Sunday, March 06, 2022

The wager and university challenges: two effective responses to fact-haters

We citizens of enlightenment have been bollixed lately by technological amplification of stupidity. In fact, it's happened before. 

Going back to Gutenberg's time, every new technology that expanded human abilities to see and know had initial bad effects, before good ones set in. Today's toxic social media are much like the waves of slander-pamphlets that poured from printing presses, around 1500, inciting murderous rage amid Europe's religious wars... or 1930s hate tsunamis spewed by radio.

Our core problem? The internet is immature… lacking synergistic methods for competitive accountability that earlier generations developed for older arenas like markets, democracy, science, courts and sports. But that’s a broader topic for elsewhere - a long-term problem we must solve.

Near term, we need fresh tactics for a life-or-death struggle against misinformation and lies. Fresh tactics like 100+ that I recommended here. Starting with a proposed FACT ACT that could institutionally empower verified truth to defeat lies.


Alas, the good side in this phase of civil war is led by generals who would not recognize a fresh tactic if it bit them on the derrière! So, I’m afraid we’re going to have to do this ourselves, countering the fact-hatred and lies, person-by-person. 


I’ve been experimenting for years and two methods stand out. Because, at one level, they always work.

 

== The fundamental problem ==


You've all experienced this. Someone trots out an assertion that is either entirely false or else a yammer-anecdote, distraction or gross exaggeration. You denounce it, offering disproof, perhaps citing a scientific study or clear counter-examples. 


Has that ever worked? Even once? 


You know they always just roll out another jpeg issued by a vast disinfo-agitprop industry. They aim to exhaust all fact people, making us throw up our arms, giving up... as many of you already have, according to your own statements.

SO PONDER WHAT'S NEEDED, IN VERY BASIC TERMS.  

Any effective method must:

(1) Offer disproof of the disinformation... many of you have done that, then felt frustrated at its ineffectiveness. The spewers only giggle at your frustration! It is their food - demanding that you put in further time that you know will just be wasted. Even if you corner and demolish a particular falsehood, they simply move the goalposts.

And so the method must also...

(2) Offer an enforceable incentive for the dis-proving party to engage in what will otherwise be a complete waste of lifespan! Clear rewards for me, if I spend the time and prove my case.

(3) A method for adjudication, agreed upon in advance. Yes, they will writhe especially hard - even desperately - against this one! But it's central. Our dads would use the bartender for a sports bet. You may need to offer parties who the yammer-spreader cannot reproach. I offer some, below. 

But the most important trait of an effective lie destroyer is this. The method must...

(4) ...inflict disincentive PAIN upon the spreaders of blatant falsehoods. Not only for any particular lie, but to deter the malignant addiction to blithe and joyful lie-spreading that is the core thing that playground bullies need. Impunity. Oh and one last thing.

(5) The wagered matter must be clear, explicit and either provable or falsifiable. That one should not have to even be mentioned, but explicitness is absolutely essential. (See the examples in the sample wager challenge, below, all of them directly testable against facts.) If anyone tries wriggle out of #5, make falsifiability the first bet.

Only this combination will work. Remove one element and you've got nothing. Have all five? It's a devastating combination.

Look, you are welcome to offer up an alternative to making it about a cash wager - see below where I describe "aleatory contracts" that also fulfill all of those five traits. But essentially what I just described is a wager! 

Moreover, it is one of only two polemical devices that I have found - for ten years - to work against the MAGA madness.


== The Wager-Demand Challenge ==

"Okay fellah, if you are so sure of that assertion you just made, how about backing it up with a cash bet, the way our dads would have done?"

Sure, it sounds brash and immature - which is why it skewers home! Especially to MAGAs and Foxites, who feel that facts are irrelevancies, easily countered by an insipid jpeg or yammer-meme.  Just answering "That's not true!" sounds to them like the nerd's plaint on the playground: "that's not fair!" It's called owning the libs. It is their food...

...while bullies are terrified when you meet macho with macho: "Put up or shut up, you blowhard coward."

For years this challenge has resulted in them turning flight, running away. Though lately there's been a frantic pushback.

"I won't cater to David Brin's gambling addiction!" 

Of course that is mere drool. Event-based wagering is fundamental to civilization! In general terms, an aleatory contract is one where an uncertain event determines the parties' rights and obligations. Yes, gambling, wagering, or betting typically use aleatory contracts, but another common type is an insurance policy, or derivatives and options.

Of course there is another irony to the 'gambling' excuse... that non-Native casino moguls, especially from Macao, Moscow and the Vegas Strip, are co-owners of today's Republican Party and among its top donors. (In some cases blatantly funneling laundered funds from rival, autocratic nations.) 

In an era when almost every moral turpitude or addictive behavior is statistically far worse in every red state (but Utah) than in every blue state (but Illinois), that accusation is especially rich. And sure, make that assertion the basis for an adjudicated wager!

