Saturday, June 10, 2017

More Than A Second Feature - Many Audio Plays From The Hear How Festival

Welcome to the 2017 HEAR Now PODCAST PALOOZA!   

Gold Listening

The HEAR Now Festival is happy to present a variety of audio performances from around the U.S. and the world.

This page represents those artists whose works the judges admired, but were not heard this year at the Cinemark Theater on the Plaza.
The Festival's panel of judges agreed these works were also among the best submitted this year.

Be sure to click on the link for each program so you can learn more about our featured artists.

These programs will be available until August 1, 2017 for you to enjoy.


I haven't listened to all of these but the ones I have are very good.  

Second Feature - De Mortuis

If I'd been Charles Laughton I'd have done in the two idiots who walked in on him.

Again, I can't find a list of the cast or the author listed anywhere.

If you want to hear the kind of commercials that Bob and Ray satirized, there are several in this episode.

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Simon Ferry and Tim Spate - Lullaby Jock

An adaptation of Simon Ferry's hit solo stage show about his father Jock Ferry's experiences during and after the Second World War. It focuses on Jock's wartime experience as an infantryman and how it shaped his life when he returned home.

Cast:  Simon Ferry, Tim Spite, Christopher Brougham, Russell Smith, Nikki MacDonnell, Alex Grieg and Brian Sergent, with Bruno Smith, Nina Smith, Gus Langbein and Sebastian Macaulay.

I think this is the first play from Radio New Zealand I've ever posted.  It is heavy on audio effects, recreating battle scenes.   You will definitely not want to listen to it through headphones, ear buds or with the volume turned all the way up.   It's pretty intense in places. 

Sick And Fed Up With The Stupid Snobs - Hate Mail

I am fucking sick and tired of people blaming Christianity which teaches the same line of Jewish radical economic egalitarianism that is exactly what the economic elite does and always has opposed.  If our economics were ruled by the words of Jesus it would be the most radical redistribution of wealth ever imagined, it would make Marx look like he could get a job at the Wall Street Journal if not The Cato Institute. 

The idea that the reason poor whites vote Republican is Christianity is stupid is BECAUSE BLACK WOMEN, A GROUP MORE DEEPLY AND HONESTLY OBSERVANT OF CHRISTIANITY VOTE OVERWHELMINGLY DEMOCRATIC.  Those polls you love so much identify Black People as about the most religious group in the country, overwhelmingly they are Christians and they are the most reliable Democratic constituency there is. 

Claiming that the hour a week poor whites might spend listening to a conservative preacher - and plenty of them never do - has THE determinative effect on their voting when you want to blame that while absolving the many more hours they spend listening to hate talk radio and movies and, most of all,  TV every single day is stupid.  If their preachers were so influential, why doesn't it effect their sex life so definitively? I haven't noticed news reports of a pandemic of marital fidelity among them.  How come they don't follow other parts of the Gospel such as those mentioned in the first paragraph? 

Your claim is so stupid that it speaks more to your real motives than it does the problem.  TV feeds those resentments by focusing their feeling of being looked down on by those fabled coastal, liberal, college-educated elites, another thing that such liberals refuse to look at BECAUSE THAT KIND OF THING IS REAL AND OBVIOUS TO THE PEOPLE WHO SUCH PEOPLE INSULT AND MOCK.   Not incidentally, it's also telling them to screw around and act in pretty much every way The Bible tells them not to and they very conspicuously follow the gospel of TV and Hollywood a lot better than they do the Gospel of Jesus. 

I'm especially fucking sick and tired of the same people who have enabled the media to do that for decades, as they whine about things like religion while ignoring the pervasive influence of the corporate media because "The First Amendment" believe themselves to be the acme of intelligence when those decades in the political wilderness and the obvious reasons for it have not taught them one single thing except to keep on with what got us pushed into that wilderness in the 1960s and beyond.  The same things that did that are still part of the agenda of such whiny lefties who never learn even as they tell each other how smart they are. 

No, Katha, Liberal Elities Are The Problem, The Liberal Elites Who Enabled The Media That Created Trump

Katha Pollitt has an article up which is worth thinking about,  complaining about the growing venue of media dedicated to brow-beating college educated, liberals from the two coasts over them alienating blue collar voters from the South and Mid-West.   I agree entirely with that much of Pollitt's complaint, that stuff is annoying, demanding that we sympathize and try to understand the poor-whites who feel looked down on by the coastal elites and that we drop things like civil rights, women's rights to the ownership of their bodies and lives, LGBT rights, the science around global warming.... you name it those tireless media tutters and tiskers will tell us we've got to give it up to attract their stereotypical white, blue collar voter - an insulting stereotype in itself.

Pollitt asks why none of them nag the Trump voters to try to understand us and what we think, especially as such people as are always the focus of this discussion, poor-white, blue collar  people without advanced educational credentials and, often, without jobs and too often when they have them don't earn a living wage ... THOSE ARE SOME OF THE VERY PEOPLE WE EXIST TO BENEFIT.

That is, of course, a great point.   And that it is a legitimate point is a dead giveaway of what the real motives of the media naggers of Northern, coastal liberals are, they are a demand by well placed columnists and others that we give up what makes liberalism, liberalism for a neo-liberal, conservative program. That program which the media has been selling to such people, the working poor, the underclass, 24-7-365 x decades with the slickest sales techniques that the social sciences can dream up for them. .

The reason that the white underclass votes against their interest is that they have been successfully propagandized by the free press, especially television and hate-talk radio and in movies out of the allegedly liberal Hollywood and, increasingly, on the internet.   And the reason that broadcast media has gotten away with doing that is that free-press, free-speech liberals have not only allowed them to lie with total impunity, THEY HAVE FAVORED THE VERY COURT RULINGS AND GOVERNMENT POLICIES THAT HAVE ALLOWED FOX AND CNN AND ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, AND, YES, EVEN THE PART-TIME LIBERAL MSNBC TO LIE US INTO TRUMP.

I have gone over this before, liberal media figures, people like Norman Lear, have also presented condescending views of the white working class, figures like Archie Bunker and so many others - many Southern and Mid-Western, most often rural identities as figures of ridicule only occasionally injected with a generally soppy, sentimental and all too temporary view of their humanity which doesn't fool the people who are alienated by that condescension.

You want to know why people voted for Trump or Ronald Reagan, for that matter, look at the media who created them, the media,  that all-powerful source which is the foremost venue of attitude transmission in the United States.

That media is not in the hands of real liberals but it does what it does because real liberals were suckered into ignoring the power of the media to lie on behalf of the billionaire-millionaire class and that it was entirely enthusiastic about using every scheme that the clever men and women hired to manipulate information for the highest bidder.

The American media, under the First Amendment as interpreted, BY LIBERALS,  since 1964 has been 100% dedicated to manipulating people into first tuning in, second to think in ways that would benefit the wealthy using whatever tools of class and regional antagonism and resentment they could find and applying those to really rigging the vote.   Putin, with plenty of his own clever men and women to study our system merely did the same things to his own ends.  And, now that we know how seriously treasonous the Trump machine was in colluding with a foreign despot, the media is covering up for them as fast as it is exposing their treason.  Lying their heads off to do so, lying to the very people who they sold Trump to, in the beginning.

Katha Pollitt, as a professional writer, probably has entirely too much of a personal and  financial interest against taking a really hard, really honest, look at how Trump really was elected in the United States, into how we could have gone, within a lifetime, from a country where such a person in the presidency was unthinkable to one who is there and who will be kept there by the de facto fascist Republican Party as they destroy the things that stand between them and absolute power.   I have never, yet read and certainly not heard anyone in the media take a really hard look at how things really did start turning with the 1964 Sullivan Decision and the rest of the lauded First Amendment decisions that let us read dirty books and let the media lie us into the New York Real-Estate Tycoon Satyricon we are living through.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Arthur Berger - Chamber Music For 13 Players

I. Variations

II. Allegro Moderato, Leggiero

Gunther Schuler, conductor

Original Liner Notes

There was almost always a quality of charm in Arthur Berger's music, this piece has more of it than most pieces of the time it was written.   I seem to recall reading Berger say it was a piece in which his free use of 12 tone procedures were inspired by the Italian composers like Dallipiccola and Nono. The sound they achieved even more so than formal considerations.   But I don't have the time to go look for that quote just now.

