Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Kevin McKean - False Impressions

False Impressions by Kevin McKean, with Donal O’Kelly as Jimmy Hazzard, a private-eye on the prowl, and Joe Taylor as the snap-shooting Snoop. 

Surveillance is itself under the searchlight in this Keystone caper. Shortlisted for the 2013 PJ O'Connor Awards for Radio Drama. 

Featuring Donal O'Kelly, Joe Taylor, Jennifer O'Dea, Deirdre Monaghan and Jack Lynch  Produced by Aidan Mathews 

An Answer

The New York Times knowingly played a part in the week-long gambit that FOX has mounted over the declassification of the most sensitive of documents, which would have to provoke any responsible people in the DOJ to refuse, including Rosenstein, giving Trump an excuse to fire him.  What the New York Times published yesterday night accusing Rosenstein of wanting to mount a coup fits in entirely too obviously well with the FOX effort that I completely believe those at the New York Times who did that knowingly aided that effort.  

Any claim the goddamned New York Times didn't intend to play the role it has of promoting the worst of Republicans as they do a Susan Collins in pretending they aren't part of that because they're responsible, they wouldn't have done it. 

I think the Sulzberger family and their minions at the Times have no real objection to the destruction of democracy in the United States. 

Lewontin And The Perils of Everyday Ideology Within Evolutionary Biology And The Alleged Study of Abiogenesis

I am posting Richard Lewontin's entire lecture, again, because it contains so much information that is of the highest relevance to the question of not only the allegedly scientific study of the origin of life on Earth, but also relevant to what the actual original organism(s) of life on Earth must have been like to fit into the definition of life as opposed to not-life and inevitably on the probabilistic contemplation of the divine origin as opposed to random-chance origin of life on Earth.  I post Lewontin because he combines the kind of lucid explanation that comes only from a scientific and philosophical mastery of the known issues with him not sharing my conclusions about the issue.  While I think many of the things he honestly presents is more useful to coming to the conclusion against random-chance as an explanation, he has said his disdain for the philosophical-ideological consequences of being open to the belief that God created life as well as everything else, leads to his conscious choice to reject that as an explanation.  His honesty in that as well as his scientific and philosophical honesty and mastery of the topic are why I respect him.  That many of his political and social conclusions, many of which I share,  are, as I come ever more convinced,  incompatible with his ideological choice is overcome by my respect for his honesty and rigor and good will.

His discussion of the faulty concept of adaptation, including the experiments to look for life on Mars, especially his observation that in order to know anything about any possible organism depends on looking at the organism and studying its structure, its behavior, its life within its environment is absolutely crucial to any proposed study of the origin of life on the Early Earth.

And it is crucial in understanding why without that observation and knowledge, looking at other, known organisms, either in the very partial knowledge you can have from even the barely resolvable fossils of organisms that came many hundreds of millions of years and untold billions of organisms of presumably evolving life or modern organisms, even those taken as "primitive" but which are the product of even more hundreds of millions and billions of years of evolution from the origin of life, even as we ourselves are, can actually tell us nothing much if anything about what that origin of life was like.  We are exactly as evolved as those "primitive" organisms living with us in the present time.  Our assumptions about the lives of organisms from the earliest period of resolvable fossils based on our knowledge of modern organisms that have an apparent likeness to them must be no better than highly speculative, even with that evidence.  And all of that is life that arose from other living organisms, the original organism on Earth that arose out of unliving matter has that crucial difference from all subsequent life.    Under the most common scientific assumption, which I share, that original organism is entirely unlike all of the subsequent life that came after it in that crucial regard.  You cannot intuit how that happened by the assumptions we make about the first act of reproduction and the only model we have for thinking about that original act of reproduction of necessity has to be based on our logical assessment of what would have to have resulted in two like organisms produced from the first organism (it would take two of everything vital for the original organism to have lived plus whatever induced it to reproduce) and our only scientific knowledge of organisms reproducing based on later organisms.

Last April, I dealt with an example of a highly sophisticated scientist and a very experience staff of a very good radio science program not even being able to understand how that scientist wasn't answering a very sensible question dealing with life theoretically arising in ocean vents billions of years ago.  The question was, "Why doesn't life continue to spontaneously occur around such vents?"   The question was as clear as possible, an obviously valid question,  the answer that was found acceptable by the scientist and the staff of Quirks And Quarks didn't even respond to it and they didn't understand that it didn't address the entirely reasonable question.

The extent to which ideological holdings by scientists and, especially those widely held in their profession blinds them to such obvious failures in their thinking and claims is a question that really needs to be asked.  I think that Richard Lewontin's kind of sophisticated understanding of philosophy is what leads him to understand the importance of being able to address such questions and issues.   I think that failure to understand it is rampant within science, especially in some of the biological sciences, especially those around questions of evolution and the alleged scientific study of the origin of life on Earth.

I don't think I'm going to continue on with this, just now.

The Liberal New York Times Tries To Give Trump An Excuse To Fire Rosenstein And End The Mueller Investigation

I don't like Rod Rosenstein, I don't respect him, finding out he was a friend and supporter of Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court was the last nail in the coffin of my respect for Rod Rosenstein, the kind of people who automatically talk about his sterling character and wonderfulness are the kinds of people who don't get my respect, not even the connected insiders who have a "D" after their names.

That said, he has done his job in the Department of Justice in acting as a wall protecting the Robert Mueller investigation into the Putin crime family and others ratfucking the American political system to put Donald Trump into the ever diminished American Presidency, ever diminished in respectability and legitimacy as it is ever increased in dictatorial power under Republican-fascist rule, under Trump.


With yesterday's obviously, radically Trump useful article about Rod Rosenstein suggesting that he wear a wire to record Trump to cook up some kind of 25th amendment removal of Trump (which he would be powerless to do), it's obvious that there are reporters at the New York Times who are trying to provide Trump a pretext to fire Rosenstein, to provide fodder to their fellow journalists at FOX, on Republican hate-talk radio, on Republican internet to try to force him out so a Trump protection racket can put someone in Rosenstein's position to end the already very successful investigation and prosecution that are essential to protect American democracy.

The New York Times has had a role in this going back to its earliest days in cooking up the Whitewater attack on the Clintons more than a quarter of a century ago, there have been one after another after another false story in that paper, that first one leading to a more than forty million dollar criminal investigation of the Clinton administration which had the huge result of one criminal conviction against one member of the Clinton's inner circle on an issue that had nothing to do with the Clintons or Clinton administration.  There were the false stories during Hillary Clinton's campaign that she was going to be indicted, there were many. many others.

Someone should really do a detailed investigation into the role that the New York Times has played in this billionaire, foreign and domestic, attack on American democracy because that role is very real, has been very damaging and what can be said about the New York Times is as true of other organs of the media, even some of those supposedly anti-Trump by policy, The Nation magazine the quintessential example of that.  It won't be done by a special prosecutor, the First Amendment and the mythic cult that has formed around it, especially among those in the media would prevent that.  But when the media is an active part in an attack on American democracy, it creates a scenario in which the liberty of the media turns into an enemy of democracy, the free press freely choosing to be a part of a serious attack on the best defense of reasonable and equal liberty in political history, the most basic of all democratic principles, the equal right of people to cast informed votes on who and how they will be governed.  The New York Times is alleged to be a liberal paper, it endorses liberals over thugs like Trump - it endorses the actions of thugs like Trump, like Bush II as they hold power - but its daily reportage and the opinions it promotes on its editorial and op-ed pages have been important in aiding the attack on democracy. 

The First Amendment is a badly written piece of minor 18th century poetry which has been usefully turned into a tool of facists and neo-Nazis, of Vladimir Putin some of their use of it was aided by pseudo-liberal entities such as the ACLU and the American free press.  One of the worst things about it is the press freedoms language might have worked in a world of small newspapers printed by hand, it doesn't work with the mass media.  It puts what was a privilege to artificial corporate entities, media companies, in language of rights which is only legitimate when it is people whose rights are being protected.  Most of all, it neglected to point out that the privilege came with the obligation that the media report truth and fact that The People need to make self-government real.  It should have pointed out that press freedom was contingent on that because the history of the world shows that if democracy turns to despotism, the freedom of the press depends on democracy.  The danger of that not being spelled out in the language of the First Amendment becomes clearer every day, it has been becoming clearer ever since the New York Times was the beneficiary of the permission to lie with impunity under the Sullivan v New York Times decision.

