Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Transparency: sense and nonsense

Every breakthrough in communications was misused, before it gradually made us better. The printing press horribly exacerbated Europe’s religious wars. Radio and loudspeakers amplified the voices of demagogues and helped make the 1930s-40s hell on Earth. But eventually each new tech does expand what people can know and feel and understand.

Concerned about the malignant effects of social media?  Watch this video.  Of course it is 90% public relations. Still, I consulted with Facebook a year ago about the problems of misinformation and “echo chambers” on the web and social media, and I’m pleased they are implementing some of my suggestions, though it will be far from enough. As predicted in my 1989 novel EARTH (it had web pages), these poisonous effects will grow and expand before our more mature angels lead us back to amiably and positively argumentative citizenship.  

In the same theme: 3,517 Facebook ads were bought by Russians. Their dominant strategy: Sowing racial discord. Often taking both sides of the argument, as in vaccination, in order to sic Americans against each other.

Still, be pragmatic. You could be one of those people who actually sets your settings for privacy.  This article shows how.

== A ‘landmark’? ==

This is an important ruling and a minor victory for liberty -- but hardly a "landmark." 'A U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued Friday barred police from accessing cellphone records such as call listings and location data without first obtaining a search warrant.' It sounds marvelous right? But all such restrictions on the ability of elites to see will prove ephemeral. Accelerating tech ensures that any "walls" you erect will become transparent or useless across the following decade. Please, name one counter-example? Those who tried to ban face-recognition systems learned that the ability is proliferating into scads of apps.

There was a recent "landmark" -- in 2013, the best year for civil liberties in this century, so far -- when both the U.S. courts (Glik v Cunniffe) and the Obama Administration declared it to be "settled law" that a citizen has the right to record his or her interactions with police in public places.

No single matter could have been more important because it established the most basic right of "sousveillance" or looking-back at power, that The Transparent Society is all about. It is also fundamental to freedom. For in altercations with authority, what other recourse can a citizen turn to, than the Truth?

Notice the crucial difference. One 'landmark' encourages us to limit the power of an elite by hiding from them. It won't -- it cannot possibly -- work for long. 

The other encourages us to limit the power of an elite by looking back at them (sousveillance.) The first can be rendered moot, tomorrow. The second can be tech-enhanced ever onward, if we choose the braver-assertive path of active citizenship.

== The same old foolishness ==

An interesting article by Mariana Mazzucato on MIT Tech, suggests that many of our modern information age problems – such as being “farmed” by Internet giants for our information – might be addressed with a socialist approach… making most of the information about us into a “commons” where we all might benefit.  While I have some problems with some details, it is certainly in such a commons that we might at least get to see what is being done with our information, who is using it, and possibly even get paid for “interest” in knowledge about us, in a manner talked about by Jaron Lanier.

Caustically rejecting Dr, Mazzucato’s proposal is Aral Balkan, who insists that every individual should have sovereign control over his or her own portion of a balkanized infosphere, many billions of isolated cells, with every human attentive to which items of personal information are allowed to pass.  

“The crucial point here, however, is that this toxic way of building modern technology is not the only way to design and build modern technology. We know how to build free and open, decentralised, and interoperable systems where your data originates in a place that you – as an individual – own and control.”

What stunning, staggering towering malarkey. An example, please. Show us one example of such a system that has worked, persistently, at closing information flows in ways that stymie elite view and empower privacy and citizenship through concealment. There are no large scale examples, because it is technologically, logically and historically impossible. Nor is it even distantly related to the methods that we have used, across 200 years, to create a briefly flourishing era of individual creativity and freedom.

Again and again, since writing The Transparent Society, I’ve asserted. It’s not a important to fret over what elites know about you, as it is to have active, assertive power over what they can do to you. And that power is only derived from your knowledge of what they are up to. Balkanization of a secretive, cellular infoWeb can only benefit the mighty, who will have every tool to exploit cracks in those cell walls… and show me one such system – one, ever! – that did not have such exploitable cracks. 

But when elites are also naked, then they are limited in the number of henchmen they can hire without springing their own leaks. And…

…no, I will not try to summarize The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? Where I argue we should stay faithful to the impudent method that worked for the only 200 year stretch of rising human freedom and happiness.  If you are actually curious, here are articles and speculations by David Brin about transparency, freedom and technology.  

