Tuesday, November 30, 2021

You... yes, you... can help save the world exactly by YOUR priorities! Oh, and those killing us with their passion.

On Giving Tuesday, take a glance at what might be the best way to leverage your power as a planetary citizen! Pick a problem you perceive desperately needs solving. Make a list of ten. There's a way to pool small amounts with millions of others who together hire pros to attack exactly your combination of concerns! 

Proxy Activism, the power of joining!


Have more than just a little? In the range of a dozen millions or so? Want to change the world more than most billionaires do? Then here's a way that a mere millionaire might change the whole world of philanthropy, forever!

And yes, I am talking about the one thing Vladimir Putin hates more than enlightenment, accountable law or the USA... NGOs or Non-Government Organizations. He - and his tool Fox News - rails against the very concept. A way that Western citizens can act outside of government to make the world better for all.

== Fear isn't the 'mind-killer." It's passion! ==


All right, I do return to this. But there is a common trait shared by all of those who are propelling us into civil war. Those who are tearing us apart with passion. 


As I said in the linked TEDdish talk, sanctimonious indignation is the mind poison shared far too widely across all spectra of politics and society, having very little to do with how justified (or not) your cause may be. It holds for to ALL of those who think it’s helpful to be “mad as hell!”  …. 


See: Is sanctimony an addictive disease?  


Okay yes, sure, there are good aspects to being passionate, especially in fighting against evil! We have the trait for good reasons. But it is all too easy for passion to become far more a mind-killer than mere fear.


I'm talking about when your passion takes over, blocking all ability to carefully evaluate your foes, especially their weaknesses, and thus you become less capable at defeating them. When feeling good about your righteousness becomes more important than achieving stated goals - that's sanctimony. When the voluptuous roar of your subjectivity makes you spurn (with malice) any application of objective reality.


When you are unable to recite the catechism of reasonableness: "I am at-most 90% right and my enemies are at-most 99% wrong." Which distills down to the sacred epigram of science: "I just might be mistaken."


== Where the mind-killer is most virulent ==


First, let’s address the by-far-worst infection: the entire Mad Right. Dig it, MAGAs and confederates and Fox-puppets: not one of your incantation memes would survive close, fact-based scrutiny and you know it. 


That is the definition of insanity. 


But far worse: your refusal to wager over your howl-memes is the very definition of dishonorable cowardice. Your dads and grampas would disown you, if they saw how all of you weasel, when dared to bet on your blowhard spews.


Many of your lie-memes are concocted in Kremlin basements (who else would want you screaming “deep state!” hatred at every single American fact-using profession, now including even the U.S. military officer corps?) Of course you must clutch all the lies passionately, because the slightest glimmer of reason will shatter them.


This means there are simply no sane American Republicans left. Even those who are calm-of-tone and who claim to regret Donald Trump are still complicit in their cult’s all-out War on Folks Who Know Stuff and against every single fact-using profession. There are no incantations or magic spells to cancel or excuse that crime.


(We’ll see in a matter of days whether an honest version of US conservatism still has a place in  American political life… manifest in Joe Manchin, if he comes through re: those vital bills, this month. If he does, then live with him, the way Lincoln and Grant accepted help from patriotic southerners who donned blue and fought for the Union. Grit… your… teeth and accept the miracle of a Democratic Senator from the reddest state in the nation, who ousted Moscow Mitch as majority leader and made Liz and Bernie committee chairs. That is... show some acceptance IF he eventually comes through. I guess we'll see.)


== Alas, there's plenty of crazy left-over to share around ==


Without any doubt - and with mountain ranges of proof - the monumental heap of treason and lunacy is on the entire mad right. But that does not mean they have a complete monopoly!


To the portion of the left that’s also so addicted to sanctimony that you harm the cause, please, I beg you to dig this. 


STRATEGICALLY we share goals: save the planet, increase justice & tolerance, invest in new generations, all that. (In fact, I've fought longer and harder for all those things - and more effectively - than almost any of those who keep carping me from that direction; bet on it?) 


We share overall goals and strategy. But your refusal to re-examine flawed TACTICS is a betrayal that all winning reform movements had to overcome. MLK, Gandhi, Frederick Douglass and so on spent half their time and energy on that, alas. And you who would piss on allies really, really, really need to read George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.


Think. Strategy and goals are sacred. Tactics - on the other hand - must be disposable/replaceable with new ones that work better. It's called agility and it is key to victory.

Fundamentally, it is BS that any criticism of flawed tactics is an 'attempt to undermine the cause.' That’s a flat out lie, as bad as any clutched by the right and it makes you more like them!


It is utterly proved that some of your sanctimony-propelled tactics harm the broad coalition - a majority of Americans(!) - who share your goals. Especially the reflex to diss allies and to refuse any credit to the two persons who are (at this moment) unambiguously your leaders, who need and deserve your passionate support. 


And yes, I mean Joe & Kamala. 


Your reflex to seach and sift and growl and dig for any excuse to hate them is why we lose. It's the same betrayal as in 1980, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2010 and 2016.  Only, if you try it this time, Stacey Abrams will come after you. With a stick.


== And yes, Maher is right ==


Indeed, while I disagree with him in many ways, that core truth about tactics is what Bill Maher has been saying, all along. And not just him, but also AOC, Stacey Abrams, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, Bernie and Liz, in their own ways. Tactics to help win in 2022 by TAKING TERRITORY away from the mad/treasonous/red/muscovite confederacy. 


And you won’t help that happen by screaming spittle in the faces of those you hope to convert.


Here’s the biggest one to fix. Cut down the obsession with SYMBOLISM! 


The entire mad right is obsessed with with symbol crap! Stop playing that mug’s game by going all sumo-grunt-shove with them over emblems. 


There are other battles - pragmatic fights - that matter far more for the planet and poor and justice, and every other good thing. Like winning.


== The Crux ==


Okay, don't leave with any impression I'm down with both-sides-ism!  While I finger-wagged at the most-fervid left, let's come full circle to recall who is far more wrong, strategically, morally, scientifically, factually and by any metric of decency or patriotism. 


I've said this before:


Yes, the FAR left CONTAINS some fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.   

 

But today’s mad ENTIRE right CONSISTS of fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality on you.     

 

There is all the world’s difference between FAR and ENTIRE.  

As there is between CONTAINS and CONSISTS. 


93 comments:

Don Gisselbeck said...

As Vaush et al constantly point out, it is possible for us wild-eyed leftists to speak under the moderately right wing rule of the current Democratic party, under the rule of the Republicans, we're dead.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan, (carry over from last thread)

My own patent…

I've got a brother-in-law who was working on a method for reading smaller spots on hard drives than could be reliably written back when. Bleed over problems. Writing to spots smaller than the medium might support or writing too close to a neighbor spot can lead to information loss… unless someone is tracking checksums, raid-ing, or the like. I understood a moderate fraction of what he was trying to do back then, but knew the actual limits on magnetic media were a quickly moving target. It made for a wonderfully shaped engineering problem that could be applied… until the industry did something to make the whole thing utterly irrelevant. 8)

I like perishable problems. They are good for the soul. We get to do something useful and then watch it all get tossed out later keeping our egos in check.

The PhD paper on the shelf is more important for training the individual in creating new ideas than for the knowledge contained in it.

If there is anything you've said around here that I've agreed is true (surely a few things) this one tops them all. I couldn't agree more. The dial is at 11.


I wonder if this could be one of the first tasks of an artificial intelligence?
Reading all of the old PhD papers to see if there is anything that should be publicized?


It would certainly be interesting to see how close we came to bright ideas that emerged later because they were re-invented by better salesmen. I think the AI's would see just how fizzy our innovation process is. Few people realize how much 'luck' is involved until they try to innovate.

Or would that be a motive for the "Death of all Humans"

Ha! They'd realize just how lucky it is they exist at all.

Russ Abbott said...

I agree with you on all fronts. I wish, though, that you would offer concrete suggestions for action. For example, you say,

The entire mad right is obsessed with symbol crap! Stop playing that mug’s game by going all sumo-grunt-shove with them over emblems.

There are other battles - pragmatic fights - that matter far more for the planet and poor and justice, and every other good thing. Like winning.


Would you mind being more specific about the symbols we shouldn't fight over and what, specifically, we should do instead.

Thanks.

David Brin said...

Some symbol fights are worthwhile.Putting paid to 140 years of symbolism bullying by Confederate-nostalgists is long, long overdue and I rejoice over the recent flood of people saying "It was utter-evil treason and oppression without any redeeming qualities."

OTOH, upping the ante to Lincoln and Jefferson? Deal with them by ADDING Frederick Doug;lass and Sally Hemmings next to every one of their statues. That uses HUMOR and makes a point without howling that all prior generations of sincere Americans were fools.

PRONOUN bullying! Oy, I am trying to adjust. But it strikes this old curmugeon as a bloody waste of time when there are practical battles to be won. Likewise 'trigger warnings." What the F- is this Cult of Fragility? Your parents and their parents, especially mom and grandma and g-g-ma, suffered VASTLY worse and soldiered through with forebearance.

CHANGE what's acceptable? Great! Cuomo had to go and all that. Women today should not HAVE TO endure what grandma endured. Slap harrassers hard! But let's have a sliding scale because applying the political Death Penalty to a hero like Al Franken was simply suicidal.

