibuster) as a term Democrats use to make the practice sound less palatable, then doing his patented chuckle to slip in an admission that "even though it was [Republican] Trent Lott who first coined the term."

TCB said...

@Duncan Cairncross, who said "The original "Intent" [of the 2nd Amendment] was that the slave states would always be able to have armed State Militias to keep the slaves in order."

I thought so too, but have lately read that the documentary evidence of the 1780s does not bear this out. However, the reason that does have documentary support is almost as unsavory.

It seems the real reason for the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1787 was to put down, not black insurrections, but white ones, such as the Shays' Rebellion of the previous year.

As I understand it, the farmers who rose in that rebellion called themselves Regulators, and they were protesting against the typical city-slicker skulduggery: wealthy Boston businessmen and the gummint foreclosing family farms over debts and taxes demanded in hard currency (which the farmers tended not to have much of). They were put down by what amounted to a state (not federal) mercenary army. So when the framers of the Constitution added an amendment referring to a "well-regulated militia" they meant this as a dig at the Regulators. The modern National Guard is EXACTLY what was meant in the 2nd Amendment.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

So when the framers of the Constitution added an amendment referring to a "well-regulated militia" they meant this as a dig at the Regulators.


Do I sense the tonsorial wit of Hamilton in that one? Or am I just reading Lin-Manuel Miranda into the narrative?

TCB said...

I think that's exactly so, LarryHart.

David Brin said...

“why not arm said gym teachers properly with vests & guns?”

And why not make this states’ experimentation? YOU arm gym teachers. Stop trying to interfere when blue states make it hard for know lunatics to get assault rifles.

Care to make bets?

Guess which approach has a track record overseas and in canada?

LarryHart said...

Just watched Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir on the Olympic ice make me wish I were Canadian.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:
¿You mean the army must have a record of the weapons to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands; Or do you mean that people who are trained in the use of weapons will be more responsible?
I suppose that a training could be useful if it includes a strong load of moral advice and obligatory conferences that induce a desire to protect the weak and innocent. Well, ¿what harm could it cause to print with great force universal values of kindness and desire to protect?
And certainly many would require an extra powerful "awareness" treatment. And I mean teenagers addicted to video games of brutal massacres and murders, as is the case of those who play the videogame called "Grand Theft Auto San Andreas" (which I have never played, but I have seen what the game is about.) .
We must admit, that certain video games and movies burn emotions and ideas of revenge and hatred in the minds of children.
For example; the movie "The Silence of the Lambs" or "Red Dragon". ¿Are not those films a symphony that exalts the most brutal perversions?
Some videogames and movies are true courses in the art of being a brutal psychopath. But those video games and movies do not find opposition under the protective shield of the rights of expression.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Hooo. Sorry. I was wrong. My previous message was addressed to Zepp Jamieson; what did he say:
“Winter7: I mentioned upthread that one answer was to take the Second Amendment literally, and make gun owners subject to military discipline. Mandated training, say six weekends a year, any crime involving a gun subject to military justice, get rid of your guns or sign up.”

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | Heh. Sirius B is closer to 25,000 K near its surface. 9940K is for Sirius A.

No doubt the degenerate electrons would (once released from the high-g field) take care of the pesky kids on the lawn.

The atmosphere near the top is all hydrogen, though. If you want carbon and oxygen, we'd have to hit it pretty hard and catch fragments. 8)

(I've loved astronomy since I was six. There are SO many cool things to learn and scary ways to describe it.) 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Okay. I just finished ch #3 of The Authoritarians.
(I had to take off my rose colored glasses to get this far.)

The chapters themselves are enlightening and depressing at the same time.
The chapter notes are devastating. (They should not be skipped.)

It feels a bit like I'm reading a horror story. 8/

Twominds said...

@Alfred

I'm about as far in The Authoritarians as you are. I'm not going fast, very unusual. It's a rare book that I don't inhale.

I wonder, the author uses the term Right Wing Authoritarians for the ones that adhere to established authority, and Left Wing Authoritarians for revolutionary ones. I find the terms unpractical, there are cases enough of revolutionary authoritarians who then become established authoritarians. And where does that leave authoritarian Republicans? They behave like they're anti-government, but their party IS the government.
Till now, the distinction doesn't seem to add a lot.

The book could have been named: Portrait of a Closed Mind.

TCB said...

Yes, a horror story, agreed. It's like reading a description of a disease, when no cure has been found. But, as in the case of leukemia in the 19th Century, simply describing it accurately was a step forward.

As for Sirius B, by coincidence we have it here in Asheville already, in a safer form.