== And more of the same ==

Continuing in the same vein: In a perfect example of the Aplha-Minus Effect, Rochelle Gurstein rails in the Baffler against “Self-Invasions and the Invaded Self,” denouncing the trend toward self-exposure in the modern world, as if she invented what is - in fact - the hand-wringing stance that’s standard across the depth and breadth of modern intelligencia, denouncing how we live in “a society that offers boundless opportunities for men and women to expose themselves (in all dimensions of that word) as never before, to commit what are essentially self-invasions of privacy.” 

Continues Dr. Gurstein: “Although this is a new phenomenon, it has become as ubiquitous as it is quotidian, and for that reason, it is perhaps one of the most telling signs of our time.”

No, it is not a new phenomenon, not even remotely. Across all the history of our species, most humans lived in either tribes or villages in which power was disproportionately wielded by chieftains and their thugs and priests… and by the busybody gossips who pounced on every minor indiscretion or exposed weakness.  And exposed we were, in those ancestral villages, vastly more than we are today, when both physical walls and the law protect the interior spaces of our large homes.  

No. What is new is not our degree of exposure, but the extent to which it is voluntary - a choice taken by many millions to step out and preen in the open. A choice that wins them patronizing contempt from those who… like Rochelle. Gurstein… are waving their arms and shouting “look at me, instead!” from the page-screens of hifalutin intelligencia zines, not Instagram. This elitist contempt is richly expressed: 

“To get a sense of the sheer range of unconscious exhibitionism, we need only think of the popularity of reality TV shows, addiction-recovery memoirs, and cancer diaries. Then there are the banal but even more conspicuous varieties, like soaring, all-glass luxury apartment buildings and hotels in which inhabitants display themselves in all phases of their private lives to the casual glance of thousands of city walkers below. Or the incessant sound of people talking loudly—sometimes gossiping, sometimes crying—on their cell phones, broadcasting to total strangers the intimate details of their lives.”

To be clear, I agree that much of this modern self-exposure is both puerile and somewhat unwise. Though it does go way back, as she herself refers. 

“As (Henry) James put it in his description of the newspaperman in The Bostonians: “For this ingenuous son of his age all distinction between the person and the artist had ceased to exist; the writer was personal, the person food for newsboys, and everything and everyone were everyone’s business.””

Professor Gurstein proceeds to erect a series of strawmen to knock down, like the notion that anyone of note today might actually, actually be saying “Why seek privacy; do you have something to hide?” 

Um, please cite one example of that cliché being uttered by anyone of significance? One example? Even just one? Oh, but the series of strawmen continues:

“It is no wonder, then, that the world we inhabit together feels ever more ugly, coarse, and trivial. When the boundary between public and private becomes as extremely porous as it is today, we lose far more than “that kingdom of the mind, that inner world of personal thought and feeling in which every man passes some time,” which would have been disastrous enough.”

In fact, the private individual has never had more sovereignty than in today’s west, wherein personal eccentricity is vouchsafed protection by both law and relentless Hollywood messages. Yes, we continue to reform, always in the same direction of more tolerance, not less. Again and again we find just one limitation that consistently is applied to check that expansion of individual sovereignty, one criterion - is there a victim? 

If your eccentricity is one that hampers the livelihood or eccentric freedom of others, then you face opprobrium.  And note: if my assertion makes you angry, because we do not live up to that image well enough, consider that your very reaction is an example! 

Your eagerness to make it more true is shared by millions. In truth by a majority of your neighbors.

Among her article's few moments of lucidity, Rochelle Gurstein asks: “How can we begin to think about protecting our private experiences and our common world from more and more brazen indifference to their inherent fragility? The first thing we need to recognize is that the law is no help.”

Here we agree. No, law won’t protect you from the tsunami of light, nor will whining, or commanding the tide to go back out. 

What does have a chance of helping individual humans maintain some degree of safety, sovereignty, and even a little privacy is exactly the thing that dour svengalis rail against… light itself. If average people are empowered to see all elites, enforcing MYOB or “Mind Your Own Business”, then they may have deterrence.

