Saturday, June 3, 2017

Anyone at Duncan's Daycare For The Dotty In Their Dotage who believes anything Simps says without fact checking it is too stupid for me to care about their opinion of me.  They make the old saying about everyone having one of those too and most of them stinking verified fact. 

Update: Simels simpers sorely alleging alliteration unlaughable and huffs-off humorlessly, harrumphing "That's not funny!" 

Second Feature - Wet Saturday

Charles Laughton and Hans Conried are the only two actors identified.  Charles Laughton was such a great actor.

Update:  Dennis Hoey was one of the other actors.  Looking for the rest of the cast, I found this source of more information about this and other radio productions of the play, which was based on a short story by John Collier.

Saturday Night Radio Drama - George Bernard Shaw - Candida (as revised for radio)

George Bernard Shaw's play as broadcast on ABC Radio, 6 May 1951, with Katharine Cornell (OBC), Wesley Addy, Alfred Ryder, Brenda Forbes, Malcolm Keane & Oliver Cliff.

I have been trying to decide whether or not to post this for the past week.  Since reading a lot of Shaw's political-economic-social writing I have come to absolutely despise him and don't find his comedy to be funny.  

But it is interesting as one of, reportedly, two or possibly three examples of the acting of the legendary American stage actress Katherine Cornell that was recorded, another was also a radio play, Florence Nightingale, which I can't find.  As it says in the introduction Cornell absolutely refused to appear in movies - probably wise if artistic quality was her goal but which, of course, leaves not much but descriptions of her art- a stand she relaxed only once, when she appeared as herself in Stage Door Canteen.  I'd only heard her voice in the recording of some of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnets and an excerpt from her signature role in The Barretts of Wimpole Street.  You can hear those on Youtube.  It's an acting style that sounds old fashioned to me but Shaw endorsed her as being the ideal Candida so who am I to second guess him? 

I'm posting this as a document of Cornell's acting.  You can take whatever you want to from it.  Shaw was a total pig and a proto-fascist if not Nazi and one of the most repulsive of the many repulsive British Fabians.   Speaking of that,  I can only guess what Shaw would have said about the propaganda for the sponsors of the show, U.S. Steel.  He died the year before this was produced.  

Hate Mail

What can I say?  I read fast. 

The Difference That Biological Determinism Can Make In Turning Depravity Into Contemplations of Genocide

It occurs to me that there is something interesting to be learned from Carlyle's infamous option for the Irish between reformation and extermination.   Actually, more than one thing.  The argument is to be found in the fourth chapter of the pamphlets he published as "Chartism" .

The whole thing is so depraved - though couched in assertions of morality and virtue - it's hard to know where to start but here:

But the thing we had to state here was our inference from that mournful fact that the third Sanspotatoe [Caryle's clever term of invective for the destitute Irish, without so much as a potato], - coupled with this other well-known fact that the Irish speak a partially intelligible dialect of English, and their fare across by steam [to England] is four-pence sterling!  Crowds of miserable Irish darken all our towns.  The wild Milesian [Spanish, certainly associated in his and his presumed audiences' mind with Spain's proximity to Africa and the presumed origin of the Irish people.] features, looking false ingenuity, restlessness, unreason, misery and mockery, salute you on all highways and byways.  The English coachman, as he whirls past lashes the Milesian with his whip, curses him with his tongue;   the Milesian is holding out his hat to beg.  He is the sorest evil this country has to strive with.  In his rags and laughing savagery,  he is there to undertake all work that can be done by mere strength of hand and back; for wages that will purchase him potatoes.  He needs only salt for condiment;  he lodges to his mind in any pighutch or dog hutch, roosts in outhouses;  and wears a suit of tatters, the getting of and on of which is said to be a difficult operation,  transacted only in festivals and the hightides of the calendar.  The Saxon man if he cannot work on these terms, finds no work.  He too may be ignorant;  but he has not sunk from decent manhood to squalid apehood:  he cannot continue there.  American forests lie untilled across the ocean;  the uncivilized Irishman, not by his strength but by the opposite of strength, drives out the Saxon native, takes possession in his room.  There abides he, in his squalor and unreason, in his falsity and drunken violence, as the ready-made nucleus of degradation and disorder....

Carlyle's mountain of abuse and bigotry goes on before the next paragraph containing the money quote, which I've underlined:

.... And yet these poor Celtiberian Irish brothers, what can they help it?   They cannot stay at home, and starve.  It is just and natural that they come hither as a curse to us.  Alas, for them too it is not a luxury. [Ya think?]  It is not a straight or joyful way of avenging their sore wrongs this;  but a most sad circuitous one.   Yet a way it is, and an effectual way.  The time has come when the Irish population must be improved a little, or else exterminated.  Plausible management, adapted to this hollow outcry or to that,  will no longer do;  it must be management grounded on sincerity and fact, to which the truth of things will respond – by an actual beginning of improvement to these wretched brother-men.  In a state of perennial ultra-savage famine, in the midst of civilization, they cannot continue.  For that the Saxon British will ever submit to sink along with them to such a state, we assume as impossible. *

Carlyle's call for reform or extermination of the Irish, in the period just before the famine of the 1840s numbering between 8 and 9 million, was a call for the national preservation of the "Saxons" the English from the Irish among them even if by extermination.  However, his calling for that in 1839 contemplated an alternative of improvement of the Irish (if only possibly "a little") as an alternative to their extinction through a struggle for existence, which is the term he put it in for his British audience.

That possibility of even minimal improvement of "the Irish race" rescuing their worthiness to live, was something that was extinguished from the most advanced and scientific of thought by the claims of natural selection which identified such dysgenic traits as the British intellectuals were already prone to attributing to other "races" and the poor would largely disappear in the rise of the doctrine of natural selection and its biologically deterministic features.   And, as I've noted before, Darwin did, actually, attribute such innate biological depravity to the Irish, quoting W. R. Greg in a milder, in-short assertion otherwise identical to Caryle's.

Caryle's third chapter on the New Poor Law is a study in lavishly self-satisfied contemplation of the hellishly harshest treatment of the poor in the infamous work houses, including their elimination and putting in terms of their own good and improvement.  It shouldn't be forgotten as you read it that this was what Darwin, twenty-two years later would bemoan as a dangerous indulgence which would keep too many poor people alive until they could have children who, might, also, somehow, survive the horrors of the work house and New Poor Law to have a third generation which they would have to starve and work to death.   Such narrow escapes from that condition were, in reality, what provided the "downstairs" personae dramatis of such clap trap as provides many with their information on this period.   As Marilynne Robinson has pointed out, in language sometimes less extravagant and colorful and, often, presented as cold, scientific fact, such thinking pervades British social thought, even philanthropy.

That really is the basis of so much of that Victorian era British opulence which you will see on PBS, imported here from BBC stately mansions pageantry and costume drama.

Of course, under British occupation, Ireland had many work houses as horrific as any in Britain.  One of those was the focus of a world-wide story claiming that nuns had thrown the bodies of babies into a septic tank. Though, in reality, the story was more an echo of Carlyle than it was founded on fact. Far more people died far longer under the British work house system than American's brought up on TV would ever possibly imagine.  Though they don't seem to have any problem imagining Catholic nuns doing so.

* I don't think it would be too taxing of the imagination of anyone who had read or seen Nazi propaganda to imagine every reference to the Irish replaced by almost identical attributes and arguments made about Jews and other ethnic groups targeted by the Nazis.

Don't Exaggerate What I Said, While His Was A Major Role In Producing Nazism, Darwin Wasn't Solely Responsible

I never said that Darwin had sole responsibility for producing the Nazi's genocides, I noted that the Nazis, themselves, argued for not only the desirability for murdering the disabled, Jews, Poles and other ethnic minorities in Germany and in those countries the invaded, they argued that it was necessary both to prevent the deterioration of the German people and a hindrance for their continued evolution to a higher state because natural selection was a law of nature.  I have pointed out that Rudolph Hess, one of the earliest members of Hitler's inner circle, one of the men to whom Hitler dictated Mein Kampf in Landesburg prison had explicitly said that National Socialism, Nazism, was "applied biology".*   The biological and scientific nature of their claims couldn't be more obvious in both their theoretical declarations and their actions in murdering millions outright and many more in war, which was always, from the start, presented as both a "struggle for existence" and a means of determining who was fit to win existence in the future in exactly the ways that Darwin laid out in The Descent of Man and in letters even before Hitler or most of those who would become Nazis were born.

