Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bio-Scientific Problems and Quandaries


More companies, agencies and NGOs are openly referring to science fiction as a tool for exploring trends and possible repercussions of rapid change. (I just did 25 speeches around the world in 90 days.) Here the CEO of SCOUT, Berit Anderson, discusses how her company applies SF-style thought experiments to vital topics ranging from climate change to communications and info-warfare. 

"She cited Scout’s analysis of what it called the “weaponized AI” of Cambridge Analytica and what it might mean for future elections. Published in February 2017, the analysis led to Scout’s team being called conspiracy theorists — all before, Anderson said, many of the details became common knowledge from mainstream media coverage," writes Frank Catalano in Geekwire.

== Indignation and sanctimony… the drugs that are wrecking all our hopes ==

I still get mail about my proposal to widen our interpretation of the word “addiction” to include all ways that behaviorw get reinforced in human brains. These range from positive things - like love of family and dedication to skill - all the way to chemicals like opiates that hijack our natural reinforcement systems. For decades I've pointed at a realm in between – self-reinforcing mental states – that merits urgent attention.  


Both online and in in the book Pathological  Altruism, I had a well-regarded article on indignation addiction… or our tendency to return repeatedly to the drug high released in our brains by mental-state addiction that can manifest benignly - in spiritual prayer or meditation - or else in furious tribalism or the sanctimony and self-righteous rage that boomers imbibed from Hollywood, all their lives. (The "I'm as mad as hell" scream of the movie Network, for example.) 

People write to ask whatever happened to my campaign, which took me to deliver a talk at the Centers for Drugs and Addiction. (Nothing much came of it, alas.)  Especially since this exact, vile habit/addiction is what enemies of the West have been turning against us. The very thing killing the American genius at pragmatic problem solving and negotiation.  You could do some good by spreading the word about this, among intellects you know.

Though at this point the rage is open. So stand up, now. Choose someone to support in a swing district and fight for a few months. Then talk about ways to stop fighting.

== Aging - and evolving? ==

George Church drew fame in many ways. A top investigator in genetics at Harvard, he also notoriously spoke of resurrecting extinct species, as he explicated in his book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves. (Something I portrayed in Existence.) He’s also doing research into life-extension and longevity, as described here, starting with seeking ways to improve the health span of dogs, something that folks will certainly pay for. The problem is our tendency to extrapolate lifespan expansions in flies and mice and yes, dogs, into hope that similar feats can be achieved for humans.

Alas, you can read my infamous paper – hated across the “live forever” community – pointing out strong reasons why there may not be any such “low-hanging fruit” for pushing us past 115 or so. It’s likely we used up all the easy techniques, hundreds of thousands of years ago. That is not to say science can’t give us a ladder to reach higher fruit! But it won’t be a matter of anything simple, like a dietary supplement or caloric restriction.

But are we still evolving? Between 9000 and 7000 years ago, there appears to have been a plummet in genetic diversity among human males, in what’s called the ‘Neolithic bottleneck.’ An undergrad is now credited with coming up with an explanation. Heck the surficial hypothesis is obvious – that across that time, combative males prevented other males from breeding. But apparently this study's methodology for using available data to exclude other hypotheses was very clever.  Zeng surmised that intense warfare between patrilineal clans killed off so many men, only one was left for every 17 women.”

This should come as no surprise. Historical accounts show numerous societies doing this, even in historical times. Polynesia, for example, and the Mayan states. All of the adult males in a valley or on an island might be wiped out and replaced by the invaders who were likely related. (Indeed, I wonder that the authors of this study haven't zeroed in on those more recent episodes.) Nearly all of us are descended from the harems of the fierce men who won these struggles... helping to explain the "quirks" or unpleasant proclivities we see in many modern males, traits that are unsuitable for civilized living. Indeed, if this cycle were allowed to continue, it might help to explain the “Fermi Paradox” of why we don’t see high, alien civilizations.

This may also offer insight into an artistic mystery, regarding "Venus figurines" of the Neolithic.  Some feminists have posited that these figures, with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, reveal a mother goddess cult that was peaceful and respectful, before it was replaced (as agriculture made male strength more valuable than gathering) by patriarchic thunder gods. But this study lends support to the other leading hypothesis... that such art-pieces served the same purpose as other figures with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, in all known societies.

If such brutal cycles were endemic in the human past, we must gird ourselves to face a challenge and an opportunity. It is in our modern, scientific civilization that we have decided we don’t want to be like that!  And the first step - in moving decisively and forever away from all that-  is to follow the beam of modern, scientific feminists like Sarah Hrdy, who show how understanding our animal and quasi-animal roots is exactly what we must do, in order to choose a better path toward what we want to be.

See the original paper in Nature.

 == Is is down to anecdotes? ==

One of the insidious lies told often about climate change is that “scientists in the 70s believed we were heading to an ice age.”  Oh, surveys show that cooling theories constituted a minuscule minority of climate papers since World War II, and they were swiftly debunked. But if you offer statistics, confederates blank out.

So let’s go to anecdotes, their prime food. Like the 1970s film “Soylent Green,” immensely popular, depicting greenhouse broiling in a near future Earth.

Also in the 1970's Steven Spielberg directed a short movie predicated on global warming and air pollution, Los Angeles 2017. It was an episode of the TV show Name of the Game.

One member of my blog community (Jerry E.) cited a science series that became a film shown in schools from Sputnik to the 1980s. An episode of Bell Science program The Unchained Goddess - on February 12, 1958 - discussed human-caused global warming. “I remember watching it on television, and I also remember it being shown in my "red state" rural school several times when I was a young child." The most relevant two minutes are on YouTube.  

And yes, warming was the trend most-widely credited by a vast majority of the scientific community even back then, without satellite data.

This is what we are reduced to. The all-out war on every fact profession, from science to the FBI, from journalism to military officers, has reached the point where we cannot deal with our mad uncles with evidence and statistics.

Only anecdotes.

But remember how we started this missive. These neighbors of ours are mostly decent folks. They are just afraid and have been filed into hostility toward every "elite" of fact or skill or curiosity -- every profession that might stand in the way of a return to feudalism. 

These neighbors aren't the enemies of confidence and problem solving and progress.  It isn't even the ignoramus lords who finance the riling-up.

It is fear, itself.

65 comments:

sgs said...

I remember the "coming ice age" stuff from 'way back when. It was presented as a pure hypothesis, based on nothing more than looking at the timing of previous cycles. It got a general reaction of "That's interesting. Yawn." It never got past the "that's interesting" stage.

