Yesterday I gave a talk for the Tech and Internet Caucus of the California Democratic Party. I've done it before. A few years ago I was asked - as a futurist - to present some 'futuristic legislation.'
A result was the Fact Act... a proposed bill that'd promote ways - mostly competitive - to restore the status of verifiable facts in American civil and political discourse. Let there be no doubt. That is the core essence of today's Culture War. (I deem it to be phase 8 of the 250 year American Civil War.) Priority #1 of today's feudalist oligarchy is to discredit every fact-using profession...
...from science, medicine, law, journalism, teaching, civil service all the way to the intel/FBI/military officer corps, a quarter million dedicated women and men who won the Cold War and the War on Terror. Indeed, Foxites push hatred of the very notion that there are things called Facts.
Creating the Fact Act helped spur me - early in 2020 - to rush out a book filled with agile tactics that might help our paladins in this struggle for America and the Enlightenment Experiment. Polemical Judo offered (still offers) many methods and/or persuasions that could help win hearts and minds and elections! Alas, not one of those techniques has been tried by any Democratic pol or pundit.
Except maybe Hakeem Jeffries. I have some hopes for him.
== On this occasion the topic was... ==
Artificial Intelligence, of course.
Oh, during my time with the CADEM Tech Caucus we touched upon the Climate Crisis, including how my colleague and pal Kim Stanley Robinson has achieved what I failed to do, in Earth - using science fiction to help awaken citizens and civilization to the need for crucial action. In fact, I hear the United Nations is considering establishing an agency to be named after the title of KSR's epic novel The Ministry for the Future!
But yeah. The whole AI thing took up most of our time.
There was some reference to my earlier book about freedom and privacy The Transparent Society... and especially the chapter predicting (in 1997) today's tsunami of faked images and videos. "The End of Photography as Proof of anything at all."
I explained that none of the genius-level folks in this field, most of whom are wringing their hands over 'generative large language models' - or golems - seem ever to refer to human history, the long span of four to six thousand years when our ancestors faced crises with remarkable similarities! Indeed, just consider the three most-widely offered 'formats' that almost all those bright folks assume artificial intelligences will take.
1. That they will be wholly owned and controlled by a few giga institutions: e.g. Google, Microsoft, Beijing, Goldman-Sachs, empowering and exacerbating disparities of power in favor of a few... or...
2. That AI will be amorphous blobs that spread everywhere, copying themselves diversely, ad infinitum... or...
3. That cyber entities will coalesce into a single monolithic, unitary titan, like Colossus or Skynet.
Have you noticed these are almost always the expectations assumed by commentators on AI, whether optimists or pessimists? Hardly anyone points out that these three formats - while seeming contradictory - could happen in parallel!
Moreover, each one represents a mode of mal-governance that was already seen across that long dark litany of horrors called 'history.'
- Number one is a lot like feudalism, with heavily armed castle lords battling each other for advantage, while crushing the peasants.
- Number two is chaos. Much like when our unprotected peasant ancestors were prey to every kind of predator.
- And number three? That's despotic rule in a sharp pyramid of power. Absolute monarchy. Tyranny. Nineteen Eighty-Four.
No wonder we're terrified. In our hearts and subconsciouses, we've seen it all before.
Fortunately, those three are not the only possible formats for synthetic beings! There are at least four more...
...one of which actually offers a way toward a possible 'soft landing' for us old organic types. Though for lack of time, I could only briefly allude to it in my talk to the California Democratic Party.
But I'll be back here with it. And frequent readers of Contrary Brin - or anything else I have written - will not (I promise) be at all surprised.
== Other pertinences ==
I also referred to a complaint of mine going back decades, a flaw that hurts our creativity and productivity and the potential of hundreds of thousands of kids(!) A flaw that would be so easy to solve! In fact it could take one meeting of a few folks from Google, Microsoft, Apple and a few others to fix it, almost overnight. What flaw?
It is the shameful lack of something that was widespread and easily available in the 1980s... a set of easy-entry programming languages, cross-available on ANY device, allowing teachers to do something they have not been able to do, for decades. Assign programming as homework.
See the original complaint and possible solution, here. Why Johnny Can’t Code... and its followup.
Did any other tech related political matters come up, at CA-DEM?
What about the current 'debt limit crisis'?
We should be wary of the 'deal' that appears to be taking shape. One sop being thrown to McCarthy appears to be a cut in the budget of the Internal Revenue Service.