This investigation of what the American media has done with its right to lie, gotten for it by the New York Times and the huge part that has played in the decay and death of American democracy.   It's time to start that investigation and to make it clear what the very wealthy people who run the media, starting with the New York Times are doing consistently in destroying democracy.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Stupid Mail

"Simels said . . . " 

I was deleting junk from my spam file, easily most of it, hundreds of things in the past few months, have been from Simps.    He's so stupid he believes Queens isn't part of New York City.   I think I've spent more than enough time on him this year. 

Carla Bley - Doctor

Intermission Music 

Gary Burton Quintet

Vibraphone: Gary Burton
Guitar: Mick Goodrick
Guitar: Pat Metheny
Double  Bass: Steve Swallow

Drums: Bob Moses

This album was the first time I ever heard Pat Metheny, it's still one of my favorites.  All of the players are great and stepped up to play the music of one of the greatest composers of our time.

Hate Mail - The Impotence Of Idle Speculation To Answer These Questions The Idiocy Of Claiming To Use Lab Science To Refute Intelligent Design

If you had gone on and listened to more of Richard Lewontin's lucid, simple discussion of just some of the known physical requirements for cells to divide, you would have heard him say just one of the things that accounted for the difference in timing of cellular division was the need for the cell to make and/ or accumulate specific molecules in sufficient numbers to allow for cellular division to happen.  In order for an organism or cell to make another like it it would certainly require at least twice the number of molecules, twice the amount of the material necessary to make one of them. Reproduction by cellular division requires an accumulation of such material in sufficient quantity to make 1x2 of the original organism.

For something to accumulate to cause something to happen within an organism, to make it divide in the way everyone I've ever heard imagines the first organism of life on Earth reproduced there would have to be some location in which that accumulation would have had to happen.  If it was just in some soup the liklihood of that happening is, first, undefinable, second, unlikely to have happened.  I am trying to think of any kind of biological reproduction that happens outside of a containing membrane and can't think of any organisms that would describe, including viruses which I believe must have originally evolved inside of organisms.  If someone knows of something that reproduces outside of any containing membrane, I'd love to learn about it. 

I believe even the proposed methods of prions "reproducing" happens within modern cells, "modern" in that meaning going back billions of years in the history of life on Earth, certainly going back before any resolvable fossils of them are available.  Again, if I'm wrong about that, give me your credible citations. 

I would really like it if you guys could come up with actual examples to refute my belief with.  I don't think theorizing some indefinable different kind of organism than one we know is progress, there is a. no way to know if any such organism existed at the time life began on Earth, b. there is no way of knowing any constructed "organism" that can be made in a lab today had anything to do with the actual first organism on Earth, c. any "organism" made in a lab today IS THE PRODUCT OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN AND IT COULD NOT BE USED TO PROVE THAT INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS ANYTHING BUT ESSENTIAL TO MAKING IT.  Though the absence of intelligence can be used to make the claim that it does prove that intelligent design was not used to make it or the original organism which arose before there was human intelligence. It's one of the stupidest faith holdings of atheists in large numbers.

"You Koch-funded, pseudo-intellectual, talent-free, policy-illiterate, hack, shallow, shell of a man".

Dave Rubin is the kind of vapid gay man who I just can't help despising. 

There are other members of the LGBT group who are as bad but I only know of one or two lesbians who are the same kind of piece of crap he is while I can name dozens of gay men who are and I think it not only has to do with them being either rich or aspiring to be rich but, also, having the sense of entitlement and privilege that they get from being men.   That is why they can identify with the privileged class that an asshole like Ben Shapiro belongs to and services and will support parties and candidates and spoilers who would destroy the equal rights and lives of even other, non-elite gay men, not to mention lesbians, bisexuals and trans people. 

He, or rather his type of, as Micheal Brooks put it, "pseudo-intellectual, talent-free, policy-illiterate, hack, shallow, shell of a man," who is also gay reminds  me of the Luis Molina (William Hurt) character in Kiss of the Spider Woman who is enamored of the glamour he saw in a fictional piece of Nazi propaganda based on cinematic images and manipulation.  Only, in their case, it's hankering after the same thing.   David Brock is about the only one I've ever known of who had enough of a moral and intellectual center to really break out of that.   Andrew Sullivan is not.  Ken Mehlman, is not.  Lindsay Graham is certainly not.  It really disturbs me as a gay man how many gay men like that there are and how other apparatchiks of Republican-fascism like Ted Olson can champion their rights within their privileged private lives to a fascist-dominated Supreme Court even as they all support inequality and far worse for other oppressed minorities in the world. 

Dave Rubin is not anyone I want anything to do with.   I'm not on the side of the rich, the white, the privileged and I reject any privilege over the majority of people.

"Himpathy" My Word For The Day

Before  reading about the lawsuit of the "free-speech" champion, whiny-assed cry-baby-boy-man, Jordan Peterson against Kate Manne for pointing out the misogyny of his bloviation, just now,  I hadn't known the wonderfully useful word she coined, "himpathy" which is defined as, "the disproportionate sympathy our society extends towards men". 

If there was ever a week when we can see himpathy on display, it's this one in which so much has been lavished on Brett Kavanaugh as opposed to the woman who has made a credible accusation that he tried to rape her when she was 15.  That himpathy leads even those who seem to assume that he and his buddy probably did try to rape her to whine about how what he did and, they must assume, he is lying about now will ruin his privileged, rich, white male life and reputation.  And they have no problem with her being destroyed to save him from his own actions and lies. 

If The Guy Ed Whelan Libeled Can't Sue That Asshole Into The Flames Of Hell The Law Isn't Only An Ass It's As Big An Asshole As Whelan

If I were the guy who Federalist-hack, Harvard grad-whore Ed Whelan dragged in to serve as the proxy attempted rapist to get his buddy  Brett Kavanaugh off  the hook, I'd sue the asshole into the flames of hell.  If you haven't read about that one yet, only one of the totally irresponsible, totally dishonest gambits and strategies to put Brett Kavanaugh's lying, perjuring, would-be alpha-boy-male ass on the Supreme Court bench, it could be considered the final piece of evidence proving the case of Republican-fascist depravity beyond any reasonable doubt.

Ed Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, took this theory to a new, wildly irresponsible place on Thursday night, actually identifying a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, and suggesting that he might have attempted to rape Ford, not the future judge.

The tweet storm showed the results of Whelan’s internet sleuthing. The supposed evidence (which we are not embedding because there’s no reason to think the classmate was actually involved) includes:

• A Google map of where Ford, Kavanaugh, and other alleged witnesses lived when they were in high school.
• Real estate photos of the home where Whelan thinks the incident might have occurred, based on Ford saying the house was “not far from” the Columbia Country Club.
• A floor plan that shows that the upstairs bathroom is across from a bedroom in this house, just like Ford described.
• And finally, the big reveal: 35 years ago, this was the home of a Georgetown Prep student who looks kind of like Kavanaugh and was also friends with Mark Judge (who was allegedly present during the assault). Yearbook photos and a current photo of the classmate are provided for comparison to Kavanaugh.

As Twitter users discussed the irony of the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center possibly being sued for defamation, Whelan added a disclaimer:

I won't give you his disclaimer  you can go to the link to see it, not anymore than I'll participate in his libel by naming his victim.   If the law would let this asshole, Whelan get away with libeling a totally innocent person to a national audience without getting sued into the flames of hell, the law is not only an ass, it's an even bigger asshole than Ed Whelan.

And, if that isn't bad enough, let me point out that Whelan's gambit only works if you also buy the frequent claim of rapists who are caught that their accuser is "confused" and doesn't know who attacked her.  Something which might, possibly, be credible if the fact in this case isn't a fact CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD KNEW BOTH KAVANAUGH AND THE GUY WHELAN IS TRYING TO PIN HIS RAPE ATTEMPT ON.

Ford quickly issued a statement dismissing the theory. She said of Kavanaugh and the classmate, “I knew them both, and socialized with” them. She said she’d visited the other classmate in the hospital, so “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”

The piece I took this version of the story from is entirely worth reading because Whelan's blatant lie is magnified by the fascist news and pseudo-news sites, it documents a small part of that magnification and amplification.

These are the people that Republicans want to put on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh is one of their club as is Neil Gorsuch, another product of the Heritage-Federalist judge making machine.

Materialism Can Only Be True If It Is False And Panpsychism Is Just Another Name For Materialism

There's no law that says I can't respect Richard Lewontin while disagreeing profoundly with him on the questions of materialism and atheism.  And there's no law saying I can't disagree with Rupert Sheldrake's interest in panpsychism on the same basis,  even while I believe its claim that all of matter has "consciousness" is just a game of word play.   I respect Rupert Sheldrake on much the same basis I do Richard Lewontin while disagreeing with both of them. 