If you want to see such a challenge laid out very aggressively, in great detail, skip down to the bottom of this posting!

== Did I mention a second method? ==

In fact, there are scores of other methods that I offer in Polemical Judo! But one in particular works well with your MAGA uncle or cousin who is still a sweet fellow, who you do not want to push too hard. 

Wagers are aggressive and effective at denying MAGAs the macho superiority they relish. They may be too aggressive if you're hoping for an intervention with a koolaid drinker you actually care about! With whom you want to maintain a relationship.

And so... an alternative is to suggest a field trip! A fun and enlightening activity together... e.g. to find out, in person, whether university scientists really are the nerdy-lemming fools portrayed by all the propagandist yammerers on Fox News.

Invite your MAGA uncle to go with you physically to a nearby research university. Pick random buildings to knock on twenty random doors and actually question the inhabitants thereof! 

Even the lefty nutters in soft studies departments will be more persuasive than your MAGA expects. More human and less stereotyped. But the scientists? They won't fit the Foxite image of jibbering nerds, or standard model slave lemmings, or officiously snooty, narrowminded elites. Instead, you will interrupt and meet some of the greatest minds alive. And some of them... even most... will also come across as deeply wise.

You and your uncle will come away having had a ripping good time, learning fantastic amounts about stuff you never remotely imagined, from fine people who are generous with their time, eager to explain! And nothing at all like the Fox/Sinclair yammerers depict them.

That's a method for your MAGA who still has some residual decency and mind, left. And yes, look up the old expression "All Heaven rejoices when..."

But that won't happen anywhere near as often as (alas) your encounters with deeply-committed liars, spewing hate and lies and traitor memes. And for them, aggressive cornering is the only way.

You are all soldiers in this fight! And here, now, is a sample of the kind of confrontation they fear most.

== The core win-win of these methods ==

Even if (actually when) the MAGA flees from your wager challenge... or when your sweet, Fox-hypnotized uncle finds some excuse not to go with you on a fact-finding field trip... you will win at the level that matters most, that of displayed confidence.

Watch any evening of Fox News and you'll see that the core element is macho bluster! A desperate effort to portray not only liberals but all fact professionals as nerdy wimps and whiners. Both of these challenges refute this image at the most fundamental level.

The implication will be clear. I was willing and eager to test for truth. You ran, leaving me standing here, confident that reality is on my side.


== An example of a wager challenge ==

 In order to save myself time, I have distilled the following STANDARD PASTE-IN RE WAGER TERMS. And yes, they always flee. Sometimes they writhe and yowl a bit before running away, but no one has ever, ever once, taken up the challenge. They flee, shamed in front of witnesses. And a seed is planted in those witnesses. A seed of doubt that maybe they chose the wrong side.


So here’s my standard, paste-in wager challenge revealing the cowardice of fact-free rightwing blowhards:


-------


"Okay fellah. Let's settle this. STEP UP. Have your lawyer write to me confirmation that you’ve escrowed $10,000 for wagers on things like ocean acidification or party differences in fiscal responsibility (budget deficits), or rates of moral turpitude in red vs. blue states, or outcomes for market health. Or ratios of half-truths and lies versus verifiable assertions on Fox vs. say CNN. 

 

"Again, if you are so certain of the accusations and denunciations and assertions that you howl, after bobble-heading with Alex Jones, or Hannity, or Tucker, or Pirro, then you should want a manly wager over those ‘facts!' Gather and pool investments from others who share your confident belief in them.


You should want to bet, in order to take my money!  

 

Alas, experience shows that members of the foxite chant-hypnosis cult have neither the guts nor honesty to pay off bets that aren’t secured in advance. Hence, only when stakes are escrowed -- then and only then -- will I deem it worth my time to deal with the squirming and writhing, to establish clear wager metrics and to set up a panel of retired senior (not known to be highly partisan, or NKTBHP) military officers to adjudicate.


Why them? because it is the one category in American life who you - as macho rightists - can't dismiss with a shrug, the way you do scientists, jurists, scholars or anyone else who might tell you that "you are wrong based on facts; so now pay up!"

 

Till I receive that missive from a reputable attorney, the record is clear. I offer manly wagers over actual facts... like the clear fact that Ocean Acidification (OA) is a deadly threat to our ecosystem and to our children, something we can measure ourselves (come with me and a pH meter down to the beach!) and the acid can only have come from human carbon emissions, including methane vented illegally at compliance of top Republicans, thus directly threatening the lives of our descendants. You can deny that? or shrug it off? Let's bet!

 

Or on fiscal responsibility! On which party puts the brakes on wild government deficits vs. stomping the accelerator.


Or actual measurable economic outcomes. across each 4-year administration, Democrat vs. Republican.


Or whether the Supply Side mythology is supported by the predicted positive outcomes (e.g. in Money Velocity in the economy) after any of the five major and dozens of minor experiments in that vampire voodoo, costing the nation tens of trillions of dollars.