How I object! After infrastructure and climate and reviving US manufacturing and helping poor kids, a top accomplishment of the Pelosi Congress was revitalizing the IRS, so it could modernize, provide better service and go after rich tax cheats. Oligarchs - furious they might be traced to their Cayman cheat holes - ordered the GOP to make slashing the IRS its top priority. So JoBee had better not have let them do more than a symbolic slash.
How much better it would be to take this directly to those voters who actually care about deficits and debt! And show them the plain fact that Democratic Administrations are always more fiscally prudent than Republican ones!
That's always, always and always! (Step up with wager stakes?) As usual, deficits as a fraction of GDP skyrocketed under Trump... and started plummeting under Biden - as happened under Clinton and Obama. See the figures!
How can our politicians be so incompetent as to not use something so blatant to eviscerate liars?
==Yeah, that's a lot ==
Okay that's most of what we talked about. Is that enough? Plenty?
Anyway I promised links to the assembled activists and here the promise is kept.
Next week I'll get back to more carefully curated postings. Meanwhile... persevere!
I'm aware of your advice to consider the second derivative. It looks like now you are illustrating the radius of curvature. Does that carry information I should be interested in?
The size of the radius and the magnitude of the second derivative correlate well, but the circle is easier for people to see and draw for themselves. Anyone with a freely available dataset can try various smoothing techniques and then draw 'inscribed' circles that approximate curve sections.
Showing it this way gets around some of the math fear people have. Visual geometry is tolerated a bit more. 8)
You can now get ZX Spectrum and C64 emulators for phones.
Sites like w3schools have many interactive, worked examples demonstrating each facet of a language. There's no reason why a teacher couldn't put together a simple training program with this material (apart from the obvious one: time)
Yes I've been away for a bit. Good stuff mostly. I have looked in on CB every few months. Alas, it has not really been worth investment of that precious commodity known as Time. While I of course heartily approve of your free expression I'll be frank and say the politics - or if you prefer dogma - that prevail here are to my view largely nonsense. Ah well, I spend less time in a bubble.
But I'm still interested in how technology has changed us and will continue to do so. Most of the AI output I've seen has been tripe, a clever scriptorium that puts down deep trawler nets to its assigned fishing grounds, hauls up what the internet gives forth and applies excellent grammar algorithms to it. What does it say about our society when one of the best ways to tell if a student is cheating by using an AI program is that it is so much better than what a public education would provide in this benighted age?
On a lighter note I've been watching Upload on Amazon Prime. An interesting take on the concept of uploading our consciousness at death. A very likeable cast. Enough political correctness to reflect our times but also a willingness to recognize nonsense. And the red haired AI entity in this "paradise".... Man, I'm only part way through season one but he/it is creepin' me out big time.
I agree with Tacitus' assessment of the state of AI. Well-said.
The rest of his post is the reflexive ducking of fact that I see from conservatives that are appalled at what their ideology has wrought but cannot break with their tribe.
Aww, Matthew, I've missed you too.
I think the real issue is that conservatives and progressives don't speak the same language. Oh strictly speaking we do, but the vocabulary is different. Specifically I'd say my definitions of reflexive, appalled, ideology and fact are not quite the same as yours.
The hijacking of language is one of the most woeful developments of times modern.
We'll have to have that discussion one day.
But today is not that day.
I don't plead the case for WJCC anymore, I just post the link to that Salon essay. OGH made the case perfectly in 2006.
I've moved on to syntonic computational thinking, having given up on any bureaucrat ever grokking the difference between cloning coders and communing with machines.
Speaking of which, move over Tesla and SpaceX - Musk's Neuralink has (maybe) obtained FDA approval according to the WaPo:
Prime Video's UPLOAD gets one step closer. That whole show creeps me out, not just the red haired entity. It's like BNW meets THE OFFICE.
I am appalled at what has happened to conservatives in our nation.
Facts are ignored in service to an ideology that most closely resembles the worst authoritarian states in history. Facts do not support their ideology,so truth must be re-defined to match.
Liberals use language too.
While I of course heartily approve of your free expression I'll be frank and say the politics - or if you prefer dogma - that prevail here are to my view largely nonsense.
It probably seems that way until it isn't. I wonder if you'd see things differently after your own state of Wisconsin votes Democrat for president in 2024, and then the gerrymandered legislature sends the state's electoral votes for the Republican anyway. (I am aware that my own state's legislature is also heavily gerrymandered, yet neither they nor our Democratic governor have claimed the "independent legislature" power to overturn election results. Both sides don't do it.)