Above all, recognize that we'll need many kinds of democrats. While AOC types take over blue districts, that type will NOT TAKE NEW TERRITORY in red/purple zones. No amoung of "making our case clear" blarney will convert MAGAs into Bernie bros. But you might get a bunch of Manchins and especially Jon Testers! Try... actual... tactics!

GMT -5 said...

"First, let’s address the by-far-worst infection: the entire Mad Right. Dig it, MAGAs and confederates and Fox-puppets: not one of your incantation memes would survive close, fact-based scrutiny and you know it."

I'd love to see you debate Glen Greenwald. In his latest substack article he speaks out against the misuse of the term $white supremacist"

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/the-cynical-and-dangerous-weaponization

Greenwald also disputes that the KGB was behind Trump's 2016 election. The KGB links to Trump were pretty weak, but the FBI kept looking and kept leaking info to the major media.

Der Oger said...

Idea:

"If the constitution is so holy to you, let's make a law prohibiting and outlawing speech, symbols, groups and persons aiming at destroying the constitutional order through other means as provided by the constitution. Let's make it a felony to act in those ways, to show these symbols, to incite the people, to give aid and comfort to enemies of our constitution. Prove that you are a defender of the constitution and the rights enshrined therein. Let's create a defensive democracy that can stand resolutely against tyrants and traitors."

Larry Hart said...

Emphasis mine. No further comment necessary.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2021/Senate/Maps/Dec01.html#item-7

Every single House Republican voted against Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan in February and every Republican senator (except one who didn't vote) voted against it as well. The bill provided for payments to people who were out of work as a result of pandemic-induced closures of businesses. The Republicans felt that giving people free money would make them lazy and not look for work. Republicans don't like giving people free money.

Until now, that is. In Florida, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee, state officials have changed the rules to provide unemployment benefits to people who were fired or quit because they refused to be vaccinated. Normally, people who quit their jobs don't get unemployment benefits, but lawmakers in these states are apparently not worried that these people will become lazy and not seek work. So now people in those states who don't like their jobs can just quit, claim they are anti-vaxxers, and be supported by the state. Nice work if you can get it.

Nine states have passed laws banning private companies from requiring vaccinations or else requiring the companies to exempt anyone claiming a religious or philosophical objection to vaccination, even without proof. One category of exemption is "anticipated future pregnancy," even though most public health officials now recommend the vaccine for women who are already pregnant and certainly for women who might possibly become pregnant in the future. These laws will soon collide head-on with OSHA regulations requiring companies with 100 or more employees to require them. As usual, the Supreme Court will get to decide this.

The legal uncertainty is affecting companies. For example, Florida's new laws caused DisneyWorld to suspend its vaccine mandate. If enough companies do this, the pandemic will continue to rage. Although this is not our Friday schadenfreude item, it will be mostly Republicans who get sick and die as a result of these new laws. We wonder if the state legislators took that into account when passing them.

Tim H. said...

Something of interest: "What if Xi Jinping just isn't that?

https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/what-if-xi-jinping-just-isn't-that

Ever wonder how much of international tension is just individual governments shouting "Look, Squirrel!" to distract local rivals from an own goal?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

PRONOUN bullying! Oy, I am trying to adjust. But it strikes this old curmugeon as a bloody waste of time when there are practical battles to be won.


This is one where my proficiency at grammar which served me so well in high school works against me. It grates on my ear to use "they" for a singular antecedent. A sentence like "Pat is fighting with their brother." is grammatically incorrect enough that it bothers me, whereas even a sentence like, "Mary said his prayers while giving birth." doesn't break any rules of grammar.

I'm only slightly less old and curmugeonly than you, and I simply refuse to use "they" when referring to an obvious single male or an obvious single female. If that makes me a bad liberal, so be it. Where I will (grudgingly) give ground is in the case of an indeterminate single antecedent. "The winner of the race may collect their prize at..." instead of "his prize". My ear prefers the old way, but I'm willing to recognize a cause for change in that case.

But "Elton John sang some new songs at their concert"? It's more than just a grammatical issue. It sounds as if the speaker is insulting the listener's intelligence.

scidata said...

Whenever OGH mentions passion, nostalgia, and romanticism, I think of Laplace's last words:
"Man follows only phantoms"

I like to think this was in part a reference to the tragic abandonment of Bayesian thinking in the 18th C. [skipped] And I'll skip the temptation to go off into a history of Presbyterianism (eg. Cromwell's line 'think it possible that you may be mistaken', later poignantly quoted by Jacob Bronowski). Here's a good overview of the history of Bayesian thinking, based largely on McGrayne's 2011 book that influenced my take on computational psychohistory. There's also a linked Google Talk video by McGrayne herself.
https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/RTt59BtFLqQbsSiqd/a-history-of-bayes-theorem

Topics:
subjectivity
probability
common sense
bets (as a measure of the strength of our beliefs)
military technology (eg. artillery & submarines)
Turing & Shannon
modern computation
AI
medicine
etc

ST's Spock character was used to contrast passion vs logic. IIRC, McCoy called him a robot once or twice. I've come to better appreciate Asimov's admiration of robots. For all my criticism of anthropomorphizing, I've done exactly that with transistors! I worry less about defense from robots and more about defense of them. Noble allies of Humanity, not joyless minions of brain-wormed misanthropy. We should nurture, perhaps even love them.

"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

David Brin said...

GMT sorry. Greenwald is a stunning ass, without a scintilla of sapient honesty or reflection.

Tim H. There’s a fascinating article about X-i s apparent efforts to “break Australia” which have apparently backfired. As you’d expect for any attempt to bully aussies. https://www.reuters.com/world/china/beijing-wanted-break-australia-us-indo-pacific-adviser-2021-12-01/

LH: It is true that “his or her prize” was a bit of a cludge solution to the previous assumption of a generic “his” - (which was perfectly fine with Eleanor Roosevelt.). And now “his or her” is right-out! Because of the non-binary thing. And I am fine with expanding the circle of inclusion! But is there SOME point where a previously oppressed group is so small that it can be compensated in ways that don’t require hundreds of millions of neighbors to suffer vastly disproportionate disruption?

What ticks me is the failure of the sci fi community to step up and educate the public about 60 years of pronoun experiments in our far-seeing literature.

Treebeard said...

This term “save the world” made me realize that what we’re dealing with here, at bottom, is a disagreement about metaphysics. In traditional theistic metaphysics, “the world” is not what you’re concerned about saving, but the souls that are moving through it on their way to an eternal realm. “The world” is fleeting, unsatisfactory, full of suffering, doomed and possibly ruled by an evil demiurge or Devil. That all got inverted with the rise of materialism, atheism and the so-called “Enlightenment”: now this world and this life is all there is, eternal life doesn’t exist, so if you’re going to experience heaven you have to build it right here and now. Where "hell" to the theist is the Outer Darkness of eternal separation from God, hell to the materialist is the eternal darkness of separation from this world—i.e. death. So the materialist fears death like the theist fears hell, and worships the creation like the theist worships the creator. Immaterial souls, of course, are not a thing in the materialist worldview.

So many disagreements of philosophy, politics and culture can be traced back to this basic metaphysical divide. Metaphysics, much more than physics, is the relevant discipline to understanding. them, but not coincidentally that fell out of favor as a field of study with the rise of materialism. “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist”, as the saying goes. So people aren’t speaking the same language or living in the same reality, and there doesn't seem to be any way to bridge the divide. But metaphysics will continue to matter, and matter will continue to be a matter of disagreement as to whether it can or should be “saved”.

Anyway, just some random thoughts on a cloudy day.

Robert said...

This is one where my proficiency at grammar which served me so well in high school works against me. It grates on my ear to use "they" for a singular antecedent.

Given that the use of "they" as a singular pronoun dates back to 1375, the problem would seem to be that your high school grammar instruction was incomplete, and overly perscriptive.

https://public.oed.com/blog/a-brief-history-of-singular-they/

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

It is true that “his or her prize” was a bit of a cludge solution to the previous assumption of a generic “his” - (which was perfectly fine with Eleanor Roosevelt.). And now “his or her” is right-out! Because of the non-binary thing. And I am fine with expanding the circle of inclusion!

I may be flawed here, but to me, "his or her" (or "his/her") covers the entire spectrum. Maybe it should be written as "his-her", but it wouldn't sound any different. My objection to that solution is that it sounds clumsy when you keep saying it over and over. Like Eric Idle's Stan/Loretta character in Life of Brian who has to keep interrupting every clause with "...and herself!" until John Cleese forgets what his point was. It becomes self-parody.

"They" for a singular is an imperfect solution which not only sounds grammatically incorrect, but only works in a language like English by virtue of the fact that English doesn't have gender-specific words for the third person plural. If we were speaking French, we couldn't avoid the gender-specificity by resorting to the plural, because French has separate words for they-masculine (ils) and they-feminine (elles). The French use of "ils" for they-mixed is insulting to women as it is, and would be just as insulting to use for indeterminate gender.