"In science, it doesn't matter if you're wrong as long as you're not stupid. In business, it doesn't matter if you're stupid as long as you're not wrong" -- me

matthew said...

"Choose someone to support in a swing district and fight for a few months. Then talk about ways to stop fighting."

Sorry, Doc, I'll stop fighting when the corpse of the GOP is beheaded, staked through the heart, and buried at a crossroads with the damn idiot Libertarian party buried on top.

This is a fight for my grandchildren and my planet.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

David Brin said...

I said "talk" Matthew. After victory, we should renew our offer to revive grownup negotiation. When they bite the extended hand, fight again, win, and offer it again.

Alfred Differ said...

I'm not convinced violence is the full explanation for the bottleneck. It's possible it is the effect instead of the cause.

1) The violence explanation has to explain why we moved to patrilineal clans. I've no doubt agriculture put pressure in this direction, but the effect was widespread. It included areas not well suited to intense agriculture.

2) There was a corresponding dip in expected lifespan around the same time. If second sons are more likely to survive to have children when they have a father still alive to help the family, first sons would be far better off. Reduced lifespans could have made it difficult for sons born late.

3) There is a slight bias among women today to give birth to sons first in regions where the bottleneck was strongest. The modern bias shifts to girls (slightly) for later births. This is EXACTLY what would happen if late born sons suffered a disadvantage. It is NOT what would happen with violence as the cause.

As usual, the actual answer could be all of the above. My money, though, is on the notion that a shorter lifespan CAUSED the move to patrilineal clans and then to violence since strongmen do have a biological advantage. First sons benefited at the expense of their brothers without violence first. Violence came a little later.

Alfred Differ said...

@matthew | You won't have to do much about the Libertarians. We are already pretty effective at making ourselves ineffective.

If you try too hard, though, I'll wonder if you want to be a member of the Thought Police. 8)

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

I'll stop fighting when the corpse of the GOP is beheaded, staked through the heart, and buried at a crossroads


I'm obviously not needed here any longer. :)

Duncan Cairncross said...

"I'll stop fighting when the corpse of the GOP is beheaded, staked through the heart, and buried at a crossroads"

I thought that had happened after Bush 2 - asleep at the switch for 9/11 - war crimes, torture, war of choice - Katrina, then busting the economy

THAT had GOT to keep the idiots out of power for at least two decades!

TWO YEARS LATER they were back in charge of Congress!

If you do
"the corpse of the GOP is beheaded, staked through the heart, and buried at a crossroads"

I bet it will be back in only two years!

donzelion said...

Duncan: Well, on Oct. 31, 2010, 'The Walking Dead' launched, and that November, the Republicans took Congress. These two facts are probably completely unrelated, but perhaps it should be expected: you gotta shoot em in the head, not the heart.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Shoot them in the head!

YES - the Dems did NOT go after the "head" - they let the criminals from Bush to Cheney to the banksters ALL walk free with their ill gotten gains

Have they learned?

Alfred Differ said...

Won't work. Zombies can shamble about without much in the way of brains. Isn't that why they want a steady diet of them anyway?

David Brin said...

This time, they must not go for beneficial legislation (e.g. Obamacare), but instead aim right at the heart of the cheating.
National standards for election honesty & safety.
Sunday voting.
Drivers' license automatic & permanent registration.
STop all Gerrymandering.
Transparency of all political donations and PACS.
Limits on fund-raising by Congressfolk.
Transparency of tax records for all public office holders and candidates.
...
Above all... my FACT ACT! http://davidbrin.com/nonfiction/factact.html

Sure, there's stuff I also want.

Free ATM bank accounts via the Post Office or the Fed. And ban on Payday lenders.
Allow student loans to be refinanced like mortgages.
Keeping the GOP tax cuts only for R&D and physical productive capacity (as the hypocrites promised it would be spent) and banning stock buybacks (like the Greatest Generation did.)
Transparency of ownership and a uniform corporation law.
Infrastructure!

Most of those are not "socialist" in any large way. Though I'd also:

Incrementally lower the Medicare age to 60 and let anyone join till age 30. (in exchange, do Entitlements reform raising the Social Security age to 69 and then indexing it to lifespan.)

But seriously. This time the dems have got to go to the political heart of the cheating and treason and civil war. And N. Pelosi needs to realize she's got to step aside.

Alfred Differ said...

How would you limit fund-raising by Congressfolk?

Post Office as a bank?

I'm with the idea that student loans should be like any other loans.

David Brin said...

Most countries have post office banking and we did into the 1960s.

Alfred Differ said...

With money lending? I guess I better go read up on my history. 8)

David Brin said...

Most of the time it's just to give poor folks a reliable place to save and access cash and write checks.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

YES - the Dems did NOT go after the "head"


I'm not sure that was the important element in the 2010 resurrection of Republicans. It seemed to me more that they were able to successfully campaign on what should have been discredited concepts, Supply-Side being the most notable. In the middle of a 1930s-sized recession, they were able to paint the federal deficit as the greatest threat facing the country and paint the Democrats as responsible for that deficit. They were able to convince the public that most Americans liked their existing health insurance, glossing over the fact that those who liked their employer-based plans were terrified of having them yanked away by factors outside their control (The problem wasn't that employer plans were bad, but that many had no access to them). And somehow, the BinLaden-killing Obama was soft on (or actually in favor of) terrorism, while the BinLaden-cousin Bush had been strong.

Basically, the public was convinced that Democrats were harming them and that Republicans would look out for their interests--both being complete fabrications. But I don't see how any of that would have been changed by going after individual Republican leadership.

Lorraine said...

The message to send to people fortunate enough in these late capitalist times to have good "jobs with bennies" type jobs is to point out that it's the Republicans who refer to their health plans disparagingly as "Cadillac plans" and have been campaigning for decades to get them included in taxable income.

sociotard said...

A good article on a lack of transparency with regards to the police in California.

www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-contra-costa-brady-20180814-htmlstory.html

Larry Hart said...

Ok, a serious question about the "genetic bottleneck" article Dr Brin links to in the main post:

https://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-mystery-of-the-neolithic-bottleneck-may-be-over-thanks-to-one-plucky-undergrad


While women married into clans in a patrilineal society, all the men within one were related, and therefore carried the same Y-chromosome.


