Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Surviving Apocalypse - The Postman influences! In good and bad ways.

Okay, I suppose I should take this as a compliment.

Over the years, many folks have written to me about The Postman.  Most of them grasp its core message — that any civilization-wide collapse would not be like the Mad Max genre cliché, featuring survivors who only hunker down in passive acceptance while a lone hero battles some grotesque villain and his mohawk-wearing thugs. 

No. Once their children are safe, only one other thing would be on the minds of most survivors. How much they miss civilization and desperately want it back. A glimmer — a spark — of lingering enlightenment will be all it takes to get them to fight for it.

Sure, in my novel, the crucial difference is made by a hero, but his role is not to beat up all the mohawk guys and kill the demon leader, but rather, just to provide and fan that spark. To offer hope that courage and patriotic sacrifice might help to bring back what was lost. The gentle, sweet, supportive, most-just, flawed but ever-improving nation and world society that our forebears struggled to leave to us.

 It’s a concept one almost never sees in the tired post-apocalypse (PA) genre, alas. Indeed, this heart of the story was the one part that Kevin Costner absolutely nailed. His film version was also musically and visually gorgeous film - one of the most beautiful ever made. Two great, big plusses, for which I forgive much else.

I’ve had fan mail from a great many folks who appreciated that difference. Some even wrote to say that The Postman is a central, iconic tome in Kazakhstan’s pro-democracy movement!

And yet, all along, there were fan letters containing another thread.  I got a hint of it when I briefly visited Costner’s film set, in Arizona. The bigshot director/actor couldn’t spare more than five words for the original author, but I found much better reception outside his trailer and beyond the catering trucks, where extras in the “Holnist Army” were encamped with their horses. (Briefly, the largest cavalry force on planet Earth.) There, my wife and I and 6-year old son were regaled with songs and legends of the Holnist Horde, as concocted not by gifted screenwriter Brian Helgeland, but the extras themselves. We got to see their home-made unit patches and posed for pictures…

…and I learned that a few of them — both readers and of a certain personality — felt driven to praise the author of LOST EMPIRE, the book within a book that was written (as I purport) by Nathan Holn.

Now, LOST EMPIRE only exists as snippets, quoted in The Postman. But I have always believed that a novelist should be honest about villains — that they will always see themselves as the heroes of their own story. I am tired of polemical writers who stack the decks by cramming too-convenient words into their pro- and anti- characters, putting their thumbs on the scale. In The Postman, I gave Nathan Holn — and General Macklin — rationalizations for their cruel campaign to restore feudalism. Rationalizations that Gordon and Powhatan have ready answers for. And yet…

…and yet, years later I find some of the Holn/Macklin passages copied or quoted on the pages of neo-feudalist online screeds!

== Now for the latest ==

On Racked, Jennings Brown gives us an article about how today’s survivalists and doomsday preppers seem obsessed with the style and symbolism and niftiness of their gear, their clothes especially — just like the Holnist soldier-extras I met on the film location of The Postman.  Moreover, sure enough, the very first paragraphs of Brown’s article refer to my novel.  

“Many preppers’ interest in survivalism goes back to one post-apocalyptic book or film. For a western Colorado-based outdoor and hunting retail worker who goes by the nom de plume Feature Kreep, it’s The Postman by David Brin.”

And yes, the report soon heads into high fashion for End Times. Still, it’s a fun read. But do go to the source. And pray tell me that I did a better job fighting for civilization than laying seeds against it.

== Other Sci Fi News! ==

The Postman is now back on Audible! Plus, download a reading group discussion guide for novel. 

This week, XPRIZE (I am on the Science Fiction board of advisers) launched our first sci-fi anthology, Seat 14C, a digital collection of stories told from the perspectives of passengers aboard a fictional flight from Tokyo to San Francisco that mysteriously passed through a wormhole and landed 20 years in the future, in the year 2037. The anthology includes 22 short stories that provide a glimpse into possible futures shaped by exponential technologies, with additional stories to be released over the coming weeks, and a competition for the public to write their own story, with the winner receiving a trip to Tokyo.

Read the sci-fi stories from @xprize as Flight 008 lands 20 years in the future.

Ari Brin's excellent podcast - Novum - explores many topics related to science fiction and its influence in the world. In Episode 14, she begins a two part series on "Advertising in Science Fiction." First, how advertising is portrayed in novels and films about the future, and then one about how advertisers use science fiction to sell, sell, sell. Terrific stuff.

Her most recent podcast -- The Secret of the Jungle Gym -- tells a fascinating tale of geometry, infidelity... and the fourth dimension.

== A new Foundation series ==

Anyone know David S. Goyer  Or Josh Friedman? Their  plans for a "Foundation" TV series seem to be moving ahead! 

I’m just putting it out there that I'm probably the best living expert on the story arcs of Isaac Asimov's universe, having written the ultimate sequel FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH,  that tied together all of Isaac's loose ends.  (Isaac's widow and daughter were very happy.)

Indeed, the producers ought to know where the books of the SECOND FOUNDATION TRILOGY fit in the sequence. Greg Bear and Greg Benford wrote prequels showing Hari Seldon as a young man... and my story fits right in among the opening chapters of FOUNDATION. Just sayin’ that a chat might be called for.

And...

My old Architechs co-star Adam Rogers offers up an interesting article on WIRED about Luc Besson’s upcoming sci fi blockbuster – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – and how such films are financed, nowadays. Plus, revisit the original volumes of Valerian and Laureline by Christin and Mezieres, available on Amazon.

I'll be at Starship Congress 2017.. a forward-looking space science conference this August, along with special guest Miguel Alcubierre (creator of the famed Alcubierre Drive). Help support Icarus Interstellar on their Kickstarter drive.


139 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

Viking | My way is live within your means, I am against mortgages, I think the old way when people built their own modest houses in a pay as you go manner were better. We are over consuming housing, and the availability of mortgages has pushed up land prices.

You are confusing two things. Government intervention in the mortgage market has provided cheap money which allows people who have no financial skill to be fleeced by those who do. My anecdotal example is a guy who lived two houses down from me whose primary income was a broken down coffee cart. The mortgage on the places was about $400K and he got it back in the days when all you needed was a pulse. Someone oughta hang for that kind of fraud and he shoulda been smacked for that kind of stupidity. His kids learned to beg to get what they needed from the rest of us as he tried to make the payments. Why would a creditor give him the money, though? They weren’t at risk when the world came crashing down or so they believed.

However, mortgages enable us to monetized otherwise dead capital. If I build my own house as you describe, I really SHOULD be able to monetize it again by borrowing against it. If I default, the house winds up being owned by someone else and I get to start over. If I don’t, though, someone gets paid for risking their money with me and I get to put the capital to work.

As for land prices, look to people who try to control supply of housing. Every home owner is tempted to curb growth AFTER they complete their purchase since too much supply should drive down prices. We hide our conflicts of interest behind zoning laws, but you are a libertarian. You should already know about the atrocities that occur at city and county levels. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Okay. The fashion lesson was fun. As most of it was guy's fashion, it's not hard to figure out what such men are signaling. No doubt some women like that. 8)

Viking said...

@Alfred Differ:

"Someone oughta hang for that kind of fraud and he shoulda been smacked for that kind of stupidity."

These guys?

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-story-behind-the-only-bank-prosecuted-after-the-2008-financial-crisis-2017-05-19

Regarding zoning, I have a couple of hangups:
1. In principle, no zoning, like in Houston, is fine.
2. If there is zoning, don't allow the city council to change it for their favorites, if you want higher density, pay for it. Use an auction system to establish prices for increased density. Say you will allow 10 half acre properties to go from one single family house to 8 apartments in a given square mile. let the potential investors bid for the privilege, and among the 10 highest bidders, they all pay the same as the 10th highest bid, aka a Dutch auction. If this decreases neighbor's ability to invite guest's, compensate them with part of the proceeds from the fee for the upzoning that increased the value of the land.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Ok, I see your point if you don't want to accept dollars, and you're pretty much forced to.

That was part of it. I’m mostly looking at how they can force trade in a certain currency AND control its value relative to other currencies. If they behave, I have no doubt I would keep most of my reserve in USD. If not, I have no doubt I would not and would only convert enough to pay taxes. I can’t do that, though, because my taxes are withdrawn with each paycheck and kept in USD whether I like it or not. I don’t mind right now, but can you see the conflict of interest?

In an internet world, I should be able to pay into an escrow account periodically and from it pay my taxes when they are due. That account should not be held by the USG. If it wasn’t, I’d contract with someone to manage it well and pay my taxes when I informed them (or my software did) how much was due. In between payments, the currency in which the account was denominated might fluctuate according the market pressures. Yah. AI’s would be heavily involved since I have better things to do with my time. We will do that, though, just like we could with a distributed electricity generation scheme. AI’s, utility aggregators, and all that stuff will appear on the market if we have the courage to liberate ourselves enough to use them.

Serious point, I'd hate to be unable to trade because of denial of service or other such interruptions.

Yah. I’d hate to be unable to trade because some political monster denied me the value of the currency in which I’ve stored my savings. That has happened so often through history it is embarrassing. What you describe, though, is easily bypassed in a modern world by reputation caches and the VERY distributed nature of small debt creation. On top of that, the internet is proving to be the most resilient machine we have EVER built. 8)

I'm not a bitcoin advocate. I don't understand those who think it can be both a stable store of value and an investment that appreciates over time.

I’m not a zealot for it, but I recognize what they are trying to do with it and don’t mind most of the time. It’s NOT stable or an investment. It is a way to hide from certain people and prevent others from interfering with a transaction. It is an IDEAL black market currency, but mostly because of the block chain technology backing it. It is the block chain idea that is the thing of real value to the average human. It is the monopoly block-buster. The future is going to be interesting.

Alfred Differ said...

@Viking | Look up what happened to Wachovia. That's who I used to work for until late 2004. I came in through a sub-prime lender that was purchased by First Union who did a reverse merger into Wachovia.

It's not all about criminal prosecutions when one looks at consequences. Dismemberments count to which my retirement savings can attest. 8)

I don't know a good solution for the zoning issue, but I'm generally for local experiments. Unfortunately, most of the experiments I've seen are protectionist. Property owners are not the most courageous souls willing to do the right thing. 8)

(Yah. I own property too.)

Jumper said...

Watts Towers vs Trump Towers?

David Brin said...

Okay I'll copy in my answer to Viking here: Viking is doing it again!! This time he claims “I am egalitarian and no fan of nepotism.” Then he proceeds to deny that skyrocketing inequality and the gathering of vast influence and toxic wealth accumulations in narrow clades simply doesn’t exist.

You know that you have to be egalitarian and to hate nepotism. Ayn Rand sidestepped the whole issue by one simple means… none of her Galtian characters reproduced! Not one of them, in any book, in any way shape or form. And thus she could wave the problem away, as do you,

Notice what Viking does. He claims that because the new money guys are richer, that means theres no inherited wealth problem! Yippee!


Bull. There is vast inherited wealth. Why do you think the top GOP legislative priority is to sneak in an end to the Inheritance Tax, which is by far the fairest tax of all and the one that no family need ever pay!

Sure Gates (born moderately wealthy) and other (mostly) self-made tech billionaires are richer - slightly - than the Walmarts and Kochs and Murdochs. The latter still intend for their children to be kings and lords and to have vast, unfair advantages in a market place that should be flat-fair-open.

And you keep weaseling and worming and worming and weaseling to avoid facing the fact that in 99.99 % of human societies that had agriculture, unfair family advantage by owner-lords was the norm, and they cheated like mad and used their wealth and power to ensure that flat-fair-open competition would never happen.

Let me repeat that paragraph, so that you cannot worm around it: In 99.99 % of human societies that had agriculture, unfair family advantage by owner-lords was the norm, and they cheated like mad and used their wealth and power to ensure that flat-fair-open competition would never happen.

It was the great enemy of Adam Smith and of the American founders, who seized 1/3 of the land in the former colonies and redistributed it to start the great American middle class. It would be the great worry of any honest and sapient “libertarian” who deserved the name! But instead you cultists suck up to your lords at every turn.

David Brin said...

George Bush used the catechism “The ownership society” to excuse removing all restraints on mortgage scams to people who couldn’t repay. Having said that, let me add that the Liberal-Libertarian alliance in Peru that backed Hernando de Soto’s reforms gave farmers vesting and papers for the lands they had always owned, but now they could use as collateral to buy tractors etc and double production.

When libertarians grow up, they will realize that liberals share one trait. They want a better and freer world. And differences over method can be negotiated, as they were in Peru. Whereas today’s far-far-left and entire-right just want authority.

reason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reason said...

I'm starting to really hate the word "freedom". It doesn't really seem to have a clear unambiguous meaning, and gets frequently twisted by those with an agenda. I'm having a hard time distinguishing it from simply "power".

I'm convinced there is "freedom" that is zero sum and "freedom" that is not, and it is where people are using meanings of "freedom" that are zero sum that the fiercest conflicts arise.