On a popular level, in their propaganda, such as that propaganda movie I linked to a couple of weeks ago, Das Erbe (The Inheritance), their explanations of their eugenics which led, seamlessly in their telling, into claims of superiority and increasing "fitness" under Nazism ere entirely Darwinian, beginning with the stag beetles**, and continuing through, for example,  the claims about the relationship of the number of seeds in sunflowers and eggs laid by fishes as related to the "struggle for existence"***  many of them obviously taken directly from Darwin's writing.

I think the role that British and other intellectuals played in creating the conditions that produced Nazism and fascism are too little known or considered.  It is known that Thomas Carlyle and his "great man" theory of history, especially his biography of Fredrick the Great had a huge effect on Goebbels and Hitler.   I recall reading somewhere that Goebbels was reading it to Hitler in the bunker as motivation to keep the war going.  Carlyle's hatred of democracy was certainly influential in proto-Nazi German thinkers such as Nietzsche - though Nietzsche, understanding that both morality and materialism can't be true criticized Carlyle for both his idealism and his moral assertions.   Carlyle, in his book on "Chartism" is a hodge podge of stuff, but among other things he contemplated was the possible "necessity" of exterminating the Irish.   He also shared the typical British elite hatred of the poor, he favored enslaving the entire population of the underclass and was an opponent of abolishing slavery, in general.

He is notable for his part in defending the brutal, murderous governor of Jamaica when, in putting down a rebellion, he slaughtered many black people, though, as I recall, it was mostly the execution of a mixed-blood politician who aroused the most British outrage.  In that his committee to raise money for a legal defense of the governor was opposed by one composed of liberals, including Darwin, Herbert Spencer and Thomas Huxley [proving that when you say "liberal" when referring to Brits, you can mean someone who would fit, easily into today's Republican party].  Checking the date of that I see the date 1865 which is also the year that Huxley wrote his article Emancipation Black and White in which he said that now that the superior whites had been "relieved" of their burden of black slaves they would find it necessary and desirable to kill them because their economic utility to them had vanished.  It was six years later that Darwin made his own statements about "civilised man" inevitably murdering all of many races, some named, in their eventual domination of the Earth.   The habit of double-speak and hypocrisy, mixing total homicidal and racist depravity (sold as science) and a facade of "liberal" morality were rampant in British intellectual life as it was elsewhere.  While I think it can be found in most places where English was spoken, it was certainly not confined to any one language.  Neither were the ideas.  Much of the worst of it was translated into German and, typical of German intellectuals, it was assimilated far faster more fully than German scholarship was into English.  Though there was certainly cross fertilization, especially of ideas and claims which were most congenial to the wealthy who, largely, dominated the intellectual scene everywhere before the rise of public schooling and public universities.

That's one of the reasons that public schooling is under active attack here, in the United States, by billionaires and millionaires.  They don't want anything like an educated class to impinge on their privileges.  There's a reason for that and it's not one that starts with equality and democracy as its motive.

*  While the idea is certainly one that Darwin asserted in The Descent of Man and in letters, such as the one to G. A. Gaskell,  Hess probably got the Nazi doctrine of Lebesraum through one of his teachers, Karl Haushofer who, though married to a woman who was partly Jewish, held many proto-Nazi ideas and, especially through Hess, played a strange game of footsie with the Nazis (perhaps to protect his wife and son - who was later executed for resistance activities).   I haven't read Haushofer and don't know to what extent he might have gotten some support for his thinking from Darwin but,as a late 19th and early 20th century German intellectual, it's next to impossible that he was unfamiliar with him and his thinking.

**  How low in the scale of nature the law of battle descends I know not; male alligators have been described as fighting, bellowing, and whirling round, like Indians in a war-dance, for the possession of the females; male salmons have been observed fighting all day long; male stag-beetles sometimes bear wounds from the huge mandibles of other males; the males of certain hymenopterous insects have been frequently seen by that inimitable observer M. Fabre, fighting for a particular female who sits by, an apparently unconcerned beholder of the struggle, and then retires with the conqueror. The war is, perhaps, severest between the males of polygamous animals, and these seem oftenest provided with special weapons. The males of carnivorous animals are already well armed; though to them and to others, special means of defence may be given through means of sexual selection, as the mane of the lion, and the hooked jaw to the male salmon; for the shield may be as important for victory as the sword or spear.

Origin of Species 6th edition.

***  Not surprisingly, arguments made by Darwin in the section on "The Struggle for Exitence" in On the Origin of Species, in its various editions.  It's an idea that was found in his earlier manuscript of what would be published as On The Origin of Species.

65/Finally I must allude to an opinion, which I have repeatedly seen advanced, but probably without deliberation;—namely that the numbers of any species depend on the number of its eggs or seed, & consequently not on a struggle for existence at some period of its life or its parents' lives./65 v/This belief has^probably arisen from the larger animals, which can seldom be supported in very great numbers in any country, producing few young; but most of them can protect their young; nor is this relation invariable, as we see in the Crocodile, & amongst Birds in the ostrich./65/The number of the eggs is no doubt one element in the result but by no means one of the most important. How many rare fish there are existing in very scanty numbers,' yet annually producing thousands of ova! Years ago‐I was struck with this in finding a large sea‐slug (Doris) at the Falkland Isld , very rare & yet on calculating the number of the eggs of one individual, I found six hundred thousand. The Condor lays only two eggs & yet in parts it is quite as common, (for I have seen between twenty & thirty take flight from one cliff) as the American Rhea, which lays between twenty & forty eggs & even more: but we need not go so far, the Kitty‐wren, (Sylvia troglodytes) lays on an average just twice as many eggs as the other British wrens or Sylviadae, yet we see no corresponding relation in numbers.

Virtually every example used by the Nazis as their argument for eugenics in Das Erbe, which first turned into a blatant though tacitly cited reason to eliminate the disabled can be found in either Darwin's Origin of Species or in The Descent of Man, both of which had already thoroughly influenced two generations of German intellectuals and, through them, more generally.  Not only scientists but, perhaps even more, those in the literary and artistic world as well as journalists.  It's notable that in the movie made as eugenics education for a popular audience, , what Darwin, Haeckel and others said explicitly, the biological desirability and necessity of eliminating the disabled, is only hinted at for the wider public.  The idea of the desirability and scientific necessity of the extermination of "lesser races" by their "superiors" is not touched on in the movie but it was certainly asserted by Darwin and Haeckel, as I've proved any number of times in these posts on this subject.

The movie was made, as I recall in 1935, as they were accustoming  the German People to their way of thinking and instilling those habits of thought, not blatantly telling them what their plans were.  Even as they were carrying out the earliest part of their genocides, the T-4 program, they kept it under cover as best they could, as even William Shirer noted in his Berlin Diary, it was leaking out even during the early part of the War, before America entered it.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ted Talk Geek Gawk Fail

If you wanted me to change my mind you shouldn't have sent me the link to his Ted Talk.  

1.  Ted Talk is a stupid format that makes people who are lazy and ignorant think they're thinking and in the know. 

2.  I didn't find him charming or especially attractive. 

3.  He reminded me of Carter Page without the political connections to be directly dangerous but with hair. 

4.  I don't find geekiness to be a particularly attractive trait.  It doesn't make up for his Fukushima coverup cartoons, it makes it worse.   I'm not forgiving the jerk for those. 

Hey, if you read my blog I warned you guys I was going to be in a bad mood till the pine pollen was done for the season.  

Hate Mail

A little xkcd goes a long way.  I've never been much of a fan, I like Dykes To Watch Out For and Alison Bechdel a lot more, she's smarter and can draw.  I'm sure Randall Munroe is a nice enough kid but he often doesn't know what he's doodling with.   I'd grade him a C who, from time to time, puts in an A- effort. Sometimes he's a jerk. 