I really miss Arthur Berger

I Hadn't Seen This Before - Trump Tantrum

Charlie Hebdo Est Toujours Puant

Longtime readers will remember that I got some heat when, as they were attacked for provoking the anger of Muslims,  I pointed out that the people who ran the French non-humor magazine Charlie Hebdo were a bunch of flaming racist assholes who had knowingly and irresponsibly inflamed the rage which motivated the attacks on them?

Well, in their coverage of the British election and other news British, they put a picture of Theresa May on their cover, decapitated, holding her hand saying that British multiculturalism has been decapitated.  That's nasty but mild and, as May is a pretty awful politician who is about to form a pretty awful minority government with a bigoted, ultra-right, crypto-fascist party which will demand some terrible things to keep her stinking Tories in office, perhaps within bounds.  Especially when compared to their clever commentary on the recent London terror attack:

It says:  The slimming advice from the Islamic State,   Run fast!  

Charlie Hebdo is run by a bunch of the biggest assholes in any excuse for journalism in the world. The people who work for it stink as much as the ones who work for FOX or Breitbart or any other brain toilet venue of media. 

Something Good To Say About The Media

I don't often get to hear clips of her show but I think Joy-Ann Reid is one of the best news hosts in the media, today.   She's so much smarter than most you have to fear for her future on cable TV.   I promise to try to put on more of her.  

I Absolutely Loathe Alan Dershowitz

Vous êtes de la merde dans un bas de soie !

Napoleon on the French diplomat Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

I thought you should read it in the original French, for once.  

As far as I'm concerned,  Alan Dershowitz is a retired Harvard Law prof.  celebrity ambulance chaser, get-offer of celebrity murderers and likely murderers, torture advocate, pseudo-liberal advocate of pretty much anything that enhances the ability of the rich and super rich to dominate and swamp democracy  - and those are some of his more attractive attributes - is as good an example of what Napoleon said as anyone alive today in the United States.   That he is getting himself all over the right-wing media by claiming that Donald Trump not only wasn't guilty of but, apparently, can't be guilty of obstruction of justice because he can fire people in the Department of Justice AND THAT HE CAN PARDON THE GUILTY doesn't surprise me.  

Alan Dershowitz, so far as I'm concerned, is about as credible as that other media-figure-lawyer Geraldo Rivera.  He is crud. 

Why The Serious People And Media Are Such Douchebag Clowns And Why The Comedians Are Credible

Listening to the excellent comedy commentary of Seth Meyers

Hearing the Republicans, Senator James Risch and Paul Ryan and Chris Christie and Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz, journalists talking about Trump's lies I suddenly realized that the reason the comedy show hosts and their writers, the best of them, the Samantha Bees, the Stephen Colberts, the Seth Meyers, are more serious than the "serious" people is because they cut through the lawyerly double-speak, the language that carries more plausible deniability lies than honest content which pervades the "serious" media and weighty public life and our political institutions.

Listen to the videos of the hearings and compare the way that liars like Susan Collins and many of her Republican colleagues asked questions to produce such bald faced lies to be repeated on FOX and by Republican mouthpieces and pundits on the other networks and compare those to the comedy that is based in cutting through their crap.

I think this is the kind of stuff that comes from too many lawyers trained in this kind of straining of credulity and how to use that to make a career in helping crooks and gangsters get crooked judges to do crooked stuff controlling our public lives.  If it starts in the elite law schools is certainly worth thinking about, it's breathtaking how many of the people who do it come from those places.  I think that kind of stuff has corrupted our country to an incredible degree.  I think its origins lie in the past in things like the Dred Scott decision - turning people into commodities to be used by slave owners by denying their personhood - and the Supreme Court clerk who inserted the corporate personhood crap into a ruling - from where it has been used to destroy democracy as recently as the Citizens United decision.   If that hadn't been done, while it would have been possible for our Constitutional system to produce some really bad presidents, it would almost certainly not have been able to produce a Trump.

While the comedians can call the crooks, gangsters and monumental liars on their nonsense, they don't have the power to prevent them from going right on doing their stuff and getting away with it, depending on the mutual dishonesty of their colleagues in government, on the courts and in the media to cover for them.   It's almost shocking that they are allowed to get away with pointing out what a bunch of fucking liars and gangsters those folks are.  Fortunately, people watch them and they make money for someone.  Maybe even some of those people don't especially like the respectable, elite, rich gangsters and thugs either.

Update:  I should have mentioned that if you wanted a great example you could compare Meyers and Bee and Colbert to NPR's Morning Edition this morning.  Anyone who thinks Morning Edition and its staff weren't carrying water for the lying Trump and his Republican-pundit liars is lying to themselves.  And that's not even to mention Maine Public Broadcasting's Morning Edition staff who were giving Susan Collins the royal treatment.   They're disgusting.

The Universe Creators Objecting To Far More Modest Claims

This part of my argument from yesterday was objected to, though I don't think the person who did so really understood what they were attacking.  The claim I made is contained in this sentence.

Even taking as a given those constants are accurately measured, are real as defined and have the enormous range of merely physical consequences asserted as made for them, many people with degrees and careers in science believe in them on a faith surpassing the faith that one would have to accept the one for the existence of God based on them.

I think that's a rather obvious statement.  In fact, it touches on the real way that science really does work in the world of science.  Unless someone who works in science has gone through every scientific demonstration of a point, if they accept the conclusion reached, they buy the idea on the faith that that point has been proved to be reliably believed, uninspected.   They buy it in the way that people buy things made by old, established name-brand companies whose reliability is assumed. 

That is most easily understood by considering the mathematics that science is based in.  Scientists use mathematics every day, it has been called "the language of science" though I don't think that's a particularly good analogy, let's take that on faith.   But the majority of scientists, I'd guess practically all working scientists, haven't gone through the proofs of every axiom or theorem or other logical and mathematical proof of every bit of math they have used.  When they use it they take it on faith that those proofs are sound, they don't know that in more than a banal manner.

That is especially true when they take something true in the physical or biological sciences when they rely on the peer reviewers of papers, articles and books, on the competence, honesty and diligence of their colleagues - which, as you can read in such places as Retraction Watch,* are anywhere from occasionally unreliable to quite shockingly unreliable.  Entire sciences have been shown to be scandalously unreliable in all of the above, yet they aren't booted out of the pantheon of scientists and their areas of research demoted to lore or pseudo-science.  And sometimes, as can be seen in the quality of the work and claims of those in accepted, academic psychology as opposed to the entirely more rigorous research into parapsychology, that acceptance verses non-acceptance is not based on the honesty, rigor and diligence of the researchers but out of ideological motives.   I know that last point is controversial but, having read a lot of the research, I think it would be dishonest to not admit that to be true.  

In the case of my argument yesterday, it is a matter of the complex nature of the arguments needed to accept scientific premises, such as the value of the constants of nature and the fine tuning of their measurement and the combined probabilities for those constants falling within exquisitely narrow limits to have produced not only the life permitting universe we experience and which science can study (in no small part to us being here to do and read science) as I recall the incredibly narrow probability of ten to the power of sixty in the first but the overall conclusion that the combined factors in the consideration make the overall probability of a life permitting universe to be ten to the power of ten to the power of ten to the power of twenty-three.   I certainly don't understand the scientific and mathematical arguments leading to the valuation or even identification of all of those constants I would guess that the larger number of scientists who deal with such matters take some or even most of those on the kind of faith I mentioned above.  