Since materialists, "naturalists", "physicalists" - all the same thing under different names adopted as the 19th and 20th century meaning of materialism has been discredited by science - can't convince people that their and other peoples consciousness is an illusion and since the experience of consciousness is incompatible with materialism, "panpsychists"  want to produce the same result as denying that there is any reality to consciousness by claiming that atoms and molecules and other "self-organizing entities" in nature are conscious.  It is the same, exact ideological program of reductionism only admitting that materialist reductionism can't credibly dispose of consciousness.  It can't do that without claiming that the "consciousness" of atoms and molecules - if not smaller units of matter that comprise those - is what is real and that our composite "emergent" consciousness is of lesser or negligible reality.  And that is no advance on the problem of the ideology of materialism and the experience of consciousness.

For one thing, the word "consciousness" was used to name the most basic and all encompassing of human experiences, the experience of being conscious which means specifically that human experience.  That was the reason the word was invented, the thing which is human experience, including all human acts of observation and analysis, that is what consciousness is.

We, or rather, most thoughtful people who experience consciousness and have the capacity or rather exercise the will to sympathize with them, extend that quality to animals on the basis of our observation of their obviously self-motivating behavior which exhibits the same qualities that our consciousness produces in us.  That is those whose materialist or other ideologies or choice to not take that seriously don't lead us to deny what our empirical observation of other animals demonstrates about them*. 

Our ability to make the choice to recognize the probability of consciousness in animals, though, is based on what the word means, why the word was created, to describe human experience, the action of consciousness in us.  It is based on their self-motivated behavior, not on actions such as what gravity does to our bodies if we fall down or tornado winds blow us around, what Brownian motion does in moving the bodies of bacteria in water or the fluctuation of energy does to the position of electrons around a nucleus and atoms in a molecule. 

I think attributing the human quality of consciousness we experience to atoms and molecules - having to radically change the meaning of the word in some unknowable and unstable way to give them something undefinable which a panpsychist merely calls by the same word - is too obviously done for the convenience of allegedly former materialists who realize that materialism can't be knowably true if consciousness is real.  And everything we know to be true is only said to be true through our knowledge and knowledge is an aspect of consciousness. 

We know everything we know through our consciousness.  And if consciousness isn't real then we can't know anything, we as thinking entities don't actually exist and all of our experience is an ephemeral, subjective delusion made by non-existent entities.  Which renders materialism and just the latest renaming of it "panpsychism" exactly ridiculous and absurd as what materialists disdain and despise as superstition and "folk psychology".  Denying the reality of human consciousness makes all of the category distinctions that materialism relies on and values as meaningless as they hold religious belief is. 

Both knowledge, and truth are aspects of consciousness.  They are only meaningful the extent to which consciousness is real, as is everything that humans can articulate.  Including error, including the lunacy of things like "neurophilosophy" and "eliminativism" which say more about the decadence that materialism has driven academic culture into than it does about our minds without that error.   Considering what materialism is and inevitably leads to, there is no huge surprise when materialists such as Paul and Patricia Churchland  drive philosphy into the absurd ditch they have.  I don't think panpsychists, who are merely materialists under a different name and with a somewhat different approach are going to get it out of that ditch any time in the future.   I think there is every reason for their position to be rejected on the basis of it being ridiculous.  Finding it ridiculous is a perfectly respectable and intellectually justifiable reaction to what they claim.

All of the words used to identify or define all mental states are the product of those mental states, all of the words used to identify or define everything, including material objects, including forces in nature, including the words we use to talk about the experience of those and, certainly, our measurement and analysis of those are the product of our consciousness.  You can't get any of it started without that consciousness, you can't, then, use those to dismiss the reality of the very thing that is doing all of what you're dismissing it with.  And you can't advance on getting past that problem by merely screwing with the meaning of the words in order to get past the problem.  And that is what the panpsychists do.  Their ideology is materialist, it's just that they want to unknowably define the terms in a way so as to make the same kind of reductionist claims to get past the problem of consciousness but their attempts produce only an illusion of progress.  In the end you have to admit that we are incapable of honestly attributing the human experience of consciousness to atoms and molecules without denying the thing we experience as our own consciousness. 

*  Not all of the people who do that are materialists.  Descartes rather disgustingly and brutally disregarded the pain and suffering of the dogs he dissected alive even as their cries of pain were ringing in his ears. I think that tells us more about Descartes radical egomania and selfishness than it does about reality.  Around the world people discount the pain and suffering and lives of animals in the most brutal of ways because of what they want.  I don't think their view of people and behavior toward people they don't care about escapes that depravity.   I don't think even their regard of and conduct to people they might think they love can be undamaged by that callousness.   Nor do I think the end of materialism in amoral depravity will lead anywhere else, whether that materialism is of the vulgar sort as in Trump or the sophisticated kind taught at universities.  The contented cattle on tenured faculties aren't where that depravity is most strongly demonstrated, it is in their students who go out of the university and into positions of power in the world. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Republicans Deserve Ridicule And Derision

If the cowardly Republican men want to hide behind their female staffers to conduct their inquisition of Christine Blasey Ford they are announcing that they can't be trusted to consider her evidence fairly.  Big surprise, huh?  In itself that is anything any fair person would know about why they're trying to rig the hearings even more than the unprecedented rigging of the ones they've already conducted to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Court. 

If that's the route they take they've made themselves a laughing stock and should be mocked and ridiculed for it.  

These hearings are as sham, they were from the start.  The Republicans have made a mockery of the advice and consent provisions of the Constitution.   They've done it before, which is why we have the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Education, HUD, etc. that we do.  The Republican Party is disgusting. 

Improbability Washes Away My Confidence In Random Chance As An Explanation Of Life

Just now, I can't spend time on explaining why I think the idea of molecules just wafting into each other to not only spontaneously assemble the first living organism on Earth without there being a containing membrane to concentrate molecules in a membrane which would not be the product of biology but random physical action and random chemistry is less likley than intelligent design.  But I do remember the eminent geneticist Richard Lewontin, in explaining the randomness in cellular reproduction in an organism and how that refuted the claims of genetic determinists (the predominant faith holding of such a large part of the population) explained why they were all wet.  It might not exactly answer you but it certainly lays out some of the problems of it all just happening in some kind of broth that just happened to have all of the right ingredients coming together at just the right time to spontaneously assemble in an act that was totally unprecedented outside of such a containing membrane.  My quick transposition of some of the lecture it's taken from:

What is the origin of the asymmetry of development, on the fluctuating asymmetry on the two sides of an organism when the genes are the same and the environment is the same?   You can't talk about a different environment on the left and right hand of a fruit fly [egg] which is in development no bigger than the end of a pencil suspended on the inside of a milk bottle.  I mean, it doesn't make sense.  And we know the answer to that.  The answer is that there is something which is sometimes called developmental noise, which doesn't say anything.   Which means that the actual division of cells, the timing of division of cells and the exact ordering of those divisions in a line and so on, depends upon the molecular state of the cells, internal to the cells.  But the number of molecules inside any cell of a particular kind is very small.  It's not like the chemists who tell us there are Avogadro's number of molecules in a test tube.  There are seven of these and three of these and nine of those.  They're the essential molecules that are important in the division of the cell.  They're displayed, they're disposed around the cell in different places.  They have to interact with each other and it takes time for them to come together.  They have to be in the right vibrational state and this is real quantum uncertainty.  They have to be in the right vibrational state when they meet each other.  And all of that is subject to a kind of indeterminacy from the quantum level up to the higher levels of indeterminacy. And that means that whether a cell divides at a particular moment and how often the progeny cells divide in a given period of time has a random component to it. . .

Those molecules needed to induce and conduct reproduction that are manufactured within the cell add another component to both the complexity of prediction and the probabilities of it happening in the cell at any given time.  Outside of a containing membrane, I don't know how you could account for the accumulation of either molecules found in nature or those which might have had to be manufactured by the organism managing to perform reproduction not only the first time but the second, third, fourth, etc. times.  I wonder if it would be possible to calculate such probabilities in any way.

I am sure Richard Lewontin would disagree with my conclusion that that makes it highly improbable that the materialist-atheist dogma of it all happening by random chance makes believing it was an act of intelligent choice more probable.  He is, by his own admission, a materialist-atheist by choice.  But even as much as I respect him I don't see why my conclusion isn't, actually, more reasonable.

Update:  Actually, the most incoherent sentence on this blog this week denied that Queens was a part of New York City.  And I didn't write it,  Stupy did.