Can anybody help me out with good definitions or better alternative words?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

There, my wife and I and 6-year old son were regaled with songs and legends of the Holnist Horde, as concocted not by gifted screenwriter Brian Helgeland, but the extras themselves. We got to see their home-made unit patches and posed for pictures…

…and I learned that a few of them — both readers and of a certain personality — felt driven to praise the author of LOST EMPIRE, the book within a book that was written (as I purport) by Nathan Holn.


Holy crap! You mean that uber-leftist tree-hugging Kevin Costner had actors on his set playing Holnist soldiers who acatually fancied themselves as Holnists? By coincidence, or is that why they applied for the roles in the first place?

LarryHart said...

Reason:

I'm starting to really hate the word "freedom". It doesn't really seem to have a clear unambiguous meaning, and gets frequently twisted by those with an agenda. I'm having a hard time distinguishing it from simply "power".


"Freedom" (and its sister word, "liberty") have been coopted. "Religious liberty", for example tends to be used to mean "Freedom for religious institutions to enforce their tenets upon individuals. That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

I have noted here before that it is impossible to be "for freedom" full stop. You are either for freedom for bullies or freedom from bullies. Either your freedom to swing your arm ends at my face, or my freedom not to be punched in the face ends when that's what you really want to do. It can't be both.


Robert said...

Some good news from Oklahoma, of all places: http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2017/Senate/Maps/Jul12.html#item-13 And yes, the Republicans who had to vacate their seats were both sex creeps.

It's also a good time to bring up the even better, but older, news from Kansas. The successful veto override was partly due to the fact that some R state legislators had been primaried from the center. We need a two-party system, and we're not (alas) going to get one from the Libertarians, much as I like them. I've been waiting for 45 years..


Bob Pfeiffer.

reason said...

P.S. Re Bitcoin
"I don't understand those who think it can be both a stable store of value and an investment that appreciates over time."

This isn't quite right. Bitcoin isn't an investment (it is purely speculative - an investment has to be something productive in my language). The conflict is between the requirements of a store of value and a means of exchange. A means of exchange needs to be liquid and something that appreciates won't be liquid (because people can make money by hoarding it). This is why the ideal currency slowly loses value over time. That way people will be encouraged to make productive investments rather than hoarding but won't lose value so quickly that they switch to something else. People naturally want FOR THEMSELVES the best of all worlds, but that brings them inevitably into conflict with others.

reason said...

Alfred,
re the concept of legal tender. I think you need to look at the history. Debt has been with us a long time and debts often ended up in courts.
Values of things changed over time, so there would be disputes about the settlement of debts (often implicit).

If everything is valued in a common currency and that currency is always acceptable then the courts can effectively order the settlement of a debt. It works both ways then. Otherwise you end up with everlasting disputes. The courts don't have the time for every little dispute. Setting up legal tender just makes commerce smoother.

KRW Lawyers said...

i don't have any idea but i thinks is good well , thanks for that .

Zepp Jamieson said...

Reason asked: "Can anybody help me out with good definitions or better alternative words? [to 'freedom']"

It's a bit clunky, but 'individual autonomy' might fill the bill. Everyone has rights; said rights do not include the ability to stamp on the rights of others.

There. I just shaved 4,000 words off the Constitution.

David Brin said...

reason, I find “freedom” still works when combined with others. “America is the land of freedom, opportunity, generosity and enterprise!” Each word cancels out the zero-sum aspects of one of the others. Enterprise means that socialism isn’t a goal and that competition is implicit while “opportunity” implies everyone should get a chance to participate. “Freedom” comes first because we have our priorities right, but generosity cancels out the negative “freedom to be an oppressing asshole.”

I would add "accountability"... but then you lose the poetical polemical song.

LH: Your biggest qualification to be a Holnist extra on the set was to bring and care for your own horse and dye it Lady Clairol black.

matthew said...

Doc, Socialism does not mean no competition. I guarantee there is still competition in socialist nations.

Sloppy, sloppy, reasoning there.
I'm disappointed in you.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Your biggest qualification to be a Holnist extra on the set was to bring and care for your own horse and dye it Lady Clairol black.


Heh. But in the book, they didn't all have identically-colored horses. Did they?

Viking said...

@Dr. brin:

'Viking is doing it again!! This time he claims “I am egalitarian and no fan of nepotism.” Then he proceeds to deny that skyrocketing inequality and the gathering of vast influence and toxic wealth accumulations in narrow clades simply doesn’t exist.'

I simply pointed out that inherited wealth did not dominate the top 10 spots on the list of the richest, I was making an honest attempt at arguing with data. I do concede that there were 5 Walton siblings, since only 2 were among the top 10, there are probably 3 in the 11 to 20 list. I don't see you argue with data about the skyrocketing inequality. I had a look yesterday at the state by state gini index.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_Gini_coefficient

Here is a measure where 3 red states are on the top and 3 blue states are on the bottom , and DC tops them all in inequality. You are using the oligarch billionaire as a boogeyman that is the cause of the majority of the ills of our society, I see the blue state and city creeping socialism and housing restrictions as rent seeking, and creating winners of those that are already homeowners or rent control beneficiaries in NY City, San Francisco etc.

I see 3 large problems in our society:

1. We are spending 20% of GDP on healthcare, those countries we should compare ourselves to spend 10%. ACA and Medicare part D are terrible laws that in effect lock in or increase that percentage.

2. Education is too expensive. The tuition inflation has outpaced the core inflation by high multiples, the time when a hard working student can save enough during the summer jobs to cover tuition is over. Here you probably see the solution as taxing the rich more to pay for it, I would like getting rid of the bloat in administration, get rid of all the deans of diversity and deans of non binary gender equality and all the other useless positions that didn't exist 30-40 years ago. An analysis of the UC system showed that administration costs grew 3x the faculty costs.

3. Housing is too expensive in the big cities where lots of economic activity takes place. This is trickier than the first two, as the problem is global, and like Dr. Differ mentioned, there is a hidden protectionism among property owners, often camouflaged as environmental protection, the latter clause is my opinion, not necessarily Differ's. In USA, I see the big coastal cities as the ultimate way for white people to avoid colored neighbors, by pricing them out of the market, while snickering at the racist southerners, also real estate in metropolitan cities is the ultimate way of securing ill gotten gains.

Dr. Brin:

I challenge you to actually outline some causal relationship between wealth disparity and these 3 big problems. You are accusing me of using weasel words, and being a closet aristocrat wannabe. I see you as upset about societal ills, but refusing to acknowledge the causal relationship between liberal policies and unintended consequences, rather you want the rich people to be financially on the hook for the consequences of misguided programs.

1. For our overpriced health care system, I am convinced there is a causal relationship between federal government willingness to spend, and the price level.

2. For our overpriced educational system, I am convinced that every increase in federal educational grants and loans are matched by an increase in fees and tuition. We all (including students) would be better off without the federal educational support, with exception of the superfluous deans and vice presidents.

3. For the un-affordable large cities, I concede the costs might be higher due to concentrations of wealth, I don't see any obvious solutions, but if I were able to pull levers, I would remove all state and federal and intergovernmental institutions like UN, IMF, World Bank, Nato from cities with with cost disease, and I would reverse all quantitative easing that has increased the money supply, that is mainly the FED, and ECB.

Jumper said...

Reason and Zepp, try "money" or "power," which are such overall guarantors of practical freedom as to be synonymous for all practical purposes.

reason said...

Jumper,
I mentioned power myself, but I'm not convinced it is always what people mean when they say freedom.

David,
I'm not convinced by that - what does freedom actually add to that list. I'm convinced that I can be completely free if I have my own planet, but on a shared planet I find the entire concept difficult. We bump into each other everywhere. So what aspect of freedom are people actually talking about when they say "freedom". (And I don't think rights say much at all, I can have the right to own property but if I'm destitute it may as well not exist. Besides which the right of one man to own something, automatically excludes the right of everybody else to own the same thing. I appreciate there are things like the right to a fair trial - but if you think about it there are no rights without responsibilities - potentially affecting some one else. The right to a fair trial, implies the responsibility of someone else to provide a fair trial etc, etc. I guess I'm saying that freedom ain't a free lunch.)

reason said...

David,
I think Viking has crossed the line to crazy troll. He looks a lot like a case of a Libertarian Gish gallop - lots of nonsense one after the other but it would take all day to argue about it one after the other.

Viking said...

@ Dr. Brin,

You called me a Randian or something similar in a previous post.

I hope it is possible to be a Libertarian without being an Ayn Rand fan. I have read some of her books, and except the mischievous appeal of Galt's Gulch, her writing is not too impressive, Atlas Shrugged benefited greatly from being abridged.

On the left, I have read Noam Chomsky, his hypothesis that US policy is guided by a deep state and does not change as administrations change. That seems somewhat true, although the Clinton and Carter presidencies were relatively more peaceful.

On the right I have read "Hard Green" and "The Bottomless Well" by Peter Huber. If you want to accuse anybody of being pro oligarch, accuse Peter Huber. Interesting enough, you prompted me to remember him, you mentioned Peruvian land reform, and the true owners being those that worked the land. Huber's argument about minerals is that the true owners are those with the know-how to get them out of the ground. Your argument is better.

Getting back to Ayn Rand:

I have lived in USA since 1990. I do think competition has decreased, the American businesses I interact with often seem to use existing assets as cash cows, and choose not to invest any more. The decrease in competition is anecdotal, but the examples are many. I used to get a free car wash for filling 8+ gallons. This was how gas stations Competed for my business. My credit card used to offer a payment holiday that didn't expire short term. This in effect meant I could forget to pay once without getting a late fee. This was an enticement to borrow in effect, but also a way of competing for my business, except since I paid the full balance every time, credit card companies consider me a deadbeat, and I cannot be taken advantage of. Today, with me having better credit, the cost of funds for banks is lower, my credit card interest rate is higher than it was in the nineties. This again means a less competitive market. I could go on for a long while, pointing out ways in which American businesses are less apt to compete. There is rampant inflation in frequent flier miles. If the incentive was, fly only with us, and every Nth truip will be free. Then they play games like giving points to people that don't fly, and if keeping the number of reward trips constant, that decreases the value of the points. The loyalty reward is down, another way of saying there is less competition.


The question is why:

My hypothesis is that there is a real undercurrent of fear that assets will soon be confiscated, this fear is supported by blogs like this, by the meme that empty investment condos in big coastal cities should be used to house the homeless, this was also a topic raised in Kim Stanley Robinson's NY 2140.

Why is this an Ayn Rand reference: Because using existing businesses as cash cows and keeping net worth in assets that are possibly less productive, but harder to confiscate is a way of "Going Galt".

Viking said...

reason said:
"David,
I think Viking has crossed the line to crazy troll. He looks a lot like a case of a Libertarian Gish gallop - lots of nonsense one after the other but it would take all day to argue about it one after the other."
My experience here is getting banned within 24 hours of posting, despite being polite, with the exception of accusing one of the regular posters of innumeracy once.

Hypothesis 1. My arguments are crazier than locumranch and Treebeard's.
Hypothesis 2. My arguments are harder to refute, because they are based on data.

Laurence said...

Ari Brin's excellent podcast - Novum - explores many topics related to science fiction and its influence in the world.

Any relation?

sociotard said...

sociotard, bull. I predicted - accurately - that certain MEMES — and not races - might propel macho societies to wage war against us, out of zero-sum thinking and especially out of fear that their women may become like our women, confident equals. You are grasping at straws.

You are missing my point. You are not a racist. I am not accusing you of being racist. I am saying that 'reading between the lines' of a Trump speech to find evidence of racism is as faulty as finding it in your description of memes in Islamic cultures. I am asking you and this blog community to look within.

I am asking you to read that National Review article and imagine you are looking at Mirror!Brin.

You warn that the Reds are waging a civil war against the Blues. He warns that Blues war on Reds.

He claims that people who look for racism where this is little evidence are the real racists. That . . . is wrong. Imagine instead he said that people who rage against racism where there is little evidence are Rage Addicts? It isn't so far from his core point that claims of racism are sometimes used more for a cudgel against Reds than to actually stop discrimination, and it sounds awful Brin-y.

Please, just answer one question:
What is the most Conservative publication you REGULARLY read?
Do you just wait for Tacitus to drop nuggets here? Have you tried The American Conservative? The National Review?

I'm not asking for Breitbart here, but this is YOUR advice. Your GOOD advice. Do you follow it?

Alfred Differ said...

Reason,

The best definition for ‘freedom’ I’ve seen is a negative one. It is what you have when you live in a state of ‘liberty’ which you do if you are NOT coerced by anyone. Both terms are defined relative to an absence of something (coercion), so they are ‘negative’ in this sense.

Positive definitions run into zero-sum trouble very quick if my freedom to do something comes at someone’s expense. I find it best to avoid the positive definitions for the terms all together, but not so that I ignore what people are trying to express with them. Having enough ‘freedom’ to access financial services is important, but I avoid ‘freedom’ unless I see coercion being applied to prevent access. If someone is simply inept and no one wants to provide them services, that is a different thing.

