November 18, 2010

Provocateurism 15: "Hiding Socialism"

From Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-in-Chief, ppgs 59-60:

Every aspect of Obama’s treatment of his career choice in Dreams from My Father was an active theme at the 1983 Cooper Union Socialist Scholars Conference. Want to fight the “dirty deeds” of Reagan and his minions? Become a community organizer. Do it well — and do it in a minority community — and you just might become the next Harold Washington, leading a coalition of blacks, whites, and Hispanics (“black, white, and brown”) for a socialist “redefinition” of America. Here, in community organizing and its associated proto-socialist political movement, was a rebirth of the sixties struggle for civil rights, yet focused now on economic equality. Through participation in this movement, Obama could earn himself a place in the African-American community, transforming America in the process. Obama says it all in Dreams. Only the socialism is omitted. Yet, by suppressing the socialist context of his organizing, a deadly serious radical strategy to transform the United States goes missing, buried beneath a heart-rending tale of existential agony and personal redemption.

As for socialism itself, Obama’s conservative critics (along with Newsweek) seem to have a better handle on the term than anyone else. The idea that America might inadvertently and incrementally fall into socialism is a great deal closer to the strategies of “actual existing socialists” than textbook definitions of economies nationalized at a single revolutionary blow. The reason Americans don’t understand this is that the universe of post-sixties socialism has remained largely hidden from public view. Yet this is Obama’s world. It’s time we got to know it.

I’ve talked plenty here about the left’s long-march through the institutions — particularly its revolutionary understanding that once it controls epistemology, which it is able to do by setting the institutional parameters for language and how it works, it will control every major social narrative, and have at its disposal the rhetorical tools to bracket out dissent as either intolerant or inauthentic. The control of language keeps those who would rebuke leftist, statist policy prescriptions on the defensive — and in fact is designed, in part, to do just that: once meaning is granted by way of willful consensus, it is predicated on nothing more than a tacit understanding between those with shared motivations that they need only insist it be so — that is, that believing in the truth of their proposition is not necessary, and in fact can be counterintuitive in an epistemic framework wherein the ends justify the means, and wherein the supposed greater good trumps the autonomy of any one individual (or individual attempt to mean).

In other words, it matters how you get there.

To the leftist, “pragmatism” is an assertive manifestation of an (ironically) dogmatic adherence to the idea that all “meaning” is subjective and a function of power — that in a world where right and wrong is determined by a battle over man-made edicts, he who controls the edict controls truth. Which means the only “truth” the “pragmatic” leftist is committed to is his belief that to control power is to control those narratives that as a matter of epistemology control us.

Or maybe not. I’m just spitballling here.

Discuss.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:04am
257 comments | Trackback

Comments (257)

  1. To the scientist, language that fails to describe and predict accurately is without value.

    Let the Left call me a h8er all they want; I still have arithmetic on my side. Let them smear my character and ascribe bad faith to my motivations — it won’t change the fact that I’m making predictions based on observed phenomena.

    They’re soon going to find out that words like “fiscal insolvency” have a meaning that’s not so easy to change.

  2. Which means the only “truth” the “pragmatic” leftist is committed to is his belief that to control power is to control those narratives that as a matter of epistemology control us.

    This is exactly right. Which is why it is going to be very interesting to see if the Tea Party and like-minded individuals will be satisfied with ‘taking back’ the federal government and leaving it at that.

    Because the real power over people’s behavior doesn’t come with the ability to enact laws but from the ability to exert peer-pressure via academia, the media, even pop culture.

    Especially, it seems sometimes, through pop culture.

  3. “I once said,’We will bury you’ and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.” — Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Premier

    “We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.” — Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Premier

    I can prophecy that your grandchildren in America will live under socialism. And please do not be afraid of that. Your grandchildren will … not understand how their grandparents did not understand the progressive nature of a Socialist society.”– Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet Premier

    The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day, America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.” — Norman Thomas, American socialist

    Just some food for thought…

    We were told what was happening, and who was doing it; and part of what Alinsky showed them was how to use our own values against us. Obama was supposed to be the culmination of the long march…

    But, he flim-flammed them, like he has everyone else during his whole life. Not that he’s not a true believer, he’s just far from as compentent as they thought.

    Without the absolute moral authority of the race card, he’s nothing; especially after ramming unpopular legislation down people’s throats, or when his foreign policy ineptitude is driven home like it was last week.

  4. Jeff,

    Great Post. Concise and cogently explained. So. [long awkward pause] You still beating the wife and kid or have you gotten off the sauce?

  5. Good quotes Bob. You must be on the sauce as well (your poor family). But Obama didn’t flim-flamm anybody. They flim-flammed themselves.

    Although, I’m not sure who “they” are supposed to be.

    They! Who’n the hell is THEY!?

  6. We, or possibly only I, may want to look back through the history of philosophy in order to see how these preeminently philosophical terms, terms such as epistemology and ontology, have been brought to this pass of use and misuse in politics. That they have fallen into these anti-philosophical pathways I take for granted. It’s the particular hows and whys these events have come about I wonder on.

    Maybe I shouldn’t wonder though. Philosophy has never been and may never be welcome in the city. The genuine article may be just too “out there” to be of any positive use to politics. Or, in the negative, perhaps too readily seen as directly detrimental to the aims of politics to be welcome: it’s too much a threat to the stability of the necessary myths and stories the city has to lean on to exist where the city has the ability to stamp it out.

    Yet somehow — and as I’ve said above I’m not at all certain how or why, — it seems as though philosophy has played no small role contributing to this topsy-turvying of itself. It is strange.

  7. The lefties just do the old, “repeat the lie as if it were true as often as possible” and it’s corrolary, acts as if the so-called “facts” involved in that same lie are so “taken for granted” (concensus!) that their relative merit never need enter in to the discussion…

    The Science is Settled!

  8. To the scientist, language that fails to describe and predict accurately is without value.

    The implied word after “predict” is “reality”.

    To the Leftist, language edicts/i> (creates) reality, so it “predicts” by definition.

  9. The reason Americans don’t understand this is that the universe of post-sixties socialism has remained largely hidden from public view.

    A huge and continuing, since at least the 1930s, debate on the left is over whether this secrecy is even necessary. And if it is necessary, then at what time, what point, is the mask to be dropped and the true self of those leading all the various organized communities to be revealed in their full glory?

    One of the pressures that the TEA Party, by its existence and now known effectiveness, has placed on the left is right at this point of fissure. If the combination of Glenn Beck’s chalk boards, Kurtz’s book, and Congressional investigations leads to some sunlight falling on these hidden recesses, the factional war within the left should resume as their early 80s ceasefire fails.

    Popcorn please.

  10. We, or possibly only I, may want to look back through the history of philosophy in order to see how these preeminently philosophical terms, terms such as epistemology and ontology, have been brought to this pass of use and misuse in politics.

    Rand wrote extensively on the subject. She said that the philosophers’ failure to do their job was a big part of the “long march” to which Jeff alludes. They’re supposed to be arming us intellectually to be able to fight those bastards, not programming us to join them. One of her biggest differences with “libertarians” was that we take as axiomatic things that she said could be proven from more fundamental principles.

  11. Well, it is noon on the east coast Ernst. And I am in the immediate suburbs of NYC…wearing a wife beaterVIOLENCE!

    No stubble though; too many years of having to be squared away wouldn’t allow that.

  12. Yes, sdferr. This isn’t your great great great grandfather’s William James pragmatism…

  13. They’re supposed to be arming us intellectually to be able to fight those bastards . . .

    I don’t think this is so, so to that extent I guess I would differ with Rand, (who I haven’t read though, I hasten to add).

  14. Ernst —

    I’m still persona non grata. Emails to prominent righty types who used to champion me are no longer returned.

    A Good Man I’m evidently not.

    But then, Flannery O’Connor told me those were hard to find, anyhow.

  15. We, or possibly only I, may want to look back through the history of philosophy in order to see how these preeminently philosophical terms, terms such as epistemology and ontology, have been brought to this pass of use and misuse in politics. That they have fallen into these anti-philosophical pathways I take for granted. It’s the particular hows and whys these events have come about I wonder on.

    sdferr,

    Perhaps herein lies the answer? At least in part.

  16. Without the absolute moral authority of the race card, he’s nothing

    Well, he’s not nothing. He’s Jimmy Carter. Unless, you’re saying that Jimmy Carter is nothing and on that I’m decidedly of kindred mind.

    As for Americans not seeing socialism creep up on them, I think another point to consider is that many Americans, for a myriad of reasons, most of them irrational, have come to desire socialism. Then there are Americans, like a sibling of mine, who call themselves, ahem, Capitalistic Socialists. When called on to ‘splain himself, he didn’t offer up much except the usual “fascism/corporatism” bad, power to the people good construct. Sigh. It’s enough to make me want to drink…more.

  17. What does Voegelin’s book suggest Ernst? I assume you intend that he explains by pointing backwards, illuminating the history I’ve mentioned, as opposed to intending to fix the answer in the mere existence of his book as such?

  18. Jeff, you are a good man. Just thought I’d say it.

  19. Discuss.

    You’re not the boss of me.

    Discuss.

    Well, OK.

    Let the Left call me a h8er all they want; I still have arithmetic on my side. Let them smear my character and ascribe bad faith to my motivations — it won’t change the fact that I’m making predictions based on observed phenomena.

    Guess what? Your belief in “observed phenomena” and “facts” is a manifestation of White Patriarchal Colonialism that posits “objective reality” as a means to control and oppress. Those in power always have an interest in maintaining a particular narrative, and if they can invoke a reality outside themselves to support the narrative, then that suppresses all challenges to authority.

    It’s no different from the feudal narrative wherein the inequality between me and thee is ordained by God, and the Church’s primary political role is to make that narrative air-tight. You want to challenge the power structure? Well, then, you’re challenging God, and that makes you a dangerous heretic.

    Seriously. They believe that concepts such as facts and science and objective reality are Just Another Narrative To Support Power (read: oppression), so they might as well cook up their own counter-narrative to undermine that power. It’s how we got the AGW nonsense: they have no shame in using the appearance of science to push a doomsday scenario that centralizes power and puts it in their worthy hands.

    The problem, of course, is that there the powerful DO concoct narratives to keep themselves in power, and they DO NOT take kindly to challenges to that narrative.

    The other problem is that the Left believes that There Is No Power But Power and Leftism Is Its Handmaiden. If the world consists of those being kicked and those doing the kicking, they figure they might as well be in the latter group.