My claim is that given all of those complex arguments and the science they are based in is accurate and true and the insights claimed about them are valid, the use of those in arguments about the likelihood of that incredibly small range of probabilities permitting life and intelligent life, in face of the stupendously greater probability of of life prohibiting universes leading to conclusions that it is by design is a relatively simple and straight-forward argument.  If materialists and atheists want to claim the constants of the universe are valid and the consequent arguments of the probabilities of a life sustaining, intelligent life producing universe are valid, then they have no right to prohibit the extra-scientific use of them to argue for the conclusion that our universe is the way it is by the design of God.  

Especially as almost every materialist or atheist who accepts the validity of those for secular, banally material matters does so on a faith that doesn't really exceed the faith of those who conclude that they exhibit the design by an intelligent creator.   And many of them ask us to believe in far more incredible powers of creation. 

The materialist-atheist alternatives trying to get rid of that conclusion, even some of them entirely absurd assertions such as Hugh Everett's Many Worlds interpretation requiring that on the basis of probability math, one believe that the most tiny and banal occurrences in our experience generate an infinite number of alternative universes and who knows how many variations of his fantastic idea, require a belief that we are all unintelligent, unaware, unintentional creator gods of far more than the one universe claimed to have been created by God in Genesis and other creation lore of religion.  The number of universes which atheists anxiously create in a frantic attempt to explain away the conclusions that people draw from the fine-tuning of our one, observable universe far exceed the number of religious creation myths.   Given time, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of interpretations of quantum physics didn't come up with more framings of their alternative than have been produced by the major religious traditions.  They have made a good start on that in the last 61 years, when Everett published his paper that set the business of universe creation off.   The results of that kind of stuff have led many observers such as Peter Woit and others - hardly friendly to religion- to bemoan the state of decadence theoretical  physics and cosmology have entered into.  As I've pointed out before, it was a state of gloom that led Bertrand Russell, the atheist pope of his day, to gloomily announce an imminent period of scientific and intellectual decadence  in the late 1920s, on encountering the conclusions that physicists already had reached by that time.  

If they can argue the absurdities that the multiverse conjecture depends on to support atheism - where the energy that powers their continually created universes from things like me scratching my nose comes from is the one that struck me first -  they can not reasonably be allowed to dismiss, out of hand, the far less fantastic and self-contradicting claims of those who, through far more established science, conclude that belief in design is reasonable.  Especially among those who do not claim that their conclusion can be used to do science.  The claims and assertions of many who believe in design are far more moderate in their claims.  

*  Their first page this morning contains these headlines;

“Data had been manipulated:” Science Translational Medicine retracts paper

“Authors’ negligence” causes “a plethora of data errors”

A retraction gets retracted — but the first author’s contract is still terminated

Anesthesiology society bans co-author of researcher with record-number of retractions

Their motto is,  "Retraction Watch   Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process". 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What We Now Know From James Comey

Alan Dershowitz, torture advocate who plays a a civil libertarian on TV, seems to be auditioning to be Trump's lawyer these days.  I don't know when the last time I said that I think Dershowitz is scum was but it's been too long. 

He is loathsome.    

Marc Kasowitz Goes To Washington

I don't know much about Marc Kasowitz except that he's been one of Trumps thuggish lawyers.  I had read someone describe him as a "mafia divorce lawyer" but I don't know anything about that.   He looks the part, that much I do know.

Now that I've seen and heard him today, spinning Comey's testimony and now that I'm reading people who know more than I do pointing out how stupid what he's saying is,  I have a feeling he's going to be more like Baghdad Bob than the kind of presidential lawyer we've become used to seeing.

But Kasowitz made a significant error in describing the sequence of events prior to the memo’s disclosure. He claims the public record “reveals that The New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory.” In fact, Trump posted his tweet about “tapes” of their conversations on May 12. The first Times article about the memos wasn’t published until four days later on May 16. While the Times did publish an article on May 11 describing the January 27 dinner in which Trump purportedly asked Comey for his loyalty, the Times cited officials who recalled Comey’s descriptions of the evening to them, not the memos themselves.

Kasowitz also described Comey’s drafted recollections as “privileged communications, one of which was classified.” Comey never described the memos as classified in his written testimony or in his answers to senators’ questions on Thursday. At one point in his written statement, he explicitly said he “immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn.” He also did not correct senators who referred to the memos as unclassified multiple times throughout the hearing, despite taking pains to avoid discussing potentially classified matters at other times.

It’s not clear why Kasowitz referred to the memos as “privileged communications.” Because Comey was not Trump’s lawyer, priest, or spouse, his conversations with the president would not be covered by the typical legal privileges. From the available context, it’s possible Kasowitz meant to refer to the memos as falling under executive privilege, which shields some communications between presidents and their subordinates from judicial and legislative scrutiny. But the White House explicitly said Monday it would not invoke that privilege to block any of Comey’s testimony. Even if the memos did fall under its scope—and it’s unclear if they would—his discussion of them on Thursday would therefore not be illicit. Executive privilege does not apply to disclosing documents to the public or the press.

And, of course the invaluable Charles Pierce has his take on it.

This is really not the way to go here, lad. You see, this argument implies that Comey's memos are accurate, which is Not Good for your fractious client. (And, hey, how about that Preet Bharara, the defenestrated US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and conspicuous antagonist of the current president*, sitting right there behind James Comey like Banquo's ghost? That was cool.) Nevertheless, Kasowitz kept digging.

You can read the excerpts from what Kasowitz said at Pierce's blog.  He ended his post on this thus.

Flat denials also are not the way to do it, not with Comey's memory and gift for crafting the critical memo. Remember when defending the president was any Beltway lawyer's golden ticket? Yeah, those were the days. If Kasowitz stays with his current gig, I expect to see him in a commercial on my TV late at night, asking if I have had an accident on the job or a problem with an arterial stent. Operators are standing by.

In that case, one expects he'll be shilling on FOX along with the catheter commercials and gold swindle comeons.

Now that James Comey has testified that he told Rod Rosenstein about his concerns about Trump's conduct, after Rosenstein was sworn in and not long before Rosenstein wrote the letter Trump used as his excuse to fire Comey, the Department of Justice ethics office must open a serious investigation of Rosenstein because everything about his behavior as Deputy Attorney General has stunk like a rotten skunk whose carcass had been shoved to the side of the the road.  That rotten skunk would be Rosenstein's reputation as a straight arrow.  He's as bent as any of his more infamous predecessors.

Keep Calm and Ignore Trump's Tweets

Note that the Nazi mentioned below appears in the above.


On Seeing Sebastian Gorka On A News Video Just Now



It's Not A Matter Of Proof It's A Matter Of What Will Get You Looked Askance At And Whispered About In The Faculty Lounge

I am not really big on the "proving the existence of God" stuff because I've never been convinced that proof was relevant to the issue.  Over the course of my adulthood I've been mildly interested in the question but early figured out that any way you handled it, for or against, you had to rely on premises you had to take on faith so you might as well just admit that it was a matter of belief.

Through looking at the pursuit of the debate in a more rigorous manner in the fifteen years or so since the beginning of the new atheism fad, considering just that issue of the argument being based on belief at the beginning (and so at the end)  the conclusion isn't one that supports the belief that human beings are capable of anything but reliance on belief for anything, including science, mathematics and, in the ultimate impeachment of the concept of absolute knowledge, logic, itself.

You have to have accepted the truth of foundations of all of it, you might have accepted those foundational truths in your earliest childhood based on the experience of things reliably occurring or existing and on the basis of commonly shared common sense arising out of common experiences.