The difference between our concerns is not mere ideology. I am truly frightened by the prospect of Republican fascism, complete with Brownshirt violence and authoritarian dictatorship. You appear to see that as a caricature that I picked up from AOC or Noam Chomsky, but no, it comes from my late father's descriptions of how Nazism rose to power in 1930s Germany. I spent close to 60 years of live believing that it can't happen here, only to see it happening here--a thing that once seen cannot be unseen.
I hope to God that you have the correct view and that I'm just being paranoid.
Ah well, I spend less time in a bubble.
This is the attitude I don't get--that we here are somehow all in lockstep agreement and simply recite the same talking points. The only bubble we seem to be in is the one that is outside the hermetically sealed FOX bubble.
* * *
On a lighter note:
I've been watching Upload on Amazon Prime. An interesting take on the concept of uploading our consciousness at death.
*Sigh* I just can't subscribe to more and more separate streaming services just because each one has one or a few good shows. At the moment, Netflix and Disney+ are my limit. I can't justify additional monthly outlays for Paramount+ just to watch Picard or Apple TV just to watch Foundation ("Now with more girls!")
I am lucky to live in a suburb with a very good library system that usually gets DVDs of miniseries a year or two after they have aired. That's how I saw Watchmen 2019 and finished off Criminal Minds after Netflix dropped it. I'll most likely eventually see the show you mentioned or the ones I mentioned above in that manner.
Am pleased Tacitus mentioned Uploading.
Always comes back to traditional values versus de novo. The Right says they’re upholding something universalist, when they are actually promoting that which is is idiosyncratic/self-referential: as our host says: 6000 yrs of recorded feudalist values.
The Right says that for social cohesion, ‘universalist’ values must be maintained, when the values actually revolve around their personal & dynastic ambitions.
Their religiosity illuminates such. They misinterpret scriptural “abundant life” to be the gravy train—which reduces their God to something akin to the CEO of Amway, dispensing goodies to the Faithful Flock. Cognitive dissonance writ large.
This is Memorial Day weekend, yet they are celebrating the Indy 500 more than Memorial Day.
Larry, you are not being paranoid because we already saw this happen when the Insurgency happened and a bunch of Brown Shirts invaded the Capital Building while egged on by Trump. We barely avoided a coup. That Tacitus refuses to see this and claims it is just our paranoia is his closing his eyes to the truth that his Party had been subverted and corrupted into a form that is antithetical to the views he espouses.
Once upon a time I believed as some of our... more conservative brethren did. As a transwoman, I've seen that they have come for me. They are coming for me before they have chosen to come for Tacitus, or for the Jews, or for the Blacks. The Republican Party wants to legislate me into illegality, with the Florida Republicans wanting to make me wearing a dress a sex crime punishable by death, and this is not conjecture, they want sex crimes against minors to be punishable by death and consider "drag" to be a sex crime against minors.
The Republican Party has become the party of Fascism, pure and simple. To support them or defend their actions is to support their crimes against humanity. There's no if. There's no but. These jackals are calling for blood. It started in Florida and we have seen it spread across the country with more and more Republicans using hatred of women like me as their clarion cry to unite people in hate against me and other transgender people... and these same laws are being used to punish women who don't dress and present themselves feminine enough as seen in this incident in December. These laws will be used against dykes and against bisexuals and against gay men, to criminalize the LGBTQ+ population.
And more and more, I see Republicans and conservatives embracing this view rather than denouncing it.
And more and more, I see Republicans and conservatives embracing this view rather than denouncing it.
The rank and file Republican voters who are not themselves evil but nevertheless prefer fascism to "woke" if those are the only choices seem to know in their bones that...
+ They are losing demographically as more and more voting citizens don't buy what they're selling
+ In order to hold onto their base, the party must inevitably alienate everyone else
+ Yet, terrible things will happen if their party doesn't hold onto the reins of power
Thus they are--perhaps reluctantly, even guiltily--ok with cheating, threats, and open violence if that's what it takes to preserve their way of life. That's the most charitable face I can put to it.
Straight from their
Grand Spokesdragon’s mouth:
Before anyone complains about the political turn of these comments, I'd like to place into evidence the fact that we've been very good about avoiding such a turn for the past two posts, until someone who typically doesn't like the political discussions just had to poke the bear.