  20. Yeah rnabs, I was kind of alluding to his overall inability, and how without the race card to protect him from criticism he’s just another mediocre inexperienced political hack who, when using a teleprompter, can speecify a bit.

    And without TOTUS? I’m of the opinion that, like many other of his ilk I’ve met, he can probably prtentiously cite a few facts and some stuff like Niebuhr quotes to impress the Brookses of the world, but mainly is a phony wannabe-intelligentsia that leans on his credentials to support the claim of his Brilliance!, and Judgement!.

  21. I’m still persona non grata. Emails to prominent righty types who used to champion me are no longer returned.

    A Good Man I’m evidently not.

    Well, you are the McCarthy of anti-semitism. And you did go after a soldier in the army of the secular priesthood. So it seems to me that the problem isn’t that you’re not a Good Man. It’s that you have no sense of decency, sir.

    At least that’s my theory of what happened with that particular performative.
    I guess you could say that you won by losing. So you got that going for you.

  22. Preview only works if you look at it. Damn.

  23. I know, Bob. I concur. He’s a remarkably average guy…from an approved grievance group. So, like, he’s the fucking smartest man evah.

  24. - Philosophers, like Mathematicians, are not generally overly concerned with the practical aspects of their product.

  25. – Philosophers, like Mathematicians, are not generally overly concerned with the practical aspects of their product.

    I was going to slam physicists for the same thing, but changed my mind. How do you like my passive-aggressiveness?

  26. I too have been frustrated by the “he’s not a socialist” defense that asserts that because the entirety of the United States economy was not summarily nationalized on January 20, 2009, Obama is not a socialist and his project is not socialism and RACISM! too.

  27. Epistemologically speaking, what happens when the principles of deconstruction are applied to deconstruction itself?

  28. Epistemologically speaking, what happens when the principles of deconstruction are applied to deconstruction itself?

    The easiest one-credit summer-semester course EVAH!

  29. The easiest one-credit summer-semester course EVAH!

    Bravo!

  30. “….what happens when..”

    – That would no doubt cause a rip in the space/time continuum, resulting in all of the botox in Nancy Pelosi’s face suddenly reversing polarity, sign, and spin, and collecting in donut shaped pertrusions around her ankles.

    – Also, hula hoops would make a come back.

  31. What does Voegelin’s book suggest Ernst?

    …Eric Voegelin’s criticism of our age: we have been commanded to lose our head; we have come to a stunted view of man and of science, not to mention of the world and of politics, which in turn, has spawned and legitimized unprecedented political violence. (56)

    [….]

    For Voegelin, the key to understanding the political violence of the twentieth century is to recognize that the term “science” has been perverted by materialism into positivism. Positivism is the systematic denial of anything beyond our senses, anything that can’t be measured scientifically. [….] [S]uch reductionism denies our everyday experience, and makes nonsense of common sense. That is why positivism utters high-toned nonsense. (56)

    The proper view of science … is the Aristotelian view[.] [….] [T]he goal of science is to explain reality as we experience it, not to explain it away. (57)

    [n.b. what V. is building up to here is that the pre-Enlightenment world allowed for the transcendental (metaphysical, if you prefer) and because we can’t measure the transcendental, the modern world tells us that it doesn’t exist, except as a superstitious hold-over from a more primitive time when out techniques for molding our surrounding to our satisfaction were less refined, and then only among the weak-minded and the “bitter clingers” . E.S.]

    Voegelin argues that we cannot properly understand the epically destructive character of twentieth century utopianism unless we understand the nature of … Gnosticism. For Voegelin, Gnosticim defines the nature of … a particular virulent and destructive strain of modern thought … that includes liberalism, Marxism, and National Socialism. (61)

    [….]

    Modern Gnostics give their own reductionist political theories the status of divine (scientific) revelation. They claim omniscience –they’ve figured out everything from the laws of physics to the laws of human history and the human mind. [….] [T]hey believe their theoretical gnosis [means] they can do anything for the sake of their theory. (62-63)

    [….]

    The modern Gnostic [philosophers of secular liberalism] attempt[s] to invest this world with all the elements that orthodox Christianity held to be achievable only in the next world[.] It started with the calls for the subordination of religion to the aims of the secular state … and led to calls for the elimination of religion and the divinization of man. In the place of religion, the secularists offered a new science –secular science– that would deliver now what Christianity promised for the hereafter. The secularist … divinized mere politics, which justified the creation of an all-encompassing, omnipotent, secular state[.] (63-64)

    For Voegelin … liberalism is … an heretical simplification of [Christianity]. It offers a fundamentally materialistic view of humanity, where man can be led to a technological utopia administered by an ever more powerful and centralized government. (64)

    Such is the dread spirit of modern totalitarianism and liberalism (and why liberalism tends naturally to totalitarianism). (64)

    Voegelin according to Benjamin Wiker who may be too god-botherish for your tastes. (But then, so might Voegelin’s pre-Vatican II Catholic world-view). (In any event if you mentally substitute “philosophical” for “theological” I think E.V. will serve for your purposes.)

  32. “How do you like my passive-aggressiveness?”

    – We’d simply posit that as a lessor creature you had no choice but to bow before your betters.

    – That is if we even noticed.

  33. - Notice the perfection in the HTML of my last if you had any doubts.

  34. Voegelin according to Benjamin Wiker who may be too g God-botherish for your tastes.

    Sounds like he might be right up my alley though…

  35. [W]hat happens when the principles of deconstruction are applied to deconstruction itself?

    You know, it’s no accident that the only time Derrida is comprehensible is when he’s tearing apart somebody else’s work. He was a jealous guardian of his own meaning that way.

  36. OT, but it doesn’t look good for Charlie ( http://tiny.cc/Rebuki ). He better hope thay vote soon so that it can all be downgraded to Rebuki Theater…

  37. BBH, there is a rule that when correcting someone or slamming someone, it usually backfires. Hence the html fail.

    Oh, by the way, I do not own any property.

  38. I’ve no trouble with what you term “god botheriness” Ernst, so long as the fellow is honest in his interpretation of Voegelin, or at least to the extent you’d vouch for his honesty there.

    But wait, yikes, what’s this substitute theological for philosophical mean? And where, that is? Just scanning it appears to me (very crudely speaking I’ll warrant here and now) that Voegelin seems to be making the case that Christian theology has been insinuated into the purposes of latter day philosophers, whether wittingly or not I can’t say. So making a transpositive substitution would tend to be-cloud the issue for me, I think.

  39. - There’s another useful rule cranky.

    – One nice characteristic of narcissists is that they seldom say things about others.

    – Existential question for the day: “How do you know when you run out of disappearing ink?”

  40. what’s this substitute theological for philosophical mean?

    That was me thinking out loud and forgetting that you can’t hear me scream and flounder in cyberspace. My first thought re: your “preeminently philosophical terms” was “they’re not philosophical they’re theological. Yeah yeah, stupid me, theology isn’t philosophic.

    Mostly I guess you could say that I was trying not to disturb the Pikachu and break the peace between the so-con and fisc-con tribes. Yeah yeah, silly me.

  41. And to really make sure I’m clear, that “theology isn’t philosophic” was directed at me, not you. Shoulda had an “as if” in front of it. Shoulda woulda coulda had an editor too.

    Oh wait, No I can’t.

  42. Hmm. The one real narcissist I knew felt he had to slam everyone around him, apparently to make himself look better. No one was immune from his tear-downs, even his “friends” (which I’m convinced in reality he did not have).

    BTW, I cannot tell you how often I have been caught in the “slamming backfire” rule. It happens almost every time, and to me that is one way the universe tells one (in this case, me) to not get too big for one’s britches. I then forget about the lesson until the next time I get caught.

  43. Let me back up a bit Ernst, to ask whether you don’t simply think that Voegelin is on to something about what has become of philosophy in our age, addresses the “strange” phenomenon I noted above with an answer that makes sense to you, that is?

  44. - The Butler, in the Den, with a letter opener.

    – Maybe you’re better off sticking to ‘rippin ‘ores Ernst. At least that way your target audience is in no condition to argue with you.

  45. I should have said, the narcissist had friends, but no one was his friend, if that makes sense.

    As for the ink question, presumably the ink disappears after it dries. Or, you could weigh the container.

    In closing, the egg came before the chicken. Off to the gym.

  46. “I then forget about the lesson until the next time I get caught.”

    – Yes. Life can be down right insidious at times.

  47. Just scanning it appears to me (very crudely speaking I’ll warrant here and now) that Voegelin seems to be making the case that Christian theology has been insinuated into the purposes of latter day philosophers, whether wittingly or not I can’t say.

    I think Voegelin may be arguing that catholic [note the lower case] truth has been excised from our philosophical inheritance by latter day philosophers, allowing existential ERROR in through the side door. E.V. would obviously argue it more subtly than that.

    My Voegelin is all second hand via Jonah Goldberg and Wiker and wikipedia.

    So much to read and only one lifetime to read it all in.

  48. Oh, and Michael Burleigh as well.

  49. - Here are the two possibles I could think of:

    – Your fellow spys stop answering your letters.

    – Your sexytery informs you your kisses have stopped tasting like lemons.

  50. The anwer is obvious BBH: always fingerpaint with your invisible ink.

  51. - It’s hard finding colors you can paint your fingers with that doesn’t clash with lederhosen.

  52. - The ever vigilant Pekachu seems to be off somewhere. There’s been several mentions of the “P” word without the usual suction cup sounds as he walks across the ceiling.

  53. sdferr, yes, I believe Voegelin can be read with profit. Along with Leo Strauss, William Voegeli, Harvey Mansfield, Paul Rahe, Lee Harris, Theodore Dalrymple, Thomas Sowell etc. etc. ad. nauseam. Ann Coulter for an aperitif.

  54. You only need two, perhaps three, if you’re republican in your sympathies.

  55. This isn’t a She of the Womb that Surpasseth All Understanding thread. Neither is it Money Money Money thread, nor a Darleen authored post, so nothing to get everyone all wee-wee’d up over.

  56. Well, yes, but that wasn’t the question I had really. To put the question, somewhat crudely again, for which I apologize, it seems to me that somewhere in the details down the years, the philosophical enterprise has gone off the rails along the way, and I was wondering whether you believe that Voegelin (not to say uniquely him) has put his finger on the problematic bits, identifying them to us and possibly even, suggested a means to put the enterprise back to rights with itself? Or heck, for all I know, vouching to us that no such thing has happened at all, since I truly am a neophyte where it comes to Voegelin’s thought.

  57. - I figured we ran out of cupcakes in the lounge.