But those are probably some of the least rigorously examined of all beliefs because on their primitive acceptance everything else taken as to constitute rational experience and thought are based.  Don't mistake that observation the way some of the jerks who troll me do, as the rinky-dink, Frosh class philosophical kind of debunkery of that experience as an exercise, that stuff is banal, frequently stupid and generally over done by uninspired teachers of such intro level classes.  If someone is too stupid to, need more than the statement of the fact that their everyday experience of reality and rational thought are founded on faith, they don't belong in a Frosh philosophy class to start with.  I've gone over the famous story told of D. T. Suzuki, the great scholar of Zen when asked by a famous Western philosopher if a table was real he. as it was told to me, answered rather impatiently (for a Zen scholar) "Yes".  And when the Western philosopher pursued the matter, "In what sense is it real,  Dr. Suzuki" the story goes he said,  "In every sense".

This is a long way to saying someone encouraged me to watch a William Lane Craig video,  Arguments for God's Existence | Worldview Apologetics Conference 2017,  that was put up yesterday or the day before.   Figuring I needed something to get me away from politics for a few minutes, I watched it. expecting I'd find it a little irritating in the "Is this table real" way.

I have watched a number of Craig's debates with famous atheists such as Lawrence Krauss and Sean Carroll and was impressed a lot more with his grasp of the cosmological issues and his handling of arguments for the existence of God than those of his opponents.  Larry Krauss embarrassed himself and unintentionally exposed some of the most threadbare and dishonest of atheist tactics that I used to think he was above.   Sean Carroll did better but only managed to keep Craig from mopping the floor with him.   I find Craig somewhat less impressive when it comes to dealing with such matters as the question of evil and on matters where I think his reliance on, not a fundamentalist reading of the scriptures but a far more literalist one than I accept, is unpersuasive.   Though many do find him as impressive on that, he's wildly popular with a lot of people, he's respected by many atheist philosophers.  I respect him, especially as a philosopher and a debater, but I find my inspiration elsewhere.

Anyway, I watched the video which you can here.  It lasts 49 minutes.  I'm not going to cue any particular part of it.  There are one or two places where I lost the thread of his thought but I think that's because I hadn't done much reading on those issues, the ones I had read on seemed soundly argued, to me.

As I mentioned, I expected to find the video irritating but it wasn't too bad in that way.  As I listened to it, as I thought about the ways in which his arguments would be attacked by atheists (they tend to be as predictable in their attacks on arguments as they are in their arguments) and something else happened.

I started asking myself other questions that have been occurring to me more lately.  Questions of the levels of evidence that are considered respectable in academia and in the common received secular wisdom, in the media and other lower mid-brow venues of attitude transmission, the kind of thinking accorded respectability and the violation of which will get someone looked askance at, smiled condescendingly to or be used to attack someone's standing, something which is understood to be unacceptable.   The kind that marks them as a cooties carrier, which is what it boils down to.

The Kalam argument that one of the two short films deal with is handled well by Craig, it is an argument he has thought about deeply, I believe he's written on it. It is, though, the one I find less persuasive.  At least that's how I caught my self thinking about it as I listened.

Then I thought,  really, what other things in the list of the things one is required to believe have better arguments to support them?

How many of the things which we accept every day on the authoritative statements of scientists have we ever thought of with the same level of rigor as Craig presents that argument with on even a popular level?  And a lot of the things we are expected to believe as a matter of faith, on the declaration of scientists or other experts, are far more contrary to our everyday experience.  And that's the real science, not the frequently baseless claims of behavioral scientists which, when you look at the published science, is obvious garbage, sometimes blatant nonsense.

His presentation of the fine tuning of the constants of nature led to me asking how many people who accept the values of those constants as a matter of secular fact understand them at all.  Even the ones who actually know what they mean, so a minority of the audience, do so as a matter of fact instead of on the basis of having understood the arguments that support them.   I don't even understand what most of them are, but I am supposed to, as a member of the educated population, accept them on the say so of scientists, on faith.

Even taking as a given those constants are accurately measured, are real as defined and have the enormous range of merely physical consequences asserted as made for them, many people with degrees and careers in science believe in them on a faith surpassing the faith that one would have to accept the one for the existence of God based on them.

If you believe they are real and if you believe the statements about the fine tuning of them and the consequences made by the most eminent of cosmologists (many of them atheists) of the possible tiniest variations in those values as not permitting a life supporting universe, the belief that fine tuning inevitably implies the existence of God to well past the range of reasonable doubt is not an unrespectable conclusion.

Why is it respectable and accepted that science can define them and reveal an effective range of their properties and consequences on faith that must be based on mere authoritative acceptance of their word but a simpler logical argument based on that faith, as a given, is considered unrespectable?  The arguments for it are certainly stronger than the ones Craig discussed which assert the multiverse or the various schemes proposed to get by the other big problem of the origin of the universe in an absolute beginning.   I'll point out that Craig's claim that a multiverse and its mechanism of creation would almost certainly have to be fine-tuned itself makes a lot more sense to me than the atheist assertions that motivated cosmologists to make it up out of nothing.

Yet atheists will get upset with you when you express skepticism about these ultimate claims of would-be science for which there is absolutely no evidence at all except for the ideological motives of their creators.  And they didn't even think them out past where they wanted to stop.  An infinite God would be logically concluded to be capable of creating an infinite number of universes, so that got them nowhere, anyway.  Instead of creating a jillion universes while facing down the bad news that people would be led to believe in God due to the Big Bang theory, they grasped at intellectual straws.

In the end I don't think the issue is one of whether or not people find those arguments persuasive, I think the issue is whether or not they can admit that they do find them persuasive without suffering the kind of pressure to keep quiet about it or be shunned in respectable company.  I think that is mostly a question of fashion and social coercion to conform to the current intellectual fashions and the anxious feeling of insecure and ignorant people to want to seem in with that than it does anything to do with reason or knowledge.  I've come to the conclusion that many religious believers, even many I disagree with as I do Craig, are quite intelligent and are often entirely more prepared to argue their case than even the most eminent of atheist intellectuals.  For me one of the greatest consequences of the new atheist fad was that when I went back and looked at the arguments of atheists, even the best of them, they depended far more on coercive fashions, bullying and misrepresentations than their opponents.

I have handled that in the typical Irish manner that annoys Britatheists and those in the fashion capitols such as New York City so much, I just decided not to care about their disdain.

I do think that the use of science to support faith is no less respectable than the use of it to support atheism. That, I think is a truth that becomes more obvious with looking closely at this.   I think that if the range of things said by scientists about the fine-tuning of those constants persist over time that they make a far better argument that the physical universe exhibits features leading to conclusions of design than they do random chance producing the universe we experience and which human study has revealed.   Though I think that the argument from design will never really be treatable by science because science, by its rules, is unequipped to handle it,  it is an intellectually respectable claim.

It's not what I found persuaded me.  That was my experience of life and my reading of history.  Fact checking the common anti-religious claims of history and seeing how many of those are blatant lies didn't add much to the atheist side of the scales.   I think the thing that persuaded me most to go from unfocused and generalized faith to believing was the Gospel of Jesus, a closer reading of The Law and the Prophets and, in the end, a closer reading of the Pauline epistles taking into account that he was writing to specific groups of people living embedded in the pagan culture they had to deal with, with the range of habits and expectations their new faith would have to deal with and other such things.  The frequently cited advice to slaves was coupled with reminders to slave owners that The Gospel required them to treat slaves as they would want to be treated - as effective a means of ending slavery as any ever devised, of husbands who were considered by the pagan, Roman law to be absolute despots that their legal despotism had to, as well, acknowledge their wives' right to the same reciprocal treatment according to the words of Jesus.  In virtually every one of the passages in Paul used by those who wanted to violate equality, he provided the refutation of their claims.  He was not as radical as Jesus was but Jesus wasn't establishing a church, he was announcing something more radical than that, the Kingdom of God.  But that's a different and more complicated set of arguments. Compared to that, the existence of God stuff is Frosh level.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

It's Been A Long Time Since I Saw Something This Outrageous In A Senate Hearing

If the Senate Intelligence Committee allows the four stonewallers who refused to answer questions without being able to cite a legal reason for doing so to get away with this, the whole theory of checks and balances goes and Donald Trump is turned, by fiat of these four bureaucrats, into an absolute ruler.  