If we were designing language from scratch at this point, we'd probably create a third person pronoun without reference to gender. I'd be in favor of just using "it" and not caring about whether the antecedent is a person, a place, or a thing, let alone a masculine thing or a feminine thing. But we're not designing language from scratch. It's bad enough when teachers and self-appointed grammar police harp on every tiny violation of every real or imagined rule. I can't accept that being a good liberal requires harping on someone for following rules of grammar they've used all their lives, which are retroactively deemed politically incorrect. If there's good cause to avoid certain particular usages, then try persuading the speaker to come around. One might even gain a real ally that way (I myself was persuaded not to keep saying "Marriage means a man and a woman," by someone who made clear how much that hurt her).

But bullying only ends up creating more Republicans. It makes someone want to own the libs when they didn't necessarily feel that way before.

Duncan Ocel said...

@Der Oger from previous post:

Thanks for speaking out against patents into an opposed crowd. The anecdotal tools used to back up the patent system can equally be put to use to argue against it:

When companies can use patent rights to protect their "intellectual property" their behavior approaches rent-seeking.

If patents didn't exist or were unenforcable, companies would invest heavily in R&D to keep ahead of competitors and rent-seeking would be removed from many tech and manufacturing sectors.

duncan cairncross said...

That "Noahpinion" article was plausible

UNTIL it got to the bollocks about the Uighurs

Which made the rest of the article also "Questionable"

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin

I agree 100% about the gender terms thing - we need gender neutral universal terms so that we don't need to put his/her and such everywhere

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

Idea:

"If the constitution is so holy to you, let's make a law prohibiting and outlawing speech, symbols, groups and persons aiming at destroying the constitutional order through other means as provided by the constitution..."


Your premise is flawed in that the constitution is "holy" to liberals more than it is to right-wingers. The only part they worship is the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Even the parts that both sides like, such as "freedom of religion" is warped in Right-wing World to mean the opposite of what it really is. They mean "freedom of my religion to impose our will on everyone, since my religion requires me to do that."

Also, the US Constitution explicitly forbids "mak[ing] a law prohibiting and outlawing speech..." regardless of what follows. So doing so in defense of the constitution requires pretzel-like logic.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

What ticks me is the failure of the sci fi community to step up and educate the public about 60 years of pronoun experiments in our far-seeing literature.


That reminds me that the Traeki in your second Uplift trilogy used their own pronoun to refer to the collection of rings considered as a single entity. "Xer", was it? Something like that, anyway.

David Brin said...

Mikestone thanks. Yes, that was one of many aspects to Costner-Helgeland’s flick that I actually VERY much liked! Even if Costner made a DIG at ME with his movie about augmented soldiers being rejected. HAH! No I think it was a tragedy the last 20 minutes were so awful cause it made folks have a bad taste toward a darn good flick, before that.

Duncan the assumption that the only solution to language sexism is to do the most radical surgery instead of the mildest, is noxious. Like making “man” all-male in the 70s instead of embracing it as universal, as Eleanor Roosevelt had and all great documents had… but the 70s ‘reform”… done without holding even a single conference(!)… threw all of that into the dustbin.

David Brin said...

Treebeard is right. This is a metaphysical tiff that’s ancient. His cult has long rejected material reality with bilious spite, rejecting the onus on them to show ONE scintilla of evidence that their ravings are anything more than incantations.

While the core of this mystical masturbation to dualism lay in post-Perclean Greece, where Paul picked it up and crammed it into the Judeao-Christian mainstream… it’s also seen in many human cultures from Hindu-Buddhism to the Aboriginal dreamtime. It boils down to “I can’t alter this reality as much as I want to, so I reject it!”

The best presentation of this worldview I’ve read is in Iain Pears’s novel THE DREAM OF SCIPIO, which I reviewed elsewhere. Beautifully written and persuasive, till you realize how blitheringly noxious and insane it is… much like the works of OS Card.

Of course, this is also one of many reasons Jews – often at great cost - rejected Paulianism, which portrayed God as a murderous psychopath demanding human sacrifice to expiate the “sin” of newborn babies… and which spurns this beautiful world as garbage, instead of the magnificent gift that it is. A gift whose rough forge made us what we are, an adolescent race now assigned duty to tend and care for it.
(Tikkun Olam.)

So sure, I enjoy Treebeard’s rants, even though he is, of course, a total nut case who would never be satisfied to just wallow in his dyspeptic glower. If he ever had real power, he would certainly insist on dragging us all down to share his doom/gloom.

But in a sense, that’s only fair, since we moderns have foisted on him so many pleasures and reasons for the hope that he despises. Aggressively tempting him out of his beloved funk with a thing called hope.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Given that the use of "they" as a singular pronoun dates back to 1375, the problem would seem to be that your high school grammar instruction was incomplete, and overly perscriptive.


Nonetheless, my grammar usage has been internalized for some 50 years. A singular "they" isn't going to sound right or feel right in my remaining lifetime.

I'm open to persuasion to use it anyway, but I'm not convinced yet. And I want to be liberal so much that bullying over grammar won't make me vote Republican. Millions do, though.

From your linked article:


In modern English, that’s: ‘Each man hurried . . . till they drew near . . . where William and his darling were lying together.’


To me, that reads more as a confusion about whether "Each man" is a singular or a plural when there are many such men involved. That's a different grammatical question from whether to use the plural pronoun as a singular just to avoid the requirement that a singular pronoun specify a gender. After all, the gender of "Each man" is pretty obvious, and wouldn't require using "they" for that reason.

Larry Hart said...

@Treebeard,

You mistake a metaphor for a descriptive phrase--willfully so IMHO.

"Save the world" is used to mean something like "Save everyone." "The world" is a collective noun in that metaphor. Yes, there are extremists who mean "Save the planet even if that requires killing all the humans", but that's not the common usage of the phrase. For instance, it is often asserted that the Allies saved the world from Hitler in WWII. Whether or not you agree with that statement, its meaning is clear. "The world" is the collective people, not the unliving planet.

Cari Burstein said...

As a woman who's spent most of her time in male dominant online spaces for many years, I have long tried to be in the habit of using they instead of him or him/her in cases where I do not know the gender of the person I'm referring to. It's extremely common for everyone on the internet to assume by default everyone else is a man, especially in those spaces, and it gets quite grating to be constantly referred to by male pronouns by people who make those assumptions. I mostly don't bother to correct people unless they pepper the language rather heavily with the male pronouns in an extremely long conversation (you'd be surprised how often that happens in situations where no pronoun is really required).

I'm forgiving of it because it's a flaw in the design of language, and I make those mistakes myself from time to time, but I suspect most men really just don't take notice of these things the way women do because they are conveniently the default gender. I get why people feel weird using they to describe singular people but realistically until something else takes off as a good solution, it's the easiest option.

matthew said...

One of my kids came out as non-binary about a year ago. I've had M<->F trans friends for years so a simple switch in gender is pretty easy for me. I can count on one hand the number of times I've misgendered a simple M->F or F->M transition in my lifetime.

"They/Them" on the other hand is damn hard, even with a year of practice. But I do it to show my love for my kid to them. I still screw it up regularly. They still love me even though I struggle with their pronouns. And, damn, it *is* a struggle. I'm getting better at it, though.

David Brin said...

LH... except in case like my novel EARTH wherein the very personal Gaia is a major figure.

Cari I well understand your case and I am happy to cooperate. The biggest thing is that women PRAGMATICALLY make up an increasing majority at universities and parity in politics. SYMBOLICALLY what could matter more than the fact that Hollywood etc. are now vigorously counterbalancing, making every character who CAN be female BE female, from heroes to villains. Isn't that making males the gendered sex? A long way to go, still, but no one comments on that phenomenon in popular culture, at all.

My key point is that things did not have to be this way. in the 70s there was argument whether to make "man" all-male and thus render ALL previous literature sexist, including all the very best works of righteous enlightnment and humanism, including nearly all the speeches of Eleanor Roosevelt...

... or to seize it for all adults, as Joni Mitchell did, in "I was a free man in Paris." And thus force male humans to be the ones to adapt and find a name for themselves.

I think Gloria Steinem has been proved devastatingly wrong for choosing the former path for everybody.
But my real complaint is that she did so without even holding a single conference or meeting to discuss it.
We are paying for that arrogance, to this day.

Robert said...

Nonetheless, my grammar usage has been internalized for some 50 years.

So, less time than "one nation under god" has been part of your Pledge of Allegiance…

We need a pronoun for cases where gender identity isn't known or doesn't matter. Having one do double duty for the dominant gender identity is kinda like not bothering to have a word for "white", and assuming that everyone is "white" unless you need to use a different term. Using "he" to include a "her" still means that the first image that springs to mind is a guy…

Earlier this year I had a relative ranting at me about not being able to see people like him on TV ads anymore, everyone was minority now — and when I looked at the ads, there were plenty of white men, but there were also women, non-white people, mixed couples*, etc. Same chap had his knickers in a knot about the government appointing a 50% female cabinet (in a country with >50% female voters). He had internalized that "man" meant a white guy like him, and anyone different was 'other' and required at least a qualifying adjective if not another word entirely.

So having a term that doesn't feed into that mentality is useful.

Singular "they" may feel clumsy, but you'll get used to it. It's far less a grammatical atrocity than the average business report contains.


As to the article, the Oxford is a descriptive dictionary, and has always made a point of simply describing how English is (and was) used. I'll trust the opinions of its grammarians. It had other examples from centuries ago, too.