In all three of those "conservative" issues, Democrats don't just score better, but perfectly better. Let's bet!

 

"Fake News"?  Was there ever any attempt to tabulate and prove that slander-accusation hurled at a quarter of a million of our neighbors who chose the profession of journalism? 


Why is it that Fox was the one outlet most-shrill about ending the Rebuttal Rule, that gave opponents a few minutes per day of response on each network? It is Fox who in legal arguments claims that it is not "news" but "entertainment," and hence no one in their right mind would take their content as assertions of actual fact. This argument was made openly by Fox Lawyers. BET ME ON IT!

 

How about the “deep state” insults spewed at the quarter of a million skilled, professional men and women in the intel agencies, FBI and military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror.  Limbaugh-parroted yammers assert a vast conspiracy among those heroes – who defeated Hitler, stymied Stalin, thwarted Mao and got bin Laden! But suddenly they are a dark conspiracy because they now say an American Fifth Column serves a slightly relabeled KGB and Vlad “I loved the USSR!” Putin. 


Bet on whether those "deep state" insults (of folks who are vastly better Americans than you are) can be supported at all… even slightly… by actual fact.

 

Wanna go all QAnon on us?  Let’s wager over which party has a higher rate of horrific pedophile monsters in its elected political caste! The cult shrieks that Democratic politicians are multiple times more likely to be proved pedophiles, or convicted or plea-bargained sexual predators, or known complicits. That's quite an accusation, spewed with repeated hot venom! So, care to bet on it? Let's make it easy for you! How about just two dems for every gopper pedophile? That's still "multiple times."

 

Tell you what. Let's make it even easier for you. I'll pay up if the rate of child predator perverts among dem pols is EQUAL to the rate of known perverts among top Republicans. 

 

Heckfire, let's make the Big Lie even more blatant. I’ll pay if the pervert ratio is less than 2:1 Republican! (It's actually 6:1.) What, no guts? No truth?

 

Here's a biggie. Indeed, if you won't bet on this one - utterly crisp and clear - then you are no man and no American.  


Let’s randomly pick any ten Trumpian lies from his registered list of 40,000. (About 20% of them happened under some degree of "oath" or accountable by law.) You pay if 1/3 of them are bona fide lies - almost certainly knowing lies - as adjudicated by a panel of retired, senior (NKTBHP) military officers.  (Any president who lies that often was a stain on America. You shrieked at one lie by Bill Clinton.) 


You pay double if a majority in the sample are ruled outright lies. And triple if every one of the ten was false, irrespective of intent. I'll pay triple if the score is majority-true plus some mere political exaggerations or errors subsequently corrected, and hence your president is adjudged NOT to have been a damned, relentless liar.

 

Here's a side bet. Can you name one fact-centered profession of advanced expertise your  cult isn't waging open war against, as sampled from tirades on Fox? From science, teaching, journalism, law, medicine etc. to those brave protectors you insult as "deep state"? Name one! Betcha can't. (Actually, I can name one!)

 

Economics? Let’s sample some facts: Job growth (non-farm) under Reagan averaged 168,000 per month, versus 216,000 for Carter, 55,000 for H.W. Bush, and 239,000 for Clinton… and NEGATIVE 100,000 for Trump! And now job growth under Joe Biden has broken all records. Measuring the number of jobs created per month is limited for longer time periods as the population grows. To address this, we can measure annual job growth percentages, comparing the beginning and ending number of jobs during their time in office to determine an annual growth rate. Jobs grew by 2.0% annually under Reagan, versus 3.1% under Carter, 0.6% under H.W. Bush, and 2.4% under Clinton and NEGATIVE 3% under Trumnp! Yes, that sort of thing.

 

 Or let’s compare deficits, the rationalization spewed by McConnell for blocking anything that might help working Americans.


Or how about red vs blue state rates of entrepreneurship...

...or how red and blue states states (except outliers Utah and Illinois) compare re: STDs, domestic violence, teen sex, teen pregnancy, gambling, drug addiction and yes … abortion. Abortion goes down under Democrats! It's the hypocrisy of lecturing us on how immoral Blue America is, when red states (except Utah) score worse in almost every category of turpitude and malgovernance.

 

A party which used to decry gambling as sin is now co-owned by Casino moguls. 

A party which decried divorce is now rife with marriages shattered by betrayals, in its upper ranks. BET ME on the comparative rates.

 

A party that has never been fiscally responsible still fools fools into thinking that recited incantations can substitute for the real thing.

 

Oh, and it is mostly blue states backing out of the insane War on Drugs. So much for libertarians.

 

No, I won't negotiate with you over any of these challenges - or even discuss them, wasting lifespan - until your attorney has confirmed escrowed stakes! You yammerers won't lure me into wasting more lifespan than I have spent on you, already, proving you to be a blowhard coward. 