This is not theoretical. Everywhere in the West that light has poured, oppression gained stigma and eventually began to fade. It is the thing – the only thing – that works.

Oh, I know what’s going on in China. The Social Credit system is turning light into the enemy of eccentricity, or freedom, or diversity and accountability. It could have that effect here, too. Which is why it’s all the more urgent that we study the west’s immune system against oppression and conformity. Light can be the enemy of those things, if it empowers feudal elites and gossips to push us around, as in the villages of old.  

Or it can empower us to hold elites and busybodies accountable and hold them at bay. What matters is our shared value system. And the pivot could not be more clear:

If I am right about our value systems re: eccentricity and tolerance and MYOB, then we have a chance. If I am wrong, then what does Dr. Gurstein think she’s accomplishing with her jeremiads?

Will transparency be used that way?  Here, at last, I have some overlap with the writer – (disclosure: she and I have had tussles, before) -- because the choice will be ours and it will depend upon our “sensibilities” or values. 

“How can we revive those aspects of the reticent sensibility that we need in circumstances radically different from the world in which they originally emerged? What would be their new foundation? I am sorry to report that I find myself at a complete loss for an answer.”

Yes, yes. That much is truthful and clear. That admission of failed imagination may indeed be the first step on the road to wisdom. The next is admitting that some things have actually worked, in our recent past. And squinting to perceive what they were.


Jon S. said...

I just have this basic aversion to people who think they're flaunting their intelligence by using ten-dollar words, when the meanings of them become redundant. Case in point, that line about so-called "self-invasions" becoming "...both more ubiquitous and quotidian..."

They're becoming "more common and commonplace"? And this article got published somewhere???

David Brin said...

I certainly could be accused of being smugly erudite, from time to time. But my training as a novelist makes me at least want to be understood by a large fraction of those who try to read. In this case, the author's entire premise is that she is fundamentally superior to benighted masses of sheep who inherently cannot be persuaded to cease their suicidal foolishness.

In fairness, there are times in history when this has been the case. I see possible signs! But the difference is that I desperately don't want it to be true! And I'll go down fighting to grab the lapels of my fellow citizens, getting them to grasp how fantastically mighty that word is.


Rud Merriam said...

Jon S - quotidian and ubiquitous are not the same. Consider, "Mistresses were ubiquitous amongst rich NYC real-estate developers." Neither is it "common" as in this sentence it means "universal".

Rud Merriam said...

A basic premise is some legal mechanism evolves about privacy. We can record in public because the courts said we can. If it becomes in the interest of the elites it will become illegal. Consider the current brouhaha about confronting politicians and Fox news persons in restaurants. If that becomes ubiquitous (!) with politicians they'll act to ban it.

Not sure how close my thoughts are to Balkan's. I would like the ability to designate an official repository of my information that I can control, edit and annotate. The only law I would enact is if I am harmed by information from another source I can seek damages.

jim said...

Back to values,
The values you listed aren’t universal, nor do I think that most people who value: eccentricity and tolerance and MYOB, would rate them as their most important values.

One of the things that I find really problematic, is that one of the most common and important values many groups of people have is IN GROUP LOYALTY. And that can potentially undercut any “universal” shared values between groups.

Twominds said...

American senator Mark Warner from Virginia has some interesting ideas about getting reasonable regulations for the social media companies. He's looking for both protection and transparency, and as far as I can see, at least some of his ideas could work.

David Smelser said...


Group loyalty in itself isn't a problem. The question is what happens when group loyalty conflicts with some other moral value like caring or fairness. This is what distinguishes liberals from conservatives. Liberals value caring/fairness more than group loyalty, while conservatives value group loyalty higher or the same. This why liberals ask their candiates who have groped women to resign and conservatives vote them in.


David Brin said...

jim I never said our weird recent positive-sum values are universal. They are indeed historically rare. Humanity is (barely) capable of an attractor state that's different from darwinian feudalism. If we look ahead and choose victory for our g-g-g-children, then this narrow path might work. But it will take this narrow window of values.

Andy said...