The words are still good. I encourage you to use them. Just be aware of the two definition categories people use. Positive definitions are problematic for old-school liberals like me.

Regarding smoothing of commerce, I suspect that the situation you describe is exactly what would happen if people were let alone. No government monopoly would be needed. Our desire for smooth commerce would influence exchange rates and likely create a winner-takes-all scenario. That is what I expect… until someone engages in shenanigans with the winning currency. Balkanization is another possible scenario, but that isn’t all that different. Exchange rates will still exist for every viable currency and exchange rate histories can be recorded to help settle poorly worded contracts. I doubt we will wind up with such contracts, though, once the AI’s are helping to manage the mess. Large chunks of standard contracts are already boiler-plate material. AI’s would read them to ensure there were no significant changes.

Jumper said...

reason, a free lunch is about the purest freedom ever comes!

Seriously, sometimes I think sometimes defining freedom approaches being a "first world problem" such as complaining about no room in the refrigerator. That is, to a man who owns nothing but a pair of shorts and a machete, there is no difference whatever between the three things I mentioned. Or to put it as a gentler warrior than me once said, it's "just another word for nothin' left to lose."

And Viking's not too off base. Let him shake his shaggy coat and get rid of some of blog smoke that sticks to one hanging out in the wrong sort of dives, and he'll make out okay. Creeping monopolization is what he's talking about, as I see it, and it deserves scrutiny.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I have noted here before that it is impossible to be "for freedom" full stop.

That’s what happens when one uses the positive definition for the term. One CAN be for it full-stop if one uses the negative version. That way, one holds a position that is basically anti-slavery. No explanation needed and no one impacted except vile slave holders. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

One CAN be for it full-stop if one uses the negative version. That way, one holds a position that is basically anti-slavery. No explanation needed and no one impacted except vile slave holders. 8)


What about your freedom to be a slave if that's how you wish to earn a living? What about the slave-holder's freedom when the only thing that makes him happy is whipping someone into submission?

Paul451 said...

From the last thread:

Alfred,
Re: Turning everyone into currency traders,
"Don't fret about the education needs of your lunch partners,
[...] even if we are ignorant louts."


(In spite of the faux-modest "we" in the second line, you mean "they".)

Thing is, I didn't mention education or ignorance. I was talking about access, about how far out of touch you idea was with reality of most people's lives, but you assumed the lack of access was a deficiency in the poor themselves. And this is what I'm getting at, you think inequality is self-inflicted. Deep down in your core, you fundamentally believe that the poor made themselves poor, the rich made themselves rich. You might briefly accept a few suggested counter-examples, but they are soon dismissed as rare exceptions, your central belief remaining untouched.

You really are an alien amongst 99% of people in your own country. You were born with wings on a low gravity planet, and you are saddened by the failure of people on Earth to fly without artificial assistance. Oh if only they had the willingness to try! So you stand on the edge of a cliff, kindly offering to help push them off, and are surprised when no-one accepts your offer (and deeply offended when some of them accuse you of doing harm.) Ah, they must just be afraid of heights. You can sympathise of course, you had your own moments of doubt when you were young, but you were soon soaring the thermals, you just had to work a little harder. Or are they just ignorant about technique? Or perhaps they've become too dependent on artificial flight? And at your expense! Well that is worrying. So while pondering deeply about how best to train these poor frightened Earthlings in the wing'd arts, you help by trying to prevent any measures to give more of them access to artificial flight and to take away what they have.

Alfred Differ said...

@Viking | Our host WILL negotiate, but you have to throw him a bone now and then. In this case, he wants it clear that we all oppose aristocrats in the classical liberal sense. If we all agree that the old noble/priestly classes were enemies, we have a common foundation from which to argue other stuff. 8)

For example, I’m inclined to agree with your perception on the causal relationship between USG spending and the costs of health care and education, but there is a complication we have to consider that comes out of arguments with the folks here. In the last generation, two very big things happened in both sectors.

1) For the first time in history, doctors and pharmacists have actually been able to DO SOMETHING USEFUL when we go to them to buy stuff. Absent USG spending, prices would have changed anyway.
2) For the first time in history, human capital has built up enough to seriously impact both our incomes and outcomes. With the internet, we can get at the education we WANT, but we can’t get at the experts we WANT. Absent USG spending that lures us toward higher educations, prices would have changed anyway.

I think you are way off base on 3) regarding the usefulness of the levers you might pull. Cities are concentrations of capital that exist because people choose to concentrate their capital. Money attracts all sorts of things including cheaters and since our legal and judicial systems are also types of markets, they are lured in too. Pull those levers and you’ll cut off some of the choices people WANT to make. Cities would change or die as a result.

The thing to remember about our host is that he IS willing to debate, but he is a rabid defender of civilization. Recognize the points he considers not up for debate and things will move smoothly from there.

sociotard said...

Lets hear it for Connecticut!

Connecticut just banned Civil Asset Forfeiture without a Conviction

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul451 | (In spite of the faux-modest "we" in the second line, you mean "they".)

No. I really don’t and I mean that in a deadly serious way. I HAVE learned a thing or two, but I’m under no illusion about whether I could swim with the sharks. Most likely, I’d be eaten alive. I might survive if I swim with the other anchovies, but only if we coordinate.

And this is what I'm getting at, you think inequality is self-inflicted. Deep down in your core, you fundamentally believe that the poor made themselves poor, the rich made themselves rich. You might briefly accept a few suggested counter-examples, but they are soon dismissed as rare exceptions, your central belief remaining untouched.

No. This is a fundamental misunderstanding on your part. We make decisions that might make us poor, but we don’t make ourselves poor. No one with any sense would choose to do that. We make decisions that might make us rich, but we don’t make ourselves rich. Everyone with sense would try to do that, but it can’t be done. No one has a crystal ball. No one can foresee the unforeseen consequences of their actions. We do the best we can and hold onto hope.

I was born the first son of father who chose a career as an enlisted man in the USAF. His family emigrated here in ’28 and he was their last son, but the first to graduate from college. The woman he married was probably smarter than he was and agreed on the value of education so much that I never questioned my path until I was well into grad school. Wings on a low gravity planet? I disagree. I’m the product of a family hell-bent on ensuring their children surpass each generation of parents. My father made it clear in later years as he watched me struggle post-graduation. He was still proud of me and had faith in me and I’ve done okay. I see my brother doing it with his kids now too. I have no doubt they will do okay too.

The rest of your crap involves a straw man. Feel free to froth at it, but it isn’t me.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | What about your freedom to be a slave if that's how you wish to earn a living? What about the slave-holder's freedom when the only thing that makes him happy is whipping someone into submission?

Easy enough. Someone who wants to be a slave wants to be less than human. Make that choice and you’ll find that I squirm and then let it go. I won’t defend the animal that remains much.

Someone who wants to be a slave holder gets to die. I suffer through training material every year that the DoD requires of us so we learn about the issues around human trafficking. Think of sailors debarking at a foreign port, paying for sex, and the industry that exists to serve them. We are educated on what goes on behind all that so we can see the moral consequences of our actions. We are then educated on the laws that make it clear what they will do to us if we fail to behave. I don’t need the later part, though. The first part makes me grind my teeth each time. I would cheerfully kill people who enslave other people. Since I’m no super-hero, I look at the market forces that enable that industry and ask what I can do to crush them beyond not buying their services. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, though, and no push-over.

David Brin said...


I give up. Viking is a master weaseler. Again and again and again I challenge him to deal with the direct and greatest fact about human history and freedom and enterprise… that across 6000 years, 99.99% of all societies repressed freedom and enterprise (F&E) at command of lordly owner-oligarch cheaters, who fiercely crushed competition.

Notice, he simply cannot either grasp or deal with what this implies. The central fact that today’s libertarians cannot even acknowledge. Either because he is dishonest or because his mind and preconceptions just glide away from the cognitive dissonance. The biggest fact of all human social history… and … he… just… cannot… encompass it.

Instead, he thinks he can worm away - shouting “look! a squirrel!” by waving anecdotes.

Ooh! Some of the self-made tech billionaires who helped to maintain American growth based on science and technology are richer than Waltons! Oh! I am so shot down! Bullshit. America was built in order for that to happen!

Oh, those tech zillionaires have signed the Gates pledge so that their kids will NOT be inheritance lords. And nearly all of them are democrats. All your anecdotes show is that the inheritance lords are dumber than tech creators! And the techies win, when there’s fair competition. So competition itself becomes enemy #1.

But below those techies are the Wall Street and CEO-caste cheaters who have vampired wealth out of middle america. Thousands of them. And their core aim is an end to the inheritance tax (which Gates and Buffett are fine with!)

Eeeeek! Wealth disparity exists in Blue America!!! Oops, fellah, that’s where the wealth is generated! And hence lots of wealthy people. You don’t even make the slightest sense.

You are a damned fool, sir. Medicare Part D was the first entitlement passed without a way to fund it, and it was 100% republican. Obamacare was the GOP’s OWN DAMNED PLAN! And it would work, sir, if the individual mandate tax actually was big enough to drive young people to buy insurance. The GOP’s own idea.

(Most democrats would be far happier with something more like Canada. Again, Obamacare was the GOP’s own… damn… plan.)

The rest of your “challenge” is moronic without a hint of cause and effect. The GOP encouraged the for-profit college boom that vampired millions of people into debt. The GOP inserted provisions forbidding students to refinance their loans when interest rates fell. The rest of your challenge is similarly baseless drivel.

Seriously? Confiscation? Of middle class wealth? You are crazy, sir. The goppers steal middle class wealth in many ways, but your scenario is revolution.

Growth rates declined in lockstep with each and every Supply Side gift to the Rentier Class. And with every ratchet upward in wealth inequality and every single decline on union membership.  Um, wasn't the opposite supposed to happen?

The economy's bright zones.. our universities and science and tech, all surviving Chinese ripoff, still generate nearly all the growth...  and are demeaned and loathed by the confederacy.

And all the self-made tech billionaires who piloted this growth are either democrats or libertarians.

I am done with you. You absolutely refuse to stare for even three seconds at human history.

David Brin said...

Our sane libertarian, Alfred, is right that health costs in the US rise in step with govt spending… because health care is insatiable. But libertarians never raise their heads to look at the simple fact… our approach is ORDERS of magnitude worse and more expensive than in those despised scandinavian socialist hellholes.

Paul451 said...

I thought Sociotard's link to the National-Review article was intended in jest. It was so obviously ridiculous, nothing more needed to be said, but apparently he was serious. Bizarre. Some over-reacting college lefties are compared to Nazi Germany, and we're supposed to take the article seriously? (I loved the "I'm not likening the Left to Nazis", before spending a paragraph doing exactly that.)

--

Alfred, you don't live in the same world as most people. You don't, you can't, comprehend how they live, what keeps them down. Your every assumption is therefore wrong, your every "help" misguided and harmful. And you can't, you never will, see it, but it drips from everything you write.

And it has nothing to do with whether or not you were born with a silver-spoon. That you can't see the advantages you have, that others don't, is exactly the frame-blindness I was referring to in my analogy.

Paul451 said...

Example: "but we don’t make ourselves poor. No one with any sense would choose to do that."

"Choose." That's what you think I was saying. That saying you believe poor people cause their own poverty is same as saying you believe they "choose" to be poor.

Paul451 said...

Aside: It's interesting that the things Alfred fears, coercion (which is always narrowly defined) and the interference of government, are the things he can't control. He can't see forms of coercion that come from lack of opportunity, because he doesn't lack opportunity, hence, for example, he doesn't fear being fired, as he can always get another job, or start another business. Therefore he doesn't have to accept unfair terms "unless there's coercion", therefore unless he sees the same "coercion" that would be required to trap him, other people aren't being coerced, and if their terms are unfair, they must simply be inept.

--

Sociotard,
Re: Civil asset forfeiture with/without conviction.

Conviction still isn't sufficient, it must be necessary to show that either the asset was gained as a benefit of the crime or that the amount of forfeiture is proportional to the crime. Any else is unjust. It doesn't matter whether you agree with the law in question (in this case, almost exclusively drug crimes), any system that allows you to take the property of the "criminal" will always invite witch-trials, and hence witch-finders.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Paul451
Civil asset forfeiture
I see that differently
(1) Conviction - yes
(2) The person convicted is now "guilty" - in that situation it is appropriate to require them to show that their assets were acquired legally
That should not be difficult for the person to do if they were acquired legally

Generally - re the rich people not inheriting their wealth
YES - most rich people do not INHERIT their wealth - they are GIVEN that wealth
If they had to wait to inherit they would be in their 60's
The result is that multimillionaires are already multimillionaires before they inherit and try to say that they did not inherit that wealth

Student Loans
I was lucky I got a "grant" - no fees and a grant to cover living costs
We now have fees
BUT the student loans are zero interest and are held if you earn less than certain threshold
This is worse than my grant but one hell of a lot better than having high interest rates

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul451 | So I’m not one of the anchovies? Okay. I disagree, though. I’m an anchovy with an oversized ego who wonders why the rest of you don’t think better of yourself. 8)

Sure. I have advantages. They come from that ego, though, and the egos of my ancestors. I’m the child of people who emigrated to find better opportunities and that shows up in my personality. Oppress me?! Pfft! I think not, but okay. I’ll admit I don’t understand why others tolerate that crap. Too much testosterone? Maybe. I suspect it has more to do with my father’s family being Scotsmen, my mother having grown up on the streets of London after the war, and her mother being… well… able to create an income for herself with essentially no resources. Get it?