Republicans Are In The Process Of Perfecting Attacks On Victims of Sexual Assault To Shut Them Up

Chuck Grassley is a total disgrace to the Senate and the Country

As many are pointing out, the Senate Judiciary Committee under Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Lindsay Graham, and the other Republican thugs in the Senate are demanding ground rules for the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford THAT ARE WORSE THAN THE ONES IN PLACE WHEN THE HATCHET JOB DONE ON ANITA HILL WAS CONDUCTED.

There was an FBI investigation, of sorts, a three day "investigation" done when Anita Hill's account of her sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas came to light and Chuck Grassley has demanded that Christine Blasey Ford's complete biography AND COMPLETE TESTIMONY are due at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning so the Republican Senators staffs can leak selected and no doubt distorted accounts of that to FOX and Sinclair and other Murdocian Republican propaganda outfits.

Joe Biden covered himself with shame during his  clumsy, less than effective conduct of the hearing when Anita Hill gave her testimony - a lot of that was certainly because he felt entirely embarrassed to be conducting a hearing on the topic of sexual harassment.  But that was twenty-seven years ago, before Brett Kavanaugh and others in the Starr inquisition of the Clintons informed even very young children about such things as oral sex and semen stains on dresses.   What Chuck Grassley is doing is an obvious set up to attack a victim of an attempted rape that would put the sleaziest rape defense lawyer in a better light.  He's giving a group of all-male Republicans a chance to destroy the victim of an attempted rape on camera without her having the protection of evidence produced from an investigation. 

In the mere days since Christine Blasey Ford bravely and responsibly put her name before the public the attacks on her by Republicans and right-wing thugs, domestic and I have no doubt, financed by foreign money, has made me think that Diane Feinstein's reluctance to forward the letter informing her of Brett Kavanaugh's attempted rape was far more justified than I thought last Sunday.  Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch and Lindsay Graham, especially, have led that troll attack on her.  They are disgusting, their good-friends in the Senate, especially their Republican colleagues should never allow them to live this down, it should color their biographies and their place in history.   The Republican women in the Senate and on the Senate Staff have to be made to own this, as well. If Collins and Murkowski had come out against Kavanaugh on the basis of what they know he will do to Roe v. Wade, this wouldn't have happened.  Every hour they don't announce they will vote against Kavanaugh they are more responsible for what their male colleagues are doing.

The Absurd Lengths To Which Collins And Likely Murkowski Are Going To Vote For A Perjurer At Least And Very Likely An Attempted Rapist

I've been a long time involuntary Susan Collins watcher and with her absurd reaction to the revelations about Brett Kavanaugh's sleazy prep-school years including his yearbook "devils triangle" allusion to exactly the kind of scenario that Christine Blasey Ford's accusation of him attempting to rape her shows that she's looking for every excuse she can think up to vote to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. 

Her ridiculous idea of having the lawyers for Ms. Ford and Kavanaugh cross examine them is a sure sign of her grasping at straws to vote for him.   I don't know if she endorsed the as ridiculous idea of having female staffers for the all-male Republican inquisitors question her to avoid the awful scenario of the likes of the sleazy old men like Grassley and Hatch and Graham lying about and vilifying her but it's clear that the Republicans are trying to mount a hit job as a Judiciary hearing on her.  

As some have pointed out if Christine Blasey Ford wanted to lie up an accusation against Kavanaugh she is unlikely to have placed a third person in the room who might side with the guy she's accusing - THAT SHE PUT A FRIEND OF KAVANAUGH IN THE ROOM IS STRONG EVIDENCE THAT SHE ISN'T LYING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED.  When you put that together with the fact that she is the only one of the three willing to risk talking to the FBI over this convinces me that she is telling exactly the truth, that Brett Kavanaugh not only tried to rape her with the collusion of his party-boy friend but that he added lies about that to his known perjury and that the Republicans, including Collins and likely Murkowski are trying to find some way to vote to put him on the court all of that sleaze and criminality.  

Susan Collins is setting herself up to be some kind of martyr to principle, it's a pantomime that she's well experienced in.  To me it's obvious as a long time Collins watcher.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How Stupid Does It Have To Get? Arguing About Whether Two Muppets Are Or Are Not Gay?

A former writer for Sesame Street has apparently decided to get some attention for himself by whipping up an argument over whether or not two imaginary characters he didn't invent but did, apparently, write for, are gay.

New life was breathed into a perennial debate this week, when a former Sesame Street writer revealed that not only did he consider beloved characters Bert and Ernie to be a gay couple, but he used his own relationship as creative inspiration.

On Sunday, Queerty published an interview with Mark Saltzman, who worked on the show in the 1980s and 90s, asking him if he thought of Bert and Ernie as a gay couple.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were," Saltzman said. "So I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple."

Saltzman was in a longterm relationship with another man when he joined the show. "That's what I had in my life, a Bert & Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate?"

And what could a pointless, whipped-up argument of this sort be without the other side joining in?  That there was ever any "debate" about that to have new life breathed into it is a symptom of how deeply immature and stupid the media has made us or has certainly not educated us out of being.

The organization behind Sesame Street quickly stepped in, reiterating its longtime stance: Bert and Ernie are just friends.

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," Sesame Workshop said. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

As both a life-long gay man and as a life-long friend of men who I have not had sexual relationships with, the most offensive thing was the term "just friends" as if that relationship,  friends,  wasn't important.

This is something even dumber than the fury that arose when J. K. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore was gay and people were angry and even denied the author, the sole inventor of Dumbledore was right about that.  Saltzman didn't invent the characters, the were already well established by the time he started writing for the show.   One of those who invented them says he's wrong.

Frank Oz, who is credited with creating Bert in 1969, as well as originally performing as the character, tweeted Tuesday, "It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of course."

In a rational world, that would be the end of it.  Fictional characters are defined by their inventors.

I saw them when my nieces and nephews used to watch the show while I was taking care of them and thought they were a puppet version of a vaudeville duo act,  Bert was the straight man, Ernie was the one who supplied the laugh lines. Their apartment was the stage set.   I haven't seen the characters since sometime before the death of the great Jim Henson so I have no idea what they are like now. I always regarded him as being the central genius to most of the Muppet troupe, though others like Frank Oz were certainly a big part of that.   I don't know, I might think it's at least as good though I doubt it would have gotten better.

I have read some pretty idiotic anger from lefties on some of the stupider lefty blogs and Twitter accounts in regard to the Children's Television Workshop saying they weren't gay.   That would, of course, have been more than matched by fury on the right if that denial hadn't been made.  That any adults in the United States or elsewhere could be spending any time on this is the only interesting thing about it.  The irrationality of adults pretending these imaginary charters are real and instilling in them their own personalities and desires, when they aren't even hired-on writers or the inventors of them, shows how potent and loony fiction can get.   How prone so many people are to that level of stupidity even as adults.  I know, I deal with that regularly from my trolls.  The arrogant play-left is as prone to it as the stupidest part of the right.

Why Scientists Have To Be Held Responsible For What They Do, Why Science Can Be More Dangerous Than Religion

Every single one of the myriad of materialist promissory notes issued in the biological sciences, cognitive and neuroscience, in theoretical physics and cosmology is proof of what I said yesterday.   The insistence is that materialism must be true because they insist materialism is true in every one of those.  It's a sort of meta-logical-fallacy, combining everything from question begging* to several fallacies involving other kinds of a priori orthodoxy instead of actual evidence and much more. And it is demanded that that be incorporated into everything science and everything other public discourse does.  And, as ideological materialism is a required article of faith for so many scientists, that kind of thing is embedded in what is considered to be science.  Scientists, especially those who reject philosophical analysis, demand that be included in scientific method.

I have said that I've generally dropped the conventional habit of putting scare quotes around the word "science" when I'm talking about obvious pseudo-science which was or is accepted as science by professional scientists but is now discontinued within science because it lets scientists and the imaginary thing which is science off the hook.

What science is is what scientists say it is at any time to the extent that there is really some thing that can be rationally talked about as "science".  It is whatever it is that scientists accept as being science.  That is as true as what the civil law, "the law"  is.  It is what judges and, under our system, the Supreme Court say it is at any time.  Only they don't claim to produce uniformly settled and eternally valid fact as science is taken as producing.  The holding that all knowledge within science is contingent, always vulnerable to further testing is a reasonable claim that is seldom actually treated as a fact.  It's certainly not the "public understanding of science".   Perhaps if Dawkins had spent more time as a chair dedicated to the understanding of science dedicated to such understanding instead of using his position to write anti-religious screeds, he might have helped change that,  Not that I ever believed he would have an interest in people understanding that.   Dawkins entire career has been spent in producing the kind of science I speak of here.