Would love to hear you discuss this on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Lately I listened to one where he interviewed Elon Musk, and discussed simulation theory and Tesla and tunnels under LA and artificial intelligence.

And another where he interviewed Ben Shapiro, and discussed identity politics, liberals versus leftists, limited government, and the effectiveness of California.

And then... it clicked.

He's in California. You're in California. You're both interested in similar topics, including science fiction type stuff and politics.

Dr Brin, this would VASTLY increase your audience and the reach of your message and memes. You gotta land an interview!

Anyone else listen to the JRE?

Alfred Differ said...

I wouldn't say liberals value caring/fairness more than group loyalty. As humans, I think we all put high value on it. The difference I see goes more like this...

1. Liberals try to widen their groups using caring/fairness as a justification.
2. As a result of this, we are not as strongly loyal to members of the group. We recognize that some are only barely within the borders.

Group loyalty is still strong for liberals and you can see this in how we treat people outside the border. It's not all that different though we might like to believe it is.

matthew said...

Let the usual cleanup of henchmen commence:

I wonder how the other 14 Saudis in the crew that flew to Turkey feel about this? Or the Istanbul consul Mohammad al-Otaibi, reportedly heard on the tape of the murder complaining about the noise? He went back to Riyadh just before the "cleaning crew" started in on his residence.

It's stuff like this that make it so hard for evil masterminds to get good help...

Larry Hart said...

David Smelser:

Liberals value caring/fairness more than group loyalty, while conservatives value group loyalty higher or the same. This why liberals ask their candiates who have groped women to resign and conservatives vote them in.

It would also seem that right-wingers (maybe not all conservatives) highly value limiting loyalty to within their own group. Their philosophy essentially requires there to be an out-group to whom rights and dignity simply do not apply. Liberals do a different thing, in fact the opposite thing--extending the franchise outward to the point of ridiculousness (such as protests against "specieism").

Some would say that liberalism does require an out-group to revile and oppress, namely conservatives. I'd pose two counterarguments to that.

One: we only act against you in response to your threatening us. It might be technically true to say that an invading army and a defending army are both trying to kill each other, but the defender does not demonstrate by defending that he likes using war as a tool, whereas the aggressor does. If we lay down our arms, they'll slaughter us. If they lay down their arms, the war would be over.

Two: Even if we have enemies, our philosophy doesn't require them. Theirs does. There is no liberal equivalent of "rolling coal" or "Drill, baby, drill!"--causing actual harm to no good end but that the other guys will be upset about it.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Even if we have enemies, our philosophy doesn't require them.

It's not a philosophy thing. It's a biology thing. Humans have "Us Vs Them" built into us. That it is as plastic as it is (kinship is not really a blood-line thing) is pretty amazing. It's still part of us, though.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

It's not a philosophy thing. It's a biology thing. Humans have "Us Vs Them" built into us

Be that as it may, I think liberals have an easier time making the "them" into an inanimate object or force of nature. Us against the hurricane or tornado or earthquake. Us against the ravages of space. Us against diseases. We don't require a human foe to humiliate and make miserable. We don't aspire to a boot stepping on the upturned face of humanity. They do.

There really are two types of people in the world on this. The first time I read 1984 in high school, I literally could not understand the notion of power as an end in itself. My brain kept going, "What's the point of pursuing power if there's nothing in particular you want to use it for?" The idea that the ability to inflict suffering on others was an end in itself seemed like something only badly-written cartoon supervillains would care about.

David Smelser said...

Suppose the leader of a group does something harmful to a member of that group. (If you need a specific, consider a male political candidate who touches women behinds when posing for photographs and the women express that they don't like this behavior.)

Is what happens next different if this is a group of liberals or a group of conservatives?
If so, why?

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | Without sounding like I actually want to argue over this, I think you have too rosy a view of us liberals.

Conservatives are pretty good at making 'them' into inanimate objects or forces of nature. I'll just point at most religions at leave it at that. 8)

I recall that there IS a difference in prioritization among us, but I don't think the science on that was quite sound enough just yet for me to believe it. That liberals tend to use broader definitions of 'us' is a matter of fine degree I think. All humans have a plastic nature when it comes to defining 'us' and some of us are slightly more plastic than others.