*Finally — seems like it took a lot longer than it should have for advertisers to stop pairing people by skin pigmentation.

David Brin said...

We, too, have non-ortho people in our family of various types. To me that's not the issue, which is LAZINESS. An adamant refusal by activists to admit that these changes cannot be made ex-cathedra by didnt of sanctimonious anger but should be discussed at calm conferences that lay out a wide variety of potential solutions, including an array of multi-gendered usages that fo back long before Ursula LeGuin.

The stunning arrogance of insisting on specific (and lazy) 'solutions' without putting them before gatherings of sages and the public, to consider whether potential alternatives might make more sense and work better, achieving reform goals with minimal disruption, is the most dismal aspect of left-style righteousness.

locumranch said...


Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of reality, first causes & the principles of things, whereas Materialism (a branch of metaphysics in & of itself) does not mean what you think it means.

Materialism is a branch of philosophy that tries to explain everything -- including thought, feeling, mind and will -- in terms of physical matter and physical phenomena and, as such, it cannot be used to explain the existence of physical matter.

More commonly defined, Materialism is a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual, moral or abstract values.

Even so, Tikkun Olam is NOT materialism and David is NOT a materialist, most specifically because both (ideology & ideologue) repudiate observable physical reality in favour of an unreal abstraction that 'should', 'ought to' and 'is supposed to' exist at some indefinite point in the future.

Reread the above definition of materialism and realize that an unsubstantiated belief in Hume, Humanism, Better Angels and imaginary genders is NOT materialism.


Best

David Brin said...

Blah blah. While Treebeard makes passionately well-parsed - if utterly wrongheaded - assertions, it is generally difficult to even deal with locumranch. His blithering rants appear to be in English, but they do not make sense, even sentence by sentence and hence (perhaps the intent?) they are almost impossible to grapple with. As usual, he appears (appears, I think) to be aiming salvoes yet again at portions of the horizon that have nothing to do with me or anyone here.

TCB said...

Dr. Brin said: Strategy and goals are sacred. Tactics - on the other hand - must be disposable/replaceable with new ones that work better. It's called agility and it is key to victory.

A lot of people who didn't go to, say, Annapolis or West Point, don't really get the difference between tactics and strategy.

My personal definition goes like this: tactics are the servants of strategy, small in space or scope, and short in time. Mind you, tactics are important! And you may use a particular tactic every day, for a long time, in many places. Soldiers learn certain ways of clearing a house, setting up an ambush on a road, or making themselves hard to detect. In politics, delaying a bill until it dies in committee is a tactic. In poker, bluffing is a tactic. Tactics serve strategy, not the reverse.

Strategy is big in space and scope, long in time. The best tactics are useless without good strategy. In World War 2, dropping depth charges on German subs was a tactic. Defeating the German sub force so that Britain could eat was a strategy. Refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing for Supreme Court confirmation was a tactic for a year. Packing the federal courts with conservatives is a national strategy for half a century and counting.

Clausewitz famously said the purpose of war is to impose your will on the enemy. So the first thing you must know is: what is your will? What is your big-picture victory condition? When the dust settles and the smoke clears, what do you wish to have won?

Knowing that, you then need a strategy: what big moves in time, space, and scope will produce that victory? Never forget your goal and never forget the big strategy! Change them if you must. Never forget them.

And then come tactics. There might be a hundred of these. Try them. Keep doing what works. Be unsentimental about what doesn't. Change it or scrap it entirely. And do not waste precious time thinking only of tactics: tactics serve strategy and strategy serves the ultimate goal.

David Brin said...

Well said TCB. Alas, the strategic goal of some is the rush of bullying sanctimony and not achieving beneficial outcomes.

Jon S. said...

Issue is, "he/him" can refer to a male or transmasc, while "she/her" can refer to a female or transfemme, but what do you use to refer to a non-binary person, who identifies neither as masculine nor feminine? "They" isn't really that hard - I certainly haven't had that much difficulty adapting, and I've been speaking standard American English since around 1965 or so.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"Nonetheless, my grammar usage has been internalized for some 50 years."

So, less time than "one nation under god" has been part of your Pledge of Allegiance…


No, IIRC, that change happened in the 1950s. I was born a decade later. In school, I always learned the "under God" version, but my parents knew it as "One nation indivisible", and they thought the "under God" version sounded clumsy. Even though they're the religiously observant ones.

So that's more about what one grew up with than it is about religiosity.

My issue with "under God" in the pledge is not grammatical. I don't think we are (nor should be) a nation under God. Pledging so feels hypocritical. Which gets back to this conversation, because to me, using "they" to pretend I don't know I'm talking about a man or talking about a woman (when the listener knows darn well that I do know) also feels hypocritical.

Note that I said all along that I'm willing to use "they" when the antecedent is truly in question, even though that also sounds wrong to me.


We need a pronoun for cases where gender identity isn't known or doesn't matter.


I do agree. I just think a generalized consensus on a particular change takes time.

Serious question: How does this argument play out with French speakers, whose language has gendered third-person plurals as well as singulars? I assume that there's a politically correct way that liberal French speakers are supposed to handle gender ambiguity, but using "they" isn't an option. So what do they do?


Earlier this year I had a relative ranting at me about not being able to see people like him on TV ads anymore, everyone was minority now


In case you think I'm against you on everything, this has been my argument forever against conservatives who think that defending the privileged status of their identity group is the same thing as demanding equal status for someone else's. The people you describe aren't being deprived of portrayals of people like them. They're only being "deprived" of such portrayals crowding out everyone else from seeing people like them.


Singular "they" may feel clumsy, but you'll get used to it. It's far less a grammatical atrocity than the average business report contains.


I don't doubt it. I'm only asking some consideration for being somewhat set in my ways, which is not the same thing as being hostile to your cause.

Slim Moldie said...

Seems to me that advocating for something like ranked-choice would be a reasonable tactic the Democratic party could employ to move the needle to the center and get more sane adults in the room. No idea though how long it would take for RC to gain enough traction in local politics to expand nationally.

Treebeard, your post would make a good springboard discussion of "To Your Scattered Bodies Go."



TCB said...

I do not love "they/them" nomenclature. Those words already had a job, as third person plural. Robert Anton Wilson used "hes/hir" in some of his books forty years ago for third person singular gender-neutral. It was nice. It fit right in with he/his and she/her.

But the standard has been chosen by popular usage. Like the QWERTY keyboard, "they/them" may not be the most elegant standard we could have had, but it is good enough to become standard, and it has set like concrete over the last decade or so, and that's all there is to it.

Der Oger said...

We have that gendering debate, too, but it is more applied to the form of nouns.
Take the word for student, for example, you can say "Student" (male form) or "Studentin" (female form); it became "Student*in". When spoken, the "gender star" is expressed as a short pause. Usage of this form is sharply divided between the left and right, but in academia, the rules for submitting papers have changed so that "gendering" is a mandatory rule. You can circumvent the gender star by using plural forms which can mean either, like "Studierende" in the case above.

When it comes to the academic left, I have a little theory why they focus on identity politics so much.

First, it is a power game, and toxic leadership is not confined to the right (though probably more frequent there). It becomes all about dominating your tribe. Universities and the adjacent social circles can become shark-infested waters.

Second, the academic left has become a tribe of it's own, the often quoted "ivory tower". They have become blind to other social evils, like the rising influence of investment companies and it's effects on worker's rights. They have become deaf to the fears and woes of everyday people, and thus, they turn to the right, exacerbating that problem. And it surely does not help that the question whether you can study or not depends on your parent's academic degrees or purse, or that the right belittles or smears sciences in general (as our OGH often mentions), increasing a "trench mentality" even more.

Finally, it may be that they perceive these area as the last battlefield left where they can achieve meaningful change. All others - climate (at least, until Greta arrived), social welfare, workers rights - are dominated by corporations and their political tools.

Der Oger said...

@ Duncan Ocel:
Another anecdote:
Many years ago, it was usual in the music industry to tie artists and their intellectual property to a company, then lock them up in a closet to be forgotten to protect the other horses in the stable, and to rip them off for lyrics to be played by those other artists. The rise of the internet ended that practice somewhat, but that is another reason why those companies so heavily invest in enforcement of IP laws in the last decade.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

Issue is, "he/him" can refer to a male or transmasc, while "she/her" can refer to a female or transfemme, but what do you use to refer to a non-binary person, who identifies neither as masculine nor feminine? "They" isn't really that hard


Since I'm coming off as the conservative here, let me clarify. I don't disagree with what you say there. When the person who is the antecedent of the pronoun is of indeterminate gender (whether a non-binary person or an undefined person such as "whoever wins the race"), I'm perfectly ok with using "they". Despite the fact that it sounds awkward, so does any other alternative such as "his or her". Short of redesigning the language itself, there is no perfect solution, so we might as well go with the one that's gaining traction.

(Parenthetically, I do legitimately wonder how this is being addressed by French-speaking liberals who don't have a gender-neutral "they" in their repertoire)

While I'm not exactly on board, I open to adapting to using "they" for a singular human when speaking to an audience who expects that. Here on this blog, I will probably end up doing so for the simple reason that not doing so seems like more of a political statement than doing so does.