My high-school biology understanding was that the Y-chromosome carried no characteristics at all other than the sex of the baby. That if a boy inherits characteristics associated with the X chromosome (such as baldness or hemophilia) from his mother, that trait will necessarily be dominant because there is no corresponding gene in the Y chromosome?

So if that's the case, then aren't all Y-chromosomes "the same"? Without the bottleneck, what would have differentiated them?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

This may also offer insight into an artistic mystery, regarding "Venus figurines" of the Neolithic. Some feminists have posited that these figures, with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, reveal a mother goddess cult that was peaceful and respectful, before it was replaced (as agriculture made male strength more valuable than gathering) by patriarchic thunder gods. But this study lends support to the other leading hypothesis... that such art-pieces served the same purpose as other figures with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, in all known societies.


I remember that you addressed this possibility in Kiln People.

Thunder gods and women with big hips and breasts? Sounds as if modern America is hardly the "first" comic book society. Just sayin'.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | The way the folks at 23andme explain it is you are genetically male if you have a Y chromosome because of the SRY gene on that chromosome. SRY =Sex-determining Region Y.

From what I've heard, it isn't all that clear what all the other parts do. The question may actually be indeterminate. However, the Y chromosome is rather touchy. Even small alterations are likely to kill the child to be.

matthew said...

BTW, here is my prediction for the midterms: Massive Russian meddling to cause so much uncertainty in the results that Trump can declare the elections invalid to his supporters.
Long-time readers of the comments here might remember that I predicted that Trump could not allow the 2018 midterms to proceed normally if it looked like a backlash to his Presidency. We are now seeing the obvious signs that this is going to take place - Trump not filling his cybersecurity czar position, GOP leadership voting against 280+ million for improved voting systems, and Russian hackers being caught tampering with voter rolls in Florida.

Trump and the GOP will allow massive interference in the midterm election, and Trump will use the interference to claim that any renewed Congressional interest in his Russian dealings is null and void.

Taking it further, if Putin is smart, he will command his hackers to try to change votes *in favor of the Democrats*. Mostly, the hackers will fail, or where they succeed it will look like a statistical anomaly that will indicate the changes. Honestly, I don't think Putin is smart enough to try this gambit, but if his goal is to delegitimatize the American electoral system, this would be the best way. Change voter registration databases to include a few extra thousand non-citizens, to give cover for GOP disenfranchisement, that sort of move.

Remember, Trump cannot allow a hostile House in Congress or he ends in jail. If polling shows the blue wave to be big enough to flip the House, then his only move is to claim massive fraud and rally his supporters against the new Congress.

I would assign a probability of massive interference in the midterms as near certainty. I would assign a probability of interference to help the Democrats as a 50/50 split.

locumranch said...


Says Matthew: "I'll stop fighting when the corpse of the GOP is beheaded, staked through the heart, and buried at a crossroads with the damn idiot Libertarian party buried on top."

And, this is the voice of compromise, altruism, good fellowship & reason that the Sarha Jeongs & NYTs of the world represent?

Well, back at ya. Our heads, hearts & minds are right here in what you call the Flyover Lands, awaiting your pleasure.

Molon Labe, you Better Angels, Molon Labe.



Best
____

The West has undergone massive change over the last 70 years, including Medicare, Social Security, the Immigration & Nationality Act, Abortion on Demand, and 'No Fault' Divorce, while the Progressive Party mocked the Conservative Party as old fuddy-duddies & chanted 'Change is Good'. But, these so-called 'progressives' (who now wish to CONSERVE these well-established policies) argue that further 'Change is BAD'. So, who's the fuddy-duddy now? Too bad, so sad, that the times, they are a-changin always.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

DVGill said...

[i]"...the other leading hypothesis... that such art-pieces served the same purpose as other figures with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, in all known societies."[/i]

Not sure what purpose you're referring to here. The theory I find most compelling is that the Venus figures were meant to communicate between distant clan groups when a female had reached child-bearing age. Trades of women between groups would limit inbreeding. This theory would seem more likely if the number of males were limited in the way Zeng, Aw, and Feldman suggest.

Alfred Differ said...

Post Office as a partial bank then. I'm OK with that.
I'd be wary if they paid interest on the savings or charged more than minimal fees, though.
That interest has to come from somewhere and the fees might be used to prop up other parts of the USPS budget.
Sounds like a non-profit, government chartered entity might work here.

I'm very much for the BOI objectives associated with getting poor people into the financial system.
It does far more than make it easier to transact at low cost.

matthew said...

Screw "voice of compromise" you fake-ranching liar. You are supporting the destruction of America by a foreign power. I don't compromise with the enemies of my nation.

Oh, and Bob Dylan wants his song back too.

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

Remember, Trump cannot allow a hostile House in Congress or he ends in jail. If polling shows the blue wave to be big enough to flip the House, then his only move is to claim massive fraud and rally his supporters against the new Congress.


Ever since the 2016 election, I don't discount your predictive powers. But I'm not sure invalidating the elections in either 2018 or 2020 would lead to the result you describe. Right now, procedure and decorum are the only reasons people like Alfred and Ilithi Dragon recognize legitimacy of the current congress, the #SoCalledPresident, or the fruits of their poisonous tree in the supreme court. After any first-time-ever attempt at saying "The election we just had doesn't count," I think even those guys (and millions like them) would continue to treat the old regime as having any legitimate authority. Neither would the governors of Illinois, New York, or California.

If it comes down to a street fight between Trump's brownshirts and the rest of the country, that might be as good a way as any to take our country back. Remember, a shooting war isn't won by electoral votes.

Laurence said...

the other leading hypothesis... that such art-pieces served the same purpose as other figures with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, in all known societies

These figurines roughly resemble what a pregnant woman (without a mirror) would see of herself, which suggests that they are self-portraits. While this doesn't necissarily support the 'godess religion' hypothesis of radical feminists, neo-pagans and radical feminist neo-pagans, when combined with the fact that most stone age hand sencils appear to be of women's hands (the index finger is longer than the third finger in most women, this is also true of most of the stencils)this does suggest life for women in the stone age was at least pleasant enough for them to have a fair bit of free time, moreso than was the case in most civilised societies.

Larry Hart said...

DVGill

"...the other leading hypothesis... that such art-pieces served the same purpose as other figures with exaggerated breasts, hips and other female traits, in all known societies."

Not sure what purpose you're referring to here.


It's alluded to in Dr Brin's (excellent) novel Kiln People. In a word, pornography.

Larry Hart said...

matthew to locumranch:

You are supporting the destruction of America by a foreign power.