As for pursuit of power with no apparent purpose, I'll point out what I think is obvious. Babies. I don't have to realize that there is a purpose to my pursuit for there to be a result. Babies happen. Even super-villains have babies, right? The power you pursue could be of benefit to your offspring and you wouldn't even have to realize it. Evolution in action.

David Brin said...

Andy I’d be happy to do the Joe Rogan Show, but it’s better if lots of folks demand they seek me out. Offering myself tends not to work. Care to post here the contact info and maybe other members of the community might take part.

matthew right re henchmen. When will they ever learn.

DP said...

Basic question: Are we more corrupt and venal than ever before, or have we always really been this way and transparency advances have merely revealed what was always there?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I think you have too rosy a view of us liberals.

Possibly, but I come by it honestly. I'm describing my own thought process. I don't desire an enemy to humiliate and degrade. I don't feel that life is pointless without beating up such enemies. And I don't expect that everyone else shares my motivation (or lack thereof), but I presume that a subset does.

Conservatives are pretty good at making 'them' into inanimate objects or forces of nature. I'll just point at most religions at leave it at that. 8)

I think you're talking about something quite different from what I meant. I was saying that while humans may require challenges to overcome, those challenges don't have to be other people and "overcoming" doesn't have to involve making someone else miserable. You seem to be describing a tendency to treat your enemies as something less than human. That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

As for pursuit of power with no apparent purpose, I'll point out what I think is obvious. Babies. I don't have to realize that there is a purpose to my pursuit for there to be a result. Babies happen. Even super-villains have babies, right? The power you pursue could be of benefit to your offspring and you wouldn't even have to realize it. Evolution in action.

You're still doing what I also do--try to find a rationale that makes power a worthwhile pursuit. That's not what Orwell's O'Brien character described to Winston. He talked of power as an end in itself. I believe there's a line, "The purpose of power is power," or something close to that. And "power" was defined by the metaphor of a boot stomping on the upturned face of humanity. There are people for whom that is the whole point of gaining and holding power. And those people are not liberals.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | There are people for whom that is the whole point of gaining and holding power. And those people are not liberals.

Fair enough, but I don't think they are Conservatives either. You are describing a smaller set (not as small as we'd like) of sociopaths. Most conservatives fail to qualify.

The argument I make for babies doesn't really qualify as 'purpose' because it need not be intended. On that, you have a fair point. It's the only explanation (I think) that makes any sense, though. Any urge I have to stomp people with that boot is likely of an evolutionary nature. If your kids fail or you fail to have any, I'm better off because I set up a better relative situation for my kids. In a zero-sum world, that actually works. I think it is at the root of the feudal attractor.

Fortunately, we don't live in that zero-sum world let alone believe that it works that way. Neither do most conservatives.

I don't desire an enemy to humiliate and degrade. {etc}

Can't say that I know many conservatives who would feel any different on this with the key point being that they don't DESIRE it. You and I actively avoid justifications for treating 'them' as enemies. We probably make more effort at it than most conservatives, but that is because our opposing desire is stronger.

To desire that enemy isn't common enough to explain the large number of people who revere tradition.

yana said...

R. Gurstein, as quoted by D. Brin:

"What would be their new foundation? I am sorry to report that I find myself at a complete loss for an answer.”

D. Brin:

"That admission of failed imagination may indeed be the first step on the road to wisdom. The next is admitting that some things have actually worked, in our recent past."

Past being unwitting prologue, look at what people wrote about when they had to press wedges into clay. And then bake it. Look at what people did with moveable type. In both cases, the most deep effect was the reorganization of religions. Gurstein's 'new foundation' and the things Dr Brin says 'actually worked' are one synthesis of many, some of which blossom into a handful of new religions, global religions, and listen, god as my witness, 4 out of 6 of them will be completely free of dietary restrictions and sexual mores.

Look, sightings of elves and fairies stopped right when people began to see aliens. And now alien sightings are down, since there are cameras in everyone's hand. Even the pope complains about facing a sea of upthrusted Samsungs. Anyone who's done a samahdi tank sees what's coming: a human mind with lower stimulus fills in the blanks with dream. A strong dream can become a religion.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart is focusing on higher order behavior influenced by our cognitive abilities and cultural evolutionary history while Alfred is focusing on the lower order behaviors that underlie those and that are a product of our biological evolutionary history. Both are on point I think.