  58. A Good Man I’m evidently not.

    I don’t know anyone else I’d rather have dislocate my shoulder, Jeff.

  59. - As a Physicist, I tend not to dabble in Philosophy too much. It tends to harsh your scientific mellow if you agonize too much about what you’re doing.

    – I take the Hummingbird approach. If it all blows up in my face then God was a poor planner. Or something along those lines.

  60. A Good Man I’m evidently not.

    Speaking of Good Men, Ace has come out in favor of TSA crank-grabbing.

  61. I take the Hummingbird approach. If it all blows up in my face then God was a poor planner. Or something along those lines.

    This sounds kind of like a football player saying, “Jesus made me fumble.” Which would actually be kind of funny to hear.

  62. Yeah, Ace is off in “we gotta do something” land, even if it’s frelling stupid and doesn’t help worth a damn.

    We need bomb-sniffing dogs. I’d much rather have a dog sniffing around than some person grabbing at me. Plus, no radiation exposure (minimal though it is) and the dogs will smell stuff even when it’s “hidden.”

  63. Luckily the left has yet to appropriate all language. A few words remain unsullied and pure. Piffle comes immediately to mind for some reason.

  64. Time for another avatar change.

  65. I’m hoping the TSA thinger is sorted out within a month, because I’ll be flying to San Diego, home of the crotch-grabbing.

  66. Ace has come out in favor of TSA crank-grabbing.

    Beggars can’t be choosers.

  67. Epistemologically speaking, what happens when the principles of deconstruction are applied to deconstruction itself?

    Deconstruction is applied to texts, not theories. You’d have to deconstruct one of Derrida’s articles or books, i.e., show that it means the opposite of what it proports to mean.

    Let’s say you determine that Writing and Difference ostensibly means, “Saussure’s signified (or what the signifier/signified pair ‘points to’) is not located in ‘reality’ but back in the semiotic system it originated from (yay infinite regress!).”

    You’d have to demonstrate that the discourse in W&D actually performs the opposite of what it asserts, which is essentially, “The void! The void! And again the void! Onto which we can inscribe whichever narrative pleases us!”

    Which, I’m afraid that both the ostensible meaning and the text’s performance amounts exactly to the void and nothing but.

  68. How do theories exist in the absence of text?

  69. Or, di, you can say that the ends of deconstruction point to what the deconstructionists posit as a universal truism, with the void as its godhead.

    And then, voila! You’re back to the leap of faith and metaphysics, albeit you’ve re-calibrated it for the French philosophy set and their materialist groupies.

  70. Yeah, Ace is off in “we gotta do something” land, even if it’s frelling stupid and doesn’t help worth a damn.

    Steyn, subbing for Rush today, noted that the TSA will likely never pat down a Muslim woman in full hijab because if they do, and then the woman flies into, say, Saudi Arabia and is stoned to death for having been groped by an infidel man, that would be bad PR.

    But three-year-old kids and nuns? They aren’t likely to cause such problems.

    This is theater. And it’s theater where we end up allowing religious Muslims to skate while we pretend midwestern grannies are potential terrorists.

    Not surprising coming from the same pussified governing class who thought it proper to honor Muslim wishes not to publish cartoons rather than stand up for the First Amendment.

  71. it seems to me that somewhere in the details down the years, the philosophical enterprise has gone off the rails along the way, and I was wondering whether you believe that Voegelin (not to say uniquely him) has put his finger on the problematic bits

    Yes I do. I also think other critics of liberalism and modernism, and of the bastard hellspawn of modernism known collectively as post-modernism have something to say. But I am unaware of any one author who has sorted out the problem of our epistemology and concluded where the train went off the tracks, or how to right it again.

  72. Deconstruction is applied to texts, not theories.

    I have heard that in the broadest semiotic sense, the world as we know it is made up of signs and systems of signs, and these “texts” can be examined as such.

    (out of my depth here, so be gentle)

  73. As soon as a theory has been instantiated it exists as some form of text. Otherwise it is merely the internal musings of one individual, ie, private.

  74. Speaking of not socialism – an upscale golf club membership near Columbus Ohio would be comprised of about 400 people paying around 5k initiation and $475 per month. They normally still pay $15 cart fees. The land for the better courses around Columbus Ohio can have a monthly cost of about 150k per month. Not sure what the maintenance of the land would cost per month but let’s call it another 50k which includes all salaries for upkeep and mgt.

    If you get 800 local travelers to join an airplane club, what kind of gear could you run? What would the cost be? Could you then charge “guest” fees for non member flyers who have been screened for security? Everyone could carry a gun on board. It’s a club so exclusions are expected.

    Bob Reed? (I’m asking you for answers Bob, not suggesting that you should be excluded)

  75. Alp, that’s an option. Serially chartered flights might be another.

    But it’s my understanding that airports may opt out of using the TSA. So the simpler solution may be, rather than taking on the Feds/TSA, take over the governing boards/bodies of the airports.

  76. I have heard that in the broadest semiotic sense, the world as we know it is made up of signs and systems of signs, and these “texts” can be examined as such.

    I sat on a plane once reading Clifford Geertz once muttering “this is bullshit, this is bullshit” for three hours. Fortunately for me, it was prior to all the “we have to do something” non-sense.’

  77. Yes TD, but I sure like excluding terrorists from the “club”

  78. I have heard that in the broadest semiotic sense, the world as we know it is made up of signs and systems of signs, and these “texts” can be examined as such.

    You aren’t wrong. Iconography, plant semiotic — it goes on and on. To some ways of thinking, everything is a text.

  79. Alp, I would too. But ‘private’ clubs merely raise the ante (and the corresponding potential ‘payout.’)

  80. Guess what? Your belief in “observed phenomena” and “facts” is a manifestation of White Patriarchal Colonialism that posits “objective reality” as a means to control and oppress.

    That’s as may be, but they’re still going to run out of other people’s money.

    They can talk themselves into believing this nonsense, and they can brainwash or lie enough to convince everyone else, but none of that will change the fact that they’re pulling water out of the pond faster than it can refill, and no fancy words will change that fact. They can explain that the water level is dropping because of Teh Patriarchy, or that the lake is still full, but it’s a magic invisible water that we just can’t understand because we’re all Cogs in the Corporate Machine, but in a few years’ time, we’re all going to go thirsty.

    I’ve little doubt that they’ll turn their silver tongues to blaming me for the disaster, but that won’t change the fact that the pond is empty. Just make sure that nobody knows how much water you’ve been squirreling away in your hidden cistern…

  81. And then, voila! You’re back to the leap of faith and metaphysics, albeit you’ve re-calibrated it for the French philosophy set and their materialist groupies.

    You might go back to the leap of faith, or you might just look at the void as a convenient tabula rasa that lets you inscribe your power-grabbing narrative any way you like.

    Because the Universe mandated it or something.

    the world as we know it is made up of signs and systems of signs, and these “texts” can be examined as such.

    That’s because you can’t say that a tree “means” anything absent human perception. They often conclude that all cognition is mediated by language, which means that your ability to think is constrained by the limitations of your linguistic system, which means that if you manipulate language you manipulate thought.

    It’s where you get the canard about Inuit having 100 words for snow, the implication being that the Inuit can perceive 100 types of snow because their language “divides up” the world thus, whereas we English-speakers can perceive only a few snow varieties.

    First, the Inuit don’t have 100 words for snow; they have maybe a dozen. Second, we may have only a few nouns for frozen precip (snow, sleet, hail) but we have tons of adjectives at our disposal, and where we don’t have a discrete noun/adjective pair we can use metaphor and other tropes to signal our perceptions.

    And then there’s the word “ineffable,” which we use to describe stuff we perceive but can’t hang words on.

    But make no mistake: if all cognition is mediated by language, that makes literary critics and linguists the High Priests of Knowledge and Reality, and a loftier perch they cannot find.

    So don’t expect them to relent on that point any time soon.

  82. You might go back to the leap of faith, or you might just look at the void as a convenient tabula rasa that lets you inscribe your power-grabbing narrative any way you like.

    Oh, they don’t admit it. But that’s where the argument takes them.

  83. But make no mistake: if all cognition is mediated by language, that makes literary critics and linguists the High Priests of Knowledge and Reality, and a loftier perch they cannot find.

    Of course, in a courtroom, someone else takes on that role…

  84. Of course, in a courtroom, someone else takes on that role…

    Aw, crap, Jeff, you’re in the mood to throw down?

    Again?

  85. I though rock musicians were the High Priests. They get money for nothing and chicks for free, don’t they?

  86. test

  87. Which is why it is going to be very interesting to see if the Tea Party and like-minded individuals will be satisfied with ‘taking back’ the federal government and leaving it at that.

    Actually, the Tea Party did at least as well in state and local elections as national. And I suspect that some state universities are about to find out that the legislature really does have the authority to change the rules for things like “who gets to be a professor / teacher” and what programs get funded.

  88. The everything a text deal gets messy awful fast though I think. Somebody says: *hey, everybody is working in some language or other (Chinese, French, English, Gundgan, what have you) but on the other hand they’re only doing that with what amounts to the same sorts of brain type stuff*. Then a different somebody says: *well, heck, let’s posit a language of thought at the level of the neurons for the language of speech! Maybe it can be the universal underlying order of the meaning of these other higher order languages!* But another guy says: *Hang on, wait a minute, it’s going to then turn out we’re in need of another underlying language of the language of thought at the level of the neurons for the language of speech* . . . and so on.

    So another guy: *Ok, let’s don’t.*

    Hope it should be clear here I wasn’t paying too close attention to this stuff as I read it though. Too, I probably shouldn’t laugh at my own stoopidity this way.

  89. Aw, crap, Jeff, you’re in the mood to throw down?

    Again?

    I hope Stacy McCain can be the host as before. It’d be worth it just to see Pat go bonkers once again about allegedly deleted comments.

  90. Orthodox Christian icons are visual texts of the bible. They can be read by all whether you are literate or not, or fluent or not, in the language of any given church.

  91. . . . and so on.

    Who will show us the way out of this fly-bottle?

  92. “To some ways of thinking, everything is a text.”

    – In a deeper way of addressing it, text can be described as information, or data if you prefer, and the exchange of same is communication, which follows the same process regardless of the form.

    – For example, people can communicate quite a range of idea’s just by scent, a chemical exchange of information at a molecular level, and we’re not always conscious of the process either, although we’re generally conscious of the feeling’s that motivate said exchanges.

    – Even more fundamental, the only reality that exists for an individual is whatever he or she can perceive through one of the means we have for gathering or transmitting information and perceptions.