Actually, I think he'd support enemies both foreign and domestic.


I don't compromise with the enemies of my nation.


"I guess what I'm SAYING is...there has to be SOMEBODY who'll fight for the Dream, against any foe...WHATEVER the threat--WHEREVER it originates--I WON'T be blind AGAIN!"

- Captain America #183


Oh, and Bob Dylan wants his song back too.


Heh.

jim said...

here is the last paragraph of an article by C Hall

EROI of different fuels and the implications for society

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513003856

"Thus society seems to be caught in a dilemma unlike anything experienced in the last few centuries. During that time most problems (such as needs for more agricultural output, worker pay, transport, pensions, schools and social services) were solved by throwing more technology investments and energy at the problem. In many senses this approach worked, for many of these problems were resolved or at least ameliorated, although at each step populations grew so that more potential issues had to be served. In a general sense all of this was possible only because there was an abundance of cheap (i.e. high EROI) high quality energy, mostly oil, gas or electricity. We believe that the future is likely to be very different, for while there remains considerable energy in the ground it is unlikely to be exploitable cheaply, or eventually at all, because of its decreasing EROI. Alternatives such as photovoltaics and wind turbines are unlikely to be nearly as cheap energetically or economically as past oil and gas when backup costs are considered. In addition there are increasing costs everywhere pertaining to potential climate changes and other pollutants. Any transition to solar energies would require massive investments of fossil fuels. Despite many claims to the contrary—from oil and gas advocates on the one hand and solar advocates on the other—we see no easy solution to these issues when EROI is considered. If any resolution to these problems is possible it is probable that it would have to come at least as much from an adjustment of society's aspirations for increased material affluence and an increase in willingness to share as from technology. Unfortunately recent political events do not leave us with great optimism that such changes in societal values will be forthcoming."

The whole article gives a good background on EROEI.

I did not make this posting in order to cause despair but in the hope that by understanding the predicament we face we may develop appropriate responses to the crappy situation we are in.

David Brin said...

DVGill said (regarding the blatantly obvious purpose of the exaggeratedly pulchritudinos Venus figurines): “Not sure what purpose you're referring to here. “

Obviously, you never were - and never knew - a male human between the ages of ten and thirty.

Laurence, those Venus figures are plump, not pregnant. They are symbolically pregnable, so to speak.

Matthew, you play into his hands. They flee from facts. Like the fact that every single neocon tear-down of the rooseveltean social contract led to lowered growth and skyrocketing deficits. Now, with unions a feeble shadow of their former selves, with labor prostrate and tycoons dominant… the jerks screech at unions.

Keep it simple, man. Keep asking: “Hey MAGA guy! We think America IS great! But you tell me, when do you claim it was greater? Say it now. Be specific and offer facts.”

Hey, I miss Ilithi Dragon.

Larry Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

"Hey MAGA guy! We think America IS great!"


Shift the letters around and turn one upside down.

AWGA! America Was Great Already!

I'm gonna get a hat made like that.

David Brin said...

Speaking of hats.
Your Halloween costume, a week before the election. But wear it all of October. Don't let it start a fight. Let it speak for itself.

https://www.ebay.com/i/323227531747?chn=ps

Here it's cheap enough to buy several as favors/gifts. Pass it along. It's a thing.

https://www.tintoyarcade.com/civil-war-union-blue-hat.html…

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding responses to the kepi I can report three basic interpretations.

1) Some folks can't remember who wore gray and who wore blue. Early battles did confuse the matter, but many I've met don't know their history enough to be sure.

2) Some folks can't figure out if I'm for the President or against him.

3) Some REALLY don't want to talk politics and react to the kepi like they would a missionary at the door.

I've been wearing mine on and off all year. I've done it enough now my co-workers who support Trump know not to talk to me about the subject. The ones who oppose him know better than to create HR events at work too.

I'll have it with me at our next local libertarian party meeting. 8)

Lorraine said...

I love the way they market the Union headgear as "a great alternative to a cowboy hat."

Larry Hart said...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-kkk-blackkklansman-lee-stallworth-lehr-0816-20180815-story.html

The Chicago Tribune column linked above concerns a reporter who went undercover to join the KKK in 1979 in order to report on them from inside. The whole column is interesting enough to read, but what I wanted to post here was this comment which stood out for me in relation to an idea Dr Brin often brings up in a different context--the second derivative of change.


“It’s the white majority that are losing their rights, not the blacks or the Jews,” he [David Duke] insisted. “We’re the ones being attacked on the streets, and they call us haters when we fight back for our rights and heritage.”


I've argued before that the difference between civil rights advocates and the "men's movement" / "White Lives Matter" types are that the former are advocating for equal rights that should but are not being acknowledged, whereas the latter are advocating for enshrining special rights for the already-powerful. But the comment above had me thinking about the Klan argument in a different light.

What Grand Wizard Duke is essentially complaining about is that the second derivative of White Christian status is negative, and that the second derivative of status is positive. To him, that's a justification for complaint of discrimination against white Christian males as well as a reason to say to blacks, Jews, gays, etc, "What do you have to complain about?" Even though the already-powerful still enjoy a more privileged position than other groups, those other groups are gaining ground. And (I guess) any group gaining ground over others is just as bad as slavery and lynching.

I'm not pointing anything out other than what I found to be an interesting way of looking at the argument.

Also, the final like of the article was disturbingly funny:

I never spoke to Duke again, but I did receive a Christmas card from him that holiday season — addressed to my Klan alias, apparently mailed before the article was published.

The red card featured two Klansmen in robes holding a fiery cross. The caption read: “May you have a meaningful and merry Christmas and may they forever be White.”



Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

...our next local libertarian party meeting


I never thought of it before, but isn't "libertarian party meeting" a kind of oxymoron.

:)

matthew said...

"Libertarian" is an oxymoron given the party support for authoritarians.
Alfred excepted, I've never seen a libertarian (small l, this time) give a shit about any liberty that isn't property rights or the right to take drugs.

Larry Hart said...

Credit a caller to the Norman Goldman radio show:


If Donald Trump can call Omorosa a dog, can we call him "Old Yeller"?