Lorraine the radius of curvature is somewhat indicative, but far less so than the simple fact that hypocrites who screech about debt always make it worse and Democrats always act to stabilize debt to bearable levels.
Tony the “Johnny Can’t Code” problem will not be solved until Textbook publishers can be armtwisted into again helping teachers ASSIGN PROGRAMS AS HOMEWORK. That one thing amplifies the number of kids exposed to programming concepts from tens of thousands to tens of millions. And it won’t happen till ALL devices kids might have -even poor kids – will let them do standard programming homework,
Tacitus we watched 5 episodes of UPLOAD and liked it… and simply stopped because life is busy and we figure we got the gist. Maybe we’ll try again.
Acacia while I agree with you about trans being a major locus of confederate hysteria, I still urge doing a statistical compilation of which enemies are vilified on rightist media the most. It is always fact professions, from science and teaching to civil service and now the US military officer corps and FBI! Nerds. THink about who stands in the way of revived feudalism? The powerless? Or those with real power to maintain the enlightenment and flattened, Smithian competition fairness?
The thing Pelosi did that terrified the oligarchy was reviving the IRS. It has them is a screeching tizzy.
I highly recommend Tom Hanks's commencement address at Harvard. I know we'd be friends. Though Colbert is even more of a wise guy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXWx5DHEW5c
Tacitus we are well aware how you rationalize that we here are fanatics. It is human nature to dismiss discomforting adversaries that way. And I freely admit that I believe my own political opponents combine traits of stunning idiocy, hypocrisy and often outright evil. I know many of them think that of me.
The difference is that I am willing to have any particular element of my edifice dissected and perhaps refuted. And I often change my mind about things that have been thus refuted… often by me! I deem CURIOSITY more important than dogma, And I am ‘contrary’ across all spectra, including the noxious activists of a loosely appelated ‘left’ who spread a cult of FRAGILITY among today’s young.
The test, I believe, comes from challenges to combat by fact. And given the SLIPPERINESS of today’s dogmatists, I have found the best approach is to demand WAGERS with major escrowed stakes.
I recall asking YOU to do that. You always refused or ignored such challenges. And yet, I’ll try again.
PLEASE PARAPHRASE WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS MY ‘DOGMA’?
I’ll put it simply.
I assert that you cannot.
“What does it say about our society when one of the best ways to tell if a student is cheating by using an AI program is that it is so much better than what a public education would provide in this benighted age?”
Nonsense. These ‘gpt’ systems distill from the vast mash of all writings by a billion people. Of course they will offer up articulately expressed stuff! A lemon can become lemonade if teachers learn the simple trick of inviting students to in-person EXPLAIN several paragraphs of the treatise they handed in! In order to feign, the kids will have to STUDY their own purported essay, and thus learn plenty.
Workers in my dad’s generation could explain the class-historical sequences of Karl Marx. Sequences proved true of the past, that terrified the present of the 1930s, and were proved FALSE by the reformers of the Greatest Generation.
Can you detail those sequences, old man?
If you could, you’d recognize how your own cult’s oligarchic masters are deliberately reviving Marx from the dustbin where the Roosevelt generation had cast him.
Benighted? Cast stones, my friend. Cast stones.
the “Johnny Can’t Code” problem will not be solved until Textbook publishers can be armtwisted into again helping teachers ASSIGN PROGRAMS AS HOMEWORK. That one thing amplifies the number of kids exposed to programming concepts from tens of thousands to tens of millions.
No argument that providing resources to set a curriculum would help teachers.
And it won’t happen till ALL devices kids might have -even poor kids – will let them do standard programming homework,
Alas, Tony, it ia So hard to get folks to picture the situation.
1. In the 1980s in some school systems standard tectbooks containedproblem sections with "WRITE A TEN LINE PROGRAM TO..."
2. Hence NO students are assigned simple programming to (say) illustrate a notion in statistics, or biology or physics.
3. Yes, tens of thousands have the fire to find ways and do it themselves. Tens of MILLIONS will only do it if they are assigned homework.
4. That won't happen till the textbooks and school districts do it and that won't happen till ALL students have access to a completely and absolutely one-touch-access common programming language... or three, I don't care. And that could happen within ONE WEEK of Apple, Google, MSoft etc holding ONE MEETING.
I honestly do not get why this is so hard to grasp. EVERYONE replies to WJCC by touting their favorite coding language. It's not about that, at all.