What I don't want to do is insult my listener or make a pushy political statement out of civilized conversation. When speaking to my mother about my brother, I'm going to refer to him as "him". Anything else would either confuse her or be too weird.

Another case is when speaking with someone I know leans conservative but not Trumpist. If I say to my co-worker Jim about our co-worker John that "John fell out of their chair this morning," it would be perceived as either an insult or a challenge on my part. There are times when insult or challenge is warranted, but I don't intend to make every conversation into one.

Duncan Ocel said...

For those interested, a thoughtful description of the roles of sex, gender and stereotypes in trans life from a trans scientist: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/11/why-all-the-anti-trans-arguments-are-bogus

Robert said...

"Nonetheless, my grammar usage has been internalized for some 50 years."

So, less time than "one nation under god" has been part of your Pledge of Allegiance…


No, IIRC, that change happened in the 1950s. I was born a decade later.


That was my point. The pledge has been "one nation under god" since before you were born, but you'd have no trouble removing that bit even if it isn't what you're used to.

Note that I said all along that I'm willing to use "they" when the antecedent is truly in question, even though that also sounds wrong to me.

And I'm arguing that "doesn't matter" is more important than "in question".

Serious question: How does this argument play out with French speakers, whose language has gendered third-person plurals as well as singulars? I assume that there's a politically correct way that liberal French speakers are supposed to handle gender ambiguity, but using "they" isn't an option. So what do they do?

No idea. Despite 13 years of instruction my French is sub-conversational. I still find gendered nouns odd — quick, are tables masculine or feminine? Although maybe everything having an arbitrary gender makes it less of an imposition to have a default gender? Maybe someone here actually knows and would be willing to explain…

In case you think I'm against you on everything, this has been my argument forever against conservatives who think that defending the privileged status of their identity group is the same thing as demanding equal status for someone else's. The people you describe aren't being deprived of portrayals of people like them. They're only being "deprived" of such portrayals crowding out everyone else from seeing people like them.

And that's the problem with using masculine pronouns as neutral/unknown pronouns as well — it deprives women of being portrayed in cases where they could/should be, because unless the author is specifically referring to a woman they are by default referring to a man.

I'm only asking some consideration for being somewhat set in my ways, which is not the same thing as being hostile to your cause.

I might well be older than you. I did have the advantage of a feminist father, who hung International Womens Year posters around the house.

Please don't think I'm attacking you personally. I'm not. But having seen the effects on my nieces of constantly having to push a bit harder than the boys to be accepted in their choices I have less patience than I used to have.

Larry Hart said...

You woudln't believe how hard it is to convince Christians of something every Jewish kid learned in Sunday school:

https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/05/thats-not-in-the-bible/

...one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Robert said...

When it comes to the academic left, I have a little theory why they focus on identity politics so much.

First, it is a power game, and toxic leadership is not confined to the right


True. Anything can become a tool in the power game. Probably more true in academia than other areas, given how political academic institutions are. (Based on my own experience and what I've heard, anyway.)

Robert said...

For those interested, a thoughtful description of the roles of sex, gender and stereotypes in trans life from a trans scientist: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2021/11/why-all-the-anti-trans-arguments-are-bogus

Also worth reading is Crossing by Deirdre McCloskey

https://press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/556689.html

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"They're only being "deprived" of such portrayals crowding out everyone else from seeing people like them."

And that's the problem with using masculine pronouns as neutral/unknown pronouns as well — it deprives women of being portrayed in cases where they could/should be, because unless the author is specifically referring to a woman they are by default referring to a man.


Well, I hope you've noticed that in this entire conversation, I haven't argued in favor of the masculine singular as the default. In a more perfect world*, I'd prefer to use "him or her", but that gets old fast as well. So I'm willing to use "them" in indeterminate cases.

I know you mentioned "when it doesn't matter". Well, to some people, being referred to as a man or a woman does matter. I know some people who would perceive a reference to themselves as "them" roughly the way they'd perceive a reference to themselves as "it". Which I would actually prefer to be the default singular, but no one else is going to be on board with that. So all I can advise is, "Know your audience."

* In an actually-perfect world, we wouldn't have started with gendered pronouns to begin with.

Larry Hart said...

Robert again:

That was my point. The pledge has been "one nation under god" since before you were born, but you'd have no trouble removing that bit even if it isn't what you're used to.


The pledge is a private thing that one may say as...they...wish. Even as a kid, when I was old enough to be an atheist, I used to only pretend to say the words "under God". As far as I know, no one else knew or cared.

Language usage in conversation with other people, where how you're being heard and interpreted is as important as what you think you're saying, is a different matter. If you use words or phrases which you know will be misinterpreted by the listener, then that's on you, not on...them.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Remember, the pledge (without "under God") was written by a Baptist socialist.

toduro said...

Re the pledge, I remember standing beside someone who slightly increased the volume of her voice as she said "under the Constitution" while everyone else said "under God".

Of course she had to say "the Constitution" rapidly.

I never saw anyone give her any guff about it.

She was the first person who told me about the Republican Party's southern strategy.

Later on she ran for city council as a Democrat.

Jon S. said...

"So I'm willing to use "them" in indeterminate cases."

Oddly, that's the only time you're being asked to. If you know the expressed gender of the person to whom you're referring, if "John" is your coworker's actual name and John would like to be identified as a man, then "he" is the correct pronoun. My pronouns are indeed he/him, as I am a cishet male. If "John" is a nickname for Juanita, who finds the name confusion entertaining, and Juanita identifies as a woman, then "she" is the correct pronoun. If John prefers to identify as neither male nor female, and is made uncomfortable by association with either gender (cf Adina Tal in Star Trek: Discovery as of the end of Season 3), then the appropriate pronoun would be "they".

It's really not the minefield you make it out to be. Just use "they" when either the gender is not readily apparent, or the person has indicated they prefer that pronoun. (See what I did there? Perfectly proper grammar, too.) If you're guessing and you guess wrong, few will take actual offense, and most that will are cis people who have appearances/voices at odds with gender norms - they tend to get annoyed because it's been happening to them their entire lives.

David Brin said...

Well, I did my monthly toe-dip into the automatic spam bucket and all but one of the screeching obsessives has wandered off. Alas, that one appears to be that Ukrainian fellow who used to offer us interesting insights, before (sadly) going completely bonkers. He has been desperately changing monickers trying to slip past the filters, which fortunately detect and flush his ravings pretty easily, especially when he howls that rudeness is the same thing as freedom-of-speech and it's his right to shit on other people's rugs.

My own pledge modifier is to omit "the flag of"... and instead simply pledge fealty to the nation itself. I am not beholden to a scrap of cloth. Though I would follow it into battle, it's not the cloth I would die for.

===
A couple times a month, the filter presents me with a couple of his better attempts that seem ambiguous, usually when he desperately tries to steal one of the names of a regular poster, here. I think twice I went ahead and approved a couple of them and he went into absolute orgasms. Despite the effective filter, I am getting tired of this. Sometimes my wife, who manages my post drafts, glimpses the nasty twerp's ravings.

So I gotta ask you all to vote. Shall I click over to restricting to "users with google accounts"? It should not be too much inconvenience. Who among you doesn't have one? And if he goes to the extra effort I can get each of his new accounts banned - one click - quicker than he makes them.

But this is a community, so let me know your thoughts.
Does anyone object?

locumranch said...

Blah blah. While Treebeard makes passionately well-parsed - if utterly wrongheaded - assertions, it is generally difficult to even deal with locumranch. His blithering rants appear to be in English, but they do not make sense

I agree with everything David just said (above) as increasing philosophical differences have made my attempts at between-bubble communication near impossible.

Einstein concurred & described how it was a lack of philosophical rigor that facilitated both (1) the intrusion of mysticism (magical thinking) into our scientific processes and the false projection of idealistic preconceptions onto the underlying fabric of our reality.

This was the philosophical point about reality that Treebeard was trying to make, imho, not -- as paraphrased by David -- that Treebeard supports the wholesale rejection of material reality.

This led to my ringing endorsement of materialism, science & the inherent materialism of our philosophy of science, as well as my complete rejection of Tikkun Olam, magical thinking & the horribly unscientific projection of moral 'should haves', 'ought tos' and 'supposed tos' onto the underlying fabric of our reality.

For, while it is perfectly laudable & acceptable to believe-in and work toward an ideal and perfectible reality, it is in equal parts futile & counterproductive to project those beliefs outward under the assumption that they 'should' make up a substantial part of our underlying reality...

As if material reality actually cared about either your belief system or your personal pronouns.


Best

duncan cairncross said...

The pledge

As a furriner the idea of schoolchildren saying any type of "pledge" sends bad shiver's up my back

Elected officials or the military taking a "pledge" makes sense - but schoolkids!!!

I'm gonna try "they/them" where I would normally put his/her - see if I can do it that way

Robert said...

Shall I click over to restricting to "users with google accounts"?

Personally, I would probably leave at that point. While I have a gmail account it has become so overwhelmed with spam* that I am considering just dropping it. Not to mention I prefer to do what I can to avoid Google (who long ago stopped not being evil).


*Or right-wing mailing lists/begging letters signed up for by another chap with my name, who apparently is a dentist, loves Trump and the NRA, and likes easy listening music (or at least buys a lot from Amazon) — and despite being a dentist can't figure out that the acocunt I've had since gmail was invite-only isn't his just because it's his name…

Robert said...