And don't try to substitute your own list of unexplicit magical incantations.  Oh, I'll bet over those too - especially whether they are actual, falsifiable and general (not anecdotal) assertions, but only after we deal with mine, which are explicit and clear and testable. 

 

You won't understand any of those concepts so it boils down to "I issued my challenge first! Wait your turn!" 

 

And no, you can't pick just one and leap "Aha!" All of these are devastating to the confederate-Putinist cult. So we bet on all of them.

 

And if you won't bet, then we know what you are, and what you are is no man.

 

===


So now it's all in one place. Most of it is also in Polemical Judo! Along with tons of other tactics that no one on the good-side in this civil war has the imagination to try, alas.


Will this work? Not if your goal is to win cash bets! Because the blowhard always run away. That is always.


But that can be our victory. Like nerds on the playground who finally realize that bullies are imbecille cowards, we can turn "that's not true!" from a whine into a devastating emasculation.


"That's not true... and all you are is a traitor-liar-cultist who is a gasbag of hot air."




39 comments:

gerold said...

@Daniel Duffy (and Polemical Judo aside):

you raise an interesting point I hadn't considered about unintended consequences of Putin's War: higher grain prices. Higher energy prices were a known effect of course; one of the demonstrators in the Berlin peace rally had a sign reading "Willing to freeze for Ukraine." Oil and gas prices are already higher and they will go higher still. That will have knock-on effects on every sector of the global economy and people are expecting that.

But food prices hit closer to home and are especially consequential for poor countries. Two that stand out are Egypt and Turkey, number one and number three worldwide for wheat imports. With the crash of the Turkish lira this could be the death knell for Erdogan - some unintended consequences are for the better.

Alfred Differ said...

For anyone wondering "Why now?" when it comes to Russian actions in Ukraine, it is worth looking through the history of wars of conquest. There are examples of wars that exhausted those fighting them, but a generation later they were back at each other.

The treaties that end those wars the first time are more like agreements between boxers who need a break between rounds.

There is a good argument for WWI and WWII being the same war. I've seen decent arguments for adding the Cold War as well implying that Europe went to war in 1914 and it didn't really end until 1991.

With Russia now engaged in a war of (re)conquest of Ukraine, we can probably argue this is the next round. If you follow Friedman's analysis (years ago under Stratfor), he'd probably agree. He also suggested in a book he wrote that it will be Russia's last war where other nations believe them to be a first rate power.
———

Our core problem? The internet is immature… lacking…

I've seen this argument from a few different directions. The more I think of our markets as living things, the more I am inclined to believe the argument. Novel mutations is what these tech advances are. It takes a while for us to adapt to them, but we eventually do on many levels.

1) We can still print slander-pamphlets, but there are legal consequences of various types in various jurisdictions. Many potential readers are also naturally resistant now making legal consequences a second or third order response.

Hard to believe? Try printing some lunacy and handing out sheets to people who walk by you at a street corner. Have someone else keep track of how many sheets wind up in the trash VERY nearby or get used to litter the place. Most sheets will never get read.

2) You can still run a hate show on a radio station if you want, but your station license might get challenged. Avoiding legal consequences is best done by legally separating the show from the station and sticking to station conglomerates who have the muscle to fight government in court.

Even with that option, though, chances are your listening audience among Germans will be abysmal. Some Americans might listen, but we haven't been through the same kind of trauma yet. A lot of us won't, though.

DP said...

Between what's going on in Ukraine and the fertilizer markets, the price of wheat will quadruple by the end of the year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq75Av59-YU&t=708s

It's time to plant yourself a Victory Garden.

Because of the Ukraine invasion and what it will do to world wide food prices now that we won't be seeing any crops from what was Europe's Breadbasket. And fertilizer (40% of the world's potash comes from Russia and Belarus).

In addition to war, climate change is now severely impacting global crop yields. 71 percent of U.S. winter wheat is being hit by drought in 2022. A survey of the winter wheat crop In China taken before the start of winter found that the amount of first- and second-grade crop was down by more than 20 percentage points. Parched soils and record-hot temperatures in Canada's western crop belt sharply reduced farm yields of one of the world's biggest wheat-exporting countries and largest canola-growing nation. The drought has forced millers and bakers to pay more for spring wheat, and drove canola prices to record highs.

Then there are oil shortages and subsequent shortages of nitrogen based fertilizer. The basic equation of modern industrial agriculture: About 20 Calories of Petroleum inputs to make 25 Calories of Grain.

Mankind basically eats oil.

So maybe a worldwide version of the Arab Spring?



DP said...

Looking at the deeper currents, this war is primarily being driven by Russian population collapse.

In 10 years because of collapsing birth rates, Russia won't have enough young males to fill the ranks of the military.