Science exists nowhere except in the minds and assertions of scientists and those who talk about science.  It is a human invention whose invention can be traced in history and in the history of science, it is a series of consensus agreements on what science is SUPPOSED to be.  That scientists often give their preferred ideas all kinds of exemptions from those supposed methods that comprise science is also a part of science and the history of science, that peer pressure and ideological pressure enter into that is also obvious from the history of science, that is the reason that formerly orthodox science is, when discredited, called "pseudo-science". 

I am through acting as if scientists who allow that are not to a large extent responsible for that situation because what gets called science has such demonstrable power to do harm.

It does quite enough harm by magnifying the power of people to put their will into effect when the science is accurate enough to do that.  When it is driven by ideology, class, gender, ethnic and national interest, financial interest, its potential doesn't only depend on its being an accurate representation of nature, it merely depends on it being believed and that belief controlling the actions of people, of governments, of courts of law.

That so many scientists. even as they shape what science is for their time, share the common prejudices of ordinary lay people, people in a majority of a society, of people whose wealth and power depend on such prejudices, confirming those as having scientific validity is one of the most dangerous forces in the modern world.  In that it serves no purpose different from the perversion of Christianity in the history of Europe but without the fact that virtually every instance of evil done by Popes and "Most Christian Majesties" etc. in history was done against the words of Jesus, of Paul, of The Law and the Prophets.   Science, being totally amoral, moral restraint being held immaterial to its conclusions by mutual consensus, has far more potential to do that than Christianity ever did, than Islam does now.

*  Question begging, begging the question, isn't demanding a question be formed, it is a bad name given for  a situation when a question incorporates the desired conclusions within it.  Where the conclusion is included in the premises of an argument.  The ideology of materialist monism within science and in the pronouncements of many prominent scientists is a massive case of question begging.  A better term for that, less prone to misunderstanding is needed.

In Refusing To Be Available For Another Republican Hatchet Job For The Cameras Christine Blasey Ford Is Doing The Responsible Thing

Susan Collins said that she wouldn't vote for Kavanaugh unless the hearings were reopened and Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Judiciary Committee.  But that's not good enough.  The repeat of the Anita Hill episode with a slightly different cast of Republican inquisitors is no better than no hearing on the topic.  Doing that next Monday without a through background investigation as the Republican's flying monkeys attack Christine Blasey Ford, intimidate her, force her and her family out of their home, and in full view of any potential corroborating witnesses who could back her up because she told them what happened when it happened is to do what was done by a few male Republican Senators to Anita Hill magnified by the Republican troll-boys of the internet.  Not to mention those financed by Putin.  

Unless Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski demand a thorough and effective investigation to go along with the show-trial that such a hearing will be, they are asking for something worse than no hearing at all.  Without such a thorough investigation, the hearing would be a sham giving Collins and Murkowski a lame excuse for voting to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. Allowing her to be subjected to what the Republicans on that committee and outside of it as providing them with cover would be an act of shame that they should never be allowed to hide behind. 

Watching the old footage of Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch lying about and attacking Anita Hill and hearing Hatch and other Republicans on the putrid Judciary Committee, more putrid under Chuck Grassley than it was under the better but disgustingly cowardly Joe Biden, I not only think that Christine Blasey Ford's requirement that the FBI conduct an investigation, interview witnesses, into Brett Kavanaugh's assault and attempted rape of her is not only reasonable as self-defense, it is among the best possible protections of the nominations process.  Given what the hearing turned into those decades ago, allowing the Republicans to turn it into a "he-said-she-said" spectacle in which Republicans would be free to life about and attack and speculate on everything they have been, allowing them to do that would be worse than no hearing at all.   And don't forget that they'll have FOX and the FOX-lite of CNN's "balanced" amplification of every one of the lies told, media amplification of the attack was certainly part of what they did to Anita Hill.

It is glaringly obvious from the conduct of these hearings, as it was the Republicans' conduct at the public grilling of Anita Hill all those years ago, that they don't want their nominees to be fully tested before they are put on the Supreme Court to cast the entirely predictable votes that they're being put there to cast.  They want to install someone who will vote Republican-corporatist, the more shamelessly Republican-corporatist, with racist and sexist thrown in to satisfy those factions of the party, the better.  Brett Kavanaugh is nothing other than shameless about filling their order.

Hatch, Grassley and the entire Republican membership of that committee, the entire Republican caucus in the Senate don't care if they're putting a liar, a perjurer, a partisan hack who has no shame about changing his most basic opinions depending on which party holds power, they're certainly indifferent as to whether their nominated legal goon is someone who tried to rape at least one girl when he was in high school.   They maintain a president in the White House who has bragged, on tape, about assaulting women, who has no respect for women, who is a 72 year old version of a pre-fratboy prep-school creep.

What Christine Blasey Ford and her attorney are demanding as a condition for her testimony is thoroughly responsible, and not just for her and her families safety, for the very existence of democracy in the United States.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Kavanaugh's Supporters Would Nail Him To The Wall If He Were A 17-year-old Girl Accused Of Shoplifting A Candy Bar

Kavanaugh Wants The Privilege Of Being On The Supreme Court, He Isn't At Risk Of Losing His Liberty Or Being Convicted Of A Crime, There Is No Reason To Judge The Attempted Rape Accusation Against Him According To The Standards Supposedly Required To Convict. 

I wish I knew more about the law, about the history of the application of the law and specifically what the record of Brett Kavanaugh in practicing and applying the law in regard to the presumption of innocence is because it is one of my strongest, one of my most absolute positions in life that those with the power to apply the law to powerless people to deprive them of their liberties, their property, their future, to put them in prison or deprive them of justice MUST BE JUDGED BY THE STANDARDS THEY HAVE ADVOCATED AND PRACTICED FROM POSITIONS OF POWER.

Nixon ran for office as a champion of law and order, as did Reagan, they ran what have been, to date, the most criminal of modern presidencies.  Trumps will almost certainly surpass both of them in criminality.  Nixon was granted a pardon before he was even indicted for a crime, he was given a privilege that he and the Republicans and the courts would never have given some poor 17-year old girl accused of a minor violation of laws against shoplifting.

The Republicans who will vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the court certainly include those who would nail a 17-year-old girl who was accused of shoplifting of negligible value, I have every confidence that Judge Kavanaugh is closer to their standard of justice for 17-year-old girls accused of a minor crime.  I wouldn't be surprised if those who were prosecutors or judges among them hadn't screwed poor 17-year-olds in ways they never would a privileged 17+36-year-old boy.  They would certainly never let the 17-year-old girl get away with purjury or even implausible, convenient lapses of memory.

When the hearings resume on Monday they will demand that the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, accused of an attempted rape for which he cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has passed, must be granted the highest standard of the presumption of innocence which Republican conservatives never, ever give to powerless people accused of petty crimes.

The claim that they must judge the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh according to the strictest of standards to obtain a fair and valid criminal conviction is a lie.  Brett Kavanaugh isn't at risk of losing his liberty, his property, his future, his freedom in this matter, he's in danger of losing the privilege of being a member of the Supreme Court.  There is no reason to judge him on the standards that must be applied when it is a question of convicting someone of a crime.  It would be irresponsible to pretend to do that.  It's certain that the Republicans will be looking to nail his accuser to the wall just like they did Anita Hill.  They've already given Kavanaugh royal treatment in ignoring his obvious perjury.

The Unrealistic Claims Of Knowledge Reason and Objectivity In The Face of The Inevitability of Belief And Subjective Choice

The distinction made between belief and knowledge is largely an artificial one, as is the distinction made between imagination and reason.   It first became clear in my mind that those are largely artificial distinctions through reading the early and eminent computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum who pointed out that literally every aspect of human thinking that could be articulated as knowledge had its origin in acts of belief, the choice to believe things.  That belief starts in early childhood as the child chooses to believe what they see and later, what they hear and who knows when they choose to believe what is their wider experience.  I have come to understand that the all of that belief requires acts of imagination, of creating ideas for testing and that the very act of reason was an act of imagination.  Mathematics depends on considering discrete objects in combination, measuring things according to standards that exist nowhere in nature but only within human imagination, when those measurements are standardized, in the consensus of many imaginations who choose to accept the standard of measure.  Many Americans refuse to choose to accept the standard of measure thought up as the metric system, one consequence, I'm convinced of that is that the clumsy English system makes it harder for Americans to understand a range of things.