    – Anything outside of that process has to be taken on faith.

  93. Ordinarily TCW, I’d be inclined to say we should just grope our own way out, but given the TSA’s recent problems I find myself searching for another verb.

  94. - If they shift to an “All the grab you can grope” policy, will Ghay’s have to pay a cover charge?

  95. Andrew Sullivan would demand a three-drink minimum.

  96. the only reality that exists for an individual is whatever he or she can perceive through one of the means we have for gathering or transmitting information and perceptions.

    Thank you for the succinct demonstration of postitivism.

  97. definition since nothings been demonstrated, per se.

  98. We, or possibly only I, may want to look back through the history of philosophy in order to see how these preeminently philosophical terms, terms such as epistemology and ontology, have been brought to this pass of use and misuse in politics.

    I don’t know, but how the hell did ‘metaphysics’ come to mean poltergeists and UFO’s.

  99. Metaphysics has had a rough road right from the get-go, the poor old dear. Slapped on a series of lecture notes by someone other than the author, only indicating it was to be something to study after the course of physics had been presented (and mastered?), it probably was doomed to abuse no matter what.

  100. - I don’t think that posit of “reality” supports or limits to positivism Ernst. As an Individual, you can follow an intellectual path to your own self signification. I do that every time I build a new “model” of a set of physical parameters, and congeal them into some sort of communicable whole I can share with my fellows. Then they build on that by examining my idea for either agreement or disagreement. By that process our mutual reality can be expanded.

    – I other words, as satiate, thinking, able to communicate beings, reality is not limited to just those things we can actually touch or in some way experience.

  101. OT: “I think that the invocation of pragmatism is one of the truly great cons in American political discourse.” – Jonah Goldberg (paraphrased, from his c-span appearance.

  102. They often conclude that all cognition is mediated by language, which means that your ability to think is constrained by the limitations of your linguistic system, which means that if you manipulate language you manipulate thought.

    Not all, but the further you move up the conceptual chain from perception of concrete reality, the more language is required to do the work. If your language is slippery, your reasoning is likely to follow.

    This is why mathematicians and scientists are so picky about very strictly defining things. You can’t do high-level reasoning without defining your terms.

    Leftists like to play intellectual shell games with us. They get us to accept a conclusion based on one set of definitions, then shift the definitions and insist that the conclusion still holds. Why else is it so damned important to redefine “ma<deleted to prevent Pikachu frothing>ge” to mean something it never meant in millenia of human history? Why do they invent oxymorons like “Social Justice” (which requires injustice)? It’s because they want to steal the good connotations that a word has earned. Similarly, they attack us with epithets designed to lump us in with others, getting their stink all over us.

  103. First, the Inuit don’t have 100 words for snow; they have maybe a dozen. Second, we may have only a few nouns for frozen precip (snow, sleet, hail) but we have tons of adjectives at our disposal, and where we don’t have a discrete noun/adjective pair we can use metaphor and other tropes to signal our perceptions.

    Yes… but to be fair, don’t you think there’s a bit a truth to what they’re on about, that the capacities of the langauge in some ways define the thought? There are concrete differances in languages, in terms of what vocabulary they offer and how they structure ideas.

    When speaking a foreign language, any tutor will tell you it’s not quite enough to simply speak the language, you have to think in the language or you’ll not make a ton of sense just swapping words. Because the order and structure of the ideas are presented differently, and when you’re fluent and thinking in a certain language, there are subtle changes not just to how you express the ideas, but to how you think them and how you relate them.

    Not with silly things like an inability to construct the term ‘fluffy snow’. (Although, they say in post-soviet russia, dozens of political and economic phrases had been so corrupted by Soviet rule that they had to coin and define neologisms before they could hammer home the concepts in russian businessmen.)

    Consider, in English, we have 3 temporal participles, past present and future. In Japanese, they have 2 – past and present-future.

    That’s not to say they don’t make (slightly awkward) distinctions between the near present-future and the distant present-future. But if it’s difficult and unwieldy to express, it’s going to impact the adoption of a phrase like “Don’t worry about the future, live for the present”.

    “Don’t worry about the far-future, live for the near-future” is subtly but distinctly different. Near and far are far more relative, and that can be interpreted as meaning: ‘Don’t worry about 200 years for now, just worry about the next couple decades’. That wouldn’t capture the sentiment at all. And to a person who’s unaccustomed to thinking of the ‘present moment’ as a distinct entity from the future and the past, they’re quite liable to consistently interpret it in such a way that completely loses the sort of ‘whimsicial impulsivity’ of the sentiment without knowing they’ve missed anything.

    And if it’s difficult to communicate an idea, it’s difficult to transmit it, it’s more difficult for such a concept to take hold at large. Since it can’t as easily be shared, a greater number of people can’t benefit from other’s thinking on it, and have to reinvent the wheel.

  104. In re the question above (JD) about pooling together to form a country club in the sky –

    Marquis Jet. Part of the NetJet family and sells fractional ownership in private jets. Not cheap, but not subject to groping surcharges, either. Bonus is you can fly into smaller airports that don’t have TSA control.

    http://www.marquisjet.com/card/program

    YMVVW

  105. Entropy:

    I’m a fluent Spanish-speaker and I’ve taught Spanish to English-speakers and vice-versa, so I know what it means to think in a different language. Spanish has three verbs for “to be,” and they’re not interchangable, so yes, I have to think whether I’m expressing location or a permanent characteristic or a temporary condition or whatnot whereas in English I don’t.

    I have to make the same kind of distinction when narrating in the past: am I expressing an existing condition in the past or a discrete event?

    Or at least I used to have to think about it: now a lot of it has been rendered as convention in my brain to the point where it just “sounds right.”

    The NYTimes Magazine published this article in August 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html

    It does a good job of parsing out what kinds of effects language might have on our thought processes. Make sure you read the part about aboriginal languages and cardinal directions: that one blows the mind.

  106. ot

    few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

    TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

    Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

    TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

    Soldier: Why?

    TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

    Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

    TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

    Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

    TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

    Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

    Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

    This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns–but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

    http://www.redstate.com/erick/2010/11/18/another-tsa-outrage/

  107. - You don’t have to resort to ancient languages to gleen some mind blowing linguistic weirdness di. (well weird from a Westerners point of view.)

    – Try learning even a smathering of Korean.

  108. “It’s because they want to steal the good connotations that a word has earned.”

    Like was done to “liberal”. This only works over the short term as reality catches up and the term loses its previous connotations and takes on new ones appropriate to how it is used in the present.

    The other thing that happens, and can be done purposefully, is that the thing, the idea that, say, “liberal” meant in the past becomes an idea without a convenient form to express it. In extremis that may make it a thought which can’t be expressed as there no handle to grab it with anymore. A new one would have to be manufactured and disseminated to all which is what I took to be the meaning of what entropy talked about with the “russian businessmen”.

  109. “It’s because they want to steal the good connotations that a word has earned.”

    – That is certainly one possible intention. But more often than not the purpose of intentional misuse is to confuse and intentionally mislead.

    – As was said, when you do that there be consequences.

    – For instance now when you hear a Progressive using signifiers like Social Justice, instead of thinking “Oh how nice, that person really cares about his/her fellow citizen” you have an immediate thought instead “If that lying M’fker gets anywhere near my money I’ll blow his thieving ass to downtown Burbank.”

  110. The misdirections undertaken by the [hiding] socialist leftists among us seem only to have gone to confuse themselves in their perceptions of the world. After all, I give you: Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader.

  111. “I’m not a socialist, I’m just a liberal” = “I’m not a homosexual, I’m just gay.”

  112. After all, I give you: Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader.

    you just wait for the big proggnami of 2012 ;)

  113. A bit more I’ve thought of, there’s a bit where if you’re talking and you mention snow, you don’t think it’s particularly important or relevant enough to go into great detail describing, so you just say ‘snow’.

    But, presuming you were a hypothetical fake-eskimo with eleventy-billion words for snow, you’d habitually use the correct term for the type of snow, thereby communicating siginificantly more information about the snow than you perhaps had any intention of doing because of the structure and common accepted use of the language.

    Just like, as Dicentra says, Spanish and “to be”. One language will let you gloss over certain details in favor of others by offering generic terms. In another language, you cannot avoid specifying certain things because you have only a choice of specific words, so even if you don’t care, you must still specify, or else flip a coin but then you’re intentionally miscommunicating with an erroneous term.

    So the language puts priority on certain details, and to an extent, determines what matters and where the focus is, and how much effort you have to commit to change the focus.

    Again, English and Japanese – it’s a very stratified language. Simple use of pronouns or lack of them, or the informality of speech, can “say” a lot of things about how you view your social relationship toward and relative social position compared to who you’re talking to – things that simply wouldn’t be communicated so effortlessly, inescapably, and implicitly in English. It cannot be avoided in Japanese. You cannot speak to someone without assuming some relative social ‘position’ to them.

    So, even with being wordy and anal enough, you can work out a way to say anything in any language, what you end up actually communicating depends a great deal in which language you’re using.

    The details that make it in, the misunderstandings that are likely to happen, that will shape an argument that might inform your opinion or lead to the formation of a new opinion or thought, the common assumptions that will be shared, these things will effect – not decide, but effect – your thinking on a subject, and they vary depending on the specific linguistic set you are using. Because various details (like the type of snow) will or won’t make it in, not on the basis of how you judge their relevance always, but sometimes due to the conventions of the language. Some things that take more effort to say in one language – and so get left out, will require far more linguistic effort not to say in another – so in they go.

  114. - I don’t think that posit of “reality” supports or limits to positivism Ernst.

    I didn’t think you did, BBH. You’ll note I didn’t call you a positivist. But, taken literally (and perhaps also out of context) what I quoted was as succinct a definition of positivism as I can remember seeing. And there are plenty of people who think the what we can percieve through our (physical and rational) perceptions is all there is and there is nothing else besides, above, below or beyond.

    That’s all I meant.

  115. Because various details (like the type of snow)

    the type of snow is just meteorology info being convey between two people living in a place with many months of snow. english and the english speaking people evolved in a way that reduce this info into a scientific evaluation of weather conditions.

  116. As was said, when you do that there be consequences.

    That’s because eventually people figure out what the new word/phrase means.

    The Bride of Monster is personnel manager at a sheltered workshop. I’ve had this argument with her about the evolution of the politically correct term:

    You can’t call them “crippled”; that’s mean. Call them “handicapped”.