*QUITEBASIC actually is one-step and works.
Acacia while I agree with you about trans being a major locus of confederate hysteria, I still urge doing a statistical compilation of which enemies are vilified on rightist media the most. It is always fact professions,
THink about who stands in the way of revived feudalism? The powerless?
The puppet masters of authoritarian fascist movements may not actually fear and hate the powerless, but vilifying them and putting them in mortal danger is one of the traditional means to motivate the citizenry to support their coup. I feel Acacia's terror at being among the foremost target of the current version of the Two Minutes Hate.
I've been reliving my youth re-watching the original tv episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus on Netflix lately, and the trope of the guys in drag playing women (in nothing approaching a sexual manner--the sexy female parts were always played by real women) is so casual, it is disheartening to know that it would not be allowed in the current climate, notwithstanding whether it could be considered a capital crime.
The real targets may be scientists and competent managers, but that doesn't make the experience for the powerless scapegoats "tea with the freakin' queen." *
* quoting Hill St Blues's Lt. Buntz
What's missing are the homework assignments in the text books.
Don't get hung up on Basic or any compiled language. I'm certainly not.
Again... what's missing is the homework.
Well, David does have a point with QuiteBasic being 'one-step'*. Running a js script from scratch involves a couple of interim steps: writing the HTML header/body structure**, saving it to a file, loading it on the browser, and setting up an I/O feedback loop (none of which is hard, and would be an education in itself).
Anyway, I think we can conclude a universal programming environment is available. So, as Alfred says, what's missing are the exercise books.
* ie there and ready to run a homework program at the click of a link. We won't ask what layers the 'Basic' is sitting on. That way lies madness, even if we were still messing with real 8-bit computers!
** Doesn't even need that starting out. A simple text file consisting of 'Hello world' would work for a very first exercise to show the browser loading file.
Larry, what I do about most streaming services is wait until there's a collection of stuff I want to watch on one, subscribe for a month or two, binge what I care about and cancel. The only one I particularly find worth keeping year round is Netflix just because I really enjoy a lot of foreign content and they have the best selection of it. Oddly Disney is the least useful one to me because I just haven't found anything there I want to watch- I could not get into the Mandalorian- I tried it after paying the Disney tax for a month to watch Hamilton.
Upload was definitely worth watching and definitely creeped me out.
An appendix would have the simplest "hello world" file printed out on one page and a two button flip-flop app on another page. As long as the code used was likely to avoid deprecation, it would work in texts for years. Someone would write those pages and slap a 'public domain' statement on them so no one else would have to do it again.
Kids with texts having that appendix would have two functioning apps as bootstraps with which to pick themselves up. After seeing it once or twice, they wouldn't need it in textbooks the next year, but we could print it anyway.
The hardest part of the access trick is stability of the language. If we had picked Flash many years ago, those texts would have become outdated when the major browsers deprecated the entire environment. If we'd aimed at HTML5 too early... well... (ahem).
JS has been around a while, but how many text writers actually know it? Heh. I'm an IT guy and been doing what I do almost 30 years now... and I've never coded in JS. I've seen LOTS of it, but never bothered to dig in.
Any exercises I wrote for a textbook would probably tell readers to pick a language they know. ANY language! But that wouldn't satisfy David's point and I know it.
That's why I think the issue has to be solved by authors.
I DO get tempted to finish a textbook I started long ago. I CAN say use any language... but then write the solution manual in the easiest one for browsers to interpret. Right? We all could. Will we?
Probably not. The philosophy section of my text leans pretty heavily toward an strongly-typed OOP interpretation of the universe. Decoherence looks like parallel computations kept safe from each other by lambda expressions. Good luck doing that without a compiler around.
That's okay, though. Getting Johnny coding again doesn't have to include all of us. It has to include the public education system. K-12... and we shouldn't skimp on those earliest years. There ARE visual languages young kids could use at websites where the browser once again acts as interpreter.
Getting there probably means a bunch of us running for our local equivalent of a Board of Education. From there we'd influence textbook policies. Your mileage may vary by State.
@Alfred, that response reminds me of the sort of tooltip explanation that Randall Munroe adds to XKCD, which is kind of appropriate. Now *this* would be the sort of exercise to pique Johnny's interest (David being the guy in the hypothetical last panel going 'What? NO-OO!' ;-)
Larry, what I do about most streaming services is wait until there's a collection of stuff I want to watch on one, subscribe for a month or two, binge what I care about and cancel.