It is outrageous that the Acting Director of the FBI and the Deputy Attorney General of the United States are doing this on the basis of their not feeling like answering the questions put to them by Senators.  Not to mention the other two.   They should be cited for contempt at the very least.  

The Trump regime has produced, among other things, Jeff Sessions lying, openly, during his confirmation hearings, and yet the Senate confirmed him to be Attorney General.  Then, as a result of that lie, he recused himself in the Russia investigation - only to violate his recusal by participating in the removal of James Comey because Trump couldn't get him to stop the investigation that Sessions lied about to the Senate.

Unless some heads start rolling on this, right now, American democracy is dead, killed by the Republicans in charge of the Congress.  
Yeah!   I'm not Angus King's biggest fan in the world but, hurray for grilling these stonewallers over their justifications for their stonewalling.   

It might be your finest hour Senator King. 

Update:  And Rod Rosenstein has proved himself to be a sleazy little partisan creep. 

This Is A Stonewall Operation Their Refusal To Answer The Question Says It All

Coats would certainly be willing to say that Trump hadn't asked him to try to influence the investigation if it had never happened.  That would not be saying what Trump said to him, it would be saying what Trump didn't say to him. 

Today's panel in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee are part of the cover up.
Along with him being a blight, 
Simps also is inerudite,
His reading, illiterate,
And lying, inveterate 
Makes dopey ignorable, quite. 

Update:  Since Simps loves the Brit invasion so much and since he loves to post garbled versions of what's said here at Duncan's... Well, listen at your own risk.

Update 2:  “Definition of rock journalism: People who can't write, doing interviews with people who can't think, in order to prepare articles for people who can't read.”  
Frank Zappa

Update 3:  Google?  How would I have found The Roulettes singing their immortal hit Tell Tale Tit by google?  I may have heard it on the radio, once, I doubt it was more than once and I remembered it.  I've got a good memory for music, unfortunately, even the worst music I've ever heard.   One of the reasons I will not listen to Simp's garage band he's always boasting about. 

Republican Social Darwinism In The News, With More On The Other Kind of Liberalism

More on yesterday's first post about economic justice, the two definitions of "liberalism"  and why one isn't different from Republican social Darwinism, 2017 .

During Tuesday night’s debate for an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, Republican candidate Karen Handel said that she does not support a “livable wage.”

“This is an example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative: I do not support a livable wage,” she said on Atlanta’s WSB-TV in response to a viewer question about raising the minimum wage. “What I support is making sure that we have an economy that is robust with low taxes and less regulation.”

Handel said that raising the minimum wage could “dramatically” hurt small businesses.

Handel’s opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, said that “the minimum wage should be a living wage.” He noted that he supports raising the minimum wage gradually so that businesses can slowly adapt to the increase.

Being against a livable wage is unamerican.  It's more Brit. It's definitely Darwinist.   I wonder how many fundamentalists will be voting for Darwinism and not even know it.   I wonder how many fundamentalists will, contrary to stereotype, vote for Jon Ossoff.  I'll bet you won't read much about them in the news.


And speaking of which, just another reminder that it wasn't the underclass that put Trump in the White House,  more middle class and rich white people many with college educations put the traitorous boob and Putin asset there.

New polling data from the American National Election Study has provided even more ammunition to finally kill off this argument. As detailed by Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu of The Washington Post, white working-class voters comprised only 25 percent of his voters.

Trump’s voters weren’t overwhelmingly poor. In the general election, like the primary, about two thirds of Trump supporters came from the better-off half of the economy. . . .

To look at it another way, among white people without college degrees who voted for Trump, nearly 60 percent were in the top half of the income distribution. In fact, one in five white Trump voters without a college degree had a household income over $100,000. . . .

In short, the narrative that attributes Trump’s victory to a “coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters” just doesn’t square with the 2016 election data. According to the election study, white non-Hispanic voters without college degrees making below the median household income made up only 25 percent of Trump voters. That’s a far cry from the working-class-fueled victory many journalists have imagined.

Having read a lot of the class snobbery of British socialists and other elite who liked to play the game of Philanthropy for the thrill of looking down on the underclass and advocating their sub-human status, I wonder if this persistent vilification, which runs counter to just about every geeky data crunch of the election I've ever seen is a current, domestic version of the same thing.  It's telling that the fans of this kind of stuff in so many more dubiously published studies are so resistant when it doesn't vilify the underclass.  

And they wonder why the people they love to insult aren't more enthusiastic for their style of leftiness.   I'm still looking at stuff from the recent Left Forum, they've posted Youtubes.  I'm taking those slowly, it's the same old crap recycled yearly since the mid 1960s that claims to be the vanguard of revolution as it sinks ever farther into counterproductive futility and impotence.  It's truly pathological.

The 2016 Election Is Our Political Pearl Harbor American Democracy Can't Survive Corrupt Elections

It is proof that Americans aren't serious about democracy and the only thing that gives legitimacy to the government, an honestly held vote, that seventeen years after the disastrous election of 2000, as we find out the extent to which the dictators in Russia have meddled in the 2016 elections that banning the use of voting machines and the dependence on the internet in the interest of protecting the vote is not being demanded as the only way anyone can have any confidence that the right people are governing the country.

After the obvious manipulation by the Florida government under Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris and the incompetence of the ballot design as well as the use of voting machines, it was clear that they didn't give a reliable result  Things are worse with computerized voting machines because they can be hacked, they have been long demonstrated to be vulnerable to hacking and corruption and nothing has been done to get rid of them.  Given the state of hacking and the political interests of the companies who design the machines and the software, there is no reason to believe it can be made safe.

Federal elections produce the Congress and the Presidency who rule over all of us, there is a national interest that all of the people who hold those offices are elected honestly, beyond not only a preponderance of evidence, beyond any doubt.   If Democrats again get control of the federal government they should make it a law that no election which is not based on a paper ballot, marked by the voter which is retained in a secure manner for recounting will be certified.  If that isn't a means of forcing serious voting reform to secure the vote some other means of doing so must be taken.  A paper ballot marked by the voter and retained in a secure manner for recounting is the minimal requirement for a vote that deserves to be taken seriously.   I would prefer a hand count of the vote as has worked so well in Canada for decades and which worked in the United States - though the process, too, has to be honest beyond question.   Here is a description of the process in Canada, whose elections process is notably more honest than it is in many American states.

There is no excuse for there to be anything but an absolutely standard ballot for the federal offices, president, vice president, House member and senator.  A form of ballot that is taught in elementary school and which is as familiar as a penny.  

The disaster of the Trump regime, produced by a combination of domestic corruption and interference by a foreign despot looks like a final warning to me.   Given the way that Republicans in legislatures and governorships as well as on the courts have been trying to rig elections in ways unseen since the height of the Jim Crow era, it has already produced the most serious attack on American democracy, perhaps in our history.   This is our political Pearl Harbor.   It's not as dramatic up front but the results are going to be bad.   I don't see a lot  evidence that people have noticed much.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

No Recording Can Stand Up To That Many Hearings

I seldom disagree with Charles Pierce but I think the seldom mentioned anniversary of Aretha Franklin's RESPECT is more noteworthy than the Mop Head's over-reported album.   

I don't have a copy of the album but I'll bet I could still hear the one it came out on, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.  I don't think that other one would be more than wall paper, which happens when you hear something too many times.

Update:  Oh, I think in two and a half minutes Aretha and her sisters Erma and Carolyn remaking of Otis Redding's song did more for more people than than many lauded volumes on the bookshelf of the second wave of feminist writers managed to. 

Did Trump Himself Meet With the Russian Ambassador?

See Also:

There has never yet arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, no who has beheld his like.
Maimonides,  Yidal, Verse 7

They tell me I've got symptoms of early stage pneumonia and I've got to go to bed.   I'm determined to live long enough to see Trump fall so I'm taking their advice.  If I didn't figure that was coming, ......... [meh].