He had to act now or never. From Peter Zeihan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq75Av59-YU&t=708s (3:10)

Population collapse (and aging populations) will cause general destruction of capitalism - capitalism doesn't function as an economic system when populations get smaller and greyer.

The other two forces shaping the 21st century are the end of globalization and climate change.

We can eventually work our way through to the end of globalization by developing new local supply chains instead of those based on cheap Chinese labor.

But that will take at least 5 years of inflation before we do so.

Climate change screws us all over completely from destroying crop yields (as we are now seeing world wide), destroying property from super storms and the triggering of mass migrations of human misery.

Buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

DP said...

The one nation to benefit from this godawful mess: the good old US of A.

We can get potash from Canada a natural gas from fracking that will allow us to maintain fertilizer production and crop yields.

The price of American bread will rise about 50%, the price of bread world wide will quadruple.

We will be paying $5 a gallon at the pump, but Euros and Japanese will be paying $10 to $20.

The stagnant economies of Red State America will have a golden age renaissance both on the farm ad in the oil patch.

Our birthrates are low but (Trump and his racist MAGA folks not withstanding) we are still open for immigrants like no other nation.

Build the Wall?

What are you, freaking stupid? We are going to need all of those laborers and consumers just to keep the American economy functioning.

America will survive and even prosper - demographically it will be changed beyond recognition.

Venelin.Petkov said...

Right now Russians inside and outside of that hellhole are being brainwashed by crazy propaganda (as they also teach it to certain parties in the US). I wonder if these tactics would work on them. Have you tried that against Russian immigrants?

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'll repeat a suggestion I made a while back. Every high school student should spend a day wandering through the science section of a university library. They should be required to read the abstracts of 20 papers in diverse fields, look up all the hard words and summarize. If more people had a feel for how much science is out there, we'd be better off.

David Brin said...

Symbolic ironies abound! You've seen the "Z" on all Russ vehicles. Every captured truck or tank should have a "V" painted in front of the Z... to denote both Victory and Volodymyr Zelensky!

duncan cairncross said...

Re Fertilizer prices

In the developed world the problem is that fertilizer is simply too cheap - and as a result is applied in excessive amounts
This means that it leaks into aquifers and the like

The finances make this almost inevitable - fertilizer is so cheap that doubling the amount applied for a 5% increase in yield makes financial sense

So massively more expensive fertilizer may not actually reduce the yields by that much

Robert said...

We can get potash from Canada

Is this why your GOP is claiming we're a fascist dictatorship? Prepping the ground for an invasion of Saskatchewan to gain our potash reserves?

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Prepping the ground for an invasion of Saskatchewan to gain our potash reserves?


Why am I flashing on a scene from Casablanca?


"Are you one of those people who can't imagine us in their beloved Paris?"

"It's not exactly my beloved Paris."

"Can you imagine us in London?"

"When you get there, ask me."

"What about Saskatchewan?"

"Frankly, Major, there are parts of Saskatchewan that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."

Tony Fisk said...

I feel those dozy 'Z's should be augmented with an extra Z, rotated.
Or, run a line along the middle of the stroke, producing a 'ZZ' effect.

Meanwhile, I gather the 4th Army's leader laying siege to Kharkiv has met with an accident...

scidata said...

I've never been to Ukraine. But I have been to Winnipeg, which is pretty much the same thing. Nice folk, but I wouldn't want to get on their wrong side. Monsieur Rick's warning to Major Strasser applies to many such neighbourhoods.

BTW I really like the University Challenge idea. Those places have an almost magical power to dissolve crusted preconceptions. Doctrine is the mind-killer. Even if one never joins academia, the seeds that are planted take root for a lifetime (or even more).

gerold said...

@Daniel Duffy: analysts can try too hard and get too clever in the attempt to explain the why's of the what. The idea that Putin attacked Ukraine as a preemptive strike in anticipation of a demographic collapse seems a bit silly to me. I don't think that was a factor at all.

Of course peeking behind the curtain of an unhinged moron is going to be tricky no matter what, but Putler presents a particular challenge. But when a person has such poor judgement, long-range Machiavellianism is a remote possibility.

Regarding higher food prices: bread riots are certainly a possibility in poor countries which are not self-sufficient. As the number one importer of wheat Egypt is a good candidate. Their last uprising didn't work out so well, so they could be ready for Arab Spring 2.0. Turkey is also due for regime change. Erdogan has already screwed up the economy and depreciation of the lira is already a problem. Nigeria also imports a lot of grain, but increased oil prices should offset so they're probably ok.

If increased grain and oil prices boost MAGAstan incomes it could also help democrats in the 2022 election. If Repugs don't manage to capture Congress that would be a real win for America.

Alan Brooks said...

There might be a little something to Dan’s theory. Russia offered safe passage for Ukrainians—East, and to Belarus. Russia has plenty of space for immigrants.
And once they get in, perhaps they don’t get Out.

Jon S. said...