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

the author uses the term Right Wing Authoritarians for the ones that adhere to established authority, and Left Wing Authoritarians for revolutionary ones. I find the terms unpractical, there are cases enough of revolutionary authoritarians who then become established authoritarians. And where does that leave authoritarian Republicans?


I suspect the terminology is a holdover from the cold war era where the distinction was made between "our" authoritarians and "their" authoritarians (or as Jeanne Kirkpatrick put it, "authoritarians" vs "totalitarians", the first being acceptable and the second not so much).

There might also be an implicit distinction between Christian authoritarians (right wing--good) vs Atheist authoritarians (left wing--bad).

Or maybe it's as simple as distinguishing authoritarians who give us preferential deals on oil and minerals (right wing--1980s Saddam Hussein) vs those who give such deals with the French (left wing--2000s Saddam Hussein).

Paul SB said...

Luis,

The question of freedom of expression for individuals and the needs (really, the survival) of society is a tough nut to crack. I agree completely that many movies and video games send kids the wrong messages, and those messages seep into their psyches and make for some pretty monstrous people. It's even worse than you think. Several years ago I heard a radio show that was about children's books and TV programming that made a rather disturbing point. It wasn't saying anything about First Amendment rights at all, just about how stories influence young people. They gave the example of how one particular story was found to impact young children. It was from a popular series of kids' books called The Berenstain Bears (I'm not sure I spelled that right). In the story one of the brothers started doing very mean things to his little sister, but in the end was punished for it and apologized. Any adult, accustomed as we are to being preached at incessantly, would immediately make the connection between the behavior and the consequences. Young children often don't make those connections. Their less developed brains are like sponges, soaking up simple ideas. What 5- and 6-year old kids got from that book was all sorts of ideas for how to be mean to their younger siblings, even the very idea that being mean is an option, that they had never previously considered. So something that adults, operating off their simple "gut feelings" would assume is doing something good for children is really having the opposite effect. This is why we need to do the science instead of trusting "common sense." "Common sense" has become simple lazy thinking.

Finding the right balance between individual freedom and horrible consequences isn't easy, and has to be juggled constantly. I hesitate to make too many generalizations in this regard. I prefer to maximize freedom of expression, but when you know something is ruining lives the knee-jerk reaction is to ban and forbid - Thou Shalt Not Read Berenstain Bears Books to Children Younger Than Seven! One generalization I am willing to make, though, is that treating corporations as if they were individual human beings with the rights of human beings is a serious mistake.

Paul451 said...

Re: Organising militias well,

In Australia we sort of have a combination of David's "Jefferson Rifle" and the various suggestions for mandating militia membership. We eliminated semi-automatic rifles, all rifles must be manual-action. And while semi-auto pistols are allowed, they are limited to five-round capacity. That was the main thing, the big publicly debated thing that everyone knew about at the time.

But in addition to that, a smaller change was that if you want to own a hand-gun, or you live in a city and want to own a rifle, you must be a member of a shooting club and you must compete at least twice a month. Not a "militia", obviously, but what I think is significant, for a mental stable person it is a continuous mildly annoying burden and requires a minimum ability to maintain rules and basic social interaction. We haven't had a single mass shooting since changing the laws, and I've often wondered whether it has more to do with the club requirement than the banning of semi-auto rifles. Those prone to mass-shooting are... well, crazy. Well crazy, even. They are likely to be enlarged amygdala types, prone to extreme fight-or-flight reactions to trivial disappointments and disagreements. In other words, the type to throw a tantrum and abandon (or be expelled from) their gun club long before they work up the rage/madness/excuse to go on a mass shooting.

In other words, we've accidentally set a trap which specifically takes the guns away from the specific people who are most at risk of becoming mass shooters.

locumranch said...


And why not make this states’ experimentation? YOU arm gym teachers. Stop trying to interfere when blue states make it hard for know lunatics to get assault rifles says David in treasonous support of State's Rights.

Welcome to the New Confederacy, Old Man. Velkommen.


Best

Paul451 said...

PaulSB,
"The Berenstain Bears (I'm not sure I spelled that right)."

Heh. Mandela Effect. It helps determine which universe you are from.

Paul451 said...

Alfred,
"I tend to take the side that we will need extra-legal means for celestial property because the US signed the OST. I'm of the opinion that the US acted way beyond it's authority when it hinted that it could give away the rights of its citizens to own property out there."

This is a common misreading, but still a misreading. The OST creates absolute property rights, but chattel not real. (This is so strict it overrides national sovereignty even on Earth.) It also explicitly refutes interference by one party with the operations of another. Combined, those two things give libertarians their "Homesteading" fantasy. And the precedents of asteroid/lunar material being treated internationally as chattel property establishes that extracted/altered celestial material is legally an ownable good.