Alfred Differ said...

libertarian party meeting

Heh. They are a bit like those rare times when endangered species gather all in one place to mate. You won’t see that happen often or in the open because we get noticed. Predators are all around. 8)

@matthew | I've never seen a libertarian

Quite likely true. The ‘frantic frothers’ among us are the visible/audible ones. They aren’t the majority, though. Most of us are quietly confident in our support of liberty, but exhausted by the frothing nuts. A fair number of the quiet folks are a little nutty too, but that’s partially do their social isolation. Some have been abused by the legal system (if you believe their stories) or treated like an expendable voter (if you believe other stories) or something along these lines. Many simply retreat from politics and prefer not to vote at all arguing it’s all a sham.

There are a moderate number, though, who are like any other person who wants to do their duty to make the nation better.

As for the supporters of authoritarians, there is quite a strong reaction among us going on about that. What you are seeing is a group of people who think they are pragmatic. They would support a candidate who would slash budgets by 50% to reduce the scope of government. No viable candidate ever offers a promise like that during a campaign, so they’ve chosen to settle for someone who will dismantle government through incompetence. Pruitt opposed many EPA actions, so installing him to lead the EPA looked like an attempt to dismantle it. Same kind of thing at the Department of Education.

Personally, I argue that support of incompetent people as a means to dismantle agencies is really stupid.

1) It makes us look like allies of incompetence which likely means allies of corruption.
2) It’s a demonstration of desperation which signals failure to persuade which is a political failure.
3) If public support is not solid behind dismantling an agency, it’s just going to be rebuilt after a later election. The rebuild will probably ALSO include an expanded scope to make up for previous damage.
4) There is a lot more to protecting liberty than dismantling/limiting scope of government.

Many libertarians are angry, though, thus they are blinded to their folly.

donzelion said...

Sociotard: The Pittsburgh (of California) story is more intriguing when you combine it with two stories about bodycam footage:

https://abc7news.com/video-shows-pittsburg-police-applying-chokehold-before-suspects-death/2594354/

In California, the police pick where the cameras are directed carefully...and what gets shown.

Try watching this video, also from Contra Costa, and wonder about the 8-4 ruling that the man shot by police 'committed suicide.' https://www.officer.com/on-the-street/body-cameras/news/21012845/california-police-release-body-camera-footage-in-fatal-shooting

Do you see a suicide? 8 members of a jury did...

This article mentions an important point: "There have been several instances over the past few years where Bay Area police body-camera video or images were publicly released following an investigation into police shootings...What many of those instances have in common is they were initiated by law enforcement in the spirit of exonerating police actions in controversial encounters, and garnered criticism of exercising transparency only when it suits them."

This is one of my general critiques of 'transparency' as a whole: if tribal affiliations routinely shape cognition (two members of opposing tribes see the same 'facts' entirely differently), then a million cameras may bring us no greater freedom than 1-2 cameras, or none at all. Indeed, if some factor other than the footage dictates what gets seen (say, the money behind the cameras) - we should assume that the growth in the number of cameras will serve specific tribes MORE than others regardless of what actually gets recorded.

Or, put more briefly: FoxNews doesn't need to 'lie' to mislead. They can point a million cameras and throw together whatever story they wish. 20 years ago, the idea that the cameras could so effectively lie would have seemed ridiculous: media would get blocked by other media competing over telling the truth. Today, we should have a better grip on the power of tribalism even in America.

'Flyoverstan sees things that bother them - a studio from New York tells them, 'Don't worry about that - worry about this! - oh, and you can't trust New Yorkers!" - and since it's Fox telling them that, they believe, regardless of what they see, despite what they see.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Some have been abused by the legal system (if you believe their stories) or treated like an expendable voter (if you believe other stories) or something along these lines.


Those are precisely the same experiences that Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter protest against. I'd like to think that those libertarians would be sympathetic to those others and even make common cause. I don't see that happening, though.

When my daughter was young, I used to joke to my mom about the effort required to raise a child, "You don't know what it's like!" But I knew I was making a joke. I get the sense that white men complainin to lesser-status minorities that they don't know what it's like to be marginalized by your government and society, and they're not joking.


As for the supporters of authoritarians...
What you are seeing is a group of people who think they are pragmatic.
...so they’ve chosen to settle for someone who will dismantle government through incompetence.


That sounds as dangerous as the "pragmatic" Germans who thought Hitler would take care of the commies for them, and that they could keep him on a leash afterwards. I realize there are multiple axes, but aren't libertarians and authoritarians natural opposites. Do libertarians really expect that authoritarians, once put into power, will advance their (libertarian) agenda?

At least Democrats would be more likely to let you smoke pot. :)


There is a lot more to protecting liberty than dismantling/limiting scope of government.


It is impossible to maximize liberty for everyone at the same time. Your liberty to pollute the air and water infringes on my liberty to live and breathe. It seems to me that capital-L Libertarians have picked the wrong side--defending liberty to cause harm over liberty from harm.

If I concede that it's not quite that simple, will you acknowledge the point I'm trying to make?

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

Do you see a suicide? 8 members of a jury did...


I couldn't discern this from the video, but if jury members were aware of this assertion (from the accompanying article), I could see how they'd call it suicide-by-cop:


Two officers testified at the inquest hearing that Barboa was screaming, “Kill me,” as he walked toward police [with a knife].

donzelion said...

Sociotard: and anyone else paying attention on this fight for transparency - here's an even more important story about what happened, why, and what may lie ahead: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-me-california-police-discipline-secret-20180815-story.html

Police unions are tricky players in politics. When it comes to unions, they've played the rightwing game perfectly, prudently, powerfully. They'll routinely disclose 'overpaid government bureaucrats earning 6-figure salaries while working less than a dozen hours a week' - and feed that line to conservative media, provided that media never identifies which public servants earn such 'ridiculous' compensation (often, police chiefs on a 'retirement transition' plan - occasionally fire chiefs or others with public safety contracts driving large retirement arrangements).

And yet...police believe “The profession of law enforcement is under siege” - despite being one of the best, highest compensated, most respected, and safest jobs a person can get without a college degree (police + trucking - both jobs where the left/right nuances become very problematic...oil workers can also be highly compensated, but for those without a college degree, that tends to be limited to higher risk/remote niches...shop owners aren't well-compensated and are often at higher risk of violence than police over the course of their businesses).

The perception of risk - and of being under siege - is one of those cases where reality defies belief, but belief endures even so. For crime, this is standard: crime statistics can fall as low as they wish to, it won't matter - people will still believe America is unsafe. In 2018 so far, more schoolchildren have been killed in shootings than soldiers have been killed by enemy combatants - yet the soldiers are 'heroes,' while schoolchildren (if they lobby against guns) are presented as 'whiny brats.'