Update:  Uh,  no.  I was familiar with xkcd and Randall Munroe before,  I even included mention of him and an idiot who cited one of his more irresponsible cartoons in a previous post.

In the days as the Fukushima reactors were melting down,  there were a number of blog fights on the topic at Eschaton blog, where I hung out quite a lot.   I was involved on the anti-nuclear side.   One of the the pro-nuclear antagonists, and in his case that word is a massive understatement, was one,  Chris Tucker,  a typical example of the frequently encountered angry atheist whose religion is scientism.   Some of us brought citations from The Union of Concerned Scientists, George Kistiakowsky, other specialists I don't specifically remember to the argument.  Tucker brought an xkcd cartoon asserting that the dilution of nuclear pollution in the general, background radiation,  make it innocuous,  harmless.   As an aside, I wish I had ten bucks for every time some college educated  disciple of scientism had turned to the authority of xkcd or the like to, as they believe, clinch an argument.

When I pointed out that the cartoonist included a disclaimer at the bottom that his drawing shouldn't be mistaken as a serious reference,  Tucker, who was prone to enraged tantrums, had one.  He had a number of them over the coming weeks at a number of us, as our predictions of meltdowns and pollution became lines in news stories, stories that were clearly pushing a nuclear industry line of minimization of the risks of what many scientists, some of them prominent figures in nuclear science, warned of. 

Update 2:  First, Chris Tucker was an asshole, it's not as if everyone who dies is a nice guy, even I'm going to die someday.  Second, people and animals aren't just something you can average into "background radiation" they are individuals who can ingest or inhale radioactive particles which can give them various cancers from which they can die,  parent children with serious birth defects, etc.  A lot of that wouldn't show up in one of his stick figure drawings. Some is all too obvious.  Maybe Randall Munroe would like to do some cartoons on the subjects of these photos found in this story about people with birth defects in the hot zone in Kazakhstan. 

You Do Need A Weather Man To Know Which Way This Wind Blows

The Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson has identified what the much discussed word "covfefe"  means, it means Trump and a limited number of Republican senators are not only idiots, it means they are criminally insane (my words, not his, he's more moderate and responsible, I'm a mean and fed up little bastard.) 

Here's a map showing support for action on global warming, highlighting states with senators who said Trump should leave the Paris Accord.  I interpret that to mean even in states with such benighted Senators most people don't want their children and grandchildren do fry so billionaires now can be buried in bigger mausoleums. 

Map showing state-by-state support for Paris climate agreement

There are some really bad presidents in America's past, Donald Trump will go down in whatever history there is after him as positively the worst, the extent to which politicians, journalists, editors of even the most august and stinking rags and other media whores support him is the extent to which they should go down in history along with the worst of their type supporting Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, etc.

My tireless tiresome little editor and parasitic troll thinks he caught me in a typo.   Ha, ha, I apparently fixed it while he was still reading.  I put the "Mop Heads" reference in to test whether or not his attention would fade before the end of the piece.  Apparently it did. 

A Musical Post For Musicians And Any Curious Listeners

Since getting hold of some of Dusan Bogdanovic's scores in which he makes extensive use of polyrhythms I've tried learning to play some of his easier pieces on guitar - for my own instruction and pleasure, not for performance.

By chance I also re-read the piece by the medieval musician Benjamin Bagby about an approach to trying to come up with a performance practice for playing medieval harp.  Luckily, it's posted online with some of his other pieces.  The problem is, of course, that we know that very small harps were a vital part of music performance in the medieval period, harps of up to 10 to 13 strings, most likely in most of the period but we have no actual music to indicate how they were played.  Bagby's piece is largely about how he had a moment of revelation while reading Paul F. Berliner's book, The Soul of Mbira., a book about the performance practice of what is often called a thumb piano in America but which has many different names and forms in much of Africa with many different performance traditions.  You can read his piece which is a good place to start when considering playing any medieval instrument as it's almost certain that most of the playing done on those instruments must have been improvised, I'd guess most of it in the manner of preludes, variations and what would, much later, be called fantasies.  

So how do these two paragraphs meet?  First, Dusan Bodanovic has also been instrumental in trying to revive the art of improvisation in classical music, as well as introducing polyrhythms and a level of contrapuntal complexity into classical guitar playing which extends the resources of the instrument as played.  His poly-rhythmic studies - which I'm slowly learning to play - also use rhythmic and contrapuntal effects, some clearly inspired by some African traditions.  I've gotten some useful hints about how to approach learning some of the very complex polyrhythms that are a lot harder to play on a fretboard than on a keyboard. 

In listening around to mbira playing on Youtube and online, recordings I'd certainly never hear anywhere else, I came across some instructional videos by authentic practitioners of some of those traditions.  They aren't exactly music videos, though they're certainly interesting in their approach to teaching people how to play poly-rhythms.  Here, for example is one by Forward Kwenda, demonstrating a teaching method of learning the two voices separately then combining them.  

And here is one where he plays against a video of himself.

In his article Bagby says that when applying the implications contained in the book to his instruments, he isn't advocating an adoption of African musical motives as medieval music - though a few years before that doing so with much later Arabic music practice was all the rage.  It's more of an understanding, practicing musician to practicing musician, of how to create moving musical experience using a limited number of notes on a small instrument.  So much of Africa and the world has so much to teach us in so many ways other than just crude imitation.  The current form of Mbira has a much extended range, of three octaves more or less, perhaps more relevant to the contemporary guitar, but much smaller versions of the same instrument are in current use, as well.  

Bagby has gotten a huge amount of music out of a reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon era lyre-harp with six strings, much more music than you might suspect possible.  He uses it mostly to accompany his own recitation-singing of medieval poetry, most of the literary evidence available comes from descriptions of such use.  You can hear, for example, his recordings of Beowulf online.  Others in the informed, imaginative reconstruction of the medieval period have taken his example and are running with it. This man, Peter Horn, for example.

Is that what medieval music sounded like?  Well, I doubt it sounded like any one thing anymore than all of contemporary improvised music sounds like any one thing.  I'm sure it varied greatly, region to region, performer to performer.  I am pretty sure anyone who was stuck with using six notes or ten or 13 would use any sounds, any combination of sounds they could get out of it and control, as it suited their musical intentions and pleased them and their audience.  And what do we have of medieval music, especially that without notated notes or a notated, reproducible rhythmic structure, anyway?   We're people living so many centuries later and we don't have recordings of them making music.   Maybe that's as far removed from the actual people then as someone living on the other side of the world could imagine us and our music without much to go on but a few fragments of instruments and a few literary descriptions, more or less.  You certainly couldn't reproduce the music of the Mop Heads based on the, uh.... literary description of it.  And, anyway, if there's one thing we do know, whenever a.... uh....  "literary"  man puts two words about music on paper, at least one of them will be wrong. 

Bagby's article first appeared in the compendium of practical-theoretical advice "A Performer's Guide to Medieval Music," edited by Ross Duffin.  Another article from that collection, unfortunately not available online, is the practical-theoretical advice on how to get started "Improvisation and Accompaniment before 1300" by Margriet Tindemans.  Though I think her approach is a bit too theoretical.  I'd just advise someone to start with some musical motives from Gregorian Chant or other fairly reliably knowable medieval song and play around with those, to start with, picking up what theory those have to teach you.   While I wouldn't start setting modern chords to them - modern being anything appearing in music well after 1300, and trying to pass it off as real, authentic "medieval music," do what you want to.  Set it to the most massive of jazz chords if you want to.  Just be ready to duck when they start throwing stuff at you. 

Update:  I started with Bogdanovich's  4th of his "7 Little Secrets",   I went from there to 6 and 7 of the Little Secrets, then to what looked like the next harder one. Then the much harder, 7 Easier Polyrhythmic Studies which will probably take me a year to learn.    I've also been practicing the polyrhythms in Polyrhythms, A Musician's Guide by the jazz drummer Peter Magadini.  If I lived another 70 years I might learn enough of it.  I'll be playing a harp before then. 