Under OST, if you clearly mark and modify a territory, border and fence it, it is your "operation", and must not be interfered with by other parties. Your equipment, even if abandoned on remote sites for years, always remains exclusively yours, and must not be interfered with (giving you the ability to effectively mark and claim territory in perpetuity, but strictly limited by the scale of your "operation" (past or present.) If anything, the OST takes property rights too far. I understand why the bitter Cold War rivals didn't want an abandonment/salvage clause in OST, but it cripples a possible early space market, and potentially limits long-term development. Hopefully signatories will create a mutual agreement over orbital debris salvage out of necessity and it will set a precedent for the rest.)

From what I've seen, the people who have been arguing against OST because it doesn't allow sovereigns to dole out land titles on Mars are just drooling over how they could exploit that system. The "best" of them think they can milk such a system to fund their otherwise unfundable space development ideas. The rest just dream the dreams of rentiers (and their lawyers.)

Sadly, their claims have so created the myth, that no-one will invest in space until there are terrestrial-type land titles, that we may one day end up with such idiocy.

Want to know what "sovereignty" in space would look like, imagine the history of space development if nations could claim their traditional "airspace" all the way into orbit. The US diplomatically treating Sputnik and subsequent Russian satellites as if they were in a kind of "international waters" instead of "overflying US territory" was a brilliant move. Had the US chosen the other path -- even if it couldn't, at first, enforce it -- space-flight would have had a brief moment of glory until the development of the first a-sat missile, then been silenced forever.

David Brin said...

“I wonder, the author uses the term Right Wing Authoritarians for the ones that adhere to established authority, and Left Wing Authoritarians for revolutionary ones. I find the terms unpractical, there are cases enough of revolutionary authoritarians who then become established authoritarians.”

But that’s the point! The guys with harems fight to keep them. The guys without harems want to take over and get some.

“Yes, a horror story, agreed. It's like reading a description of a disease, when no cure has been found.”

But that’s the point of the Enlightenment! It’s got a cure! A difficult one that needs perpetual maintenance. Break up all power centers. Sic them on each other. Institute transparency and free speech. Create conditions for free-flowing criticism and reciprocal accountability. Maintain a social consensus of calm and negotiation.

The oligarchs must destroy that last one before going after the others.

As for locum, you confeds were always against states’ rights. From the 1830s, you traitors ran the federal government and imposed your judges and marshalls on northern states. In 1852 you started sending platoons of irregular southern cavalry rampaging across northerns states, smashing doors, terrorizing and dragging off neighbors, When northerners re-started their dormant militias, southern presidents sent in the army. This radicalized the north and led to election of Lincoln.

In other words, not just mean and oppressive and hypocritical, but also shortsighted and stupid.

David S said...

Paul,

Putting gun owners into gun clubs creates a social system for gun owners to monitor themselves. I know the time I took a gun class, I evaluated everyone at the range on whether I thought them competent to own a gun, or not. Creating a mandatory militia membership in the US might have the same effect. I've seen proposals enforcing militia membership specifically for this purpose.

Would changing the newpaper headline from "long gunman kills 17 kids" to "member of the Parkland Militia (or Parkland NRA Gun Club) kills 17" put pressure on the gun club to care about their other members and report those they thought shouldn't own guns?

Jon S. said...

"Note that the Second Amendment doesn't mention guns: it says "arms" which would include knives, brass knuckles, socks with ball bearings, bicycle chains, bazookas, sidewinder missiles, and nuclear weapons--all of which are severely restricted and controlled."

In the state of Washington, there is licensing required to carry concealed weapons; long arms are virtually unregulated. Meanwhile, it's illegal to carry a knife with a spring-mounted blade (a "switchblade"), a knife with a blade longer than six inches, or a weighted striking weapon (a sap, a leaded billy club, or, yes, a sock with ball bearings in it>).

And somehow, those regulations haven't served as a "slippery slope" to confiscation of all weapons. Hmmm....

raito said...

TCB (and some others),

I have some ideas of how AI >will< be used (enough that I'd bet serious money of it), and a bunch more of how it >might< be used.

Having done that sort of work, I do still like Hogan's Two Faces of Tomorrow. The first vignette in it shows how you can get unexpected results from an AI. When it happens in this world, we mostly think it's pretty neat, and then study how it got to that decision. Because the decisions aren't ones that currently kill people.