People choose to do all sorts of things. They also suffer/benefit from the choices others make that impact them. On top of that, we all wind up being (un)lucky at various times in ways that have essentially nothing to do with the choices we and others make. All these things leave me unwilling to say people make themselves poor/rich. Life just isn’t that simple.

What I fear can be summed up very simply. We’ve been smashingly successful as a species over the last three centuries. We broke away from a memetic attractor that would have eventually led to our extinction as just another primate who lasted less than the primate average. We aren’t what we used to be anymore, but it could all collapse if we fail to understand what we’ve done and fail to find the courage to risk more. I don’t think these failures are likely, though. There are now 7.5 billion people on the planet and they are liberalizing their lives in great swathes. Not too shabby for a hairless ape.

As for being fired, it has happened and I hated it. I didn’t cower, though. My life moved on and I focused on what mattered. Family. My next employer made use of my talents for four years and then laid me off. Damn! I liked that job. Sigh. Back to family. My current employer has tapped me for over seven years now. Someday the axe will fall, though. That’s just how thing go.

As for business start-ups, I’m embarrassingly bad at them… but I’ve tried… and I can try again. Ego is useful at times. So are embarrassing lessons of what not to do.

In a nutshell, I refuse to avoid living a life I won’t regret. Parse the negatives carefully. If that means I don’t live in the same world as everyone else, so be it. I doubt it, though. I know many like me.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | "What about your freedom to be a slave if that's how you wish to earn a living? What about the slave-holder's freedom when the only thing that makes him happy is whipping someone into submission?"

Easy enough. Someone who wants to be a slave wants to be less than human. Make that choice and you’ll find that I squirm and then let it go. I won’t defend the animal that remains much.

Someone who wants to be a slave holder gets to die.


But haven't you yourself argued that your freedom to make yourself attractive to an employer by offering your services for subsistence wages is unfairly restricted by the government? How is that different from someone offering his services for mere room and board?

As to the slave-holders, my point was something I realized recently--that it is impossible to guarantee "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to everyone, because some people's happiness requires them to dominate others. My right to liberty conflicts with their right to happiness. This is the same theory that claims that preventing Christians from being mean to gay people is an infringement on their religious liberty.

When individual's inalienable rights conflict with each other, we need a well-defined theory of which rights prevail. Ideally, we need that at the constitutional level. My point is that such conflicts do exist, and pretending otherwise just kicks the can down the road.

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Concerning the notion that we should all be currency traders, isn't that really a zero-sum game where your gains come at the expense of those you trade with? It seems to me that it would become one of those "race to the bottom" situations where those with the quickest computers and access to the best information and time/inclination to spend their professional life as currency traders would reap all the benefit, and the average joe would lose out.

Erin Schram said...

Alfred Differ said,
@Viking | Our host WILL negotiate, but you have to throw him a bone now and then. In this case, he wants it clear that we all oppose aristocrats in the classical liberal sense. If we all agree that the old noble/priestly classes were enemies, we have a common foundation from which to argue other stuff. 8)

I have always been welcomed here. Yet I like the priestly classes.

These comment pages are not a place to win arguments. They are a place when intelligent people point out aspects of arguments that David Brin or another commenter might have overlooked. That lays the foundation for fascinating and well-informed thought about the problems, but never promises a consensus.

Viking, in contrast, seeks to prove his ideas valid by winning an argument.

A lot of us are accustomed to being the smartest person in the room, with no-one able to refute our arguments because we can devise counterpoints faster than they can devise points. I learned decades ago that that form of discussion is useless. When my team, committee, or board has a job to do, we need ideas that accomplish that job, not a debate to select the smartest. Lots of good ideas come from people of moderate intelligence and limited experience. True stupidity is ignoring those ideas because those people cannot muster the clever words or documented facts or social status to defend their ideas.

Data used as a bludgeon is primarily a bludgeon. Viking, stop flailing about. Listen. Build something productive out of your ideas, even if you have to consider other people's ideas. Life is not a zero sum game, and cooperation is not defeat.

Viking said,
2. Education is too expensive. The tuition inflation has outpaced the core inflation by high multiples, the time when a hard working student can save enough during the summer jobs to cover tuition is over. Here you probably see the solution as taxing the rich more to pay for it, I would like getting rid of the bloat in administration, get rid of all the deans of diversity and deans of non binary gender equality and all the other useless positions that didn't exist 30-40 years ago. An analysis of the UC system showed that administration costs grew 3x the faculty costs.

I read such an analysis recently, The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them (Johns Hopkins University Press) by Christopher Newfield. (Summary article at https://www.forewordreviews.com/articles/article/author-says-the-great-mistake-was-running-universities-like-businesses/) Newfield points out that switching the universities from a state-funded model to a student-funded model changed the incentives. Instead of seeing the students as future leaders, who would vote for funding for colleges, they saw students as individual income sources. The bloat in administration is essentially a bloat in marketing to attract more students and extract more money out of the students. Fixing university costs would require changing the incentives again.

David Brin said,
Ayn Rand sidestepped the whole issue by one simple means… none of her Galtian characters reproduced! Not one of them, in any book, in any way shape or form. And thus she could wave the problem away,...

And Ayn Rand's ideas fail to apply to universities just like they fail to apply to children.

I never felt the elitist urge to lock other children out of the opportunities I wanted available to my children. Those other children were my students or my children's friends or my future coworkers (ten years ago I started having coworkers younger than my children. Fortunately, they were as smart as my children). Those people could create a better world for my children, so holding them back would have sabotaged my own family.

Isn't this obvious?

locumranch said...


"Once their children are safe, only one other thing would be on the minds of most survivors. How much they miss civilization and desperately want it back." [DB]

If David is basing his civil resilience projections on the above quote, then we have serious problems because there are very few children (percentage-wise) left for civilisation to protect as almost 50% of all reproductive aged EU, US & Japanese women are CHILDLESS, meaning they live only in the present, pursuing immediate self-interest, because they have NO future.

Add their number to an equivalent number of Childless Men & the growing legions of age > 65 retirees (15% in the US, 20% in the EU & 27% in Japan), and more than HALF of the total EU, US & Japanese national populations have NO future either with neither interest in maintaining civilisation nor posterity, meaning that we are well & truly screwed.

The collective 'we' have (therefore) adopted a 'Taker Mentality': We have become nations of indolent Grasshoppers rather than productive Ants; we pleasure ourselves & fiddle while our metaphorical Rome burns; we neglect our infrastructure & allow it to crumble into uselessness; we mortgage futures that we do not have in order to prolong an interminable present; and, we expend FORTUNES on individual life prolongation as we "sha la la la la la live for today and don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey".

Of course, people like Paul451 are incapable of understanding how the poor CHOOSE to impoverish themselves by living as Grasshoppers, expending their resources on Rent-to-Own luxuries like intoxicants, cellphones & lottery tickets, squandering all their tomorrows on an immediate today, while expecting some future thinking Ant to labour on selflessly on their irresponsible behalf, much as our 'Too Big to Fail' financial institutions tend to do, ever dependent on public largesse, stipends, bailouts & income redistribution schemes.

At least, the would-be Holnists showed some goddamn Ant-like INITIATIVE, encamping with their horses (no small task), making their own uniforms & unit patches, and regaling our host & his CHILDREN with songs and legends of their own creation.

Grasshoppers, be damned: The future belongs to the Children of Ants.


Best

locumranch said...


The EU is led by those who have NO vested interest in either the future or in group survival: Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni are all childless.

Other prominent European leaders also have no children, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

greg byshenk said...

I don't think I've seen this posted here, but it strikes me as related to David's liberalism.

"Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness."

Originally from The Best Answer to Fanaticism--Liberalism; Its calm search for truth, viewed as dangerous in many places, remains the hope of humanity., reprinted by Roger Farmer.

Marino said...

"The EU is led by those who have NO vested interest in either the future or in group survival"

This is a really absurd piece of crappy BS, not to mention slander.
And it takes just few minutes on Wikipedia to find out that many leading EU politicians have sons and daughters, see Martin Schultz or Matteo Renzi. Macron has three stepsons, and Theresa May is emphatically NOT a leader of the EU. No more than Benedict Arnold was a leader in the War of Independence.
btw, Paolo Gentiloni comes from a renowed Catholic family...

locumranch said...



LOL. We may as well count pets, store clerks & chimps as familial relations if we're counting stepchildren; Macron's 'stepson' is OLDER than Macron (trigger choruses of 'I am my own Grandpa'); and, for the sake of completeness, Teresa May is an 'EU Leader' in fact until Brexit is a fait accompli. The truth has now become slander & deliberate falsehood has now become our new 'truth' in our Brave New PC World, according to Marino:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/do-childless-leaders-mean-the-death-of-europe-2017-05-26

https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=1217

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/emmanuel-macron-and-the-barren-elite-of-a-changing-continent/article/2622925


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The truth has now become slander & deliberate falsehood has now become our new 'truth' in our Brave New PC World, according to Marino


Are you condemning or applauding? Or accusing him of infringing on your livelihood?

Marino said...

It is deliberate falsehood, you twit. And the jump from "not having sons/daughters of his/her own" to "no interest in group survival" requires a warp drive.
Those jokes about Macron were going to be concocted in that sink that's 4chan, another Pizzagate, failde this time, due to his good cybersecurity staff proudly showing a middle finger to the fakers and scammers.

The only European leaders hellbent on killing people en masse have always been pro-natalist, from Mussolini to Ceausescu...cannon fodder needed. Tiny detail. And I'm old enough to remember when in Italy birth control pills where sold as a drug to "get a regula cycle" due to fascist laws against contraceptives and when women died from coathanger abortions

And Theresa May is a EU leader the same way Hitler was an Allied leader. Another "hireling and slave" (see below) who'll run away from the mess she's leading her country at full speed.

btw, I've done my reproductive duty... so did also most of the politicians and officials working with those barren childless leaders. While you're supporting scum hellbent in denying healthcare also to young mothers.
In my Brave New PC World the childless barren Paolo Gentiloni enacted a simpe law forbidding employers to get a resignation letter in advance, in order to fire female employees if they got pregnant. But real lives of real women and children don't matter to those Fourth Turn/Revelations enthusiasts who write on alt-right digital rags about Lepanto and the siege of Vienna (which gave us coffee and croissants, so it wasn't a bad thing).

and the star-spangled banner (blue with twelve stars)
still wawes o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave
while you hirelings and slaves of Putin and Bannon will be left the choice between "the fear of the flight or the gloom of the grave".

George Carty said...

Marino,

While I'm no fan of Theresa May, you're going too far with your Hitler comparison. Your original Benedict Arnold analogy is better (especially as before the referendum she claimed to oppose Brexit: I don't buy that she was ever genuinely pro-EU though given her anti-immigration posturing).

Theresa May's nationalism doesn't have that clash-of-civilizations flavour of Putin's or Bannon's: it is more isolationist than imperialist and was inspired largely by the Daily Mail newspaper.

(Note to Americans: while in the US it is Fox News and talk radio that are the mainstays of the right-wing propaganda machine, here in the UK it is the tabloid newspapers, particularly the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.)

Robert said...

There is one group of non-reproducing people, to which I happen to belong, which depends absolutely on a very high level of civilization to survive, and most of whose members know it. Actually, an increasing number of us have children, but that's a very recent development that requires a really high level of civilization. Also, it's not as if people, including ones who do have kids of their own, don't also care about what happens to their nieces and nephews, or their students, or their younger coworkers. And some problems are close enough that even a desire for a pleasant old age counts for something.

Bob Pfeiffer.

locumranch said...



Marino makes ridiculous argument, analogous to arguing that a neo-Feudalist is anyone who ever made an issue in a Koch Brothers manufactured tissue, as if the existence of a 'step-tissue' confers parental responsibilities & familial allegiance. George_C hasn't caught on to the fact yet that ANYONE opposed to Orwellian PC newspeak is now HITLER by definition, whereas poor Robert confuses passive dependency on civilisation with its active support & defence.

Those Grasshopper sure LOVE civilisation, as long as somebody totes that barge & lifts that bale.

Best

locumranch said...


Somebody ELSE totes that barge & lifts that bale. But, never the Grasshopper, they're just their to consume.

Jumper said...

Holnists are parasitical cockroaches, not hardworking producers. Sort of like locusts. Do you raise a lot of them out on the ranch?