Last I heard, while we're not producing the majority of the world's wheat in the US any more, we do seem to have a lock on corn - just need to stop the foolishness of trying to make fuel alcohol out of it (sawgrass is better for that anyway) and get the world used to cornbread and corn tortillas (I'm sure our good friends in Mexico will be happy to provide recipes).

Larry Hart said...

Alan Brooks:

Russia offered safe passage for Ukrainians—East, and to Belarus.


A few years ago I first noticed how far Salzburg, Austria actually is from Switzerland. On this very site, I asked how the Von Trapp family could walk 1500 or so miles across the Alps at the end of The Sound of Music. Some helpful fellow poster here referred to an interview with Julie Andrews where she joked about the movie actually depicting the Von Trapps "escaping into Germany", directly into the shadow of Hitler's retreat in Berchtesgaden.

I suspect that Ukranians fleeing into Russia or Belarus would end up kind of like that.

David Brin said...

From KUNG POW! "In his great journey he walked and walked... and sometimes drove..."

Unknown said...

Larry, re: the Von Trapps...

It's worse than that, since Maria was already pregnant with the next Von Trapp when they fled...at least as I remember her autobiography, which I read in high school (translated, of course). I think they actually took the train into Italy. Wikipedia seems to agree. The movie also hands Austria a national anthem it never actually had...

Pappenheimer

locumranch said...


I kept my silence in the face of Dr. Brin's 5 Step Disinformation Silencing Plan that reads like it was cribbed from the Spanish Inquisition and I held my tongue when he trotted out his finely tuned Wager Challenge hobby-horse, but it is his infantile reliance on mercantilism that bids me speak:

Does anyone here really believe that all taunts, wagers, debts & insults can be paid-in-full with a monetary settlement ?

Is anyone so irredeemably bourgeois as to believe that cash settles everything ?


If so, then that person is certifiable, as insane as those NATO adventurists who currently argue that supplying fully fueled & armed military aircraft to Ukraine will not (and cannot) be interpreted as an Act of War by either Russia or Putin.

I can already hear their Post-WW3 whinge:

But it was just MONEY -- it was just ECONOMIC SANCTIONS -- it was just heavily armed military warcraft that weren't TECHNICALLY an act-of-war and there were no boots-on-the-ground, so Putin broke the RULES when he launched that retaliatory nuclear first strike!!

It's a dramatic example, I agree, but it illustrates my point that (1) money is NOT the end-all & be-all of all wagers and (2) many insults, bets & debts are more likely to be repaid with hate, blood & death than filthy lucre.

Not that I believe that my argument will convince our fine host of anything because, let's face it, you can't Torquemada out of anything.


Best

Der Oger said...

Symbolic ironies abound! You've seen the "Z" on all Russ vehicles. Every captured truck or tank should have a "V" painted in front of the Z... to denote both Victory and Volodymyr Zelensky!

We have a leftist Federal Minister of the Interior who ordered the Federal Police to hinder German Neonazis to travel to Ukraine to fight for a Jewish President.

Oh, and that general being ousted, and the FSB agent asking his superior to use the new, shiny, "unhackable" communication system ... only to hear that it does not work because the local 3G/4G towers have been shelled (which is needed to operate it).

David Brin said...

I squint and imagine that Putin had a 'deal' in mind, if he could not install a puppet in Kyiv... a line of separation of forces along the Dnieper, which is a line that Stalin offered to Hitler, around September1941. I think Vp is realizing... as did Stalin... that nothing like it will happen.

Police demanding to check the phones of young people in Moscow to see if they accessed foreign news sources is... both oppressive and self-defeating as word spreads about it. But far more significant, it adds to a growing realization that we had vastly over-rated Russian cyber -hacking-warfare skills. Such grunt methods should not ne necessary. Moreover, where are the massive cyber attacks we expected from Putin? They could come tomorrow! As might attacks on subsea fiber cables and even destruction of humanity's access to Earth orbit. But so far...

Poland's handing over of Mig 29s to Ukraine via the US is of course a matter that Ukraine pilots know that plane. Also it's a version of Trump's kind suggestion of 'potemkin' aid that retains deniability. Poles can also take over maintenance of Migs.

Finally, I skimmed locum and it is a screech-moan of truly psychopathic proportions. Most of it is not even remotely answerable except by men in white coats, wearing sputum face protection.

Still, speaking more generally, we ought to rename all sanctions as "Special Financial Operations."

As for wager challenges, they serve one function, to show that MAGAs don't actually believe the counterfactuals that they relentlessly howl. It is a pure fact that if I offered right now a $5000 wager that the Earth would stop spinning at midnight, there would be a tsunami of assholes rushing to take the bet and to take my money!

They refuse to bet over disproofs of Foxite lies... and screech "gambling proves nothing!"... because they... know... they... would... lose. And hence they concoct excuse incantations, because they know refusing to step up, like a man, and offer consequential outcomes to aleatory events proof of fact, demonstrates that they are blowhard cowards and utter balless weenies.