    You can’t call them “handicapped”; that’s mean. Call them “disabled”.

    You can’t call them “disabled”; that’s impersonal. “I am not my disability!” Call them “persons with disabilities”.

    But whatever you call someone, he is what he is. After a while, people will figure out your new euphemism means “crippled”.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  117. Philosophy —

    Once upon a time anyone who didn’t have to bust ass to make a living — and this included remarkably few people, not even one per city of the time. Philosophers thought about the Universe, except that they didn’t know there was a Universe, so when they described their thoughts they talked about “The World”. Pretty much anything was grist for the thought-mill, and philosophers grew accustomed to answering “why?” with “because I say so, and I have had time to think about it where you have not.”

    Then societies started getting richer, and one of the things people did with the new riches was coalesce into groups that weren’t strictly devoted to hacking a living out of Nature. At the head of that queue was organized religion. Religion needed thinkers and explainers to come up with ways to befuzzle the peasants, and that led to the first fission: theologians split off from the general ruck of philosophers and became a separate discipline. Note that theologians have something to point to other than “because I say so”: the Book, the Prophecies, or what not. Whether or not a theologian is pulling it all out of his ass, he at least has a way to pretend that he isn’t.

    But societies kept getting wealthier, and wealthier societies need more complex organization methods. Such methods were duly devised, and another major split occurred. This time we don’t have a general term for it; perhaps The Law will do as stand-in for a general term for thought about government and governance. Governance, or the Law, marks the first time anyone not a peasant or a manual laborer could base “because I say so” on “because I tried it, and this is what happened.” (One of the reasons there’s no general term is that philosophers, as a class, are as ambitious as any other group, and continue to this day trying to pretend they’re part of the group that runs things. Another is that Kings and others whose living depends on beating people up are generally somewhat irritated with people pointing out that what they are doing doesn’t work, and they need cover for the consequent beatings, which philosophers were happy to supply in return for continued leisure to think.)

    Then societies continued to expand, to grow wealthier, and to gain experience in manipulating the Universe, to advantage and otherwise. This led to a rift in Philosophy that wasn’t apparent when it first occurred, when Natural Philosophers began systematically studying the Universe in bits and pieces and reporting their thoughts. Natural Philosophers were prone to reverting to type once they managed to get what looked to them like a coherent account put together, whereupon they would announce, as their forefathers had, that they had thought about it, reached a conclusion, and that’s how things were, because they said so.

    However, the rift grew more and more pronounced as Natural Philosophers began borrowing from The Law the concept of “try it and see”. This led to the most recent and most pronounced fission of Philosophy, when I. Newton & Co. introduced the concept of “science”. The message of science is not just “I tried it and this is what happened”; it introduces what is actually a belligerent challenge couched in deferential tones — OK, you don’t believe it, so try it yourself [“you fool”] appended sotto voce. Science still has pure thinkers, called “theorists”, but their work is not to decree, it is to suggest things for the more active to try and see what happens.

    This left philosophy with nothing to think about. They can’t think about religion; that’s for theologians. They can’t think about social arrangements; that’s the Law. They can’t think about the physical Universe, because that’s science. They have answered the challenge magnificently, thinking about nothing in abstruse detail and reporting their thoughts in profound polysyllabic pretension. It is really a wonder, a triumph of human ingenuity, that such Olympian stacks of weighty tomes discussing as little as possible in as many words as can be managed, and those of maximum length, could be created.

    Regards,
    Ric

  118. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Why do hate the hygenically challenged?

    And I am offended offended! I tell you, at your casual and callous insensitivity towards those with OCD.

    Seek sensitivity training.

  119. - Didn’t mean to imply you did Ernst. I Was rather trying to clarify my original thought.

    – Clean up my signifiers, so to speak.

    – Re Niponese, the language also is heavily effected by not just what you say, but the manner in which you say it, in relation to who you are, and who your addressing.

    – For instance a very specific example is the “yes” (Hai) accompanied by the customary bow in response to a statement, or command. The word spoken starting from a higher soft tone, and falling to a lower and more emphatic sound shows acceptance and respect of the other person speaking, whereas starting with a low, harsher pronunciation, and ending in a rising shriller utterance shows a questioning and possible disrespect.

    – In addition your intent can be further emphasized in the manner of your bow. But then, body language, is itself, often a signifier of your real intent.

  120. But, newrouter, what I am saying is in actual conversation, the exact facts that get passed along will differ according to convention. So to some extent, the convention partially determines the content.

    The meteorologic info is irrelevant to the story beyond the fact that “I had very very cold stuff on my ass which is unpleasant to me”. But in one language, all you get is “cold stuff”. In other language, you get the detail “dry and powdery” as well, not because I intended to specifically include those details as relevant, just because.

    So what else I tell you in order to get the main point across, and what things you know vs what is left to guess, changes.

    I’m not reading dicentra’s article and sure enough, heh:

    “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about. “

    I think they’re on to something. Here’s another good article (and quite funny, if you find Twain’s humor funny):

    http://crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/awfgrmlg.html

    “The Awful German Language”.

    In German, all the Nouns begin with a capital letter. Now that is a good idea; and a good idea, in this language, is necessarily conspicuous from its lonesomeness. I consider this capitalizing of nouns a good idea, because by reason of it you are almost always able to tell a noun the minute you see it. You fall into error occasionally, because you mistake the name of a person for the name of a thing, and waste a good deal of time trying to dig a meaning out of it. German names almost always do mean something, and this helps to deceive the student. I translated a passage one day, which said that “the infuriated tigress broke loose and utterly ate up the unfortunate fir forest” (Tannenwald). When I was girding up my loins to doubt this, I found out that Tannenwald in this instance was a man’s name.

    Also, I have heard that German is a very expressive, emotive language to convey the feeling of events, but not great to actually, technically and specifically say what the hell happened. Possibly for reasons of sentances like this:

    “But when he, upon the street, the (in-satin-and-silk-covered-now-very-unconstrained-after-the-newest-fashioned-dressed) government counselor’s wife met,” etc., etc. [1]

    1. Wenn er aber auf der Strasse der in Sammt und Seide gehüllten jetzt sehr ungenirt nach der neusten Mode gekleideten Regierungsräthin begegnet.
    That is from The Old Mamselle’s Secret, by Mrs. Marlitt. And that sentence is constructed upon the most approved German model. You observe how far that verb is from the reader’s base of operations; well, in a German newspaper they put their verb away over on the next page; and I have heard that sometimes after stringing along the exciting preliminaries and parentheses for a column or two, they get in a hurry and have to go to press without getting to the verb at all. Of course, then, the reader is left in a very exhausted and ignorant state.

  121. But whatever you call someone, he is what he is. After a while, people will figure out your new euphemism means “crippled”.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    That’s why, in 1984, it was a full time gig to constantly change them.

    And now kids on the playground call each other “homo” as derogatory.

    But I’m not so sure it ALWAYS fails… I fear sometimes it works. I’ve read a lot of people convinced they pulled it off in Sweden with ‘housewife’.

    http://speakupfortruth.blogspot.com/2007/01/language-as-source-of-power.html

  122. - Whatever goes wrong in Sweden can always be fixed with a hot stone steam bath, a lashing with olive branches, and a dunk in an icy cold Fjord.

  123. Twain that Pig-Dog can to the Devil go!

  124. In other language, you get the detail “dry and powdery” as well, not because I intended to specifically include those details as relevant, just because.

    oh noes mr nanook of the north needed that info for his next polar bear or whaling adventure. the types of snows tells you the types of weather recently.

  125. not too be a hoochie from ak but the eskis needed to convey weather to their home boys about what be goin’ down now in de environment. you want nice weather to kill the polar bear on the iceberg.

  126. Found your comment very interesting, Ric. Question, question, observation follow. When you say that early philosophers took a “because I said so” position are you saying that 1) geometric proofs were outside of philosophy because math is outside of the world, 2) mathematicians were in a separate category than philosophers whether they recognized it or not, or 3) geometric proofs are axiomatic and therefore “because I said so”?

    Much like birds as modern day dinosaurs, could we not say that there are many, many useful philosophers all around, we simply call them other things now?

    I wouldn’t say that all modern philosophers can no longer think about these other subjects. Took an extremely worthwhile philosophy of mathematics class in school and there are philosophers of science like Dennett still provoking interesting discussions.

  127. wiki

    Types of snow can be designated by the shape of its flakes, description of how it is falling, and by how it collects on the ground. A blizzard and snow storm indicate heavy snowfalls over a large area, snow squalls give heavy snowfalls over narrow bands, while flurries are used for the lightest snowfall. Types which fall in the form of a ball, rather than a flake, are known as graupel, with sleet and snow grains as types of graupel.

  128. Throw Mama from the train a kiss.

  129. But then, newrouter, why do the Germans need to know the “-satin-and-silk-covered-now-very-unconstrained-after-the-newest-fashioned-dressed” detail when they learn ‘two people’ ‘walking down the street’ ‘met’.

    And why must the nihonjin demand to know if you respect their authority and conform to social expectations every time you ask where the bathroom is ka?

  130. The language/thought discussion is extremely entertaining, btw.

  131. I have a headache, and no avatar. This is an interesting thread, and a welcome distraction from my quest to choke the holy hell out of some idiot that desperately deserves it.

  132. I recommend Excedrin for the headache and a brabo choke from side control for the idiot, JD.

  133. And why must the nihonjin demand to know if you respect their authority and conform to social expectations every time you ask where the bathroom is ka?

    don’t know. just saying that for hunter/gathers in an arctic climate might be sensitive to weather conditions. also language might develop according to conditions on the ground. i’m open source/free market that way

  134. bh–

    Mathematics is a separate thing, included in “Philosophy” at the beginning because, as with other types of thinking, leisure was necessary to develop it. It stayed there for a long time because beyond a few simple things it was of nearly no use, and for those things the ones who needed them had adequate substitutes. The Pythagorean Theorem is a beautifully precise thing, but artisans measuring in palm-widths and cutting with axes did better by holdin

  135. I am going with the seared dead cow therapy for the headache, and not getting in my car and driving to idiot’s house will remain a stern test of my resolve.

  136. I have a headache, and no avatar.

    pics when binging “jd”

    link

  137. Not sure if your internet connection got dropped or you’re developing suspense with a cliffhanger comment, Ric, but I catch what you’re saying.

  138. aaargh! I love my kitties, but sometimes…

    –did better by holding the new piece up to the rest of the work and marking it.