LarryHart said...

@locumranch, are you ill?

I mean, you've gone beyond Canadian spelling to looking like you are typing in your sleep.

Covfefe?

Anonymous said...

there are very few children (percentage-wise) left for civilisation to protect as almost 50% of all reproductive aged EU, US & Japanese women are CHILDLESS, meaning they live only in the present, pursuing immediate self-interest, because they have NO future

Is that truly how you see women? That we live through our children and without them have no way of considering the future? What a sad, pathetic little man you must be.

Midboss57 said...

Oh god, the "We don't make enough babies" arguments.
Europeans are not going to go extinct anytime soon. There are still over a hundred million of us here. Unless someone gets stupid with the nukes, we still have a while. Besides,why is the population going down such an awful thing ? After all, the happiest and most stable countries on Earth tend to have low populations compared to territory and/or resources available. I'd rather we focus on quality of life rather than quantity. That under developed countries are making too many is a different problem that needs to be solved through proper development and access to education.

The main reason people are worried about this is because they don't want the so called "untermenschen" outbreeding us.

Smurphs said...

Alfred,

I am glad you are proud of your ancestors, they worked hard to survive. So did mine. My father was an orphan at twelve in Depression-era Philadelphia, maybe not post-war London, but still no picnic. Be proud, but look further.

Who starved so that your mother could eat? Did your grandmother "create" income via murder? ( I doubt you will ever know, my father never talked about some of things he had to do.)

It seems to me that while most people, certainly most people on this blog community, are trying to build a world were such things are no longer necessary, you seem to be against the effort. Are you?

Are you really against the rule of law? Let the wolves eat the sheeple because I'm not a sheeple?

Our host always tells us to rephrase to test understanding, so I read:

"In a nutshell, I refuse to avoid living a life I won’t regret"

as "F*ck you all." Am I wrong?

Viking said...

Thanks to Erin Schram and Alfred Differ for kind comments with suggestions.

I am sorry I sound like an abrasive asshole, let me try to do better.

1. I really agree with Dr. Brin's comment that a single payer health care system is better than what we have. I did grow up with such a system, and it has the potential to be much more cost effective than the current US health care system.

2. Regarding the toxic effects of concentrated wealth, I am looking into how it hurts ordinary people, I would like some references if anyone cares to share some, I will share how I understand the majority view here:

a. Combination of secret banking, secret land and corporate ownership allows tax cheating, that decreases the effective tax base, that can be used to do good. This is a view the blog host has advocated for long time.

b. Dynastic wealth over long time periods achieves an increasing influence over politicians and civil servants, allowing the cheating described in a) above, as well as preferential laws and regulations.

c. If a small class ends up owning all the land and businesses, then there is less room in the economic ecosystem for smart newcomers. I guess this is the COMPETITION keyword.

I will share 2 personal anecdotes:

I grew up in a very egalitarian society, my mother, who was a nurse, once ran into the Norwegian king in a stairway at the main Norwegian hospital, and he smiled knowingly at her, seeing her surprised expression.

As a college student in Texas, I was very offended seeing reserved parking spots for the press at the basketball arena. My egalitarian naive self thought that these press people could goddamn show up early enough to get a regular spot, why should everybody else have to park incrementally farther away? Now I understand money talks, press means advertisement dollars.

locumranch said...



It's not a question of sexism, a declining population, racial supremacy or fear of being 'out-bred'. It's called 'posterity', also know as "all future generations of people (and) the descendants of a person".

It's the primary reason why People (in general) and Men & Women (in specific) maintain our civilisation. We do it to protect & provide for OUR children -- who are OUR future -- not to provide barren parasitic narcissists with lattes, yoga mats, cat food & pensions.

It's called Vested Interest or 'Buy In': Become part of the Future, or Remain in the Dead Past.

It's Idiocracy, those hyper-responsible progressives who choose to terminate their respective gene lines out of either selfishness or misplaced altruism. It's also real progress, the elimination of the progressive gene. He he.


Best
_____

Welcome, Viking, GeorgeC & ErinS. The opinion of the outsider is often the most objective.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | But haven't you yourself argued that your freedom to make yourself attractive to an employer by offering your services for subsistence wages is unfairly restricted by the government? How is that different from someone offering his services for mere room and board?

I have argued that and still do. Obviously, I don’t think working below the minimum wage is slavery unless the person doing it is coerced. I’ve worked below minimum a couple of times. Believe me when I say I did not agree to surrender my humanity. Perhaps I made some others uncomfortable with my choices, but that’s not really my concern. Each time I did, it was the better of my options and I had plans for ending the arrangement.

The key point about slaves is they are not allowed to act on what they know is best for the situation. They are tools that extend their owners. Wage slavery, therefore, isn’t slavery. An employee is expected to act upon what they know is best, though they will probably be taught to see it the way their employer does. An employee is still free enough to end the trade of their labor for a wage if they feel the employer really IS treating them like a dumb tool.

I realized recently--that it is impossible to guarantee "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to everyone

I don’t understand why you would want to try. Your social duty isn’t to guarantee my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Your duty in a just world is to try not to impair them too much. I’ll take care of my own and try not to impair yours too much. As long as each of us is permitted to engage voluntarily in the processes around us, we’ll muddle along well enough and no one should expect perfection. If one of us DOES impair the other, we should probably talk it out and see if there isn’t some other path or possible compensation.

No one’s inalienable rights are guaranteed by anyone. Our duty is to look out for our own and make a reasonable effort to adjust when others bark at what we do.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Concerning the notion that we should all be currency traders, isn't that really a zero-sum game where your gains come at the expense of those you trade with?

Certainly not. By definition, you won’t trade with me voluntarily if there is no gain in value for you. Same applies to me. Therefore, IF we trade currencies, it is positive sum.

This applies to all trade. If the participants are not coerced, they will trade only when one or both see something to gain. Most likely both, but I’ll hedge slightly since some will do an even value trade now in order to trade what you give them to someone else at a mark-up later. That’s really just a delayed gain, though, so I don’t have to hedge if we consider future values.

The way to beat the rapid traders you worry about (rightly so) is to enable distributed trade. If our pocket AI’s talk to each other while we have lunch and notice that our rules enable a direct trade that avoids brokers, they should talk to each other briefly and then act for us. The quickest computers and shortest lag times win when we centralize things too much. So… don’t.

Alfred Differ said...

@Erin Schram | Heh. Liking particular priests is different from liking the old social class that used to oppress us. When a priest can wield spiritual AND temporal power, it is time to beware. There are plenty of examples of this all through European history. The Princes and Priests were social allies that justified each other’s power.

I recall you mentioning that you were deemed to be something of an academic Lutheran, so think about some of the complaints Luther had regarding the Roman Church. Many were about temporal power abuses. Classical liberals still get frothed up about them whether we are Lutheran or not. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Smurphs,

My maternal grandmother cracked in her later years and relived certain earlier traumas. I know for sure that she was at least a prostitute and a thief. I have little doubt she saw death up close and may have caused it on occasion. By the time I knew her; she had backed away from most of her criminal life and was merely a ‘fence.’ I learned a thing or two about smuggling and handling stolen goods from her, but not because she intended that I learn. My mother was very much against that… of course. 8)

My maternal grandfather did something that wasn’t expected of men who got such women pregnant. He married her MUCH to the annoyance of his family and adopted her son. My mother’s family was less than functional as we would say today, but she had one. I’m named after him. He’s the one who managed to step up socially and avoid being trapped as a longshoreman like his father was. It wasn’t a big step, but it was A step. My mother did the same in a different way and taught her children the same abstract lesson.

I am very much FOR the Rule of Law, but I recognize when it isn’t likely to be observed and have an understanding and some tolerance for those who aren’t willing to do it. If someone is standing on your neck and you pull a knife and stab them in the foot, I’ll understand. If you are still in a murderous rage when you regain your feet, I’ll understand that too, though I’ll really, really hope you don’t kill them.

as "F*ck you all." Am I wrong?

Yah. That isn’t a good paraphrasing. Try this one.

“F*ck ‘em all who demand that I live a life I’ll regret.”

It mostly applies to tyrannical bosses, preachy ranters on the quad where I went to college, and people who think they know what is best for me. Maybe they are all right and I should just submit? Heh. As my father’s son, I’d just raise an eyebrow and dismiss them. As my mother’s son, I would lash out pre-emptively. Most of the time, I do as my father would have done. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

"I realized recently--that it is impossible to guarantee "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to everyone"

I don’t understand why you would want to try. Your social duty isn’t to guarantee my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Your duty in a just world is to try not to impair them too much. I’ll take care of my own and try not to impair yours too much.


That's exactly what I grew up thinking--that the great thing about America is that we understand that the best guarantee of our own rights is to respect the identical rights of others. So I'll leave them in peace if they do likewise to me.

What I'm trying to describe above is that it never quite works, because there is a significant subset of people whose liberty and happiness absolutely depend on their being able to harm other people. And if government tries to make everyone get along in peace, they assert that their liberty is being infringed. It's very similar to the type of Christian or Muslim or Jew who insists that persecuting gays or apostates or Jews or Muslims is a characteristic requirement for practicing their religion, so laws against discrimination infringe upon their religious liberty.

The point is, those people are out there, and they'll never agree to the live-and-let-live rules, and they organize and protest and vote just like we do. So one or the other group will ultimately prevail.

Captain America: "...and it won't be ME!" :)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | "Concerning the notion that we should all be currency traders, isn't that really a zero-sum game where your gains come at the expense of those you trade with?"

Certainly not. By definition, you won’t trade with me voluntarily if there is no gain in value for you. Same applies to me. Therefore, IF we trade currencies, it is positive sum.


Hey, I'm the one who noted that when you give your local pizza parlor $10 for a pizza, you must have wanted the pizza more than you wanted the $10, and the pizza place wanted the $10 more than the pizza.

But with currency trades, it seems that both sides are speculating (that they'll "win" the trade). One will be right and one will be wrong. At the moment of trade, both participants are acting voluntarily, but one will turn out to have made a bad choice.

I can see a few isolated situations where that isn't true--like if I'm going to France next week, and you just came back from Italy, so I give you dollars for some Euros that you brought back. In that case, the Euros really are worth more to me than they are to you (and vice versa for the dollars). But that's an exception that proves the rule. In most currency-trading scenarios, each side does the trade because he thinks what he's trading for will be worth more in the future than what he's trading away is. And they can't both be right.

Tony Fisk said...

Nothing reveals the limits of someone's horizons like their definition of "we" and "our".

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

He’s the one who managed to step up socially and avoid being trapped as a longshoreman like his father was.


See, you can understand wage-slavery. If one can be "trapped as a longshoreman", then he is not free.

I get the point that one job paying low wages is not the same thing as institutionalized slavery. But when large segments of the population have all of their job prospects paying low wages--there's nothing to escape to--then it's a distinction without a difference. In fact, slaveowners probably spent more on upkeep than the wage-slavers do.

Smurphs said...

Alfred, thanks for the measured response. I was aiming for hyperbole and shot my foot off (again).

I am just soooo tired of the "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, why can't everyone else!" arguments I hear so often. I thought you were going there when you were not. Mea Culpa.

I also get tired of arguments like "You don't believe/aren't afraid of God, therefore you cannot be a moral person" or the argument "You don't have children, therefore you have no Vested Interest in our civilization."

This says it perfectly:

"Mark, you don't pay back your parents. You can't. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It's a sort of entailment. Or if you don't have children of the body, it's left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one."
"I'm not sure that seems fair."
"The family economy evades calculation in the gross planetary product. It's the only deal I know where, when you give more than you get, you aren't bankrupted—but rather, vastly enriched."

A Civil Campaign Lois McMaster Bujold

If you don't understand "your common humanity", then are you really a member of our civilization, or just a parasite?

Tim Wolter said...

Viking

Glad you shook off the rather rude treatment at the hands of our host and stuck around. You raised a couple of interesting points regards the involvement of government in health and educational spending, and the effects thereof. Your third point on the cost of housing in urban areas does not fit with the other two.

Education and Health Care are similar in that they are both a legitimate thing for government to encourage. Clearly a healthy and educated citizenry is desirable. But the law of diminishing returns applies. What ever amount you decide to spend on providing health care or an education, it is clear that multiplying the expenditure ten fold will not make people live ten times longer or have an IQ of 1000.

Although I am considered the house Conservative here (occasionally under my old moniker of Tacitus2) I favor a spartan single payer plan. Define essential health care. Do it. You want XYZ extra its on you. This is alas, antithetical to current American desires which is for everything, now, and someone else paying for it.

Education is tougher. My opinions in that area will just get people riled up...

T.

Erin Schram said...

Alfred Differ said,
@Erin Schram | Heh. Liking particular priests is different from liking the old social class that used to oppress us. When a priest can wield spiritual AND temporal power, it is time to beware. There are plenty of examples of this all through European history. The Princes and Priests were social allies that justified each other’s power.