Answer To An E-Mail

Well, I do remember one point I raised in the blog brawl over the gay panic defense.  I asked what would happen if women could use the sexual identity of men they murdered claiming that they'd been coming on to them.   I may have mentioned that it could work the other way, round, too.  As I recall the crowd didn't want to go there but they were comfortable with the identification of gay men as sexual predators and a straight man making excuses for his behavior on that count and they were only somewhat less comfortable with the effect of that on the lives of gay men.  Especially in the mid-1970s which was what was under discussion.  Those were the Anita Bryant years of opposition to LGBT equality, though the acronym wasn't in use, yet.  

As I recall it, I was the only gay man in the discussion and the only one who had been an LGBT adult at the time.   Many of those in the discussion hadn't been born, yet.  

I posted about it here, at the time.  It's in my archive.  It's not as if I've obsessed about it over the intervening years.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Only 48 States, Territories, etc. To Go Before Someone Can't Murder An LGBT Person And Claim They're Innocent Because Of The Victim's Identity

In 48 states, it is still legal for someone to murder someone if they claim that a person being LGBT was their motive in murdering them.  And that's a legal defense.

On Wednesday, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill prohibiting the “gay panic” defense, which allows alleged murderers to defend their actions in court by arguing that their victim’s sexual orientation “triggered” their crime. The bill also bars the “trans panic” defense, which alleged murderers may use to justify the killing of a trans person on the grounds that they were triggered by their victim’s gender identity.

The state Senate already passed the measure unanimously; it now goes to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is expected to sign the bill. Once he does, Illinois will become the second state in the country to ban the gay and trans panic defense. Only California currently outlaws the tactic, although the American Bar Association called for its abolition in 2013....

Mike Ziri, the director of public policy at Equality Illinois—which played a crucial role in the passage of SB 1761—told me on Thursday that he sees broad “bipartisan support in Illinois for LGBTQ civil rights.”...

“At a time when one-fifth of hate crimes reported to the FBI are because of the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity,” he told me, “we were determined to ensure that stigma does not carry over into the courtroom” in Illinois.

Illinois will become the second state in the country to ban the gay and trans panic defense.

Six years ago, this month, I was involved in a huge, battle in which I was attacked on Salon, by name, by a professional, national journalist, based on blatant misreporting by another professional journalist - that's an identity based on where they get published for pay, not on the quality of their journalism -  which was based, to a large extent on issues involving and surrounding the "gay panic" defense and accusation made against gay men on the basis of the widespread stereotype of us as predators.  One of the things I recall claimed by a number of people was that such a thing didn't happen any longer, though the comment threads involved are not available, anymore.  If they were, I would quote what was said on them, including by one of the journalists who didn't tell me she was publishing stuff about me even as we were talking through comments.  The one at Salon obviously hadn't read what I said on the issue.

Obviously it's still a thing, murderers being able to claim, in court, a defense based on the sexual identity of the person they murdered.  Obviously there isn't any great hurry to get rid of it.  As I noted in the things I wrote which were attacked, there were law papers being published advocating that the possibility of such a defense be retained.  I'll have to dig out my notes, if I can remember where I put them, but I wouldn't be surprised if that kind of thinking can still get a social scientist or lawyer published.

The GOP Must Take Responsibility for Trump

Hate Mail

Everything that could ever be said about Sgt. Pepper's had been said by the time John recorded Yoko's dry heaves for the last time.  That's why Simps can't stop regurgitating that.  I'd encourage those who do the same to just listen to it and not say stupid stuff that's already been said to death.  That's Simels' role in life. 

I'll celebrate the release of the album Carla Bley was working on at the same time, A Genuine Tong Funeral, about which hardly enough has been said.  And it's better to just listen to the music. 

Update:  Um, yeah, Simps is making that up.  I didn't say NYC was "the most overrated city in the world".  I just searched my blog and I said this:

 As suspected Simps doesn't have the slightest idea of what life outside of the most over-rated city on the continent is like.  No wonder he thinks everyone else is an ignorant rube as he proves he's an ignorant rube. 

and this:

It's a fact that the guy who failed to read that yesterday is a huge Seinfeld fan.  You know, another racist, lily white view of life in the most overrated city on the continent.  He's got a weakness for movie directors and TV shows that give a lily white view of the place he calls home. 

Even when misquoting me, Simps overrates the overratedness of the city he shares with Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.  

The most overrated in the world?  Not as long as we've got Paris, London, Vienna.... 

Simps doesn't get how quotes work.  It's no more complicated than that.  He doesn't know how thinking works, either. 

Part Three

Update:  And then there's her Book Club segment.

Last Week Must Never Happen Again - A Week Without Samantha Bee Is Like A Week Without Air

Hate Mail - Pretending That What The Nazis And The Catholic Church Were Guilty Of Is The Same Thing Is An Enormous LIe

That you want Christianity to be at fault for everything does absolutely nothing to negate the fact, as I've demonstrated beyond any doubt, that the Nazis stated their genocides were justified by natural selection.   You have been carping at me with your assertion for, if I recall, correctly, at least five years.  You have, in that time, produced not a single fact in contradiction of what I say and in support of what you want to be true.  You have never taken the challenge to do that.  I'm not surprised, when you start looking for such evidence, it pretty much swamps your desired results with disconfirming facts.

[Update:  NOT that I'm accusing you of ever starting to look for evidence.  I have yet to find one of Darwin's defenders who has ever roused themselves to look at more than the cherry-picked, quote mined distortions of the Darwin industry.  Just to make that clear.]

We've been through this before.

Letting go, for now, your absolute refusal to acknowledge that Jews were one group of many who the Nazis both slated for extinction and who they were in the process of exterminating during their reign of scientific, industrial murder, I will point something out.  Using the same word, antisemitism, for both what the Nazis claimed and did  and for what, for example, the Catholic church is accused of is not only misleading, it is irrational.  It is a massive lie.  

Even in the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, those called "antisemites" didn't want to kill Jews, they didn't want Jews as an ethnic group to disappear from the future, they wanted them to convert to Catholicism and, as in the case of St. Edith Stein and a lot of other Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, such converts were welcomed and could achieve high clerical offices.   The pre-Vatican II attitude AND POLICY was that they wanted Jews to be Catholics, their policy was the same as that for gentile Protestants, they wanted to include them, not kill them.  If that Spielberg movie about the Jewish boy kidnapped by that nut-case, Pius IX, Edgardo Mortara comes out, if they deal with him as an adult, when he was an ordained Catholic priest which he wished to remain, I have a feeling they won't deal with the difference between what they would call antisemitism, of the Pope wanting a Jewish boy to be a Catholic Priest and the Nazis murdering, among others, Jewish converts who were Catholics in good standing.

To pretend those two things are the same is certainly a lie but is one which is endemic to the American and British educated class, despite the obvious difference.  They're not the same thing at all, you can tell the difference between people who want to kill you and people who want you to join them.  If you can't, you're too stupid for words.  Literally.   Not to mention how many Catholics, especially in Poland, risked their lives to rescue and hide Jews from those who wanted to kill them, even as doing so carried the risk of them sacrificing their entire family to do so.  As I've pointed out to you, that's a price that some did pay.   Something which, I guess, doesn't matter to you.  Quite a few priests were killed by the Nazis for hiding Jews, in the Netherlands alone, almost fifty priests were killed for doing that.  Fr, Wladyslaw Deszca was killed by the Nazis for hiding Jews by issuing them false baptismal certificates, something that the future Pope John XXIII did and organized among Catholic priests in Eastern Europe.

And, today, the accusation that desiring to convert Jews is the same thing that the Nazis did is largely a moot point because Vatican II, called by Good Pope John, under the advice of one of its more prominent American advisers,  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the concluding documents made it clear that the continuing existence of the Jewish religion is right, just and desirable and, in fact, basic to the understanding of what God promised.

Update:  Well, I guess you just proved it, you are too stupid for words.