If you want to read something really worth reading, I found a chapter of Walter Brueggemann's book The Prophetic Imagination, online, a book he identified as his signature book.


Which goes into far more detail and with what I think is a far more acute, insightful, focused and extensive discussion of the same issues discussed below.   Note that he includes what I take as an essential internal criticism of liberalism, religion, etc. and insights into the texts that you don't generally get from secular skimmings of them.

For example, notice him pointing out that the last of the Plagues, the death of the First Born, in the context of Egyptian political structure, meant the cutting off of the next generation of their ruling class. I've known that story since I was five and that way of thinking about it never occurred to me.  I think, considering what our Pharaohs, Putin, Trump, May,... are prepared to do to the entire world to maintain their wealth and power, the idea that you would need something that dramatic to soften the hardened heart of a Pharaoh isn't poetic exaggeration, it is extreme realism.  Perhaps it was also necessary to convince those held in bondage that they had to take the chance of freedom, perhaps they needed to see something of that shocking magnitude before they could accept The Law which counters the eternally encountered Pharaonic status quo.  Maybe it will take something like that for us, too.  We're not so very different, America has set up a golden moon-calf as a focus of worship.

As presented by a scholar and reader as deep and as profound as Walter Brueggemann, texts you read in a modern, literalist manner, what I'd also point out is a superficial manner, take on a depth that few other products of human thought ever achieved.

I hope the publication of that section is by permission.  I haven't read the whole book yet, it's on order, if I live that long.  Don't worry, I'm expected to.  Or worry, depending on who's reading this.  I knew I could get atheists to pray.

Driving Off A Cliff: Oh, My. I Think Trump's Lawyers Are All Going To Take The Gas Pipe Over This One

Trump will live-tweet during testimony of former FBI Director James Comey

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa told MSNBC on Tuesday that the president would directly respond to Comey on Twitter as the testimony is underway.

“I was just talking to some White House officials this morning and their view is that the president himself wants to be the messenger, his own warrior, his own lawyer, his own spokesman,” Costa explained. “Some outside people, some surrogates will be available.”

“But the president is expected to be tweeting on Thursday in response to Comey, not to stay quiet during the testimony,” he added. “Because he himself wants to be the one driving the process.”

Carla Bley - Can't Get My Motor To Start

Judi Silvano: voice
Janice Friedman: piano
Jennifer Vincent: bass
Allison Miller: drums.

Update What's Your Story Morning Glory?  
by Mary Lou Williams

Trump Picks Fights on Twitter, Pisses Off World: A Closer Look

Telegram To Mike Pence

As you're being asked to pardon Donald Trump and whoever else you're asked to pardon before Trump will go, remember what pardoning Richard Nixon is believed to have done to Gerald Ford and his chances of winning election to the presidency in his own right.  

That is assuming Trump doesn't have the goods on you and can blackmail you into it.  Which will be a logical conclusion if you pardon him, too. 

Perhaps It's Fitting That Atheists Defend Neo-Darwinism By Resorting To The Genetic Fallacy

Instead of arguing with what I said, all you've said is that it's wrong because I'm a Christian and that - in ways implied but unspecified - refutes what I said.  

That, bunky, is a genuine logical fallacy, not as typically cited by atheists in arguments as "logical fallacies" but a genuine one, the genetic fallacy which might just stand as the signature tactic characterizing materialist, atheist and pseudo-skeptical argument at its most typical.   I'm not surprised, they've generally got nuthin' when things are pressed to their logical conclusions. 

You haven't identified a single thing I said that is wrong with evidence that it is wrong.  Try that and maybe I'll have to admit you're right.  Though I wouldn't advise you to hold your breath.   But it's still a free country, sort of. 

Now, incorrectly accuse me of "ad hominem fallacy" because that's what usually comes next in this exercise. 

The Liberal House Divided Against Itself Has Not Stood That Status Quo Can't Continue

In one of her essays Marilynne Robinson notes that there is an important and crucial difference between two meanings of the word "liberal".  She, roughly, distinguishes between a traditional American meaning of the word which she associates with Calvinist teaching on economic justice and a later, 18th-19th liberalism which is not all about equality.  Certainly that original liberalism is among the admirable things which came out of the writings of Calvin and the school of theology he started.  Though, I'll point out, there were others, in American history that Calvinist heritage is important.   Of course, in the popular imagination the word is associated with the doctrine of  sexual repression and no fun.  In the somewhat less popular imagination it is associated with the troublesome doctrine of predestination, election and the damnation of babies.  But, as is so often the case with secular scholarship, the most admirable of its stands is ignored and largely unknown even among such people as think they know all about it.

Robinson notes that that tradition is through Calvin is directly taken from another widely maligned source, the Jewish scriptures, The Law. She quotes passage after passage from the Torah, especially Deuteronomy and that most denigrated book of the five, Leviticus, to prove that a country which implemented its economic and social justice laws would be considered radical to an extent which no secular radical has ever been bold enough to imagine proposing.  If that were done it would produce an equality that even the most egalitarian American politicians of the 19th and 20th centuries couldn't dream of.

The other definition of "liberal" is a product of the so-called enlightenment, in 18th century France and, more so from an American perspective, especially Britain.   The issues in that liberalism were not economic justice or equality, they weren't justice for the orphan, the widow or the resident alien living among you (unless such an alien happened to be rich) they were, either tacitly or explicitly a call to free people from economic restraints that were held to inhibit commerce and trade and, as things developed, the pleasures and fun of those who could enjoy their wealth gained under them.   It should be remembered that such liberalism was not, in any way, inconsistent with inequality and many of its foremost figures not only endorsed early forms of scientific racism, many of them also favored slavery, imperialism and whatever bloodshed was involved in stealing the land and resources of people who couldn't fight back.

I was reminded of this, this morning as I forgot to turn off the radio and was exposed to this exchange on the annoying Marketplace Morning Report about the upcoming British election.   The intro to the short interview begins:

The United Kingdom heads to the polls on June 8 for a “snap” election, where British voters decide which party will control Parliament. The election was first announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May back in April in an attempt to increase the Conservative party’s majority. But with May falling out of favor recently, what was viewed as a safe bet at the time may end up backfiring on the Tories.    

The Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, has narrowed the gap considerably, but neither of the contending candidates fall in line with a pro-market, open-borders internationalism seen in Britain the last few decades, said Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor of The Economist. The magazine has endorsed the Liberal Democrats for its pro-market approach, which Beddoes joined us to discuss. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

You can read the whole interview but what jumped out at me is that Beddoes wanted an American audience to understand that her use of the word "liberals" didn't mean what Americans would probably imagine it to mean.  In American terms, her problem with the Tories is that they deviated from policies in line with the 18th-19th century meaning of "liberal," what in American terms should be thought to be in line with the money-men wing of the Republican Party and "centrist" Democrats. She made that distinction twice in the interview.

The worst of the two quite clearly is Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. He wants to take Britain a hard turn to the left or, you know, back to nationalizing key industries, huge tax increases at the top. He would be appalling. But frankly, the Conservatives under Theresa May have also moved very clearly away from those liberal values, if you will. Liberal in the English context — English sense of the term that we espouse. 

And David Brancaccio got her to say it again at the end of the interview.

Brancaccio: Again, liberals in the British sense not the American sense.

Beddoes: It's very important to say that what I mean when I say "liberal" is liberal in the 19th century British sense. Pro-market, pro-individual, freedom, pro-openness. Not the American sense.

It is an important distinction to make because, as Beddoes association of it with right-wing economics indicates, the two uses of the one word can mean exactly the opposite in reality.  Which is one of the things which American liberals really do have to sort out because, as a traditional liberal of the first kind,  I think an American liberal agenda and its achievement has been hampered by the confusion of the two terms.  As can be seen from the interview, what might be thought of as the European - the 18th-19th century free market liberalism which, in the end, serves the rich and powerful - is often hostile to the traditional, egalitarian liberalism which arguably had a right to the word associated in the older tradition with liberal provision for those without by those with and securing a decent life on an equal basis.