That's likely what I will end up doing eventually, though it risks the streaming service dropping the show you want to see while you are waiting. My available time for binging is not constant either. It depends what's going on at work.
The only one I particularly find worth keeping year round is Netflix just because I really enjoy a lot of foreign content and they have the best selection of it.
I agree, Netflix is the one worth keeping on retainer. They've even got some adaptations of Robert Harris novels that I was not aware existed in movie form. If I don't have a particular target in mind, I can always poke around there and find something new or something to relive.
Oddly Disney is the least useful one to me because I just haven't found anything there I want to watch- I could not get into the Mandalorian- I tried it after paying the Disney tax for a month to watch Hamilton.
I think Hamilton is what caused me to sign up as well. And it's the Marvel stuff that keeps me there rather than the Star Wars universe, although it is fortuitous that they both come along. A few weeks back, I realized I had never seen Rise of Skywalker, so then I did. I'm also a sucker for the classic Disney films of my youth and teenage. Recently I stumbled across a pirate adventure flick I had enjoyed in high school (The Treasure of Matecumbe). 'Course back then, I hadn't realized that the story took place shortly after the Civil War and that the heroes were ex-Confederates and the villain a Union sailor. Hmmmmmmmm.
Upload was definitely worth watching and definitely creeped me out.
Sounds like I have to find a way to see it, but as I mentioned, that will probably be on DVD.
Becoming obvious even to the most obtuse by now.
Emphasis mine. I'll add that it's worse than the article states, because it's not just allowing states to trample on civil rights, but also capturing the federal government and then using that to do the same, as in the Fugitive Slave Act.
When scholars and other observers of the American system say that we have only been a fully functioning democracy since the 1960s, this is what they mean. This work is far from over ... but we have nonetheless built a conception of citizenship that was practically unimaginable for a large part of this nation’s history.
It is exactly this triumph that conservatives and reactionaries hope to reverse. The plan, as we have seen with abortion, is to unspool and untether those rights from the Constitution. It is to shrink and degrade the very notion of national citizenship and to leave us, once again, at the total mercy of the states. It is to place fundamental questions of political freedom and bodily autonomy into the hands of our local bullies and petty tyrants, whose whims they call “freedom,” whose urge to dominate they call “liberty.”
History teaches us that it teaches nothing. Therefore, it repeats itself. Unfortunately, as soon as we replace facts with opinions and ideology, history begins to teach us in more terrifying ways
Therefore, the "civil war" becomes permanent and spreads throughout the world, sometimes leading to real military conflicts. However, with a good knowledge of history and machine learning algorithms working on historical data, in principle, one can try to model the development and reaction of political and social systems.
I wrote to Prof. Brin about this, I hope the idea seems interesting.
Pardon if I've mentioned this before, but I feel there needs to be an assurance of the protections of citizenship for all of us here, without regard to economic position. Why? Because if "Little people" can be sanguine, my worries as an older CIS male are few. If a subgroup can be marked as undeserving of the protections of citizenship, history suggests it's not unreasonable to worry.
If American conservatism was a thing that one could count on resembling what it was in a previous decade, it would be less of a worry, but with many of it's members playing "More conservative than you!", possibly since the late fifties, it looks like a very different thing than what it was forty years ago. Note that Jerry Pournelle fell out of favor with many conservatives twenty years ago (For reasons that reflect well on his memory.).
The "Overton window" moving this quickly does not suggest stability, a revolutionary conservatism seems a contradiction in terms.
a revolutionary conservatism seems a contradiction in terms.
It makes more sense if you think of a "counter-revolutionary conservatism".
Instead of a constitutional right not to have things change, they now demand a constitutional right to have things not have changed.
Interesting study, which may have some bearing on certain interactions on this very site:
But groundbreaking research spearheaded by the psychologists Bert Uchino and Julianne Holt-Lunstad shows that ambivalent relationships can be damaging to your health — even more than purely negative relationships. One study found that adults had higher blood pressure after interacting with people who evoked mixed feelings than after similar interactions with those who evoked negative feelings.
I had assumed that with a neighbor or a colleague, having some positive interactions was better than all negative interactions. But being cheered on by the same person who cuts you down doesn’t buffer the bad feelings; it amplifies them. And it’s not just in your head: It leaves a trace in your heart and your blood.