Based on my experiences I think Altmeyer et al put their fingers right on what some of the most significant differences are between liberals and conservatives. I think of it as differences in what tends to cause fear, piss them off and engender disgust. Disrespecting authority, whether it be a person, rules or tradition, tends to cause those reactions in conservatives more frequently and to a higher degree than among liberals. Another common characteristic I see among conservatives is fear. They are afraid and they are less willing to take a risk on anything that makes them afraid. Even, or especially, if that means infringing other peoples freedoms or killing them. Of course they mask this fear and the behaviors it inspires with machismo. They mythologize it as a heroic quality. "It takes a strong person to make the tough decisions," almost always in the context of an authority figure making a zero sum decision to fuck over some other people.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Why does this strike me as a spectacularly bad idea? China wants to launch satellites to reflect sunlight to Chinese cities at night.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"There are people for whom that is the whole point of gaining and holding power. And those people are not liberals."

Fair enough, but I don't think they are Conservatives either. You are describing a smaller set (not as small as we'd like) of sociopaths. Most conservatives fail to qualify.

I think I was careful to use the word "right-wingers" instead of "conservatives" in that context, for precisely that reason.

Incidentally, I remember a conversation with my father, probably around the 1968 election but maybe it was 1972, in which he described the dichotomy between "conservatives" and "liberals". It was the first time I heard those words. And my thought was, "Those don't sound like mutually exclusive categories."

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

Disrespecting authority, whether it be a person, rules or tradition, tends to cause those reactions in conservatives more frequently and to a higher degree than among liberals.

That's a good point, and I'll elaborate further. To me, the difference isn't that liberals disrespect authority, but that we question the legitimacy of certain authority figures, and use disrespect as a means of conveying, "We don't accept your claim to the position."

Note also that conservatives have their own ways of disrespecting authority (e.g., Clinton or Obama). When conservatives say that liberals disrespect authority, they seem to mean that liberals will criticize authority for exercising too much power. They (conservatives) don't have a problem with criticism of authority for being too reserved or too tolerant or too indulgent of differences. As I am wont to point out, both Jerry Fallwell and Susan Sontag blamed America for 9/11, but only Ms Sontag was considered unpatriotic for doing so. It's apparently impolite to suggest that terrorist attacks are blowbacks for America's misdeeds, but perfectly acceptable to suggest that they are God's punishment for America's tolerance of feminists and homosexuals.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

"Note also that conservatives have their own ways of disrespecting authority (e.g., Clinton or Obama)."

Likewise a good point. I should clarify that they tend to respond to disrespect of their authority figures with fear, anger and or disgust more often and more intensely than liberals do when faced with disrespect of theirs.

Larry Hart said...

Gotta love the snark:

The White House responded to the latest meltdown [between Kelly and Bolton] in its usual fashion. Despite the fact that there were witnesses, Donald Trump denied that anything happened. Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not deny, but she did explain where the fault really lies. You get three guesses as to whom she pointed the finger at, and the first two guesses don't count. You got it: the Democrats. Yes, it is true that there were no actual Democrats involved in the argument, but, "we are furious at the failure of Congressional Democrats to help us address this growing crisis," Sanders explained. Someone should really ask her who was to blame for the fall of the Roman empire, the bubonic plague, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. She might have some very interesting ideas.

matthew said...

I note that our current political situation shows *exactly* that for conservatives inflicting suffering on their perceived enemies is the point of power. We are living through a direct example of the thesis.

When someone shows you who they are you should believe them. Conservatives have spent the last 20 years showing us that they are full of hate for their fellow Americans and they are willing to do themselves significant damage in order to make their hatred clear to the libs.

What a bunch of rosy-eyed naifs in this discussion. Believe the voices of hate - they really do want you dead.

Andy said...

Alright David Brin fans, let's message Joe Rogan and get David on his show! The exposure would be phenomenal.

Joe Rogan is fascinated by chimps and talks about them often. We could mention how chimps are uplifted in David's novels.