But I also look at McConnell's After the Gold Rush's introductory story about steam valves, software, and children's lives, and as I know from experience no form of intelligence, natural or artificial is foolproof.

And it's a LOT more than hitting the correct target. Study your Clausewitz. Or Sun-Tsu, if you prefer. Or even the ending of On the Oceans of Eternity.

Dr. Brin,

How nice for you that your children's excrement didn't stink. Mine always did.

Zepp Jamieson,

It is interesting to note that switchblades are allowed in Oregon as a result of the second amendment. Assuming I recall the article in Blade magazine some years ago correctly.

As far as firearms go, it's pretty clear that there's more in the heads of the mass shooters than 'kill people!'. Unless they're really, really, stupid. There are much better, safe (for the killer) ways to kill a lot of people than to go after them with a gun, or even a lot of guns. Unfortunately, the shooters want to watch other die up close. Or possibly more likely, want to see fear.

This is the problem with the argument that they'd just find some other mechanism if guns weren't available. If they were smart enough, they wouldn't use guns in the first place. And if they aren't and need face to face stimulation, the only decent alternatives don't work as well. The Chinese knife-wielders have a different mentality, I think.

Berial said...

You always wonder when the Onion's "'Nothing can be done", says only country where this regularly happens" post is FINALLY going to get it's message across, but anyway, I found this piece to be pretty good. I think it telling that we don't have our soldiers walking fully armed around with their weapons while on base. "Fuck you, I like guns"

occam's comic said...

Short of repealing the 2 nd amendment
What about massive taxes on guns and ammo with the money collected going to victims of gun violence.

10 dollars per bullet
1,000 dollars per clip that holds more than 6 bullets
5,000 dollars per gun
50,000 dollars per AR 15

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Zepp Jamieson said...

I guess poisoning the town's water or spraying norovirus in the local geriatic home just isn't as satisfying to those types. As someone else noted, they want to see terror and mayhem.
Ideologues are the ones willing to plant bombs and watch from a safe distance.

matthew said...

Small steps on gun control, not big ones:
a) No magazine more than 10 cartridges
b) Background checks with teeth, particularly in regards to domestic violence or mental illness
c) Gun safes mandatory
d) Confiscation of all guns when charged with any crime beyond a traffic ticket. If not convicted, then weapons are returned.
e) Mandatory liability insurance for each gun. Each weapon is its own insurance account.
f) Unlicensed gun is a felony

That would take care of it. Doesn't even trample on the Scalia-interpreted 2nd, which is ahistorical BS, but is law of the land until the makeup of the SC changes.

Dave 3.0 said...

<< Anonymous Paul SB said...

Dave 3.0,

Oddly enough I just came across this quote last night:

I guess if people couldn't profit from war I don't think there would be war.
- Lily Tomlin

Just replace the word "war" with "guns" and you would have it. This kind of points to how the world has changed since all these old fart conservatives were in their cradles. As Luis points out, there are a lot of loonies out there with very few critical thinking skills and a whole lot of munitions.>>

Quite so. This is by design. There are really two forces at play on a global scale: on one side, there is democracy and humanism, on the other side is authoritarianism, corporatism, militarism. Corny as the battle of good and evil sounds, it's the basic story of our times. There are those who love money before anything else; (and replace money with materialism, possession, territoriality, domination, power over others etc) and that's the basic force pursuing the exploitation of all natural resources, the pollution of the land, air and sea, climate change, and the mass extinction event. Basically, this paradigm is anti-life. It's the answer to the Fermi Paradox. Civilizations evolve intelligent predation, and this contributes to a psychotic downward spiral that dooms the civilization before it can expand into space.

The only hope is that those who self-sacrifice for the well-being of others, who do things not for money but for principles such as love and the common welfare and beauty and even the idea of God, can outweigh and overcome the inherent psychopathy that plagues humanity. Currently, though, the love of money - i.e., corporations - have the upper hand despite being a minority and despite being fictitious quasi-legal entities. Thus there are wars, violence, guns, drug addictions, poverty, disease, totalitarianism, anti-scientism, antisocial disorders in general - because it's profitable in the monetary system. Even though we have the means, theoretically, to solve every one of these problems, it won't happen before some sort of global mass consciousness or technological singularity occurs, ala Brin's Earth. But, being a singularity, no one right now can say for sure what happens after that, we don't know if the dark psychological forces of predation and manipulation and violence will overcome the power of unconditional universal love, because there is no scientific history from which we could draw conclusions on this subject yet.

I like to believe that a post-singularity humanity, even though merged with the soulless, non-compassionate AI which cannot understand love, would be wholly positive, and explore the cosmos as one unified global family.