    More than one mathematician has noted that the truly amazing thing about mathematics is that it sometimes has utilitarian applications. There is nothing in mathematics that guarantees that this should be so, and many attempts to apply mathematics to the mundane world have turned out to be futile or worse — “music of the spheres”, anyone? The word “philosophy” means “love of thinking”, and by that standard mathematics may very well be the only true philosophy.

    A “philosopher of []” is either a theoretician or a[n attempted] synthesist, trying either to come up with new things for that field to work on or to connect that field with others, notably what might laughingly be termed “sociology”. To that extent, yes, you are quite correct: there are useful philosophers around, but we call them something else.

    Regards,
    Ric

  139. Heh, related to nothing much, when I was younger I thought “music of the spheres” and “spherical harmonics” referred to the same thing.

  140. ot oh jeez karl the rover is barking on hannity

  141. I – L – L- I – N – I !!!!!

  142. - Barry is proudly proclaiming “his” bailout policy with GMC is a success. Of course. Except:

    * The so-called “public offering” IPO required a minimum investment of half a mil, and had to be subscribed through a select list of party favorite brokers. Screw the public, and the ford they rode in.

    * The Original stockholders, mostly private citizen investors, were wiped out when GMC went bankrupt before the bailout.

    * The bail out was initiated by Bush.

    * Only a fraction of the 50 billion bailout has been recovered, and zero of the original investors money will ever be returned.

    * The stock rose sharply at first, rising to nearly $36 per share from the $33 price GM set for the initial public offering before pulling back and closing at $34.19. For the U.S. to break even on its investment, it must sell its remaining stake for about $50 a share.

    – Sorry Bumbblefuck, still no cigar.

  143. At times, when I catch the new “Join Chat” button on the lower right out of the corner of my eye, it initially registers briefly as “Jon Chait.” Off-putting, that.

  144. - Barry is proudly proclaiming “his” bailout policy with GMC is a success.

    the face of crony capitalism 2012: baracky, reid, pelosi

  145. - One positive did come out of the bailout. It saved an estimated 1.3 million over-payed Union jobs, so the prices on US made auto’s and trucks continue to be over priced and non-competitive. So there’s that.

    – In retrospect I suppose the cumulative cost of the bailouts are peanuts compared to the other 3 trillion Barry has pissed away.

  146. Don’t forget that the GM bankruptcy was managed in a unique way that did not pay the people who were supposed to be paid from what was left over of GM’s capital, but instead favored the unions.

  147. Oh, and also don’t forget that mileage requirements initiated by congress (which could have been relaxed for a while) hastened GM’s demise. Their failure did not happen in a vacuum.

  148. crony capitalism is the 2012 issue: baracky, reid, pelosi own it.

  149. You can’t call them “crippled”; that’s mean. Call them “handicapped”.

    You can’t call them “handicapped”; that’s mean. Call them “disabled”.

    You can’t call them “disabled”; that’s impersonal. “I am not my disability!” Call them “persons with disabilities”.

    This process actually has a name: the Euphemism Treadmill. You see the same thing with regard to “cretin –> idiot –> retarded –> special”

  150. I’ve no idea what put you off philosophy Ric but that’s quite a show of hostility to be aimed at something so worthless.

  151. pictures of baracky and gm:crony capitalist

  152. soros is the world wide “crony capitalist” . baracky is the blow job.

  153. OT but related to #150

    557 HP, 33 MPG and $=6figures

  154. This, from dicentra’s link, is freakin cool:

    In coming years, researchers may also be able to shed light on the impact of language on more subtle areas of perception. For instance, some languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts they are reporting. You cannot simply say, as in English, “An animal passed here.” You have to specify, using a different verbal form, whether this was directly experienced (you saw the animal passing), inferred (you saw footprints), conjectured (animals generally pass there that time of day), hearsay or such. If a statement is reported with the incorrect “evidentiality,” it is considered a lie. So if, for instance, you ask a Matses man how many wives he has, unless he can actually see his wives at that very moment, he would have to answer in the past tense and would say something like “There were two last time I checked.” After all, given that the wives are not present, he cannot be absolutely certain that one of them hasn’t died or run off with another man since he last saw them, even if this was only five minutes ago. So he cannot report it as a certain fact in the present tense. Does the need to think constantly about epistemology in such a careful and sophisticated manner inform the speakers’ outlook on life or their sense of truth and causation? When our experimental tools are less blunt, such questions will be amenable to empirical study.

  155. Geoffb – that link got me a little aroused. Thank you.

  156. I thought you might like it JD.

  157. Now, now, sdferr, don’t be buying the -phobic fallacy. I am not hostile to philosophers; I am contemptuous of them.

    This has always been so, to some degree. Then along came Wittgenstein, whom I was assured by people I knew well to be the culmination of the pursuit in our time.

    I came to agree.

    Wittgenstein begins with his famous couplet, which I take leave to translate into vernacular English thus: Reality is what actually happens. He then slaughters a (thankfully, relatively small) forest demonstrating that if you split a hair sixteen ways, then narrow your terms until they sit comfortably upon the individual strands, it is possible to demonstrate that “reality” is whatever a sufficiently Deep Thinker declares because he says so. Having thus returned Philosophy to its elitist Greek roots, he declares triumph.

    It’s fun, in some ways. It isn’t actively harmful — it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, in the memorable phrase, but neither does it fill my pocket or heal my leg. The one thing we should get from Philosophy is that human ratiocination is insufficient to explain the Universe, and cannot explicate even the smallest detail without reference to something outside simple thought — something that should be evident from studying the Greeks and comparing them to how things actually came out.

    Theologians, governors, and scientists having departed Philosophy, philosophers are left squabbling over First Principles. The endless contradictions they come up with confirm my prejudice: either there are no First Principles, or they are too large (or, possibly, too small) for a human brain to apprehend, let alone comprehend. The Quest thus being definitionally futile, we are left to marvel at their linguistic facility, as one marvels at Chinese acrobats.

    Regards,
    Ric

  158. I love reading you guys. Love it. Almost as much as that 557 horsepower 33 mpg Merecedes sedan. Yes, I said sedan.

  159. You would do well, perhaps could hardly do better than to study the Greeks Ric. I said hostility but contempt fits just as well though. But sure it is you’ve as much respect for philosophy in your treatment of it as Pat Frey does for Goldstein here in his of him.

  160. JD’s next toy:
    (from geoffb’s link)
    Twin turbochargers boost power, while direct injection, adjustable cam timing, stop-start technology and a seven-speed gearbox boost fuel economy. The base model is good for 525 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Opt for the AMG Performance package and you’ll have 557 horsepower and 590 pound-feet under your right foot.

    Either way, you’re looking at 24 mpg combined. AMG boss Ola Ka?llenius says the car will do 33 mpg on the highway. That’s a 32 percent improvement over the previous model. Those are amazing numbers for a car of this caliber — a 2011 Honda Civic with a 2.0-liter fourbanger and a six-speed gets 24 combined, 29 highway.

    So while GM workers are smokin weed and drinkin beer in the parking lot Mercedes is building cars. A very sad state of affairs.

  161. That is not just a car, Danger, it is a thing of beauty. It is a collection of excellence.

  162. They often conclude that all cognition is mediated by language, which means that your ability to think is constrained by the limitations of your linguistic system, which means that if you manipulate language you manipulate thought.

    Well, I don’t agree that all cognition is mediated by language. By signs? Maybe. And for that I offer up mathematical abstractions, manipulated, considered, and developed surely by symbols, but not necessarily text.

    In fact, in some instances it is far easier to demonstrate a concept mathematically than to describe it using formal language.

    Now before all you highly educated wordsmiths fire me up, I realize that you might consider that symbology simply to be another language. Maybe so. But if so, it is impervious to having it;’s intent hijacked; unless a blatant error is made. And instead of being reinforced by “concensus”, folks are generally called on for those mistakes.

    Now, fire at will :)

  163. Smokin’ weed and drinkin’ beer that we paid for in the parking lot we own. At least a piece of it.
    Can’t wait until they come up with some way to start forcing people into Volts and justifying on the grounds of getting our money back.

    Ain’t American grand?

  164. - But ‘lo mine fellow outlaws. Is yet an even deeper irony on the horizon. We’re now in hand of anti-matter atom’s, both made and held, and soon we mat be able to tie a number of idea’s together with dark matter, dark energy, even the elusive effervescent God particle.

    – All dependent on the most aggressive philosophically based science of all, Quantum physics.

    – If we can parse quantum time/space into its constituents, there must be “room” between the segments in which all sorts of legerdemain is possible, nay probable.

    – If we do, then you’re going to see some serious shit. I’ll tell you what, and science may yet become the cradle of philosophy.

    – Acme transporters? Wormhole space travel? Instant pizza delivery?

    – More tea anyone?

  165. “Can’t wait until they come up with some way to start forcing people into Volts…”

    Ernst,

    If SCOTUS doesn’t return fire on the insurance mandates that will be the sequel we have to look forward to 8^(

  166. “It is a collection of excellence.”

    JD,

    I’ll bet it’s got a built in EVO 4G phone too!

    (Hey where ya goin?)

  167. BBH, the last time man decided he could come knockin’ on God’s door without an invitation, it ended badly.

  168. If they ever mandate electric vehicles, I will be driving one of these …

    http://allworldcars.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/2010_fisker_karma_1.jpg

  169. I GOT MY FUCKING AVATAR TO WORK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  170. - Not to worry Ernst.

    – God always puts doors where we can’t find them.

    – Happily there are plenty of doors he wants us to open.

  171. [S]ome languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts they are reporting. [….] If a statement is reported with the incorrect “evidentiality,” it is considered a lie.

    I think I’ve figured out the problem. We’ve been inquiring after the wrong birth certificate.

    Out-a here!

  172. - Congrats JD, although I’m not sure avatar fucking is what you were going for.

  173. Avatar fucking is what you think of when pdbuttons’ avatar is around ….

  174. - Hmmmm…..Ernst seems to have left this small black doctors bag on the lounge tea table…..

  175. You guys are reading Ric harshly, or seem to be. Besides being funny (in a sardonic Twain sort of way), I can’t buy that he hasn’t at least a bit of his tongue in his cheek.

    At any rate, the Greeks are quite useful to read. In many ways, being less developed and closer to the roots of the study, they seem to have a better grasp on the ‘metaphysics’ fundementals like ‘epistemology’ and ‘ontology’ then some of our modern and post-modern braniacs do, being many centuries and 30 incestuous generations removed from anything approaching expectations of practical applications.

    In that sense, they correctly understood that things like theology, science, math or ideology and such were forms of philosophies.