Poverty Is War On The Poor Waged By The Rich

New Preface 

Poverty is the worst form of violence.  Mahatma Gandhi

I decided to repost the below, with some revisions because the extent to which Darwin was able to talk out of both sides of his mouth, exempting his class of wealthy people from the proposed laws he used to target the poor is a constant in the application of academic, legal and economic natural selection in the human species.   Darwin's double standard laid out in this post, in today's Republican and market economics holds that too much money is bad for the poor and the class that has to work for a living but hundreds and thousands of times that much money is never enough to produce the optimum good in the richest of the rich.   A living wage is supposed to be a luxury which will have a degrading and weakening effect on those who have to work, even more than one job to make ends meet, but millions of dollars in bonuses on top of obscenely huge salaries of the upper end of management produces, allegedly, more productivity - though in many cases, really most, the people who get paid like that seldom produce anything but theft.

That the economics which holds things like that come up with their arguments on the basis of natural selection in the human population, in human society is both a motive for their double-speak and evidence of its real and most enduring character and, it should never be forgotten, its origin in Malthusian economics, the original good news for the wealthy, though decidedly bad news for the poor and the British working class.  I have pointed out before that well before the publication of On the Origin of Species, the British radical politician William Cobbett noted the hypocrisies and contradictions of the declarations of Parson Malthus, none so much that his economics was a call to allow nature to work in the poor.  He pointed out that by the law of nature the deprived poor would not passively die of starvation as Malthus wished, they would dispossess the rich to provide for themselves and their families.  That was a point so obvious that even I thought of it when I read The Descent of Man for the first time, before I'd read Cobbett, though one which has consistently escaped most readers of both Malthus and his disciple, Darwin.

Another note.  Listening to several lectures by Richard Lewontin and being struck, again, at his philosophical erudition, an extremely rare trait among even elite scientists and increasingly rare in the educated population, I wondered if one of the reason so many contemporary scientists are hostile to philosophy is due to the inconvenient habit of philosophers noticing logical contradictions, flaws, mistakes and oversights in the declarations of scientists.   It would seem, in the intellectual life of the English speaking people in 2017 to come as a shock that science, in it vast impressiveness has not escaped and surpassed the requirement that its claims be logically as well as mathematically coherent.  No matter what some of the current stars in it would like.

 An example of that has been pointed out by, among others, Karl Popper, the eminent philosopher of science.  If, as Darwin himself admitted, at the urging of no less an authority than Alfred Russell Wallace,  his co-inventor of it, that Natural Selection was identical to Spencer's Survival of the Fittest, then the logical character of Spencer's statement has to hold for Darwin's theory.   "Survival of the fittest," it has been pointed out, is logically indistinguishable from the phrase "survival of the survivors" the concept is a tautological construction that is a mere and banal expression of a fact and not an explanation of how that fact came to be.  Popper eventually caved in to the massive protests made by scientists and others but I can't see any way that his point isn't a valid one.

In the same way a theory which is claimed to be a law of nature, a force of nature, an explanation of how the human species, among all others, evolved and which works on all of us but which is also claimed in virtually the entire line of Darwinists starting with him and in a continual line up to today's ultra-Darwinists, most obviously in the Darwinian economists I've been discussing, to have not only different but opposite effects in the economic elite than those claimed for the economic underclass cannot escape the disconfirming effects of what turns into a blatant hypocrisy when the economic interests and class of those making those exceptions are taken into account.

The role that such class hypocrisy and eugenic features of Darwinism plays in opposition to the fact of evolution is too little discussed.  And the history of Darwinism proves that its eugenic features are an intrinsic feature of it, not a bug and, by Darwin's identification of it with Spencer's phrase, his endorsement and, in fact, adoption of Galton's and Haeckel's eugenic conclusions of the consequences of the theory, nothing like a heretical deviation from it.   What was a deviation from natural selection as an intellectual phenomenon is the all too brief period when its eugenic features were suppressed in light of the horrors they produced when, as Rudoph Hess said, the Nazis applied biology in political organization.   I hold that today's Darwinist economists are proposing a slower working, less dramatically violent form of the same thing.

As early as his May 21, 1867 letter to Haeckel, Darwin, in a rare instance  was worrying that telling too much of the consequences of his theory of natural selection would arouse too much opposition to his theory, too soon for his purposes, worried that Haeckel's "boldness" "will excite anger & that anger so completely blinds every one that your arguments wd. have no chance of influencing those who are already opposed to our views."   A lot of Darwin's friends and colleagues, especially Thomas Huxley, commented on his desire to avoid direct conflict and, certainly, public dispute.  There are several times when Darwin provided himself with plausible deniablity that he was advocating exactly what he was clearly advocating.  I am confident it was so he could point to it as denial.  He did that with the most famous of those, his frequently extracted "The aid which we feel impelled to give" paragraph, seldom given in whole by his defenders and never in context.  At least one time Darwin referred to it in his response to the eugenics advocate G. A. Gaskell, which Darwin's defenders also quote mine to invent the eugenics-free Darwin.  I've written about that in detail, giving the entire correspondence which shows that Darwin is completely distorted by his modern defenders.   I mentioned the cynicism of his response to "Miss Cobbe" in another post.

I will give the "aid" paragraph with the section immediately before it:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit*, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.

The Descent of Man

"Even at the urging of hard reason,"  "he is acting for the good of his patient," UNDOUBTEDLY bad effect of the weak surviving and propagating their kind," "more to be hoped for than expected".

About the only example of a more hypocritically rendered message I can recall, undercutting the mildly stated intention with regular thunderbolts of refutation is Mark Anthony's funeral speech in the play Julius Ceasar.

Notice that in the first paragraph of the two, Darwin, at no point softens or hedges his "scientific" discourse, laying out, baldly and undeniably, the premise of eugenics as fact derived by science, his own theory of natural selection.  In the "aid which we feel impelled" paragraph, always grasped onto by those denying Darwin's role in eugenics, notice that Darwin ascribes the desire to give aid to feelings, not reason or science, a point made by Frances Cobbe in Sunday's post .  The implication of that can only be that the grounds for eugenics have the reliability of hard science while the impulse to give charity is merely a notion, a habit which is a relic of our past, followed against the better judgement of "hard reason".  And the price of that is a virtual guarantee that what he laid out in the previous paragraph will be the result.   The possibility that will be avoided is "more to be hoped for than expected".

Over and over again Darwin undercuts his "plea" for aid to the weak and poor. I have underlined those revealing passages.  I am certain that Darwin consciously gave himself a mechanism of plausible deniability that he'd just said what he said in the preceding paragraph, that is what the passage has been used to do since WWII, almost always cutting out Darwin's fatally wounding his plea as he is pretending to make it.  I am under no obligation to go on with his ruse as I've read the rest of the book and he continues to promote eugenics for pretty much the rest of it, two lesser escape clauses, more or less excepted.  The points that could be made about this paragraph in reference to other things that Darwin said in The Descent of Man are numerous and they don't count in Darwin's favor.  You might want to contrast the content and tone with this passage, not much farther on into the book.

Man accumulates property and bequeaths it to his children, so that the children of the rich have an advantage over the poor in the race for success, independently of bodily or mental superiority. On the other hand, the children of parents who are short-lived, and are therefore on an average deficient in health and vigour, come into their property sooner than other children, and will be likely to marry earlier, and leave a larger number of offspring to inherit their inferior constitutions. But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil; for without the accumulation of capital the arts could not progress; and it is chiefly through their power that the civilised races have extended, and are now everywhere extending their range, so as to take the place of the lower races. Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the process of selection. When a poor man becomes moderately rich, his children enter trades or professions in which there is struggle enough, so that the able in body and mind succeed best. The presence of a body of well-instructed men, who have not to labour for their daily bread, is important to a degree which cannot be over-estimated; as all high intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work, material progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher advantages. No doubt wealth when very great tends to convert men into useless drones, but their number is never large ; and some degree of elimination here occurs, for we daily see rich men, who happen to be fools or profligate, squandering away their wealth. The Descent of Man.

“But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil.... Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the process of selection.” 