I recall you mentioning that you were deemed to be something of an academic Lutheran, so think about some of the complaints Luther had regarding the Roman Church. Many were about temporal power abuses. Classical liberals still get frothed up about them whether we are Lutheran or not. 8)


The 500th anniversary of Martin Luther writing his 95 Theses arrives this October 2017, so expect to see many stories about Lutheran history, some true and some exaggerated. The temporal power of priests in Luther's day would be an exaggerated story. The Catholic church had great social and financial power, but little political power outside of Italy. Luther's objections were theological: the church was warping their theology to support money making from the sale of indulgences. The local nobility, Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, protected Luther not to oppose Catholic political power, but because he thought that stifling a religious debate by declaring Luther outlaw was unjust.

When a priest wields spiritual and temporal power, it can make a great story of villainy, as with historic Cardinal Richelieu in Alexander Dumas's The Three Musketeers. Yet the American Dominionist Christians, Prosperity Gospel, and the Religious Right are much worse than the Catholic's sale of indulgences in 1517. Pope Francis is a voice of reason and the Catholic church deserves respect.

Instead of offering oppression, Christianity offered fertile ground for growth of the Age of Reason. Some of that metaphorical fertility was from metaphorical manure, but at least that manure was put to good use.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

Although I am considered the house Conservative here (occasionally under my old moniker of Tacitus2) I favor a spartan single payer plan. Define essential health care. Do it. You want XYZ extra its on you. This is alas, antithetical to current American desires which is for everything, now, and someone else paying for it.


Does it surprise you that I, a house Liberal, agree with that? The devil would be in the details of what constitutes "essential health care", and I'd want a diverse group of deciders (including women, for example) who figure that out in good faith. But in principle, I agree with you.

Before Obamacare, insurance companies were free to deny coverage to people who needed it, which sounds reasonable until you recognize a few things:

* Changing jobs or losing a job and becoming ineligible for your group insurance is not the same thing as "waiting until you get sick to purchase insurance". What is a good faith consumer supposed to have done in that situation?

* Individuals are not supposed to be able to game the system by buying insurance after they know they're at higher risk. BUT, insurance companies are free to drop you after they know information that says you're a higher risk. Why the imbalance of power there? As information grows exponentially, both parties will know who is at risk for what, probably from birth or even from the parents' marriage. Insurers will only want to cover those who really don't need it, and the people will know that, so why would they buy insurance? The whole market based upon guesswork and uncertainty will fall apart anyway. That's why it makes more sense to say everyone is covered and society (by way of tax revenue) pays for what we deem (as above) is essential to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The congressional Republicans are trying like heck to leave us at the mercy of corporations which (by design) have no mercy. Which is why I despise them. I'm apparently not alone, since they are afraid to actually hear from their constituents and are obviously not doing this for those constituents. That fact should concern you as an American.

Viking said...

@ Tim Wolter

"I favor a spartan single payer plan."

I favor something like VA for all, but as a main rule, only generic drugs at the typical generic prices in competitive markets, this would be socialized medicine.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/09/24/the-problems-with-generic-medications-go-deeper-than-one-company/

On top of that, I would welcome a private market, where the government would be prohibited from spending a single dollar, even if POTUS was about to keel over dead.

I guess what I said about housing prices in big coastal cities was some indirect and not very subtle name calling. My key point is that I consider the high cost of housing where good jobs are a top 3 problem, and I do think there is a pure market component to this, what is desirable becomes expensive, but also the high prices are a side effect of regulation, and with exception of NY City, public transportation policies are inefficient money sinks that deliver very limited capacity per dollar invested, therefore increasing demand for central housing. In many large Chinese cities, a "circle" of "radius" 30 minutes would encompass much more people than in US cities, and as such, they get bigger network effect returns on their investments in subways. Light rail, with 2-4 cars, that share street space with cars, is a scam of dubious value, but is embraced warmly by blue cities.

Anonymous said...

Light rail, with 2-4 cars, that share street space with cars, is a scam of dubious value, but is embraced warmly by blue cities.

Interesting you mention that. Here in Toronto Ford killed a light rail network because it was part of "the War on the Car" and insisted we needed subways subways subways. Except that the LRT would have run on its own right-of-way (like in Vancouver and Ottawa) and actually resulted in more space for cars (by taking buses off the road).

Light rail isn't the same thing as streetcars.

Tim H. said...

Tim Wolter, I also like the idea of a basic single-payer system, allowing private insurers to compete in a true market, for more discretionary medicine.

Robert said...

It looks like David's "Designated Trump-flatterer" turns out to be - the President of France! Followed by the (also French) Prime Minister of Canada. Well, the French are very good at making their kids behave...

Sometime in the Fifties, when the memory of WWII was still very fresh, a Frenchman was berating a German about how awful his country was, how evil it had been throughout history, and how no German should be allowed to mix with civilized Europeans ever again, etc. The German just smiled and said: "Everything we know, we learned from the French."

Also, in Rowan Atkinson Live (highly recommended!), there's a skit where he plays the Devil, welcoming new arrivals to Hell: "The French! Why don't you go over there with the Germans - I'm sure you have a lot to talk about."

On Lutherans, there's a nice story about the Missouri Synod (I have no idea if it's true): The Synod's convention had just passed a resolution, by a wide margin, disavowing Luther's anti-Semitic statements. Next item, Luther's statement that "the Papacy, as an institution, is the Antichrist." There were two resolutions on that, one retracting and one reaffirming the statement. To everyone's shock, both passed. Clearly, there were some people who had voted for both, so a reporter found one and asked him why. "On the one hand, there is no evidence that the Papacy is the Antichrist, but, on the other, there is no evidence that it is not."

Happy Bastille Day,

Bob Pfeiffer.

Jumper said...

Any medical system must treat the unreasonable along with the reasonable. That includes all the smokers who want lung transplants, 90-year olds who want assistance to live alone when that time is best passed, and emergency room hypochondriacs who keep showing up demanding MRIs.

All this is used, I suppose, as reasons by those who don't want universal care, but go silent when it's pointed out that "death panels" already exist, so it's really transparency they dislike.

I have no magic bullets to offer except I support universal care anyway.

........................

Alfred et al, funny how parallel thoughts occur. Yesterday I looked up the sin of "simony" as I realized nobody speaks much about it nowadays. Luther had a mouthful to say about it.

Darrell E said...

Smurph,

Lois McMaster Bujold is high on my list of best story tellers. What gives her an extra boost in my view is that she is such a very decent human being. I hadn't read anything by her in years and just last week began re-reading what I have of her. I just finished A Civil Campaign last night.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Happy Bastille Day,


When I heard that Trump would be in France celebrating Bastille Day, I wondered if he understood that the holiday celebrates the fall of that famous institution of secret imprisonment without trial, not the institution itself.

Tim Wolter said...

Jumper

You are starting from the false baseline that got us into the health care mess.

No. No, you do not need to supply unreasonable treatments. Or at least you do not have to have the populace as a whole pay for them.

Look, we do this already.

Alcoholics wanting a liver transplant have to quit drinking for a defined period of time. Otherwise they don't get on the list.

See, giving this liver to somebody who will trash it is not waste....it is a form of homicide. Somebody else who would take better care of the liver will die before another one comes available.

This is a harsh, therefore easy, example.

But if you start from the premise that societal resources devoted to healthcare have some upper limit of acceptable then you must begin to decide to fund this...but not that.
If you assume that resources are infinite, as would be necessary to meet infinite demands, then I don't suppose we could carry on much of a conversation on the topic.

T.

Oh, and there is a significant hidden cost to lots of unreasonable health care. That MRI that shows a trivial, incidental finding will need to be followed up annually.

The 90 year old who wants to live independently is not strictly speaking a health care issue. It is another daunting societal challenge worthy of its own discussion.

T2

Zepp Jamieson said...

Reason wrote: " "money" or "power," which are such overall guarantors of practical freedom as to be synonymous for all practical purposes."

They are sysnonymous with freedom for those who have money or power. However, they are antithetical to the vast majority of people who have neither.

Shane Mallatt said...

On the other hand, "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." Or in the Buddhist sense freedom from suffering only comes with freedom from desire. This kind of freedom is antithetical to the western ethos; therefore in some sense those who seek money or power will never be free.

Shane Mallatt said...

This is not necessarily a bad thing however as the western ethos has constantly used its lack of freedom to expand the possibilities of what freedom can be.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | because there is a significant subset of people whose liberty and happiness absolutely depend on their being able to harm other people

Yah. About that. Their liberty doesn’t depend on them being able to harm people. That is a 1984 definition of liberty. I’m not free unless I have access to the power to beat the cr*p out of you? Nah. That's not what freedom is. Their happiness might depend on them being able to harm others, but I have no issue with depriving them of that. The moment one person’s happiness comes at the expense of actual coercion of another person, they’ve gone too far. If that makes someone happy, I’ll happily smack them in the head until the pain cancels out the enjoyment they received from doing it… and I won’t enjoy doing it… much. (Yah. I see how that works. Vicious circle.)

they'll never agree to the live-and-let-live rules, and they organize and protest and vote just like we do

Yah, but what is the trend over the last few generations? If you never agree, but your children do, can I afford to be patient? Classical liberals will usually argue that the answer to that is “Yes.” You want it faster? Okay. How?

So one or the other group will ultimately prevail.

If the group that prevails uses a definition for liberty that isn’t straight out of 1984, I’m okay with that. The loser still gains in the sense that their children will be better off, so it isn’t zero-sum. They might not choose the future they get, but none of us really do. Our choices are much smaller and from them a future emerges.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | $10 for a pizza

Yah. I know you get that, but there is nothing magical about currency trades. Currency is just as much a thing as the pizza. The difference right now is we tend to centralize currency trades and decentralize pizza trades. I think we’d be better off with more decentralization of trading, but only if we can build a price reporting market. Financial markets do two fundamental things. They bring brokers together for actual trading and they bring information together creating the bid/ask structures. In the modern world, we should be able to do them independently and turn formerly centralized human brokers into centaur-like, distributed aggregators. (A centaur is a hybrid of human and machine/AI in this case.)

One will be right and one will be wrong.

I’m guessing you don’t play in the options and futures markets. It doesn’t work that way. One can be right or wrong, but only relative to the investment plan one had that suggested the trade was worth making. If you try to measure right and wrong relative to both traders, you’ll got to deal with the fact that they might have different plans. For example, someone might sell calls and puts on an underlying asset betting that the strike price won’t shift much, but a hedge fund might by them both creating a situation where they cancel each other if the asset price changes . The fund might be willing to pay for stability in order to attract a certain type of customer while the seller might be willing to absorb the risk the fund doesn’t want. Different goals among investors in the financial markets are like the different goals in your local pizza market. The seller wants money. The buyer wants to eat. No one is right or wrong except relative to their goals.

occam's comic said...

I like this quote from Tomas Henry Huxley about freedom.

"A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes."

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | If one can be "trapped as a longshoreman", then he is not free.

No. Can you put a human face on the one that could have intended entrapment? If so, I’ll consider that as ‘not free’, but that wasn’t the case for my maternal grandfather. No one intended him to be trapped. England of the time was liberalized enough that such intent by a real person would not have been enforceable. HIS father might have been trapped by the culture in which he grew up, but that’s not the same. My maternal grandfather was a sickly kid and almost didn’t make it to adulthood, so it’s not like he could have followed his father’s profession anyway. I have a story from him that he used to scratch up a few pennies, buy apples, and then sell them to the longshoremen at lunch. He COULD do that. Oddly enough, he wound up making more than his father some days. Funny how trade works.

Slavery is a special word for me and I’m very reluctant to apply it to people who choose to do something they later regret. I’m not dismissing the suckiness associated with choosing among employment options that all suck. Been there. Done that. But there IS an escape. People who argue there isn’t live a life without hope and in that they diminish their own humanity. Hope is one of the highest virtues for a reason. Avoid it at the peril of your own sanity.

In fact, slaveowners probably spent more on upkeep than the wage-slavers do.

Of this I have no doubt. The ‘wage slaves’ help maintain their own hopeless prisons.

Laurence said...

reason, I find “freedom” still works when combined with others. “America is the land of freedom, opportunity, generosity and enterprise!” Each word cancels out the zero-sum aspects of one of the others. Enterprise means that socialism isn’t a goal and that competition is implicit while “opportunity” implies everyone should get a chance to participate. “Freedom” comes first because we have our priorities right, but generosity cancels out the negative “freedom to be an oppressing asshole.”

"Socialism" is almost as slippery and nebulous a term as "freedom". Any term that encompasses everyone from Ed Milliband through to Pol Pot is pretty meaningless.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

like this quote from Tomas Henry Huxley about freedom.

"A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes."


Another way of putting it might be:
"A Republican's worst difficulties begin when they are the majority party."

Alfred Differ said...

@Smurphs | I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, why can't everyone else!

Yah. I know people who say that. It strikes me as a callous thing to say. A slightly better version ends with ‘why can’t you try?’, but even that one risks being unloving or at least intemperate.