Some of the most disastrous things which have weakened American liberalism have been a result of the confusion of the two meanings of the terms.  The group of people defined as "liberals" in the United States are often at cross purposes and I've found, especially in communicating with large numbers of liberals, online, that even liberals, individually, often hold positions that are at cross purposes with each other.   I

In the first case, there is the division between the two.  There are those who are focused on the traditional meaning of the word derived from the moral absolute that people are created equal and that among the rights and obligations we are endowed with by God is the provision of a decent life to all - the kind of egalitarian governance under which enormous scales of inequality between the top and the bottom are actively prevented from coming into being.  That is the kind of life which can only happen by intentional human acts which create those conditions, I would hold that they can only happen when an effective majority of people believe that the moral obligation to do that overrides any personal ability to rig things to enrich ourselves over the common good.  And, in reality, that any legitimate government will include an expression of that moral obligation as civil law.

The other type of liberalism, the British style, as Beddoes would have it, is clearly in line with right-wing laissez-faire, policies that remove any kind of obligation on the rich, allowing inequality as a driving engine of wealth creation (really, it's wealth concentration) and letting the devil take the hindmost.   In some of such liberals, there is an assertion that this is the way of nature, in the Darwinian economists I've been criticizing, it is asserted to have something to do with natural selection as a law of nature, a law of science.  Anyone who wants to take the traditional and contra-factual dodge to exempt Charles Darwin from that never read what he had to say about economics. He'd have fit right in with the Heritage Foundation crowd, perhaps the Cato Institute crowd.  Though I have a feeling that Thomas Huxley would find the latter one more his style than the prissy Darwin.

There is a distinct set of differences in the foundations and results of the two different streams of liberalism, that which results from a devotion to equality and justice and that which pretends to be an expression of the laws of nature.   One obvious one is in the issue of the rights of women as it runs into the results of "liberal" court rulings freeing the pornography market which is, in every way, a promotion of inequality and the use of the stronger against the weaker.  The very, very few examples that could be cited denying that character of pornography is swamped by the effective totality of it which encourages sexual imagination in terms of dominance, use, cruelty, degradation and, in not an insignificant part of it, torture and murder.

I have repeatedly pointed out that the character of pornography, freed by extensions of such 18-19th century liberalism is a Sadeian school of self hatred and inequality among gay men entirely at cross purposes with any claims to our equality, our dignity, our rights and the moral obligation to permit us our equality.  It internalizes exactly the same forms of hatred and abuse that were the purpose of our oppressors, encouraged by the same themes of inequality by which men subjugate women in straight porn.  Even as the claims of marriage equality have been made, effectively, it is argued by the fans of such porn that gay marriage should take the form of the worst of straight marriages, in which infidelity is not only to be expected, but to be encouraged.  And if you want to see how that works out, look at those straight marriages that follow that and how mutually supportive they are in most cases in real life.

And that's only one of the obvious dynamics of cross purposes caused by the confusion of the two denotations of the one word.  I don't think that liberalism, certainly not egalitarian liberalism and the racial, sexual, ethnic, class equality which is the very blood and bone and muscle and sinew of democracy can survive the failure to make a distinction and asserting that difference as definitive and crucial.   The claims of the other liberalism of inequality and privilege, that it is some expression of nature and science, may be true but only to the extent that people are naturally selfish and indifferent to the lives of other people.  That is why such liberals as can claim that natural selection should rule our economic policy or any other aspect of our lives find it easy to hoodwink others, they sell themselves through the easy route of self-interest, of self-benefit.  The costs in even terrible inequality and misery and outbreaks of violence and, even, the total war of the rich and powerful against those they can plunder is OK with them as long as it's not they who are targeted.

Maybe liberals should remember something from scripture which Lincoln endorsed in his arguments for equality and against the slavery that, among others, the British textile interests* so much wanted to see continue, that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  That has certainly been the case of mid-20th century American liberalism.

Apart from the constant attacks made against traditional American liberals and liberalism by the press freed by Brit style liberalism, that confusion, the muddling of goals and intentions are what have accounted for this half-century in the political wilderness.   As I've mentioned before, those "enlightenment" liberals have led us around out there longer than Moses did the Children of Israel.  And we haven't shown signs of wising up to them yet.

*  Keeping the British government from coming into the American Civil War on the side of the slave holders of the Confederacy was Lincoln's most pressing problem in foreign policy.  Lots of British writers and intellectuals favored the Confederacy and the benefits the British wealthy got from slave labor here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

If He Were Doing Any Other Job, Donald Trump Would Have Been Fired by Now

Will No Honor Bring Trump Down?

If I start thinking about which of Trump's hangers on and lackies I most want to see go to prison I'll never be able to make up my mind.  My first inclination is to smile when I imagine his scumbag lawyer, Michael Cohen in orange jump doing the perp-walk with leg irons and matching cuffs but I'd rather see him convicted and with a suitable prison term and disbarred.  I hate scumbag lawyers who work for the most corrupt of the rich.   But, really, all of them can take their turn in that fantasy.

This article from The Atlantic speculates that as they find themselves in jeopardy with Five to Ten for 100 or Perjury, or Obstruction .... that they'll start trying to save themselves.  The idea is that Trump has hired the type for whom self preservation will count for more than loyalty to him but, if the old saw is true, the first to tell can get the best deal, then they might be as competitive about that as they were while trying to cut each others throats to score points with Trump.

The speculation that Trump's plan is to throw some of them to the wolves to save himself might just make that possibility more likely.   It's kind of what Nixon tried to pull on John Dean, only he was smart enough to see it coming and he took steps to protect himself, though it meant that Nixon was going to go down for it.

They say Trump hired smart but amoral people.   I hope they're smart, in which case their lack of morality might be the thing that takes him down.  There is no honor among people like that, which is why the idiot Founders' dependence on honor among the elite was so stupid.  Trump, the Republicans running Congress and on the Courts haven't got enough honor among them for one decent person.

Johannes Brahms - Piano Trio in C Op 87

The Grier Trio
Savitri Grier, violin
Indira Grier, cello
Francis Grier, piano

Nice little family band, this.

I wonder if that piano sounds as good in life as it seems like it should.  Not that I'm that impressed by the name.  There's a rebuilt Mason and Hamelin piano I played once that I'd have sold half my soul to buy.  Unfortunately the guy who owned it knew just how good it was.  No idea where it is now.

Hate Mail

Ok, you don't like that I said,  "Especially as there are three billion + reasons as measured in years of unknowable life history...."  I'll say take that three billion + years, multiply that by several factors, such as the the total number of organisms alive during that period so as to comprise evolution, the uncountable incidents and factors of environmental conditions, benefits, hazards, close calls won or lost,  coincidences, .... which may or may not have led to them dying or living, the ones which would result in them leaving more or fewer offspring than others of their kind, etc. and you will come up with a far better number to understand why it is entirely possible that natural selection is an entirely imaginary framing instead of a real force of nature.   Or why, if there is such a thing, it might well be drowned out by stronger forces determining the course of life on Earth. 

By the way, any such coincidences, such as the mere chance of being preyed on or catching a fatal illness isn't necessarily a matter of biological inheritance, it can be merely a matter of chance.  Even identical twins or triplets, etc. could be eliminated due to mere chance even if, theoretically, their biological inheritance was identical.  There is no reason to believe that in even most cases the death of such an organism would be due to its biological inheritance.   Such things which could be called "forces" determining the characteristics present in the next generation as easily as something you want to imagine as "natural selection" could be.  I'd guess that chance events are a far stronger such "force".