One suspects Darwin’s “moderate accumulation of wealth” which was not yet insalubrious included the wealth of the Darwin -Wedgewood families. Why, since he refuses to consider the possibility that humans’ capacity for reason, moral reflection and self-denial might exempt us from the brutal forces of natural selection, does he seem to think that membership in his notably brutal economic elite should render its members immune?

You also wonder why Darwin didn't include the laws against stealing in the list of unfortunate curbs on the workings of natural selection. Something commented on in much the same context by William Cobbett decades before Darwin wrote this book.  If you doubt that the laws protecting private property are one of the greatest inhibitions of the weeding out of the unfit, imagine what would have happened in Darwin’s Britain if it was suddenly legal for the masses of the poor to take from those worthless drones bred to the aristocracy. The resultant struggle might have saved Darwin the embarrassment of explaining how he neglected to discourage their vaccination.  And speaking of that,  if vaccination is such a danger, in the long term, to the fitness of the economic underclass, presumably it has the same effect among the wealthy, preventing small pox would dysgenically drag them down to the same level of degradation the underclass was already in.  Yet  I haven't seen any indication that Charles Darwin or subsequent generations of Darwins went without vaccination or medical care for their families.  I have seen no mention of any Darwins in subsequent generations dying of it.


In revising this series I've noticed all kinds of problems with the most basic aspects of Darwin's case for natural selection which I hadn't noticed before.  He is always using natural selection to assert contradicting results. I've mentioned the assertion that constant warfare and killing among "savages" is asserted to render the survivors more fit while in "civilised" countries, it sacrifices the fittest and prevents them reproducing.  The several pausible deniability provisions are full of this kind of double standard.

Notice this assertion of the value of having men rich enough to have the leisure to get an education and be able to avoid labor

The presence of a body of well-instructed men, who have not to labour for their daily bread, is important to a degree which cannot be over-estimated; as all high intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work, material progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher advantages.

Compare that with the first section quoted above, it is exactly the material progress:

- shelter and food, such as provided in "asylums";

- the incredibly stingy and bare subsistence provided to a few by the infamous, Malthusian Victorian New Poor Law as described by Dickens!

 - the maintenance of the slave workers in those Dickensian  work houses, an intrinsic aspect of the New Poor Law;

-  medical care and vaccination;

That kind of material sustenance, WHEN IT IS GIVEN TO THE POOR is named as the mechanism of their future degradation but in the rich, Darwin asserts that material progress is the flower of creation.

You may notice this is identical to the assertions of today's conservatives in the United States and Britain.   Work is good for the poor, leisure is good for the rich.   Having even the barest provision material benefits degrades the poor but a superabundance for the rich motivates them to further enterprise.  etc.

Darwin constantly uses natural selection to assert that the same phenomena have the opposite effects.  In every case I have found, so far, Darwin asserts that factors which impede the struggle for survival are a benefit when they effect the rich and an impending disaster when they effect the poor.  In each and every case, Darwin's "science" ends up supporting his wealth, his class.  It rather suspiciously benefits HIM.   As I have been dealing with Darwin for seven years now, I have no doubt that his unmentioned "other and higher advantages" were those to the class of people he was addressing, rich men like himself.

By the way, many of whom directly benefited from the slave labor of those just barely maintained in Victorian work houses, kept in conditions disturbingly near that in which those enslaved in Nazi industries two generations later.   As Marilynne Robinson pointed out, the Poor Law presented contractors with an economic incentive to starve and kill the inmates.

Under the Old Poor Law, before the 1834 reforms that made the operation of the system more punitive and severe, child paupers, that is, the children of destitute parents, were given to employers, each with a little bonus to reward the employer for relieving the public of this burden.  The children would be worked brutally, because with each new pauper child the employer received another little bonus.  To starve such children was entirely in the interest of those who set them to work.  Aside from all the work the child performed under duress, its death brought the reward that came with a new child   The authorities asserted an absolute right to disrupt families, and to expose young children to imprisonment and forced labor. 

This was "material progress"  for the poor that Darwin thought TOO GENEROUS to avoid the catastrophe of too many of them surviving long enough to have children, who would, no doubt, find their way to the work houses, contracted to produce the wealth of the wealthy, Darwin's family and friends.   If you think it is mean of me to point that out, please, tell me why?

Also note this section:

"but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage",

That statement is directly contradicted by the quote of W. R. Greg addressed in another of these posts.   Darwin uses Greg to assert that the degenerate Irish "multiplies like rabbits" unlike the virtuous Scot who "marries late and passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him".  Darwin obviously agreed with Greg that in a dozen generations, given equal numbers of "Celts" and "Saxons (?)" at the start, the degenerate would greatly dominate in numbers, five to one!,  but not in, power property or intelligence, in that case the ratio is in favor of the "Saxons".    Darwin obviously was using Greg to speak for himself, using that passage, curiously elided by Darwin, to assert the case he made in the first of the two paragraphs above.

Over and over again, Darwin twists and turns his theory of natural selection around to assert that it has the opposite effects in different populations of people, either by class or ethnic group and, in every case, the white and wealthy and "Saxon" come out ahead and SUPERIOR by the impedance of natural selection, the most brutal aspect of that is, on the other hand, a definite boon for the poor and the "savage".  Though, in the case of the "savage" the same struggle for life which improves them will also lead to their extinction.


I am left thinking that the main reason that natural selection ever was established was due to the compliments and benefits it carried for the wealthy establishment who had control of science and academic institutions.   It isn't because it's anything like a consistent theory.  Unlike gravity, chemical laws, and most of the laws of science, it is notably a hit or miss thing and, unlike those, it falls unequally on those of different classes and ethnic groups.  Darwins' self-interest and that of his early and later supporters clearly embedded in it is reason enough to arouse the deepest skepticism of the idea.

Science is an attempt to produce reliable information about the world and the universe, it is an attempt to make sense of human experience and perception.  Scientific methodology reduces its focus in an attempt to generalize knowledge about the basic physical aspects of that human experience.  It can produce a specific kind and range of knowledge, when it is well and honestly done   History is every bit as much an attempt to do that focusing on a different scale of human experience,  The history of natural selection assumed to be relevant to human societies has produced the historical record of eugenics and the several radical applications of eugenics by the Nazis and other dictatorial regimes. History often uses the information that science can provide to it, using it to consider the physical, material and, to somewhat less impressive results, the statistical frequency of aspects of the historical record.

In this case, with the enormous evidence of the disaster of applied natural selection in human history,  it is time for scientists to come down from their Olympian perch, where they may see things in too general a focus for them to really see what's there.  The historical case of what Darwin said, what his followers did and the results of that are far more reliable than the evidence that natural selection is more than the traditional way of thinking about these things, enforced by habit and by peer coercion.   Maybe it's time that scientists consider that other people might see things their customs prevent them from seeing.  If only Darwin had done that he might have avoided these questions of him inserting his self-interest into evolutionary science.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Has Michael Flynn Already Flipped on Trump?

Wednesday Afternoon Radio Drama - Greg Taylor - No News Is Good News - Black Jack Justice

Christopher Mott, Black Jack Justice
Andrea Lyons, Trixie Dixon, girl detective
With the additional voices of Kevin Robinson, 
Peter Nichols, Stephen Burleigh and Greg Taylor 

Of the relatively recent audio dramas,  this series stands out for the writing, the humor, the word play, the acting and the production.  

Another Omitted Footnote

In the long posts like the one from this morning, there is a high chance that I'll leave a footnote out.  

In the quotation from the passage about A. R. Wallace, Lynn, correctly, quotes Darwin as saying:

“Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree infirm in body or in mind”

Advice which, I've noted before, Charles Darwin, famously a habitual valetudinarian and hypochondriac, who was often ill (his letter to Galton praising Hereditary Genius indicates that he was so ill his wife, Emma, had to read the book to him) who never tired in tut-tutting the breeding habits of the poor and others he identified as biologically inferior but who, nevertheless, married his cousin and had a large family with her, many of whom went on to be some of the foremost proponents of eugenics and constant carpers about the biological unfitness of the poor, etc.  refused to take, himself.  