    In that vain, there are exceptions of course, but a number of ancient philosophers tried to apply philosophy quite practically – they thought about how to best live. A philosophy like Stoicism or Aristotle’s rationalism (or for that matter, the Dionysian Mysteries) were offered as a set of principles to guide your decisions in your daily life.

    Ric hits on that I think, when he mentions the split – but the distinction is still arbitrary and not well validated (not by the original definitions of the terms). The distinctions are not so clear at all. What is a political theorist doing if not epsousing a philosphy of governance?

    And I think the chasms we’ve created socially between them, the compartmentalization, and the penchant for ‘specialists’ in one branch of thought to simply ignore the others, is slightly schizoid; and it shows.

    To wit: so many scientists don’t pay any mind to the philosophy of science and claim science isn’t, or is distinct from, philosophy or theology in some fundemental way – but they also can’t rebut the po-mo’s that claim the epistemy of rationalism and science is flawed; and so the sociology department gets to go on claiming that math is racist imperialism unchallenged.

    And the theologians aren’t expected to be able to do long division. That’s never a poor requirement for anything.

    And then you wind up with scientists who don’t get ontology or epistemology claiming they ‘know’ all sorts of things they can’t know, or why they need a government grant to study why we need to kill 3/4s of the earth’s population in order to save it from a computer model.

    It’s not well rounded man. Specialization is for insects.

    So in that regard, I do agree with Ric – to the extent that our ‘philsophers’ have become … um… retarded, it’s because they took the physics and chemistry out of the building. We’ve segregated them from practical pursuits. Seeing as how they’ve been walled off from reality, it’s really no wonder so many have become deranged lunatics. We’ve stopped demanding they make sense.

    So far that reason, I’m big on philosophy, because I use the OLD definition and I won’t let the lawyers and the physicists opt out. In that sense philosophy is inescapable to anyone who truly does care to think about things, and while most proffesional ‘philosophers’ are lotus-petal-eating abstract douche nozzles, most philosophies aren’t, as practically everyone winds up living by one or five.

  176. I don’t know how you’re doing this avatar shit. I could find no such option.

  177. For avatars, one must go to gravatar.com and create a new account there. If you use the same email address you used to register at PW, it will be easier, but if you don’t, you can add that email address later. After registering, you can upload any picture you want to and easily crop and shrink it with a very simple web-based editor provided at gravatar.com.

    That’s probably TMI, but that’s what I did.

  178. - Trust me Entropy. Whatever physicists may claim, or have claimed in the past, will one day come full circle.

    – The most carefully crafted intellectual snobbery can vanish in a heartbeat, and most likely will in the not to distant future.

    – The arguments between Neils and Albert were the beginning of the end, at least for this cycle, and the juxtaposition proceeds apace.

  179. Entropy,

    Go here and register for an account and make sure you use the same e-mail address you use here. You may have to use a different username (if it is already used) but you can continue to use your original one here.

  180. Cudgels make you faster at typing;)

  181. G’night all,

    Keep firing!!!

  182. Bohr and Einstein? To be honest Big Bang – I don’t understand.

  183. - You are correct. Neils was one of the early proponents of Quantum physics, which Albert found abhorrent.

    – And then he did, and then he didn’t, and he died still fighting with himself over that question.

    – Modern science, up til 20 years or so ago, followed Albert’s lead for the most part, while tickling the tail of Neils Dragon, egged on by modern thinkers like Hawkins.

    – The Dragon has pretty much won the race, and with it comes “philosophy science” in spades.

  184. Perhaps it’s a reference to the “G-d does not play dice with the universe” quote.

  185. What is a political theorist doing if not espousing a philosophy of governance?

    Applying for another grant.

    Zing!

  186. - Also correct cranky, and Neils reply haunted Albert all his life.

    “Not only does he throw the dice, he often throws them where we cannot see them.”

    – Albert ended with the famous quote “Don’t tell God what to do”, but he came away from the exchanges badly disturbed, because he was already working hard on contradictions that could only be satisfied by some form of Neils idea’s.

    – He went so far as to put forth his “Ether” theory as a retort, only to condemn it as the mistake of his life’s work, and then later recant yet again.

    – We’re close to finding a form of that idea, which when you think about it, is the irony of it all in the end.

  187. Well, in terms of philosophy, yes it has (at the moment), and it seems to me to have done just what Einstein feared it would – detached physics from reality and demonstrability. It’s become QUITE philosophical in that regard.

    But the Copenhagen interpretation is not in vogue these days, and Einstein injected enough doubt that people are still puzzling the issue, so contrary to Bohr, it’s not “complete”. Hardly. In fact, suggesting we know all that can be known and that’s that, seems nearly solipsistic. Is that what you mean? That science is ‘done’ and there’s nothing left to do but gaze at our navels?

    Personally, I don’t buy that any of the crap we know about quantum physics at this point is remotely true, at least in that it’s horribly incomplete. We simply know too little about it, which is why it’s so inscrutable and counter intuitive. And we know too little, because it’s too theoretical, because as of yet we haven’t the means of interacting and testing it. It’s hard to conduct expiriments with black holes, for instance, for a myriad of reasons.

    But if we ever get into a position to futz with stuff and poke it, it’ll be a whole new revolution.

    And if not, it seems irrelevant, because as it stands, we can’t do anything remotely practical with those theories besides satisfy people’s egos.

  188. Dice… yeah… it’s not that I don’t buy it, I just don’t buy it as complete.

  189. - Hmm. All science will most likely never be “settled”, but rather than get into that, the “establishment” will always close ranks in a losing battle to maintain the status quo. But as I pointed out in an earlier comment, intellectual snobbery can vanish in a heart beat.

    – In the mean time the work in particle physics currently is drawing back the veil in a way that will leave no places for the obstructionists to hide.

    – It is indeed an exciting age.

  190. the Euphemism Treadmill

    YES! It’s something I’ve perceived for a long time but never had a name for.

    She said, sticking to one of the topics of the thread.

  191. In the mean time the work in particle physics currently is drawing back the veil in a way that will leave no places for the obstructionists to hide.

    I’m not familiar with it, honestly. CERN? If they discover something, great. I’d love to hear tommorow that they spotted a Higgs Boson or something.

    I’m really confused though, who the snobby obstructionists are and what theories you think will soon be validated.

  192. - As far as your other comment, I’m not sure how that idea gets promulgated, but most physicists that love their work for its own sake know we’re playing with the pebbles at the foot of an immense mountain of knowledge, with yet more mountains beyond that yet to explore.

    – In fact, the process of discovery is actually very humbling unless you start believing your own press releases.

  193. I realize that you might consider that symbology simply to be another language.

    Mathematical formulae are indeed a semiotic system and therefore is in the same category as human language (spoken and written). The scribblings on the chalkboard don’t have a natural connection with the concepts they represent, e.g., the letter delta doesn’t “embody” the concept of change any more than any other Greek letter or number.

    You are correct about it being difficult if not impossible to hijack, because there is a one-to-one correspondence between symbol and concept: no double meanings, no overlap, no connotations or literary references or resonances or anything like that.

    If you want a semiotic system that has more natural signs, you want forensic science, wherein the shape of the blood spatter is an inevitable result of something that actually happened in the past, the event being the “meaning” of the spatter.

    However, not all forensic clues are unambiguous. As anyone who watches procedurals knows, the suicide note might not be what it appears to be, and the mud on the boot could have come from anywhere, and the unexpected seizure in the MRI machine could be a symptom of any number of conditions.

    Unless, of course, we’re dealing with Sherlock Holmes, who interprets all details exactly correctly.

    The question then becomes: if the signifier in forensics or medical diagnoses does not have an arbitrary relationship with its signified, are we dealing with a semiotic system or with something else.

  194. Wait.

    The Big Bang is arguing with Entropy?

    However did we get to be so lucky?

  195. - Di, there are those who posit that the two are just properties of the same process which cycle repeatedly over vast stretches of time.

    – Current “untethered” theories say nothing that undermines that idea. So very likely if and when those theories are further developed, the two idea’s may prove mutually supportive rather than argumentative.

  196. - But good one, just the same.

  197. Pingback: Maggie's Farm

  198. #196

    Gravity always works. I learned that one from a garage roof when I was 12. It’s comforting to know that physics is so dependable.

  199. All dependent on the most aggressive philosophically based science of all, Quantum physics.

    I disagree: quantum mechanics does what it does, irrespective of any philosophic discussion on the topic. I think it’s the Dancing Wu Li Masters genre of books on popular science that has encouraged the fusion of philospophy, mysticism and quantum physics.

    Things may be more uncertain on a small scale, but to the degree that we currently understand things, the models work. The facet that position, etc become more random variables than actual knowable states doesn’t change the fact that the characterization of said random variables follows some pretty well-defined mathematical (not philosphical) rules.

    There’s a lot that we still don’t understand about the universe we currently inhabit, but there’s no reason at all, so far, to suppose that our thinking and discussion about the universe alters in any way how the universe actually behaves.

  200. facet=fact

  201. Gravity always works.

    I say that we don’t yet have a large enough sample size to know for sure, and so you should keep on experimenting.

  202. XXVI
    Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss’d
    Of the Two Worlds so wisely–they are thrust
    Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
    Are scatter’d, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

    XXVII
    Myself when young did eagerly frequent
    Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
    About it and about: but evermore
    Came out by the same door where in I went.

    XXVIII
    With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
    And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
    And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d–
    “I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

    Doggerel, of course. Nothing there.

    Regards,
    Ric

  203. Hmmmm…..Ernst seems to have left this small black doctors bag on the lounge tea table…..

    You didn’t try to touch my junk did you?

    Don’t touch my junk, bro!

  204. Off topic, but unbelievable.


    There is not enough rage in my being.

  205. They still believe that they have the right policies but don’t have the right narrative. The socialism is good it just hasn’t been sold well enough yet.

  206. Carville’s “we didn’t scape the financial goat enough” was especially chuckle worthy geoff.

  207. That whole thing was funny, Ernst. The demography aka all the minorities are belong to us was cute too.

  208. OT: Paul Ryan talking with Charlie Rose for a half-hour. h/t Pete Wehner.

  209. It helps your narrative when you can say it…

    both Carville and Greenberg, who jointly founded Democracy Corps, painted a rosier picture of Obama’s electoral future in 2012, mainly because of the country’s rapidly changing demographics.

    And then use your remaining political power to “make it so” but that is what the left always does. Use power to adjust reality to conform to their words.