Richard Lewontin, in his discussion of random factors in the reproductive rates of bacteria or cells mentioned the rate at which cells divide based on unequal numbers of certain molecules being present in divided cells.  If, in his example, seven such molecules had to be present before a cell divided, one of the two might have three copies and the other four, or five and two and the cell with more of the molecules could divide faster than the one which had to manufacture more of that molecule to get up to the required number for division.  Who knows how many such chance differences have been of crucial importance in the history of life on Earth? 

Update:  As far as I've always been led to understand any even biological factors that resulted in a difference in rates of reproduction would have to be inherited from the parents for natural selection to be relevant to the results.   How would chance, such as the an animal preying on one twin or even non-twin instead of another be reliably attributed to differences in inherited traits from the parents and potentially passed on to grandchildren of them?   I wonder if it's possible that in such a case, in species which care for their young, if having more offspring in a generation wouldn't result in diffused parental care, resulting in more of a chance that any one of them might be preyed on than if there were fewer.  I doubt that any difference in biological "fitness" among them would reliably be determinative of who got eaten and who survived to provide the next generation.  I'd imagine chance would be a far stronger "force" determining that.   How you would ever reliably observe such "selective features" or measure them as opposed to chance, I don't know.  I wonder how you'd check such attempts at measurement of such things in the wild as opposed to theory based on no observation.

Which reminds me, I haven't mentioned my debunking of Dawkin's "first bird to cry out" fable in a while.  Thanks for the reminder. 

Update:  Well, think of it in this way, how many current specimens of life alive right now would you need to come up with a "representative sample" of all of the life alive, right now?  Considering both the sheer numbers of organisms that would include and the vast variation in the organisms - among the myriad of species as well as within what we classify as species - their individual and group circumstances in life experience, etc?   It would certainly have to be a huge number of individual specimens to characterize such a sample as "representative" for any kind of analysis and drawing general conclusions about it - not to mention the impossibility of actually doing any of that or even to estimate numbers that people will generally agree on. 

Now multiply that number by years or generations or whatever in the past three billion years.  I guarantee you, even that first number dealing with just now would be vastly greater than the number of fossilized or preserved species which will ever be available for study by biologists so as to come to any reliable conclusions about details or mechanisms of evolution.   And that's not accounting for those unseeable, likely unimaginable events in the lives of such organisms.  Organisms aren't like Steve Weinberg's imagined electrons, one being like every other one.  How he knows that is an interesting question but unless you can come up with some reason for me spending time on it, I've got other things to think about. 

At least those are the kinds of things that make me skeptical of natural selection especially as defined by Darwin in 1859 or even before he died.  I've never gotten answers to my questions on that. 

Answering An Old Accusation

"You're against Natural Selection because it contradicts Christianity."

That was something I had said to me a long time ago because I made similar arguments to the one in this morning's post, that I was denying "scientific fact" because I didn't like its moral consequences.

That's true.  But not as the accusation was made.  If natural selection had never had the horrific consequences it did in terms of producing millions of murders, horrific violations of human rights in the forms of eugenics so hypocritically claimed to be some kind of boon to humanity and other such things, I might never have been led to study and think about it as I have.

But that's not a refutation of my criticism of it, all of science is a product of human consideration of human experience in the wider world.  And those things, the murders, the forced and often racially motivated sterilization programs, the horrendous legal and social policy that flowed, explicitly, from the claims of natural selection are as available human experiences to consider as any.  They are far, far more available than most of what the claims made for the existence of natural selection, lost forever in the irretrievably lost past, claimed as its confirmation.

I have made use of this quote by Richard Lewontin, from the excellent introduction to the excellent collection of his essays, "It Ain't Necessarily So" any number of times because it is such a concise and honest statement of that last stated, very real fact about the history and substance of the theory of natural selection.

It is not only in the investigation of human society that the truth is sometimes unavailable.  Natural scientists, in their overweening pride, have come to believe that eventually everything we want to know will be known.  But that is not true.  For some things there is simply not world enough and time.  It may be, given the necessary constraints on time and resources available to the natural sciences, that we will never have more than a rudimentary understanding of the central nervous system.  For other things, especially in biology where so many of the multitude of forces operating are individually so weak, no conceivable technique of observation can measure them.  In evolutionary biology, for example, there is no possibility of measuring the selective forces operating on most genes because those forces are so weak, yet the eventual evolution of the organisms is governed by them.  Worse, there is no way to confirm or reject stories about the selective forces that operated in the past to bring traits to their present state, no matter how strong those forces were.  Over and over, in these essays reproduced here, I have tried to give an impression of the limitations on the possibility of our knowledge.  Science is a social activity carried out by a remarkable, but by no means omnipotent species.  Even the Olympians were limited in their powers.

Its admissions of just what Darwinism, the ubiquitous and required framing of natural selection is founded on and the nature of that:

For other things, especially in biology where so many of the multitude of forces operating are individually so weak, no conceivable technique of observation can measure them.  In evolutionary biology, for example, there is no possibility of measuring the selective forces operating on most genes because those forces are so weak, yet the eventual evolution of the organisms is governed by them. Worse, there is no way to confirm or reject stories about the selective forces that operated in the past to bring traits to their present state, no matter how strong those forces were.

are some of the most honest and courageously and responsibly stated facts I've ever read from a scientist.

To that I will add the even more obvious but merely implied truth that the evidence of the 3 billion + years that evolution has been best estimated to include is known in such a vanishingly tiny, almost certainly unrepresentative sample of the billions, probably trillions of organisms and the far vaster range of their life histories as skeletally fixed in the fossil record, makes claims and stories made up about it almost certainly wrong.  The probability that even the most astute scientists can know more than the barest generalization that species appear at different times in the geological record and that the study of DNA and other aspects of cellular chemistry reveal commonly inherited traits makes a belief in evolution of species a reasonable conclusion.

If, as Lewontin said, and I doubt that any biologist of even minimal probity and thoughtfulness would deny it, that the proposed "selective forces are so weak no conceivable technique of observation can measure them" it's entirely possible they were never really there in the actual lives of the organisms they are supposed to have worked on.  I would say that that fact impeaches the right of people to claim natural selection even has a possibility of achieving a legitimate status as a scientific theory.

As I said the other week, since that is true and the case for natural selection rests on such conjectures, it's entirely possible that there are other forces governing the evolution of species which will never be imagined by human beings and which are either stronger  than the surpassingly weak forces claimed to be natural selection or, considering the possibility that what we conceive of as natural selection is just a mistaken bit of lore, that they might be there instead of it.   Such are the claims made for natural selection that I'd guess it is far more probable that nothing of the sort is actually there and it is a product of human imagination such as its most extreme forms in academia, today,  evolutionary psychology, Sociobiology and the hideous neo-Malthusianism of Darwinian economics.  People have been ridiculed for believing in far less on far more evidence.

I think there are good reasons to be more skeptical that natural selection is more than imaginary than to believe in it as a fact or a law of science.   I think, considering its immediate and pervasively powerful results in eugenics and some of the most depraved of classical and neo-classical economics, there's every reason to be skeptical of it.  Better reasons than that without it evolutionary science won't have a single, ruling narrative to explain evolution.  Though there are what far better arguments to support that evolution happened.  There is no law of nature that says biologists have to have something like the same laws that physicists or chemists enjoy.  Especially as there are three billion + reasons as measured in years of unknowable life history to suspect they will never have one that is real, more than the product of imagination that, suspiciously, has had such a role in supporting the all too powerful economic elite that provides so many of the major figures claiming natural selection as an all potent ruler of us all.

Update:  OK.  Imagine this.  Someone digs up the skeleton of one of your great-great-great grandparents, or, more likely, one bone from their skeleton and, from that, they make up a life history of them and their descendants, maybe even including conjectures about how many descendants they left based on their biological fitness.  Imagine the possibility of any of that lore invented out of that bone being accurate and reliably matching the reality of those lives with the tale as told.   And the entire tale of natural selection is based on tales told about billions of organisms for which not so much as a shadow of a bone is available.