Again: the cameras reinforce the belief of one tribe ('we're under threat!' 'we may do whatever we wish in our own self-defense!'), pushing aside beliefs of another, fending off evidence itself (or rather, limiting the importance of any evidence beyond that needed to support tribal affiliation and loyalty).

David Brin said...

"If Donald Trump can call Omorosa a dog, can we call him "Old Yeller"?"

It has its appeal... though the ultimate meaning suggests being put out of misery by his owners... which I have alread railed against as the "howard Beale Effect," and I pray the Secret Service can prevent it.

Two Scoops has advantages.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | don't know what it's like to be marginalized

I’ll agree with you up to a point, but I’ll remind you that not all minorities are related to race and ethnicity. I’m an atheist. In that group, skin color doesn’t matter. Getting pissed on by others through history isn’t unusual, though. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen much lately.

"pragmatic" Germans

Yah. Exactly. Imagine a few years from now them saying “Oops. We didn’t expect THAT to happen.” One of the reasons I considered NOT registering as a Libertarian was the possibility that they’d screw up that bad. One of the reasons I’m vocal in pointing out the variety of libertarians is to deal with that risk. I may need some of y’all to vouch for my character someday. 8)

Hayek described this road that some of my fellow libertarians want to walk. It leads to serfdom. It starts with BOI objectives, but people lose their vision along the way.

Do libertarians really expect that authoritarians, once put into power, will advance their (libertarian) agenda?

About as much as Evangelicals expect their causes to be advanced. The enemy of my enemy is…

Anyone with any integrity at all knows the danger of using one’s enemies to fight other enemies. There is the real possibility of losing one’s principles along the way. There is the real possibility that they won’t exhaust each other’s strengths and will instead become stronger. There is also the real possibility that they aren’t so stupid as to fail to notice what is being attempted. They might adapt.

It is impossible to maximize liberty for everyone at the same time.

Maximizing liberty isn’t the point. Minimizing harm done to our freedom is. I don’t have a right to pollute on your property. I have a right to avoid coercion attempts you might make directed at me. Some of my friends would argue that means I have a right to pollute on MY property but not yours. I’m wary of that, though, because they are making use of the positive definition of liberty. I stick to the negative definition while remaining watchful of attempts with the positive definition. Misuse of the positive one runs a real danger of creating negative externalities which I have no right to cause.

You and I would likely argue for many of the same points, so I’m not sure what there is to concede. I’m just more wary of positive definition style freedom.

donzelion said...

Alfred/LarryHart: "Do libertarians really expect that authoritarians, once put into power, will advance their (libertarian) agenda?"

The problem with the question, as Larry puts it, is that authoritarians tend to ALREADY be in power - most of the time. The scenario where Junkers choose Nazis to fight off a threat posed by ('foreign') socialists is rare - emerging mainly when an economy is reeling and the balance of threats so severe that extreme measures seem like a 'least worst' solution compared to alternatives raised by the 'old guard.'

In the real world, one's 'enemies are always fighting one's other enemies' - as are friends, both good and bad, each fighting 'against' but also fighting for 'self' each doing so with very different starting positions. It's not that one risks loss of 'principles,' so much as of 'position' - and the more positions fluctuate (because of social mobility), the more safeguards are felt to be needed to counter threats to those possessing entrenched starting positions.

Or put differently - Alfred asserts, 'I don’t have a right to pollute on your property' - in practice, I REALLY DO have a 'right' to pollute on your property if I did so before it became your property. The entrenched player asserts 'prior rights' and fights any effort to weaken those rights ('market coercion' through law - typically manifesting in a claim that the buyer 'came to the nuisance' and thus 'benefited' from it, and thus cannot stop it).

The entrenched interests set starting values, which themselves define the scope of a market (after they've set that, the market begins to operate). A libertarian claim like - "I have a right to avoid coercion attempts you might make directed at me" - means 'Once a thing is recognized as coercion, I will challenge it.' The initial coercion that created a position cannot be changed; only efforts to remedy it can be blocked (largely because 'two wrongs don't make a right').

Libertarians will remain reliable guard dogs for conservatives with entrenched positions of power - defending the master, but never actually becoming the master. Friedman's acolytes will trot out Hayek in order to defend Friedman's critique of Keynes.

Evangelicals, by contrast, MAY be useful tools for conservatives with entrenched positions of power, but must be appeased and bought off. Luckily for conservatives, that is a reliably 'cheap' price (the right stance on abortion gets you X% voters, off the block, with no further work needed? cheap...). These prices are more complex than meets the eye initially (church elders in any given community finance each church...and these folks have concerns beyond abortion...but so long as the church resists any efforts to threaten their petty fiefdoms, they'll steadily support them - and churches did little more than that for millennia).

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I’ll remind you that not all minorities are related to race and ethnicity. I’m an atheist. In that group, skin color doesn’t matter. Getting pissed on by others through history isn’t unusual, though. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen much lately.


On this, we're in total agreement.


Imagine a few years from now them saying “Oops. We didn’t expect THAT to happen.”


Some Trump voters are already saying that, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the same from libertarians who support authoritarians a few years down the road. In both cases, my point is "How could you/they not expect THAT to happen? It's not a surprise."


I don’t have a right to pollute on your property. I have a right to avoid coercion attempts you might make directed at me. Some of my friends would argue that means I have a right to pollute on MY property but not yours.


Libertarians seem to defend to the death your right to pollute on your property when the pollution then spreads via fluid dymanics and Brownian motion to my property, our city, and the surrounding countryside.


You and I would likely argue for many of the same points, so I’m not sure what there is to concede.


I was asking for concession on the point that libertarians helping to put authoritarians in power was a bad idea from the libertarians' point of view. If the reason for opposing liberal Democrats is that they exercise too much government overreach, what do they expect authoritarians to do? It's right there in the name.


I’m just more wary of positive definition style freedom.


On this, I think I agree with The Joker that "If you make something unusable, it's just as good as stealing it." I don't see the functional difference between your right not to have police weapons pointed at you and my right not to have toxic chemicals introduced into my air and water. I'm thinking maybe the difference between us is that to me the evil of "coercion" isn't the attempt to make me do something I don't want to, but the authority to threaten me with bodily harm, financial ruin, or death--the means of coercion, if you will. Someone being allowed to exercise those same means against me for a reason other than coercion doesn't make it better or make the offense a lesser one.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ (redux) :

Maximizing liberty isn’t the point. Minimizing harm done to our freedom is.