  210. DarthLevin, people like that need to be removed from society immediately. There is no hope for them.

    It’s surprising he had no record. I’ll bet there are a bunch of dead animals in his wake that would tell a different story.

  211. Use power to adjust reality to conform to their words.
    At a certain point we reached a leftist critical mass that is now self-sustaining and reproductive. A succesful rhetorical template in one area of discourse becomes an acceptable avenue of argumentation in another. Once there are enough of these ‘organisms’ set loose they develop a curiously effective symbiotic relationship within the entire ecosystem of discourse, replicating into every facet of the culture. Even dancing. Sorta like syphillis. But without the skin lesions.

  212. I disagree: quantum mechanics does what it does, irrespective of any philosophic discussion on the topic.

    True, but when you attempt to make any sense of it, you get into discussions about how if a cat dies in a shoebox and no one is around to poke it, it lusts for the flesh of the living or somesuch.

    Also, interpretations like Everett’s MWI where if I don’t kill you, in some universe I just did, and if I do kill you were you stand, in some universe I did not, and absolutely everything happens all the time so what difference does it make which one I percieve myself as inhabiting this particular moment when I’m constantly decohering into infinite others.

    I mean in an infinite and yet fractional number of universes I must neccessarily bludgeon you to death with a rusty tuba, so who cares if it’s this particular one or another, where you’re slated to be raped to death by an triceratops anyway?

    I think that’s what Einstein was going on about when he said interpretations of quantum phenomenon cannot be considered complete because they have little to no sembalance to reality, so we must be missing something huge.

  213. Doh.. damned italics and their pagan papacies…

    But it seems to me to pomo set would like the Copenhagen interpretation. It so much as says stuff is stuff only because you quantified it as stuff.

    So yeah… 2+2=4, if you want, but only because you added it. If you hadn’t been so racisty about it you could have just left 2 and 2 well enough alone and maybe the tribal shaman could have them be 400.

  214. “I disagree: quantum mechanics does what it does, irrespective of any philosophic discussion on the topic.”

    – Fatalism only works as long as we, in making observations, are not inexorably part if the outcome.

    – Current evidence heavily suggests we are.

    – The cats fate may depend directly on our concepts.

    “Lets give it to Mikey…..he’ll eat anything”

  215. - One should avoid HTML-fu before the first cup of Joe.

  216. “Things on a very small scale [like electrons] behave like nothing that you have any direct experience about. They do not behave like waves, they do not behave like particles, they do not behave like clouds, or billiard balls, or weights on springs, or like anything that you have ever seen.”

    “I think I can safely say that nobody understands Quantum Mechanics” Richard Feynman

  217. /loudspeaker squeal

    Madge, we need an italics close tag on Aisle 15. Close tag, Aisle 15.

  218. ….Attention, Maintenance department…..italics clean up on aisle 5……

  219. ….but then again, it really doesn’t matter. By policy, Dr. Ernst is to blame for anything that goes wrong.

  220. Finally found the one I was looking for which is from the beginning of the lecture series I have.

    “What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school… It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don’t understand it. You see my physics students don’t understand it… That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does.”
    — Richard P. Feynman (QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter)

  221. Feynman was awesome.

  222. And if not, it seems irrelevant, because as it stands, we can’t do anything remotely practical with those theories besides satisfy people’s egos.

    Scanning tunneling microscopy. Magnetic resonance imaging. Lasers. Flash drives.

    Granted, these are applications derived from early quantum mechanics, but I’ll bet you a dollar that we come up with applications derived from deeper subatomic theory that’s every bit as cool as the stuff we’ve developed from electrons and photons.

  223. I wish I’d had Feynman to hold my hand back in the day. For the record: In the mid-90s, I took PHYS 406, PHYS 411, and PHYS 419 in the same semester.

    The brain damage, alas, was irreparable.

  224. but I’ll bet you a dollar that we come up with applications derived from deeper subatomic theory that’s every bit as cool as the stuff we’ve developed from electrons and photons.

    I hope so and honestly expect so. I’ve no clue when.

    If we do, that represents practical expirimentation and testing of the predictions of these theories. If/when we get to the level when we can manipulate sub-atomic quantum physics instead of just guessing at it, I think our viewpoint and theories will change drastically, which is why I regard current (and kind of wacky) theories with a great deal of skepticism.

    But that’s why I said “if not”. IF not, THEN it winds up being nothing more than Post Modernism for the numerate.

  225. SQUIDs too. :-)

  226. Like… dark matter. All this speculation, how much is there, what does it behave like, how much does it weigh (does it exist!).

    I’ve been hearing them arguing about their guesses for like … 2 decades! FFS when will they find some of the shit and poke it with a stick?

    I don’t know, but wake me up when they do.

    Until then, I’m kinda le tired of the guessing, and the second guessing, and the third guessing… 127th guessing… it’s too unmoored from the pokable.

    Me likey pokey.

  227. Higgs Boson too. Does it exist or totally wrong track? Collide that MF’er!

    If we speculate that it exists, we need to see what happens when we blow it up. That’s Science.

  228. True, but when you attempt to make any sense of it, you get into discussions about how if a cat dies in a shoebox and no one is around to poke it, it lusts for the flesh of the living or somesuch.

    Also, interpretations like Everett’s MWI where if I don’t kill you, in some universe I just did, and if I do kill you were you stand, in some universe I did not, and absolutely
    everything happens all the time so what difference does it make which one I percieve myself as inhabiting this particular moment when I’m constantly decohering into infinite others.

    I mean in an infinite and yet fractional number of universes I must neccessarily bludgeon you to death with a rusty tuba, so who cares if it’s this particular one or another, where you’re slated to be raped to death by an triceratops anyway?

    That’s all cool stuff to consider, but it’s fiction almost by definition, until such time as we get a peek at those alternate universes. Paging Agent Dunham!

    So yeah… 2+2=4, if you want, but only because you added it.

    I know you know better than this, but 2+2=4, period. By rule, as paternalistic & authoritarian as that might sound.

  229. there’s no reason at all, so far, to suppose that our thinking and discussion about the universe alters in any way how the universe actually behaves.

    Are we not part of the universe? Can our thought alter what we do or are we just deluded zombies of some sort?

    Uh-oh, I hope that incantation does not summon the nishibot…

  230. - Fatalism only works as long as we, in making observations, are not inexorably part if the outcome.

    – Current evidence heavily suggests we are.

    – The cats fate may depend directly on our concepts.

    Again, I disagree. The state of things changes as a result of being measured, regardless of who (or what; it doesn’t even have to be a person) is doing the measuring. Furthermore, the cat’s fate is what it is, I submit, irrespective of whether it’s measured or not. It’s just not known yet. If you open the box and find the cat dead, was it alive right up until you observed it? Or, finding it alive, had it been dead until you opened the box? What if there’s a video camera in the box that is recording the event?

    It’s not the box opening that’s controlled by random events; it’s the administration of the toxin. Your observation of the cat has zero (to a very close order of approximation) to do with anything on the QM scale of activity.

  231. Are we not part of the universe? Can our thought alter what we do or are we just deluded zombies of some sort?

    Sure, our actions can change things. But they don’t change physical law.

    As far as we know, I mean.

  232. That’s all cool stuff to consider, but it’s fiction almost by definition, until such time as we get a peek at those alternate universes.

    THAT’s the problem. The theory speculates that, by their very nature, if they exist, they are unpeekable and we can never know it.

    Thus, physics becomes not “Oh yeah, well try it and see dumbass” but folds back into “because I said so and I’m scary smart” philosophy.

  233. Squid, you are a better man than I. I didn’t take anything beyond 2nd-year physics (for EEs) and an engineering course in lasers.

  234. The theory speculates that, by their very nature, if they exist, they are unpeekable and we can never know it.

    And thus: for all practical purposes, they don’t even exist.

    Thus, physics becomes not “Oh yeah, well try it and see dumbass” but folds back into “because I said so and I’m scary smart” philosophy.

    The latter of which is categorizable into either: A) that which is verifiable, experimentally (and thus true or false regardless of who is asserting it) or B) not, in which case it’s classified as garden fertilizer.

  235. See, that “because I said so” stuff about philosophy is just so true.

  236. Sure, our actions can change things.

    Are the actions free or determined by physical law?

  237. Our actions are free within the bounds of physical law.

  238. What McGehee said.

  239. Just as possibly, though, our actions are predetermined, and thus both constrained by and defined by natural law.

  240. My view on predetermination is, we have no way of knowing if our decisions are predetermined, so we might as well approach all such decisions as if they’re not.

  241. Wherever you go, there you are.

  242. My view on predetermination is, we have no way of knowing if our decisions are predetermined, so we might as well approach all such decisions as if they’re not.

    You and I are in near-total agreement on this, McGehee.

  243. My view on predetermination is, we have no way of knowing if our decisions are predetermined, so we might as well approach all such decisions as if they’re not.

    You had to say that.

  244. Did you really need to point that out?

  245. I knew this conversation had to happen.

  246. Boatswain Higgs made me do it.

  247. That’s just awful, McG.

  248. I was gonna blame it on Schrödinger but he threatened to stuff my wife’s cats in a box.

  249. When I played Puzzle Pirates, I had a character named Higgs. Anyone who asked to be his bosun got recruited into the crew and given the label, no questions asked.

    This being the Internet, and that ocean having somewhere around 5,000 players, that meant he had a crew of four.

  250. Our actions are free within the bounds of physical law.

    While our actions (physical states) are bounded by the limits of the known universe it would appear our minds (mental states) are not. Yet as best we can tell our minds are a product of our bodies. This is rather a problem for most everyone, except those who hold that we are truly nothing but mind, and that body is merely a limited projection of the mind.

  251. the time of “Change” & Socialism just saved the US from going into a depression? Come on libs it’s time to stop hiding and face the fact that the time for Socialism in America is now and Obama is the guy to lead you. Or are you still a bunch of spineless jellyfish who like hiding out in the closet?
    illumibrite

  252. Ernst, I just ran into this expression over at Classical Values. Looks to me like it ties to Voegelin’s idea, albeit if somewhat remotely. Still, gazing on the distillation seemed helpful. So, quoth the man:

    Conscience is good, but so is, in addition, checking to see if the spirit you worship is worthy of worship. And one way to do that is to examine history. God has been revealing Himself through history.
    November 18, 2010 06:12 PM

    Let me add that the abortion discussion in progress over there isn’t of any particular interest to me on its own terms. The idea that history is the Divine revealing Itself to individual men, on the other, hand is.

  253. Sorry for the misplaced comma there.

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