So… I might think I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, but did I really? Nah. I pulled on my bootstraps. Other people did things too, some of which I am aware, much of which I am not. It’s quite possible others did things and had no awareness of how they helped or hindered me. Some did, though. I’m better off now than I was 30 years ago, but it would take monumental hubris to claim I did it. It would take no hubris, though, to claim I did a part of it.

Why can’t everyone else? Well… it’s not my place to judge them. It’s my duty to help them IF they want it. I’ll listen. I’ll offer hope. I’ll offer (counter)examples. I’ll offer love. I’ll do my part because I’ll regret it if I don’t. Why? Doesn’t matter. I will.

If you don't understand "your common humanity", then are you really a member of our civilization, or just a parasite?

Yah. Family is rather special. One of the reasons I oppose our hosts immigration views regarding who should be let in is the strength of my belief that an individual is not the right atomic accounting unit we should be using. Our social atoms are families. Lone individuals are subatomic most of the time. When we don’t have immediate family nearby, we make one. Whether they are real in the sense of biology or ‘virtual’ in the sense of identity groups doesn’t matter. We make them.

In science fiction terms, I would point to V. Vinge and a singleton Tine. They are neat, but not the atomic unit. Neither are singleton humans.

Jumper said...

Thanks for your opinions, Tim, from inside medicine, which I listen to. I should make sure what seem obvious-to-me devil's advocate efforts I toss out, are understood by others to be that. My brother is in the tooth doctor business and he has his own view of things which I can triangulate with others.

For example recently I queried my personal doctor, "What percentage of your patients try to act like they too are doctors when speaking to you?" I intended to amuse with this question and think I succeeded, but I was curious to know his actual ballpark answer. You know how people are and he does too. "About 20%," he said.

occam's comic said...


"A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes."


Another way of putting it might be:
"A Republican's worst difficulties begin when they are the majority party."

Larry that is funny, but I was thinking more like this

"Mankind's worst difficulties began when fossil fuels expanded man's capacity for freedom of action."

bad hiaku said...

Prose may be freedom
but poetry is structured
Creativity

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:


Yah. I know people who say that. It strikes me as a callous thing to say. A slightly better version ends with ‘why can’t you try?’, but even that one risks being unloving or at least intemperate.

...

Why can’t everyone else? Well… it’s not my place to judge them...


I won the lottery, why can't everybody else do the same thing?

Germany is a net-exporter. Why can't every country just do what they do?

The fact is that some things are mathematically impossible. Even if it is possible for anybody to do something, that doesn't make it possible for everybody to do so. It's a bad idea to structure civilization such that only the ones who make it to the top have any hope at all.

I favor a society that makes things easier for the lower percentiles, even if they are never going to be as well off as the 1%. If instead, only the 1% get any satisfaction, and the argument is that everybody has an equal chance to be in that 1% if only they work hard enough--well, that just creates an arms race, forcing people to work harder and harder against each other and 99% are still going to ultimately fail. It's just taken more work in order to fail than it otherwise would have.

That's why there's a good self-interested motive for noblesse oblige, for those who have worked hard enough and been lucky enough to be in a position of influence to actually ease the burden of the mass of humanity. Because the alternative is that they can do what you did, but you are an impediment in their way. And that's a precarious position to be in.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Another way of putting it might be:
"A Republican's worst difficulties begin when they are the majority party."

Larry that is funny, but I was thinking more like this

"Mankind's worst difficulties began when fossil fuels expanded man's capacity for freedom of action."


My worst difficulties began when my girlfriend allowed me to finish asking her to marry me. :)

Paul SB said...

Alfred, your comment here bears a little bit of discussion:

"The ‘wage slaves’ help maintain their own hopeless prisons."

- This comers across as very much in the blame the victim school of thought, which is mighty white of you. Perhaps you would like to rephrase? If a person is trapped in a hopeless prison, they don't have a lot of options, by definition. They can maintain their prison, which at least puts some food on the table, or they can crawl under a rock and die. Some people will do the latter, and many will do the latter unconsciously, trying to self-medicate their misery with drugs, alcohol, pointless violence and juvenile music genres. But most will maintain their hopeless prisons, and maybe once in a generation or two, riot. Larry's "Why doesn't everybody just win the lottery?" point kind of makes a hash of victim blaming. Might as well sweep your cell and make the best of it, just as most slaves don't kill themselves, though some certainly do.

Here's a relevant excerpt from Sapolsky's new book:

"Studies of these phenomena show that high levels of inequality and/or low levels of social capital in a country predict high rates of bullying and antisocial punishment ... Thus unequal cultures make people less kind. Inequality also makes people less healthy. This helps explain a hugely important phenomenon in public health, namely the 'socioeconomic (SES)/health gradient - as noted, in culture after culture, the poorer you are, the worse your health, the higher the impact and incidence of numerous diseases, and the shorter your life expectancy. ... What then is the principal cause of the gradient? Key work by Nancy Adler at UCSF showed that it's not so much being poor that predicts poor health. It's feeling poor - someone's subjective SES ... Crucial work but the social epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson of the University of Nottingham added to this picture: it's not so much poverty that predicts poor health; it's poverty amid plenty - income inequality. The surest way to make someone feel poor is to rub their nose in what they don't have."

The greater the inequality, the more things are stacked against those who are at the bottom of the income distribution. It's a little hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you have no boots. Walking around with no boots, you cut the hell out of your soles, and those who have boots are inclined to stomp on your feet (blaming the victim is a form of this stomping). Then you get infections, but have no money to pay for antibiotics. If you are lucky, you have had enough good, quality food to keep your immune system strong, but if you grew up in a food desert, that's not very likely. Maybe you survive the first infection, but find yourself effectively crippled, only able to hobble around. Good luck paying for college tuition and getting a high-paying job.

But according to the rich, you are a lazy-ass stupid moron who can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Paul SB said...

Oh, I forgot to cite my source:

Sapolsky, Robert 2017 "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst" p.292-294.

Recommended reading, to be sure!

Zepp Jamieson said...

occam's ocean wrote: ""A Republican's worst difficulties begin when they are the majority party."

Some English poet named Dryden put it nicely: "E'en victors by victory are undone."

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | The fact is that some things are mathematically impossible.

Well… duh. 8)

It's a bad idea to structure civilization such that only the ones who make it to the top have any hope at all.

Yah. It is also a bad idea to structure things so that people who don’t make it to the top have no hope. Do that and women like my grandmother will steal from you… or worse. We manufacture hope because we are human.

I’m not arguing that we can all be above average. I’m arguing that when we try the average moves. A pyramid shaped society becomes a diamond, inflates, and then floats away. It’s the strangest thing you’ll ever see when a stone-age pyramid puffs up and flies, but that’s what we are doing. 8)

I favor a society that makes things easier for the lower percentiles, even if they are never going to be as well off as the 1%.

So do I. Guess what, though. That’s what we do. The Bourgeois Experiment is doing EXACTLY that. Slowly, but surely. I may not be in the top 1% now, but compare me to my ancestors of 10 generations ago and I AM. Hmpf! In my case you only have to back up 3 generations (helps to be an American), but let’s be fair and look broadly. Real incomes (what you bring in denominated against the basket of things you need to buy to get by) for the average human on the planet has grown 16x above subsistence level of 20 generations ago. Only aristocrats, some priests, and a few merchant/princes lived that high up 20 generations ago and they made up FAR less than 1% of the population. On top of that, they simply couldn’t buy what we can buy.

Basically, I don’t feel much of a need to be in the top 1% IF my children or their children can be in what I would consider to be the top 1%... and that is happening.

Paul SB said...

Anonymous said, referring to our faux rancher...
there are very few children (percentage-wise) left for civilisation to protect as almost 50% of all reproductive aged EU, US & Japanese women are CHILDLESS, meaning they live only in the present, pursuing immediate self-interest, because they have NO future

Is that truly how you see women? That we live through our children and without them have no way of considering the future? What a sad, pathetic little man you must be.

- Not only is he a sad little sexist of a man, but he is also exceptionally disingenuous. The 50% figure includes women who simply have not reproduced yet, as well as older people whose children are fully-grown, so they don't technically count as "children" because they are no longer minors.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | This comes across as very much in the blame the victim school of thought…

Yah… except that I’m not blaming them. I’m recognizing that in their hopelessness, they help the jailor keep them there without having any intention of doing so.

If you are trapped in a prison (of any kind), we can reasonably assume a jailor, right? Someone is outside keeping you in. What concerns me about hopelessness is that there need be no physical bars and no actual jailor. I’ve known people who are diagnosed as depressed. It is hellish to watch. I recognize that there are softer versions of this involving loss of hope.

But according to the rich, you are a lazy-ass stupid moron who can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Mmm. This round of the argument started with Paul451 beating me up for being from a different species, so I was addressing things personally. I know some rich people do as you describe. I’ll side with you in disgust each time.

Jumper said...

Devil's advocate alert!
"Why don't they just rebel?"

.....................

In the movie Robocop the designer challenges the cops to disarm the robot. The savvy cop points his weapon at the guy controlling the robot...

Shane Mallatt said...

"Why don't they rebel.". They wanna see how Game of Thrones ends first.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB to Alfred:

"The ‘wage slaves’ help maintain their own hopeless prisons."

- This comers across as very much in the blame the victim school of thought, which is mighty white of you. Perhaps you would like to rephrase?


I can't speak for Alfred, and I can't say for certain that he didn't mean what you think he meant. But he was responding to my comment that wage-slaves cost their employers less than actual slaves cost their owners. The employers got to pay a pittance and were relieved of all further responsibility.

In that context, I took "The wage slaves help maintain their own hopeless prisons" to mean that, unlike traditional slaves who at least had room and board provided, the wage-slaves had to use their pittance to pay for their own upkeep.

matthew said...

Alfred, I know I criticize your statements often. But the formulation that starts "Guess what, though. That’s what we do. The Bourgeois Experiment is doing EXACTLY that. Slowly, but surely. I may not be in the top 1% now, but compare me to my ancestors of 10 generations ago." is music to my ears. Wisdom, well - stated. Thank you.

David Brin said...

Tim/Tacitus… I could negotiate with you about “Basics” single payer.. . Most moderates including most liberals, a few libertarians and a very few republicans would be willing to see:
-Basics single payer, so long as it included all helpful/useful preventative care, plus universal coverage for everyone under 25

- Regulated insurance that offers supplemental care at a fair price for those with the gumption to gather the resources to pay for it.

Notice how many of us have said we’re willing to negotiate such terms.

Tim & Viking, as usual it is the Republicans being unreasonable, banning the US from negotiating drug prices. I mean banning the US from even NEGOTIATING drug prices.



Shane Mallet I am praying that Game of Thrones will end with the Brothers Without Borders establishing democracy upon the smoldering corpses of every single noble. Except maybe the little guy.


The German just smiled and said: "Everything we know, we learned from the French."

Except that for all his faults, everywhere Napolean went, he brought revolution that freed serfs and Jews, vested small farmers in their land, ended debt peonage, stopped inquisitions and so on.


Locum said: “It's Idiocracy, those hyper-responsible progressives who choose to terminate their respective gene lines “

Feh. humans evolved to have variable altruism horizons. This was the over-arching topic of Larry Niven’s great novel PROTECTOR (perhaps his best) in which our ability to expahnd out sense of self interest “posterity” and even willingness to die for others can extend beyond your immediate offspring.

How ironic that confeds, who brag about their macho bluster and martial courage (the one positive trait of the other-wise purely-evil 1860s Confederacy) would now whine that no one should be willing to sacrifice for anyone else other than their own offspring.

Was it Huxley or Haldane who first calculated the algebra of kinloyal sacrifice? You should be willing to die for two offspring, four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren…. or a bus full of young strangers from the same valley… or a nation filled with strangers who have one named trait… “fellow citizens.”

Of course we’re not so cold-blooded. Our values lean hard toward greater altruism than this. And for excellent reasons that a negative summer will never — can never — even dimly understand.

David Brin said...

BTW Tim, next week I speak TWICE at the Libertarian gathering Freedom Fest. I still await Viking's admission that owner-oligarch-cheaters represses freedom and enterprise 10000 times as often and as harshly as civil servants ever have.

Treebeard said...

For all your talk about the glories of capitalism, your conception of civilization is clearly Communist (positivistic, globalist, history moving ever forward toward some vast centralized galactic Federation, disdain for all tradition, spirituality, nationalist or ethnic identity, a division of time into pre-Revolution (6000 years of feudal darkness) and post-Revolution, etc.) and you surely come from a line of Bolsheviks. I don't know how many Libertarians you'll fool with your shpiel, but you don't fool me. Subversion is what your kind do.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Have you guys seen this
A case settled for peanuts after Trump sacked the prosecutor

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/12/doj-settled-massive-russian-fraud-case-involving-lawyer-who-met-with-trump-jr/?utm_content=bufferbbc91&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

David Brin said...