Abilard said...

I grew up around people who claimed to believe that the Rapture was imminent and yet somehow continued to mind their long-term investments. Pointing out that their monetary behavior did not match their stated beliefs swayed no one. Nor did repeating the biblical injunction to judge a tree by its fruits. The wager tactic is one that might be similarly brushed off.

Implicit in point three is that one has the social power to arrange some sort of adjudication. Not to sound like a post-modernist, but I do not think power can be ignored in these situations, especially as the interest in it and desire for it could wed many dishonest interlocutors to their positions (either consciously or unconsciously). For example, a preacher who, without thinking deeply or actually believing that the Rapture is imminent, says as much to make his sermon more lively, can nonetheless ill afford to give ground to a teenager who points out the obvious. Nor are parishioners, who are invested in the church hierarchy, likely to let that hierarchy be overturned by someone with no status in the name of truth.

So, I suppose the efficacy of this depends on whether the social environment or institution involved is meritocratic or corrupt.

gerold said...

DB: you've said all along that Putin hoped to install a puppet regime east of the Dnieper and that seems a plausible hypothesis. Maybe leave Kyiv divided, a bit of nostalgic throwback to his KGB days in East Germany? Or maybe if the invasion went really well, annex East Ukraine and have a puppet regime in the west. In any case that ship has sailed. The utter incompetence of the Russian attack and the heroic defense by Ukraine have now put the survival of the Putinist regime in question. This might turn out well for the Russian people after all.

I don't think Western Ukraine will be conquered by Russia now, and that leaves Kyiv as a bone in the throat of the Russian orcs (Ukrainians are actually using that term for Russians - life imitates art!) Russia can devastate the cities but it doesn't seem likely that Ukraine will surrender. Economic sanctions put Russia at a disadvantage over the long haul while Western support can keep Ukraine afloat.

Slava Ukraini - Russia and their apologist sycophants can go fuck themselves.

David Brin said...

The Russian column north of Kyiv is one thing we're all curious about. Cloudy weather for a week has prevented much insight whether they have been harried in ways that - combined with muddy ground - truly created a useless traffic jam... or if that is a way-too optimistic scenario.

The advances made elsewhere seem likely to be harried and chivvied by small units. As long as the supply of Javelins keeps coming, one wonders how long it can be kept up.

We'll know things have taken a turn when unrest spurts in CHechnya and Georgia.

gerold said...

DB: Chechnya and Georgia seem pretty quiet so far, but Belarus has been interesting. After it was announced that Belarusian troops would be joining their pals in the Special Operation to liberate Ukraine from nazis etc some interesting developments have appeared. Not only have ordinary citizens moved to sabotage rail shipments into Ukraine in support of the invasion, but troops have reportedly refused to participate.

This might be a good time for Lukashenko to have an accident, or decide to spend more time with his family. Another unintended consequence of Putin's war?

scidata said...

Of course this is horrific to see in 2022, it looks more like 1916.

Being of a psychohistory bent, I look for ways to analyze history. Two great forces appear to be at play: evolution and human cognition. They are different things, in fact, opposite things.

The former is well understood by those in CB, so no need to elaborate.

The latter is well described by the Survivorship Bias. One famous example is that of WW2 allied planes that returned riddled with bullet holes. The shot up areas were reinforced, but to little effect. Then someone proposed that those planes that got shot up in other areas were the ones that never returned to base. So they reinforced the non-shot up areas instead (engines and cockpit mainly). It worked.
Learning is accelerated by failure more than success, which is what makes it the opposite of evolution. That would be my premise if I took the Man over Nature side in a debate.

Bias, subjectivity, and doctrine served us well in gathering food and avoiding predators. But they're now impeding our escaping the Great Filter. Diversity = Resilience = Survival. That would be my premise if I took the Nature over Man side in a debate.

duncan cairncross said...

Warfare
Defense V Offense
Despite the unique example of the Nazi Blitzkrieg the old adage that you need a 3:1 advantage to the attacker has looked good

Today with man carried missiles like the Javelin - capable of killing almost any tank and any jet that drops below a medium altitude
And the surprisingly effective Turkish drones

Has that changed the equation??
Is the ratio now 10:1 ???

With a pissed off modern citizenry and such weapons is conquest even possible?

Is a "pissed off modern citizenry" going to be MORE effective as an insurgency than some goat herders??

David Brin said...

Of course we are officially denying this! Duh? Most likely scenario. Ukrainian pilots fly Migs to Poland for maintenance and service and arming and fly fresh ones out with Ukrainian markings, for missions, then land them a couple of times under highway bridges for fuel and ammo, then fly back to Poland for another swap. That keeps them out of vulnerable air bases.

https://news.google.com/articles/CAIiEIy3UsqBlNAJ-o4rfLC0CKAqGQgEKhAIACoHCAowocv1CjCSptoCMPrTpgU?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

David Brin said...