I think one of the consequences of failing to acknowledge reality about the artificial distinctions between belief and knowledge, imagination and reason is that some of those who love to believe their thinking is done within a framing that guarantees that it produces the most ridiculous of all of those types of distinctions, objective as opposed to subjective knowledge.   The proud belief of so many "skeptics" "realists" really atheists of the materialist and scientistic type that they have left behind inferior modes of thought based in belief and imagination and subjectivity is an illusion.  That illusion can be a product of training in the STEM subjects but I think its presence among so many who are demonstrably ignorant of those topics first hand, who could't balance a simple linear equation requiring a modest level of sophistication shows that it can be adopted out of ignorance for other reasons.  That's the kind of Team Science fandom among those who are about as accomplished in science as most always out of shape, never could have made the team football fans or basketball star fantasists.  Clearly, their faith in their side is not based in knowledge, it isn't based in reason, it's not objective, it's a choice on the basis of imagined certainty that is't known to them, it is chosen out of subjective preference.

Something similar can be present in even very accomplished scientists who have what is always and inevitably a very partial knowledge of the vast field which comprises even any individual science.  The necessity of belief in science goes from everything from a belief that other scientists have done the rigorous work to make what they claim reliable - no one can do or replicate all of that rigorous work to convince themselves of that reliability by empirical experience.  It can't even meet the non-empirical standard of pure reason in mathematics.  I once asked one of the most accomplished mathematicians I've ever known, who specialized in pure mathematics what they thought about Andrew Weil's proof of Fermat's famous Last Theorem, she said that since her area of specialty was in a very different branch of mathematics she knew as little about it as most people.  I realized later at least she knew enough to be able to locate the branch of mathematics that she'd need to know in order to understand it.

I think when you put all of that into the framing of materialist monism, the actual faith of most of the sci-based materialist atheists,  it produces a kind of faith that can be extremely deceptive and is susceptible to a denied subjective self delusion of reliability apart from any empirical observation,  That can be disastrous.   It is also capable of getting wannabee sci-rangers to support it for entirely non-scientific reasons divorced from any actual desire to have an accurate idea of nature.

Since engaging skeptically with the ideology of atheism I've encountered explicit or unstated, maybe even unconscious insistence that something which is totally unfounded in observation MUST BE TRUE because materialism was the actual nature of reality, that something MUST BE THERE or COULDN'T BE THERE because of nothing but their preferred framing that they insist must be used to consider experience and thought and which mandates a whole series of beliefs and acts of imagination that they insist must be knowledge because it is a product of and a support of their preferred framing.  I think multiverse theory is the quintessential current example of that in cosmology and physics, natural selection is the perpetual one on biology and I think the accusation that they are primarily a product of extra-scientific desires, especially for the promotion of materialist-scientistic atheism is entirely supported by the very claims and statements of those who invented those and who maintain them.  They are inevitably a product of human imagination instead of empirical observation of nature, any scientific conclusion that is based in statistics and probability is inevitably the product of imagination, many of the most involved methods of statistical analysis actually include more impacts of imagination.   All of the acts of imagination and choice and preference that are part of data collection, all of the decisions to throw out "outliers" etc. the choices of how to do the data collection and the range of what is considered will be part of any product of the process involved.  It is easier to come to what can be practically considered to constitute absolute certainty in much of history than it is in many of what are considered to be the exact sciences, it is seldom achievable in the "soft" sciences.  There is no science that is "softer" than natural selection which is an ideological framing which cannot be tested in nature to do what it is claimed it does, produce new species.  The existence of different, closely related species is claimed to prove natural selection is what produced them when there is no observation to support the claim that that is what produced the differences.

The nature of those sciences as the product of imagination combined with the illusion of them being within the framing of objective knowledge has had the effect of sometimes producing some of the most undisciplined and fantastic of claims which are then claimed to have scientific validity.  That claimed validity is often explicitly or implicitly stated,  because "it must be so" or "it's more Darwinistic" or, most revealing of its origins in ideological preference, that it's more supportive of atheism or more vulnerable to religious implication or, especially when it's Darwinism, that it's more in line with what Darwin said 160 years ago,  is a certain sign of its actual character.

Multiverse theory has a shorter history of use in ideological warfare and has a smaller faith community within the relevant sciences than natural selection has built up over the last hundred sixty years and whatever else can be said against multiverse theory, it doesn't support class inequality, scientific racism and the economic interests of the upper and upper middle class, so people don't generally encounter the irrational anger at its questioning that is almost inevitable when someone gets from the educated population when they express doubts about the reality of natural selection.  That polemical use of natural selection even among those who have full faith in its reality has also been a constant feature of the history of the idea.  In the post-war period, especially in the Sociobiology wars starting in the mid 1970s that war among atheist-Darwinists against others has reached the angry fury of rival sects of Baptists or Marxists or American or, perhaps even British football fans.  Daniel Dennett, mentioned yesterday, can get really ridiculous when his anger is against his fellow atheists and Darwinists and materialists, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin and Noam Chomsky.  It's not uncommon, like Communists or members of closely related fundamentalist sects, to aim their angriest fury against their nearest rivals.  Natural selection doesn't seem to work in that divergence of species.  Fitness of the ideas have nothing to do with it.  I suspect that if it were able to study that history within just biology it would not turn out that the people with the most careful observation of nature and most rigorous methodology and reason do not necessarily win out in the short run.  As we watch evo-psy get scrapped, which I fully believe it will be, we should consider that biological inheritance is a really bad framing for understanding that phenomenon. It's more like fashion and fandom than knowledge and reason.  And "memes".  Really "memes".

Monday, September 17, 2018

Debussy - Masques

Lazare Levy, piano

I come back to listen to this 1929 performance once in a while because since I first heard it about a decade ago it seems to me to be the single greatest example of Debussy playing I've ever heard.  I thought so the first time I heard it, I have thought so every single time since then.  It is an incredibly powerful example of sustained concentration, I doubt that lapses for a single note.  Lazare Levy was among the greatest technicians but also one of the greatest interpreters of the composer's intentions.  That's always an act of imagination, in the best cases of being able to get inside the composers' mind and soul by way of their instructions on how to play what they composed.  For me, this is among the greatest examples of that.

Susan Collins The Fix Is In

I have talked to a couple of other Maine residents who also have had the same experience, when they called Susan Collins' office to express their opposition to Brett Kavanaugh's nomination they didn't ask for their names and residence as they normally do.  One also said that when she tried to give it they wouldn't take it. 

There is some scheme behind this and it's most likely to give Susan an excuse for voting for Kavanaugh.   She is part of the problem, when they say "the fix is in" she's all-in with the fix.  

On The Claim That "Only Creationists Use The Word "Darwinism" Updated And Old Whine Served In New Skin

A certain sign that someone is a Republican-fascist scumbag is that they will always use the word "Democrat" as an adjective, Megan Kelly did it this morning while throwing dirt on Christine Blasey Ford.

A certain sign someone is an atheist-materialist ideologue is when they can't deal with the fact that someone can believe in evolution while rejecting Darwinism.

The most extreme form of that online is the accusation I once traced back to the semi-pro "skeptic" "Orac" that claims only creationists use the word "Darwinism".  I had a lot of fun throwing a half-dozen or more citations of orthodox Darwinists from Thomas Huxley down to the then star of atheist-"skepticism" Richard Dawkins at him, not that it made a dent in his claims at the time.

You don't know step one of the issue, kid.  Try doing what your side NEVER does, read something substantial instead of blog-based bull-shit,

Let me really blow your little mind and point out someone can believe in evolution and also believe in intelligent-design.  I also once had a bit of fun throwing out the fact that the eminent geneticist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Jerry Coyne's scientific grandfather, in a manner of speaking, pointed out he was not only a full believer in evolution, he also believed in intelligent design, only he called it "creationism".  

"I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way."

From: Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution

Update:  I wrote most of the above a while back but didn't publish it, it was one of the more consistent lines of the atheist-troll boys, though less as the oracular wisdom of "Orac" seems to be fading.  Sic transit gloria interrete.  What brought it to mind was my reading of this article on the relationship of Ludwig Boltzmann and Charles Darwin when it came up in my fact checking for a post yesterday.  Apparently Boltzmann was a huge fan of Charles Darwin, he is quoted as saying:

“If you ask me about my innermost conviction whether our century will be called the century of iron or the century of steam or electricity, I answer without hesitation: it will be called the century of the mechanical view of nature, the century of Darwin.”