The pledge is a private thing that one may say as...they...wish.

Not entirely. If it is being said in public then listeners may notice. I have seen (and experienced) bullying for not participating in public prayer at supposedly secular events.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"The pledge is a private thing that one may say as...they...wish."

Not entirely. If it is being said in public then listeners may notice.


Ok, fair enough. That was getting off the point anyway, which was that changing the wording of a pledge and changing the way language are used aren't exactly the same thing.


I have seen (and experienced) bullying for not participating in public prayer at supposedly secular events.


Even if the official pledge dropped the "under God", the people you describe would probably still defiantly say it anyway, and still bully you for not saying it.

duncan cairncross:

Elected officials or the military taking a "pledge" makes sense - but schoolkids!!!


Back when it was secular, I think the idea was for it to be a common bond between people from all over the country who otherwise didn't have all that much in common with each other.

The way my parents remembered it was simply:
"I pledge allegiance to my flag, and to the republic for which it stands.
One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

What's not to like? :)

Everyone knows that "under God" was added in the McCarthy era, but apparently even the specification of which flag you were talking about was a later addition.

Jon S:

"So I'm willing to use "them" in indeterminate cases."

Oddly, that's the only time you're being asked to. If you know the expressed gender of the person to whom you're referring, if "John" is your coworker's actual name and John would like to be identified as a man, then "he" is the correct pronoun. ...

It's really not the minefield you make it out to be.


The only minefield I see is the presumption that not immediately using incorrect grammar for political purposes is itself taken as a political act. As I've said over and over, I'm open to persuasion that the cause is worth the inconvenience. But I do agree with our host that bullying doesn't persuade, and in fact causes some people to want to own the libs when they otherwise wouldn't have.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

"Shall I click over to restricting to "users with google accounts"?

Personally, I would probably leave at that point. While I have a gmail account it has become so overwhelmed with spam* that I am considering just dropping it.


For reasons of that nature, I would prefer not to see the blog comments restricted to Google only. However, as it is Dr Brin's decision to make, based in part on how much work the current way forces upon him, I will point out that should he decide that way, you could keep the Gmail account active just for logging into this site, without ever actually bothering to read the spam. Just sayin'

Gator said...

https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/Nonbinary-pronoun-they-sparks-French-language-debate-after-Merriam-Webster-word-of-the-year-nonbinary

The premier French dictionary has added a non-gendered pronoun to their pages: "iel".
Note that in the article they mention "they" was the Merriam-Webster word of the year in 2019, and that the American Psychological Association and American Dialect Association both recognize "they" as appropriate for referring to a non-binary person.

So "they" as referring to non-binary gendered people has popular usage and official recognition from official committees etc that Dr. Brin desires. Language changes to fit the culture. It changes by how people actually use it. It will be shaped by the younger generations as the older die off. It doesn't change because of official decrees.

Maybe I don't circulate in the same circles as Dr. Brin, but I've never been bullied or seen bullying about pronouns. Just *people* asking to be respected for who they are by asking to use their preferred pronouns. To me this is basic common courtesy - letting *people* identify themselves and not forcing my identification on them.

Re SciFi leading the way, I'm sure many here have read Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice series? The main culture in the novels (the Radch Empire) do not use gendered pronouns at all.

David Brin said...

It's ironic Robert that yours is the name most often used by the rug shitter to try to sneak in here. LH is right. Why not start a new account as Robert2?

Yes Gator, we clearly move in different circles. I spent a lot of time in academia where many departments are filled with folks who are almost everything Tucker Carlson complains about... but who can be shrugged off because they do not control a political party or a nation and are not an existential threat to the Enlightenment and the United States, the way Tucker and his cult are.

It's not just academia nowm of course. But It's still a grating nuisance whose principal harm and effect is to give Tucker absurdities to scream at. I know where the real enemies of freedom lie... and lie and lie.

Don Gisselbeck said...

This is apropo (via the Slacktivist)
https://michaelhobbes.substack.com/p/moral-panic-journalism

Alfred Differ said...


I'm with Duncan on the weirdness of school kids reciting the Pledge, but I think it is utterly stupid of us to have them do it each day. An Oath of Fealty is what it sounds like and that should be a matter for adults. When kids do it each day it is Indoctrination.

We have it completely bass ackwards. We are Citizens of a Republic. We owe fealty to no sovereign. What the @#@% are we pledging? To Whom? Why? DAILY?!

Sorry. I did my Boy Scout years and studied enough history and civics to think we've utterly screwed up here. Civil Servants take an Oath and that makes sense. Active Duty war fighters take an Oath and that makes sense. Elected Officials take an Oath and that makes sense. Regular citizens should NOT be taking an Oath. Kids sure as hell should not be.

Der Oger said...

@ duncan cairnross:
As a furriner the idea of schoolchildren saying any type of "pledge" sends bad shiver's up my back

Elected officials or the military taking a "pledge" makes sense - but schoolkids!!!


Same for me ... it has the appeal of a religious sermon.
Also, look at the first of Lawrence Britts 14 characteristics.

Daniel Duffy said...

(Quick change of subject)

While all of us are in the political gutter, some of us are looking at the stars.

And there is something so majestic about sailing a ship to other worlds:

https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2021/11/19/wind-rider-a-high-performance-magsail/

Wind Rider: A High Performance Magsail
Earth to Jupiter Via Magsail in 21 Days and Neptune in 18 Weeks

In 2017 I outlined a proposed magnetic sail propulsion system called the Plasma Magnet that was presented by Jeff Greason at an interstellar conference [6]. It caught my attention because of its simplicity and potential high performance compared to other propulsion approaches. For example, the Breakthrough Starshot beamed sail required hugely powerful and expensive phased-array lasers to propel a sail into interstellar space. By contrast, the Plasma Magnet [PM] required relatively little energy and yet was capable of propelling a much larger mass at a velocity exceeding any current propulsion system, including advanced solar sails.

The Plasma Magnet was proposed by Slough [5] and involved an arrangement of coils to co-opt the solar wind ions to induce a very large magnetosphere that is propelled by the solar wind. Unlike earlier proposals for magnetic sails that required a large electric coil kilometers in diameter to create the magnetic field, the induction of the solar wind ions to create the field meant that the structure was both low mass and that the size of the resulting magnetic field increased as the surrounding particle density declined. This allowed for a constant acceleration as the PM was propelled away from the sun, very different from solar sails and even magsails with fixed collecting areas.


Daniel Duffy said...

I do have one question concerning mag sails.

While they can ride the solar wind to high (velocities taking only weeks or months to reach the outer planets with zero fuel costs) and they can use plasma breaking in the atmosphere or magnetic field of their destination planet upon arrival - how the heck do they return home to Earth going against the solar wind stream?

How do you configure a magnetic jib that will allow them to tack into the solar wind and return home?

Larry Hart said...

What we already know...

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/02/opinion/republicans-government-shutdown.html

...
What seems to be happening instead goes beyond cold calculation. As I’ve pointed out in the past, Republican politicians now act like apparatchiks in an authoritarian regime, competing to take ever more extreme positions as a way to demonstrate their loyalty to the cause — and to The Leader. Catering to anti-vaccine hysteria, doing all they can to keep the pandemic going, has become something Republicans do to remain in good standing within the party.

The result is that one of America’s two major political parties isn’t just refusing to help the nation deal with its problems; it’s actively working to make the country ungovernable.

And I hope the rest of us haven’t lost the ability to be properly horrified at this spectacle.

Robert said...

It's ironic Robert that yours is the name most often used by the rug shitter to try to sneak in here.

Of course. I'm a frequent poster who invariably contributes pearls of wisdom. Why wouldn't he want to ride my coattails? :-)

On a more serious note, the few that have slipped through make me wonder if he's the chap who keeps using my gmail when signing up for stuff, because he seems to have the same mindset.


Why not start a new account as Robert2?

To sign up for a new google account you need an already-existing email account. (At least it asks me for one.) I prefer to avoid tying my personal email accounts to another data-harvesting Google entity. Any suggestions on solving this one?


I spent a lot of time in academia where many departments are filled with folks who are almost everything Tucker Carlson complains about

What Carlson conveniently ignores is that non-academia is also filled with pockets of crazy. It tends more towards the crazy he supports, but it's still crazy. And is insisting everyone use gender-neutral pronouns really any crazier than insisting everyone cheer and act excited about a bunch of grown men moving a small object up and down a patch of ground (and ostracizing those who don't participate)?

Larry Hart said...

A money shot from Don Gisselbeck's "Slactivist" article above:

Why are readers of national publications constantly being told that they should worry about the left potentially, sometime in the future, becoming as bad as Republicans are now?

Catfish 'n Cod said...

There is no excuse for bullying, even about pronouns. Just calmly insist on what you percieve to be true. I practice as I preach: a member of my extended family has declared as non-binary. Anytime ze hears me use zer old pronoun, ze corrects... and that's it. I'm trying. There's little point in bullying about it... and it gives unearned excuses to the FAR WORSE folks who want to X them from existence, in the L'Engle sense.