I've decided to post an earlier post laying out the blatant class hypocrisy of Darwin which, in anything I've ever read that scientists said about him, is unmentioned.   The hypocrisy he and others got away with in the name of science is, literally, scandalous.  That, alone, is more than enough to discredit him. 

Following The Roadmap The Eugenicists Laid As To What They Base Their Claims ON

As I've mentioned in answer to my critics several times, when I began to research these things my first plan was to do what you would think any responsible person would, I went to see what Charles Darwin said, in his own words, in full, in the books and articles published, by him as having the reliability of science and taken as such by his fellow scientists.  From there I looked up his citations of his fellow scientists and others to see what he was endorsing as supporting his contentions - much if not all of it is or will probably be fully available online, much of it in forms far more convenient to fact checking your own contentions about it than print on pages is.

That was the most direct route but I could have saved myself a lot of time if I'd also taken another, more unsavory route of looking at what scientific racists and eugenicists have claimed as supporting their contentions.  I have recently gotten a bootleg copy of Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations by Richard Lynn, the emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, one of the sources cited by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murry in The Bell Curve.   The book, itself, was glowingly reviewed by as influential a biologist as could be imagined in the past fifty years,  W. D. Hamilton Royal Society Research Professor at Oxford University and one of the major theoreticians who provided the basis of Sociobiology, Evolutionary Psychology and the theory of genetically transmitted altruism so useful to the massively held faith in gene selfishness. I believe his review may have been the last piece he wrote, published posthumously,  in it Hamilton said Lynn, "shows in this book that almost all of the worries of the early eugenicists were well-founded".  Hamilton, himself, was a scientific racist and, as that shows a eugenicist, his theories are certainly supportive of both and, I will say again, were foundational aspects of the Evolutionary Psychology which has become influential in both the real sciences and in such social sciences as economics.

I will note that many eminent biologists haven't agreed with Lynn and he has been the focus of a great deal of criticism, such criticism of such ideas has always been there but I think the historical record of natural selection will show that, no matter how well reasoned or founded in skepticism, that that has not been sufficient to gain the upper hand except, to some extent in the three decades immediately after the end of World War Two and the eugenic crimes of the Nazis were exposed to the world.*  There has been eugenic advocacy even among scientists whose progressive and leftist credentials are as good as any.   Richard Lynn has also had his critics among scholars and activists in civil rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center maintains a page of his quotes.  Such as:

"I think the only solution lies in the breakup of the United States. Blacks and Hispanics are concentrated in the Southwest, the Southeast and the East, but the Northwest and the far Northeast, Maine, Vermont and upstate New York have a large predominance of whites. I believe these predominantly white states should declare independence and secede from the Union. They would then enforce strict border controls and provide minimum welfare, which would be limited to citizens. If this were done, white civilisation would survive within this handful of states.”
—Undated interview with fascist magazine Right NOW!

As a life long resident of Maine, let me take this opportunity to tell him to go screw himself.

Anyway, if I had steeled myself and read the book by Lynn before, I would have found a virtual roadmap to things I should have looked at in addition to the obvious primary sources because in an argument as to the Darwinian origins and nature of even the most putrid and extreme of eugenics will carry the relevant citations of such authorities.  And his first chapter, a review of the history of eugenics provides the confirmation that all of eugenics took its motivation from natural selection.  He notes that Darwin's co-inventor of natural selection Alfred Russel Wallace, said that in his last meeting with Darwin he found him gloomily contemplating the disaster that decency and civilization was for the human species.

Darwin understood that the way to prevent genetic deterioration lay in curtailing the fertility of those with socially undesirable characteristics, writing that “Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree infirm in body or in mind”** (1871 [The Descent of Man], p. 918).  In those days if people refrained from marriage they also, for the most part, did not have children.

A few years later Darwin talked about these problems with the biologist Alfred Russell Wallace, who had formulated the theory of evolution independently of Darwin in the 1850s, and who recorded their discussion:

"In one of my last converstaions with Darwin he expressed himself very gloomily on the future of jumanity, on the ground that in our modern civilisation natural selection had no play and the fittest did not survive…. It is notorious that our population is more largely renewed in each generation from the lower than from the middle and upper classes."  (Wallace, 1890, p 93)

Wallace went on to record that Darwin spoke of the large number of children of “the scum,” and of the grave danger this entailed for the future of civilization [same citation as above].  Darwin understood the relaxation of natural selection was leading to genetic deterioration.

Thanks to the ever expanding archive of such material available online, I could read that citation of Wallace, an article, Human Selection,  in the popular science magazine,  Popular Science for June 1890 [on page 103 as displayed on my browser] where Wallace, does, indeed discuss that conversation with Darwin.  I will note, out of fairness to Darwin and out of accuracy,  Lynn misrepresented one thing, it wasn't Darwin who Wallace quoted as "the scum" providing the "renewal" for the "stream of life" it was an author, Hiram M. Stanley, Wallace's citation of whom is available, online, as well but which I have not, yet read.

I was, to some extent, surprised by reading Wallace's 1890 article because I know in his last years he was extremely critical of eugenics, saying, "Eugenics is simply the meddlesome interference of an arrogant, scientific priestcraft."  As to why his obvious inclinations to see the poor and other targets of eugenic with more sympathy than his more aristocratic colleagues might have been at low ebb just then, he said in this paragraph.

Before discussing the question, itself, it will be well to consider whether there are in fact any other agencies than some form of selection to be relied on.  It has been generally accepted hitherto that such beneficial influences as education, hygiene, and social refinement had a cumulative action, and would of themselves lead to a steady improvement of all civilized races.  This view rested on a belief that whatever improvement was effected in individuals was transmitted to their progeny, and that it would be thus possible to effect a continuous advance in physical, moral, and intellectual qualities without any selection of the better or elimination of the inferior types.  But of late years grave doubts have been thrown on this view, owing chiefly to the researches of Galton and Weismann as to the fundamental causes to which heredity is due.  The balance of opinion among physiologists now seems to be against the heredity of any qualities acquired by the individual after birth, in which case the question we are discussing will be much simplified, since we shall be limited to some form of selection as the only possible means of improving the race.

I think that, as early as 1890, Wallace put his finger on exactly why eugenics - never really absent from those who believed in natural selection - has made such a resurgence in the period after Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology and the extension of those gene-centric theories of absolute, molecular determinism, into such politically potent fields such as economics and a key to understanding how that view is dependent on ignoring far more potent and obvious factors in producing people deemed to be superior and how such scientists who want to promote genetic, biological and material determinism of human beings will find "tests" to provide them with their confirmation.  The wealthy, the privileged in life, unsurprisingly and consistently show up as having higher intelligence on such tests,

One of the most obvious means of passing traits from parent to child is through inheritance laws,  not laws of Mendelian genetic, the laws that allow parents to both give their children an advantage in life through better nutrition, healthcare, dental care, education, social networking,... which is certainly a reproductive advantage and even a major factor in whether or not they will leave more or any offspring.   Yet such a powerful mechanism of inheritance, entirely non-biological and due to a huge number of artificially made human laws is not even considered as relevant to the question.  I have noted before that several pages after Darwin made his most infamous eugenics declarations, he issued a long passage exempting his own, wealthy class, even "useless drones" among them from producing the same dysgenic features that he condemned when attributed to the poor and sick being provided even less than a barely subsistence level of such economic support.

I don't think that it is a surprise that the decade which saw the rise of Sociobology and Evolutionary Psychology, often criticized as "Darwinian fundamentalism" and "ultra-Darwinism" also saw the rise of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and, even more so, the influence of the economics of Milton Friedman which helped their way to power.

The identification of Galton and Weismann as the source of Wallace's doubts about the obvious beneficial effects of a better life is noteworthy because Weismann, even before the rediscovery of Mendel's genetics was an opponent of the idea - held by Charles Darwin and Ernst Haeckel - that acquired traits could be passed from parent to child.  Weismann's absurd experiments of chopping off the tails of mice had a potence all out of proportion to its intellectual character but the results, supporting those eugenics which were so congenial to the wealthy who, by a very large percentage, dominated science and virtually all of the educated class, especially white, Northern Europeans and their cousins where they had colonized and dominated.