If "libertarianism" isn't primarily about liberty, then you might consider changing the name. :)

Or is that one of those things like Asimov's "We've known for centuries that 'oxygen' is a misnomer, but what can you do?"

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

the right stance on abortion gets you X% voters, off the block, with no further work needed? cheap..


The cynicist in me thinks that Democrats should do a complete 180 and tout themselves as the pro-life party.

Advantages would be:

* It would be more consistent with other Democratic "pro-life" positions such as opposing the death penalty, supporting gun safety, and not wanting to start unnecessary wars. Republicans area actually anti-life on most issues, and this would make that clear.

* We could rightly point out the number of so-called-pro-life Republicans who insist that their mistresses get abortions rather than embarrassingly carry their child to term.

* It would make the Democrats the party of true Christianity. Republicans are cynical hypoChristians who cloak themselves in God's supposed love for babies. Deprived of that one issue, Christianity and the Republican Party would not overlap a whit.

The disadvantage, of course, is losing the staunch support of pro-abortion feminists. Well, that hasn't hurt Republicans all that much in the last four decades or so, so I'm guessing that's not as big a hit as some make it out to be. If college-educates suburban women are voting for pro-life Republicans, what makes anyone think they'd run away from pro-life Democrats?

* * *

Y'know, I started this as a cynical rant, and I may have ended up convincing myself it's actually a good idea. Or at least (per Dave Sim) the part of my brain that doesn't think it's a good idea is having a hard time convincing the other part of my brain why that would be.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "The cynicist in me thinks that Democrats should do a complete 180 and tout themselves as the pro-life party."

Yeah...Democrats have very little understanding of why these things are so 'expensive' - if it takes 50 hours of work to get 150 hours of 'volunteer' time (or donations with equivalent value), then Republicans who need only 30 minutes to get the same amount of 'volunteer' time have a far easier path to win.

Couple that with the fact that it's easy to get Republican endorsements, Republican funds, Republican activists behind you (shucks, you don't even need to go to college - just show a fake diploma, and they'll back you solidly) - while it's HARD to get any of that from any Democrat, and you can understand how majorities are formed today at every level of government.

Issues like gerrymandering, tax rules, and the rest are background considerations: the reality is that Democrats are 'too busy' to get involved personally, directly, assertively in this fight - while Republicans are not. Democrats may be a majority of the population, but unless they move onto the streets where 'meaningful action' happens - they're a futile, theoretical majority easily defeated on the ground by a small group of volunteers (who tend not to talk about ANY of the topics that will point out who stands with the majority, but rather, will spread lies and half-truths).

"The disadvantage, of course, is losing the staunch support of pro-abortion feminists."
If they don't volunteer, who cares? So what if 50, 60, 90% of the population agrees with them? If they don't act on those beliefs, they're meaningless. And from what I'm seeing in suburban California, there is a 5:1 or so advantage in the pro-life v. pro-choice camps for volunteers.

"Y'know, I started this as a cynical rant, and I may have ended up convincing myself it's actually a good idea."
No, you've just convinced yourself that there's a cost for adopting principles, rather than pure 'electoral cynicism.' Now that you're aware of the cost, you can choose to act on your beliefs, or hope that others do on your behalf.

In 2016, that was me: I trusted Hillary Clinton, hoped she had a strong campaign with all sorts of money, that she'd fight hard and win. No longer. There are no professional politicians who will represent me: I must step up and represent myself, and that means backing candidates in the neighboring swing districts. For me, the stakes really are that high.

David Brin said...

Extrapolate. At some in-vitro fertilization clinics, the "spare" fertilized eggs are frozen so they aren't exactly "killed" - on the off chance that homes might be found for them in some hypothetical future. It turns the stomach to envision how this might be extended into a grand compromise on abortion. Yet, in abstract it is simply a logical extension... and gruesomely weirdly plausible.

In fact, grounds for a story. Ew...

-- - visiting aliens ask for the "stored"...

-- Or a plague kills all living ova, but the Stored can be implanted...

-- Or they get sent to distant stars on probes containing artificial wombs...

-- Or there's an attempted heist...

-- Or liberation lawsuits, before storage expiration date...

ew...

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

In 2016, that was me: I trusted Hillary Clinton, hoped she had a strong campaign with all sorts of money, that she'd fight hard and win. No longer.


That was me too. Even though I voted for Bernie in the primary, I was glad when Hillary won because I thought she would be unbeatable as a candidate. Between the Clintons' legendary political savvy, their political machine, and the fact that she had been building up to that pinnacle for over 30 years, I thought she was sure to win. And when it became apparent who her opponent would be, there wasn't even a question.

I often blame gerrymandering, voter suppression, and fake news for the uphill climb most Democrats have in elections, but she should have walked away with 400 electoral votes even in such an environment. The Hillary who lost by negative-three million votes in 2016 looked nothing like the Hillary who gave candidate Obama such a run for his money in 2008, or even the one who testified for 11 hours to the Benghazi committee.

That she could lose to Donald bleepin' Trump, under any circumstances, proves that I didn't know the candidate as well as I thought I did. The Clinton campaign might as well quote that line from Animal House, "You fucked up. You trusted us."

Larry Hart said...

...also that I didn't know my fellow Americans as well as I thought I did.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Our use of ‘libertarian’ is the result of ‘liberal’ being stolen from us by the Progressives colluding with Conservatives. By the older definition (one still in use in some of Europe), guys like Matthew would NOT be considered ‘liberal’. I would be.

The unfortunate result of this linguistic theft (I’m not fighting it anymore) is that ‘libertarian’ doesn’t have deep meaning roots in the language. That leaves Matthew free to describe us as villains needing a burial at the crossroads. That leaves us open to guys like Glenn Beck who claim to be libertarians. It leaves people not knowing exactly what we are, but deciding on it based on what they see a few of us doing. Frantic-frothers touting gun rights? Yah. That’s libertarianism! Single issue drug users? Yah. That’s libertarianism! Property rights worship? Oh Yah! Even better!

Technically, I’m a classical liberal who has chosen the Libertarians as my political party because CA Democrats don’t need my help much. I wade into Libertarian discussions with party members trying to help them understand the political consequences of their choices. I wade into discussions with Progressives to help them understand that libertarians generally don’t eat babies for breakfast.