It WOULD help if we came to a standardization of spelling and grammar, and help even more if such standards reduced ambiguity and were clear extensions from prior standards. For instance, ze/zer (matching she/her) or zey/zem (matching they/them). I know using the letter x is in style, but it's the same phoneme and English words starting with X tend to be borrowed or highly technical or both -- which is intimidating. But that would mean making decisions based on more than mere emotional addictions...

@scidata, I use Cromwell's formulation whenever talking to skeptics of a Calvinist background.

@OGH: I believed in tikkun olam long before I knew its name. And it puts that rejectionism to shame. There are parts of the material world that tempt one away from paths of righteousness, but the spiritual realm is no different. Why then should I reject one for the other? Why should I not seek to better both worlds at once? Is that not a greater achievement than either alone?

As the atheist JMS put in the mouth of a Catholic monk: "Faith and reason are like the shoes on your feet: you can get further with both than you can with just one!" I propose that this extends to the respective realms of reality as well.

@TCB: Strangely, I learned more about that from a webcomic than anywhere else -- especially that there is "grand strategy" above strategy (the level business types usually call mission/vision/values).

[continued]

Catfish 'n Cod said...

On the Pledge: I agree with @toduro's student that pledged to the Constitution -- and think that's what the Pledge *should* be; the citizen's version of the oath taken by every single federal employee and official (other than the President, who has a specified but similar wording):“I, AB, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.]”

THAT is what we need to pledge to. Not to an ill-defined 'nation' or even 'republic'. The Constitution, and the promises it makes of "liberty and justice for all". The Pledge makes more sense in the "nation of immigrants" than it does in most places; we (or rather, non-Confederates) don't use real or imagined ties of blood or experience to bind us together. It's the principles, and the Constitution that gives them physical form, that are the uniter.

@Larry: The levels to which Genesis, and particularly the first ten chapters, have been twisted to support a sick view of human nature are manifold and pernicious. One can start from the premise that humans were created with free will, given only one means to express that free will, then were condemned for following their nature and exercising that free will in the only manner provided. If that sets your tone for understanding the moral structure of the universe, you're in deep trouble already.

@locumranch: If your consciousness is based in material reality, then that part of material reality cares about your belief system. To argue otherwise is to dip back into Platonic-Cartesian dualism. 'Magical thinking' is when you expect your 'should' to manifest elsewhere in material reality -- but without expending effort to make it happen. John Carter traveled to Mars by staring up and wishing: that's magical thinking. But there *is* a way to exert your will to travel to other worlds. It's called aerospace engineering.

David Brin said...

Out of vague curiosity, I dropped back down to the spam bucket and saw that the harrasser has crossed an important line. He has made real world physical threats. My friends at a certain intelligence agency told me to tell them when that happens. They'll dial in (easily) on the twerp's real name and address.

I think I'll hold off on that and instead see if switching to requiring a google account makes a difference. But #1 is to stop looking down in the shit bucket.

===

Well, Catfish, I would make a duty to the People be on an equal footing with the Constitution. But yeah.

DD, a problem with all sails is that far out there it seems to be a one-way trip.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

My friends at a certain intelligence agency told me to tell them when that happens. They'll dial in (easily) on the twerp's real name and address.

I think I'll hold off on that and instead see if switching to requiring a google account makes a difference.


With all due respect, why hold off? Your friends in intelligence told you to tell them for a reason. Why not respect their judgement?

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n Cod:

On the Pledge: I agree with @toduro's student that pledged to the Constitution -- and think that's what the Pledge *should* be; the citizen's version of the oath taken by every single federal employee and official...

THAT is what we need to pledge to. Not to an ill-defined 'nation' or even 'republic'. The Constitution, and the promises it makes of "liberty and justice for all". The Pledge makes more sense in the "nation of immigrants" than it does in most places; we (or rather, non-Confederates) don't use real or imagined ties of blood or experience to bind us together. It's the principles, and the Constitution that gives them physical form, that are the uniter.


I was thinking along those lines as a response to Alfred. It doesn't seem incongruous to me that citizens pledge allegiance to something. Not necessarily the flag or the government, but does owing allegiance to some aspect of our civilization really seem inconsistent with the concept of "citizenship"?

I do like the idea of allegiance to the Constitution rather than the flag, the military, or the president.

Alfred has a point that a daily pledge in school can be seen as creepy. I think we're used to thinking of such things from the perspective of someone who would rather opt out. I'd like to think that the practice (and that of school prayers, while we're at it) originated in communities of willing participants. Maybe a bad idea in retrospect, but not evil in intent.

* * *
Robert:

And is insisting everyone use gender-neutral pronouns really any crazier than insisting everyone cheer and act excited about a bunch of grown men moving a small object up and down a patch of ground (and ostracizing those who don't participate)?


From several anecdotes you've related, I gather that you've been on the receiving end of bullying, threats, maybe violence in just about every conceivable situation for that sort of thing (or know someone who has). Understand that many of us react differently from you to some suggestions because most of us--even the nerds like me--haven't lived the nightmare quite so completely.

scidata said...

Re: Pledge

When I was wee, we did not sing 'Oh, Canada' in school. We sang, 'God Save the Queen', to a picture of a young QE2. How's that for indoctrination? It was many years later that I learned the anti-Scottish origin of that ditty. Wow, if I knew then what I know now. There'd be some splainin' for the school board to do.

Robert said...

I gather that you've been on the receiving end of bullying, threats, maybe violence in just about every conceivable situation for that sort of thing

No. I can conceive of way worse than I've experienced. One of my great-aunts was a 'medical experimental subject' in a Nazi concentration camp. Kinda puts 'getting a shitty timetable' into perspective.

I have watched those dearest to me grow up facing barriers I didn't face, simply because they are neither male nor pigment-deprived. Barriers I didn't notice growing up, because they are both subtle and pervasive. Or not-so-subtle.

Cari Burstein said...

Last I checked you could create an account on Google strictly for login purposes using any email address you wish, without making it an actual email account (we used this at my previous job for logins to our system so we didn't have to maintain passwords ourselves). Not sure if that would solve everyone's concerns though. I assume there's no option to support other login account types?

Robert said...

Last I checked you could create an account on Google strictly for login purposes using any email address you wish, without making it an actual email account

So you put in a fake email address and it doesn't check it? So I could put in "therealrobert@davidbinblog.com" and it would take it?

Treebeard said...

And is insisting everyone use gender-neutral pronouns really any crazier than insisting everyone cheer and act excited about a bunch of grown men moving a small object up and down a patch of ground.

How do you judge “crazier”? By any historical or traditional standard, gender pronouns and related topics are definitely crazier than men playing sports. But within the bubble that people trying to normalize this live in, it all seems perfectly reasonable, and indeed necessary. The question people outside the bubble have is: does this process of normalization of “crazy”, whereby the fringe beliefs of Weird White People become mandatory for the whole world, have any limits? Where are they? How do we know some Weird White People won’t decide in another decade or two to rename pedophiles “minor-attracted persons” and start pushing for its normalization? Do you understand how freakish it looks to people not living in your bubble that suddenly, out of nowhere, Weird White People are all announcing their pronouns and treating gender like some arbitrary choice, and acting like everyone else must follow their lead? Do you think this Weird White People cultural coercion system will ever face resistance it can’t defeat, or that will break the nations and civilizations that host them? Don’t take your Weird White People political abstractions too seriously; they are not more powerful than culture or common human nature at the end of the day, or the end of the age—in my humble opinion, of course.

A.F. Rey said...

I must compliment you, Dr. Brin, on how you criticize the far left as opposed to Mr. Maher. It drives me crazy when Bill Maher talks about the Democrats "wokeness" and how they attack anyone who doesn't toe the line on political correctness, even if the offense happened years ago. I keep wanting to grab him by the lapels and scream, "That's not all Democrats! Don't make it sound like it is all of us!"

If we can't win Republicans until Democrats stop being the "woke" party, then we might as well pack up and go home to await the Apocalypse. Because there is no way we'll be able to control the far left of the party, any more than Republicans can control their far right (or the part that is even further right than most of them!) We can never eliminate them. But if all Democrats, from Biden and Pelosi on down, get blamed every time some celebrity is attacked for saying something wrong and shouted down on the Internet, we will never win. And Bill generalizing this behavior to all Democrats certainly doesn't help. It just reinforces what the Fox News demagogues blather about every night, allowing them to say, "Even Bill Maher agrees with us."

So thank you for making that distinction. From your lips to Maher's ears. (Not to imply that he is anywhere near THAT important. He's ego is big enough as it is. :) )

David Brin said...

Geez you folks have been very active in discussions, here, at a time when I just haven't had much time to respond. So sorry about neglect or terseness. I'll reply so some things I spot.

AFR your posting is unintentionally exactly an illustration of the complaint. You reflexively refuse any and all criticism of the left wing, and you do so with an utter canard. Bet me right now whether Bill Maher has proved his ant-trump and anti-foxite bona fines far more that you or indeed any SUM of ALL the people you know have done? Step up. We can compare rates.

"That's not all Democrats! Don't make it sound like it is all of us!"

Exactly! The sanctimony junnkies on our side care far more about symbolism and spitting in the faces of their allies than about pragmatic politics. So, when Tucker & co. pull the "see that maniacal stoopidity? ALL dems are like THAT!" does anyone on our radical wing say... "Maybe lt's ratchet the symbol-obsession and trigger-warning fragility-fetishism down a notch and instead act like a coalition that can win this phase of civil war"? Not for even a second.