The most intuitive reason is that ambivalent relationships are unpredictable. With a clear enemy, you put up a shield when you cross paths. With a frenemy, you never know whether Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde is going to show up. Ambivalence short-circuits the parasympathetic nervous system and activates a fight-or-flight response. It’s unnerving to hope for a hug while bracing yourself for a brawl.
Another factor is that unpleasant interactions are more painful in an ambivalent relationship. It’s more upsetting to be let down by people you like sometimes than by people you dislike all the time. When someone stabs you in the back, it stings more if he’s been friendly to your face.
Larry H., "Reactionary" seems to fit. An interesting thing to bear in mind folks claiming the label of "Conservative" are not a point phenomenon, more of a spectrum ranging from "Yellow dog republicans" to folks who seem confused about the proper usage of bed sheets. They can't fairly be all tarred with the same brush, irrespective of "Known by the company one keeps".
They can't fairly be all tarred with the same brush, irrespective of "Known by the company one keeps".
I would have agreed a decade or two ago, but I don't think I can these days. No matter his personal beliefs or principles, a Republican congressman is a vote for Kevin McCarthy and a Republican Senator is a vote for Mitch McConnell with all that that entails from investigations of Hunter Biden to a national abortion ban.
Look what happened in North Carolina. A state senator who ran and won as a pro-choice Democrat switched parties, giving the Republicans the supermajority they needed to override the governor's veto of a strict abortion ban.
I was impressed with fellow Illinoisan Adam Kinsinger's principled stand on impeachment and Trumpism, yet even if he had run in my district (which he did not), I couldn't have voted for him knowing that his election would mean one more Republican and one less Democrat in the House. Even if his personal principles were more in line with my own, what would ultimately matter is that his vote would enable the forces I am determined to counter.
So in a way, "the company they keep" is the most important thing.
One more thing about WJCC: choice of language doesn't matter if it's not FORTH. Why? because ALL other languages map human thought onto a computer, granted at different levels of power, safety, abstraction, and elegance (rarely much of that last one actually). By way of analogy, citizen science maps citizen efforts onto scientific research. Useful, but it won't save us. In the best instances though, citizen science maps scientific thinking onto individual human minds. That's what FORTH does regarding machine thinking.
This is done in thee parts. First is FORTH's simplicity: only about two dozen core words, which are one, two, or three letters long, so knowing English is not a prerequisite. Right there, all other programming languages are eliminated, especially in the developing world (my Fermi solution to the 'One Laptop Per Child' saga). Second is the single object used for data storage, passing, I/O, and computation: the stack. Exactly the same object used by the abacus and simple 'pebble computers' going back to the dawn of sapiens. Stacks are innate to us - how's that for a wild neurological and anthropological claim?. Third is its Spartan simplicity. An interpreter, compiler, dictionary, editor, and operating system that can be entirely coded in 1K bytes (some of the early FORTHs actually were). Writing a FORTH from scratch is late high school or early undergrad level (I've done it several times, and trust me, I'm no Gates or Kemeny).
Now the part that gets me laughed at in board/gov/school meetings (or used to, when I attended such to 'prod the beach rubble' as Sappho put it). The one thing I'd change about WJCC, is that I'd simplify it even further. Teach computational thinking using pencil and paper. Guess which is the only* language simple/tiny/generic enough to do that. I ran off a few FORTH coding sheets way back, with the intention of handing them out at said meetings. My pitch: kids would answer tests with a few simple FORTH words, and maybe test them later for - wait for it - FUN. Didn't go well. There's no profit/funding/aggrandizement possible with such a plan. Sort of like common vitamins and big pharma. No need to recount the leaded gas fiasco, others in CB have already done an admirable job of that.
Morse code** offers some insight. Strictly speaking, one doesn't need a transmitter, or wire, or even a key. There was an old Western B-movie I saw a thousand years ago that had one prisoner teaching Morse code to another using a tin cup. Of course the learner then used it to save the damsel or train or town or nation (I forget which) at the end. I think it was Jeanette Wing who once noted that computational thinking isn't really about computers. It's more about thinking (whether carbon or silicon). Learn, apply, repeat - that's how to get from savannas to stars.
* Haskell would work too, at the other end of the abstraction spectrum. You can formally specify an entire space fleet, crew, drives, logistics, and all on a single page of Haskell. Alas, the only good Haskell programmers have a PhD and math/computer know-how that'd make Turing blush.