Here's a video where he discusses chimps with Elon Musk. Comment!

His twitter is @joerogan

And here is a contact page for Podcast Booking Inquiries, dunno if that would help.

A.F. Rey said...

OK, I just found this little article from a couple of weeks ago:

Basically, the NHTSA wrote an environmental impact report that said that, by 2100, we are expecting a 4 degree celsius rise in average Earth temperature, with the resulting droughts, sea level rise, acidic oceans, floods, famines, pestilence, etc. Just what climate experts have been warning us for the past couple of decades.

And the Trump Administration's take-away was that this justifies freezing the increase in fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. Because the increase in CO2 from the lower standards would only increase the CO2 levels in the atmosphere by about 8 billion tons, which would only contribute a fraction of a degree to the increase.

IOW, we're all screwed anyway, so why bother?

I think I'm going to hide in my room for the weekend and forget about politics. Maybe sing along with the Grateful Dead, "I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe, but at least I'm enjoying the ride." Or with Tom Lehrer, "And we'll all fry together when we fry. We'll be french-fried potatoes bye-and-bye." Maybe come Monday I can face the world again.

When about half our country thinks Trump and his cronies are the saviors of our country, we're doomed. :'(

locumranch said...

Even when faced with the incontestable might of the top-down global government surveillance machine, David continues to cling to his fantastic belief in the so-called democratising potential of bottom-up reciprocal transparency, despite knowing nothing, zip & nada about those faceless government agents who know every little thing about him & his.

That said, it's time to turn our attention to the pending US midterm congressional elections & purge the US government of those lying opportunists who cynically promulgate Identitarianism, race-baiting, cultural appropriation and white privilege, as in the case of Elizabeth Warren.

Elizabeth Warren: Exceptionally 'privileged', greater than 99.9% white, purer than Ivory Snow & shamelessly appropriating the Native American identity for more than 20 years.


more weight said...


If we want to get rid of Identitarianism and race-baiting, the only way is to let race go. It either matters what race one is, or it doesn't. Yawn at racial shenanigans, or we'll be afflicted forever with white privilege, cultural appropriation, protected classes, inter- generational justice, positive discrimination, and all the rest of the bollux.

Susan Watson said...

Back in 2012 in a Hot Air interview Warren said "My parents had to elope because my mother was 1/16th Cherokee, or something"

It was significant because part of her family had rejected another part of her family for racial reasons. Claiming this heritage proudly was an act of defiance; An assertion of acceptance.

It also turns out she was exactly right; Her mother Pauline Reed was, indeed, 1/16 Cherokee. Out of idle interest, I did her tree last year. It goes like this:

Neoma 'Oma' C. Sarah Smith (100% Cherokee) was the mother of
Preston H. (Presley) Crawford (1/2) who was the father of
John Huston Crawford (1/4) who was the father of
Bethania E Crawford (1/8) who was the mother of
Pauline Reed (1/16) who was the mother of
Elizabeth Ann (Herring) Warren

She never claimed it was anything more than that. It was Trump who made it an issue, just like he made Obama's birth an issue. After years of ignoring him, they realize they have to swat it down to make it go away.

Ahcuah said...

I am suspicious of at least part of the claim by Susan Watson.

Elizabeth Warren's DNA said she was approximately 0.4% Native American (8 generations). Yet, if Neoma Sarah Smith was 100% Cherokee, Warren's DNA would have been closer to 3% (5 generations). The basis for the 100% claim (Google "Neoma Sarah Smith") seems to be a supposed statement from her son on his marriage license that his mother was Cherokee. (Note that does not specify being 100%.) Other results of the search say that that document does not exist--I sure as heck don't know.

Neoma Sarah Smith may well be the origin of Warren's family lore, but it is not as strong (or proven) as suggested.

duncan cairncross said...

Bob - the DNA testing had a range - the 1/32 claim was well within that possible range

Susan Watson said...

The point is, she was not ever claiming to be Cherokee or to have that lived experience. She WAS standing in solidarity with her mother.

David Brin said...