The article also makes this claim:

Yet Boltzmann was more than just a cheerleader of Darwin’s. He understood evolutionary theory more deeply than most in that era, and recognized the full implications of its core ideas. Specifically, he grasped how evolution and the physics of heat both relied on understanding history, and how small changes accumulate over time. In the 19th century, these ideas were so revolutionary as to be considered heretical to many.

I am hardly a deep student of the thinking of Ludwig Boltzmann but apparently, from what I'm reading, Boltzmann's adoration of Darwin was due to his Haeckelean interpretation of natural selection as supporting a mechanistic, materialist-monist view of reality, also very 19th century.

He, apparently, though I have not read deeply of it, tried to use Darwinism to explain purely physical entities which were not and never had been living.  I might get round to doing the research necessary, if not, maybe someone else will.   What that reminded me of was a well known quote from Dobzhansky which points out the extremely obvious fact that natural selection depends on the physical reproduction of the relevant "thing" that selection is, then, supposed to act on.

Dr. Schramm's introduction gives me an opening for making a few remarks on my own.  Natural selection is sometimes described as a mechanism capable of realizing the highest degree of improbability, as Dr. Schramm has quite correctly pointed out.  I would like, however, to express the belief that the words "natural selection" must be used carefully.  Dr. Schramm has so used them.  In reading some other literature on the origin of life, I am afraid that not all authors have used the term carefully. 

Natural selection is differential reproduction, organism perpetuation. In order to have natural selection, you have to have self-reproduction or self-replication and at least two distinct self-replicating units or entities. 

Now, I realize that when you speak of origin of life, you wish to discuss the probable embryonic stages, so to speak, of natural selection. What these embryonic stages will be is for you to decide. 

I would like to plead with you, simply, please realize you cannot use the words ‘natural selection’ loosely. Prebiological natural selection is a contradiction of terms.

Needless to say, it is one of the peculiar qualities of living organisms that, unlike non-living objects, they reproduce.  "Prebiological" entities include everything that isn't a living organism.  Organisms make use of non-reproducing molecules but those molecules don't reproduce without the cellular chemistry and whatever else is present in the living organism that allows reproduction, which a Darwinist will try to impose natural selection on.  Many of the schemes of abiogenesis try to come up with ways to do that "prebiologically" and irrationally. A hard case will try to go farther than that and try to push it outside of biology altogether into physics.

I have read that in Boltzmann's last years, before his theory became established, that his opponents in physics could make recourse to philosophical arguments that Boltzmann was not equipped to answer.  He apparently became desperate enough to attempt to remedy that deficiency in his background to equip himself to defend his theory on that ground, eventually resorting to that same dismissal of the validity of philosophical methods to evaluate scientific ideas that I wrote about the other day.   Maybe if he were able to apply philosophy to natural selection in a more critical manner, he might have understood that. If that failure had anything to do with his suicide, as some have blamed it on his opponents, I don't know. I have read that Boltzmann couldn't adapt himself to the new physics that was developing in his last years, even as Max Planck and Albert Einstein highly valued his work, in his last work he totally ignored them.  I don't know if he could have adapted to the non-mechanical view of physics that came in with them.  Some said he was determined to remain rooted in the 19th century.

Such an irrational use of Darwinism, natural selection, apart from biological reproduction is hardly unique.  Daniel Dennett is among the most notable current  examples of an atheist ideologue who has made that kind of use of it in the most lavishly expansive of ways [See his Darwin's Dangerous Idea].  And Dennett has made a living as a professional philosopher!

Though I can't find the source right now but I did read someone slamming Boltzmann for making recourse to Lamarckian arguments in his promotion of Darwinism.  In this case Boltzmann was the one who was correct because, despite what we were all taught as part of our indoctrination in post-war neo-Darwinism, Charles Darwin was a firm believer in the inheritance of acquired characteristics.  He even came up with a proposed mechanism for that.  Though I think it's impossible to hold that belief and believe in a hard form of natural selection.

Where Those "Others" Got The Idea For What They Said And What They Got Other "Others" To Do

In the collection of essays by scholars of American racism, the great scholar Mary Frances Berry gave a definite indictment of the place of Darwinism, which, in the end, means natural selection, in American racist law and policy.  She correctly notes that its use in the United States was by "others" though on each of the points she makes I can give you quotes from Darwin which could have directly inspired those others to use his theory in the way they did.  And if not him then his most intimate of scientific colleagues whose work he endorsed and championed.  And I have done so, here.

After noting the importance and damage to black people done by stage and movie representations of them, of presenting them as stupid, inferior people due to their biological heritage, she acknowledge that in so far as the exercise of power and lawmaking, science did the same but in a far worse and more potent form.

The uses to which scientific theory was put in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to worse results for blacks than those achieved by the playwrights.  When Darwin used a subtitle "The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life" for his The Origin of Species in 1859, he was not referring to human beings, but that did not prevent others from using his theories for different purposes.  

I will break in here to note that though he didn't do so in 1859, he was using his theory to make such claims and to support even the most blatantly racist and even genocidal claims made by others on his behalf beginning within the first years, if not months after the publication of his book.  I have noted that as early as 1865, in the very months after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued that Thomas Huxley was encouraging people to expect that, now that they had been transferred from property to people, white people could be expected to destroy the former slaves in a battle of "brains and not bites".  I have encountered no place in which Darwin corrected his "bulldog" for having said things like that.  I doubt he would have have as he endorsed Ernst Haeckel saying far worse three years after that and went on to write it, himself in The Descent of Man in 1871*.  Those "others" were completely orthodox Darwinists.   With Darwinists, it's not uncommon for them to have a list of those to be eliminated, though there is generally a bit of difference in who is on that list.  One enduring feature is the elimination of the underclass of their own ethnic or racial group, the disabled are the most universally present member of the to eliminate list of Darwinists.

If only the fittest animals survived in evolution, then of course the less fit, inferior human beings, such as blacks, would lose out in the evolutionary competition.  By 1915 the reform economist John Commons could seriously assert:  "Race differences are established in the very blood and physical constitution.  They are most difficult to eradicate, and they yield only to the slow processes of the centuries."  In the meantime, while these race differences existed, they provided a convenient rationale for colonial expansion.  

Scientific theories of race differences and superiority among huan beings provided fertile ground for the flourishing of imperialist ideas in the United States. America's imperialistic ventures could be rationalized in terms of ersatz Darwinism,  but the ventures could in turn rationalize the  oppression of blacks in this country.   The United States purchased Alaska in 1867 and tried unsuccessfully to annex Santo Domingo in the 1870s.  The Europeans provided additional encouragement by their rapid colonization of Africa, completed by the partitioning of the continent in 1884.  Their example inspired historian John Fiske's lecture on Manifest Destiny published in 1885 and Protestant clergyman Josiah Strong's book of the same year in which he asserted that the "Anglo-Saxon race" was destined to "spread itself all over the earth" and the result, of course, would be the "survival of the fittest" in competition with the indigenous weaker races.  

Repression of Blacks in the South 1890-1845: Enforcing the System of Segregation

I have pointed out that Darwin, in his too little known 1878 letter to G. A. Gaskell essentially endorsed the idea Josiah Strong advanced.

With respect to your third law, I do not know whether you have read an article (I forget when published) by F. Galton, in which he proposes certificates of health, etc., for marriage, and that the best should be matched.

I have lately been led to reflect a little (for now that I am growing old, my work has become merely special) on the artificial checks to increase, and I cannot but doubt greatly, whether such would be advantageous to the world at large at present, however it may be in the distant future.

Suppose that such checks had been in action during the last two or three centuries, or even for a shorter time in Britain, what a difference it would have made in the world, when we consider America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa ! No words can exaggerate the importance, in my opinion, of our colonization for the future history of the world.

The often made claim that Nazism was an isolated species of racism is a huge lie. It was the most extreme instance of a species of scientific racism which had been in existence for many decades by 1939.  One of the reasons it is presented and seen as a completely different thing is that most of its victims were white Europeans.  But it was founded on and inspired by the subjugation and genocide against non-white, non-European People.  Hitler was especially inspired by the genocide against the inhabitants of the Americas, as was Ernst Haeckel directly based on the theory of natural selection and as Darwin implied more circumspectly in The Descent of Man. 

It was a direct result of the scientific racism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which was largely revitalized and strengthened by the theory of natural selection.  Perfectly respected, and at times for other reasons respectable, men and some women of science were coming to the same conclusions that Hitler and Hess and others did from making racism scientific.