Dig it. Maher is criticizing TACTICS and not STRATEGY! He wants the union side to win and maybe the left should stop viewing him as Tucker with a better pompadour and instead say "Tactics are adjustable."

David Brin said...

As for Treebeard, what 'bubble" fellah? ALL fact using professions despise your cult for hating facts. You... personally as well as your cult... wage open war on the very notion of facts that can be checked and the falsifiability of assertions.

Bubble? The GOP used to have higher average levels of education than Democrats. Now, despite dems representing the poor, they are MANY YEARS more educated, on average. What's the Foxite response? To up their fact-using game?

No, it is to attack the very idea of education, of facts...

... and of democracy. The GOP lost 11 our of 12 of the last House races by population. The Senate GOP last represented a majority in 1996. ONCE across the last 30 years has a GOP president won the popular vote. Your reflex is to hate on the very notion of democracy and the will of the people.

You parse clear sentences, unlike poor locumranch. You are even slightly entertaining. But you are a traitor at all levels.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Having thought about it. I don't know what my agency friends will do, if I unleash them to track down the rug-pooping obsessive, now that he has threatened physical violence. I don't want anything on my conscience. It's actually been remarkably effective to just let the AI spam filter deal with it, except for my once a month toe-dippings...

...but someone I respect says it's time to up the filter's game. So let's try the Google account setting. SORRY! But I can one-click ban obsessives that way, a lot faster than they can set up new accounts.

Hoping to see most of you continue. A feisty community! Proud to know you all.

Robert said...

I don't know what my agency friends will do, if I unleash them to track down the rug-pooping obsessive, now that he has threatened physical violence.

Highly unlikely that they would do anything that would end up on your conscience. A note in a file, maybe appearing on a watch list somewhere. If you're really concerned you could ask…

Robert said...

Testing…

Robert said...

Last I checked you could create an account on Google strictly for login purposes using any email address you wish, without making it an actual email account

Well, if this appears then it worked. Apparently I now have another gmail account (which I will never use) and I hope I can remember how to log in, but I'm here. Maybe.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

I get trained on what 'agency friends' do with that kind of information. Mostly they just aggregate it to help them make decisions. If your data point is a loner, they do nothing and say nothing. If it connects with others, they might spot patterns and act. What they keep trying to hammer into us is that each of us spots only a tiny segment of a big pattern IF the pattern exists. Discounting it/not reporting it to them effectively limits their ability to function as a member of the protector caste.

I'm sure you know all that. You get to exercise judgement on whether to contribute your data point. If you are inclined to worry about anything on your conscience, though, remember there is a cost to us all when people who know say nothing. Obviously it's your personal decision.

I'm a DoN contractor and they hammer us with this every year. They also point out that it is NOT a personal decision for us because of he work we do. I've contributed my data point a couple of times regarding different people* and nothing came of it, but I sleep soundly at night knowing that if one of them had turned up in the news I'd have done my part.

Everyone else,

Yes. You count too. You don't have to put up with crap and remain silent. It's not that your 'protectors' will do anything, but if you don't speak up they can't.** Get it?


* One of them had three 'indicators' suggesting a potential intel risk. Insider Threats we call them. Possible active shooter is how I saw him. He needed help or just time to cool off. Nothing came of it and he turned his life around.

** Yes. I know they won't protect everyone equally. Protection is not really their primary job. Dealing with people who break the law IS. You have the primary duty of protecting yourself and that means making use of what tools you can use… including them.

Cari Burstein said...

Robert said...
So you put in a fake email address and it doesn't check it? So I could put in "therealrobert@davidbinblog.com" and it would take it?

I believe they still verify the email, but it's not an actual Google account that you receive email at, just one used for authentication. If you're trying to be so far out of Google's radar that you don't want them to even know about the email address, then I don't think that will work. If you have your own domain, you could always create a special trap email address to use for it, then you can see if they are actually selling it or whatever it is you're concerned about (or just create an email on another service for that purpose perhaps). It does seem strange that Blogger would't support alternative logins besides just Google?

Alfred Differ said...

For the record, I'm opposed to Oaths to the Constitution as well unless the adult is in service to The People.

See the capitalization there? "The People" are sovereign as far as I'm concerned. We owe no fealty to anything or anyone. Period. End of Story.

A person who joins a Service can reasonably be asked to offer an Oath. To something. I'd argue it should be to "The People" but that leaves things mighty ambiguous in cases where we disagree about what is right and wrong. "The Constitution" will do as a substitute, but the oath giver needs to be prepared to deal with the fact that we have amended it numerous times and they don't get to pick and choose which amendments they'll respect. They also don't get to pick and choose which SCOTUS decisions are right because case law has much more to do with that the Constitution terms mean than most people realize. They should NOT aim their Oaths at the SCOTUS, though. Separate but Equal branches and all that stuff.

It is important to remember, though, there are times when an oath giver is conflicted between Constitution and People. WE inflict that upon them by not recognizing the actual sovereign here in the US. WE The People express our intent through The Constitution and other instruments.

That's why it is SO bass ackwards to have kids reciting the Pledge. Some of our Framers should be spinning at neutron star rates in their graves.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Maher is criticizing TACTICS and not STRATEGY! He wants the union side to win


I've been a fan for years, and mostly agree with you. But he does have some particular bugaboos that disturb me. Most disturbing to me is his insistence that once someone has had COVID or is vaccinated, then...they...should no longer wear masks or social distance. Not simply that doing so is overkill, but that continued masking and distancing is "not following the science."

As someone on Stephanie Miller's show pointed out, that's the equivalent of insisting that if your car has air bags, you shouldn't fasten your seatbelt.

Another related pet rant of his is that the reason Americans are so susceptible to COVID is because we're all obese, and that only political correctness prevents the CDC from mentioning this. Yet, at his season closer, one of his guests was Chris Christie--famous for both his wide girth and for the fact that he had a bad case of COVID--and Maher for once didn't see fit to mention that connection.

TCB said...

I've been here under Google account the whole time, I think. This changes nothing for me.

.......

I for one, pledge allegiance, at heart, not to the flag, nor to the Dear Leader, nor even to the nation... but to the principles the nation is supposed to stand for. The United States is not an ethnic or linguistic nation, nor based on a single religion, nor the inherited fiefdoms of some hereditary king.

The United States, in theory at least, is a nation founded on principles: ideas of a just society, the rights of all men, women and children, all created equal, to life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness; ultimately, the right to hope. These were radical ideas 250 years ago, and yet so powerful that even the ugliest modern tyrants are forced to pay lip service to them. Our nation is supposed to be a vehicle that bears us toward the earthly fulfillment of these sorts of principles. If we found that this vehicle was bearing us away from where it was supposed to be taking us, better that it were abandoned and replaced with a better one.

And that is where the consent of the governed comes in. A government like ours derives its strength from the willing cooperation of citizens who believe it is responsive to their will and to their needs, that it is essentially fair and effective. That it is legitimate. And we can see that such a government by consenting citizens can become very powerful indeed.

The far right, in their folly, think they can take that vast power, use it without justice or legitimacy, and not have it fall apart in their hands.

David Brin said...

SOrry folks. I hadn't made the change yet. I'll do it right after finishing this reply, cause I'll be posting again, today.

No, I was not afraid my agency freinds would do anything to the pathetic pooper. They have much more on their plates and professional responsibilities. No, what I fear is they might pass the name/address on to authorities in the pooper's homeland. I doubt the current administration there would do anything, either. But downstream, once he is on those lists.... well, I'd rather try other things first.

I'm gonna push that button, now. Hope you'll all still have access.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Hope you'll all still have access.


Well, I won't know for sure until you moderate this comment. But I assume so.

Alfred Differ:

See the capitalization there? "The People" are sovereign as far as I'm concerned. We owe no fealty to anything or anyone. Period. End of Story.


Then what's the difference between someone who (legitimately) is allowed to vote in US elections and those who aren't? Serious question. What does "citizenship" entail?

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

I for one, pledge allegiance, at heart, not to the flag, nor to the Dear Leader, nor even to the nation... but to the principles the nation is supposed to stand for. The United States is not an ethnic or linguistic nation, nor based on a single religion, nor the inherited fiefdoms of some hereditary king.

The United States, in theory at least, is a nation founded on principles: ideas of a just society, the rights of all men, women and children, all created equal, to life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness; ultimately, the right to hope. These were radical ideas 250 years ago, and yet so powerful that even the ugliest modern tyrants are forced to pay lip service to them. Our nation is supposed to be a vehicle that bears us toward the earthly fulfillment of these sorts of principles. If we found that this vehicle was bearing us away from where it was supposed to be taking us, better that it were abandoned and replaced with a better one.


You've enunciated my own feelings exactly. When I've said here that I love my country, I mean that I am proud to be part of a civilization which stands for exactly those things. Even when it doesn't live up to its ideals in practice. Which is why I can criticize (constructively) the failings of the reality of the country while not being a traitor to the ideal--whereas the flag-waving jingoists can be traitors despite their protestations of patriotism.

David Brin said...

Hoping you folks can still get in with Google sign-in.

onward

onward