What an utter, jibbering loony. Yeah, this "communist" is one of the ten people on planet Earth most often touting Adam Smith. A communist pushes competition as the most creative force in history and the universe. A communist criticizes both feudalist conspirators and leftists for undermining flat-open-fair-competitive markets and arenas. It's what commies do!

Zero sum imbeciles of the far-left and entire-right defend ethnic identity as if it is about to go away, just because barriers to opportunity fall and talent stops being wasted. In fact, the Age of Amateurs shows that the non-lobotomized can be positive sum, both modernizing and retaining and even enhancing what's good from the past. Zero-summers are terrified of a concept their brains cannot grasp, any better than an amoeba can do hyperdrive.

Of all the ent's idiotic accusations, only one has bearing on actual me. Yes, the America-led enlightenment revolution is a break from 6000 years of grinding horror. It's victory is not foregone and indeed the odds have always been against it. As a traitor to our revolution, of course he wants to subvert it with magical incantations, because he thinks he'll be a top, feudal dog.

I know some of the guys - both Holnists and anti-holnists - who'd be real top dogs in such a world. You?
Not even kibble.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

I trust you caught the "subtle" anti-Semitic references in Treebeard's screed there. Fuck him and the Nazi horse he rode in on.

Tim Wolter said...

David

The Affordable Care Act did almost nothing to curtail drug prices or to mandate generics. The pharmaceutical industry was one of the earliest "Share Holders" in the process. Thanks to Billy Tauzin, a very shifty fellow indeed, Big Pharma got a sweetheart deal. Perhaps given the narrow margin of passage any other deal would not have flown. It is extremely unpopular to require generic drugs. Folks get riled up and figure you are making them use an inferior product. So don't go blaming Republicans exclusively for this.

Now of course the negotiating shoe is on the other foot. And Republicans are finding out how hard health care reform is. And if they were to do anything to require generic drugs or to enforce cost controls they would face not only the prospect of diminished donations from Pharmaceutical sources but howls to high heaven about how they don't care about people, want them to die, etc, etc.

The ludicrous cost of brand name drugs is one of the most egregious injustices of our health care bazaar, but not per se one of the largest ones. But if you can't take this one on you have no chance at doing anything more significant.

For those who like sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Tauzin

The Pharma industry tends to donate a bit more to R congressional campaingns...other than 08 and 10, bracketing the ACA negotiations!

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=H04

Sure an informed and dedicated group of political centrists could come up with what we all hope for, a "Spartan" but effective basic uni health care plan with provisions for "Harley Street" extras. It's just getting it accepted by anybody that is the problem.

I actually am pleased that the first few trial runs by the current congress have failed. We are having a reasonable discussion on a damnable problem. Take as much time as you like guys and gals. The worst thing that will happen in the interim is the final fiscal implosion of the existing system...

T

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/13/opinion/donald-trump-jr-emails.html

The whole column is worth the read. Highlights:


...
Trump is president by a combination of the most despicable factors: a Russian cyberattack, voter suppression, racial anxiety and rampant sexism. People will struggle to explain it in other terms, and some will do so with dazzling language that apes the tone and tenor of intellectualism, but at its base an explanation that ignores those factors is a lie. It is a lie that covers a cyst. It is a lie that shields a sickness. It is a lie that excuses the inexcusable.

Donald Trump is president because a multiethnic, forward-thinking coalition twice elected a black man president and in so doing sent pulsing waves of fear down the spine of the traditional power structure in America. Barack Obama represented a fast-approaching future in which whiteness is not synonymous with power, in which power is more widely shared.

...

Donald Trump is president because American sexism, misogyny and patriarchy know no bounds. All politicians have flaws; Clinton had flaws. I could fill this column enumerating them. But as Bernie Sanders was fond of saying during the campaign, “On her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.”
...
Trump has attacked every traditional institution in this country, from the judiciary to the press. But possibly the most dangerous and destructive has been his assault on the truth itself.
...
I say that we must learn to discard as dishonest everything emanating from this White House. If it’s not a lie (and it often is), it’s a diversion.

Yes, listen to his speeches and read his tweets. Being an informed, engaged citizen demands that you remain aware of what the country’s so-called leader is thinking and doing.

But then shunt it aside. It’s all garbage and a waste of mental bandwidth. You only have to remember this: These people are not to be trusted. Their greatest interest is in their own enrichment. They believe that they exist in a space above the law and outside the rules.
...

Marino said...

In his perverted way, Treebeard is right. Both liberalism and communism/socialism come from the common Enlightenment heritage, (ok, Cain and Abel were brothers, too...). So he is an existential enemy of both. Last time someone managed to be enemy of both liberals and socialists alike, he died a bad death in a Berlin bunker. Tree wants to be hireling and slave, the fate of the hireling and slave he will get.
Oh, and welcome in the hammer & sickle club, comrade Brin😂.
Btw: I love Treebeard. He proves that some monsters come back from the grave, garlic and ashwood stake notwithstanding...price of freedom being eternal vigilance etc.

Marino

LarryHart said...

Marino:

n his perverted way, Treebeard is right. Both liberalism and communism/socialism come from the common Enlightenment heritage, (ok, Cain and Abel were brothers, too...). So he is an existential enemy of both. Last time someone managed to be enemy of both liberals and socialists alike, he died a bad death in a Berlin bunker.


You're missing the dog-whistles. "Your kind" and "shpiel" are dead giveaways. In that context, "Bolshevik" is just another word for "Jew".

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

This was your daughter, right? With the podcast about the jungle gym?

https://www.blubrry.com/novum/25034781/the-secret-of-the-jungle-gym/

Have you or she has ever seen the French language film called (in English) "The Man Who Loved Women"? I wonder how much the protagonist is modeled after this Hinton guy. I just saw the movie recently, and I would have felt like much less of an alien had I had the experience when the film came out in 1978.

Also, your daughter really knows how to keep the listener's interest in a story--the audio equivalent of a "real page turner". That's one fine storyteller you've got there.

Jumper said...

I favor our government buying some drug patents and especially drug trial data, using eminent domain ("compulsory purchase" in United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland) and making the patents public domain. No doubt the devil is in the details, but I suspect the biggest impediment is the establishment of a precedent.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Yes, clinical depression is a monster - Sapolsky calls it the common cold of psychiatric disorders. It has become extremely common in our civilization, as has the more general loss of hope. No specific jailor is necessary, the entire system is the jailor. Sure, a few people manage to escape, and those few who manage are lauded as the model for us all by those who, like our current batch of "leaders" were born into privilege.

Maybe you need to be a little more careful about how you phrase things, because they often come across as very regressive, even though when you explain things some more you sound much more reasonable.

But then there's this, from Matthew:

"Alfred, I know I criticize your statements often. But the formulation that starts "Guess what, though. That’s what we do. The Bourgeois Experiment is doing EXACTLY that. Slowly, but surely. I may not be in the top 1% now, but compare me to my ancestors of 10 generations ago." is music to my ears. Wisdom, well - stated. Thank you."

- Yes, if you go back 10 generations, you do see some spectacular progress. That was the work of Voltaire and many others, pointing to the hypocrisies and barbarities of our system. But compare today to 40 years ago. We appear to be going backwards. Everything eventually experiences diminishing returns. We may need to reboot the system, rejuvenate it with change, or else it turns into a deviation extinction loop. I think Europe is doing a better job than us in many ways. The inequality gradient is much less steep there, and those illnesses caused by stress are less prevalent. Yet they still have commerce, business, competitive enterprises. It is far from perfect, but the American way of fetishizing competition and ruthlessness is a huge part of why our gradient is so much steeper, why so many people are crippled and dying from stress disorders. We have taken a trajectory toward increasing freedom and turned it into a trajectory toward increasing human misery. We are no longer going forward.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Listen to her other podcasts. They have all been good. No one seems to be commenting on the site, though. It might encourage her.

Paul SB said...

Our sapling's latest is yet another example of the false, superficial kind of "patriotism" that waves flags and shouts slogans but does not have the faintest clue what it is talking about.

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.
- George Washington

There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism.
- Alexander Hamilton

True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.
- Clarence Darrow

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!
- Albert Einstein

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

It was J.B.S. Haldane. I only remember that because it came up in Sapolsky's book I am reading at the moment. I haven't been able to get into fiction lately, for some reason.

locumranch said...


It's called 'scientific consensus' when someone who represents the current zeitgeist uses scientifically-discredited terms like 'altruism' & pulls climate predictions out of their nether regions regions, but it's called lies, dissembling & misogyny when a disputant uses empiric observation & reputable statistics to support an opposing worldview.

The claim that "almost 50% of all reproductive aged EU, US & Japanese women are CHILDLESS" is statistically accurate, the key phrase being "reproductive aged EU, US & Japanese women" which references a reproductive age range of 15 to 42 years, the assumption being that some of those women will go on to have children later in life.

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/childless-choice

However, up to 20% of western women are 'Childless by Choice' by the time they reach their late 40's, meaning they will forever be 'free riders & takers' who have ZERO interest in 'The Future', posterity or civilisation UNLESS you have faith in unscientific magical incantations like 'altruism'.


Best
_____

Our so-called western educators are little more than repetitive liars, dissemblers & propagandists of the status quo who will be replaced by commercial adverts & you're-a-boob videos none too soon. After one thousand four hundred repetitions per week, the so-called truth about Brawndo giving plants the electrolytes they 'crave' will be forever self-evident to the public at large.

"They'll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson."

Jumper said...

Get some sleep, Cranky.

Robert said...

David,

Since the German I quoted was from Heidelberg, he may have been talking about Louis XIV. Of course, he made the French themselves suffer as much as anyone, not least his clueless great-great-etc-grandson and his even more clueless wife.

And the Huguenot refugees gave Prussia a huge boost, from hurt France indirectly as much as their absence hurt France directly.


Bob Pfeiffer.

Robert said...

substitute "which" for "from" above.

Bob P.

Shane Mallatt said...

Dr. Brin I like your ending for GoT. If I were to venture a guess I would put my money on the white walkers overrunning all of Westeros while the nobles fight over who will get to sit on the soon to be meaningless iron throne.

David Brin said...

Tim-Tac: “The Affordable Care Act did almost nothing to curtail drug prices or to mandate generics. The pharmaceutical industry was one of the earliest "Share Holders" in the process.”

Absolutely correct Tim. The Dems relied on the powerful lobbying of the insurance industry to pass the ACA, which many dems deeply disliked. Obamacare was, after all the Republicans’ Own Damn Plan (RODP). Nothing illustrates the right’s craziness more than their refusal to to own - or even negotiate improvements to - RODP. The moment the RODP became the ACA - it had Obama's cooties and they all got amnesia that it was their own damn plan.

Instead they sabotage it wherever possible. Their language forbids the federal govt from mandating generics or dickering drug prices. And, as explored by the LA Times: “Obamacare is only 'exploding' in red states.”

“Where Republican governors have sought to sabotage the program, they have largely succeeded. Where Democratic governors have tried to make the ACA work, they too have largely succeeded.” http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-baker-obamacare-red-state-20170713-story.html

There is a side to this that no one mentions. Because they get favored parasitism in US markets, the big Pharmas get a cash flow that subsidizes R&D that then sells cheaper around the world. It is another example of hidden US foreign aid!

===
Marino, people who use “communist!” as a slur equivalent to “Satanic child abuser!” miss the point of why communism was so dangerous. Marxism and then (very different) Leninism appealed to some of the best human reflexes. Including a desperate wish to end injustice and parasitism and waste and to help make a better world. Alas, it was sucker-bait, because tens of millions of sincere reformers swallowed a set of pat, just-so stories about how this could be achieved via coercive prescriptions. And their support assisted the rise of monsters.

Monsters who thereupon re-created vicious versions of feudalism, in which the official religion justifying their power was different — but every other aspect of ruthlessness, cronyism, hierarchy, and crushing competition were completely standard. Czarist patterns of repressively murderous domination, with a new-improved egalitarian veneer and new incantations!

This is why I emphasize competition and not “cooperation.” The latter is important, but as a magic word it can be used to justify a narrowing of power “for our own good.” Of course, that’s exactly what the CEOs and Wallstreet monopolists chant, as they seek consolidation of control and to suppress competition. It’s for the good of all.

==
LH thanks! I’ll pass along the good word.
==

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Marcus Sellers said...

Might want to check out this article and her book if you haven't already:
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/41206-misinforming-the-majority-a-deliberate-strategy-of-right-wing-libertarians

Goes with the Civil WAr thread.

Janus Daniels said...

Poe's Law never ends. "I find some of the Holn/Macklin passages copied or quoted on the pages of neo-feudalist online screeds!"

koi seo said...

Thanks for your opinions, Tim, from inside medicine, which I listen to. I should make sure what seem obvious-to-me devil's advocate efforts I toss out, are understood by others to be that. My brother is in the tooth doctor business and he has his own view of things which I can triangulate with others.


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harada57 said...

the tooth doctor business and he has his own view of things which I can triangulate with others.

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