Olaf Stapledon's LAST AND FIRST MEN is a must read. But in the first ch he talks about Cynicism vs Romanticism, and how both Germany and Russia have deepseated romantic thought patterns that will always lead to trouble...as (I add) we Americans have a recurring romantic (and hence nearly always evil) side to our nature that has variously been called the Confederacy and has definite geographic correlations.

His take on the 'cynical' French and Brits was a bit more of a reach. But he called for balance among these two sides of the force.

After two huge wars and major occupation, Germany has tilted a lot away from romanticism that led to Naziism. Who knows what it will take for Russians to do the same. Their capacity to endure suffering is legendary. I doubt any amount will turn that trick.

Tony Fisk said...

John Sweeney. Day 14. (And update.)

A sobering assessment.

George Carty said...

I like to think of the "Z" on the invading Russian vehicles as standing for "Zakhvatchiki" (Russian for "invaders").

While the Ukrainians of course would say it stood for "Zaharbnyky" (the equivalent word in Ukrainian).

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Their [Russians'] capacity to endure suffering is legendary. I doubt any amount will turn that trick.


I'm hardly an expert on the subject, but I wonder if the same power structure which makes the will of the Russian people irrelevant in deciding to go to war also makes them irrelevant as to when Putin has to change course.

It might depend more on the pain felt by the wealthy Russian oligarchs, much of whose wealth (and subsequent power) consists of property in the west, western currency, and bytes stored in western computers.

Putin is seeking to demonstrate that his nuclear weapons allow him to flaunt the protocols expected by the Enlightenment world and do what he pleases. Perhaps nothing will cause him personally to change course, but his power base of wealthy kleptocrats might care more about their personal wealth than about former Soviet glory. Demonstrating to them that their wealth and power requires the cooperation of the Enlightenment world for its very existence might make the light bulb go off.

Larry Hart said...

I didn't even know Zelensky had a wife. There's a face that can undoubtedly launch a thousand ships. Or MiGs, as the case may be.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/03/09/world/ukraine-russia-war#olena-zelenska

scidata said...

Re: Last and First Men

Huh, published by Methuen. Also a later work mapping the future history of the entire universe! Neil Postman published there too, including his book on the 'sifting eye candy' catastrophe, including a brilliant analysis of BNW vs 1984.

locumranch said...

Kremlin says United States unleashed economic war on Russia

https://www.reuters.com/world/kremlin-says-united-states-has-declared-economic-war-russia-2022-03-09/

As NATO engages in its childish game of "I'm almost touching you", Russia just announced that it may not accept the West's boots-on-ground definition of what constitutes an 'Act of War' in much the same way that some touchy individual may not choose to respond to "traitor-liar-cultist; gasbag" slanders with a friendly & limited monetary wager.

Who has the most to lose, I wonder, in regard to this or any Declaration of War?

Science Fiction authors have already asked this question many times, but I'm partial to a tale from the 1980's that involves a fleet of old minivans that were parked & abandoned (long ago) in western urban centers, all on the off & unlikely chance that their beleaguered handlers may someday ask them to go boom.

Is this a bet that you wish to make ? Or, would you prefer a more civilised wager of francs, drachmas or rubles ?


Best

Alan Brooks said...

BNW is a good deal—where does one sign up?
——
The Russian FSB agent I talked to on FB said his country is “upset” not only about WW2, but also Napoleon’s invasion over 20 decades ago. But not all that surprising when we consider that there are Americans “upset” concerning the outcome of the Civil War; in fact some are still physically fighting the CW.
—-
Pat Buchanan’s American Conservatives are largely apologists for Putinism, albeit they are careful to hedge adroitly. In so many flowery words they say Russians are more/less conservative peasants opposing new world order Atlanticist gay-friendly urbane 1984 BNW secular-modernizers.
I joked how we ought to be more understanding of Russia’s need to glom All of Europe as a buffer, and China’s need for the entire Pacific region as their Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Some Buchananites took the jest seriously; they think we can be isolationist to the max—and many are counting on Christ to Rapture them when the Tribulation arrives.
Gog and Magog being Russia and China.

David Brin said...

We have a right to say "I don't want to do commerce with you while your hands drip with the gore of innocents."

If Russia is vulnerable to trade stoppage, she might have diversified her economy instead of stealing everything for oligarchs and tanks that are falling apart in the field.

Oh, and the US right has always been ready to roll over for tyrants, including the USSR. The force in US life that most opposed the Soviety empire was the US labor movement.


onward

onward

Andrew said...

I was just reading this to my wife. She and I are both Canadians. And her reply was one word: "crazy." And I -- as an old reader of Robert A. Heinlein -- have wondered if we're in "The Crazy Years". But I don't have to wonder any more.