That some of the most angry, even febrile rejection and dismissal of recent discoveries supporting the enduring aspects of epigenetic inheritance of acquired traits has had similar motives is predictable when considering the history of natural selection and who it benefits.** That anger is frequently expressed in  accusations of infidelity to Darwin and subversion of his theory, often quite at odds with the frequently made assertions of the spirit and practice of science.

I think that the history of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology and its entirely irrational extension into economics and political thinking cannot be separated from the status of natural selection, especially in the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the 1930s and its orthodox dominance since then has a lot to reveal about how it has had an influence in setting our politics back to a depraved form of Victorianism - minus any moral veneer.

There is nothing so telling about the character of those two recent academic fields as to their foundation among racists and eugenicists.  I think the history of natural selection as an influential idea and its effects in both academic and real life demonstrate that as long as it holds sway and, especially, when it is tied to a dogma that biological inheritance is of fixed character and that it is determined at birth, inherited, that its character can be discerned, labeled and evaluated, natural selection will always be an extremely dangerous and inherently anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic idea, just as Ernst Haeckel said in 1877.   A decade before that, Frances Cobbe noted many of the effects that could be expected if natural selection were believed by large numbers of people and became politically and legally potent.  History proved her right and Darwin's dismissive rejection of her concerns entirely wrong.

* I will make the point that it is exactly the revelation of the eugenic crimes of the Nazis that is under full and well funded attack as the generation who experienced and witnessed those is passing away.  That we have seen a rise in neo-eugenics in the same period is as big a danger and as flashing a warning as it was in the 1920s.   As is seen in the presence of assertions of natural selection in conservative economics not all the dangers are of such outright violence in the immediate future, though, when made law and policy, they have the effect of both killing people and blighting lives, often on the same bases of class and race that those early eugenicists endorsed by Hamilton targeted as a source of dysgenesis.

**  Weismann's experiments chopping off the tails of mice leads to the question as to the ability of science to find any subtle but real mechanisms of inheritance which may be there but too subtle to detect or occur to the imagination of biologists.  As I've noted several times, Richard Lewontin, one of the more subtle and philosophically astute of recent biologists attributed great subtlety and weakness to what he fully believes to be the focus of natural selection, admitting that such unobservable action on traits too weak and subtle to observe or measure are, nonetheless, the very material which the "law" of natural selection is asserted to work on.  At that scale of weakness and subtlety, there are possibly a myriad of such "forces" which may be compatible with Darwinism or which may refute it.  The character of natural selection as a dogma or doctrine and a required frame through which such matters must be seen to be allowable in science and academia would certainly blind researchers to such forces or even the possibility that they are there, giving the reality of evolution a far different character than the one which has been created through Darwinism.

Post Script:  I should note that Charles Darwin's grandson, Charles Galton Darwin, after the Second World War, late in his life, was, like his grandfather (who he'd never met) giving gloomy, eugenic prognostications as to the dysgenic fate of the world because people were not heeding the warnings founded on natural selection, in his book rather oddly titled "The Next Million Years".  Such was the predictive faith that those who believe in natural selection claim for it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Spectacle of A Darwinist-Economist Enraged Over Discrediting Of HIs Lunch Ticket

As luck would have it, there is an excellent example of just a small part of why claiming that natural selection is an appropriate mechanism to use in economics is absurd in another of Lewontin's lectures, by chance, given at the same Santa Fe Institute from where this part of my argument came.

After giving an excellent hour long lecture about the absurdities of claiming that Darwinian evolution provides a model for human culture an enraged economist (I'm guessing) asks a long angry question to Lewontin who points out something that I mentioned in passing, this morning, that Darwinism, natural selection, can only work through a specific kind of mechanism of inheritance which doesn't exist in economics and that it doesn't work at all except when the mechanism of inheritance is present.  The exchange starts at about 1:05:00.   Later in the questions someone asks him to describe genetic drift and, as an aside, he asks why the economists who are pretending to analyze economics using a biological metaphor don't include other mechanisms like genetic drift.  He doesn't say it but if you're going to claim that natural selection is at work in something as artificial and the creation of entirely artificial laws and dogmas - quite often designed to come out to a specific end for those who sponsor the changes in the law and the dogmas created by sponsored scholars - if you are going to claim that such things are governed by biological laws of nature (which they assume natural selection is) and so the economic results are a product of natural law, why shouldn't you have to include other relevant aspects of biological inheritance and evolution in your model?

Update:   That's right but that's irrelevant to the debunking of the claims.  I don't believe that natural selection is a real thing but if you're going to claim the validity of a model to make claims about economics you have to have a logically sound basis for doing that and there is none in claiming that natural selection can work as a description of economic activity. You can't as in a paraphrase of the famous cartoon, say "well, at this point something happens that makes it work" without filling that in with something that does work.  Lewontin, not surprisingly for one of the most eminent geneticists and evolutionary thinkers of his generation, correctly identifies that lapse in those claims as the absence of the actual mechanism which natural selection is supposed to start from, the actual mechanism that allows there to be something selected for or, rather, against.

The idea that biological laws could be applied to something as artificial, the product of laws, policies and practices which are 100% under the control of human made laws is so entirely absurd on its face, the fact that it is sold so freely proves that we aren't any more sophisticated, for all of our sciency modernism than any people at any point in the past.

Shouldn’t Jared Kushner Be Arrested?

If I Could Do That I Wouldn't Blog

Um, Hum, I See

Let me see if I get this right, a journalist who has done reporting on human trafficking, including the trafficking of underage children, an enormous world wide industry is considered "weird" by people on a blog run by an Ivy Leaguer blogger who has done little to no journalism or reporting who, from time to time, makes it his business to complain about an age of consent he considers unreasonably high, said blogger being "not weird".  Especially when said by a guy who complained when I pointed out that Gore Vidal, a man who declared himself a "pederast" is known to have taken frequent trips to that infamous sex tourism venue, Thailand, and who, among other things, is reputed to have participated in the beating of an underage rent-boy who another world famous author reportedly claimed ripped him off because Vidal, a rapidly fading dead formerly celebrity author of second rate historical fiction, dirty books and snarky political and lit'rary pieces was "a great writer".  

Yeah, clear as dirty crystal. 

Update:  I suppose the UN staff and researchers who produced their report on human trafficking last year must be real weirdos, according to the Bran Muffins and Geritol Brain Trust set.

Update 2:  The Kinks?  Lola?  Well, it fits but I wouldn't touch it.  

Update 3:  Well, I say Gore Vidal's books are fading but it's not just me, his authorized biographer and friend Jay Parini said it, too.

Do you think he is read now by people under the age of 50 or 60?

I doubt it. But then again who is read from that generation? Do you think John Updike is read? I doubt it. Do you think any novel of Norman Mailer’s is read now? I was teaching a seminar in Middlebury College last year and I asked a group of English majors … I mentioned Mailer. I drew blank stares. Not one person in the room had heard of Norman Mailer.
Would they have known Gore’s work?

No. I said to the class, “How about Capote?” And they said yes, Philip Seymour Hoffman. So that’s what they know.
If you were talking to your students at Middlebury and they agreed to read one thing by Vidal, what would you tell them to read?

I assign the selected essays. And it blows them away repeatedly. And so that’s where Gore is going to survive. I always say a hundred years from now he’ll be known as a kind of figure on the scene, a public intellectual who wrote these scintillating essays. Myra Breckenridge might be looked at by sociologists because it’s a post-sexual, transsexual novel. The fluidity of sexual lives in that book are really very postmodern.
And you could imagine the book being reissued tomorrow and it being very popular.

You could. It’s a transgender novel. That’s a good idea.

I used to love to read his pieces in The Nation and here and there but I've looked at some of them and they strike me as superficial, sometimes silly and often false.  We had a lot of the same enemies, that's about as much as I can say about him now.