Meh. She bragged and inflated a bit. The one bothersome thing was listing herself as a "minority" at a couple of points... though no one asserts it was to gain any measurable advantage, it was still a wrong thing to do. And it's only an imbecile who would call it "shameless" in the face of what Trumps and Murdochs do in any passing hour or minute.

Cormac Williams said...

The range I have seen quoted from the left and the right is 1/64 - 1/1024.

On top of that you have the fact that she was publicly acclaimed as the "First woman of color" in 1996 in a Fordham Law review piece (Based on telephone interviews), mentioned directly as a Native American in a Crimson piece in 1996 and identified in 1999 as Native American in Harvards Affirmative Action Plan.

If she wasn't claiming anything for herself, then she was "accidentally" identified as such, at least three times, over three years without any public reaction on her part.


locumranch said...

Why should I complain when my enemy does something so incredibly stupid?

Once, I reasoned as 'more_weight' does about transcending social distinctions, but now I want MORE arbitrary subgroup favoritism, MORE protected classes and MORE identity politics.

I want the Establishment to choke to death on a huge mouthful of political correctness, a reeking accumulation of microaggressions, a steaming heap of sexual orientations and no less than 357 flavours of gender.

Watch as the US Democrat Party purges itself of all varieties of white privilege! Be amazed by a veritable orgy of progressive self-correction! Bear witness to the new & improved Auto-da-fe!

Auto-da-fé, what's an auto-da-fé?
It's what you oughtn't to do but you do anyway



Silly Wabbit Susan & Duncan_C are scientifically challenged, preferring progressive dogma to the genetic fact that Warren is 99.9% privileged WASP, who (1) is condemned as a would-be slave owner by her pale pasty skin tone and (2) was caught shame-faced while performing in an ethnically-insensitive Red & White Minstrel Show.

duncan cairncross said...

It's a shame there is no way of blocking Locoranch on this site
I accidentally read some of his bilge this time - most unpleasant

more weight said...


You're right, I do want to transcend social/tribal distinctions. I more and more think that tribalism is the main problem today. It is the problem that makes other problems insoluble.

I'm sure Alfred Differ is right that tribalism, as such, is a hardwired part of human nature, but we don't have to be slaves to it.

Larry Hart said...

It would be ghoulish to laugh about the snark here, but you gotta love the blatant exposure of hypo-Christianity. I'm thinking Pat Robertson is still alive because God has no interest in being closer to him:

At the same time, the evangelicals also appear to be falling in line. Pat Robertson, while scornfully noting that the religious beliefs of the Saudi royal family are "obnoxious," declared that the U.S. should probably not make a big deal over one dead person, given that there is $100 billion in cold, hard cash on the line here. His exact words: "[W]e've got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece'll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It's not something you want to blow up willy-nilly." In short, Robertson advises that Christians overlook an individual killing in favor of making large piles of money through the sale of the instruments of mass killing. The team of Biblical scholars is searching for the scripture that supports for that position, but somehow haven't quite managed to find it yet.

Larry Hart said...

For those who are old enough to remember the bit from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail":

This is supposed to be a
happy occasion! Let's not quibble about who killed who.

Someone needs to tell Benedict Donald that that was supposed to be farcical comedy, not a how-to manual.

locumranch said...

Now that a recent 'DNA & me' test has scientifically established that I possess a significant amount (up to 5.3 percent!!) of oppressed minority DNA, we need to (1) put haters like Larry_H & Duncan_C on a short leash, (2) impose censorship upon their hate-filled opinions, (3) have a serious discussion about the various advantages & reparations they owe me out of collective guilt, and (4) realise that any special protections & privileges I may now receive will NEVER decrease or erase the non-dischargeable (social; racial; historical; etc) debt that they owe me.

Help, help! I'm being oppressed!!


David Brin said...

"It's what we do anyway." No. It's you. And your ilk. Your inability to imagine that anyone is NOT like what you see in the mirror is responsible for your fear of us, which has no other bases since we are not like you. At all.

Feh, why do I bother. He screeches at phantoms of his own concoction. I do that too! But I make money off those storeis.



duncan cairncross said...

Help, help! I'm being oppressed!!

I wish!

Naincy said...
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Rani Sharma said...
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Puja Kumari said...
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