Maximizing liberty can’t be done unless one knows the state function and all variables involved. Minimizing harm to liberty CAN be done with less perfect information. For example, I can look at how student loans can’t be re-financed like other debt or wiped clean in bankruptcies like other debt and recognize debt bondage. That’s a form of slavery I can understand and oppose. In my opposition, I am minimizing harm to liberty without claiming to understand the entire situation well enough to anticipate all consequences.

donzelion said...

"-- Or they get sent to distant stars on probes containing artificial wombs..."

Premise for one of my own works of fiction...DNA is pretty fragile, even if stored in a frozen egg, that probably wouldn't last a 100,000 year journey to another system. But perhaps keeping the code in a more fixed format, then arranging for it to produce ova, fertilize, and produce in an artificial womb upon arrival?

Such an artificial womb might churn out a new individual periodically, say after a couple decades - giving the original person time to mature before creating new responsibilities. So long as it continued churning them out in a suitable environment, genetic diversity could be attained...but how would one arrange for rearing a baby on a foreign planet? AI? We could assume that might work in a more durable framework than our biology...

But that first Adam or Eve produced on another planet would have some really odd psychology, growing up in total isolation...

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I was asking for concession on the point that libertarians helping to put authoritarians in power was a bad idea from the libertarians' point of view.

Okay. Given. Be aware, though, that many libertarians see authoritarians in both major parties. Hillary isn’t as bad as Trump in my opinion, but we view her as more inclined to authoritarianism than we are. All progressives are too inclined to use power. My personal opinion is that some progressives are relatively benign dangers. I’m married to one, so I CAN live with them. 8)

"How could you/they not expect THAT to happen? It's not a surprise."

Agreed. Scorpions sting. Tigers bite. Authoritarians wield power. Who’da thunk it?

Libertarians seem to defend to the death your right to pollute on your property…

Some do. I don’t. I think it is an error on their part that stems from an over-reliance on Rothbard’s early views regarding property. I can go all philosophical here drawing from virtue ethics and Hayek if need be, but I think Rothbard went too far. So did Ayn Rand. What they described as ideal isn’t what humans actually do when free to make choices they self-identify as virtuous. Most of us are mostly decent most of the time when we are not stressed. In that setting, most of us won’t pollute your property or coerce you in any way. Some will. Most won’t. That’s the foundation on which we can build a just society.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I often blame gerrymandering, voter suppression, and fake news for the uphill climb most Democrats have in elections,"

All of which matter - but at the end of the day, they only matter because we live in a world where one side can mobilize a small army of volunteers reliably, regularly, every time, and the other side cannot match that. Given the imbalance, the war becomes an 'aerial battle' - with folks watching champions dogfight one another on TV - while other folks conquer the ground.

There may be a dozen feminists who'll volunteer in a city, if a candidate they vet answers 100 questions, negotiates enough promises, satisfies them, woos them, gives a few of their insiders an internship or other offer. To bring that tiny cadre out takes as much effort courting each individual as tinder dates (but with even higher expectations and demands). But in every rural township with less than 2000 people, you'll get two dozen anti-feminists who'll show up. Guess who wins that contest?

"That she could lose to Donald bleepin' Trump,"
Folks assumed 'she' lost to Trump (or to Russia, or the Kochs, or whatever) - as if the fact that Republicans BUILT their majorities nationally by accident, or it wasn't important anymore and could be shrugged aside as a fluke or some temporary cheat or transient issue (her lackluster campaign, she didn't heed 'my' advice, etc.). We're trained to see this like professional sports: we cheer from the sidelines for 'our team' - they cheer for 'their team.'

But while all that sporting nonsense happens, they're fighting a quiet battle on the ground, nationally, in every community. They're winning, because we don't even show up.

Alfred Differ said...

V Vinge’s experimental short story for his Zones of Thought series (The Blabber) had traders asking a colony world for their zygote bank as part of a big trade if I recall correctly. No doubt the request was supposed to leave the reader feeling a little icky in order to point out how alien the traders were.

After reading the other novels, though, the request made sense. Colony worlds in the Slow Zone didn’t survive long. Asking for their genetic heritage could be interpreted as a rescue operation. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | authoritarians tend to ALREADY be in power - most of the time

That’s why many libertarians won’t vote at all. They consider it a suckers game.

Alfred asserts

I was being a bit more personal than that. I don’t claim to have the right to cause anyone to suffer a negative externality. Me personally. That doesn’t mean I’ll roll over and stop what I do, though. I feel a personal obligation to negotiate in good faith that last up until the point the other side tries to coerce me.

If someone buys property that has already suffered a loss caused by me and they did not understand, their recourse is with the seller. If they want to negotiate with me to end the loss, I’m obligated to discuss it and explore for win-win scenarios. If we can’t find a mutually agreeable solution, they are within their rights to demand that I stop harming their property, but I might fight if they demand compensation. They have no right to demand it from me unless they inherited it from the seller.

These things are messy, but at the foundation level, I’m unwilling to claim rights that harm others. It’s not so much that I have a right to DO something as it is I have a right to AVOID having something done to me. I’m picky about that. My right to free speech is mostly about avoiding government suppression of my speech and has little to do with my opportunities to speak.

In the real world, one's 'enemies are always fighting one's other enemies'

Yah. The real world is complicated. Principles still apply, though, because ‘faith’ is mostly about ‘loyalty to’ something. Many of us are faithful to our principles. Change the principles and we change what we are. Position is an external measure for how we are doing. There is an internal measure, though, that matters a great deal.

David Brin said...

aaaaaand speaking of libertarians... onward to more about Adam Smith.

onward

onward

Alfred Differ said...

Matthew made a midterm election prediction, so I’ll offer mine up for posterity.

1) Some Russian meddling (not massive) just large enough to cast doubt about whether everyone who should be registered is actually registered. In close elections, this will cast doubt on the outcome itself.

2) Most House elections will be won by large enough margins to avoid being in doubt.

3) Enough House seats will flip giving the Democrats a majority. Enough of them will flip by large enough margins to make it clear to a disinterested observer that Russian meddling wasn’t effective enough to prevent it.

4) Our President won’t be one of those disinterested observers and will cast doubt on the entire process arguing that the Democrats cheated to gain the majority. He will argue they did what they are accusing him of having done in 2016. At this point he will actually use the correct term. Conspiracy.

5) With the House in Democratic hands, an open war will erupt between the House and the White House. Some Senate GOP members up for election next time will be courted by both sides.

6) By the half-way point in 2019 it will be clear to all ‘reasonable’ observers that our President is criminally liable on many counts and should be impeached. He will be.

Alfred Differ said...

oops. moving onward now.