While Mary Frances Berry is absolutely and powerfully correct in asserting what is important is the use that "others" made of the theory of natural selection, which has, throughout its history, 19th, early 20th, centuries, pre and post-WWII, especially now in the resurgent period of racism powered by Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology and billionaires here and in the country dominated by Putin, natural selection always will and can always be expected to support scientific racism, the subjugation and oppression and deaths of people deemed by those with power and resources and control of academia and science, probably most powerfully, those in control of the media,  as inferior.

While I have no problem with coming up with the citations to prove that what those "others" asserted and did was exactly in line with what Darwin said, even if he hadn't provided those letters, scientific writings, etc. to show that was his thinking, what became and still is important is what others do with the theory.  And it is always and inevitably going to lead to the same results it has in the past.  That would be the demonstrated character of the theory of natural selection even if Darwin had never provided those statements.  As can be seen in the section of the book that Josiah Strong made that statement from, he cited Darwin, from The Descent of Man as the reason he had such faith in his racism.

Mr. Darwin is not only disposed to see, in the superior vigor of our people, an illustration of his favorite theory of natural selection, but even intimates that the world's history thus far has been simply preparatory for our future, and tributary to it. He says:* "There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection; for the more energetic, restless, and courageous men from all parts of Europe have emigrated during the last ten or twelve generations to that great country, and have there succeeded best. Looking at the distant future, I do not think that the Rev. Mr. Zincke takes an exaggerated view when he says: 'All other series of events--as that which resulted in the culture of mind in Greece, and that which resulted in the Empire of Rome--only appear to have purpose and value when viewed in connection with, or rather as subsidiary to, the great stream of Anglo-Saxon emigration to the West.'"

There is abundant reason to believe that the AngloSaxon race is to be, is, indeed, already becoming, more effective here than in the mother country. The marked superiority of this race is due, in large measure, to its highly mixed origin. Says Rawlinson:*"It is a general rule, now almost universally admitted by ethnologists, that the mixed races of mankind are superior to the pure ones"; and adds: "Even the Jews, who are so often cited as an example of a race at once pure and strong, may, with more reason, be adduced on the opposite side of the argument." The ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans, were all mixed races. Among modern races, the most conspicuous example is afforded by the Anglo-Saxons. . .

Lest you be tempted to see that last part as some endorsement of racial equality, I, somehow, don't think that Strong would suspect that the mixing of "Anglo-Saxon" and African races or would admit to the powerful culture of mestizaje in the same way as he did the close-cousin marriage that produced the "Anglo-Saxons".  I never saw Darwin or any of his followers favoring that kind of  beneficial "race mixing".   He did say, in The Descent of Man,  "the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world". I'm sure Strong must have read that.

*  In studying Darwin's writing, in studying his life and that of his milieu, one thing that you can never discount or forget is the extent to which his family pride, his snobbery, his very British determination to carry on in the Darwin-Wedgewood family tradition marks everything he does.  I don't doubt that his cousin, Francis Galton knew that when he used in the most flattering way, their shared family heritage in writing his first major book on eugenics, Hereditary Genius.  He wanted Charles Darwin's further endorsement for eugenics and he knew his softest spot.  Not that he ever had much to worry about as Darwin had already endorsed his earliest articles on the subject.

Darwin's scientific racism, so floridly expressed when it was people from the Pacific Islands, the Australian region and the end of South America was somewhat muted, first hand, when it came to those of African ancestry because there was something of a family tradition of anti-slavery among the Darwin-Wedgewoods.  Though, as can be seen in him mentioning "South Africa" in the Gaskell letter and, especially, in his endorsement of even the most genocidally racist science of his colleagues, he was able to fudge that when it came to his theory.   Ever the snob, I have read that all it took was a visit from Gladstone to get Darwin to mute his rather vicious and scientifically expressed hatred of the Irish in so far as he favored home-rule after Gladstone visited him at Down.  Emma Darwin, though, on her husband's death, reverted to opposing home-rule after that.

Will Susan Collins Find Some Transparently Phony Excuse To Vote For Kavanaugh As She Did The Billionaire Tax Giveaway

I have heard from several people that when they have tried to contact Susan Collins' office to express their displeasure with putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court that the office staffers taking the calls not only didn't, as is normal, take their name and address so they could show they were Collins' constituents, when two of them tried to give that information they refused to take it.  The only reason I can think of for that is to provide Susan Collins with the ability to lie about having no constituent opposition expressed to her, or to downplay that opposition which is certainly coming in.   On top of that, Collins is trying to find a way to make the way that the allegation was handled the issue, claiming that it's all the Democrats' fault when, as has been pointed out, in a normal nominations process hearings wouldn't have even started yet.  Clearly Collins is trying her hardest to put Kavanaugh on the court, every bit as much as Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley who have conducted a campaign to hijack the federal courts and the Supreme Court for Republican control, especially their campaign to nullify the election of Brack Obama in that regard.  Turning the first Black president into a second-class president.

Susan Collins has always been first and foremost for Susan Collins and second for her right-wing Republican Party no matter how awful it is.  At heart, she is no different from so many of the Republicans I know who would vote for anyone with an R after their name and who do so largely because they really do hate Democrats.  There are lots of those in Maine, I've known people who voted for Republicans even as the very Republicans they voted for had done and were doing things that harmed them.  It's a form of inherited mental illness here.

I don't know what Susan Collins will end up doing now that Christine Blasey Ford,  the woman who says Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her,  has come forward.  Ms. Ford will, certainly, be the subject of a discrediting campaign at least as vicious as the one Anita Hill was subjected to when she, likewise, was compelled to identify herself.  She will certainly be attacked in ways that Brett Kavanaugh's co-accused will not be, that is even as it is revealed has admitted he was a "blackout drunk" during that very period so any claimed exoneration of Kavanaugh on the basis of his memory is pretty well nil.  It's quite possible that of the three who were in the room, she is the only one whose memory of it is credible.

I still believe that Grassley was able to pull out a far-fetched letter because it was preplanned.  That is, of course, the letter signed by 65 women who allege they were good friends with Kavanaugh as he attended an all-boys highschool and who knew him well enough to say he would never have done what he's accused of.  Of course unless any of them were there, they have no idea.  I don't believe the claims of how the letter was put together and the signatures assembled, I think it was pre-planned because there is more than one potential incident for them to have pulled it out over.  I think that this, like his two-day non-answering of Senator Harris about whether or not he spoke to members of Trumps law firm, Kavanaugh has people to think about who he doesn't ever want us to know about.

Susan Collins has been trying to find every way she can to vote for Kavanaugh, even doing her Susan the Sucker routine as she did to be able to vote for the billionaire tax bonanza bill on the transparently worthless grantees given to her by Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump that she would be able to cast a meaningless vote in the Senate for a bill to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, one which was guaranteed to be meaningless because the House under Paul Ryan wouldn't vote for it and he, as McConnell, in the end, didn't even bring to the floor. 

As I said, if there's one good thing that has come out of this it is that the final veil seems to have been pulled away and a lot of people who were in denial of what Susan Collins is aren't denying it anymore.  If that means that she will lose her last election as the legendary Margaret Chase Smith did, it's high time.  And that legend is largely legend. People don't remember that one of the reasons Chase Smith lost was because of speeches and a question and answer session at a Maine college in which she not only said some extremely alarming things about using nuclear weapons, it became apparent she didn't know basic issues involving the very Senate Committee she was a member of.  Back then when Democrats had a lock on control of the Congress, that wasn't as seriously dangerous as it is now.  With Susan Collins, getting her out of the Senate and into retirement is far more urgent. 

If Susan Collins votes for Kavanaugh, there is a quid to go along with that quo. I wouldn't rule anything out, at this point.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Another Response

There is no reasonable case to be made that Sean Carroll isn't primarily an ideologue engaged in polemics, not science, today.   If you bothered to go to the linked-to review on his blog you could see that above the picture of Boltzmann's equation on Boltzmann's gravestone is the motto

in truth, only atoms and the void

which is an ideological statement, not something that can be demonstrated by scientific method or rigorous logical argument.  It's an atheist-materialist motto.  Carroll is old for a theoretical physicist, it's not uncommon for them to take up a career in pro or semi-pro atheism after they see their quest for making legendary discoveries fading into the past.  That's almost as common as old Marxists who take the baby step into right-wing and far more profitable demagoguery.   I would imagine Carroll, like Coyne, Krauss and Christopher Hitchens  became far more famous as atheist hacks then they ever were in their legit careers.   Carl Sagan was an atheist hack with a slogan, as well, but his media celebrity was more through his pop-science than through his CSICOP involvement.  I was originally fascinated by him but only for as long as he spoke within his professional competence, astrophysics.  As soon as he left that, he was an annoying hack.  I've never found the others listed fascinating.