** BTW a single session covering codes/ciphers and formulae/algorithms would do more to unscramble younglings' brains than all the 'teach kids to code' tripe currently found in most national school programs. Education bureaucrats are so calcified around what/how they themselves learned that they'd rather torture students than take one damned femtosecond for introspection. That single session would have cost little scidata 30 minutes and saved him 30 years.
"Reactionary" seems to fit.
So does "authoritarian", "fascist", and "Christianist". My point wasn't to find a better word for them, but to try and explain why they still think the word "conservative" means what they are.
There was an old Western B-movie I saw a thousand years ago that had one prisoner teaching Morse code to another using a tin cup. Of course the learner then used it to save the damsel or train or town or nation (I forget which) at the end.
If you haven't read Robert Harris's novel Enigma, you really should.
They are conservative in that they conserve their ability to stomp on those they don’t like.
Larry Hart: Robert Harris's novel Enigma
Watched the movie several times. My favourite line, from the senior American Navy officer who's informed they just can't crack Enigma:
"Well, this is a great day for Adolf Hitler!"
“Caesarist” is another synonym for reactionary, fascist, etc...
LH I agree that the oligarchy stirs hatred BETWEEN low-power groups. Like poor Germans against Jews. Mark Twain said that poor white southerners will obey the platation lords so long as they are given someone below them to kick.
So sure, the MAGAs are incited against trans etc. But again, the powerless serve that purpose but are NOT the principal clades who stand in the way of restored feudalism. It is the nerdy defenders of the Enlightenment who have the POWER to block em. And I still ask that someone tabulate how often groups are explicitly attacked by rightwing media.
Alfred, alas, you (again) do not get my point re WJCC. Everything in your response is about choice of which language and assuming that is what I care about. Again I do NOT care about that.
I care about ALL children getting ONE-CLICK access - from any device they (even the poor) may own - to a set of several absolutely trans-operable languages. ONE step to get started on their homework. Because every added step in getting ready will lose you HALF of the kids! If you must ‘download’ anything, then that approach SUCKS! And it is elitist. And under those conditions, no school system will allow or buy curricula with homework assignments in ANY language.
Again, when a fellow like you doesn’t grasp what I’m saying, I find it very disturbing. I am forced to ponder whether the problem may be… me.
Tony: “Anyway, I think we can conclude a universal programming environment is available.”
No it is NOT!!!! Even QuiteBasic is not, because no one knows about it and there is no pressure on school systems or textbook publishers to start using it to assign homework problems.
What QuiteBasic shows is that it might just take ONE meeting of an hour or so by top company guys to solve this. One.
Antony Rain you are welcome here. (as is Tacitus, always.). I agree that contemporary Americans know no history and it is tragic. It allows the same social/psychic drives to throw us into struggle, every generation. See Civil War Phases – CONTRARY BRIN – http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/09/phases-of-american-civil-war.html
LH Best case of learning Morse Code in crisis? My own tale here! https://www.wattpad.com/story/1705068-the-smartest-mob-a-chapter-from-existence
My own tale here!
Maybe my favorite vignette in the book, which I read in hardcover back in 2012. On an Alaskan cruise, no less.
It's certainly possible I'm missing your primary point... but I don't think I am. So, let me offer a few steps you can try along the path that I think is a partial solution and then you shoot it down when my path diverges from the message you intended in your article.
First up, I still have a Commodore PET. It boots up in Basic... or would if I dared to plug it in. It needs a serious cleaning. I used it that way well into grad school to knock out simple programs including simple stuff to do statistics for me when I had grades to turn in. I get the interface you describe in your article.
Now... fire up your browser on a blank page.
Click F12 to get to the console. See the caret? (Look for the console tab if you don't.)
Click to the right of it.
Type Console.log("Hello World!") and hit return.
It should come back with what Basic would have done if you had said Print "Hello World!".
It's quite possible to knock out a 4-digit cosine table for a range of angles without using trig functions and provably push errors out to the 5th decimal quickly. It's quite possible to write that bit of code in JS and slap it into a browser console to see the table emerge. With a simple HTML page wrapping the script, the kid could skip the console and have the page produced dynamically by their browser.
If a textbook replaced "Try it in BASIC" with "Try it in your Browser", wouldn't that suffice?
I admit there is no way to click F12 for a browser on your mobile phone... not that I know anyway. That's a shame since phones are the most ubiquitous computation device kids will have. [The problem is screen real estate. F12 leads to a browser's debug facilities and that's a lot of tiny print for that form factor.]
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